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Fight at Kingsbridge, New York

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

July 9.—In the evening of the 2d, Lieutenant-Colonel Emmerick marched with one hundred men, drawn from the regiments of the line, from the encampment near New York, to Phillips’ house; as, the next morning, a number of wagons, under an escort of two hundred foot, and thirty mounted Yagers, were to be sent to the same place for some hay. But about ten o’clock the same evening, intelligence was received of General Washington’s army having been at Sing Sing in the afternoon of the 2d instant. It was therefore resolved to leave the wagons within the lines, and send the detachment to recall Colonel Emmerick. Lieutenant-Colonel De Prueschenck, with the following officers under his command, viz.: Captain Henricks, Captain De Wangenheim, Lieutenant Schaefer, Lieutenant De Deimar, and Lieutenant De Baltholmai, left the camp at daybreak, and having left Kingsbridge, would not pass a series of defiles before he had reconnoitred Fort Independence; he therefore ordered his advanced guards, under Lieutenant Schaefer, and another party, of a sergeant and ten men, to examine the fort and its environs. It being not yet quite day, these parties did not perceive the rebels drawn up in a line of battle, till they were within ten yards of them, when they received their fire, returned it, and fell back to a proper distance. Lieutenant-Colonel De Prueschenck immediately and with great resolution and presence of mind, endeavored to gain the height in the rear of the fort, and though he received the rebels’ whole fire, succeeded so far as to take possession of the ruins of a house which was formerly fortified by Colonel Emmerick. From this place he attacked the rebels in their advantageous position, intending to dislodge them; but, observing a battalion with flying colors in the fort, finding their superiority of numbers, being furiously attacked with the bayonet, and at the same time seeing no possibility of gaining any ground to his advantage, he resolved to fall back under the cannon in Charles’ redoubt; but the rebels pressing too hard upon him, and his infantry, on account of the narrow passage, beginning to lose ground, and being apprehensive of sustaining some loss in repassing the defile in such a situation, he ordered his cavalry under Lieutenant Flies, to charge the advancing enemy. This had the expected effect; the rebels stopped, the Yagers formed again and recommenced the attack with redoubled vigor, obliged the rebels to quit the fort, and drove them from the heights as far as Deveaux’s house, taking possession of the ground they had quitted. At this time Lieutenant-Colonel De Wurm arrived with the rest of the Yager corps from Kingsbridge, and took possession of the rising ground between the Bridge and Fort Independence, reconnoitred the enemy’s new position, extending from Miles-square road over the height to William’s Bridge, with a thick wood in their rear, plainly indicating a design to conceal their real strength. As repeated intelligence was received that three hundred French horse covered the enemy’s left at William’s Bridge, Colonel De Wurm acted with precaution, and did not think proper to risk another attack; but Lieutenant-Colonel Emmerick retreating over Spuyten Duyvil, and being cut off by the rebels’ position, (two hundred men being arrived at this time from the regiments of the line, and the refugees from Morrisania having joined,) it was absolutely necessary to force the rebels from their ground, to give Colonel Emmerick an opportunity of joining by the way of Cortlandt’s house, still in possession of the rebels. The Yagers moved forward and took possession of Cortlandt’s Bridge; the refugees and the advanced parties of the Yagers engaged the rebels’ advanced posts and drove them to their main body, which immediately filed off to the left, and retreated towards William’s Bridge. The passage being now open, Colonel Emmerick was desired to leave Spuyten Duyvil and to join, which he did, and informed General De Losberg that he drew two hundred rebels into his ambuscade at Phillips’ house, of which he killed three and took nine; that the rebel army was moving in two columns, (one of which was already seen on Valentine’s Hill advancing towards Cortlandt’s Bridge.) The troops were now ordered to fall back to their former position, leaving one hundred Yagers at Fort Independence, and observe all the motions of General Washington’s army, who himself reconnoitred Spuyten Duyvil at three o’clock in the afternoon. At four o’clock the troops moved into the lines and to their encampment.

The loss of the Yagers is three men killed; one officer, one sergeant, twenty-six men wounded, and five missing. That of the rebels is very considerable; intelligence was received that they embarked one hundred and one wounded men at Sing Sing, and sent them up the North River, besides a great many who died of their wounds before they reached that place, and one officer and seventeen men who were left on the field, with seventeen stands of arms.1


1 Rivington’s Gazette, July 14.