Affiliate Link

Ensign Moody

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

August 2.—Ensign Moody, a refugee from Sussex to the British army, who was lately sent from New York with a party of ruffians for the purpose of burning Sussex gaol, in Jersey, of taking, or assassinating Governor Livingston, and the persons who were active in apprehending the three spies lately executed, and of enlisting the inhabitants in the service of the British tyrant, has been captured by the vigorous exertions of Captain Lawrence, of the New York State levies, near the English neighborhood. The instructions found upon Moody, in order to give the better color to his private directions for enlisting and assassinating, and to prevent his being treated as a spy from the military style, that he was to produce, in case of his being taken prisoner, are in the following terms:

Head Quarters, May 10th, New York, 1780.
Sir,—You are hereby directed and authorized to proceed without loss of time with a small detachment into the Jerseys by the most convenient route, in order to carry off the person of Governor Livingston, or any other acting in public station whom you may fall in with in the course of your march, or any person whom you may meet with, and whom it may be necessary to secure for your own security, and that of the party under your command. Should you succeed in taking Governor Livingston, you are to treat him according to his station, as far as lies in your power; nor are you, upon any account, to offer any violence to his person. You will use your endeavors to get possession of his papers, which you will take care of, and upon your return, deliver at Head-Quarters.

By order of his Excellency, Lieut.-Genl. Knyphausen.
Geo. Beckwith, Aide-de-Camp.
Ensign Moody, 1st Battalion,
New Jersey Volunteers.


It is said that all of Moody’s party, except one, (who, attempting to swim the North River in his flight, and is supposed to be drowned,) have either been captured or killed by the activity of the Jerseymen; and as to the famous or infamous ensign himself, the great taker of governors, and general gaol-deliverer of Sussex, he is at present safely lodged at West Point; and if he has justice done him, it is generally supposed, as our correspondent observes, that he will be hanged for a spy, for enlisting American citizens in the British army, and coming with a party so small as nine, and with weapons concealed, either of which are, according to the present construction of all the nations in Europe,, characteristic of a spy.

It is reported that another party was sent from Staten Island last week for the express purpose of assassinating his excellency the governor. Ought not such bloody measures be retaliated upon the enemy?1


1 New Jersey Journal, August 2.

1 comment

Comments are closed.