“In High Spirits and Full of Fight”
Part I: The New York Campaign of 1776
Transcription by Liz Tait, © 2006.
Edited web version © 2007 by Bob McDonald and John K. Robertson.
Click here for a larger version of this map (5 MB).
Part I: The New York Campaign of 1776
Monday, July 22nd, 1776.
Left Home with a Design to join the Army at New York, met Mr. David according to Appointment and travelled with him to Philadelphia—
23, 24 Tuesday & Wednesday
Spent in Philada. in preparing for a Campaign at New York—
Embarked for Princeton in Company with Major Clayton and other Gentlemen from Maryland—reached our Lodging in good season—visited some of my old Friends—and
26 Friday embarked for Head Quarters—we came to Powder Hook [Paulus Hook, NJ] about 4 O’Clock P.M.—Crossed the No. [North, i.e., Hudson] River into the City—
Visited the Fortifications in the City—
In the forenoon heard Dr. Livingston preach and in the Afternoon heard Mr. Major
Visited the Long Island Encampments and Fortifications, Cobble Hill, etc.
30 - Tuesday
Spent the Day in reading and writing
Aug [July] 31 - Wednesday
Spent the Day in geting a house prepared to live in and in moving to it—
Augt. 1 Thursday
Visited with some Gentlemen [at] Bunkers Hill and the Ship Yards—
Spent the Day in writing part of a Sermon—
Spent the Day in writing Part of a Sermon & Letters—
In the Morning very unwell—In the forenoon heard Mr. Major’s Lecture on Part of the eighth C[h]ap[ter] to the Romans—In the afternoon went to hear Mr. Gano, but was disappointed by hearing Mr. David. In the Evening visited our Regimental Hospital—A Heart melting part of my Duty.
Visited Bunker’s Hill with Mr. Elmer and other Gentlemen, in the Morning—Spent the afternoon in Writing—
Wrote a little in the Morning—very unwell with a Diarrhea in the afternoon—
All Day very unwell—with the same Complaint.
Abed chief [i.e., most] of the Day—
My complaint continues or rather degenerates into the Dysentery.—
A.M. Took an Emetic—P.M. Visited by Mr. Chapman who was so kind as to agree to preach to my Regt. on the Sabbath.
Something better in Health—What an invaluable Blessing is an affectionate Wife or Friend in the Hour of Sickness and Distress—The Dysentery abates—Taken with a violent Head ach—Mr. Chapman called to see me, but was hurried home sooner than agreeable by the Appearance of a Thunder-Storm—unable to attend public Worship—unable to read—unable to think—
Continued weak and unfit for much Business—spent the former Part of the Day in reading and writing—In the Afternoon visited Col. Van Cortland[t]—upon hearing a Number of Cannon fired we went down to the Dock with a Glass [i.e., telescope] and saw 40 Sail of the Kings Ships arrive at Staten Island supposed to have the Hessians on board—
Recd. Orders to March to Long-Island—Spent the Day in preparing accordingly—
Spent the Day in moving from N York to Long Island—
Spent the Day in Quest of Lodging which we are not permitted to take without [i.e., outside, beyond] the Lines—
Moved to Mrs. Seaburn’s to board and lodge at 15/P [pence per] week—appears to be an agreeable Place—
Spent the Day in Studying and Preparation for the Exercises of the Sabbath.
About half after 6 O’Clock in the Morning a heavy canonading began between the Ph[o]enix a 40 Gun Ship & The Rose a 24 Gun Ship, in their passage down to Staten Island, and our Batteries. The Engagement lasted about 3 Quarters of an Hour—Spent a Part of the Day in religious Exercises with the Regiment. The other Part was exceeding stormy—
Private, 6th Virginia Regt., 1776
© Don Troiani
Spent the Day in writing Letters & reading. Every Evening for two Weeks past we have fully expected an Attack—
Spent the Day in study—only the necessary Duties and Avocations.
Spent the Day in Reading and writing—This Day the Enemy begin to weigh Anchor and stand outwards—Conjectured that they are gone to plunder or to make a Descent upon some other Part of the Continent—We have an Account of the Rifle-Men killing one of the Regulars who was one of a party who attempted to Land at the Narrows—In the Evening a most dreadful Thunder-storm—which killed, in troop 1 Captain, 2 Subalterns, and blinded and deafened 2 privates—
Very unwell in the morning—about 11 O’Clock an Express came from the Narrows that the Enemy were landing there and that Col. Hand the commanding Officer and his Regiment were retreating—our Drums beat to Arms—and every Regt. took its Alarm post—The Generals then viewed the Arrangement and detached two Rifle-Regts. and 3 Regts. of Muskettiers to meet the Enemy who then had advanced as far as Flatbush—Our Troops Marched near their Encampment and after placing proper guards lay down upon their arms—
A smart skirmish happened between our Men and an advanced Party of the Enemy—one of our Riflemen received a Musket Ball in his Thigh which broke the Bone. I was present at dressing the Wound a little distance from the place of Action—Oh the excruciating Pain! The Enemy’s loss we are not yet able to ascertain tho’ it is probable that it is not great—They however retreated to their main Body—We Detached 8 Regts. to relieve those who had been out the Day before. The Men upon our Lines all the Day engaged in making Piquets and Abbetiss [abatis], all in good Spirits and seem eager to fight.
After visiting the Regt. I spent the former Part of the Day in Reading—A constant scattering Fire was kept up between the Enemy and our Men—little Damage was done on either Side—save that 7 of the Enemy were said to be killed—One of our men had his Leg shattered with a 6 Pound Ball—I was present when Dr. Warren amputated the Limb—the man fearcely distorted his Face, and never gave a groan. The operation was performed in about 3 minutes after the Tornequets were fixt—with very little Loss of Blood—Col. Martin on reconnoitring Party received a wound in his breast—Lieut. Thoms and four Privates taken Prisoners—
The Camp in a Tumult—A few of us both forenoon and afternoon met to worship God. Very little done between us and the Enemy.
Little done all Day—In the Night our people and the Enemy lay within about 200 yards of each other—They fired scattering Shot on both Sides.—
Early in the Morning the Enemy in the Woods attempted to surround our people in different Places which they in some degree effected—A warm engagement at different Quarters ensued—But the Enemy, being double in Number, our Men were obliged to give Way. Many were killed, many wounded, some drowned, and others escaped by swimming—we make doubt but the Enemy’s Loss was as great as ours, [in] every Respect—we took about 30 of them Prisoners—We had about 300 Men lost—Two of our Brigadier Generals, Lord Sterling [Stirling] and Genl. Sullivan were taken Prisoners—Col. Johnson & Col. Terry were killed—The enemy appeared in open View in the afternoon in Large Columns—They began to cast up Works with about ¼ mile of Lines—a Lamentable Day.— [Hunter here describes the Battle of Long Island.]
An incessant scattering Fire was kept up so that it was very dangerous to be out of a Fort—The Balls whizzed round our Ears from all Quarters—very little Damage Done on either Side—We were several Times alarmed with the Approach of the Enemy—Col. V. Cortlandt defeated Brigadr. Genl. [blank]
We remained in the same state—we threw several Shells at our Enemy, and they fired their Field-Pieces at us. In the Afternoon we received Orders to parade the different Regiments at 7 O’Clock to receive Orders. The Orders were to retreat to New York with all our Baggage, to carry off as much of our Artillery as possible—we were passing the River all Night in great hurry and confusion—This Retreat was wise determined and well executed—our People got safely over to N. York. We left the Tories of Long-Island in great Fear, and abandoned them to the Effects of their own cursed Devices.
Spent the Day in N. York in a State of great anxiety. The Enemy this Morning took Possession of all our Forts on Long Island. The Ships of war drew up near Governor’s Island and fired several Times upon our People there—We sent our Flat bottomed Boats to bring them off; the Enemy in the Mean Time fired upon them from Fort Stirling, Red Hook, and their Ships, and only wounded one man—
Spent the Day in preparing for the Exercises of the Sabbath—very little done in military affairs, unless some scattering shots from the Ships—The Soldiery seem a good Deal discouraged—General McDougal[l]’s Brigade marched up towards Harlem to prevent the Enemy’s coming across the Sound from Long Island—
1 Septemr - Sunday
We were ordered to be in Readiness to march at a Minute’s Warning—The Soldiery were ordered to cook 2 Days Provisions—and were prevented attending religious exercises—We had some Quiet and something like Peace—We got off from Gov. Island 3 pieces of Cannon, 1 32 Pr. [i.e., one 32-pounder] and 2 smaller—
Being under Marching Orders I could settle to no Business; & my anxiety to know the Plan of our Destination was so great that I could scarce take the Supports of Life—The Enemy very quiet—They this Day got possession of Governor’s Island and the chief Part of the heavy cannon, and burnt all the Tent Equipage on the Island. In the Night the Roebuck went up the East River with a number of Boats—
Spent the Forenoon in Study—about 12 O’Clock Col. Newcomb’s & Col. Foreman’s Regiments were ordered to march to Mount Washington with all speed—The Fleet and our Batteries were as quiet as if there had been a cessation of Arms—
Spent the Day in Study and in preparing to march whenever I may be called—Little or Nothing worth Notice happened between our People & the Enemy. A part of the Flying Camp came to Town in the evening—They appear to be exceeding good Men—well equipped and well spirited—
Recd. Orders from Gen. Spencer to march immediately to Harlem—Col. Brearley went to Head Quarters to know what we should do for Tents—We were ordered by Gen. Washington to tarry in Town until Tents could be procured—The Flying Camp continued coming in all Day—There was a very smart Cannonading between our Batteries on the East River and the Rose on her Return to the Fleet—She received considerable Damage—An officer of our Train [i.e., artillery unit] had his right Toes shot off by a nine Pounder. Reports are spread abroad that we intend giving up the Town without Resistence, because all the Stores were moved out except what was thought requisite for carrying on an Engagement—We are determined to sell it at a high Price—much Blood and many Wounds—
Spent the Morning in Reading and writing—no extraordinary occurences.
Spent the Day in preparing for the Exercises of the Sabbath—In the Night we were alarmed by a smart Firing of Musketry and some Cannon—Upon Enquiry we found that our advanced Boats and some of the Enemy’s had got near each other and fired. The Ships fired their Cannon to cover Their Boats—little Damage sustained.
All the Morning a heavy Firing from a Bombing upon our People at Horn Hook. We had two men killed and one wounded.—Our Regt. attended Worship as usual—In the Afternoon we received orders to march the next Morning to Mount Washington to join the other Part of the Brigade.
Private, Grenadier Company, 33rd British Regt. of Foot, 1776
© Don Troiani
About 10 o’clock I marched with our Regt. from N. York towards Mount Washington and carried my Gun, Canteen and Ammunition, we arrived about 2 O’Clock P.M. where I met many of my old acquaintances of Col. Newcomb’s Regt. and others—Lodged for the first Time in a Tent—Tents were procured for the Regt. but could not be pitched in season, so they were obliged to lye exposed to the Open Air—I thought then of many pleasant Nights I had spent without considering who had provided for me; or that I might be forced to live Harder—A Canonade was kept up all Day and as we came along the Road the Balls and Bombs were whizzing about us—we saw two large heaps of balls that had been picked up by our people wch. the Enemy had sent into the Camp. We are now got fairly into the spirit of a Soldier’s Life—
About 9 O’Clock we had an Alarm that the Enemy had landed on a small Island called Blackwood’s Island—The Drums beat and the Regt. paraded and were ordered to wait for Orders ready for Battle—An incessant Canonade all the forenoon near Hell-Gate—I find that York Island is formed by North River on the S. and W., by the Sound on the East and by Spikin Devil and Harlem on the North—those two small Streams flow together near Kings-bridge—We have an account that Genl. Lee is arrived in New York—Glad News to every Heart—
[The top of this manuscript page is torn and parts of it are missing.] … forenoon I visited … River with Col. Cortlandt, … with Dr. Howell … In the afternoon … went to Harlem about 4 miles distant, from whence I could discover the Enemy on Montesicu___ [Montresor’s] Island, within about 70 Rods of [blank]— Harlem is a small village with one Church upon Harlem River near where it empties into the Sound—From this Place we can see Morricenea [Morrisania] on the Point of [blank] opposite Harlem—I could see the Enemy very busy in casting up Works—Their Centries frequently hailed ours from their Posts—
Spent the Day in preparing a Tent—Col. Brearley and myself agreed to Lodge and Mess together—At Horner Hook one of our Soldiers boasted that he would not dodge from the Enemy’s Fire—In this fool-hardy sentiment he left his Life, his Head having been shot off by a Cannon Ball. A constant Canonnade was kept up all Day between Nollets Point on Long Island and Horner hook. This is a Place of Importance to us as it … will probably interrupt the Passage of the Enemy up the Sound—
In the Morning went a fishing with Col. Read and Col. Cortlandt—Caught some Black-Fish & Sea-Bass—We had Col. Read to Supper—About 11 O’Clock we had an Alarm, that the Enemy were landing at Harlem—The Brigade were called to Arms to wait for Orders—We waited in the Rain from 3 till 5 O’Clock in the Morning, and the Alarm being found to be false we were dismissed—
Spent a part of the Day in preparing for the Sabbath—But every Thing was in such a tummult that very little could be Done that required any Study—O for an End to these calamitous Days! About 10 O’Clock at Night we were again alarmed, and ordered to be on Parade at 2 O’Clock in the Morning where we waited ‘till 6—
In the Morning after we were dismissed I found myself very sick and unable to do my Duty. About 9 O’Clock we discovered two Ships and two Tenders about 4 miles below Mount Washington under Sail—our Drums beat to Arms and our Men paraded—But the Ships came to an Anchor soon after we discovered them—the Men however were ordered to lay [on] their Arms in order and having been broken of their Rest in the Night were desired to go to Sleep—at 12 O’Clock we were ordered by Gen. Mifflin to March and take the Height across from the North to the East River, which we did and began to throw up Lines—Our greatest Difficulty was to keep the N.E. [i.e., New England] scoundrels from deserting—we were obliged to place a Guard with fixed Bayonets to prevent their passing the Road and many of them almost rushed on the Bayonets—as fast as they came we turned them down on the heights between the Enemy and our Lines—In the Morning our People had given up New York in a Manner not much to be applauded, chiefly on acct. of the Cowardice of the Eastern Troops —We however lost very little of our Ordinance, and not much of our Stores—In the Night 3 of our Fireships attempted to burn the 4 Vessels that came up the North River in the Morning. This Design only in part took place—they burnt a 26 Gun Ship—the others slipt their Cables—One of the Captains of the Fire Ships in the Attempt was exceedingly burnt—from his knees to his navel was scorched to a Cinder—his Life is despaired of— [Hunter here describes the Battle of Kip's Bay.]
In the Morning about 9 O’Clock a smart Firing began between the advanced Parties of the Enemy and our people—They were reinforced on both Sides, so that a considerable number were engaged—The vollies were frequent from the Musketry—Some Field-pieces were introduced on both Sides—it continued for more than 2 hours, and ended much in our Favor—We lost about 50 killed, and had about 140 wounded. We took 3 or 4 prisoners and two of the Enemy’s Field-pieces—Among our Dead was Col. Nolton [Knowlton] of the Rangers, a brave officer—We drove them more than a mile off the Ground—This small Engagement gave spirit to our Troops, and made some Retaliation for the shameful Scene of the Day before—I felt a great Degree of Composure thro’ the whole, and desired to have an Opportunity of casting in my Mite, towards puting a Stop to the Ravages of a blood-thirsty Enemy. For 2 nights past I slept on the Lines w/the Regt.— [Hunter here describes the Battle of Harlem Heights. Click here for another eyewitness account of this engagement.]
The Drubbing which we gave the Enemy the day before produced an entire Cessation of every Thing hostile—we however lay upon the Line, ‘til the Afternoon when we were relieved by other Troops and returned to our Camp much fatigued and having little to refresh us—Innumerable are the Fatigues of a Soldier’s Life.
Very little extraordinary happened—The Enemy made no Movement—A Captain of the Connecticut Troops was tried for forging a Pass from Gen. Wadsworth to carry him home—The Sentence of the Court Martial was that the Culprit should be dressed in Women’s Cloths and having a wooden Sword by his Side, and a wooden Musket in his Hand, be placed on the Back of an old Horse to be carried thro the Camp in this ridiculous Manner and sent from Guard to Guard until he should get home. This Sentence was executed, with the addition of throwing Cow-dung and almost every Kind of excrement at the Rider—The insensible Scoundrel bore his fate with a good Deal of that resolution which every Rascal possesses—All this Effect of Cowardice—The basest of crimes in an Army.—
Our Troops very busy in making Works against the Enemy’s Incursions—The Army in high Spirits and full of Fight—I felt a great Desire that the Enemy should attack us that we might retrieve the character which the Wicked lost by running when no man pursued them—
We continued at Rest—no Movements on our or the Enemy’s Part—Tho’ our advanced Parties were in View of the Enemy’s Sentries. In the Night about 12 O’Clock a very great Fire appeared supposed to be in New York. It continued burning 5 or 6 Hours—it caused much Speculation in our Camp and was generally concluded to be the City on Fire—
The Burning of the City of New York was this Morning confirmed by a Gentleman from Bergen Town who watched the Fire from 2 ‘til 4 O’Clock and saw the Steeple of the Old English Church where Dr. Auchmuty preached fall in, and the Enemy’s Ships which were in the E. River move down towards Governor’s Island—
I preached to my Regiment in the Forenoon upon a small Hill out of the Noise of the Camp—The Soldiers seemed to give attention. After Service Majr. Livingston called at our Quarters and gave us a more particular Account of the Burning of New York—He informed that the West Side of Broad Way was burnt from opposite White Hall to Dean’s Distillery above the College—In the Afternoon a Genl. Order came out for executing a Sergt. for Cowardice who had been convicted by Court Martial—and another [general order] for cashiering an Ensign for plundering—both N. England men. The Regiments of every Brigade were ordered to be paraded with all their Baggage—And the Field Officers to inspect their Knapsacks for plundered goods—Little or Nothing was found with our Brigade—
Attended in the forenoon on the Grand Parade where the Prisoner mentioned in yesterday’s Orders was to be executed—The different Brigades between our Lines and Kings Bridge were drawn up in two Columns with a large Interval between them—across this Interval was thrown up a Bank about 4 Feet high against which the prisoner was to stand that the Balls [i.e., firing squad’s bullets] might not injure the Spectators—The Guard brought the reluctant malefactor and placed him near the Parapet—Dr. Leonard from the Eastwd. made a short Speech. The Prisoner was ordered to kneel down with his face towards the guard of 22 men who were to execute the Sentence of the Court—A white Handkerchief was bound over his Eyes—The Guard then advanced towards him with quick pace. The Provost Martial then read his Crime and his Sentence—In short all the Ceremony and Parade appeared as if the Man was immediately to be sent to the eternal World—But the clement and merciful Genl. Washington sent a written Pardon directed to the Adjutant General or other Commanding Officer. It was publicly read to the unspeakable Satisfaction of all present—But that he might not encourage such Base crimes by Clemency, he declared in the Reprieve that the next person guilty of the like conduct should suffer Death.—We hear that our People have evacuated Paulus Hook, but have got off all their ordinance and Stores—and have taken Possession of the Heights contiguous to it, which we trust they will be able to maintain—
A little unwell in the Forenoon and inclining to Chills—In the Afternoon Majr. Henly Aid de Camp to Genl. Heath who fell in the Attack at Montescium Island was interred with military Honours—An Order from Genl. Washington directs the Connecticut Militia to hold themselves in Readiness to return Home and previous to their Return to deliver up their Ammunition, Canteens, Kettles, etc to the Commisary’s Store—I wish from my Heart they had never come farther Eastward than Newhaven. By a flag from the Enemy we learn that they shot a number of our Friends in York when the City was on Fire, and cast them into the Flames—They apprehended one of our Captains [i.e., Nathan Hale] who had been a Prisoner with them making his Escape—They immediately hung him up—
After the ordinary Duties of the Morning visited Kingsbridge, where Fort Independence stands—And reconnoitered the Stream that forms the Island—It runs across from the North to the East River, without any Supply from sources on the East Land except one small Stream which runs about a Mile. My company was Col. Brearley and Col. Read. This Place is remarkable for a great Abundance of Crabs, and Lobsters. We discovered a Want of a Fortification on the hill opposite Mt. Washington on Harlem—Genl. Putnam, upon Application, granted a pass to an old Nigroe which ran in this manner “Permit this old Son of a Bitch who is not worth a Copper to pass our Sentries to the British Army or Navy etc.”
Spent the Day in reading The Crisis—The Sentiments are pretty just, but illy-drest, and rather plain—
Nothing remarkable about Camp—Two large Howitzers came to Mt. Washington, drawn by 11 pair of Cattle each, wt. about 10,000 each—We hear the Congress have order[ed] 88 Regiments to be raised in the different States—4 of which are to be raised in N. Jersey, to continue during the War—The privates to receive 20 Dollars Bounty, and a hundred acres of Land—The Officers in the following Proportions - viz: A Colonel 500 [acres]; A Lt. Col. 450; A Major 400; A Captain 300 etc.
Spent the Day in preparing for the Exercises of the Sabbath—Wrote to Mr. Fithian’s wife at his Request, giving an Account of his Sickness—we have an account of an Engagement at Bergen Heights—no particulars come to Hand—
Rainy Weather and no public religious Exercises—Very much afflicted with the Head ach in the Afternoon—
Spent the Forenoon in Reading—After Dinner rode to Congress Bridge with Col. Cortlandt. The Genl. expects an attack every Day, from the Discoveries that our Spies can make—
Private, Grenadier Company, 26th Continental Regt., 1776
© Don Troiani
October 1 Tuesday.
After Breakfast rode to Congress Bridge with Col. Brearley to receive the Back Rations from the Commisary General, and returned before Dinner—Spent the Afternoon in reading etc—
Went over the River to Bergen with Mr. Hollinshead, and Col. Brearley to purchase necessaries for the Mess—This Day we expected to attend the Execution of a Soldier of the N. England forces who was the Day before convicted of Mutiny and Desertion, but unhappily last Night the Criminal escaped from the Guards—
After the necessary Duties spent the Day in reading and writing—nothing extraordinary happened only that our out Sentries fired on the patroling Parties of the Enemy. Had favourable accounts from Home.
Went in the forenoon to the Pennsylvania Camp to visit some acquaintainces—Spent the Afternoon in Reading—at 4 o’clock the Brave Major Leech [Leitch] was interred with all the Pomp and Ceremony becoming the Corps[e] of so good a Soldier—
Spent the forenoon in preparing for the Exercises of the Sabbath—in the Afternoon went to Spiken Devil with some Company—
Men out upon Fatigue all Day, so that we could have no Sermon—Spent a great part of the Day with Mr. Fithian expecting his Departure into the World of Spirits. In the morning one of our people was shot, by an Accident, thro’ the Head, so that he died instantly.—
In the forenoon in Company with Revd. Mr. Blair and others, visit our out Lines and the Sentries nearest the Enemy, and some of the Graves of the brave Men who fell in the Battle on Harlem Heights—In the afternoon wrote some Letters and visited Mr. Fithian, left him about 10 O’Clock at Night without any Expectation of seeing him alive again. This Day Lord Stirling was exchanged for Gov. Shene [Skene], and arrived in Camp—
This Morning about 10 O’Clock Mr. Fithian closed his Eyes upon the Things of Time and is gone to try a Spiritual World. His Illness continued only 7 Days. For some Days before his Death, his Skin was remarkably tinged with the Boils which had spread itself thro’ his whole system—
About 8 o’clock in the Morning, three of the Ships which lay in the North River nearly opposite Bloomingdol [Bloomingdale] hoisted their sails and stood up the River; as soon as they came in Reach of our Batteries we began to play upon them with our Cannon—The first Salute from Fort Constitution, next from Fort Washington, and from 2 Batteries on the Bank of the River—They bore on without firing more [than] three or four Times, notwithstanding the Cheveau de Firize [chevaux de frise], and the heaviest fire we could make for an Hour and a half— what their Designs are we cannot Learn—About 4 O’Clock Mr. Fithian was buried—His Funeral was attended by several Clergymen and the Officers and Soldiers of Col. Newcomb’s Regt.—with as much Decency as the nature of the Case would allow—In the Afternoon Gen. Mifflin arrived at Camp from Philadelphia and brought account that Gen. Lee was on his way from that Place to the Camp at Mount Washington—
Spent the Day in Reading, and writing some Letters—Nothing Material happened between our people and the Enemy.—
The Boats and Gondolas having retreated before the Ships on Wednesday when the latter came to in Taphaun [Tappan] Bay the former came to likewise—Next Morning being foggy Genl. Washington’s Barge which had gone up among the other Boats, weighed anchor, set her Sails, and attempted to return, which she effected. But mark her unhappy arrival—when she came in Reach of our Batteries, our people hailed her and the Wind blowing hard the Hands on Board could not hear, nor did they apprehend any Danger, ‘till they faced the artillery ready to fire upon them, they then attempted to wave the Flag, but the Gunner being too quick, before they could strike their Flag, fired upon them and killed 3 of them on the Spot—One Man’s Head was shot entirely off, the second was partly shot off and the third had his Arm and a great Part of his Breast taken away so that his Heart and Liver appeared—
In the Morning I was summoned before a Court of Enquiry to give Evidence between Col. Cortlandt and Majr. Day—Before the Court began to inquire we were alarmed by an account that 8,000 of the Enemy were landed on Frog’s [Throg's] Point from the Sound, the Court then adjourned and all the Troops were ordered to their Alarm Posts where they continued all Day without any farther Movement—In the Evening they had orders to repair to their Forts and be ready to parade before Day the next Morning—We learn that the Spaniards have invaded Portugal, and consequently England, because the English and Portuguese are allied offensively and defensively—Genl. McDougall’s Brigade marched up to repel the Enemy.
The Men [lay the] chief Part of the Day upon their Arms waiting marching Orders—No Sabbath—No religious Service—Nothing but the Din of Arms—
In the Forenoon Gen. Lee arrived to the universal Satisfaction of the Camp—We expect soon a Stroke that will decide the Victory of this Campaign—I feel myself relying on the Commander of the Universe for Success—May all our Officers and Soldiers put their Trust in him!
Nothing occurred worth Notice only Genl. Nixon’s Brigade marched to King’s Bridge to be in Readiness to oppose the Proceedings of the Enemy—Genl. Lee has one Division of the Army assigned him—
Our people very busy in forwarding the Obstructions in the River to prevent the Enemy’s Ships from passing or repassing—Spent the Day in reading and in the necessary Duties of the Day—
Nothing of Importance happened—
Click here for a larger version of this map (4 MB).
In the Morning we were connected to Ld. [Lord] Stirling’s Brigade—about 12 O’Clock we were ordered to march to Mile Square, in Phillip’s Mannor—we march’d about 2 o’Clock and came to the Place of our Destination about 7 in the Evening, where we encamped—The Field Officers and Chaplain of our Regt. procured a House to lodge in—The people in this part of Country are extremely different from those of any Part I have been in. The Landlady who stood by the Table at Supper, after I had asked a Blessing, said, that’s clever, I like to see Men behave so civily—This Day our people waylaid the Enemy and gave them a severe Drubbing, 1000 said to be killed. [Hunter here refers to the Battle of Pell’s Point, also known as the Battle of Pelham. As typical of the period, initial estimates of the number of enemy casualties are greatly exaggerated.]
March’d to Tookahoe [Tuckahoe] where we encamped—we were obliged to place a large number of out Centries, expecting the Enemy to attack us in the Night—The Anxiety attending such a state is only known to those who experienced it—The Goodness of God brought us to see the Morning of the Sabbath in Peace and Safety—
We had orders to march, before the Sun rose, for White Plains—we marched accordingly, were told that we had about 10 miles to march—we arrived before 12 O’Clock and found that White Plains was to be a small village with a Court House and Church—About 8 miles from the Sound, and 7 from Hudson’s River—This Rout I with many others made without eating … heart to very pleasant, agreeably … with Hills and Valleys, and very fruitful—[Torn page; missing text.]
Spent the Day in reconnoitering the place—In the Evening Lord Stirling sent out a Party of Men to annoy the Enemy—when they came to the Place where they expected to meet them, instead of the Kings Troops there was near 400 Tories posted as an advanced party—Our people could not discover them ‘till they were close upon them—The Tories gave the first Fire, killed and wounded several of our Men—We returned the Fire with as much success—Both parties [ex]changed 3 Rounds. The Tories then broke—Our people surrounded 36 of them, whom they took prisoners and brought into White Plains—
Very little happened worth Notice—I spent the Day in preparing for Housekeeping again—
Spent the Day in reading and writing. A party of Genl. Lee’s Men fell in with a Party of Hessians—They fired upon each other—we killed 10 on the Spot, and brought off 5 Prisoners and lost but 2 or 3 Men—
An incessant Cannonade near West Chester—Some more Tories brought in—Our Men all in good Spirits, and full of Fight—They are so well divided, and proper Posts assigned to proper Persons that under Divine Protection we shall be able to expel the Caterpillars and Destroyers of our Country—
The Enemy advanced some Distance toward us—Genl. Lee’s Division came up to join us—Our Men in high Spirits expecting an Attack, and having the greatest Confidence in our Officers—A constant firing of Field-Pieces at different Places—our Artillery were drawn up in array and went thro’ their Maneuvers with great Accuracy and Agility—
Our patrolling Parties brought in 4 Prisoners—The main Body of our Army at this Place making Preparation for an Engagement with the Enemy—
The Men most assiduously engaged in making Abbatis and other Defence expecting the Approach of the Enemy. The Patroling Parties brought in 46 Prisoners, 18 Hessians and 3 British Soldiers, all likely [i.e., healthy, hearty] Men—The Enemy made an Attack on the Lines at Mt. Washington and were repulsed with great Loss—
About 7 O’Clock A.M. the Enemy began an Attack upon our advanced Parties with a considerable Part of their Army—The Engagement lasted ‘till 4 O’Clock P.M. when the Enemy gained an Advantageous Hill about half a Mile from our Lines—Our people began to move their Stores of every kind, and a great Part of the Army was ordered to right and left to prevent the Enemy’s flanking us—The Loss was considerable on both sides—We had no commanding officer killed nor lost any Ordinance— [Hunter here describes the Battle of White Plains.]
We had an entire Cessation of Firing. Scouting Parties were sent out and several Prisoners brought in—The Enemy all Day fortifying on the Hill they had gained the Day before—
We continued carrying off Stores and making a new Disposition of the Army—Some Prisoners and Horses were brought in—The Jersey Brigade with some others were left to man the Lines—Hard Duty indeed to lye in Trenches Night and Day—
We had orders to march and join Lord Stirling’s Brigade near North Castle. We marched accordingly about 4 O’Clock P.M., and encamped at a Tory’s House with whom we supped and quartered that is the officers of Col. Cortlandt’s Regt.—The Land Lord refused to take the Continental Money and we chose to give no other—About 9 O’Clock at night the Genl. gave orders to set Fire the House at the Plains—As much of our Baggage as we could we got off and burnt the remainder—The Ravages of War and the Destruction made by an Army’s passing thro’ a Country are unaccountable, not a living Creature, nor a Stick of Fence left, but what they kill and burn—
Private, Hessian Fusilier, Regt. von Lossberg, 1776
© Don Troiani
November 1. Friday.
I felt myself very hearty—my Health continued very good—We joind Lord Stirling’s Brigade, according to yesterday’s order—The weather grown very cold and disagreeable—The Tents hardly tolerable—The Enemy attacked a party of our people commanded by Genl. Lee—they came up with their light artillery as bold as Lions, but were forced to retreat like frightened Deer—
Nothing extraordinary happened except Seventeen Hessian matrosses [i.e., artillery gunners] deserting and coming in to our people near Dobb’s Ferry—They inform that many more are desirous to come over to us if they thought it practicable—20 more of the Hessians came in to Genl. Lee’s party from White Plains.
The Sabbath was kept in Fatiguing [i.e., laboring] instead of Rest—A great Part of the men under arms all Day on account of some movements of the Enemy.—
We heard from the Northern Department of our Army that upon the Enemy’s attacking our Troops at Ticonderoga they were obliged to retreat with considerable loss. Two Deserters came in who inform that the Enemy in the New York Department intends making one more Stroke before they go into [winter] Quarters.-----Genl. Heard came to Camp after having been at Home since the 27 of August—we had an officer shot by one of our own Sentries—
A smart Cannonade near Tarry Town, not known whither on account of the Anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot or an attack upon some Part of our Army.—We heard that Dr. Franklin and Jn. Adams were gone to France as Embassadors from the Congress—
We are informed from good authority that the Enemy are retreating towards New York, via East Chester where a great Number of their Ships lie—We have a mouth Report that they are called Home on account of an expected Invasion on Gt. Britain—Col. Martins and Newcombs Regiments are gone to Phillips’ Mills near Dobb’s Ferry. The Sick were all ordered up to Peck’s Kiln [Peekskill, NY] to be safe in case of any sudden Movement—
Rode out to visit Col. Brearley at one Concels a genteel Quaker’s [house]—I found the people to be good Whigs—I thro’ persuasion of the Col. stay’d all Night—Early in the Morning we went to Camp where we arrived before Sunrise—
We had orders to march immediately to join Lord Stirling who had marched the Day before into the Jerseys [i.e., New Jersey]—where it is supposed that the Enemy are about to make a Descent—our Business will be to oppose them—On our March we passed thro’ North Castle a small Village with a Church—The whole Country from York to Peck’s Kiln [New York City to Peekskill], and as far as I can learn, to Albany is very hilly and Stony—Many Meadows and abounding with Cattle—After we leave West Chester County we go into Dutchess [County]—
We passed thro’ Peck’s Kiln a pleasant Town on an Arm of the North River, with a Church—we marched thence to King’s Ferry which we crossed as soon as possible in Flat bottomed Boats and Scows. The [Hudson] River here is about 3 Miles wide, occasioned by two Coves, one at each Side—Some of the Boats frequently lost their Course, by the thickness of the Fogs—We were two Days before the whole Brigade got over—
After we crossed the Ferry, we were ordered to halt for those that were behind—no appearance of Sabbath—we on the West Side of Hudson’s River came into Orange County in the State of N. York—we found a family of Whigs where we lodged and were kindly entertained—From this to Esopias [i.e., Esopus, NY] about 50 miles—
We marched early in the Morning upon a Letter from Ld. Stirling, and were ordered to halt at Slaughter’s Landing—we passed in this Morning’s Rout a place called Cases Landing, a place very convenient for Trade—We arrived about 11 O’Clock, and happily got lodging in a Whig’s House on the Side of a Large Pond remarkable for Ducks and Fish called Cospeck or Snydicker’s Pond—This place is opposite the [British] Men of War in the North River—
Went with some Gentlemen to reconnoitre, we ascended a most prodigious Hill from whence we could discover that the Enemy’s Ships were only about ½ mile from us—We heard that the Enemy had regularly besieged Fort Washington after having got Possession of the Heights contiguous to it—Genl Washington went down to enquire into the Circumstances of the Matter—
Nothing material happened—The Account of the Enemy’s Attacking Fort Washington contradicted, and an Account of their going into Winter Quarters—I spent the Day in reading and writing.
We had orders to march about 11 O’C.—we set off about 2 O’Clock—about 5 we came to Tappan where we tarried all Night—Tappan is a pretty little Village with a Court House and Church, partly on the Line between New York and New Jersey inhabited by Low Dutch—
In the Morning we set off for Hackingsack [Hackensack, NJ] where we arrived about 2 O’Clock, a very pleasant Village with a Court House and Church chiefly inhabited by Dutch—we stood [i.e., continued] on towards Newark crossed Aquacanunck [Acquackanonk] Bridge upon Pasaick [Passaic] River—and quartered at one V. Gisen’s—We [?] a most pleasant, fertile country since we crossed Hudson’s River—
We had orders to turn our Course towards Fort Lee before Day Break—We returned with fewer Men than we went with—Many having gone on to Newark expecting the Regiment to pass thro that Place—about 10 O’Clock the Enemy besieged Fort Washington,—after some hard skirmishing about the Lines our Men retreated to the Fort—The Enemy made a formal Demand [i.e., for surrender] of the Place—After a short Deliberation Col. McGaw [also seen as Magaw] infamously gave up, and became a Prisoner with all his Men who had escaped—Many were killed on both Sides—Many of our Officers on the Lines distinguished themselves for Bravery.—
Our Men were all in Confusion and most remarkably fatigued so that many of them would lie down to sleep before they got any Victuals altho they had eaten very little for two Days—I found myself as unable to preach as they were to hear, and consequently had no other public Exercises but Prayers—
Visited Fort Lee and the small Forts around it, went to the Bank of the [Hudson] River and mourned the Fall of Mt. Washington, and execrated in my mind the Conduct of the Officer who had commanded it—Men from different Brigades were ordered to carry off some Pieces of Ordinance and stores not in use to the English Neighbourhood [i.e., a village of that name; currently Leonia, NJ]—One of our Men who had been made a Prisoner at the Surrender of this Fort being sent out with some others to bury the Dead took an opportunity to conceal himself where he lay ‘till Night, all things being secure he went out in Quest of Something to make a Raft, he found 2 flour Casks and some old Sticks of which he attempted to make a Raft by tying them together with Boughs—He could not complete it that Night but was obliged to lye in his Obscurity ‘till next Night when he finished his Raft, took 2 staves for Paddles and committed himself to the Waves—thro God he got safe across and well into his own Camp—
Very little happened between our people and the Enemy—I was very tired of our Situation having bad lodging, and poor Fare—But more so on account of the Danger of our Situation, being between two Rivers and the Enemy having an Opportunity of landing above and below us.
In the Morning we had an Account of the Enemy’s landing at Dobb’s Ferry, and about 10 O’Clock we had orders to retreat taking what Baggage we could with us which was very little compared to what we left behind viz Tents, Cannons, Stores of every Kind. The Enemy soon took possession of Fort Lee, and had nearly taken a number of our Men—Col. Brearley, Mr. Hollingshead and Myself, having missed the Rout of our Troops, had nearly gone into the Enemy’s Camp, had we not been prevented by some 200 men whom we met running crying in the Road—we halted at the New Bridge and encamped—
Mr. Clark and Mr. Elmer came to Camp to know what officers in the Jersey Troops could be recommended—We marched in the Morning for Aquacanunck Bridge on Pasaic River thro a very wetting Rain and miry Roads.—The Enemy soon after came into Hackinsack—we quartered at Aquacanunck Bridge.
We marched thro a heavy Rain; when the whole Brigade had moved about a Mile Genl. Putnam ordered Col. Cortlandt’s Regt. back to defend the Bridge—I thro mistake stood [i.e., continued] on to New Ark, a very pretty Village in Essex County, with a Presbyn. Church and an English Church—a Court House and Prison—
Genl. Stephen came to Town with his Brigade—I spent the chief Part of the Day looking for the Arrival of my Regiment—a very tedious Situation—
In the forenoon went to hear Mr. McWhorter preach, and in the After Noon set off on foot to join my own Regt. 10 miles distant—Very little appearance of a Sabbath—the people [i.e., the local civilians] engaged in carrying off their Goods to places of Security—
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