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Battle off Barnegat, New Jersey – Washington’s Army leaves White Plains

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

About three o’clock last Tuesday afternoon [August 21], a very severe action was fought between the whale boat Surprise, Captain Thompson, and her consort, both their crews consisting of twenty-six men, and two rebel whale boats belonging to Philadelphia, off Little Barnegat, on the coast of New Jersey. The conflict lasted more than an hour, within pistol shot, in which Captain Thompson received a dangerous wound in the thigh; notwithstanding which he continued the contest, until the rebels took to their oars, first throwing over four of their dead. Among their number, it is said, was one of their captains, named Eccles.

Captain Thompson’s behavior on this occasion does him much credit, and demands the tribute of praise from every loyal heart. It is remarkable that after having received a swivel ball in his groin, he discharged his fusee twice; and when the anguish of his wound had disqualified him for the more active part of the contest, he still continued giving orders in a supine posture, and exerting his men, who were all refugees, not to strike the colors to the rebels. This relation is given the public not to magnify the action in its immediate consequence, but as a clear testimony of the more elevated bravery of those who have nobly sacrificed their domestic ease and enjoyments, to the best of all principles, that of loyalty.

The rebel army, under the command of General Washington, left their encampment at White Plains, in Westchester county, last Monday, (20th,) and some of the Continental troops are gone up the North River. The French army crossed the Hudson yesterday, and proceeded on their march for Chatham, eight miles from Elizabethtown, where their artificers have been building ovens, &c., for more than ten days. Part of Dayton’s brigade is also at Chatham, in Jersey, and a York provincial regiment is now stationed at a place called Fox Hall, four miles from Newark, and seven from Elizabethtown; so that the number of troops now in that neighborhood amount to at least six thousand, and their greatest distance from Staten Island is not more than nine miles.1


1 Gaine’s Mercury, August 27.