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Descent on Paramus, N.J.

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

March 24.—Day before yesterday, two detachments of the British army were passed over the Hudson River into Jersey— one from King’s Bridge, consisting of three hundred men from the brigade of guards, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Howard, the other from New York, of equal force, composed of the British and German troops in garrison, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Macpherson, of the forty-second regiment. Lieutenant-Colonel Howard’s detachment landed at Kloster, several miles above Fort Lee—the troops from the city at Weehawk, (Weehawken.) The former were to penetrate into the country to the northward of Hopperstown, and destined to attack the rear of the rebel cantonments at that place; the latter (taking their route by the Little Ferry upon the Hackensack, where boats were sent to transport them across) were to have surprised the town of Hackensack, in which a company of militia were quartered, and, pushing forwards, to have fallen upon the front of the Paramus cantonments. These services were not effected, owing to unavoidable delays, till several hours later than was intended. Lieutenant-Colonel Howard arrived near Hopperstown two hours after daybreak yesterday morning, and continuing his march, surprised two pickets, and pressed one of their cantonments so closely as to oblige the officer and his command to leave their arms behind them, which, to the amount of about thirty stand, were destroyed. Their main body, consisting of between two and three hundred men, made a show of defence at the church; but, finding they would be instantly attacked, they retired with precipitation—were pursued for about a mile, and several prisoners taken. Lieutenant-Colonel Macpherson’s detachment, at this time on its march through the cantonments, which were found abandoned, made its appearance upon the road near the church, having taken a few prisoners.

Every further attempt to come up with the enemy being impracticable, both detachments returned to Zabriskie’s Mills, where, being joined by the party left at Hackensack, which had taken several prisoners, the troops retired by New Bridge, and the English Neighborhood; Lieutenant-Colonel Macpherson’s, with the prisoners, continuing their march to Weehawk, where boats were waiting to receive them.

One man of the British was killed, Captain Ansthruther of the forty-second regiment, and a few men were wounded upon the march towards the English Neighborhood, the rebels, in loose parties, keeping up an irregular fire upon the rear, and some men dropped behind from fatigue. In the course of the march, a clergyman, with another inoffensive inhabitant, (taken prisoner by mistake,) were dismissed, and are reported to have been accidentally shot by the rebels. Sixty-four prisoners were brought from Jersey; of these twenty-four belonged to the Continental troops, and a captain and twenty-three were militia-men. Thirteen deserters, also, who were a part of the Paramus command, came off with their arms. The loss of the rebels in killed and wounded cannot be ascertained.1


1 Gaine’s Mercury, April 3.