Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Constant Belcher's Narrative [1777]: The Battle of Staten Island

Because of my scholarly interest in Sullivan's Staten Island Raid, I was thrilled to discover related entries in the Belcher Journal. They add detail to the only other firsthand accounts that have survived from Col. Ogden's sector during Sullivan's Staten Island Raid.  Maj. Joseph Bloomfield of the 3rd NJ mentions in his own Journal that his horse was wounded during the attack on the New Jersey Volunteers, though Belcher reveals that it may in fact have been incommoded by a surfeit of green apples.  Bloomfield estimates the plunder to be worth at least £10,000, but Belcher is the only account to provide an itemized list of a private's share. Ensign George Ewing, also of the 3rd NJ, further states that the plunder was sold at public venue upon the return to Elizabethtown:


Aug 21Ì  [1777] -      We marcht to Blazing Star this day wair Colo. Ogden told us to leaf our Knapsacks - those that had them - taking only our musquets, cartouch pouches, Bayonets and market wallets to carry our lawful plunder / He must have meant us to wear our Small cloathes as well but made no Mention of them, an Some in Capt. Conway’s and Capt. McMyer’s Cos. were reprimanded for appearing in ranks in naught but the clothes of Adamites /   Maj. Bloomfield bid me make a place for his horse in the boat for crossing to Cuckoldstown /  Gave it green pippins from his haversack So that it might ease our passage with a copious wind.

Augt. 22nd                    Colo. Ogden took command of our force, which was Some militia & our Regt an the 3rd rigiment, as Col. Dayton thought it best not to be associated with any Scheme of General Sullivan’s who is an addle pated Hector and like to get poor Soljers kilt /  Thair was but 3 boats betwixt 500 men and were near enough awash as we were a-going into Fresh Kills on the Flood tide /  Lost my Shoes in the marsh but got another pair from the Greens after we took their camp /  My Share of the plunder come to 6 pair trousers, three regimentals of the 1st NJV, 8 cocked hats with white tape, a powder horn Scrimshandered with Some English Doxie in a shift with a helmet with a pair of lions, three Silver Pocket watches, Some ladies Stays in a Most pleasing Scarlet colour, Some first quality Sausages, and a Pickering’s Musquet tool.  

Colo. Ogden Said we must take one of the Schooners that fell into our Hands and return to Elizabethtown with our prisoners an Plunder &  I went aboard since it was Clear as day that we had not enuf boats for our own return if we had to be Hasty about it / Heard them firing up Island and was Snugg back in Eliza. Town  when Genl. Sullivan brought back his division except his rear Guard whot got left behind as I knew they would /  Found my powdr horn filled with Spirits & got drunk as a wheel barrow.”

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