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.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mention of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 in Revolutionary War Diary of David How

There is a very brief reference to the Battle of Pelham that occurred on the 18th of October, 1776 in a diary kept by David How, a private in Col. Paul Dudley Sargent's Regiment of the Massachusetts Line. The brief entry sheds light on the perceptions of the battle among enlisted men who did not witness it firsthand. The entire entry, with footnotes as they appeared in a published version released in 1865, appears below among those entries between October 12 when the British landed on Throggs Neck and October 23 when the author arrived in White Plains in preparation for the Battle of White Plains.

"[October] 12 [1776] This morning the Enimy Landed at Frogg's point ‡ [Footnote ‡ reads as follows: "Throgg's Point, Westchester County, New York. The landing and its consequences are described in HEATH's Memoirs, October 12."] We ware all a larmd and March d Down Almost there And [Page 32 / Page 33] Staid all Day the Enimy Did not offer to March any Distance from there Ships.* [Footnote * reads as follows: "* 'The British encamped on the neck.' -- HEATH's Memoirs, October 12."]

STEPHAN BARKER Died Att Rhie † this Day with the putered feavour [Footnote † reads as follows: "† 'Att Rhie' -- at Rye."]

B 13 STEPHAN BARKER was Buried this Day I Cooked this Day

14 There has ben two Brigades Marchd By hear This Day Towards forgg's point ‡ [Footnote ‡ reads as follows: "‡ 'As two or three brigades have moved this day beyond WILLIAMS'S, you will not march over to support the regiments near Frog's Point without further orders, as this post may be left too bare.' General HEATH to Colonel SARGENT, Kingsbridge, October 14."]

15 I have [been] on guard at fort Independant § [Footnote § reads as follows: "§ Fort Independence, on Tetard's Hill, in the town of Yonkers, Westchester County, New York."] C - Sign Bolton.

16 Our Regt all went to frogg Point on gard Day

17 I have Ben on the Quarter Guard this day C - Sign Liberty.

18 The Regulars Landed above Frogg's point on the main Land. Our people fought Them Killed a great many Both sides we have not The Particulars as yet [Footnote reads as follows: " The action at Pelham, which is here referred to, was one of the best-fought battles of that eventual campaign, both officers and men acting with great coolness and determination. General HEATH has well described the action in his Memoirs, (October 18); but by far the best account is that contained in a letter written by Colonel READ, which has been copied in The Retreats through Westchester County in 1776."]

19 Nothing New this Day

B 20 This Day our Regt all Went Frogg's point to Guard there. At Night I went with a party of men To get all the oxen and the Horses that we Could find And got home to our Barruks At Day brake [Page 33 / Page 34]

21 This morning we ware all Ordered to fix all our things For a march & we marchd one mile and ware ordered Back to out Camps

22 This morning we set out For the White Plains * [Footnote * reads as follows: "* White Plains, the county seat of Westchester County, New York, was, as the roads then ran, about thirty miles from New York and about fifteen from the camp referred to."] With all our Baggage. I went with the Sick and got with in 6 miles of the plains at Night

23 This morning I set out with The Sick & got to the plains † [Footnote † reads as follows: "† 'the plains' -- the usual name given to the village of White Plains by the old inhabitants who resided in that vicinity."]"

Source: Diary of David How, A Private in Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent's Regiment of the Massachusetts Line, in the Army of the American Revolution from the Original Manuscript with a Biographical Sketch of the Author by George Wingate Chase, and Illustrative Notes by Henry B. Dawson in Dawson, Henry B., Gleanings From the Harvest-Field of American History, pp. 32-34 (Morissania, NY, 1865).

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