"What is this you have been about to
The New Jersey Brigade at the Battle of Monmouth
John U. Rees
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“I resolved nevertheless to attack them …”
American Monmouth Battle Accounts
Samuel Adams, surgeon, 3rd Continental Artillery
Henry Dearborn, lt. colonel, 3rd New Hampshire Regiment
Alexander Hamilton, lt. colonel, General Washington’s staff
John Laurens, volunteer aide-de-camp to Washington
Bernardus Swartout, gentleman volunteer, 2nd New York Regiment
George Washington, commander in chief, Continental Army
Jeremiah Greenman, sergeant, 2nd Rhode Island Regiment
Ebenezer Wild, sergeant, 1st Massachusetts Regiment
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On July 1st General George Washington sent his report to Congress. This excerpt deals with the battle and pertinent pre-action events:
On [24 June] …I made a second detachment of 1500 chosen troops under Brigadier Genl. Scott, to reinforce those already in the vicinity of the Enemy [i.e., Maxwell’s New Jersey Brigade, Morgan’s light troops, and New Jersey militia] the more effectually to annoy and delay their march. The next day [25 June] … I dispatched a third detachment of a thousand select Men, under Brigadier General Wayne, and sent the Marquis de la Fayette to take the command of the whole advanced Corps, including Maxwells Brigade and Morgans light infantry; with orders to take the first fair opportunity of attacking the Enemy's Rear. In the evening of the same day [25 June], the whole Army marched from Kingston where our Baggage was left, with intention to preserve a proper distance for supporting the advanced Corps, and arrived at Cranberry early the next morning [of 26 June]. The intense heat of the Weather, and a heavy storm unluckily coming on made it impossible to resume our march that day without great inconvenience and injury to the troops. Our advanced Corps, being differently circumstanced, moved from the position it had held the night before, and took post in the evening on the Monmouth Road, about five Miles from the Enemy's Rear; in expectation of attacking them the next morning on their march. The main Body having remained at Cranberry, the advanced Corps was found to be too remote, and too far upon the Right to be supported either in case of an attack upon, or from the Enemy, which induced me to send orders to the Marquis to file off by his left towards English Town, which he accordingly executed early in the Morning of the 27th.
The Enemy, in Marching from Allen Town had changed their disposition and placed their best troops in the Rear, consisting of all the Grenadiers, Light Infantry, and Chasseurs of the line. This alteration made it necessary to increase the number of our advanced Corps; in consequence of which I detached Major General Lee [26 June] with two Brigades to join the Marquis at English Town, on whom of course the command of the whole devolved, amounting to about five thousand Men. The main Body marched the same day [27 June] and encamped within three Miles of that place [i.e., Englishtown]. Morgans Corps was left hovering on the Enemy's right flank and the Jersey Militia, amounting at this time to about 7 or 800 Men under General Dickinson on their left.
The Enemy were now encamped in a strong position, with their right extending about a Mile and a half beyond the Court House, in the parting of the Roads leading to Shrewsbury and Middletown, and their left along the Road from Allen Town to Monmouth, about three miles on this side the Court House. Their Right flank lay on the skirt of a small-wood, while their left was secured by a very thick one, and a Morass running towards their rear, and their whole front covered by a wood, and for a considerable extent towards the left with a Morass. In this situation they halted till the morning of the 28th.
Matters being thus situated, and having had the best information, that if the Enemy were once arrived at the Heights of Middletown, ten or twelve Miles from where they were, it would be impossible to attempt any thing against them with a prospect of success I determined to attack their Rear the moment they should get in motion from their present Ground. I communicated my intention to General Lee, and ordered him to make his disposition for the attack, and to keep his Troops constantly lying upon their Arms, to be in readiness at the shortest notice. This was done with respect to the Troops under my immediate command.
About five in the Morning General Dickinson sent an Express, informing that the Front of the Enemy had began their march, I instantly put the Army in motion, and sent orders by one of my Aids to General Lee to move on and attack them, unless there should be very powerful Reason's to the contrary; acquainting him at the same time, that I was marching to support him and for doing it with the greater expedition and convenience, should make the men disincumber themselves of their packs and Blankets.
After marching about five Miles, to my great surprise and mortification, I met the whole advanced Corps retreating, and, as I was told, by General Lee's orders, without having made any opposition, except one fire given by a party under the command of Colo. Butler [9th Pennsylvania], on their being charged by the Enemy's Cavalry, who were repulsed. I proceeded immediately to the Rear of the Corps, which I found closely pressed by the Enemy, and gave directions for forming part of the retreating troops, who by the brave and spirited conduct of the Officers, and aided by some pieces of well served Artillery, checked the Enemy's advance, and gave time to make a disposition of the left wing and second line of the Army upon an eminence, and in a wood a little in the Rear covered by a morass in front. On this were placed some Batteries of Cannon by Lord Stirling who commanded the left Wing, which played upon the Enemy with great effect, and seconded by parties of Infantry detached to oppose them, effectually put a stop to their advance.
General Lee being detached with the advanced Corps, the command of the Right Wing, for the occasion, was given to General Greene. For the expedition of the march, and to counteract any attempt to turn our Right, I had ordered him to file off by the new Church two miles from English Town, and fall into the Monmouth Road, a small distance in the Rear of the Court House, while the rest of the Column moved directly on towards the Court House. On intelligence of the Retreat, he marched up and took a very advantageous position on the Right.
The Enemy by this time, finding themselves warmly opposed in front made an attempt to turn our left Flank; but they were bravely repulsed and driven back by detached parties of Infantry. They also made a movement to our Right, with as little success, General Greene having advanced a Body of Troops with Artillery to a commanding piece of Ground [Combs Hill], which not only disappointed their design of turning our Right, but severely infiladed those in front of the left Wing. In addition to this, General Wayne advanced with a Body of Troops and kept up so severe and well directed a fire that the Enemy were soon compelled to retire behind the defile where the first stand in the beginning of the Action had been made.
In this situation, the Enemy had both their Flanks secured by thick Woods and Morasses, while their front could only be approached thro a narrow pass. I resolved nevertheless to attack them, and for that purpose ordered General Poor with his own and the Carolina Brigade, to move round upon their Right, and General Woodford upon their left, and the Artillery to gall them in front: The Troops advanced with great spirit to execute their orders But the impediments in their way prevented their getting within reach before it was dark. They remained upon the Ground, they had been directed to occupy, during the Night, with intention to begin the attack early the next morning, and the Army continued lying upon their Arms in the Field of Action, to be in readiness to support them. In the meantime the Enemy were employed in removing their wounded, and about 12 OClock at Night marched away in such silence, that tho' General Poor lay extremely near them, they effected their Retreat without his Knowledge. They carried off all their wounded except four Officers and about Fifty privates whose wounds were too dangerous to permit their removal.
The extreme heat of the Weather, the fatigue of the Men from their march thro' a deep, sandy Country almost entirely destitute of Water, and the distance the Enemy had gained by marching in the Night, made a pursuit impracticable and fruitless. It would have answered no valuable purpose, and would have been fatal to numbers of our Men, several of whom died the preceeding day with Heat.
Were I to conclude my account of this day's transactions without expressing my obligation s to the Officers of the Army in general, I should do injustice to their merit, and violence to my own feelings. They seemed to vie with each other in manifesting their Zeal and Bravery. The Catalogue of those who distinguished themselves is too long to admit of particularising individuals; I cannot however forbear mentioning Brigadier General Wayne whose good conduct and bravery thro' the whole action deserves particular commendation.
The Behaviour of the troops in general, after they recovered from the first surprise occasioned by the Retreat of the advanced Corps, was such as could not be surpassed.
All the Artillery both Officers and Men that were engaged, distinguished themselves in a remarkable manner.
Inclosed Congress will be pleased to receive a Return of the killed, wounded and missing. Among the first were Lieut. Colo. Bunner of [3rd] Penna. and Major Dickinson of [1st] Virginia, both Officers of distinguished merit and much to be regretted. The Enemys slain left on the Field and buried by us, according to the Return of the persons assigned to that duty were four Officers and Two hundred and forty five privates. In the former number was the Honble. Colo Monckton [17th Regiment of Foot]. Exclusive of these they buried some themselves, as there were several new Graves on and near the field of Battle. How many Men they may have had wounded cannot be determined; but from the usual proportion to the slain, the number must have been considerable There were a few prisoners taken. Nor can the amount of the Prisoners taken be ascertained, as they were sent off in small parties, as they were captured, and the returns not yet made.
The peculiar Situation of General Lee at this time requires that I should say nothing of his Conduct. He is now in arrest. The Charges against him, with such Sentence as the Court Martial may decree in his Case, shall be transmitted for the approbation or disapprobation of Congress as soon as it shall have passed.
Being fully convinced by the Gentlemen of this Country that the Enemy cannot be hurt or injured in their embarkation at Sandy Hook the place to which they are going, and being unwilling to get too far removed from the North River, I put the Troops in motion early this morning and shall proceed that way, leaving the Jersey Brigade, Morgan's Corps and other light parties (the Militia being all dismissed) to hover about them, countenance desertion and to prevent their depredations, as far as possible. After they embark the former will take post in the Neighbourhood of Elizabeth Town. The latter rejoin the Corps from which they were detached. I have the Honor etc.5
Washington gave additional details in a July 4th letter to his brother, John Augustine:
Brunswick in New Jersey, July 4, 1778.
Dear Brother … before this will have reached you, the Acct. of the Battle of Monmouth probably will get to Virginia; which, from an unfortunate, and bad beginning, turned out a glorious and happy day.
The Enemy evacuated Philadelphia on the 18th. Instt.; at ten oclock that day I got intelligence of it, and by two oclock, or soon after, had Six Brigades on their March for the Jerseys, and followed with the whole Army next Morning. On the 21st. we compleated our passage over the Delaware at Coryells ferry (abt. 33 Miles above Philadelphia) distant from Valley forge near 40 Miles. From this Ferry we moved down towards the Enemy, and on the 27th. got within Six Miles of them.
General Lee having the command of the Van of the Army, consisting of fully 5000 chosen Men, was ordered to begin the Attack next Morning so soon as the enemy began their March, to be supported by me. But, strange to tell! when he came up with the enemy, a retreat commenced; whether by his order, or from other causes, is now the subject of inquiry, and consequently improper to be descanted on, as he is in arrest, and a Court Martial sitting for tryal of him. A Retreat however was the fact, be the causes as they may; and the disorder arising from it would have proved fatal to the Army had not that bountiful Providence which has never failed us in the hour of distress, enabled me to form a Regiment or two (of those that were retreating) in the face of the Enemy, and under their fire, by which means a stand was made long enough (the place through which the enemy were pursuing being narrow) to form the Troops that were advancing, upon an advantageous piece of Ground in the rear; hence our affairs took a favourable turn, and from being pursued, we drove the Enemy back, over the ground they had followed us, recovered the field of Battle, and possessed ourselves of their dead. but, as they retreated behind a Morass very difficult to pass, and had both Flanks secured with thick Woods, it was found impracticable with our Men fainting with fatigue, heat, and want of Water, to do any thing more that Night. In the Morning we expected to renew the Action, when behold the enemy had stole of as Silent as the Grave in the Night after having sent away their wounded. Getting a Nights March of us, and having but ten Miles to a strong post, it was judged inexpedient to follow them any further, but move towards the North River least they should have any design upon our posts there.
We buried 245 of their dead on the field of Action; they buried several themselves, and many have been since found in the Woods, where, during the action they had drawn them to, and hid them. We have taken five Officers and upwards of One hundred Prisoners, but the amount of their wounded we have not learnt with any certainty; according to the common proportion of four or five to one, there should be at least a thousand or 1200. Without exagerating, their trip through the Jerseys in killed, Wounded, Prisoners, and deserters, has cost them at least 2000 Men and of their best Troops. We had 60 Men killed, 132 Wounded, and abt. 130 Missing, some of whom I suppose may yet come in. Among our Slain Officers is Majr. Dickenson, and Captn. Fauntleroy, two very valuable ones.5
Lt. Colonel Alexander Hamilton to Congressman Elias Boudinot, 5 July 1778
Alexander Hamilton, after excoriating Charles Lee’s performance in the campaign and battle, went on to recount the action: “General Lee’s orders were, the moment he received intelligence of the enemy’s march to persue them & attack their rear. This intelligence was received about five oClock the morning of the 28th. and General Lee put his troops in motion accordingly. The main body did the same. The advanced corps came up with the enemys rear a mile or two beyond the court House; I saw the enemy drawn up, and am persuaded there were not a thousand men; their front from different accounts was then ten miles off. However favourable this situation may seem for an attack it was not made; but after changing their position two or three times by retrograde movements our advanced corps got into a general confused retreat and even route would hardly be too strong an expression. Not a word of all this was officially communicated to the General [Washington]; as we approached the supposed place of action we heard some flying rumours of what had happened in consequence of which the General rode forward and fond the troops retiring in the greatest disorder and the enemy pressing their rear. I never saw the general to so much advantage. His coolness and firmness were admirable. He instantly took measures for checking the enemy’s advance, and giving time for the army, which was very near, to form and make a proper disposition. He then rode back and had the troops formed on a very advantageous piece of ground; in which and in other transactions of the day General Greene & Lord Stirling rendered very essential service, and did themselves great honor. The sequel is we beat the enemy and killed and wounded at least a thousand of their troops. America owes a great deal to General Washington for this day’s work … by his own presence, he brought order out of confusion, animated his troops and led them to success.
A great number of our officers distinguished themselves this day. General [Anthony] Wayne was always foremost in danger. Col [Walter] Stewart [13th Pennsylvania Regiment] & Lt Col [Nathaniel] Ramsay [3rd Maryland] were with him among the first to oppose the enemy. Lt Col [Jeremiah] Olney [2nd Rhode Island] at the head of Varnum’s Brigade made the next stand. I was with him, got my horse wounded and myself much hurt by a fall in consequence. Col [Henry] Livingston [4th New York] behaved very handsomely. Our friend [Lieutenant Colonel Francis] Barber [3rd New Jersey] was remarkably active; towards the close of the day, he received a ball through his side - which the doctors think will not be fatal. Col: [Joseph] Silly [1st New Hampshire], & Lt Col: [Richard] Parker [Parker's Regiment] were particularly useful on the left - Col [Thomas] Craig [3rd Pennsylvania], with General Wayne, on the right. The Artillery acquitted themselves most charmingly. I was spectator to Lt Col: [Eleazer] Oswalds [2nd Continental Artillery] behaviour, who kept up a gallant fire from some pieces commanded by him, uncovered and unsupported … The behaviour of the officers and men in general was such as could not easily be surpassed. Our troops, after the first impulse from mismanagement, behaved with more spirit & moved with greater order than the British troops. You know my way of thinking about our army, and that I am not apt to flatter it. I assure you I never was pleased with them before this day.”3
John Laurens to Henry Laurens, 30 June 1778.
“… The enemy’s rear was preparing to leave Monmouth village … when our advanced corps was marching towards them. The militia of the country kept up a random running fire with the Hessian Jagers; no mischief was done on either side. I was with a small party of horse, reconnoitring the enemy, in an open space before Monmouth, when I perceived two parties of the enemy advancing by files in the woods on our right and left, with a view as I imagined, of enveloping our small party or preparing a way for a skirmish of their horse. I immediately wrote an account of what I had seen to the General [Washington], and expressed my anxiety on account of the languid appearance of the continental troops under Genl Lee … [shortly after reporting to General Lee in person] I … returned to make further discoveries. I found that the two parties had been withdrawn from the wood, and that the enemy were preparing to leave Monmouth … Genl Lee at length gave orders to advance. The enemy were forming themselves on the Middle Town road, with their light infantry in front, and cavalry on the left flank, while a scattering, distant fire was commenced between our flanking parties and theirs. I was impatient and uneasy at seeing that no disposition was made, and endeavored to find out Genl Lee to inform him of what was doing … He told me that he was going to order some troops to march below the enemy and cut off their retreat. Two pieces of artillery were posted on our right without a single foot soldier to support them. Our men were formed piecemeal in front of the enemy, and there appeared no general plan or disposition calculated on that of the enemy … The enemy began a cannonade from two parts of their line; their whole body of horse made a furious charge upon a small party of our cavalry and dissipated them, and drove them till the appearance of our infantry and a judicious discharge or two of artillery made them retire precipitately. Three regiments of ours that had advanced in a plain open country towards the enemy’s left flank, were ordered by Genl Lee to retire and occupy the village of Monmouth. They were no sooner formed there, than they were ordered to quit that post and gain the woods [behind them]. One order succeeded another with a rapidity and indecision calculated to ruin us. The enemy changed their front and were advancing towards us; our men were fatigued with the excessive heat. The artillery horses were not in condition to make a brisk retreat. A new position was ordered, but not generally communicated, for part of the troops were forming on the right of the ground, while others were marching away, and all the artillery driving off. The enemy, after a short halt, resumed their pursuit; no cannon was left to check their progress. A regiment was ordered to form behind a fence [Jackson’s Additional Regiment], and as speedily commanded to retire. All this disgraceful retreating, passed without the firing of a musket, over ground which might have been disputed inch by inch. We passed a defile and arrived at an eminence beyond, which was defended on one side by an impenetrable fen, on the other by thick woods where our men would have fought to advantage. Here, fortunately for the honour of the army, and the welfare of America, Genl Washington met the troops retreating in disorder … He ordered some pieces of artillery to be brought up to defend the pass, and some troops to form and defend the pieces. The artillery was too distant to be brought up readily, so that there was little opposition given here. A few shot though, and a little skirmishing in the wood checked the enemy’s career, The Genl expressed his astonishment at this unaccountable retreat. Mr. Lee indecently replied that the attack was contrary to his advice and opinion in council. We were obliged to retire to a position, which, though hastily reconnoitred, proved an excellent one. Two regiments were formed behind a fence in front of the position. The enemy’s horse advanced in full charge with admirable bravery to the distance of forty paces, when a general discharge from these regiments did great execution among them, and made them fly with the greatest precipitation. The grenadiers succeeded to the attack. At this time my horse was killed under me. In this spot the action was the hottest, and there was considerable slaughter of the British grenadiers. The General ordered Woodford’s brigade with some artillery to take possession of an eminence [Comb’s Hill] on the enemy’s left and cannonade from thence. This produced an excellent effect. The enemy were prevented from advancing on us, and confined themselves to cannonade with a show of turning our left flank. Our artillery answered theirs with the greatest vigour. The General seeing that our left flank was secure, as the ground was open and commanded by it, so that the enemy could not attempt to turn it without exposing their own flank to a heavy fire from our artillery … In the meantime, Genl Lee continued retreating. Baron Steuben was order’d to form the broken troops in the rear. The cannonade was incessant and the General ordered parties to advance from time to time and engage the grenadiers and guards. The horse shewed themselves no more. The grenadiers shewed their backs and retreated every where with precipitation. They returned, however again to the charge, and were again repulsed. They finally retreated and got over the strong pass, where, as I mentioned before, Genl Washington first rallied the troops. We advanced in force and continued masters of the ground; the standards of liberty were planted in triumph on the field of battle. We remained looking at each other, with the defile between us, till dark, and they stole off in silence at midnight. We have buried of the enemy’s slain, 233, principally grenadiers; forty odd of their wounded whom they left at Monmouth, fell into our hands. Several officers are our prisoners. Among their killed are Col Moncton, a captain of the guards, and several captains of grenadiers. We have taken but a very inconsiderable number of prisoners, for want of a good body of horse. Deserters are coming in as usual. Our officers and men behaved with that bravery which becomes freemen, and have convinced the world that they can beat British grenadiers … B. Genl Wayne, Col. Barber, Col. Stewart, Col. Livingston, Col. Oswald of the artillery, Capt Doughty deserve well of their country, and distinguished themselves nobly.
The enemy buried many of their dead that are not accounted for above, and carried off a great number of wounded. I have written diffusely, and yet I have not told you all. Genl Lee, I think, must be tried for misconduct. However, as this is a matter not generally known, tho’ it seems almost universally wished for, I beg you, my dear father, to say nothing of it.”8
John Laurens to Henry Laurens, 2 July 1778.
“Genl Steuben, his aids and your son, narrowly escaped being surrounded by the British horse, early on the morning of the action. We reconnoitred them rather too nearly, and Ld Cornwallis sent the dragoons of his guard to make us prisoners. Genl Clinton saw* the Baron’s star [worn on the breast of his uniform coat], and the whole pursuit was directed at him; but we escaped, the dragoons fearing an ambuscade of infantry.”
* In an appended note Colonel Laurens wrote, “A deserter from the enemy just informs us of this.”8
Henry Dearborn, lt. colonel, 3rd New Hampshire Regiment
(Note:The Dearborn Diary for the march to Monmouth is in Section B - Jump to there)
28th haveing Intiligence this morning before sun Rise that the Enimy ware moving, we ware Ordered, together with the Troops Commanded by the Marquis & Genrl. Lee (in the whole about 5000) to march towards the Enimy … at Eleven o Clock A.M. after marching 6 or 7 miles we arriv’d on the Plains Near Monmouth Court House, Where a Collumn of the Enimy appeared in sight. A brisk Cannonade Commens’d on both sides. The Collumn which was advancing towards us Halted & soon Retired, but from some moovements of theirs we ware Convince’d they Intended to fight us, shifted our ground, form.d on very good ground & waited to see if they intended to Come on. We soon Discovere’d a Large Collumn Turning our Right & an Other Comeing up in our Front With Cavelry in front of both Collumns Genrl. Lee was on the Right of our Line who Left the ground & made Tracks Quick Step towards English Town. Genrl. Scots Detatchment Remaind on the ground we form.d on until we found we ware very near surrounded- & ware Obliged to Retire which we Did in good order altho we ware hard Prest on our Left flank.- the Enimy haveing got a mile in Rear of us before we began to Retire & ware bearing Down on our Left as we went off & we Confin’d by a Morass on our Right. after Retireing about 2 miles we met his Excelency Genrl. Washington who after seeing what Disorder Genrl. Lee.s Troops ware in appeer’d to be at a Loss whether we should be able to make a stand or not. however he order’d us to form on a Heighth [Perrine Hill], & Indevour to Check the Enimy, we form.d & about 12 Peices of Artillery being brought on the hill with us: the Enimy at the same time advancing very Rappedly finding we had form.d, they form.d in our front on a Ridge & brought up their Artillery within about 60 Rods* [330 yards] of our front. When the briske[s]t Cannonade Commenced on both sides that I Ever heard. Both Armies ware on Clear Ground & if any thing Can be Call.d Musical where there is so much Danger, I think that was the finest musick, I Ever heared. however the agreeableness of the musick was very often Lessen’d by the balls Coming too near - Our men being very much beat out with Fateague & heat which was very intence, we order.d them to sit Down & Rest them Selves … Soon after the Cannonade became serious a Large Collum of the Enimy began to turn our Left [this was in front of Proctor’s Artillery, behind which Maxwell’s New Jersey brigade was formed]. Some Part of our Artillery Play’d upon them very Briskly & they finding their main Body ware not advancing, halted. The Cannonade Continued about 2 ½ Hours & then the Enimy began to Retire from their Right. Genrl. Washington being in front of our Regt. when the Enimy began to Retire from their Right he ordered Colo. Cilley & me with abt. 300 men to go & attact the Enimies Right wing which then was Passing thro an orchard, but when they found we ware about to attact them they formed & stood Redy to Receive us, when we arriv’d within 200 yards of them we form.d Batallion & advanc’d, (the Last of which was within 60 yards of the Enimy) we Could advance but slowly, the Enimy when we ware takeing Down the Last fence, give us a very heavy fire which we Did not Return. after takeing Down the Last fence we march’d on with armes shoulderd Except. 20 men who we sent on their Right to scurmish with them while we Pass.d the fences. the Enimy finding we ware Determined to Come to Close quarter, fil.d off from the Left & Run off upon our Right into a swamp & form.d in the Edge of it. We Wheel.d to the Right & advanc.d towards them. they began a heavy fire upon us. we ware Desending toward them in Open field, with Shoulder’d armes until we had got within 4 Rods* [22 yards] of them when our men Dress’d very Coolly & we then gave them a very heavy fire from the whole Batallion. they had two Peices of artillery across a small Run which Play’d with grape very briskly upon us but when they found we ware Determin’d to Push upon them they Retreeted to their main body which was giving way & ware Persued by some Parties from our Line. We persued until we got Possesion of the field of Battle, where we found 300 Dead & a Conciderable number of wound[ed]. among the Dead was Colo. Mungton & a number of other officers. the Enimy Retire’d across a Morass & form’d. Our men being beat out with heat & fateague it was thought not Prudent to Persue them. Great numbers of the Enemy Died with heat & some of ours. We Remain’d on the field of Battle & ware to attact the Enimy Early Next morning but they Prevented us by a Precipate Retreet in the middle of the night. they Left 5 Officers wounded at Monmouth Court House
the Enimies Whole Loss in the Battle of Monmouth was
327 kill’d 500 wounded 95 Prisoner -------
Our Loss -
63 kill’d 210 wounded
here ends the famous Battle of Monmouth.2
(* rod: 16.5 feet or 5.5 yards.)
Bernardus Swartout, gentleman volunteer, 2nd New York Regiment
(Note:The Swartwout Diary for the march to Monmouth is in Section B - Jump to there)
28th. We drew rum & provisions - were ordered to march - not having time to prepare our provisions or eating - left our baggage of every kind behind, also the soldiers coats. At 9 O.Clock A.M. fell in with the enemy at, or near, Monmouth Court House; we immediately formed in a field and a few cannon shots were exchanged - We not being posted in an advantageous position as Gen. Lee thought, were ordered to recross a defile or morass in our rear and form again in a wood - remained there an hour -
The enemy advanced - Gen. Lee gave us orders to retreat (to the parties disatisfaction) from an advantageous piece of ground - we retired in great haste but in good order - the enemy pressed hard on our rear. After retreating two miles was met by Gen. Washington who was amazed to find us retreating - he ordered us to halt, form on a hill immediately in our front and face the enemy, accordingly did so, with alacrity, on a good piece of ground - the enemy had been advancing on us very fast, cutting our rear to pieces - we commenced a smart cannonade upon them, which compliment they returned - a heavy firing was produced - the enemy endeavoured to gain our left wing, but the reception they met with confused them to such a degree that they broke their ranks and fell back - they formed and again came up, but were repulsed and made a precipitate retreat - we pursued them with charged bayonet - they made a short stand - the line came to a shoulder and a heavy fire of Musquetry commenced together with charging bayonets - again they were obliged to sound the retreat - we pursued them some distance but night approached fast - were compelled to relinquish the chase - returned to the hill from whence we cannonaded - lay still about two hours, then marched towards the enemy one mile, then counter marched back to the aforesaid hill again, where we laid down under the blue skies this night - both armies suffered severely from the excessive heat.
29th June The different corps of the Army laid still, excepting Poor’s brigade and Morgan’s riflemen, who watched the enemy’s rear.
30th. The [light] infantry were disbanded and ordered to join their respective brigades - in the afternoon marched to our different camps - the weather was very hot - many men lost their lives in consequence thereof.
1st. July Marched over a sandy plain - the heat and want of water occasioned the death of many soldiers traveled eight miles without water - at night encamped at Spotswood.
2nd. Marched to New Brunswick, crossed the bridge and encamped opposite the town - our baggage joined us at this place-laid still until the 5th. when the left wing of the Army marched.”4
Surgeon Samuel Adams, 3rd Continental Artillery
(Note:The Adams Diary for the march to Monmouth is in Section B - Jump to there)
28th Sabb[ath]: fair & exceeding hot indeed!! This morning our Army moved on, and the detachments & Jersey Militia came up with the enemy near Monmouth Court House, about 8 o'clock A.M. and a scattering fire began & was kept up for some time, and reinforcements were sent on both sides, & the action with various success for some time: but the enemies main body being the seat of Action than ours their numbers in the field soon exceeded ours & obliged our people to retreat about two miles till Meeting the great Genl. Washington with the main body who immediately formed a line on a Small Eminence (a short mile from Mr. Tennent's Meeting House) and a warm cannonade commenced, said to be the severest since the commencement of the war, and continued near three hours, in which time several detachments were engaged with musquetry, and finally the ignoble Clinton & his sheep stealers were obliged to retreat & leave many of their wounded [and] all their slain on the field of Battle. ... About 12 at Night the enemy marched off from the Court House in great haste leaving behind 4 wounded officers & 40 privates & a Surgn. to our mercy & feld to their shipping at Sandy Hook - Our officers and men (in general) behaved in the action with great bravery; but had his Excelency's orders been fully obeyed by all it might have turned out a more capitol affair - the extent of our loss is as follows - seventy five killed & Died of the heat, and perhaps one third of the number was by the latter cause which is not to be wondered at when we consider that between the hours of 8 & 12 of as hot a day as perhaps ever was known, we forced a march of 8 or 9 miles over a dry sandy road, destitute of water or any refreshment & then immediately went into action - two hundred & twenty five wounded and missing but many of the missing have come in since the return ... lodged at night with the Army on the field of Action with no other covering than the canopy of heaven, not so much the convenience of a Blankett. Slept well -
N.B. our Army had marched near one hundred miles (& 40 farther than the enemy) in the heat of summer to overtake the enemy & through God's goodness, gave them a pretty good drubbing ...
29th M: fair and very hot! - our Army after burying the Dead, taking care of the wounded etc., etc. just at Night marched back to English Town. I went over the field of Battle a shocking sight!
30th T: fair and excessive hot - the Army was ordered to parade at 6 o'clock P.M. to return thanks to God for the interposition of his Providence in our behalf in the Action of the 28th & the chaplains delivered Discourses suitable to the occasion ...
1st W: fair & hot indeed - the Army Marched at 2 in the morning came into Spottswood ...
2d Th: fair & hot. Shower P.M. & during Night - the Army marched at 12 last night came to Brunswick, encamped on the Banks of the Raritan ...
3d F: Rainy, warm - the Army halted ...
4th S: fair cool - the whole Army paraded at 5 P.M. to celebrate the Anniversary of American Independence. Fired 13 cannon & Feu de Joy & 3 times repeated ...”1
Sergeant Jeremiah Greenman, 2nd Rhode Island Regiment
(Note: The Greenman Diary for the march to Monmouth is in Section B - Jump to there).
S 28. Englishtown / this morn att two oClock we slung our packs / advanc'd towards the enemy about 3 milds from ware lay / part of the militia & light horse that was on the wright engag'd the enemy / then our Division under the Command of Genl Lee advanced towards the enemy / thay form'd in a Sollid Collom then fir'd a voley att us / thay being so much Superier to our Number we retreated / thay begun a very heavy Cannading / kil'd a few of our Rijmt. then we form'd again under a fence ware the light horse advanced on us / we began a fire on them very heavy / then the footmen rushed on us / after firing a Number of rounds we was obliged to retreat. a Number of our men died with heat a retreating. A Number of troops form'd in the rear of us and sum artillira wich cover'd our retreat. thay began a fire on the enemy, then thay [the British] retreat'd ... we went back to the ground ware we left in the morning att English town ...
M 29. Continuing in English town. this day we buried all the dead / the enemy gone off intirly / very hott indeed so that the men that wan [went] on a march retreating yesterday throy'd away thay packs & so forth and a Number dyed before ye enemy retreated back.
T 30. Continuing in a field near to English town / water very scarce indeed / Such a Number of Solders that water is almost as scares as Liquor & what is got is very bad indeed ... this afternoon we draw'd two days provision & fit for a march.”7
Sergeant Ebenezer Wild, 1st Massachusetts Regiment
(Note: The Wild Diary for the march to Monmouth is in Section B - Jump to there).
28 June. This morning about 6 o’clk the General beat; in about an hour afterwards the Troop beat. We fell in & marched off. Went about 4 miles, & made a little halt to sarch [search] our arms and ammunition. Every man was compleated with 40 rounds apiece. We left all our packs and blankets, and marched on in pursuit of the enemy as far as we could. About 2 o’clk came up with them. Our Division formed a line on the eminence about a half a mile in the front of the enemy, and our artillery in our front. A very smart cannonading ensued from both sides. We stayed here till several of our officers & men were killed and wounded. Seeing that it was of no service to stand here, we went back a little ways into the words; but the cannonading still continued very smart on bout sides about two hours, when the enemy retreated and we marched up & took possession of their ground. This place is called Monmouth. It has been very hot all day. Numbers of our men had fainted and given out with the heat before we came up to the enemy. We lay here all night in the field.
29 June. Very warm this morning. We lay still here till 5 o’clk, at which time the General beat, and we marched to the ground where we left our baggage yesterday, and lay there all night without any tents.
30 June. Excessive hot this morning. We lay still here all day.
1 July . This morning between 1 & 2 o’clk the General was beat. We got up & fell in, & were counted off in order to march; but we were delayed till almost daylight, and then we marched off & went 9 miles without making of any halt, which brought us to a place called Spots Wood. We arrived here about 8 o’clk in the morning, and make a general halt here. …”6
1. "Samuel Adams's Private Miscellaneous Diary Ann: Dom: 1778. Kept partly in the Town of Dorchester and partly in his Excellency General Washington's Camp at Valley Forge, White Plains, Fredericksburgh, &c ...," Samuel Adams Diaries, Manuscript Division, New York Public Library.
2. Lloyd A. Brown and Howard H. Peckham, eds., Revolutionary War Journals of Henry Dearborn, 1775-1783 (Chicago: The Caxton Club, 1939; reprinted Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, Inc., 1994), 123-129.
3. Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. I (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1961), 511-513.
4. Diary of Bernardus Swartout, 2nd New York Regiment, 10 November 1777-9 June 1783, Bernardus Swartout Papers, New-York Historical Society, 4-6.
5. Washington to the President of Congress, 1 July 1778; to John Augustine Washington, 4 July 1778, John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745‑1799, vol. 12 (Washington, D.C., 1934), 139-143, 156-158.
6. Ebenezer Wild, "Journal of Ebenezer Wild," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2nd series, vol. VI (Boston, Ma., 1891), 108-111.
7. Robert C. Bray and Paul E. Bushnell, eds., Diary of a Common Soldier in the American Revolution: An Annotated Edition of the Military Journal of Jeremiah Greenman, (DeKalb, Il., 1978), 120-124.
8. The Lee Papers, vol. II, 1776-1778, Collections of the New‑York Historical Society for the Year 1872 (New York, 1873), 431-434, 451.
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