Kips Bay

Journal of Benjamin Trumbull, chaplain with the First Connecticut Regiment. September, 1776

A little after day light on Sunday morning September I S two ships of the line and three frigates drew up near the shore within musket shot of the lines and entrenchments and came to anchor there in a proper situation to fire most furiously upon our lines. In this situation they lay entirely quiet till about 1o o'clock. During this time boats were passing from the island to the ships and men put on board, and about loo boats full of men came out of New Town Creek and made towards the shore.

When things were thus prepared, the ships about lo o'clock, after firing a signal gun, began from the mouths of near an loo canon a most furious canonade on the lines, which soon levelled them almost with the ground in some places, and buried our men who were in the lines almost under sand and | sods of earth, and made such a dust and smoke that there was no possibilty of firing on the enemy to any advantage, and then not without the utmost hazzard. While the canon poured in such a tremendous fire on the lines the ships from their round tops kept up a smart fire with swivels loaded with grape shot which they were able to fire almost into the entrenchments, they
were so near. ~

The boats all this time kept out of the reach of the musquetry and finally, i turning off to the left a little north of the lines in the smoke of the ships, made good their landing without receiving any annoyance from our troops. They soon marched up to the main road and formed across it and on the hills above
our troops in order to cut off their retreat.

The Continental troops now left the lines, and there being no general orders given how to form them that they might support each other in a general attack, or any disposition made for it, they attempted an escape round the enemy in the best manner they could, and generally made their escape.

Colonels Selden, Hart and Tompson were taken with Major Porter and Brigadier Major Wyllys, and an ,50 or 1oo men were either killed or taken. Some canon, tents, flower and a great deal of baggage fell into the enemies hands. This on the whole was an unfortunate day to the American States. The loss was owing principally to a want of wagons and horses to remove the guns and baggage, and to the situation of the troops left behind, and the
neglect in the officers in not forming some proper plan of defence. '


The army was principally called off to the northward and had been in a state of retreat from the city for some days. All the field pieces had been removed out of the town and most of the artillery companies. And though few canon had been left in the forts to keep up the farce of defence and opposition, yet there was not one that could anoy the striping or be brought on co the assistance of the infantry. They could [not] see nor expect any assistance from the troops above as they were all retreating. Officers and men had expected that their retreat would be cut off unless they could fight their way through them, which they thought very dangerous and precarious. In such a situation it was not reasonable to expect that they would make any vigorous stand.

The men were blamed for retreating and even flying in these circumstances, but I imagine the fault was principally in the general officers in not disposing of things so as to give the men a rational prospect of defence and a safe retreat should they engage the enemy. And it is probable many lives were saved, and much [1000] to the army prevented, in their coming off as they did, tho' it was not honourable. It is admirable that so few men are lost