Pell's Point, New York
Pell's Point, New York
PELL'S POINT, NEW YORK. 18 October 1776. Frustrated in his attack on Throg's Neck, New York, British General William Howe shifted his line of operations to Pell's Point, three miles to the north. Meanwhile, General George Washington had started withdrawing northward from Harlem Heights, having scouted Howe's latest attempt to encircle him and decided that the American positions were untenable. In the Pell's Point area was a small brigade commanded by Colonel John Glover. It consisted of about 750 men from four Massachusetts regiments: his own Marbleheaders, Joseph Read's, William Shepard's, and Laommi Baldwin's. They were supported by three guns.
From his position near Eastchester (about a mile from Pell's Point), Glover looked out over Eastchester Bay early on 18 October and saw that British ships had come in during the night. He ordered a captain and forty men forward as a delaying force. Meanwhile, he deployed the rest of his brigade behind the stone walls on both sides of the road the British would have to take from the shore to the interior of Westchester County, thus creating an ambush. Read's regiment was on the left, Shepard's on the right, and Baldwin's still further back on the left; Glover's regiment was in reserve to the rear.
The American delaying force exchanged fire with the British advance party and fell back in good order. Read's regiment, which was the first to come within range (the other two being echeloned to his right rear) let the British get within 100 feet before rising from behind a stone wall to deliver a fire that drove the enemy back. It was an hour and a half before the British main body organized an attack, which was supported by seven guns. Read's men fired seven volleys before withdrawing behind Shepard's regiment. The latter poured forth seventeen volleys, forcing the British to make several attacks before they could advance. Glover then ordered a withdrawal to a new position, which the enemy did not attack. The two forces exchanged artillery fire until after dark, when Glover withdrew another three miles and pitched camp.
American losses were eight killed and thirteen wounded. Among the latter was Shepard. Howe reported three killed and twenty wounded, but his figures may not have included the Hessians, who comprised most of the attacking force. However, the adjutant general of the Hessian forces, Carl Leopold Baurmeister, also passed over the action without any mention of German casualties. While the number of Hessian casualties remains in doubt, historians agree on the strategic importance of the battle: Glover delayed the British for an entire day, and helped Washington reach the safety of White Plains before Howe could intercept the American retreat.
On 21 October the British occupied New Rochelle, New York, without resistance. On that same day, Washington's forces were hurrying to White Plains, New York, which they expected to be Howe's next objective. John Haslet raided the detached Tory camp of Robert Rogers at Mamaroneck, New York, on 22 October of that year.
Abbatt, William. The Battle of Pell's Point. New York: W. Abbatt, 1901.
Billias, George. "Pelham Bay: A Forgotten Battle." New-York Historical Society Quarterly (Jan. 1958): 20-38.
revised by Barnet Schecter