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Attack on Long Island

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

AUGUST 28 — The great, the important day, big with the fate of America and liberty, seems to draw near. The British troops began to land on Long Island last Thursday, nearly their whole force, supposed to be more than twenty thousand British and foreign troops. They marched through the small town of Utrecht, on their way to Flatbush, another town about five miles from New York, near which they encamped; but were much harassed by our riflemen. Scouting parties were sent from our army to the adjacent woods, but were rather scanty in their numbers, considering the extent of ground they had to guard. The British forces, in three divisions, taking three different roads, and the advantage of the night, almost surrounded the whole of our out parties, who, though encircled with more than treble their numbers, bravely fought their way through the enemy, killing great numbers of them, and brought off some prisoners. The New York first battalion behaved with great bravery. Lord Stirling’s brigade sustained the hottest of the enemy’s fire; it consisted of Colonel Miles’s two battalions, Colonel Atlec’s, Colonel Smallwood’s, and Colonel Hatch’s regiments; they were all surrounded by the enemy, and had to fight their way through the blaze of their fire–they fought and fell like Romans! Lieutenant-Colonel Parry, of the Pennsylvania musketry, was shot through the head as he was giving orders to, and animating his men. The major part of Colonel Atlec’s and Colonel Piper’s regiments are missing. Doctor Davis and his mate were both taken prisoners as they were dressing a wounded person in the woods. Colonel Miles is missing, (a truly amiable character,) and supposed to be slain. General Parsons, with seven men, came in yesterday morning much fatigued, being for ten hours in the utmost danger of falling into the enemy’s hands. Our killed, wounded, and missing, are imagined to be about one thousand; but for our encouragement the missing are hourly coming in. Our outguards have retreated to the main body of the army within the lines. The British army have two encampments about a mile from our lines, and by their manoeuvres ’tis plain they mean to attack us by surprise, and storm our intrenchments. Our men show the greatest bravery, and wish them to come to action. The firing continued yesterday all the day.

Pennsylvania Journal, September 11.

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