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British Descent into New Jersey

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

February 10.—Last Tuesday, about three o’clock in the morning, a party of the new levies from Staten Island went into Woodbridge, New Jersey, and marched up into the town, undiscovered, to the house of Charles Jackson, in which there happened to lay that night a scout of Continental troops from Bonem Town, consisting of twelve men. The sentinel did not discover them till they had well-nigh surrounded the house, it being very dark, when he fired and ran off, making his escape; the rest being unfortunately asleep, were taken by surprise without making any resistance. Their principal object was Captain Nathaniel Fitz Randolph, who lived at this house. He had just returned from Staten Island, having been over there with a small party, chief of the night, and was but a few minutes in the house before he was alarmed by the firing of the sentinel, when they instantly rushed into the house and seized him and Mr. Jackson, with the scout. The party had gone before the inhabitants had time to collect, without doing any other damage except plundering the house of a few trifling articles, taking the shoe buckles out of the women’s shoes, which was as little, or more than could be expected, considering the usual practice of the British troops, as the men were restrained from plundering by their officer, said to be a Captain Ryerson, of Buskirk’s regiment, who seemed actuated by principles of honor and humanity; and upon this occasion imitated the laudable example of Captain Randolph, who has not only distinguished himself by his activity and bravery, but by his politeness and generosity towards such as he hath taken prisoners, never allowing his men to plunder—a practice most ignominious and base, by which Britons have, in the present contest with America, greatly disgraced themselves, and deserve to be forever despised, in which their principal officers have joined, and so sunk themselves to a level with the meanest pilfering soldier.1


1 New Jersey Gazette, February 17.