George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Israel Shreve, 7 April 1778

From Colonel Israel Shreve

Mountholley [N.J.] April 7th 1778


this moment I Received Intillegence that the Enemy has Landed at Squan between 600 & 1000 men, And Distroyed all the Salt and works in that Neighbourhood.1

If your Excy Should think proper to Send more troops to this Quarter, with Artillery, I Beg for the Jersey Compy of Artillery, at present Commanded by Capt: Lt Seth Bowen.2

the Spirit of Burning prevails Still Among those Misarable Villons at billingsport, Last night they Come to Woodberry in a Skulking Manner and Burnt two Whig houses, and ordered other famalys to move out in a few Days or they would Burn them in them. I am your Excys very Huml. Servt

I. Shreve Col: Comdt


1An account of the Squan (Manasquan) River destruction appeared in the New-Jersey Gazette (Trenton) of 15 April as an “Extract of a letter from Kildare, Monmouth county, April 9, 1778.” The correspondent reported, “About 135 of the enemy landed on Sunday last [5 April] about ten o’clock, on the south side of Squan inlet, burnt all the salt-works, broke the kettles, &c. of some people there, who, I fear, wish’d to serve them—then crossed the river and burnt all excepting Dirrick Longstreet’s: after this mischief they embarked. The next day they landed at Shark river and set fire to two small works, when they observed fifteen horsemen heave in sight, which occasioned them to retreat with great precipitation, indeed they jumped in their flat-bottomed boats in such confusion that they sunk one or two of them. One of their pilots was the noted Thomas Oakeson. The enemy consisted chiefly of Greens, the rest Highlanders.”

A more detailed report printed in the New-York Gazette and the Weekly Mercury, 13 April, states that raiders were “a Detachment of 150 Men” commanded by Capt. Boyd Porterfield of the 71st Regiment. Lord Howe’s secretary Ambrose Serle recorded in his journal for 7 April that the expedition had destroyed saltworks and other stores “to the Value of near £30,000” (Tatum, Serle’s Journal description begins Edward H. Tatum, Jr., ed. The American Journal of Ambrose Serle: Secretary to Lord Howe, 1776–1778. San Marino, Calif., 1940. description ends , 282).

2Seth Bowen (1748–1815), of Cumberland County, was commissioned a second lieutenant of the 2d New Jersey Regiment in November 1775 and promoted to first lieutenant in November 1776. In March 1777 he became a lieutenant in the Western Company of New Jersey State Artillery, which by the winter of 1778 had been attached to Col. John Lamb’s regiment of Continental Artillery. Bowen was promoted to captain lieutenant on 7 Oct. 1777. Wounded at Monmouth on 28 June 1778, he resigned on 26 Oct. 1778. Bowen later served as a quartermaster in the New Jersey quartermaster general’s department.

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