From Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons
31st July 79
last Night I receivd the inclosed Depositions of the Savage Conduct of the British Troops at New Haven;1 these are but a small Number of many Instances of similar Barbarities in that Town, the Depositions from Fairfield I expect every Hour when they arrive I will transmit them.2 I am Yr Excellencys Obedt Servt
Saml H. Parsons
ALS, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169. GW enclosed the ALS in a letter to John Jay of 6 Aug. (DNA:PCC, item 152). For GW’s eagerness to receive details on British depredations, see his first letter to Parsons, 11 July.
1. The enclosures apparently were at least ten depositions that GW subsequently forwarded in a letter to John Jay of 6 Aug. (depositions and letter in DNA:PCC, item 152). The deposition of Abigail English, docketed “No. 1” and dated 28 July, reads: “Abigail English Wife of Capt. Benjamin English of New Haven of lawfull Age testifies & says that on the 5th Day of Instant July when the brittish Troops came to New Haven, Mr Benjamin English aged about Seventy four Years, was, in his House alone she saw a Number of the Brittish Soldiers at his Well drinking water; that soon after she saw a Soldier come out at the back Door of the House; Sd English came to the Door, with his Hand at his Breast, & the Blood running, & he crying out he has stabbed me, he has stabbd me; she asked him why he stabbd him, he answerd he could not tell, for he had humourd them as much as lay in his Power & he walked about two Rods & fell down & instantly expired there Appeard three wounds in his Breast, as if made with a Bayonet, that she went into the House found Blood in the great Chair in which he was wont to sit & where she has the utmost reason to suppose he received his Mortal Wound & further saith not the Deponent.”
The deposition of Sarah Townsend, docketed “No. 2” and dated 26 July, reads: “Sarah Townsend Wife of Jeremiah Townsend Jr of New Haven Testifies as follows (Viz.)—When the Brittish Forces entered this Town about noon on the 5th Int a party of them soon came to our house & in a Very furious Manner & with horrid execrations seized Mr Townsend, My Husband, striped him instantly of his Buckills & his Shoes and then drove him away with the point of the Bayonet down to the Wharf on Board a Vessel, leaving me with a Number of little Children, & an Aged Aunt in the utmost Distress—From time to time afterwards other parties of them came into the House whom I endevoured to oblige and mollify as far as I posably could by giving Victuals & Drink as they desired or would accept—Yet they plundered, took away, or spoiled the Goods of the House, & threatened my Life with the most shocking execrations, till thro’ my own fears, & the cries of my Children I was ready to sink & quite give out—Late in the Afternoon understanding that Sr George Collier was in the next House, I resolved to make application to him for some Protection or relief from such perpetual abuses; hoping that an Officer of such distinction, as I understood he was, would at le[a]st act the Gentleman & take pity on me—I set out, met him in the street, & made application to him In the most complaisant manner I was capable, having a Child hanging on each side of me & a Babe in my Arms—He heard my mournful Storey, but answered me roughly, saying he supposed my Husband was a Rebell &c.—I told him my Husband was quiet in his own House when taken, had not been in Arms, that Day &c.—at length looking on my Babe he Says ‘You have got a pretty Child there; is it Yours? I told him it was, He then said to me, Are you Willing it should be cut up, & made a Pye of? The Congress they say eat such Pies and they are Very Good.’ To which I made no direct Reply; but felt so as I am quite unable to express—But still importuned for some relief, some Protection—He at last told me you may tell them Sr George Collier says they must not hurt you and went off—I complyed with his Directions but to Very little effect—This is a just tho a Very partial & Imperfect representation of the Abuse & cruel treatment I rece[i]ved.”
The deposition of Naphthali Daggett, docketed “No. 3” and dated 28 July, reads: “An account of the Cruelties and Barbarities Which I received from the British Soldiers after I had surrendered myself a Prisoner, into their hands It is unnecessary to relate all the leading Circumstances Which, threw me into their Way. It may suffice just, to observe, that, On Monday morning, the 5th Instant the town of Newhaven, was justly alarmed with very, threatning Appearances of a speedy Invasion, from the Enemy. Numbers, went out armed to oppose them, I among the rest took the station assigned me upon Milford hill but was soon directed to quit it, and retire, further North as the motion of the Enemy required; Having gone as far, as I supposed was sufficient I turned down, the hill to gain a little Covert of Bushes, which I had, in my Eye; but to my great surprize, I saw the Enemy, much nearer, than I expected; their advanced Guard, being little more than 20, rods distant. plain open Ground between Us: They instantly, fired upon me, Which, they continued, till I had run a Dozen rods discharging not less than 15 or, 20 Balls at me alone—however through the preserving providence of God I escaped, them all unhurt and gained the little Covert at, Which I aimed. Which concealed me from, their View, while I could plainly see them through the Weeds and Bushes, advancing towards, me, within about 12 rods. I singled out one of them took aim and fired, upon him. I loaded my Musquet again, but determined, not to discharge it any more, and as I saw I could not escape, from them, I Surrendered myself a prisoner—Accordingly, When they came within about two rods of me, I cryed, out to them, that I Surrendered myself their prisoner—I begged, for Quarter, and that they would spare my life, they drew near to me, I think Two only in Number, one on my right-hand, and the other on my left, the fury of Infernals Glowing in their Faces. They called me a damned old Rebel, and swore they would kill me instantly. They demanded What did You fire upon us for? I replied, because it is the Exercise of War, then one made a pass at me with his Bayonet as if he designed, to thrust it through my Body. With my hand I Tost it up from its direction, and sprang in so near him, that he could not hurt me. with his Bayonet. I still continued pleading and begging for my Life with the utmost importunity using every argument to mollify them and induce them to desist from their murderous purpose, One of them gave me four gashes on, the head With the Edge of his Bayonet to the Skull bone. which, caused a plentiful Effusion of Blood—The other gave me three slight pricks with the point of his Bayonet, on the Trunk of my Body but they were no more than skin deep, But what is a thousand times worse, than all that has been related, is the Blows and Bruises, which they gave me with the heavy Barrels of their Guns on my Bowells, by which I was knocked down once or more and almost deprived of Life by; which Bruises, I have been almost confined to my Bed ever since, these scenes, might take up two Minutes of time—They then seemed to desist a little from their Design of Murder—after Which they stripped me of my Shoe- and knee-Buckles, and also my Stockbucklee, their Avarice further led them to rob me of my pocket-hankerchief, and a little old Tobacco box. They, then bad, me march, towards, the main, Body. Which was about 12 rods distant. Where some Officers, soon enquired of me Who I was. I gave them my Name, Station and Character and begged, their protection, that I, might not be any more abused or hurt by the soldiers, but I was soon robbed of my Shoes, and was committed to one of the most unfeeling inhuman Savages. that ever breathed, They then drove me with the main Body a hasty march, of five miles or more, Which I walked without Shoes. During the march I was insulted in the most shocking manner, by the ruffian Soldiers, many of Which came at me with fixed Bayonets and swore they would kill me on the spot, They damned those that took me because they spared my Life. Thus amidst a thousand Insults my Infernal Driver hastened me along faster than my Strength would admit in the extreme heat of the day. weakened as I was by Wounds & Loss of Blood, Which at a moderate Computation, could not be less than a Quart. And when I failed, in some Degree, through Faintness, he would strike me on the Back, with a heavy, walking Staff, and kick me with his foot. At length by the supporting power of God I arrived at the Green in Newhaven, But my life was almost spent, the World around me several Times appearing as dark as Midnight, I obtained leave of an Officer, to be carried into the Widow Lyman’s and laid upon a bed where I lay the rest of the Day, and succeeding night in such acute and excruciating pain. as I never felt before.”
The depositions of Martin and Christiana Gatter, docketed “No. 6” and authenticated on 28 July, read: “Martin Gatter of lawful Age Testifies & says that he was detained in New Haven when the Brittish Enemy entered the Town on the 5th Instant, by reason of sickeness, and was without Arms of any kind, peacibly in his own House, When a Number of the Brittish Soldiers entered his House & with great fury in their Countenance called him an Old Damed Rebell scoundrel, & Bogger & swore they would Instantly kill him, that he beged they Would not abuse him saying he had not done them any harm, & had no Arms in his House, & was peaceably about his own Business—But four of them came at him with their Bayonets pricked him in sundry places, cut him on the Head, struck him on the Head with a great Club knocked him down, & told him to go out of the House, Insulting him with the Vilest Language. That he got all besmeared with Blood; that they and Others that came in kept plundering his House & Abusing his Wife—That he was much Weakened by the loss of Blood & other Abuses, but wore out the Day—& at Night he fastened up his House & went to bed with his Wife & two small Children, but about half after 2 oClock in the Morning his House was broke open by two of the Enemy—The Deponant further says he had suffered so much by them the Day before, that he got out the back of his House & hid in a Cornfield till morning when he returned to his House & found his Wife & Children alive but his Wife had been most horribly Abused.” “Christiana Gatter of lawful Age Testifies & says that she was at home in New Haven when the Town was sacked and plundered by the British Enemy, that a Number of the Enemy entered their House & much abused her Husband, after which she went into the Garden about 4 o’Clock afternoon when a Soldier met her from a Neighbouring Garden presented his Gun at her, bid her stand, & came up to her, told her to ly down, I told him we had better go into the House, we went in, my Husband being there he would have me go into the Celler—I told him that place was not good, he asked me to go up stairs, I pretended to comply went into the Entry & told him we had better go out the fore door into the Green where I flattered him along till we came in sight of Mr Chandler who stood out before his House, to whom I called for help & be resqued, after which at Night I went home to see after my Husband & Children, we fastened the House & went to Bed, some time in the Night was awakened by some of them breaking into the House, my Husband made his escape through the back door, & two of them laid hold of me & threw me on the Bed, & swore if I Made any Noise or Resistance they would kill me in a moment—I was obliged to submit, one of them had his Will of me, Whilst the other kept the Door, afterwards the other had his Will of me whilst the other kept the Door—It was about this time they were called to parade, & they left me.”
The deposition of Charles Alling, docketed “No. 7” and dated 26 July, reads: “I Charles Alling of New Haven of Lawful Age Testifies & say that I saw, examined & assisted in burying Capt. John Gilbert Asa Todd, Joseph Dorman, Sam[u]el Wooden & Silas Wooden—That Capt. Gilbert was shot thro the knee, & then appeared to be killed with a Club—as his Head was very much Bruised, & a Club, bloody, lay upon him—That no Wound appeared upon Asa Todd except that he was pirced with a Bayonet once thro’ the Head, & twice thro’ the Body—That Joseph Dorman had his thigh Broken, just above his knee, but it appeared to me to have been done with a stone which lay by him bloody, & that he was pirced with Bayonets once thro the Head & once thro’ the Body, but no other Wound— That Saml Wooden appeared to be shot thro the Body with a Grape Shot & not otherwise Wounded—That I cannot say any thing Perticular as to Wounds of Silas Wooden & further saith not.”
The deposition of John Collins, docketed “8” and dated 26 July, reads: “I John Collins, formerly an Officer in the Continental Navy but for about Nine Months last past sick & unable to help myself, at the House of Capt. Thomas Wooster in New Haven—Testify & say that on the 5th day of Int. July soon after the British Army took possession of sd New Haven a Number of the British Soldiers entered the House & Demanded of Mrs Mary Wooster relict of the late Genl David Wooster her Silver & Plate, she replyed she had none in the House, they then Demanded her Pockets, which she refused to deliver them, one of the Soldiers seized her by the Shoulder swore she had Plate & that he would kill her unless she would deliver it to him—Mrs Wooster then took a Watch out of her Pocket & gave them, & some other trifles which she laid on the Table, & attempted to make her escape out at the Door—They cryed damn her stop her, laid Violent Hands upon her, and one of them leveled his Gun at her Breast, damed her, & swore if she moved a step he would shoot her dead—They then demanded her Ear Rings, & her Handkerchief from her Neck—She asked them if they were not ashamed to treat a Woman in such a manner—one of them replyed damn you, do you think you must wear a Silk Handkerchief when I have none, they were about to use Violence to obtain them, upon which Mrs Wooster delivered them up—They then turned their attention upon me & made me their Prisoner (at which time Mrs Wooster made her escape) but finding me unable to go with them they took from me my Hat stock & Buckle, Shoe & Knee Buckles—They then seized me by the Shoulder, threw me upon the Floor, presented a Bayonet (then wreking with th⟨e⟩ Blood as I suppose, of the aged Capt. English who had just before been Murdered,[)] at my Breast, & swore they would kill me if I did not immediately tell them where my Money was—I told them I had none, & that I was not the owner of the House—They Damed me swore I lyed, & that they would run me through If I did not tell them where it was—They then searched my Pocket⟨s—⟩ found a Letter which they swore was my Commission, & Swore I was a Damed Officer in the Rebell Servi⟨ce,⟩ and that they would kill me Instantly—& furt⟨her⟩ saith not.”
The depositions of Elias and Isaac Beers, docketed “No. 9” and dated 26 July, read: “Elias Beers of lawfull Age testifieth & saith that he Saw his Father Mr Nathan Beers late of Newhaven about 3 hours after he was wounded by the Enemy on the 5th of July Instant, and received from his mouth the following Account of the treatment he received from the Enemy, Viz.
“That upon their entrance into Town an Officer mortally wounded near his Fathers house was brought in & dressed there, whom his Father assisted with Bandages &c. for dressing his wound, besides treating them with kindness & hospitality, for which the Officer at his departure returned him his thanks, & Said he should not be hurt but protected for his kindness. After this Officer was Carried away a party of Soldiers came upon him as he was peaceably Standing at his front door and Charged him with fireing out of his house, which he denied telling them he had not any arms in his house, he Seeing by their Motions they intended to murder him, Added you See I am an Old infirm man I am not able to do you any hurt, & have done nothing to oppose you, all I have is in your hands. why should you take away my life. unmoved by this remonstrance they Snapt three pieces with fixed Bayonets at his breast, one of the pieces only went off. which he Struck down from his breast & the ball took place in his right hip, and as he fell they were about to end his life with their Bayonets, but he beged to be Spared, telling them he was mortally wounded, this party then left him & went to plundering the house, After the loss of much blood he got to the bed & in some measure Stopt the blood another party came in Soon after, hauled him off the Bed demanded his money kicked & Otherwise Abused and insulted him & Set his wound bleeding again, being deaf to all intreaties, Several parties one after another plundering & destroying his furniture & Substance came at him with fixed bayonets insulting threatning & Abusing him, Of these wounds he languished & died on Saturday the 10th July Instant in the 61st year of his Age.”
“Isaac Beers of lawfull age testifieth & Saith that he agrees with what his brother Elias Beers has related in the foregoing deposition. and further Says that he himself was taken a prisoner from his own house and that while he was a prisoner, he heard General Garth tell Mr Israel Wooden who was wounded & also a prisoner, that he was Sorry his men had not killed him instead of making a prisoner of him, & that he would not have his men give Quarter to one Militia man taken in Arms.”
The deposition of Lois Cook, docketed “No. 10” and dated 24 July, reads: “Lois Cook of New Haven of Lawful Age, upon Oath Declares that on the 5th Day of Int. July One Elisha Tuttle an Inhabitant of sd New Haven (Who had for a Year or more been a Distracted Delerious person) was brought and laid at the Door of the Deponant Wounded & in his Gore by the Brittish Troops, just after their Entrance of the Town—& asked of sd Deponant I[f] she knew the Person there Wounded, & upon her washing off the Gore sd Deponant was able to Declare his Name & Circumstances, whereupon some one of the Brittish Officers seemed to manifest some considerable Compassion for him & permited sd deponant to take care of him at her house, upon examination of the Body of him sd Tuttle there appeared many Wounds upon the Head & Body & one upon his Tongue, in consequence of which part of his Tongue came off, & was taken out of his mouth on the Third Day by sd deponant soon after Which he expired—All his Wounds appeared to be from a Bayonet—& further saith not.”
Another deposition from New Haven, which probably was enclosed to GW but is known only from a later copy, was given on 27 July and reads: “I Rose Luke of New Haven of lawfull Age Testifies, and says that on Monday the 5th of July Instant I was down in Town when the Enemy came into it I attemped to get Home but one of them stoped me and searched my Pockets and took away every Thing he could find, after they had got into full Possession of the Town I again set out for Home, with my Husband, when I got Home, I found four of them in the House in the first Room I went into, I then thought I would go into the next Room supposing there was none of them there but as soon as I opened the Door one of the Regulars laid fast Hold of me I struggeled till we both fell to the Floor when I Escaped from him, as far as to the Door, where he again laid hold of me, I clenched my Hands in the place, where the Door latched, and held as fast as I could but the Soldier used great Violence to get me loose, till my Husband came in, and resqued me from his Hands, a Colonel then came into the House and tarryed a while but as soon as he was gone, they came into the House and about the House and did all possible Damage; one came into the House to me and told me there was a Harness in the next House, and I must go and get it, I told him I did not know that there was any there and I could not get it if there was, He said I should go, I told him I would not, he damned me, said I should, and took a Cane and drove me over to the next House, where there was an old Negro Woman He then told me I must go up into the Chamber, I told him I should not, he said I should, or he would kill me instantly I then beged the other Woman to go up with me: but he swore he would kill her if she offered to come; He then drove me up two stairs, and then laid fast hold of me, and carryed me up in his Arms into the Chamber, and there was attemping to do violence to my Chastity, but I made all Possible Resistance by my struggles, and Cries untill another person came up and saved me from his brutal Fury, I then made my Escape to a Neighbouring House where there were some Officers, but met with many other abuses and Insults; I asked them if they were not ashamed to treat an old Woman who had had Ten Children in such a manner, and they said so much the better and further saith not” (DNA:PCC, item 53).
The depositions of English, Townsend, Alling, Elias and Isaac Beers, Collins, and Cook have been transcribed, with numerous emendations, in Hinman, Historical Collection, description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends 610–13. A summary of Christiana Gatter’s deposition reads: “It appears by the testimony of Rose Luke and Mrs. Gatter, that several attempts, to violate chastity, by the soldiers, occurred in New Haven, on the 5th of July, 1779” (Hinman, Historical Collection, description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends 611).
2. These depositions from residents of Fairfield, Conn., which may not have reached GW, likely included statements which survive as copies in DNA:PCC, item 53. The deposition of “Eunice Burr wife of Thadeus Burr Esqr,” sworn on 2 Aug., reads: “On Wednesday morning between 9 and 10 oClock the 7th July some Friends came in and told me that they believed that the Enemies Shipping were standing in, and that it was their Opinion that the Enemy would Land; being formerly well acquainted with a Number of the British Officers, and ever finding them of a polite humane disposition, and observing the good order they kept up among their Soldiers, I was induced once to Act against all the Intreaties of my Friends, and risque my Life and all that is dear to me in hopes to save an Ancient pleasant Mansion House; with its valuable Furniture and Stores—This I was the more willing to undertake as I had been told, ‘that if People would stay in their own Houses, they, the Enemy would not Molest nor disturb them, and their property would be safe—’ By the Time that the main Body of the Enemy had got up to the Court House, instead of the once humane and polite Britons, a Pack of the most barberous Ruffians came rushing into the House, and repeatedly accosted me with ‘You damd Rebel where is your Husband, he is a Selectman—at the same Time striping me of my Buckles, tearing down the Curtains of my Bed, breaking the Frame of my dressing Glass, pulling out the Drawers of my Table and Desk; and after taking what they could find, they then went up Stairs, and proceeded much in the same Manner, at this Juncture there came in an Officer who I suppose was a Captain, and demanded the Arms; those which I knew of were produced, and he immediatly ordered them out of the House, and upon my Representation of the Conduct of the Ruffians towards me he ordered them out of the House, no sooner were one set out but an other came in, calling for Syder, breaking down the China, stone, and Glass ware in the Clossets and where ever they found it, In the midst of this confused State General Tryon came into the House He behaved with Politness, He demanded the Papers. I Told him there were none but of very old dates, which related to the old Estates; The General said ‘these are what we want, for we intend to have the Estates,[’] upon which he ordered an Officer to take them to the Court House; very soon after he had taken leave of me, there came in a sett more dreadfull than the Ruffians who first attacked Me These being informed, or suspicious, that I was possessed of a Watch attempted to search me, I drew back to the Yard the only shelter that I had, and there committed myself to that God whose Protection and Mercy is beyond the reach of such cruel Monsters, they were however permitted to persue me, throw me upon the Ground and search Me pulling and tearing my Cloaths from me, in a most Barberous manner, no Intreaties or persuasions prevailing upon them to desist—Heaven directed the steps of the aforementioned Capt. to the Gate, who perceiving the Horid Situation that I was in ran to my Relief and drove the Ruffians from the Yard; soon after this General Tryon (with Mr Thomas Chapman of Stratford who is said to be a Captain in the New Levies) called in. Mr Chapman made himself known to me, upon which I reminded him of his often waiting on a more soft and delicate sett of Company to the House, than those I had been visited with in the course of the Day, asked him if he could have a Heart to burn the House where he had spent so many agreeable Hours; upon which he assured me, he would do every thing in his Power to save the Building—General Tryon upon hearing the aforesaid Captain relate the Situation he found me in was kind enough to order two Centries at the House, which caused me a more quiet Night than I feared, tho’ horror and distress were my Constant Companions, great part of the Town being in Flames, Just before the Sunrise Capt. Chapman came to me very politely, and told me that General Tryon, wanted to speak to Me, I immediatly waited on him; he told me that through the Intreaties of Mr Sayer, and some other Friends and knowing my Situation he should spare my Buildings, Mr. Elliotts, the Church, and Meeting House, that he did not like destroying those Buildings, I told him I was oblidged to him for the favour, and felt as happy to have those Buildings saved as my Own, and that I thought he would do himself Honor He asked for Pen Ink and Paper. I very readyly procured them, he then unasked, and unsolicited by me, gave me a Protection for my House, and property, and the Revd Mr Elliotts, written with his own Hand, and signed with his own Name; Thus deluded with a false Hope after the fatigue of the Day, Night, and more dreadful morning when every Building around me was on fire, and some of my poor Neighbours whose Habitations were in Flames, had Run into my House for Shelter, instead of Attempting to carry out and Secure what was in the House, our whole attention was taken up in supplying the House with Water, and altho’ they were almost buried in Flames, neither the Barn or House took Fire, The Pleasure and Satisfaction I felt for a few minutes in thinking I had a Shelter for myself and some of my distressed Friends was great; But alas how soon was it over, no sooner had the Horn blew (I suppose for the whole to retreat) my Centrys went off, and a Band of those Savage Creatures were left as a Rear Guard to compleat the destruction, some of whom unperceived by me came into the House, I heard a most dreadful Screaching in one of the Rooms upon which I ran to it and to my great Surprize found some of those Monsters abusing an Aged Lady one of my Neighbours, by pulling off her Cap, and tearing the Hair from her Head, Her Daughter who had fled there for Protection fared but little better, Seeing a number more of them come into the Gate, I once more took Courage, and went out and entreated them to spare the House, Told them that I had General Tryons Protection in writing; Upon which they damned the General and Protection too, and tore it from me, while a Number went into the House to set fire to it, two or three others come to Search Me They took my pocket Book and Buttons, which till then I had preserved, fearing that I should be insulted as I had been before, I disengaged my Pocket and fled into the Meadow, The House with every thing they had left both Furniture and Stores were consumed; much more might be told, both of Officers and Soldiers which would bring disgrace upon the once humane but now Savage Britons, but it would make this narative too lengthy, One more Instance of their Cruelty I must not fail to relate, on a base suspicion, that a Gun was fired from a Window by an aged Negro of my Neighbor Lewis’s, they first shot him then Bayoneted him, as my Centry who was one of the Number told me; and left his Body to be consumed by the Flames, which were immediatly kindled in the dwelling House—Should this Naration fall into the hands of any of those Gentlemen Officers who afforded me Assistance in those Hours of Horror and distress, they have my sincere thanks for it.”
The deposition of “Lucretia Radfield wife to John Radfield of Fairfield,” sworn on 21 July, reads: “That in the Evening succeeding the seventh of Instant July the Enemy under the Command of General Tryon came to my House, and there found me with One Child peacably at Home, three Officers enquired of me for my Husband, I told them he was from Home, and could not say whether under Arms or not, whereupon they said One of their Men had just before been taken Prisoner near this House, and ordered the House to be fired which was accordingly done, and I extinguished it; Whereupon Night came on, and thrô the whole Night the Soldiers went where they pleased, and did as they pleased without any Restraint from their Officers as far as I could observe and they came to my House and abused me with abusive and insulting Language, Carriage, and behaviour, They distroyed the furniture in the House, and attempted with Threats, and promises to prevail upon me to Yield to their unchaste and unlawfull desires, I obstinatly denied them my Body, Three Men then and there appeared intent to Compass their wicked designs, seized me and dragged me to the Bed and attempted Violence; But Thanks be to God, there hapened that Instant to come two Persons who resqued me from their Violence, one of whom told me he had been a Prisoner in this Town and that he had received great Civility from the Inhabitants and that he had an Opinion of their being a worthy kind People, and those two persons protected me thrô the remainder of the Night; My House was fired four Times that Night, and next morning, and every Time I Extinguished it, with great Danger and Saved it and also a Shop; Our Mother Mrs Radfield is an aged Woman and Widow, she lived in the House, and was in Peace at Home, she was much Insulted and abused, her Cloaths were pulled Indecently, and her Buckels striped out of her Shoes, her Pockets violently seized and riffled and the House in General Rifeled and plundered; and further this deponent saith not.”
The deposition of “Ruana Robertson of Lawfull Age and Wife of John Robertson of Fairfield,” sworn on 22 July and signed by mark (with “Robinson” given as the surname), reads: “when the Enemy on the Evening of the 7th Instant first came into the westerly end of the Town I soon left my House, and went to a Neighbours, which I heard was guarded, and there I found the General, and a great number of Officers, and one Mrs Beardsly who belonged to the House was there, and pregnant, and appeared to be in Trav[a]il, All the Officers appeared disposed to treat her and her Assistance with decency, and in the Course of the Night I often heard the Officers and General say, there should not be left a House or Barn standing in the Town by, or in the Morning there were but few Soldiers in the House and they employed in waiting on Tables, and they spared that dwelling House on Account of Mrs Beardsley who was supposed to be in Labour, They said the Commissioners made Offers of Peace, and the Americans refused to accept them; and that their Orders was to burn all, and I understood the Orders were from England, They said they would Burn the Church, for that it was not the Church of England, nor had it been since the War, for the Professors did not comply with the Articles of the Church of England; The Hessians appeared Active in plundering and burning and seemed not to understand English, I was at sundry Houses where they came and plundered and they gave to understand they pursued orders, and further saith not.”
The deposition of “Ann Nichols of lawfull Age and wife to Hezekiah Nichols,” sworn on 21 July, reads: “That when the Troops under the Command of General Tryon came into Fairfield I was peacably at Home, and thereupon one of the Soldiers came to me and with strong Hand robbed me of the Buckels out of my Shoes, and in the Course of the Night I was often treated with extravagant insulting and abusive Language and threatning at my own House, I told them my Husband was from Home, but it avaled nothing; and in the Course of the Night the Soldiers appeared to have full Liberty, and many came in Parties at different Hours, and distroyed almost every thing of Furniture, and in the morning burnt down the House, and Barn, whereupon I saw General Tryon, who appeared to be exceeding Angry at something I know not what, and I heard him tell a person that he would not spare one House more than another; One Thomas Chapman formerly of Stratford a Tory was called a Captain and appeared to be a principal Hand in burning. I escaped from the Conflagration of the Town in the Morning and concealed myself in a wet Ditch and Miry Swamp; The Soldiers generally appeared to be in a great Panic thrô the Night and exceedingly afraid that the Rebels (as they called them), would be upon them in the Morning early.”
The deposition of “Mary Bears [Beers] wife to Reuben Beers of Fairfield,” sworn on 24 July, reads: “that about one of the Clock succeeding the 7th Instant a Picket of Hessians in General Garths division broke into our House, and thereupon I came out of the Cellar with two small Children and a Negro Child, and on opening the Celler door, they cryed out, ‘kill her, kill her,[’] and came at me with a number of fixed Bayonets, I beged, and intreated implored and prayed to spare my Life, and ran back down Celler and opened the out Celler door, and went into the door Yard with the aforesaid three Children, and I found there a number of the Enemy with an Officer, I expostulated with them, I told the Officer that my Husband was Sick, and had not been out for two days then past, that he was a sick Man, and in Bed when they came to the House, that he was not in Arms, and begged his Life and property, whereupon the Capt. said he was not killed but was a prisoner, whereupon I applied to the General as I supposed who was a Hessian called, I asked protection for myself Children and property and release of my Husband, said Hessian General and a Colonel said my Husband should be used well, that my Person Children House, and Property should be safe, but said he (The General laying his hand on the Head of my little Babe) poor Child I pity You; I cannot spare your House it must be burnt; thereupon up came the Officer of those that first broke into the House, and he said [‘]go Woman in Haste, you may perhaps put the fire out of your House,[’] and I went protected by a Guard who behaved decently, and I found my House Effectually plundered of Linnen by them, and great destruction of Movables in the House, and I extinguished the Fire whereupon I went to the House of David Beers, who to my Knowledge was at peace at Home with his wife and Family, and they entered the House with violence and took Mr Beers prisoner and plundered his House, and pretended he had fired out of his House; but it was Groundless, and in the morning without distinction they burnt his House and Shop, and all Moveables left in them, their behaviour was like distracted or Mad men, and pretended many of them not to speak English and further saith not.” Also on 24 July, Reuben Beers deposed “that he agrees with the above named Mary Beers his Wife in all the parts of her narative so far as he is knowing; and adds that by the intreaty and request of David Beers aforenamed on Application to General Tryon, and his own Request and Information that he had a large Family of small Children and Wife, that he supposed his House, and property was distroyed the General at the place of Embarkation released him.”
The deposition of “Isabella Trubee wife of Ansel Trubee of Fairfield,” sworn on 23 July, reads: “That when the Enemy on the Night of the 7th Instant came to the Westerly End of the Town they appeared to be generally Hessians and I concealed myself with two Children in the Cellar under the dwelling House of Uncle David Beers, and there continued untill the Enemy set fire to the House, Mr Beers aforesaid was at Home with his Wife and Daughter and some Grand Children in peace and about his lawfull Business, they Siezed him and made him prisoner, my Aunt his Wife told them he was unarmed and had not Shot a gun, she supposed within thirty Years, and thereupon they set fire to the House and burnt it down, and also his Shop and all therein, about this Time my Father Mr Josiah Beers came a few Rods out of his House where he had been all the Day in peace, with my Mother, and he was captivated by the Hessians and remains in Captivity, and his House and Barn was burnt, and property distroyed, Mr David Beers has since returned and says he was released at their Embarkation.”
The deposition of “Jane Buckley wife to Andrew Buckley,” sworn on 24 July, reads: “That when the Enemy Entered the Town of Fairfield that part under the Command of General Garth were stationed in the westerly part of the Town and a number of Officers and Men came to my House, and received such Refreshments as they requ[i]red and said that Persons who stayed in their Houses should be safe in their persons and property, and at their request I went and milked my Cow, and gave them the Milk whereupon the Cow was led away by them and killed: my House was fired five Times and I extinguished it The Men were at full Liberty, and behaved with great Licenciousness, I heard a number of under Officers at my Door say that before Morning every House would be laid in Ashes; that we should not fare so well as New Haven; They plundered my House, striped my Buckells out of my Shoes, and abused me with Insulting Language, their Officers had not or did not exercise command over them, so as in the least to restrain them, they continued Burning Houses and Barns the whole Night. I had a protection from General Garth by word, and he ordered a Guard for me, but it served only to save my Property till day light, and then my House was plundered and Attempted to be burnt; the latter part of the Night the Soldiers appeared to be in Drink; they plundered a plenty of Spiritous Liquors and further saith not.”
The deposition of “Abigail Buckley wife of Josiah Buckley,” sworn on 23 July, reads: “That the Enemy on their coming to the west end of the Town on the night of the 7th Instant they enquired after my Husband, I told them that he was out of the Town and was not under Arms, however they plundered my House of almost all the Moveables in it I with Mrs Beardsley who was supposed to be in Travail and the Officers there behaved decently to me and by the Aid and Assistance of one of them I saved my House and some Trifle of Furniture from Flames, it appeared to me that there was a number of Hessians at Liberty to Act without Restraint, and further saith not.”
The depositions of Burr, Robertson, Nichols, Mary Beers, Trubee, and the Buckleys have been transcribed, with numerous emendations, in Hinman, Historical Collection, description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends 618–23.