From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.
August 20. –Last Friday two fire-ships, commanded by Captains Fosdyke and Thomas, gentlemen volunteers of rank in the army of the United States, proceeded up the North River with intent to give a suitable warming to those piratical gentry that have infested it since the 12th of July last.
The night was dark and favorable to the design, and the enemy did not perceive our vessels till they were near aboard of them. Captain Fosdyke grappled the Phoenix, but the fire not communicating so soon as was expected, she disentangled herself in about twenty minutes, after sustaining considerable damage in her rigging. Captain Thomas fell on board one of the tenders, which was soon consumed; and we are truly sorry to inform the public this intrepid commander is yet missing. This gallant enterprise struck so great a panic upon the enemy, that they thought it prudent to quit their stations; and yesterday, taking advantage of a fresh wind at S. E., attended with considerable rain, they run the gauntlet, through a great number of well-directed shots from our batteries in and near New York, which no doubt must have damaged them much.
Our galleys played smartly, and followed the ships a considerable distance into the bay. The enemy’s fire seemed to be mostly directed upon the city, as the tops of the houses were crowded with spectators; but very little damage was done to the buildings, nor any lives lost upon the occasion.1
1 Pennsylvania Evening Post, August 20.