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Major Tallmadge's report of the raid

MAJOR TALLMADGE'S REPORT OF THE RAID TO GENERAL WASHINGTON


tallmadge


"On the 16th of November, in obedience to your Excellency's orders, a detachment of Colonel Sheldon's dismounted dragoons, under the command of Captain Edgar, were ordered to march the next day to Fairfield, to which place I directed a number of boats to repair. The troops arrived in the vicinity of Fairfield, on the evening of the 18th, at which place, by reason of a very severe storm, we were detained till the 21st inst., on the evening of which, at four o'clock, I embarked the troops in eight boats, the whole number including the crews, amounted to about eighty men. With a favorable wind we landed safely on Long Island, at a place called the Old Man's, about eight o'clock in the evening. After leaving about twenty men with the boats in charge of Captain Smith, we began our march to put your Excellency's orders into execution, but a very severe storm coming on, however it might have favored an attack on the fort, obliged me to postpone it, as I was well aware that attention must be paid as well to a favorable time for crossing the Sound (which at this place more than twenty fathoms wide) as to attack the fort. I accordingly concealed the troops till the evening of the 22nd, when, at seven o'clock, we began our march across Long Island, and at three o'clock the next morning were within two miles of fort St. George at South Haven. By the most accurate information I found that the forts and other works had been entirely completed but a few days before, and that the garrison con-sisted of fifty men. It may be necessary here to observe that the works of Fort St. George consisted of two large, strong houses, and a fort about ninety feet square, connected together by a very strong stockade or line of sharpened pickets twelve feet long, the whole forming a triangle, the fort and houses standing in the angles. The fort consisted of a high wall and a deep ditch, encircled with a strong abatis, leaving but one gate, a sally-port which led directly into the grand parade within the pickets. This fort had embrasures for six guns, though but two were mounted; the houses were strongly barricaded. From this description I found it necessary, small as my detachment was, to make three different attacks at the same time. I accordingly detached Lieutenant Jackson with sixteen men with orders to advance as near the for as he could undiscovered, and there to halt till the alarm was given by the advance of the detachment under the imme-diate command. The van of the detachment which carried axes to beat down the obstructions, were led by Lieutenant Brewster* directly against the new house, while the remainder, with Captain Edgar and myself at their head, followed close after. Another small division was directed to file off and surround the other house; Mr. Simons bringing up the rear, with directions to halt where the breach might be made to prevent the garrison from escaping. Thus prepared, the troops were put in motion precisely at four o'clock and contrary to my expectations the pioneers advanced with-in twenty yards of the works before they were discovered. The sentinel firing, the different detachments immediately rushed on and passing all obstructions, met at the same instant in the centre of the fort, where tile watchword was given from all quarters at the same time. The guard in the fort was secured; but the two houses contained the main body of the garrison, which began to fire from the windows. I immediately ordered the troops to enter the houses, the door of which, though strongly bolted and barred, was soon burst open, and in less than ten minutes the whole gar-rison were our prisoners. Being informed that a vessel lay within view of the fort, loaded with stores, rum, wine, sugar, glass, etc. I detached a party who boarded and took her. Thus master of the whole, my first object was to demolish as much as possible their works, etc. We accordingly set fire to the small garrison buildings, stockade and abatis, consuming at the same time the public stores that could be collected, including a considerable quantity of ammunition and arms, which the troops, so much fatigued and having so long a march to make back could not carry. We remained at the fort from four to eight o'clock in the morning, when, having destroyed as much of it as possible we began our march back. The vessel being aground we burnt.

"I feel particularly happy that I can inform your Excellency that we had not a man killed in the enterprise and but one wounded; him we brought off. The enemy's loss was seven (7) killed and wounded, most of the latter mortally. The surprise was so complete that before they could rally they were our prisoners.

"On our return I mounted ten men on the horses taken at the fort, and while Captain Edgar marched the detachment and prisoners across the island, I filed off with Lieutenant Brewster, to Coram, and set fire to the whole magazine of the King's forage at that place, supposed to contain more than three hundred tons, and joined the detachment again in less than two (2) hours. By this time the militia began to muster, but prudently avoided coming near us. Some guns were fired but no damage received. By four o'clock in the afternoon of the same day we reached our boats, and having embarked the troops and prisoners, arrived safe at this place at eleven o'clock on the evening of the 23rd. Thus in about twenty-one (21) hours we performed a march of near forty miles, took Fort St. George, etc., etc. and in less than six hours more were landed at this place.

"I should be remiss in my duty should I omit to observe that the officers and soldiers under my command behaved with the greatest fortitude and spirit, both upon their long and fatiguing march and in the moment of action. Mr. Muirson, a volunteer upon the occasion, deserves commendation. He advanced with a party of Lieutenant Jackson's detachment over the abatis and wall into the fort. In time, every order that was given was executed with alacrity and precision." 

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