From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.
April 17.—Yesterday morning, a detachment of two hundred Continental troops, under the command of Major Boyles, of the Pennsylvania line, stationed at Paramus, in Jersey, was suddenly attacked by a party of the enemy, consisting of about two hundred horse, and four hundred foot. The attack commenced a little after sunrise. Major Boyles, besides his usual patroles, had that morning sent out two parties, each with a commissioned officer; but such is the situation of that part of the country, intersected with roads, and inhabited chiefly by disaffected people, that all precautions failed. His parties and patroles were eluded, and the sentinels near his quarters were the first that gave notice of the enemy’s approach. He had just before paraded and dismissed his men. The advance of the horse was so rapid, that no time was left to reassemble them. The major had no resource but the defence of the house he was in; this, therefore, with only a small quarter-guard, he resolved to attempt, though from the smallness of his force, and its entire disproportion to the place he was defending, he could have no prospect of success; but chose rather to fall in a brave, though hopeless resistance, than to save himself by a dishonorable surrender. He immediately made the best disposition the hurry of the moment would permit, and animated his men by his exhortation and example. A brisk fire ensued on both sides; the house was soon surrounded on every part, and no effort of the little party seemed capable of hindering the enemy from forcing their way. Some of the men, intimidated by so threatening a scene, began to cry for quarter; others, obeying the commands of their officers, continued to fire from the windows. The enemy without, upbraided them with the perfidy of asking quarter and persisting in resistance, desiring them to come out and they would quarter them. Major Boyles, exclaiming in a determined tone, denied his having called for quarter; but his resolution could not avail, a surrender took place, and, in the act, the major received a mortal wound in the left breast, with which he expired, a victim to his gallantry and refined sense of duty. So distinguished and enviable a fall must endear his memory to his fellow-soldiers and fellow-citizens. Lieutenants Glentworth and Sherman had thrown themselves into the major’s quarters, and assisted in the defence. They displayed great activity and bravery. The latter was wounded.
Such part of the detachment as could be collected together, aided by a few spirited militia, hung close upon the rear of the enemy during their retreat, and harassed them with a continual fire, re-taking four wagons with plunder, and nineteen horses. Lieutenant Bryson, being a few days before detached by Major Boyles with a small party to the New Bridge, defended that post for some time with great gallantry and coolness, he sustaining in person, with his espontoon, the attack of four horsemen, and receiving several wounds; but, being overpowered with numbers, he surrendered to one of their officers. It is said he received marks of politeness from them, on account of the great bravery and deliberate courage displayed by him during the skirmish.
The enemy, agreeable to their usual mode of procedure, plundered and burnt the house and mill of Mr. John Hopper, and that of his brothers. In the former the family of Mr. Abraham Brasher lived, who, with the rest, were left almost destitute of a second change of clothes. The commanding officer, being requested by Mrs. Brasher on her knees to spare the house, damned her, and bid her be gone, declaring they all deserved to be bayoneted. They made their boasts, that as Major Boyles did not present the hilt of his sword in front, when surrendering, they shot him. Thus died this brave and gallant officer, a victim to their savage cruelty. The loss of the Americans killed, wounded, and taken, was one major, two captains, four lieutenants, and about forty rank and file. That of the enemy, by their own acknowledgment, near as many.1
1 Pennsylvania Packet, May 23.