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Skirmish on Charlestown Neck

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

July 30. –Last Friday the regulars cut several trees, and were busy all night in throwing up a line, and abbatis in front of it. In the evening orders were given to the York County Riflemen to march down to our advanced post on Charlestown Neck, to endeavor to surround the advanced guard, and to bring off some prisoners, from whom we expected to learn their design in throwing up the abbatis on the Neck. The rifle company divided, and executed their plan in the following manner: Captain Dowdle, with thirty-nine men, filed off to the right of Bunker’s Hill, and creeping on their hands and knees, got into the rear without being discovered. The other division of forty men under Lieutenant Miller, were equally successful in getting behind the sentinels on the left, and were within a few yards of joining the division on the right, when a party of regulars came down the hill to relieve their guard, and crossed our riflemen under Captain Dowdle, as they were lying on the ground in an Indian file. The regulars were within twenty yards of our men before they saw them, and immediately fired. The riflemen returned the salute, killed several, brought off two prisoners, and their arms, with the loss of Corporal Creuse, who is supposed to be killed, as he has not been heard of since the affair.

In return for this the regulars alarmed us last night in their turn. At one o’clock this morning, a heavy firing of small arms and cannon occasioned our drums to be beat to arms, and the corps were immediately ordered to their posts. The firing continued in three different quarters, Roxbury, Sewell’s Point at the mouth of Cambridge river, and at the advanced post at Charlestown Neck. Some hours elapsed before we knew the design of the enemy, which was this: We had surrounded some of their out-guard the night before, which induced them to serve our sentinels in like manner.

They sent two flat-bottomed boats to Sewell’s Point to attack our redoubt there. The boats, after a useless fire of several hours, retired. The picquet guard of the enemy on Charlestown Neck, attacked and drove in our advanced guard, who, being reinforced by General Lee’s orders, recovered their ground and beat the enemy, killed several, and brought off seven muskets without losing a man, although our men engaged them under their guns, within point blank shot of their lines. 1


1 Constitutional Gazette, August 12.

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