Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Paper Addressing the Battle of Pelham, Among Other Things, Presented in 1903

In 1903, the President of the Marblehead [Massachusetts] Historical Society presented a paper to the Society entitled "General John Glover and His Marblehead Regiment in the Revolutionary War". In it he addressed the Battle of Pelham (also known as the Battle of Pell's Point). The Society published the paper in 1903. A transcription of that portion of the paper that dealt with the Battle of Pelham appears immediately below followed by a citation to the source.

"October 16. Glover's brigade (in Lee's division) was on the East Chester Road near Pelham to watch the enemy.


Early in the morning of October 18th, General Glover with his spy-glass went out upon a hill-top near Hutchinson River to scan Long Island Sound and the coast, to know if the enemy was in sight. To his surprise he saw a fleet of British ships off Pell's Point disembarking troops and moving towards the Point. Glover was alone in command of his brigade with no reënforcements or support to fall back upon. Glover, in a letter written soon after this said: 'I would have given a thousand worlds to have had some experienced general at hand to tell me what to do. He immediately sent William R. Lee to General Samuel Lee, three miles distant, for orders. But there was no time to be lost. He quickly made his plans and prepared to meet the enemy. Glover's Brigade at this time consisted of four regiments: The Fourteenth Continental (the Marblehead Regiment of which he was Colonel) one hudred and seventy-nine men fit for duty; Thirteenth Regiment, Colonel Joseph Read, two hundred and twenty-six men, (Read was born in Uxbridge, March 6, 1731); Third Regiment, Colonel William Shepard, two hundred and four men, (Shepard was born in Westfield, December 1, 1737. Died, November 16, 1817); Twenty-Sixth Regiment, Colonel Loammi Baldwin, two hundred and thirty-four men. (Baldwin, born in Woburn, January 21, 1745. Died, October 20, 1807. He was the propagator of the Baldwin apple.)

General Glover, with his brigade of four Massachusetts regiments, in all, eight hundred and forty-three men, fit for service, met General Howe and his army of over four thousand British regulars at Glover's Rock, Pell's Point. The road leading from Pelham to Pell's Point had, for a fence, on each side, at this place, a heavy stone wall. General Glover, with great skill, placed his men where they would do the best service, taking every advantage offered of position and defense. He placed Colonel Read on the right of the road, near the great rock, (since known as Glover's Rock,) with the stone wall for breast-works. A little farther back, on the left of the road, he placed Colonel Shepard, and still farther back on the right, Colonel Baldwin, each behind the stone wall. On the hill in the rear, where he had planted his three guns, he posted the Marblehead Regiment. Then Glover with forty men moved down the road to meet the British. After a little skirmish with their advance guard, which was quickly reënforced, he fell slowly back until the enemy were within the range of Read's guns; when he and his men each rose from behind the wall, took aim and poured a terrible raking fire into the ranks of the advancing enemy, from which, after a few rounds, they recoiled and fell back. Being reënforced, the enemy again moved forward but to meet Read's guns as before. Read held them until he had fired four rounds, then it was his turn to retreat and he fell back. The British pushed forward, but only to meet the raking fire from Shepard's Regiment on the left. Shepard held them for an hour and then retreated. The British thoght they then had a free field and moved forward with a quickened step, but were soon brought to a halt by the guns of Baldwin's Regiment on the right that had been reënforced by Read. A severe battle followed, night was coming on, Glover fell slowly back to the hill where his guns were stationed. The British fell back to the road to New Rochelle, went into camp and waited until the 26th instance for reënforcements.

General Carrington, in his account of this battle, page 235, said: 'On the 17th instant, the First, Second and Sixth Brigades and the Third Hessian Battalion, with General Howe, were transferred from Flushing to Pell's Point at the mouth of Hutchinson River. When they advanced toward New Rochelle, Colonel Glover with his regiment made so persistent a resistance with a force of seven hundred and fifty men behind a stone wall as to check the advance guard until it was strongly reënforced, and earned for himself honorable mention in orders.'

General Glover in a letter to his mother, written the next day after the battle, said: 'Our loss yesterday was seven killed and thirteen wounded, the enemy's loss, as near as I can learn was between two hundred and three hundred. * [Footnote * States: "See Appendix A and B."] Abbatt of Pelham, who has made a special study of this battle, and of the English and German records (the Hessians reported to their home government) said: 'The British loss at Pell's Point was over eight hundred men; Glover's loss was eight killed and thirteen wounded.'

October 19. Glover and his brigade received in General Orders thanks from General Lee; and on the 21st, in General Orders thanks from General Washington, as follows:

MILE SQUARE, October 19, 1776.

General Lee returns his warmest thanks to Colonel Glover and the brigade under his command, not only for their gallant behavior yesterday, but for their prudent, cool, orderly and soldierlike conduct in all respects. He assures these brave men that he shall omit no opportunity of showing his gratitude. All of the wounded to be immediately carried to Volantine's Hill, at the second liberty pole, where surgeons should repair to dress them; they are afterwards to be forwarded to Fort Washington.'

HEADQUARTERS, October 21, 1776.

The hurried situation of the Gen. the two last days having prevented him from paying that attention to Colonel Glover and the officers and soldiers who were with him in the skirmish on Friday last that their merit and good behavior deserved, he flatters himself that his thanks, though delayed will nevertheless be acceptable to them, as they are offered with great sincerity and cordiality; at the same time, he hopes that every other part of the army will do their duty with bravery and zeal whenever called upon, and neither dangers nor difficulties nor hardships will discourage soldiers engaged in the cause of Liberty and while we are contending for all that freemen hold dear and valuable."

Source: Sanborn, Nathan P., Gen. John Glover and his Marblehead Regiment in the Revolutionary War A Paper Read Before the Marblehead Historical Society May 14, 1903, pp. 24-29 (Marblehead, MA: Marblehead Historical Society 1903).

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