Reports: from Sir Henry Clinton's Raid up the Hudson River, October 1777

There are four documents on this web page:

1. A report from LTG Sir Henry Clinton to General Sir William Howe, dated 9 October 1777, reporting the capture of Forts Montgomery and Clinton.
2. A report by Captain Sir James Wallace, R.N., to Commodore William Hotham, dated 17 October 1777, reporting the burning of Kingston, NY.
3. A report by MG John Vaughan to LTG Sir Henry Clinton, undated(probably 26 October 1777), reporting the destruction of Kingston, NY.
4. A newspaper account of the Expedition from The New-York Gazette: and The Weekly Mercury, dated 3 November 1777.

A report from LTG Sir Henry Clinton to General Sir William Howe, dated 9 October 1777, reporting the capture of Forts Montgomery and Clinton.A
Fort Montgomery October 9th 1777.

      In the last Letter which I had the Honor to write to your Excellency, I mentioned my Intention with the small Force that could be spared from the important Post you had left under my Command, to make an Attack upon Forts Clinton, Montgomery &c. Your Excellency recollects the Situation of these Forts, that they are seperated by a Creek which comes from the Mountains, and communicate with each other by a Bridge.[1]

      In my Opinion the only Way of effecting it was by a Coup de Main in the unguarded state they then were. The Commodore and I having made our Arrangements, and every proper Jealousy having been given for every Object but the real one, the little Army, consisting of about 3,000 Men, arrived off Verplancks Point, preceded by the Gallies under Command of Sir James Wallace.[2] On our Appearance the Enemy retired without firing a Shot, leaving a Twelve Pounder behind them, and Sir James moved up to Peaks Kill Neck to mask the only Communication they had across the River on this Side of the Highlands.

      At Daybreak on the 6th the Troops disembarked at Stoney Point. The Avant Garde of 500 Regulars & 400 Provincials commanded by Lieut. Colonel Campbell,[4] with Colonel Robinson[5] of the Provincials under him, began its March to occupy the Pass of Thunder Hill;[6] this Avant Garde after it had passed that Mountain, was to proceed by a detour of seven Miles round the Hill, and Debouchée in the Rear of Fort Montgomery, while General Vaughan, with 1200 Men[7] was to continue his March towards Fort Clinton, covering the Corps under Lieutt. Colonel Campbell, and apportée to cooperate by attacking Fort Clinton, or in case of Misfortune to favor the Retreat. Major General Tryon with the Remainder, being the Rear Guard,[8] to leave a Battalion at the Pass of Thunder Hill to open our Communication with the Fleet.

      Your Excellency recollecting the many, and I may say extraordinary Difficulties of this March over the Mountains, every natural Obstruction, and all that Art could invent to add to them, will not be surprized that the Corps intended to attack Fort Montgomery in the Rear, could not get to its Ground before five oClock, about which Time I ordered General Vaughans Corps, (apportée to begin the Attack on Fort Clinton) to push if possible and dislodge the Enemy from their advanced Station behind a Stone Breast Work, having in Front for half a Mile a most impenetrable Abbatis, this the General by his good Disposition obliged the Enemy to quit, though supported by Cannon, got Possession of the Wall, and there waited the Motion of the cooperating Troops, when I joined him, and soon afterwards heard Lieutt. Colonel Campbell begin his Attack. I chose to wait a favorable Moment before I ordered the Attack on the Side of Fort Clinton; which was a circular Height, defended by a Line for Musquetry with a Barbet Battery in the Centre of three Guns, and flanked by two Redoubts: The Approaches to it, through a continued Abbatis of 400 Yards, defensive every Inch, and exposed to the Fire of Ten Pieces of Cannon. As the Night was approaching, I determined to seize the first favorable Instant. A brisk Attack on the Montgomery Side: the Gallies with their Oars approaching, firing, and even striking the Fort; the Men of War that Moment appearing,[9] crouding all Sail to support us; the extreme Ardor of the Troops; in short all determined me to order the Attack: General Vaughans spirited Behaviour and good Conduct did the rest. Having no Time to lose, I particularly ordered that not a Shot should be fired, in this I was strictly obeyed, and both Redoubts &c were Stormed. General Tryon advanced with one Battalion to support General Vaughan in case it might be necessary and he arrived in Time to join in the Cry of Victory

      Trumbach's Regiment was posted at the Stone Wall to cover our Retreat in case of Misfortune. The Night being dark it was near eight o'Clock before we could be certain of the Success of the Attack against Fort Montgomery, which we found afterwards had succeeded at the same Instant that of Fort Clinton did, and that by the excellent Disposition of Lieut. Colol. Campbell, who was unfortunately killed on the first Attack, but seconded by Colonel Robinson of the Loyal American Regiment, by whose Knowledge of the Country I was much aided in forming my Plan, and to whose spirited Conduct in the Execution of it I impute in a great Measure the Success of the Enterprize.

      Our Loss was not very considerable excepting in some respectable Officers who were killed in the Attack.

      About 10 oClock at Night the Rebels set fire to their two Ships, Montgomery and Congress, some Gallies and other armed Vessels with their Cannon Stores &ca in them.[10]

      I have the Honor to send to your Excellancy a Return of the Cannon, Stores &c taken. That of Stores is very considerable, this being I believe their principal Magazine.

      The Commodore has assisted me with his Advice, and every Effort. We sent a joint Summons to Fort Constitution, but our Flag meeting with an insolent Reception unknown in any War, we determined to chastize, & therefore an Embarkation under Major General Tryon, and Sir James Wallace with the Gallies was ordered. They found the Fort evacuated in the greatest Confusion, the Store Houses burnt, but their Cannon were left unspiked. The Commodore immediately ordered Sir James Wallace up the River, and if it should be possible to find a Passage through the Chevaux de Frize, between Polypus Island[11] and the Main, he may probably do most essential Service

      In Justice to Captain Pownal,[12] who commanded the Flat Boats, and the Officers under him, I must mention to Your Excellency that that Service could not have been more zealously or punctually attended to. I have the Honor to be [&c.]

(Signed) H. Clinton    Lt. Genl.
P.S. October 9th Ten o'Clock at Night

      Major General Tryon whom I detached this Morning with Emericks Chasseurs, 50 Yagers, the Royal Fuzileers & Regiment of Trumbach, with two three Pounders, to destroy the Rebel Settlement called the Continental Village, has just returned and reported to me that he has burned Barracks for 1500 Men, several Storehouses, and loaded Waggons. The extreme Badness of the Weather making it necessary to be as expeditious as possible no Account could be taken of the Stores, but I believe them to have been considerable. I need not point out to your Excellency the Consequence of destroying this Post, as it was the only Establishment of the Rebels in that Part of the Highlands and Place from whence any neighbouring Body of Troops drew their Supplies. Fannings and Byards Corps marched from Verplancks Point to cooperate with General Tryon, but finding he met no Opposition, they were ordered back to their Post.[13]

(Signed) H.C.

1. Sydman's Bridge [jkr note: Sydman's Bridge is located on the Ramapo River at Suffern, not at Popolopen Creek. This is a mistake.]
2. The advanced squadron, H.M. brig Diligent and H.M. galleys Crane, Dependence, and Spitfire.
3. Marginal note: "52d & 57th Regt.   Loyal Americans, New York Volunteers & Emericks Provincial Chasseurs."
4. Lt. Col. Mungo Campbell.
5. Col. Beverly Robinson.
6. Dunderberg Mountain.
7. Marginal note: "Grenads. & Light Infany.   26th & 63d Regs.   1 Compy. 71   1 Troop dismounted Dragoons, Hessian Chasseurs."
8. Marginal note: "Royal Fuzileers and Hessn. Regt. of Trumbach."
9. H.M.S. Preston and H.M. frigates Tartar and Mercury.
10. Continental Navy frigates Montgomery and Congress, Continental Army galleys Lady Washington and Shark and New York privateer sloop Camden.
11. Pollepel Island.
12. Capt. Philemon Pownoll, R.N.
13. Fannings Corps was the King's American Regiment, commanded by Col. Edmund Fanning, and Byards Corps was the King's Orange Rangers, commanded by Lt. Col. John Bayard, both being Provincial regiments.

"Return of Cannon, Stores, Ammunition &ca Taken & Destroyed upon the Expedition up the North River October 6th 1777"
[Fort Montgomery, 9 October 1777]
32 Pounders ...... 6  
18 Ditto ...... 3  
12 Ditto ...... 7  
9 Ditto ...... 3  
6 Ditto ...... 41  
4 Ditto ...... 3  
3 Ditto ...... 2  
2 Ditto ...... 2  
    Total, 67 Peices of Cannon.

      Two Frigates, built for 30 & 36 Guns, were burnt by the Rebels on the Forts being taken.[1] The Guns aboard them & two Gallies which were likewise burnt amounted to above 30.[2] One Sloop with 10 Guns, fell into our Hands.[3] The whole loss therefore is above 100 Peices.

54 Casks
11 & ½ Barrels
12,236 Wt. Exclusive of what was aboard the Vessels.
Cartridges filled
1,852 Cannon
57,396 Musket
Cannon Shot
9530 Round
886 Double-Headed
2483 Grape & Case
Ct.    Qr.    lb.
36,     1,     15 Landgridge.
For Muskets
1379 Wt. of Ball
116 Do. of Buck Shot
5,400 Flints

      Every Article belonging to the Laboratory in the greatest Perfection. Other Stores, such as Portfires Match, Harness, Spare Gun Carriages, Tools, Instruments &ca, &ca in great Plenty. A large quantity of Provisions. The Boom & Chain which ran across the River from Fort Montgomery to Anthony's Nose is supposed to have cost the Rebels 70,000£. Another Boom which we destroyed near Fort Constitution must likewise have cost the Rebels much Money & Labour. Barracks for 1500 Men were destroyed by Major General Tryon at Continental Village, besides several Store Houses & loaded Waggons, of the Articles contained in which, no Account could be taken.

1. Continental Navy frigates Congress and Montgomery.
2. Continental Army galleys Lady Washington and Shark.
3. New York privateer sloop Camden.

A report by Captain Sir James Wallace, R.N., to Commodore William Hotham, dated 17 October 1777, reporting the burning of Kingston, NY.B
Gallies & Armed Vessels off Ezopus
Creek     17th October 1777.
      We proceeded up the River destroying a Number of Vessels as we sailed along, without stopping till we arrived at Ezopus Creek, where we found two Batteries. One of two Guns the other of three Guns erected, and an Armed Galley at the Mouth of the Creek, who endeavored to prevent our passing by their Cannonade. General Vaughan was of Opinion such a force should not be left behind--It was determined to land and destroy them, and immediately executed--without retarding our proceeding up the River--The General marched for the Town and fired it--the Boats from the the Armed Vessels went up the Creek--Burnt two brigs, several large Sloops and other Craft with all their Apparatus that was in Stores upon the Shore--Lieut. Clark of the Dependence with two or three others in firing the Stores was blown up, but we flatter ourselves not Dangerously.
      The Officers and Men upon this Occasion behaved with the greatest Spirit.
      By all our Information I am afraid General Burgoyne is retreated ---if not worse.
I have the Honour to be [&c.]
(Signed) Jas: Wallace.

A report by MG John Vaughan to LTG Sir Henry Clinton, undated, reporting the destruction of Kingston, NY.C
      I had the Honor of proceeding by your Orders with the Troops under my Command on the 15th. Inst: and destroyed all the Enemys Vessels and Houses till our Arrival off Esopus on the 17th. and upon my Reconnoitring the Rebel Situation there, I perceived a Battery of 5 pieces of Cannon with a Breast Work lined with Troops; and also a Work with nine Pieces more, It being proper for me to proceed further up the River, to get every Information possible relative to General Burgoynes Situation, I found it absolutely necessary to dispossess the Rebels of Esopus, in order to Secure my Communication with Fort Vaughan, and to prevent the Enemys assembling there in Force to harrass me on our Return--Soon after landing the Troops, they dispersed the Rebels and took their Cannon, but they retired into the Town, and fired out of the Houses, which was a very sufficient Reason for destroying it, but I had a much greater Inducement as the Congress and Mr. Clinton had taken Refuge there that Morning and its being a Town notorious for harbouring the most rebellious People in that Part of the Country.
      After reimbarking the Troops I proceeded up the River and detached two People with Letters to General Burgoyne, and had the Honor to transmit to you the Information I received on their Return, and also dispatched the next Day the Messenger that came from General Burgoyne--From the Accounts I had received of his Situation, I found it impracticable to give him any further Assistance; And as Mr. Putnam had taken post with 5000 Men on my Right, and Clinton or Parsons with 1500 on my Left, I determined to return to Fort Vaughan where I arrived on the 26th. Inst. without any thing further material happening; and agreeable to your Directions, ordered the Troops destined for Philadelphia to sail immediately for New York.
      I can't be too thankful to Sir James Wallace Captain Stanhope, and the rest of the Officers of the Navy for their great Attention and Assistance upon that Expedition.
      On the other Side I have given you the best Account I could collect of the Cannon &ca taken and of the Houses and Stores destroyed. I have the Honor to be [&c.]
(Signed)--John Vaughan
Major General

Fort Vaughan 26th. Ocrt. 1777.
      Destroyed and taken upon the Expedition under Major General Vaughan up the North River since the taking of the Forts in the Highlands.
14 Pieces of Cannon
150 Stands of Arms
12 Barrels of Flints
6 Sloops loaded with Provisions of all
      Kinds &ca: &ca: &ca:
1150 Stands of Arms
44 Barrels of Gunpowder
80 Small Vessels
400 Houses, Barns, Mills &ca.
  (Signed) Henry Clinton

A newspaper account of the Expedition from The New-York Gazette: and The Weekly Mercury, dated Monday, 3 November 1777.D

New-York, November 3.
      The following is the best Account we have been able to obtain of the Damage done the Rebels in the late Expedition up the North-River, between Fort Vaughan and Red Hook:
      Oct. 15th. Three Sloops taken in attempting to escape from Fish-Kills, and two Pettyaugers destroyed: The House, Mills, Out-houses, and a Sloop belonging to Col. Francis Stoutenburgh, at Crum-Elbow, burnt. Two Sloops on the East Side burnt that Evening.
      Oct. 16. Set fire to two Brigs and a Number of Sloops, in Esopus Creek, burnt the Houses at the Landing, the Town of Kingston, consisting of between 200 and 300 Houses, not one of which except Mr. Lefferts's, escaped the Flames.
      Oct. 17. The House, Storehouse, Barn, &c. of Mr. Petrus Ten Broeck, a Rebel General; the House, Barn, and Out-houses of Robert Gilbert Livingston, jun. Esq; and a House and Mill belonging to Robert Livingston, Esq; on the East Side of the River, burnt.
      Oct. 18. Another House belonging to Robert Livingston, Esq; one to Mr. John Livingston, with three others, destroyed in like Manner.
      Oct. 22. Two Houses, one the Property of Mr. Smith, on the East Side. a Sloop and Barn, likewise two Houses, with their Appendages, on the West Side, were burnt; and on the
      23d. A Sloop was burnt on the Stocks.
      In the Town of Kingston, a large Quantity of Powder, and a large Number of Fire Arms, together with many valuable Stores were destroyed.
      Saturday Sen'night the Bridge laid over the Clove, between the Forts Montgomery and Clinton, was destroyed; and the Troops after demolishing the latter, embarked on board the Transports, and arrived here next Evening.
      The Hotham Tender, commanded by Captain Christopher Hele, being stationed near Pollepel's Island, whilst the Fleet were up the North-River, to prevent the Rebels sinking a Number of Chevaux de Frize, prepared to obstruct their return, on the 19th Instant, observed two large Boats, full of armed Men, coming off with an Intention to surprise the Vessel. In order to give these Gentry a warm Salutation. he masked the Guns, and made the Vessel appear in a defenceless Situation till within his Reach. when on a sudden discovering his Guns, gave the Contents with such Success, as made it difficult for them to reach the Shore.
      Early in the Morning of the 24th, Capt. Hele, sent his Boats Crew on Shore, a little below Tarry-Town, and destroyed two Pettyaugers, which rowed ten Oars each, and a Boat of a smaller Size.
      Another more accurate Account from Esopus informs us, That on the Landing of General Vaughan, with the Troops under his Command, the Rebels, without the least Prospect of Advantage, to themselves, fired upon them from a Breastwork just thrown up, and which they did not stay to defend. This, joined to an insolent and provoking Behaviour, occasioned the Army to march up and set fire to the Town, which was presently entirely consumed. There were destroyed Three Hundred and Twenty-six Houses, with a Barn to almost every one of them, filled with Flour, besides Grain of all Kinds, and much valuable Furniture and Effects, which the Royal Army disdained to take with them.--Twelve Thousand Barrels of Flour were burnt, and they took at the Town four Pieces of Cannon, with ten more upon the River, 1150 Stands of Arms, with a large Quantity of Powder, were blown up. The whole Service was effected, and the Troops re-embarked in three Hours.

Taken from Naval Documents of The American Revolution, Volume 10: American Theatre: October 1, 1777-December 1, 1777. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1996. Source documents: APRO, C.O. 5/94, 345-47 & 350. BPRO, Admiralty 1/488, 58. CPRO, C.O. 5/95, 10-11. Das cited.