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Tarleton’s Attack on Bedford, N. Y.

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

July 2.—Last night, Lieutenant-Colonel Tarleton marched out with a detachment of cavalry, and early this morning attacked a party of the rebel Nags, commanded by a Colonel Sheldon, in the neighborhood of Bedford. The Americans’ situation was in a wood, with a morass on each side, which was intersected by a road, along which they, with great precipitancy, retreated. The rebel officers and men quitted their jades, and threw themselves over the fences to gain the swamp. By so sudden a flight, in such a narrow road, no great impression could be made, only on the rear, of whom about twenty-two were killed and wounded. Two corps of rebel militia, which had formed on their rear, at the approach of the legion, quitted their post, retreating to the morass. The colonel, finding it impracticable, with his fatigued horses, to pursue them further, returned to the camp of the rebels, burned and destroyed their whole baggage, and brought off a standard, about an hundred helmets, and seventeen prisoners, with the loss of one corporal of the legion killed, and one light horseman wounded by some skulking militia firing from the fences on his return. They were cautioned by the commanding officer to desist from firing, on pain of their houses being consumed, but still foolhardily persevering in their hostility, he was constrained to carry his menaces into execution, and several houses were accordingly destroyed.

Among the prisoners is one of the Vantassels, from near Tarrytown, of a pedigree partly Indian and partly Batavian. This despicable caitiff has of late amused himself with cruelly flagellating numbers of inoffensive women, whom he had suspected of frequenting the New York markets. Four of this hardy varlets brothers are also in safe custody, held as hostages for four men of the provincial corps who have been made prisoners on the North River, tried and destined to the cord by their new republican legislature. The Yankees have been formally apprised that the fate of the Vantassel fraternity will depend immediately upon that of the loyal provincials; when once the gallows of castigation shall be erected on the side of loyalty, a period to the public and wanton murder of the King’s friends will most assuredly follow.

One Hunt, formerly a breeches maker of New York, but of late a vender of the confiscated estates of loyal refugees, an orator, and a messenger employed by the Congress, was at the same time delivered to the custody of Mr. Cunningham,1 to sympathize at leisure, en provost, with his mongrel friend Vantassel on the disastrous condition of their paper piastres, the dwindled number of Mr. Washington’s scaled miserables, and the chop-fallen countenance of each delegate at this time composing the distracted Continental Congress.2


1 The keeper of the Provost Prison in New York.
2 Rivington’s Gazette, July 7.