Friday, November 11, 2011

Letters from the Front: The Battle of Pell's Point

"Col Reads & Lt Col: Shepards Regiments were posted behind a Stone Wall in the Enemy’s Course undiscovered by them..."

In Jedediah Huntington's previous letter of October 15, 1776, he discussed the British Army's abortive landing at Throg's Neck, to be followed up by an advance at Pell's Point designed to turn the American flank. In this letter, dated five days later, he provides some descriptions of the latter engagement. In the course of this battle, Colonel John Glover, commander of the 14th Continental Regiment (also known as Glover's Marblehead Regiment) opposed the march of 4,000 redcoats with his small brigade of four regiments. Huntington mentions neither Glover, Glover's regiment, nor another one of the units in Glover's Brigade, the 3rd Continental Regiment. Instead, he focuses on the 13th Continental Regiment (commanded by Colonel Read of Massachusetts) and the 26th Continental Regiment (officially commanded by Col. Baldwin of Massachusetts but actually lead by Lt. Col. Shepherd). As Huntington notes, the key to the initial American success was surprise: Glover was able to shelter his men behind stone walls and ambush the British column, which eventually succeeded due to the force of numbers. While Glover was forced to retire, his defense bought Washington precious time to begin the withdrawal to White Plains, leaving a strong garrison at Fort Washington to harass the British. For the full text of the letter, please read below.


Sol Feinstone Collection No. 586 
Jedediah Huntington to Andrew [Huntington] Camp Kingsbridge 20 October 1776 
Transcribed by Paul Davis, October 2011

                                                                                                     “Camp Kingsbridge 20 Octo 1776

Dear Sir, I do not know how soon this will reach you, having no direct Conveyance to Norwich I send it to Byram to the Care of our Friend Tracy to forward ______ a large Body of the Enemy landed the Day before Yesterday near East Chester Church & marched to an Height about a Quarter of a Mile from the Post Road but not without Opposition & great Loss. __ Col Reads & Lt Col: Shepards Regiments were posted behind a Stone Wall in the Enemy’s Course undiscovered by them & they were suffered to approach within a Rod or two before they received the first Fire of our Men which at once broke them & made them retire they rallyed & came up a second Time & were again repulsed, the third Engagement our men gave them the Ground owing to their great Supeorority of Numbers ______two Deserters have come from them since the action & say that a Thousand were killed & taken, we lost not a Twentieth part so many ______ Lt. Col: Shepard is slightly wounded in the Neck ______ the Enemy now Command the Post Road by the forementioned Church __ most of our troops have left York Island. _ Genl. Lee, Spencer & Lincoln with near ten thousand men are between the Enemy’s new Post & the North River who doubtless will thwart their intention of forming a Line from River to River_ the Army is in fine spirits & wishing for more than expecting a General Action ___Jed Huntington [pg 1]

PS I hear the Enemy have stretched themselves to New Rochel & have taken a Quantity of Salt in the Church there belonging to the Commy. General ______ One hundred & Fifty Light Horse made their appearance at East Chester this Day _____by the by the Regiment of Light Horse (Burgoynes) lately arrived from England Were lost at Sea & bruised on the Voyage so that only 31 of them were landed fit for Service _________

I am this Hour 8 0,Clock P,M, ordered to be in Readiness to march tomorrow Morning at Break of Day somewhere I know not where to the Northward ________ [pg 2]”

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