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Old Bergen

Chapter XXV.

Daniel Van Winkle

Published 1902

Web version, edited by GET NJ
Copyright 2002

IN recalling the history of the olden time, it must be remembered that there were those whose homes and everything they possessed were in this territory, and they naturally felt an unwillingness to jeopardize these if it could be avoided, and though with the exception of the capture of Paulus Hook, no battle of importance occurred within the territory of "Old Bergen," it was the general scouting ground for both parties. The territory was subjected to the worst of all forms of warfare; it had to endure not only the pillage of regular troops, but also the depredations of abandoned, irresponsible gangs, whose sole object was the booty they could secure, whether of friend or foe. Again, the disaffected from the neighboring country were transported thither, and thus added to the misery and sufferings of the inhabitants, as they were enabled to satiate their revengeful feelings on them. A few extracts taken at random will perhaps present a correct idea of the situation at this time.

June 30, 1777
Major Hayes, in pursuance of an order issued by Gov. Livingston, removed from the County of Essex certain women and children, and sent them on the east side of the Hackensack River. July I, 1777, a letter to the Governor from Newark recites that the enemy had left Amboy and gone over to Staten Island and Bergen.

July 7, 1777
Gov. Livingston writes to General Washington:

By order of the Council of Safety, Gen. Winds has collected two hundred of our Militia, to proceed to the County of Bergen, under Major Hayes, to apprehend disaffected persons, and assist the Committee in securing, and disposing of, the personal estates of those who have gone over to the enemy.
July 19, 1777
This morning the First and Second Pennsylvania Brigades, commanded by Brig. Gen. Wayne, marched from their respective encampments for the purpose of collecting, and bringing off, those cattle in Bergen County, immediately exposed to the enemy. After executing the order, Gen. Wayne on his return visited a Block House in the vicinity of Bergen Town (probably the post commanded by Col. Cuyler near the Weehawken ferry, and mentioned elsewhere, author's note), built and garrisoned by a number of Refugees, to avoid the disagreeable experience of being forced into the British sea service. The work was found to be proof against light artillery, when a part of the First and Second Pennsylvania Regiments were ordered to attempt to take it by assault. After forcing their way through the abatis and pickets, a retreat was indispensably necessary, there being no culrain into the Block House, but a subterranean passage, sufficient for one man to pass. The American loss consists of sixty-nine, including three officers, killed and wounded.

July 9, 1777
A letter was received by Gov. Livingston, complaining of the conduct of the Tory women:

As they secrete the goods, and conceal everything they can. When called upon for anything, they petitioned to leave, and go away Christians, and not be detained among brutes, as they call us. Pray make an order to send them among their Christian friends, our enemies.
August 26, 1777
The Governor and Council confined a number of disaffected inhabitants, chiefly of Bergen County;
to be released for an equal number of honest citizens stolen and imprisoned in like manner, to be determined in the future, thus to retaliate, till the enemy shall think proper to discontinue that infamous part of their infamous system.


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