Letter from General Livingston to General Mercer: The British have possession of Staten-Island, and the people of New-Jersey seem greatly dispirited at so great a part of their Militia being drawn off to. New-York, while they are left at the mercy of the enemy



Elizabethtown, July 3, 1776 — six o' clock P˙ M.

SIR: With respect to the operations of the enemy last night we have no intelligence at all. What we can collect respecting their motions to-day is, that a little after sunrise this morning a party of them, amounting, according to the estimation of one of the inhabitants who was made a prisoner, to between fifty and sixty, took him, with his effects, as he was removing from Staten-Island, and was on the ferry stairs opposite to our Point. They returned all his effects, and made him promise to go over to this place, fetch his wife, and to live in peace, assuring him that they came not to injure, but to protect the inhabitants. During the day a party of them have showed themselves at the house of one Pool, a tavern on the Island, about a mile along shore.

They have taken up the planks of a drawbridge across a creek in the Salt Meadow, on the Staten-Island side, opposite to the Point. Their sentries appear along shore to the westward as far as Rahway River, which is about three miles from the Point towards Amboy, and near the Blazing Star Ferry, in order, I suppose, to prevent all access from this Province to that Island. Since, I received a letter from Colonel Reed, (on my way to New-York,) informing me of their having landed on the Island; and collecting from his letter that my presence was more necessary here than at New-York, I have ordered Captain Neil, of our Artillery company at Amboy, to proceed immediately with his company and four field-pieces, in two divisions, one — consisting of one-third of his men and two field-pieces — to the Blazing Star Ferry, the other to come on to this place, where report is to be made, and to wait my further orders. This at present I propose to station at Elizabethtown Point, and at Newark Ferry, where there are already two field-pieces, but no men belonging to them.

Our people here seem to be greatly dispirited at so great a part of the force of this Province being drawn off to New-York, (important as they deem that object to the enemy,) while they are absolutely at their mercy. If the Connecticut Militia is arrived in such numbers as, with the Continental troops, to be adequate to repel the expected attack upon New-York, with the aid of part of the Jersey forces, it really seems necessary, in my poor judgment, to return part of them to defend the borders of this Province, between New-York and Amboy, from their depredations; but this, sir, is humbly submitted to the judgment of my superiors in command.

I have the honour to be, sir, your very humble servant,

WILLIAM LIVINGSTON, Brig˙ Gen˙ of Militia of New-Jersey.

To the Honourable Hugh Mercer, Esq.


P˙ S. At the Point we have about four or five hundred men, but with indifferent arms and few officers.