Friday, June 29, 2012

Intern's Corner: The Battle of Monmouth

Account of Bernardus Swartwout, New York
By Mark Relation, DLAR Intern

Bernardus Swartwout served in the 2nd New York from 1777 until the end of the War, first as a gentlemen volunteer and then as an ensign, commissioned on September 1st, 1778.  The following is his personal account of the battle and all of the action that took place for the day, highlighting the back and forth nature of the fighting.

June 28th

"We drew rum & provisions--were ordered to march--not having time to prepare our provisions for eating--left our baggage of every kind behind, also the soldiers coats.  At 9 o’clock AM fell in with the enemy at, or near Monmouth Courthouse; 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 dissatisfaction) 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 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, with compliment they returned--heavy firing was produced—the enemy endeavored 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 Musketry commenced together with charging bayonets--again they were obliged to sound the retreat--we pursued them some distance but night approached fast--we were compelled to relinquish the chase--returned up 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.”

Diary of Bernardus Swartwout, 2nd NY Regiment, 10 NOV 1777-9 Jun 1783; Bernardus Swartwout Papers; New York Historical Society; NY, NY. 

Darley, Felix Octavius.  George Washington at Monmouth.  1858.

No comments:

Post a Comment