Revolutionary War:  Saving Gen. Washington at Long Island


History of Col. Glover's 14th Continental Regiment
Saving the Army at Long Island

Excerpts from a paper entitled "Memoir" read at a meeting of the Essex Institute, March 9th 1863,
 as a Report upon a donation to the Library of certain books formerly belonging to Gen. Glover:*

"On the 1st of January, men of the 21st or 'Marine Regiment' re-enlisted for the war and formed the 14th Continental Regiment, the new arrangement of the Army taking effect from that date Col. Glover was commissioned Colonel of the New Regiment."

"The following list of the Company Officers of the 14th Regiment is taken from Glover’s Letter Book:

       "1st Company.   Capt., Wm. Courtis Esq.— First Lieut. Edward Archbold— Second Lieut., Thos. Courtis—Ensign, James Foster.

       "2nd Company.   Captain, Thos. Grant Esq.— First Lieut. William Bubier—Second Lieut. Eben’r Graves—Ensign, John Allen.

       "3rd Company.   Captain John Glover Esq. —First Lieut., Joshua Orne—Second Lieut. Marston Watson—Ensign, William Hawks.

       "4th Company.   Captain, Nathaniel Bond Esq. —First Lieut., Theophilus Munson— Second Lieut., Seward Lee — Ensign, Jeremiah Reed.

        "5th Company.  Captain, Joseph Swasey, Esq. —First Lieut., Robert Williams—Second Lieut., Thomas Fosdick— Ensign, Rob’t Wormsted.

       "6th Company.   Captain Joseph Lee Esq— First Lieut., Nath’l Clark — Second Lieut., Joseph Stacey— Ensign Samuel Gatchel.

       "7th Company.   Captain, Moses Brown Req. — First Lieut., William Graves—Sec ond Lieut., John Waffle — Ensign, John Clarke.

       "8th Company.   Captain, Gilbert Warner Speakman Esq. — First Lieut., Robert Nimblitt — Second Lieut., William Jones — Ensign, John Brown."


"On the 20th of July, 1776, Glover marched with his Regiment from Beverly to New York. Having arrived there on the 9th of August, they were ordered to join General Sullivan’s Brigade. (Gen. Orders. Archives, 5th Series, VoL 1, 514 & 913.

"On the 16th of August, Capt. Fosdick with Capt. Thomas, took command of two fire ships, and proceeding up the Hudson River, attacked and endeavored to set fire to the Phoenix and Rose, two British Ships of War that had passed up the river and stationed themselves at Tarrytown.  Fosdick grappled the Phoenix, but failed to set fire to her; they however burned the tender belonging to the Phoenix, and the British ships soon after retreated back to the fleet, leaving the river unmolested. (Gordon, II., 305.)

"Capt. Thomas Fosdick had acted as Adjutant of the 21st Regiment, and was Glover’s Brigade Major in 1778.  He appears to have been a particular friend and was afterwards connected with his family.  He was an excellent penman, as appears by his name, written on the first page of No. 4 of the Orderly Books, which Book was probably kept by him as Brigade Major.

"The 14th Regiment, during the battle of Long Island, Aug 27th, was stationed on New York Island.  At five the next morning, it crossed over to Long Island and took post at Wallabout Bay on the left of the American Army.  On the 28th, Washington having decided upon the perilous plan of evacuating Long Island, Colonel Glover with the whole of his Regiment fit for duty were called upon to take command of the vessels and flat bottomed boats, which had been brought down from the North River for the purpose of transporting the army across to the New York side.

"The following account of the manner in which they performed this important service, and also of the subsequent evacuation of New York, is taken substantially from 'Gordon’s History of the American War'.  Gordon, who is now considered one of the best authorities, derived much information from Glover, both by personal conversation and correspondence.  In this, as well as other parts of his History, the phraseology indicates that he made frequent use of Glover’s letters.

"On the 28th of August, the boats and vessels, which were to transport the army from Long Island, having all been collected at Brooklyn, Col. Glover went over from New York to superintend the transportation; at about seven in the evening, officers and men went to work with a spirit and resolution peculiar to the Marblehead Corps.  The oars were muffled and everything was done with the greatest possible silence and dispatch; General Washington, heedless of the entreaties of his officers, who urged him to more regard to his personal safety, staid on the island through the night, encouraging and directing the men, and only left when the covering party abandoned the lines at about six the next morning.

"During the first part of the night the tide was at ebb, and the wind blew strong from the Northeast, which adding to the rapidity of the current, rendered it apparently impossible to effect the retreat with the few row boats at command, and put it out of the power of Cot. Glover's men to make any use of the sail boats.  General McDougal, who had charge of the embarkation of the troops, sent Col. Grayson, one of the Commander- in-Chief’s aids, to report to his excellency their embarrassed situation; and gave it as his opinion that a retreat was impracticable that night.  The Colonel returned soon after, not being able to find the Commander-in-Chief, on which the General went on with the embarkation under all these discouragements.  But about eleven, the wind died away and soon after sprung up at South west, and blew fresh, which rendered the sail boats of use, and at the same time made the passage from the Island to the City, direct, easy and expeditious.  Providence further interposed in favor of the retreating army, by sending a thick fog about two o’clock in the morning, which hung over Long Island; while on New York side it was clear.

"The fog and wind continued to favor the retreat, till the whole army, 9000 in number, with all the field artillery, such heavy ordinance as was of most value, ammunition, provision, cattle, horses, carts &c., were safe over.

"The water was so remarkably smooth as to admit of the row-boats being loaded to within a few inches of the gunnel.  The enemy, unconscious of what was going on, were so near that they were heard at work with their pickaxes and shovels.  In about half an hour after the lines were finally abandoned, the fog cleared off and the British were seen taking possession of the American works.  Four boats were on the river, three half way over, full of troops; the fourth, within reach of the enemy’s fire upon the shore, was compelled to return; she had only three men in her who had tarried behind to plunder.  The river is a mile or more across, and yet the retreat was effected in less than thirteen hours, a great part of which time it rained hard*

"This event, one of the most remarkable in the War, did much towards establishing the fame of Washington and confidence in his ability as a military leader.  It would, however; have been impossible but for the skill and activity of Glover and his Marblehead Regiment.

"On the 4th of Sept., Glover was placed in command of General Clinton’s Brigade, and on the 13th and 14th, he with his Brigade superintended the evacuation of New York City.   During the night of the 13th, they removed safely to the Jersey shore all the sick in and about the City, amounting to 500.

"Having accomplished this; they had carried their tents and all their baggage to the river to be transported up in boats, when an alarm took place and Glover received orders to march his brigade to Harlem (about eight miles from New York on New York Island land) to join Gen. McDougal.  They were thus compelled to leave the baggage of two regiments behind, which afterwards, fell into the hands of the enemy.

"The next morning, Sept. 15, they marched to Kingsbridge (15 miles from New York, at the Northern extremity of the Island).  They had but just reached there, and were unslinging their knapsacks, when an express arrived with an account that the enemy were landing; upon which they marched back without any kind of refreshment, joined five other brigades, about 7000 men, and formed on Harlem Plains, having marched 23 miles, besides the labor of transporting the sick."

*(See Gordon, II, 313.)


"...namely one, containing copies of the letters written by Gen. Glover herein referred to as "The Letter Book"; and the other six are "Orderly Books", kept in the 21st Provincial Regiment, afterwards the 14th Continental Regiment, commanded by Col. John Glover from the commencement of the Revolution until the 21st of February 1777, when he was made a Brigadier General."

Revolutionary War:  History of Colonel Glover's Regiment:  Saving Gen. Washington at Long Island
Copyright © 2013  14th Infantry Regiment Association
Last modified: January 20, 2013