The Battle of Staten Island August 22, 1777
A raid by Continental Army troops under Major General John Sullivan against British. forces.
On July 23, 1777, following months of preparation and some preliminary maneuvers in New Jersey, General Howe and his brother, Admiral Richard Howe, launched a fleet carrying most of the New York-based army south planning to capture the American capital, Philadelphia.
Sullivan recognized that the British on Staten Island were vulnerable, and planned an attack.He had learned that although the bulk of British regulars were near the northern end of the island, about 700 New Jersey Loyalist militia were scattered along the western shore, facing the New Jersey mainland.
His plan was to cross two groups onto the island from points in Elizabethtown (present-day Elizabeth NJ), capture prisoners from the isolated militia outposts, and destroy supplies.
They would then go to the Old Blazing Star Ferry (between present-day Carteret NJ and Rossville, Staten Island - formerly owned by our Congregant, Joshua Mersereau, hero of the Battle of Trenton) to return to the mainland.
The morning skirmishes, fought at Decker's Ferry, today's Port Richmond, within earshot of our Old Dutch Church were extremely successful.
Sullivan's raid would have been well-executed, but it faltered when a shortage of boats damaged the crossing back to New Jersey,
and one of its detachments was misled by
its guide to the front of the enemy position rather than its rear.
As a result, Sullivan did not take as many prisoners as expected, and had about
200 of his own men taken prisoner
due in large part to the lack of boats
Plaque from Veteran's Park Port Richmond.
Although Sullivan was accused of mismanaging the raid,
a court martial held later in 1777 exonerated him of all charges.
The proceedings of this Court of Inquiry not only survived, but are available online.
Click here to read an exciting first-hand account by William Wilmot, a Continental Army member who eluded capture on that day. It is believed he was the last American officer killed in the Revolution.