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.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Extract of October 23, 1776 Letter Describing British Troops in Eastchester After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776

In 1776, a New England newspaper published an extract of a letter written from Eastchester on October 23, 1776 -- five days after the Battle of Pelham on October 18. The letter described the British troops in Eastchester and speculated on the likelihood of an upcoming battle between the warring armies. Only days later, of course, the armies fought the Battle of White Plains.

This letter might be described as significant in that it can be viewed as a previously overlooked description -- though brief -- of the Battle of Pelham and the casualties suffered during that battle. The text of the extract of the letter and a citation to its source appear immediately below.

"Extract of a Letter from East-Chester, October 23.

'The Enemy have landed their main Body at East-Chester, where we had a small Engagement [i.e., the Battle of Pelham], we lost 12 Men, but we had the Advantage of them, we have had authentic Intelligence of their loosing 500 killed and wounded. The Enemy lay on the East-River, and we on the North, 2 Miles distant from each other. We have York Island still in our possession, with a Garrison of 1800 Men, commanded by General Putnam. The main Body of our Army lay at the above Place, waiting for the Enemy to attack us; it is my opinion if they should not do it soon, we shall attack them; we have gained the Advantage of them, the two last Engagements, there is no Dispute but what a general Attack will commence very soon; I think the Salvation of America depend upon our Conduct in the next Engagement; it will either be the Destruction of the British Army, or ours; the two Armies are so near together, that they must be both engaged at one Time. I have just received Intelligence of a Battle that was fought last Night at Marrineck, about 7 Miles from this. The Enemy had a Number killed and wounded, we took 30 Prisoners. We cannot learn what loss our Army sustained, but we came off Victorious.'"

Source: Extract of a Letter From East-Chester, October 23, New-England Chronicle, published as The Independent Chronical, Oct. 31, 1776, Vol. IX, Issue 428, p. 3, cols. 1-2.

The extract of the letter was picked up by a number of newspapers in the northeast and appeared several times thereafter. Below are citations to additional publication instances.

Extract of a Letter From East-Chester, October 23, Freeman's Journal, Vol. I, Issue 24, Nov. 5, 1776, p. 3, cols. 1-2.

Extract of a Letter From East-Chester, October 23, Newport Mercury, published as The Newport Mercury, Issue 952, Nov. 11, 1776, p. 3, col. 1.

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