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Fort Washington Taken

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

November 16. –About two o’clock this afternoon a large body of British troops from New York, with a body of Hessians from King’s Bridge, made an attack upon the American lines at that place. At the same time, a number of boats from the shipping came up Harlem River, and landed a party of men, who advanced forward with an intention to cut off our retreat, which in part they effected; but a part of our men taking advantage of a hill, got safe to the fort; the other part, being almost surrounded, were obliged to fight their way through the enemy, by which means the heaviest fire from our troops was directed against the Hessians, who were beat back, and obliged to be reinforced three several times by large detachments from their main body. In this manner our small army, under the command of Colonel Magaw, retreated, sustaining with unexampled resolution a continual fire of the cannon, field-pieces, and musketry of more than five to one in number, till they reached Fort Washington, when the engagement ceased. Soon after the engagement ended, the enemy made a demand of the fort, and Colonel Magaw finding it impossible to defend it, surrendered the same to the enemy about sunset.

The number of our men who were killed in the above engagement is uncertain, but the whole loss in killed and taken prisoners, is upwards of two thousand. What loss the enemy sustained is likewise uncertain, but if we may believe the account given by a deserter who came to head-quarters since the engagement, the Hessians had between four and five thousand men killed on the spot.

Master James Level, of Boston, who has been a prisoner more than eighteen months, is now on his way from New York to Boston, having been exchanged for Governor Skeene, who was some time held a prisoner in Hartford.

We hear Colonel Ethan Allen is now on board a ship at New York; that he has been treated since his being taken a prisoner with the utmost barbarity, till lately, but the rigor of his oppressors has been a little softened, and he is now treated according to his rank; and we hope an exchange will soon take place, when he may again return into the bosom of his grateful country.1


1 Freeman’s Journal, December 3.

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