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Jerseymen Visit Flatbush

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

Last Saturday night, about eleven o’clock, a small party of rebels, from Jersey, landed at New Utrecht, on Long Island, and immediately proceeded to Flatbush, where several gentlemen of New York have country houses. The rebels, being well informed of this circumstance, and joined and led on by one of the rebel officers named Forrest, who was on parole there, and who deserted with them, being assisted by many of the rebel officers then also on their parole, and residing at Flatbush, who, it appears, had intelligence of their coming, divided themselves into three parties, and surrounded the houses of Major Moncrieffe, David Mathews, Esquire, mayor of the city, and Mr. Theophylact Bache; finding easy access into the houses of the major and Mr. Bache, they surprised them both before they had the least suspicion of danger. They were civil to the major, but at Mr. Bache’s they behaved in their usual savage style; they gave Mrs. Bache several blows on her entreating them not to use her husband ill; wounded one of the female servants with their bayonets, plundered the house of the plate they could find, and dragged away Mr. Bache without giving him time to put on his clothes. They were not so successful at the mayor’s, who seemed to have been their principal object. From an apprehension that the rebels would embrace the first opportunity of taking him, and being suspicious that such an opportunity might possibly happen, he had taken care that his doors and windows should be well secured, and never opened at night on any pretence, until it should be well known within who were without. The first tap at the door, which was in a seeming friendly manner, alarmed Mr. Mathews, who instantly concluded they were a party come to take him, and without the least inquiry, took such a post, that, although they should force in below, it would require a considerable time to gain the place where he had fixed himself, and where he was resolved to have lost his life rather than be carried off. He at the same time ordered one of his blacks to an upper window and endeavor to alarm the inhabitants. The loud cry of murder from the black was the first intelligence the rebels had of their being suspected, upon which they began a most furious attack on the door with the butts of their muskets, and threatening destruction to the whole family unless they were immediately let in; but finding their threats were of no service, the alarm still kept up by the servants, and one or two of their muskets being broke, and no impression made on the door, they then attacked the windows, which for a long time withstood their efforts, but at length one of the windows gave way, which afforded sufficient room for their entrance. The cry of the servant awakened a negro belonging to Mr. Chief Justice Horsmanden, living in the neighborhood, who discovered what was going forward at the instant the rebels were entering the mayor’s window, and immediately recollecting that he had a musket in the house, ran out and fired it, which so terrified these shabby cordwainers, that they instantly fled with the greatest precipitation, carrying off with them the major and Mr. Bache.

Messrs. Miles Sherbrooke, and Augustus Van Cortlandt, were also to have been taken off, had they not been alarmed by the Ethiopian’s fire. Immediately on the intelligence being received at Brooklyn, where Colonel Cockburn commanded, Captain Drew, with a detachment from the 35th regiment, marched to Flatbush, and, highly to his honor, arrived there much sooner than could possibly have been expected, but the wonted speed of the rebels saved them to fight another day.1


1 Rivington’s Gazette, June 17.