Skip to main content

Huddy-Asgill Affair

Huddy-Asgill Affair

HUDDY-ASGILL AFFAIR. April-October 1782. On 24 March 1782, Loyalist irregulars captured Captain Joshua Huddy of the New Jersey militia in a surprise attack at Toms River, New Jersey, confining him on a prison ship near New York City. General Henry Clinton's headquarters had given the Associated Loyalists permission to take Huddy and two others for purposes of a prisoner exchange. The Associated Loyalists, apparently acting on orders from William Franklin, had different plans. They were seeking to avenge the death of Philip White, a Loyalist who had been shot while attempting to escape from the New Jersey militia. Though Huddy had no connection to White's death, he was led by a guard commanded by Captain Richard Lippincott to the heights of Middletown and hanged from a tree on 12 April. A placard pinned to his breast read:

We the refugees having long with grief beheld the cruel murders of our brethren,… determine not to suffer without taking vengeance, for the numerous cruelties, and thus begin, and have made use of captain Huddy as the first object to present to your view, and further determine to hang man for man, while there is a refugee existing. Up goes Huddy for Philip White. (Smith, 2, p. 1750.)

Huddy's execution became an immediate sensation, infuriating General Clinton, who ordered Lippincott court-martialed, and evoking a rare outburst of ill temper from Washington, who demanded that Clinton deliver the guilty officer. Clinton, of course, refused, promising Washington that Lippincott would face British justice. But the court-martial ruled that Lippincott had acted on orders from a civil officer, since Franklin was still officially New Jersey's royal governor, and set him free.

Washington insisted on retribution, ordering Colonel Moses Hazen to select a British prisoner by lot for execution. Thirteen British captains picked straws, with the one marked "unfortunate" being pulled by Captain Charles Asgill, who was seventeen years old. Almost immediately, Washington regretted the whole affair and tried to get out of executing Asgill. Congress became involved, launching into a bitter debate in which the majority wanted to mete out "an eye-for-an eye" justice. Elias Boudinot, arguing for clemency, persuaded his colleagues to postpone the vote for a day. The next morning a special courier arrived from the king and queen of France, who had been petitioned by Asgill's family, requesting Asgill's pardon as a personal favor. Much to Washington's, and Asgill's, relief, Congress complied and the affair ended with the full pardon of the young British captain.

SEE ALSO Asgill, Charles; Associated Loyalists; Boudinot, Elias; Clinton, Henry; Franklin, William; Hazen, Moses.


Mayo, Katherine. General Washington's Dilemma. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1938.

Smith, Page. A New Age Now Begins. 2 vols. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.

Tebbenhoff, Edward H. "The Associated Loyalists: An Aspect of Militant Loyalism." New York Historical Society Quarterly 63 (1979): 115-144.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Huddy-Asgill Affair." Encyclopedia of the American Revolution: Library of Military History. . 18 Sep. 2019 <>.

"Huddy-Asgill Affair." Encyclopedia of the American Revolution: Library of Military History. . (September 18, 2019).

"Huddy-Asgill Affair." Encyclopedia of the American Revolution: Library of Military History. . Retrieved September 18, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.