Sullivan's Staten Island Raid
A First Person Account
This colorful personal account of Sullivan's Staten Island Raid was written several weeks later in a letter from William Wilmot, a Lieutenant barely 24 years old, of the 3rd Maryland.
He fought on the right of the stranded Continental rear guard at Old Blazing Star. They attempted to hold off the British for the American evacuation from Staten Island to the Jersey shore which was going slowly. There was a great deal of plunder (legitimate military spoils and otherwise) and a number of prisoners, as well as over 1,000 men needing transport to the Jersey Shore -- and just three boats to do it with.
The story picks up from the time of the Continental surrender:
". . . then I thought it hard times but even in that situation found myself determined never to surrender and could doo nothing else was obleaged to run and strive to conceal myself which I did effectually, in a barn in sum hay which was up in the ruff of the Barnl the reason thay never serched the barn that i was in was that one of their wounded got in the barn immediately after the action...
I laying on the hay where I suffered much for want of water and devotedly praying for the dark shades of knight to appear that i might convay myself safe to the River shore, but to my greate surprise i found that the howr that i prayed for, brought with it to my door a band of my most inviterate enemies, as a guarde to that part of the Iland to pick up, what of the free born sons of liberty thay might finde trying to make their escape from that horrid hole.
I finding the knight fair spent was determined at last to try as I had done before, and if thay sholde see me before i got of the joists to jump down amongst them and run out by them if i could. Hearing them all still below, I caim down the wall & seeing them all lay still, walked out of the door, turned the corner as quick as I could, hearing noboddey hail me maid the best of my way down to the river on my hands and knees, which I thought the safest way.
Finding no centenal in my way thought it best to return again and get a rail from the barn that I might convay my self safe across the River, which was neer a mile wide, and bring my clothes with me, which i did and got safe the second time to the Shore, whair I intended to strip of my clothes, but before I had got my hunting shurt, wast coat and boddy shirt of, I heard a pattroleling Partie that was close after me. I then ran doun into the water and a soon as i had got a little distance from the Shore strip'd of my clothes and steared for the niest point of woods, on the opesit shore, whare I arrived with the loss of my gun and bayonet, cartuch box on the Iland; and on my passage hat, a linning wast coat shoes and the Silver spoon that I had got on the Iland. I had no knapsack with me or i must have lost it with the others. I was very onwell for sum time after, but thank God i am well at preasent..."
William Wilmot went on to fight with the Maryland troops until the very close of the war,
when, as a Captain in the southern Campaign, he became what is thought to be
the last American officer killed in the Revolution.