Extract of December 3, 1776 Letter Addressing Battle of Pelham Casualties on October 18, 1776
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I have written extensively about the Battle of Pelham. For a list of my 46 previous articles addressing aspects of the battle, see the bibliography of articles (many of which, like today's, document research regarding the battle) at the end of today's posting.
One of the most controversial issues regarding the Battle of Pelham concerns how many casualties were suffered by the British and German troops during the battle. American casualties seem uncontroverted. In his well known letter from Mile Square dated October 22, 1776, Col. John Glover (who led American troops during the battle) stated: "I had eight men killed and thirteen wounded, among which was Colonel Shepard, a brave officer." (Shepard was wounded in the throat, but recovered.)
The issue of British and German casualties during the battle has been hotly debated for more than 165 years. No dispositive records reflecting German casualties have been located by researchers. Additionally, British reports included aggregated figures for a number of skirmishes and engagements leading up to, and including, the Battle of Pelham making it difficult to sort out clear numbers. Enemy deserters questioned by American forces shortly after the battle claimed losses by the British and German forces of between 800 and 1,000 men, claims that do not seem consistent with available evidence or even a hint of reality.
Today's Historic Pelham article transcribes an "Extract" of a letter from General William Howe, who led the British and German troops during the battle, to Lord George Germain (whose last name is misspelled "Germaine" in the Maryland newspaper that published the extract). Lord George Germain was a British soldier and politician who was Secretary of State for America in Lord North's cabinet during the American War of Independence. The extract of Lord Howe's letter appeared in the May 1, 1777 issue of The Maryland Gazette published in Annapolis, about six and a half months after the Battle of Pelham.
This account appears to be a more extensive description of British casualties over a similar period of time (September 17 through October 18, 1776) than a similar extract dated December 8, 1776 about which I previously have written. See Wed., Feb. 17, 2010: British Report on Killed, Wounded and Missing Soldiers During the Period the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776. The extract of the December 3, 1776 Howe letter indicates that among the dead and wounded tallied in the letter were a sergeant and three rank and file service members who were killed on October 12, 1776 when a boat ferrying men and equipment overturned in the East River.
The Maryland Gazette that published the extract is one of the oldest continuously-published newspapers in the United States. William Parks (1699-1750) who was a printer and journalist in England and, later, colonial America founded the newspaper in Annapolis in 1727. Extant copies of the newspaper serve as a rich record of colonial America including, in this instance, a record related to the Battle of Pelham.
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The text of the extract of the December 3, 1776 letter that appears immediately below is followed by a citation and link to its source.
"Extract of a letter from general Sir William Howe to lord George Germaine [sic], dated New-York, Dec. 3, 1776.
I HAVE the honour to inclose to your lordship a return of ordnance and stores taken from the enemy since the landing his majesty's troops at Frog's Neck, in West-Chester county, from the 12th of October to the 20th of November. Those in the commissary and quarter-master general's branches are also very considerable; but as it has not been in their power hitherto to ascertain them, the report must therefore be deferred to the next opportunity. I also inclose a return of prisoners taken during the campaign.
Return of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, rank and file, killed, wounded, and missing, belonging to the army under the command of his excellency the hon. gen. Howe, in several actions, &c. with the rebels, from the 17th of September, to the 16th of November, 1776, inclusive, specifying the different periods, and the corps the casualties have happened in.
Head-quarters, New York, 1st December, 1776.
In the action at Pelham-Manor, on the 18th of October, and in previous skirmishes, from the 17th of September, inclusive.
17th regiment of light dragoons: 1 drummer missing. 1st battalion of light infantry: 1 serjeant, 2 rank and file killed; 1 field officer, 1 captain, 1 subaltern, 3 serjeants, 1 drummer or trumpeter, 23 rank and file, wounded; 2 rank and file missing. 2d ditto: 1 rank and file killed; 3 rank and file wounded. 2d ditto grenadiers: 2 rank and file wounded. 4th regiment: 1 rank and file missing. 27th, 28th, 58th, 57th and 59th regiments, one in each wounded. 71st ditto: 5 rank and file killed; 7 rank and file wounded. Royal artillery: 1 serjeant, 3 rank and file killed. -- Total: 2 serjents, 11 rank and file killed; 1 field officer, 1 captain, 1 subaltern, 3 serjeants, 1 drummer or trumpeter, 40 rank and file wounded; 1 drummer, 3 rank and file, missing.
Names of the officers killed and wounded, &c.
1st battalion of light infantry: Capt. Evelyn, of the 4th regiment, mortally wounded, since dead; lieut. col. Musgrave, of the 40th regiment, wounded; lieut. Archibald Rutherford, of the 22d regiment, wounded.
N.B. The serjeant and 3 rank and file of the royal artillery, returned killed, were drowned in the East River, by the oversetting of boat the 12th of October."
Source: Extract of a Letter from General Sir William Howe to Lord George Germaine [sic], dated New-York, Dec. 3, 1776, The Maryland Gazette [Annapolis, MD], May 1, 1777, p. 1, col. 3 (Note: Paid subscription required to access via this link).
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I have written extensively about the Battle of Pelham fought on October 18, 1776. See, for example, the following 46 previous articles many of which, like today's, document research regarding the battle:
Bell, Blake A., The Battle of Pelham: October 18, 1776, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 41, Oct. 15, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.
Bell, Blake, History of the Village of Pelham: Revolutionary War, HistoricPelham.com Archive (visited Dec. 18, 2015).
Fri., Feb. 19, 2016: The 600-Year Old "Lord Howe Chestnut" Tree that Once Stood in Pelham.
Fri., Dec. 18, 2015: Brief Report on the Battle of Pelham Fought October 18, 1776 Prepared Five Days Afterward.
Tue., Sep. 08, 2015: Pelham Manor Resident Makes Revolutionary War Discovery.
Mon., May 18, 2015: Cannonball Fired in The Battle of Pelham Found on Plymouth Street in Pelham Manor.
Mon., Apr. 27, 2015: Obituary of British Officer Who Participated in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 as a Young Man.
Mon., Feb. 28, 2005: Glover's Rock on Orchard Beach Road Does Not Mark the Site of the Battle of Pelham.
Mon., Apr. 18, 2005: Restored Battle of Pelham Memorial Plaque Is Unveiled at Glover Field.
Fri., May 27, 2005: 1776, A New Book By Pulitzer Prize Winner David McCullough, Touches on the Battle of Pelham.
Thu., Jul. 14, 2005: Pelham's 1926 Pageant Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Pelham.
Wed., Oct. 26, 2005: Remnants of the Battlefield on Which the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776. Fri., May 19, 2006: Possible Remains of a Soldier Killed in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Found in 1921.
Fri., Aug. 11, 2006: Article by William Abbatt on the Battle of Pelham Published in 1910.
Thu., Sep. 21, 2006: A Paper Addressing the Battle of Pelham, Among Other Things, Presented in 1903.
Mon., Oct. 30, 2006: Brief Biographical Data About Sir Thomas Musgrave, British Lieutenant Colonel Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Wed., Nov. 1, 2006: Two British Military Unit Histories that Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Tue., Jan. 16, 2007: Brief Biography of British Officer Who Served During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Fri., Feb. 09, 2007: Extract of October 23, 1776 Letter Describing British Troops in Eastchester After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Mon., Feb. 12, 2007: Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site Opens New Exhibition: "Overlooked Hero: John Glover and the American Revolution."
Thu., Jan. 18, 2007: Three More British Military Unit Histories that Note Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Mon., Jul. 16, 2007: Mention of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 in Revolutionary War Diary of David How.
Tue., Jul. 17, 2007: Mention of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 in Writings of Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Aide-de-Camp to British General Clinton.
Wed., Jul. 18, 2007: Another British Military Unit History that Notes Participation in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Tue., Aug. 7, 2007: An Account of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Contained in the McDonald Papers Published in 1926.
Wed., Aug. 8, 2007: A Description of an Eyewitness Account of the Interior of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester During the Revolutionary War.
Thu., Sep. 6, 2007: Information About St. Paul's Church, the Battle of Pelham and Other Revolutionary War Events Near Pelham Contained in an Account Published in 1940.
Mon., Oct. 8, 2007: American Troops Who Guarded Pelham's Shores in October 1776.
Fri., Oct. 12, 2007: Images of The Lord Howe Chestnut that Once Stood in the Manor of Pelham.
Fri., Oct. 27, 2006: Orders Issued by British Major General The Honourable William Howe While Encamped in Pelham After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Thu., Jan. 22, 2009: Another Brief Biography of Sir Thomas Musgrave, a British Officer Wounded at the Battle of Pelham on October 18 1776.
Wed., Feb. 17, 2010: British Report on Killed, Wounded and Missing Soldiers During the Period the Battle of Pelham Was Fought on October 18, 1776.
Fri., Apr. 23, 2010: Charles Blaskowitz, Surveyor Who Created Important Map Reflecting the Battle of Pelham.
Thu., Feb. 06, 2014: A Description of the Revolutionary War Battle of Pelham Published in 1926 for the Sesquicentennial Celebration.
Mon., May 19, 2014: Biography of British Officer Who Fought in the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Wed., Jun. 04, 2014: An Account of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Presented and Published in 1894.
Fri., Jun. 27, 2014: Newly-Published Account Concludes Colonel William Shepard Was Wounded During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Mon., Jun. 30, 2014: A British Lieutenant in the Twelfth Foot Who Fought at the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Fri., Sep. 19, 2014: Abel Deveau, An American Skirmisher on Rodman's Neck as British and Germans Landed Before the Battle of Pelham.
Wed., Sep. 17, 2014: References to the Battle of Pelham in 18th Century Diary of Ezra Stiles, President of Yale College.
Fri., Oct. 17, 2014: First-Hand Diary Account of Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Mon., Oct. 20, 2014: American Diary Account of Events Before, During, and After the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776.
Tue., Oct. 21, 2014: November 1, 1776 Letter Describing the Battle of Pelham and Events Before and After the Battle.
Fri., Oct. 24, 2014: October 21, 1776 Report to the New-York Convention Regarding the Battle of Pelham.
Wed., Feb. 18, 2015: Young American Hero James Swinnerton, Badly Wounded in the Battle of Pelham.
Wed., Feb. 25, 2015: Where Were the Stone Walls Used by American Troops During the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776?
Thu., Mar. 24, 2016: An Account of the Battle of Pelham on October 18, 1776 Published in The McDonald Papers.
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