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Hugh Gaine’s Facts and Criticisms

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

The late proclamation, issued by Sir William Howe, we hear, has been read to the several corps in the rebel army, by their respective leaders, who strove to show them that the design of it was to lead them to bondage and destruction, to alienate them from their allegiance to Messieurs John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and the other members of the Congress, and to bring them out of their present state of happiness and freedom. Many and wonderful were the speeches made upon this occasion, all founded upon an evident fear lest their poor deluded followers should see and think for themselves. Their fear seems to have been just; for many, in following their own senses, have quitted the desperate and wicked cause they have been engaged in, and have brought in (some of them at least) two or three muskets apiece, for which they have been -handsomely paid in silver dollars. 1 Some whole companies have come in, and particularly from the northward. A party of them who came up a few days since from Amboy, in order to join the royal provincials, were astonished to see any ships in New York harbor, as it had been industriously reported among the rebels that they were all sailed for England, and that the troops were to quit the colonies as soon as fresh ships could arrive to carry them home. A very few weeks will convict these impostors of their numberless falsehoods.

Several men-of-war, and above one hundred transports, are stationed in the North River. The East River is crowded with merchantmen, prize-vessels, and ships of all sorts.

A correspondent remarks, that whilst most of the other seaport towns and colonies groan under the dearness of provisions, and the common necessaries of life, New York is supplied, at very little more than the usual rate in this season of the year, with every species of food and all kinds of clothing and dry goods.

The Philadelphia newspapers are stuffed with continual false accounts of skirmishes and other exploits of their ragamuffins in the Jerseys, in which they always obtain most wonderful and “never-to-be-heard-of-victories.” The following may serve for a specimen, taken from the Pennsylvania Journal of the second of April. In a skirmish, which is stated to have happened near Quibbletown on the twenty-fourth of March, they say the British “must have lost some men, as they were seen carrying them off in the time of action, which happened within half a mile of their breastworks. We had two rifles broke, but not a man hurt in this skirmish; an evident proof, that Providence shields the just and brave, (they mean themselves,) for we forced them from an advantageous wood, where they were posted behind trees and our people entirely exposed in an open field. The troops that were engaged with ours were British and not Hessian. Our whole party did not exceed one hundred and thirty, and the enemy not less than three hundred men.” What opinion must these people have of their followers, when they suppose them capable of believing such enormous falsehoods as these?

Some days ago, the daughter of Mr. Jonathan Kniffin, of Rye, in Connecticut, was murdered by a party of rebels near or upon Budd’s Neck. She was carrying some clothes to her father in company of two men who had the charge of a herd of cattle. They were fired upon by the rebels from behind a stone wall. The poor young woman received a ball in her head, of which she instantly died. The men escaped unhurt. They plundered her dead body of its clothes, cut one of her fingers almost off in order to take a ring, and left the corpse most indecently exposed in the highway. Such are the advocates of this cursed rebellion! Yet the officer (so called) who commanded the party, and who is said to be a colonel among the rebels, gloried in the exploit, and swore it was better to kill one woman than two men; adding, moreover, that he would put both man and woman to death, who should presume to cultivate their farms or their gardens in the neighborhood of Rye this spring.2


1 The Congress paper dollars are now used for papering rooms, lighting pipes, and other conveniences. –Carver.
2 Gaine’s Mercury, April 14.

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