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Extract of a letter from Admiral Lord Howe


ADMIRALTY OFFICE, October 10, 1776.

Extract of a Letter from Lord Viscount Howe, Vice-Admiral of the White, and Commander-in-Chief of his Majesty' s ships and vessels in North America, to Mr˙ Stephens, dated on board the Eagle, off Bedlow' s Island, New York, the 31st of August, 1776.

On the 19th instant, Captain Parker, in the Phoenix, with the Rose, Captain Wallace, and Tryal armed schooner, Lieutenant Brown, taking advantage of a fresh easterly wind, returned from the North River, through the fire of the enemy' s several batteries, and joined the fleet off Staten-Island, without any loss. The spirit and perseverance of this small squadron will be explained to their Lordships by Captain Parker' s Journal.

General Howe giving me notice of his intention to make a descent in Gravesend-Bay, on Long Island, on the morning of the 22d, the necessary disposition was made, and seventy-five flat-boats, with eleven batteaus and two galleys, built for the occasion, were prepared for that service. The command of the whole remained with Commodore Hotham. The Captains Walker, Wallace, and Dickson, in the Phoenix, Rose, and Greyhound, with the Thunder and Carcass bombs, under the direction of Colonel James, were appointed to cover the landing. The flat-boats, galleys, and three batteaus manned from the ships-of-war, were formed into divisions, commanded respectively by the Captains Vandeput, Mason, Curtis, Caldwell, Phipps, Caulfield, Uppleby, and Duncan, and Lieutenant Reeve, of the Eagle. The rest of the batteaus, making a tenth division, manned from the transports, were under the conduct of Lieutenant Bristow, an assistant agent.

Early in the morning of the 22d, the covering ships took their stations in Gravesend-Bay. The Light-Infantry, with the reserve, to be first landed, forming a corps together of four thousand men, entered the boats at Staten Island the same time. The transports in which the several brigades composing the second debarkation (about five thousand men) had been before embarked, were moved down and suitably arranged without the covering ships by eight o' clock. The first debarkation not meeting with any opposition, the second succeeded immediately after; and the other transports, carrying the rest of the troops, following the former in proper succession. The whole force then destined for this service, consisting of about fifteen thousand men, was landed before noon. On the diligence and utility of Captain Bourmaster, and the other agents of the transports, on that occasion, too much commendation cannot be bestowed.

On the 25th, an additional corps of Hessian troops under General Heister, with their field artillery and baggage, were conveyed to Gravesend-Bay.

Being informed the next day, by General Howe, of his intentions to advance with the Army that night to the enemy' s lines, and of his wishes that some diversion might be attempted by the ships on this side, I gave direction to Sir Peter Parker for proceeding higher up in the channel towards the town of New York next morning, with the Asia, Renown, Preston, (Commodore Hotham embarked in the Phoenix, having been left to carry on the service in Gravesend-Bay,) Roebuck, and Repulse, and to keep those ships in readiness for being employed as occasion might require; but the wind veering to the northward soon after the break of day, the ships could not be moved up to the distance proposed; therefore, when the troops under General Grant, forming the left column of the Army, were seen to be engaged with the enemy in the morning, the Roebuck, Captain Hammond, leading the detached squadron, was the


only ship that could fetch high enough to the northward to exchange a few random shot with the battery on Red-Hook; and the ebb making strongly down the river soon after, I ordered the signal to be shown for the squadron to anchor.

It was observed, that as soon as the centre column of the Army was seen to have turned the flank of the enemy' s line opposed to General Grant, they immediately attempted to make their retreat within their works, but that they suffered great loss both in the number killed and made prisoners.

On the night of the 29th the Rebels abandoned all their posts and works on Long Island, and retired with great precipitation across the East River to the town of New York.