General Putnam’s Account of the Battle of Horse Neck

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

General Putnam, in an official letter from the camp at Reading, gives the following account of this expedition:—”A detachment from the enemy at King’s Bridge, consisting of the 17th, 44th, and 67th British regiments, one of the Hessians, and two of new levies, marched from their lines for Horse Neck, on the evening of the 25th ultimo, with an intention of surprising the troops at that place, and destroying the salt works.

“A captain and thirty men were sent from our advanced lines from Horse Neck, who discovered the enemy at New Rochelle, in advance. They retired before them undiscovered, as far as Eye Neck, where it growing light, the enemy observed and attacked them. They defended themselves as well as possible, and made their way good to Sawpitts, where they took advantage of a commanding piece of ground and made some little stand; but the superior force of the enemy obliged them to retire over Byram Bridge, which they took up, and by that means had an opportunity of reaching Horse Neck in safety.

“As I was there myself to see the situation of the guards, I had the troops formed on a hill by the meeting-house, ready to receive the enemy as they advanced. They came on briskly, and I soon discovered that their design was to turn our flanks and possess themselves of a defile in our rear, which would effectually prevent our retreat. I therefore ordered parties out on both flanks, with directions to give me information of their approach, that we might retire in season. In the mean time a column advanced up the main road, where the remainder of the troops (amounting only to about sixty) were posted. We discharged some old field-pieces which were there a few times, and gave them a small fire of musketry, but without any considerable effect; the superior force of the enemy soon obliged our small detachment to abandon the place.

“I therefore directed the troops to retire and form on a hill a little distance from Horse Neck, while I proceeded to Stamford and collected a body of militia and a few Continental troops which were there, with which I returned immediately, and found that the enemy (after plundering the inhabitants of the principal part of their effects, and destroying a few salt works, a small sloop, and store) were on their return. The officer commanding the Continental troops stationed at Horse Neck, mistook my orders, and went much farther than I intended, so that he could not come up with them to any advantage. I however ordered the few troops that came from Stamford to pursue them, thinking they might have an opportunity to pick up some stragglers. In this I was not mistaken, as your Excellency will see by the list of prisoners. Besides these, eight or nine more were taken and sent off, so that I cannot tell to which particular regiments they belonged; one ammunition and one baggage wagon were taken. In the former there were about two hundred rounds of canister, grape, and round shot, suited to three-pounders, some slow matches, and about two hundred tubes; the latter was filled with plunder, which I had the satisfaction of restoring to the inhabitants from whom it was taken. As I have not yet got a return, I cannot tell exactly the number we lost, though I don’t think more than ten soldiers, and about that number of inhabitants, but a few of which were in arms.”1

1 Barber’s Connecticut, p. 381.

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