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New York City – Matthew’s Independent Companies

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

November 20. –The martial spirit which at present shines forth amongst the inhabitants of New York city, reflects the highest honor upon them, and is at once a proof of their loyalty and gratitude. Ever since the arrival of the King’s troops, the greatest harmony and most cordial friendship have subsisted between them and the citizens, nor has the martial law been a grievance to any. None have been required to take arms, not even the most apostate amongst those who have taken the benefit of the proclamation and come to the city for protection. How different the prospect if we look where “fraud prevails, and impious men bear sway,” and where the wretched inhabitants have been dragged to the field to fight against the most glorious constitution in the universe. The indulgence of the commander-in-chief has prompted the principal gentlemen, inhabitants of this city and refugees from other provinces, to form themselves into independent companies, twenty of which are nearly completed.

Last Monday, several companies of them paraded on the fields, at the upper end of Broadway, headed by the Worshipful David Matthews, Esq., and made a very fine appearance. These companies, together with the militia, will greatly add to the strength of the city, and relieve the King’s troops, who may be employed elsewhere.1


1 Rivington’s Gazette, November 22. In the same paper, Rivington continues: –“Every loyal heart must have been delighted with the first appearance of some of our volunteer companies at the parade on Monday last. So spirited a beginning gives us reason to flatter ourselves that the whole will soon be complete; and as the body of the militia are subject to the same tour of duty, every individual must be induced by the motives of greater regularity, to associate under some of the different captains, appointed by his Excellency Governor Tryon. When the several companies are filled we shall be able to boast of a militia, (as they will be united by the noblest motives, the interest of their country and constitution,) whose only contention will be to be most forward in promoting the safety and good of the public. –A band of brothers connected by such ties must tend to awe the attempts of an enemy from without, and to frustrate the machinations of villains (if any such there be) within. To add to the satisfaction of the public, we have the pleasure of acquainting them, that the colonel and lieutenant-colonel of the volunteer battalion appointed by his Excellency Governor Tryon, are men of approved abilities, uniting the fortitude and resolution of the officer, with the milder virtues of the citizen.”

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