George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Israel Shreve, 28 March 1778

From Colonel Israel Shreve

Haddonfield [N.J.] March 28th 1778


The Governer desired me to Join Colo: Ellis and wait at this Post untill we Could Collect a body of militia:1 we have now one hundred & Seventy foot, twenty horse, & Thirty five Artillery with two Iron three pounders, besides my own Regiment—the last accounts from Salem by three deserters and several other persons were that four Regiments Commanded by Colo: Mawhood, Consisting of between one Thousand and Twelve hundred were at that place;2 the Militia to the number of three hundred were at Roads Town thirteen miles below Salem; all the Country on the River between that post and this place, forty five miles, is open to the Ravage of the Enemy—the tories to the number of one hundred and fifty are in arms fortifying at Billingsport with the assistance of some marines;3 a great number of Disaffected Inhabitants are trading with the Enemy. yesterday, Sixty tories and marines Commanded by one Cox, went to Sweedsborough, took Lieut: Lloyd of the fourth Regt Jersey with two Recruits, plundered the house of Capt. Brown in a shocking manner striped his wife and several Children, Carried off or distroyed every thing in the house.4 several other houses shared the same fate, every civil and military Officer is forced to fly from home many have been taken by The tories and Carried off to the City, three days ago, three of the Militia took a Covered Waggon and Three horse’s with Baggage and Stores—belonging to Daniel Cozen’s a Tory Capt.;5 yesterday Colo: Ellis with a small Party of horse took a Certain David Chew one of the Tory gang. he acknowledges he has bore Arms against the States, they also took some marketing going to the Enemy, but the owner fled;6 Capt. Cumming has Just Returned from a Scout, took a Waggon and two horse’s at a Landing; no person will own the Waggon.7 I have ordered these things sold for the use of the Captors—this Country is in a miserable Situation the Inhabitants afraid of every person th[e]y see, If marketing is found in any house the whole familey, even little Children will deny the owners, nor pretend to know any thing about it. If your Excellency Could spare part or all the Brigade it would Enable us to Quell the tories and Collect a Considerable Quantity of provisions which otherwise I fear will fall into the hands of the Enemy as it is Collected in places near the River for that purpose, the Enemy have already Collected a Great Quantity of provision and Forage in Salem County, we shall do every thing in our power to protect the Virtiues Inhabitants and suppress the tories, we have a Negro man Confined as a spy. as I believe it will appear he went to Philada to give Intilligence of my Crossing the Delaware, I desire your Excellency’s directions Conserning the Tryal of this spy and those of the Inhabitants taken in Arms against the States, as some Examples seem highly necessary in this place; but I am too prolix & have only to say that a General defection prevails in many places, that from the situation of Haddonfield it must be in our possesion or least it be the Case with the lower Counties—that the force here is too small for the purpose, Scar[c]ely enough to prevent surprise, when large scouts are out, I would wish to march to Cumberland as many things are There to be had If the Enemy were terrified from thence which I hope to Effect when the militia come in to secure this post & by a Junction with me, make me Respectable in Numbers—If your Excellency has orders I should be happy to Recive them & am your Excellencys very Huble Sert

Israel Shreve Col:

N.B. as The Toris have fallen in with our Parties I hope I shall stop their trade of Catching officers, for whom they get a Reward according to the Rank of the prisoners.8 Ammunition is wanted for the Militia as they are not furnish’d for common Duty—They Cannot be suppli’d from the state therefore I shall send a Waggon to receive it from the Stores in Camp & beg your Excys Order to obtain it.

ALS, DLC:GW; ADf, NjR: Israel Shreve Papers. The last page of the draft and a portion of the postscript of the ALS are in the writing of unknown person. The ALS completely reorganizes and adds information to the draft text and also adds a postscript. One piece of intelligence appears in the draft but not the ALS: “Several Ships Came up the River yesterday, with about three hundr. troops on Board.”

1See William Livingston to Shreve, 23 Mar., in Prince, Livingston Papers description begins Carl E. Prince et al., eds. The Papers of William Livingston. 5 vols. Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–88. description ends , 2:269.

2Charles Mawhood was appointed a major in the 3d Regiment of Foot in 1763 and promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 19th Regiment in 1767. His appointment as lieutenant colonel of the 17th Regiment, dated October 1775, was announced in April 1776; his rank as colonel in the army dated from August 1777. Mawhood returned to England in April 1778, carrying Gen. William Howe’s letter to George Germain of 19 April, and apparently remained in Europe, becoming colonel of the 72d Regiment of Foot with a commission dating from 16 Dec. 1777.

3General Howe’s aide-de-camp Capt. Friedrich von Muenchhausen noted in his journal for 24 Mar.: “day before yesterday, the 22nd of March, 80 Provincials or to be more exact Jersey volunteers, were ferried to Billingsport. An engineering officer is with them to throw up earthworks at Billingsport again, in which these volunteers will stay for the time being” (Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side description begins Friedrich von Muenchhausen. At General Howe’s Side, 1776–1778: The Diary of General William Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernst Kipping. Annotated by Samuel Smith. Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1974. description ends , 49). British engineer John Montresor identified the officer as Lt. Alexander Sutherland, who returned on 2 April after completing the defenses (see Scull, Montresor Journal, description begins G. D. Scull, ed. The Montresor Journals. New York, 1882. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vol. 14. description ends 483).

4John Cox was a mariner who resided on the western side of Raccoon Creek in Woolwich Township, Gloucester County. According to evidence given in August, he joined with the British on or about 20 Mar. and assisted in the destruction of property at Swedesboro, a town on Raccoon Creek in Woolwich Township about thirteen miles southwest of Woodbury. Cox, who fled to New York with the British army, was later awarded £699 for property losses by the Loyalist claims commission (Jones, Loyalists of New Jersey description begins E. Alfred Jones. The Loyalists of New Jersey: Their Memorials, Petitions, Claims, Etc., From English Records. Newark, N.J., 1927. In Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society, vol. 10 description ends , 51–52; see also Palmer, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists description begins Gregory Palmer. Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution. Westport, Conn., and London, 1984. description ends , 183). Bateman Lloyd (1756–1814) was appointed a second lieutenant of the 4th New Jersey Regiment in November 1776 and promoted to first lieutenant in February 1777; his promotion to captain was dated from 12 Nov. 1777. Lloyd was exchanged on 1 April 1781 and resigned in September of that year. Robert Brown (1741–1797) was a captain in the 1st Regiment of Gloucester County militia. He became a lieutenant colonel of the militia in 1779. His wife was Rachel Denny Lloyd (b. 1749). The Pennsylvania Evening Post (Philadelphia) printed what is apparently a brief notice of this action in its issue of 1 April: “Friday last a party of refugees from Billingsport, marched down to Wrangletown, and surrounded the house of a capt. Brown, of the militia, who had by some means got information of their coming, and run off, leaving two of his brother captains in the lurch, who were made prisoners, and brought to Billingsport.” According to the later recollection of a daughter, the British not only took the furniture from the house and burned it, they also “impaled on their bayonets” a litter of kittens (Cushing and Sheppard, History of the Counties of Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland description begins Thomas Cushing and Charles E. Sheppard. History of the Counties of Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland, New Jersey, with Biographical Sketches of Their Prominent Citizens. 1883. Reprint. Woodbury, N.J., 1974. description ends , 300–301).

5Daniel Cozens (c.1746–1808?), a Gloucester County planter who also owned a toll bridge and tavern at the town of Gloucester, was commissioned a captain of Loyalist troops in January 1778, and in March he was stationed at Billingsport. He served as a captain of New Jersey volunteers until at least 1783, participating in the capture of Savannah and the South Carolina campaign and being captured at Yorktown.

6David Chew reportedly was fined £300 for his actions (see Stewart, Foraging for Valley Forge description begins Frank H. Stewart. Foraging for Valley Forge: By General Anthony Wayne in Salem and Gloucester Counties, New Jersey, with Associated Happenings, and Foraging in Salem County for the British Army in Philadelphia by Colonel Mawhood and Major Simcoe, 1778. Woodbury, N.J., 1929. description ends , 30). In October the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for Gloucester County returned “inquisitions” against a number of men, including Chew, John Cox, and Daniel Cozens, “for joining the army of the King of Great-Britain, and other offences against the form of their allegiance” and directed them to appear at the next court to stand trial or face the forfeiture of their property (N.J. Archives description begins Documents Relating to the Colonial, Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey. 42 vols. Newark and Trenton, 1880–1949. description ends , 2d ser., 2:581–82).

7John Noble Cumming (1752–1821) was appointed a first lieutenant of the 2d New Jersey Regiment in November 1775 and was promoted to captain, to date from November 1776. He subsequently became major of the 1st New Jersey Regiment, to date from April 1780, and lieutenant colonel of the 2d New Jersey Regiment in December 1781. In February 1783 he assumed command of the 3d New Jersey Regiment. After the war Cumming sought, but did not obtain, the post of marshal for New Jersey in GW’s first administration. According to a letter Shreve wrote his wife on 26 Mar., Cumming was seeking to capture David Chew’s brother Jonathan Chew, a captain of Loyalist troops at Billingsport (Thompson, Israel Shreve description begins William Y. Thompson. Israel Shreve: Revolutionary War Officer. Ruston, La., 1979. description ends , 38).

8The remainder of the postscript is not in Shreve’s writing.

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