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Mercer’s descent on Staten Island

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

Last night, General Mercer passed over to Staten Island with part of the troops posted at Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and advanced within a few miles of Richmond town, having been informed that a company of British troops, one of Hessians, and one of Skinner’s militia lay there. Colonel Griffin was detached with Colonel Patterson’s battalion, and Major Clarke at the head of some riflemen, to fall in upon the east end of the town, while the remainder of the troops inclosed it on the other quarters. Both divisions reached the town by break of day this morning, but not before the enemy were alarmed. Most of them fled after exchanging a few shot with Colonel Griffin’s detachment. Two of them were mortally wounded, and seventeen taken prisoners, with the loss only of two soldiers killed on our side. Colonel Griffin received a wound in the foot from a musket ball, and Lieutenant-Colonel Smith was slightly wounded in the arm. Amongst the prisoners taken in this action, are eight Hessians. Our troops brought off from Staten Island forty-five muskets, a number of bayonets, cutlasses. &c., and one standard of the British light horse. 1


1 Pennsylvania Journal, October 23; Gaine, in his paper of October 21, says: — A body of the rebels skulked over from the New Jersey shore to Staten Island, and after cowardly setting fire to two or three farm houses, skulked back again to their former station. Probably, from their conduct, it may be judged that these were the people who, about the middle of last August, committed such an act of villanous barbarity as cannot be recited without indignation. A very little boy, belonging to an officer of the army, was playing by himself upon the shore of Staten Island, opposite the Jerseys, when about seven or eight of the riflemen or ragged men, came down slily, and discharged their muskets upon him. Immediately upon the poor creature’s falling, they gave three cheers and retired. This was a most cruel, dastardly, and infamous murder upon a defenceless, innocent child. Such poltroons will always run away at the appearance and approach of men.

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