From Lieutenant Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston
South Hold [N.Y.]
31st August 1776
May it please Your Excellency
I have since I wrote to You Yesterday received by Express an Account which may be depended upon that General Woodhull was taken a Prisoner by our Enemies on wednesday Last. Their Troop of Horse is considerd by the Inhabitants to the westward of Huntington as an insurmountable Obstacle to their ever Obtaining their freedom independant of Great Brittain, many have been prevaild with by the Disaffected to us to solicit Pardons from Lord Howe, and they are circulateing at a Great rate. Our Communication is cut Off from New York by Land and there are 3 Ships a Brig and a Sloop that endeavour to intercept it by water, So many reports daily Circulate here with respect to the Strength & advantageous Situation of our Enemies that it is very dificult to give Your Excellency a distinct account[.] they are now possesed of Hemstead-Plains their Horse are Continually employd in disarming the Inhabitants but do them no other Injury General Woodhull was taken a Prisoner by them and Treated Cruelly by them After he was taken he received a wound in his Head and much uncivil Language and Finally Committed Close Prisoner to Jamaica Goal1—Our Enemies are plentifully supplied with fresh Provisions which togather with the precarious Situation I am in has induced me to March My Detachment to the westward in Order to Harrass their forageing Parties I have endeavourd to prevail upon the Comittees of the Different Towns to raise their Malitia and have Also sent an Express to Governor Trumbull requesting his Aid: for if some encouragement is not Given to the Country People they will be intirely passive. I am Your Excellencies Most Obt Servt
Henry B: Livingston
I expect to be at Huntington in about three Days. we begin Our March tomorrow Morning I hope for Your Excellences Approbation.
ALS, DLC:GW. The addressed cover includes the notation “Per Lt. [George] Smith Express.”
1. Nathaniel Woodhull was captured near Jamaica, N.Y., on 28 Aug. by the 17th Light Dragoons, whom General Howe on that date had detached with the 71st Highlanders to pacify eastern Long Island. The Connecticut Journal (New Haven) for 4 Sept. says that Woodhull “for refusing to give up his side Arms, was wounded on the Head with a Cutass, and had a Bayonet thrust thro’ his Arm.” On 9 Sept. William Warne informed the New York committee of safety “that one of the lighthorsemen told he had taken Genl. Woodhull in the dark in a barn; that before he would answer when he spoke to the General, he had cut him on the head and both arms” (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:617; for another account of this incident, see Onderdonk, Suffolk and Kings Counties description begins Henry Onderdonk, Jr. Revolutionary Incidents of Suffolk and Kings Counties; with an Account of the Battle of Long Island, and the British Prisons and Prison-Ships at New-York. New York, 1849. description ends , 36–41). Woodhull was moved about this time to a British transport in New York Harbor, and on 6 Sept. he was sent ashore to a hospital at New Utrecht, where he died on 20 Sept. (Sabine, Fitch’s New-York Diary description begins W. H. W. Sabine, ed. The New-York Diary of Lieutenant Jabez Fitch of the 17th (Connecticut) Regiment from August 22, 1776 to December 15, 1777. New York, 1954. description ends , 40, 143).