Affiliate Link

Attempt to Burn Tiverton

May 31.—Last week, a party of British troops, from Rhode Island, made a descent upon the towns of Bristol and Warren, and after plundering and destroying all they could lay their hands on, they made a hasty retreat. This morning, about daybreak, another party from the same place, consisting of one hundred and fifty men, under the command of Major Eyre, landed at the mouth of Fall River, with a design to burn Tiverton and the mills. They set fire to the lower mill, and a house that stood on the shore; but the town, and upper mills, by the vigilance of the inhabitants, were saved. Apprised of the enemy’s intention, they took up the bridge, and posted themselves behind a wall that commanded it, from whence they kept up so brisk a fire, that after an engagement of nearly an hour and a half, the enemy were compelled to retire, leaving behind them one killed and another mortally wounded. Five muskets and as many hats have since been found, and from every circumstance it appears that their loss was considerable. The militia turned out with great alacrity, and repaired to the place of action; but the precipitate retreat of the enemy deprived those spirited fellows of an opportunity to revenge the injuries they have repeatedly received, and of treating the detestable conflagrators as they justly deserved.

The enemy’s boats and shipping, in passing down the river, received considerable annoyance from the American fort on Bristol Neck. A galley that came up to cover them from the well-directed fire of the fort, was driven on the Rhode Island shore, and the men were obliged to abandon her; a sloop that attempted to assist her shared the same fate. The Americans had not a man killed or wounded.1


1 New Hampshire Gazette, June 16. A writer in the British army gives the following account of these excursions:—”The general having received certain intelligence that the rebels were collecting their boats with a probable intention of disturbing our quiet, last Saturday (May 30) sent the galleys and flat-boats up the river, and the next day the 22d regiment, light companies and chasseurs, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, marched out of town. The night was rainy, and I expected but little from this movement, but in the morning I was agreeably disappointed; the roar of cannon and columns of smoke soon convinced me, that the rod of correction was judiciously applied to the backs of the rebels. I hastened out of town to be a spectator of this scene; and I assure you it was grand and solemn beyond description. The fire of the musketry, the blaze of houses and vessels, the explosions of magazines, with pillars of smoke ascending like pyramids into the air, to a person not used to the desolating scenes of war, was not a little affecting; and believe me, my friend, nothing could have supported me, under so distressing a transaction, but a consciousness of the expediency and necessity of the measure. The conquering troops returned about twelve o’clock that day, having performed a march of at least fifty miles, and burnt one hundred and fifty boats, mostly large, two magazines, a large privateer, a galley, a number of carriages and other stores, with about thirty houses in the towns of Bristol and Warren. A fine galley belonging to the rebels was taken at the same time by the boats from the ships, and brought off with her captain, and about thirteen rebel prisoners. In short, the business they went upon was completely accomplished; does honor to the officers and men, and is of the highest importance to government. About eight of our men were wounded, and Lieutenant Hamilton of the 22d, but happily none dangerous. Last evening we had another expedition up Fall River, with one hundred men, under Major Eyre, destroyed two or three saw and grist mills, three and four houses and stores, a quantity of boards, &c. The troops returned in the morning, having two men killed and seven or eight wounded, amongst whom is Lieutenant Goldsmith of the 54th.”— Rivington’s Gazette, June 6.