Quinton's Bridge, New Jersey
Quinton's Bridge, New Jersey
QUINTON'S BRIDGE, NEW JERSEY. 18 March 1778. Colonel Charles Mawhood embarked on transports on 12 March 1778 and dropped down the Delaware River to forage. His command consisted of British regulars, primarily from the Thirty-Seventh Foot and Forty-Sixth Foot, and Loyalists from the Queen's Rangers (Major John Graves Simcoe) and a detachment from the New Jersey Volunteers (Brigadier Cortlandt Skinner). He put Simcoe ashore at 3 a.m. on 17 March about six miles from Salem, New Jersey, with orders to seize horses and mount his sixty hussars. Simcoe was then to proceed overland to Salem while Mawhood landed directly there with the task force's infantry. Mawhood planned on the next day to sweep four miles southward through the peninsula formed by Salem and Aloes (or Alloway) Creeks. Mawhood expected to find American militia at three bridges that crossed Aloes Creek: Hancock's, nearest to the Delaware River; Quinton's in the middle; and Thompson's farthest upstream. Mobilized men from Cumberland and Salem Counties actually held Hancock's and Quinton's, with Colonel Asher Holmes in command at Quinton's. Mawhood planned to put screening parties to watch the two bridges while the bulk of his force carried out the foraging. But he also sent a force to Thompson's to move downstream on the Salem side of the creek to try to surprise the defenders of Quinton's, who would have seen only the screening party.
Mawhood accompanied Simcoe to Thompson's on 18 March and proceeded down the road paralleling the creek until he got within two hundred yards of the bridge. Messengers established contact with the screening party (seventy men from the Seventeenth Foot) and learned that the Americans were behind some breastworks on the steep opposite bank but that they had not occupied Wetherby's Tavern on the near bank. Captain Francis Stephenson moved through an orchard and occupied the tavern with his light infantry company of the Queen's Rangers without being detected; two other companies took cover behind a fence under the command of Captain John Saunders. The rest of the task force remained in some woods behind Saunders's position. Once everyone was in place, Mawhood had the detachment of the Seventeenth make a show of calling in their sentries and retreating down the road toward Salem. Holmes's men were taken in by the deception, and about two hundred of them replaced the planks on the bridge and crossed over in two groups to follow the retreating party.
A mounted officer went ahead of the first militia group and was passing the fence when one of the rangers started to laugh. He wheeled and started to gallop back to warn the militiamen but was quickly shot off his horse and captured. Saunders's men charged forward while Stephenson's poured out of the house. Cut off, the lead militia force retreated downstream through open fields, pursued by the mounted hussars and Mawhood's main body. Simcoe moved up to the bridge with the detachment of the Seventeenth and the Queen's Rangers' companies of grenadiers and Highlanders. The Americans fell back from the heights; Mawhood decided not to risk crossing and instead led the force back to Salem. One American was killed and the officer (who turned out to be a French volunteer) and several others were captured. Mawhood had one man mortally wounded. Simcoe believed that a large number of Americans were drowned trying to cross the creek, but there is no confirmation of this. Mawhood next attacked Hancock's Bridge on 21 March.
revised by Robert K. Wright Jr.