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Skirmish at Punk Hill

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

March 9. –Yesterday, the British, supposed to be about three thousand, came out from Amboy, and posted themselves on Punk Hill. They brought artillery and a number of wagons, as if to forage, though there were none left in that neighborhood worth notice. General Maxwell, with the troops under his command, was on a rising ground to the northward, in plain view, though at a good distance. The enemy were too well situated to be attacked. Maxwell sent a party to the left to amuse them, while his real design was to the right, on the heights towards Bonamtown. He sent a strong party that way to examine their lines, if they had any, and to fall in near the end of them, that he might fall on their flank; this was performed by part of Colonel Potter’s battalion of Pennsylvania militia, and part of Colonel Thacher’s New England troops. Colonel Cook, of the Pennsylvanians, had been ordered from Matuchin to come down on Carman’s Hill, and keep along the heights till he met the enemy. About half a mile lower down, between Carman’s Hill, and Woodbridge, the two parties being joined, met a strong advanced party of the enemy. On the first firing, Colonel Martin and Lieutenant-Colonel Lindley were sent to support them; they all behaved well and kept their ground till they were supported from the main body, which immediately marched that way. The enemy also sent out a reinforcement, but on another regiment of Americans being sent on the left to cut them off from their main body, the party gave way in great confusion, and the flame catching their main body, all went together. Our people pursued them and took a prisoner and a baggage wagon close in their rear, a good way down in the plain ground. Bonamtown lay too near on the right, and a plain, open ground towards Amboy, to pursue far. They left four dead on the field, and we took three prisoners. By the quantity they, carried off in sleds and wagons, it is supposed they had near twenty killed, and twice that number wounded.

General Maxwell says that by a soldier taken prisoner, he learns that General Howe was at Bonamtown during the engagement, till he saw his troops make the best of their way home, when he thought it was time for him to go.1


1 Extract of a letter from Haddonfield, New Jersey, in Pennsylvania Journal, March 19.

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