North Jersey Highlands Historical Society, founded in 1954.
North Jersey Highlands Historical Society

Great Chain on the Hudson River, 1777.



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Ringwood Manor Advisory Committee



The Diary of Ebenezer Erskine, Jr., 1778

This fragment of a diary gives us a window into life in America during the Revolutionary War. Ebenezer Erskine was neither a soldier nor a statesman - he was a young man who had gotten into financial trouble at home in England, and, like his uncle Robert Erskine, came to America to put it to rights. The diary gives us a picture of what was on his mind - how to pay his bills, how to find a job, his attempts to get help from others, the journeys that these attempts caused, and eventually his finding a new home at Ringwood Manor. In his writing, we can see living conditions in America in 1778 - a primitive St. Augustine with houses made of gravel and shells, a New York City smoldering from fires, and the danger inherent in all travel, but especially in his journey from British-occupied New York across three rivers to the Continental Army in New Jersey. There is also an account of an attack on Ringwood Manor, which was later attributed to the Claudius Smith gang.

Born 1750, Ebenezer Erskine, Jr. was the son of Robert Erskine’s half brother, Ebenezer. After he broke through the British lines to get to the Continental Army, he joined his uncle at Ringwood. Around the same time, Robert Monteath, Erskine's former clerk, died and was buried near the manor. Robert Erskine traveled frequently because he was George Washington’s mapmaker. Ebenezer became the clerk and accountant after Monteath's death and stayed with Elizabeth Erskine, Robert's widow, after the death of Robert in 1780. When Elizabeth married Col. Robert L. Hooper, Ebenezer moved to Trenton with them until his death in 1785.

The Accident of my Shippe giving Way vexed me a good deal as at the time I could ill bear any lose, it was however what could not be remedied and therfore must put up with it.

I continued endeavouring to work but found I could make no hand of it, being likewise in an undifferent state of health, my landlady also informed me she was much in need of money I was at last obliged to make use of my Mother's offer and apply to Capt. Hunter who told me he had been in company with my Mother and she had told him something about my coming off, but he did not remember anything of her desiring him to give me any money. I showed him her letter but he said it would not at any rate be convenient for him. I then applied to W. Ritchie who said he would take my drt. on my Br. for £ 30 Stg. but that he had not enough of money by him however he could give me about the one half and the rest when he got it. I accepted of his offer and drew on my brother for ye £ 30 Stg. of which he gave me £ 16 Stg. with which I paid off my Landlady and Mr. Fortune, which eased me for the Present but still I was at as great a loss what to do next.

It was now ye beginning of March, when being in company with Capt. McFarlane he told me that his brig Ld. Howe was fitting out for a privateer and that he was to go from this to St. Augustine in East Floriday to have her put in Commission, that as I seemed to be unemployed if chused to take a cruise with him he would use me as well as he could and perhaps something might cast up for me at St. Augustine if not it was only coming back again with him. I was glad of the offer being quite tired of N. York which was rendered the more disagreeable by Rowands having aspersed my character to everybody he thought I was akquanted with. He told me he would be ready to sail in three weeks I therefore began to put things in order for my going along with him. I sold off the remainder of my Sugar and purchased what articles I thought I would need for ye Voyage, about a fortnight after Capt. McFarlane told me he was afraid it would not answer for me to go along with him as Mr. Donaldson (his Owner) was to go and two Lieuts. there would not be room for me in ye Cabin and he supposed I would not chuse to go in ye Steerage. I told him I had made everything ready for going and rather than be disappointed I would put up with the Steerage. He said if that was ye case he had no objections and that he would show all the civilities he could. Accordingly on ye 5th April 1778 I went on board ye Brigantine Ld. Howe who heaved anchor and sailed ye same day.

I took with me a small trunk containing a few shifts and a suit of cloaths with one Guinea and one dollar in cash, my utensils, chest and other articles I left with my landlady under ye care of W. Richie and Jas. Arthur with whom I left ye key of my chest and a letter informing them that in case of my death or being taken they should open my chest in which they would find instructions how to act. I like wise left in W. Ritchies hands the balance of my draught viz. £ 14 Stg. informing him if I had occasion for it before I returned I would perhaps draw upon him for it. On board ye vessel there was George McFarland Captain, John McLean, 1st Lieut. and Thos. Muir Secd. Lieut. and Robt. Donaldson one of ye Owners. In ye Steerage I had for Messmates ye Boatswain Carpenter and John Moore Steward they were all three pretty civil and sociable men, Mr. Moore the Steward had been formerly a Lieut. in ye 27th Regt. of foot but sold out some years ago and had been of late reduced to very straitened circumstances. He was a sensible goodnatured man spoke the French spanish and Portugese language fluently. For ye first four of five days I was very poorly and what alarmed me much ye 4th day in ye eve. I was seized upon Deck with a convulsion fit. The Capt. got me carried to bed. When I awoke I did not recollect anything that had hapned and indeed should never have known of it had it not been for ye men asking me if I had been subject to them. I was under strong apprehension of its returning, but was comforted by Mr. Moore who said it was only a faint owning He supposed to ye change of air. Be that as it may Thank God I have never had any return of from then till ye time I now write which is upward of twelve months. The 15th April when off the coast of Carolina we fell in with the privateer sloop belonging to New York commanded by Neill. He informed us he had taken two prizes and sent then for N. York. He said he had information of several vessels lying at Ocro Cock Harbour, that he thought with ye assistance of some of our officers and hands he could cut one or two of ye vessels out it was accordingly agreed upon with Capt. McFarlane and Lieut. Moore with six hands should go aboard of ye Sloop and that ye Brig should ly off and on along shore and in case of theyre being separated by a storm a latitude was fixed upon where they were to meet the officers and men agreed upon accordingly went aboard ye Sloop about six in ye evg. and we kept in company it being a fine clear evg. till about twelve it all of a sudden turned Pitch Dark and came on a violent gust of wynd off shore which carried our Main Topmast over the side while we were thus all in confusion ye Sloop run foull of us and for a minute or two we kept beating so hard on one another we expected one of us would bulge and sink. We however got clear and on trying the pumps found we had sustained no considerable damage in about a quarter of an hour afterwards the gust went over and ye Sloop came up with us and informed us all ye damage she had sustained was the loss of her Bowspritt and a Boy amissing. We informed them the Boy had got a Board of us. When the vessels ran foull he had been endeavouring to keep them off and had got hold of our Shorewds when the vessels got clear he lost his feett from his own vessel but kep his grip and so saved himself aboard of ours. Next day we sent our Carpenter on board ye Sloop to assist them in repairing their damage. In ye evg. it blowed pretty fresh and we lost sight of ye Sloop. For four or five days we kept standing off and on at Long Shore towards Ocra Cock keeping a lookout for ye Sloop but could see nothing of her, upon which we altered our Course to ye Southward for Augustine. Some of ye People on board seemed to think that Lieut. McLean did not want to fall in with ye Sloop again he was a particular frd. of Donaldson's ye Owner and it was thought they had contracted betwixt them to part in this way from Capt. McFarlane in order that McLean might have ye Command, this I was sorry for MacF. Being my akquantance and indeed I found a difference usage from this day he left us being oblidged to do comon Ship duty with the rest of the hands it however gave me the less concern as my health began again to be pretty well established, on ye 6 of May of ye coast of South Carolina we fell in with a ship upon hailing her she anserd. she was from Charlestown Bound to Boordeux upon which she was ordered to strike to ye British flag As she had no guns she immediately complyed. Capt. McLean went aboard of her with some hands, and brot. the Captain Mate and four other hands all French on bd. of ye Ld. Howe. Mathew Scott our Mate was put on board Prize Master and six other hands to work her. She was a ship about 300 tons burden had left Charlestown ye morning before and was loaded with £108Bars. Rice 7 Hghds. Tobacco and 3 or 4 Casks Indigo. We proceeded on our Course, and after several hard Squalls and Contrary Winds on ye 20th May we came to an anchor in St. Augustine Bay, on the 25th I went ashore, and waited on Mr. John Lindsay to whom I had an introductory Letter from Jas. Arthur at New York. He went with me to ye best Tavern and recommended me for Board and Lodging, but as I had little or no Money I knew that would not answer long. Next day Mr. Lindsey waited on me and we took a walk into ye Country in ye course of conversation he said he supposed I would be willing to take a Berth I told him I would be much oblidged to him if he could help me to one, that I understood Accnts. but wrote a very undifferent hand, he said he knew a Gentleman that he believed I would suit and that he would introduce me to him next day, he told me that he himself had been storekeeper in Virginia but had left it on Accnt. of the present troubles, that he had been some time in New York out of employ and came to Augustine on chance about four months ago that he got a Berth with Mr. Alexander who is agent to the Navy with whom he lived very hapy at same time could just keep himself Genteele and no more, that he was sorry he had left Virginia and if he was there now he would stay and conform to ye Times. He blamed ye Ministry at home saying they had brought the Frds. of Government into a Scrape and by all appearance would leave them in the Lurch. Next day he introduced me to the Gentleman he had mentioned, his name was Mr. John Hosmer, he had come out from London with a cargo of Provisions and Dry Goods he was both Ship Master and Merchant, his vessel he had sold on his arrival and opened Store with his Cargo which has mostly disposed of, he told me he wanted one to assist him in collecting his Debts settling his Accnts, and selling off the remainder of his Cargo which he supposed would take him two three Moth. when he intended going home to England that if I chused to engage with him he would allow me reasonable wages and if I inclined to remain after his business was done he would use his Interest to get me settled. I told him I was very willing to serve him as far as I could, that I must have Board, Lodging, and Washing and for anything else I would leave it to himself. He said he had no opportunity of lodging me himself but that I could stay where I was till I found a more convenient Place and he would pay my Bill and make me a further acknowledgement according to my services. It was accordingly agreed upon and next day I went o/bd, to bring my Chest ashore but was detained three days on Board on account of the Seas running high that we could not get our Boat out. Tuesday 2 of June I got my Chest ashore and entered on my new Employ at which I was very hapy as I had no inclination to return with McClean. A day or two afterwards I was surprised when I went into the Coffee Room which was kept in the same House where I lodged to see Capt. McFarlane, he came up and after shaking hands told me that after our Brig and ye Sloop parted Capt. Neill kept cruising for eight days in the Latitudes they had appointed to meet in but seeing no appearance of ye Brig Capt. McFarlane suspected what was really the Case that McClean and Donaldson had intentionally left him, that on ye 20th May he fell in with ye armed Frig. Brig Cap. Sibalds bound for Augustine that he went on board of her and by that means got to the Place, that he understood Donaldson had taken out a Commission for ye Ld. Howe and registered McClean Captain, that he had used him D-nd rascally, that Donaldson had excused himself by saying he thought McF. Had gone to New York with Capt. Neill and denied his having had any design of leaving him intentionally at sea, that he wanted him to be Master of ye Brig which was to be carried to Philadelphia for Sale, to: Capt. McFarlane told him he would never put a foot on pk. A wash in which he was concerning after the usage he had received from him, he said Donaldson had at first made some scruples about his title to ye share of Prize Money as Capt. upon acct. of his not being on bd. when the Capture was made, that however that point was settled, he had got it under their hands acknowledging his Right to five shares as Capt. agreeable to the articles. He said he was sorry to hear they had used me indifferently after he was gone by making me do common Ship Duty etc. however as I had got that over, there was one advantage from it which was they would be obliged to allow me a share of Prizemoney. He said he was glad to hear that I had got into a berth but if I had not he was resolved I should not have gone back with them as long as he had a shilling, that he was not afraid but he would soon get into a better employ than the one he had left. I thanked him for his Friendship but said I did not know if they would look upon me as entitled to prizemoney as I had never signed any articles. He said that was nothing, theyre making me do Ship duty entitled me to it and desired me to apply and if refused he would interfere. I accordingly applied to Mr. Donaldson the owner who told me the Ship and Cargo was to be carried to Philadelphia for sale and if I gave him a power he would lift it for me and pay it to anybody there or at N. York I chused. I gave him a letter to Rona Campbell desiring him to receive what might come to my share and put it to ye credit of my account. About ye 10th of June the Ld. Howe and her Prize sailed for Philadelphia. About the middle of July a vessel arrived from New York which brought advice of the British having evacuated Philadelphia, also copys of Ld. North's Conciliatory Bills in which he acknowledged himself all in the wrong from the beginning and held out most Gracious Pardons to all them who had been in the right, the ---------- Damned him and his Motion both. About the 26th Capt. Hosmer bought a fine vessel of 300 tons and told me as he had got his affairs mostly settled he intended soon to go in her to England by ye way of New York, that he had not forgot me but had been looking out for a berth for me but could hear of none worth my notice, that I was welcome to apassage with him to N. York and from that to England if I chused it, but if I rather inclined to stay where I was he would do everything in his power to serve me. I accepted a passage to N. York, he desired me to hold myself in readiness as he expected to sail in a few days. About this time I got acquanted with a Capt. Walker who had arrived in ten days from Kingston, Jamaica, he told me he was well acquanted with my Cousin Ralph Fisher and had sailed in his employ, that he had seen him lately before he sailed when he was well, he was bound back to Kingston again and asked me to take a trip that length with him which I believe I should have done if I had had my chest and little money along with me but having left these in New York I would not accept his offer.

The 1st of August Capt. Hosmer desired me to bring in my Bills for Board etc. which I did and he paid them off ye one for Board amounted to £ 18 Stg. and for Washing £ 2 Stg. was in all £ 20 Stg. for two months. He said as I was going along with him he would settle what also I should have at conveniency. I indeed thought I had cost him enough everything there being so extravagantly dear made the Board so high. However he had sold his goods to a pretty good advance. In the afternoon we went on board the vessel lying at anchor off the Bar. I should now say a little of the place I am going to leave. St. Augustine is the principal town in East Florida. it lies in Latitude 30. The navigation up to the town is very dangerous as you have to cross a bar which at high water there is only 7 foott water and that only at one particular place which is very narrow called the Chanell that it requires a Pilot well acquainted to take you up. Vessels of Burthen generally lye at anchor in the Bay which is about seven miles out from ye harbour in ye outside of the Bar where they lever and load by lighters, and I know not indeed for what reason they give it the name of bay as it is no way protected from the weather on the other side, the anchoring ground is likewise bad and there being often sudden and violent gusts of wind which frequently drives the shiping from their anchorage, in short I believe there is more wrecks happens here than anywhere else on the Continent, during my two monts stay there was three total wrecks at three different times, owing to ye vessels being driven from theyre anchors upon the shoals. The Town lyes along shore, at the one end is a very fine Fort in good repair, at the other end are Excellent Barracks for two thousand men. There is commonly two or three Regts. stationed there, the town consists of two streets the one running from the Fort to ye Barracks, the other runs across so that some will call it four streets upon account of the division where they cross as so +. From the Fort to the Barracks is about half an English mile, about one half of the way it is planted on each side with Orange Trees of which there is great plenty, it makes it very pleasant and a fine shade from the sun. It consists of about three or four hundred houses, they are mostly old build by the Spaniards. They are built of a composition of small shells and gravel, are very strong, the Fort is of the same materials. The inhabitants consist of Spaniards, Scots and a few English, the country round it is a sandy barren soil, in the back country they make large quantities of Tar and Turpentine and some Indigo which is their chief Produce. Here is great plenty of oysters and all other sorts of fish for ye Table, from Providence they get live Turtle, Foulls etc. Their flour, beef etc. they have from England and Ireland. Fresh provisions is very scarce there being little or no pasture of consequence, few Cattle. The climate is very hot but generally a fine sea breeze sets in about Midday which makes it healthy. Capt. Walker told me he thought it hotter there than ever he found it at Kingstone, Jamaica. Their Winter is so mild that it seldom stops Vegetation. This Town and Colony was given up by the Spaniards at the conclusion of last War to the British. During my stay the Province was invaded by a part of ye Army of the 13 United States. They were said to consists of 4 or 5000 Troops from S. Carolina and George, they came as far as the River St. Johns within 30 miles of Augustine where there was a small skirmish betwixt a party of them and some British Troops after which they went back, had they proceeded they certainly might have got possession of all the Province except the Fort as there was only about 600 British Troops and about 400 Indians to oppose them. The Fort I believe they could not have taken it being very strong, besides they could not prevent Suplys coming to it by Water, the British besieged it for seven months when in possession of the Spaniards it is said they lost upwards of two thousand men and were oblidged to raise the Siege at last. The reason assigned for the American Army going back was said to be sickness prevailing in their Camp owing to the want of salt.

When here I was after in company with John Watson (a son of Watson Stay Maker in Glasgow), he had been mate of a vessel from the West Indies which was taken and carried into Charlestown S. Carolina, from thence he had been exchanged to this place, he got Master of a large Schooner in which he has to sail for New York a few days after me, he also was kind enough to offer me a Passage.

On the 2nd August early in the morning we heaved anchor and set sail in company with a Letter of Marqua Snow carrying 20 Guns which we took by way of Convoy she being also bound for New York. On the 3rd the Snow got much ahead of us being a faster sailer, on the 4th we lost sight of her. As we had no Guns Captain Hosmer ordered a Spar to be cut down and made into 20 Wooden Guns with which we mounted our Ship and which made her out a formidable appearance at a Distance. On the 6th we saw a sail to windward making down upon us, set all sail to keep clear of her in the evg. lost sight of her, the 7th in the morning seed the sail again on which Capt. Hosmer directed his Course to her, upon coming nigh her she put about ship and took another Course. We supposed by that she had seen our Wooden Guns which had frightened her, she being but a small vessel. On the 9th we were spoke to by a British Frigate who informed us there had been a French Fleat at Sandyhook, that they had again put out to sea and that Ld. Howe was gone after them and it was expected there would be an Engagement when they mett, On the 10th we arrived at the Hook and was boarded by a Kings Boatt, also a Pilott, the Kings Boat ordered us to cast anchor and lye till further orders. Capt. Hosmer wanted much to proceed immediately up as the Wind and Tide answered, and the Sky threatned an approaching Storm, he however was oblidged to drop anchor agreeable to the Comodores orders, in the afternoon we were boarded by another Boat from the Comodore who pressed our Boatswain and one of our hands. We had then only six hands remaining which was too few to work the vessel, the Officer however left us two of his hands for the two he took to work the vessel up. He then told us we might proceed but by this time the tide was gone and we must lye till morning. About eleven at night it began to blow very fresh, at two in ye morning our Cable sprung (i.e parted from ye Anchor) upon which we immediately paid out our other anchor and cable but it blowed so hard that the Ship dragged her anchor and the Pilott told us we must either put out to sea or run her ashore on ------------------------------ otherwise we would get foul of the Jersey shore. As we could not get our anchor up we slipt her cable, hoised the Main Sail and the Pilott run her ashore on very good ground where we lay till to 14th during which time it blew a very heavy storm. When it abated we got two small schooners which we loaded with Tar and Turpentine out of the Ship in one of them. Capt. Hosmer and I came out of the Ship in one of them. Capt. Hosmer and I came up to New York the 15th leaving the Mate and Pilot to get the Vessel off. New York cast a Dismal appearance, the ruins of about 200 houses still smoaking which with the former Fire in 1770 had reduced the City about one half. Both Fires were suspected of being willful but nobody ever detected.

On my arrival at New York I went to the house where my old Landlady staid (Mrs. Henderson) but found she had moved from there. As it was late I went to Geo. Campbells Tavern and lay there that night. Next day I found out Henderson's, She told me that J. Arthur had a letter for me from my Brother but that she did not know where he staid as he had left her house three weeks ago. In the Evg. I found him then he deliv. my Brothers letter. It was dated the 7th Feby. He informed me of his having been very poorly after I left home but that he was then a good deal better and in hopes of getting over his Complaints, all my other Frds. were in good health. John Campbell was appointed Rector on my Estate and expected soon to make a dividend to my Crs. which he thought would be about 10 shillings, in the Pound. He makes a proposal of my returning home and speaks of obtaining a Supercedary from my Crs., says he would have sent me out Goods but did not know what kind would answer, desires if I am resolved to remain at New York I will immediately send an order home which he will answer by first opportunity and concludes by asking if I had heard anything further of our Uncle R.E.

J. Arthur told me that he had been out of employ almost ever since I went away and that (Alexr. Sinclair) the Parson he had been with had used him very ill and never allowed him anything for the time he served him which was three months and by that means he had run in debt to Robt. Henderson for Board and to prevent his going deeper he had been living with Acquaintences mostly on board of vessels, that he had no money nor could not get into employ, that he had received a letter from his Father desiring he would come home but that he had no inclination to do, he then asked my intentions. I told him I was a good deel at a loss. He said he understood I had an Uncle in the Jerseys in a very good way and was surprised I did not endeavour to get to him. I told him that I had tryed that formerly but could not make it out. He said he knew of two Sailors that had been taken on board of Continental vessels that wanted to make their Escape and he throught I could go along with them, that he would be glad to accompany me and that he was sure Henry Moore would go along with us (H. Moore was a scotch Man that stayed in Hendersons when we were there, he had lived formerly in Philadelphia and had turned out Sergt. in ye Pensalvay Troops, was taken at the Battle of Long Island, he made his escape out of Prison in N. York, when he staid in Hendersons was taken ill of a Fever and having nothing to support him I relieved him with a little Money for which he was always very grateful). I told him I would think about what he had said.

Next day I saw W. Ritchie. He told me he had had a letter from his Brother, that he had enclosed him a Notarial Copy of a Bill I was endue him for £ 43 Stg. with a power of attorney against me. He said he knew it was not in my power at present to answer same and I might depend upon it he would not distress me for this. I was oblidged to him at same time it shewed me what others might do and I was not sure of being always as favourable dealt with made me determined to get out of ye way as soon as possible. W. Ritchie likewise told me that he had not yet received advice of my draught being paid at Home but that he would play me my Balance in a few days. The 20th I removed from Campbell's Tavern and took a room from one Hopkins a Pilott in Fair Street and took J. Arthur to stay allong with me. We were to pay 2 Dollars in the Week for the Room and 5 Dollars each for Board.

The 22nd. W. Ritchie informed me he had had got a letter advising him my draught had been paid at Home after some difficulty, he would not say from whence the difficulty arose. He then paid me the Balance deducting 5 per ct. of Premium so that I recd. £ 12.10 Stg. I then went and sounded Henry Moore who was very fond of the Scheme of getting off, he having been always strongly attached to the American Cause. On the 24th J. Arthur got the two Sailors he had formerly mentioned when we consulted the Plan we were to follow viz.

One of the Sailors said he had a small Boat with which he used to go out and catch oysters, that any day we could all into it each taking a few articles with us as if we were going pleasuring, that we could go down to Staten Island and in ye night time get over to Elizabeth Town, the River being only two miles Broad and at any rate if we did not get over it was only returning to N. York, but as none them had any Money they must depend upon me for that Article. I told them my Stock was but small but as far as it would go they were welcome to a Share of it. We fixed Thursday the 3 of Septr. for making out Try, all betwixt and that Time was all hands to be getting everything in readiness. I then went to Capt. McLean (who had returned to N. York before me) and asked him if I was to have any Prize Money. He said he did not know if I was entitled to any as I did not return with the vessel, however as I had done some dury if I would give him my receipt in full he would give me £ 10 Currency. I accepted of his offer, I suppose it was about £ 30 in his pocket. I then sold off my utensils for which I got about 3 £ Cy. which was all the business I had to transact. On Wednesday the 2d. Septr. J.A. and I began each of us to pack what we intended to take with us. I packed a Pillow Case full containing one Suit of Cloaths, all my Stockings, several pair of Breeches &c. and in a Table Napkin 9 or 10 Shifts. J. Arthur also packed a Bag containing one suit of Cloaths, all his Linen and Stockings of which he had a pretty good Stock.

Thursday 3rd paid off J. A. and selfs Board &c. up to ye end of former Week, have remaining in Cast 11 Gs. And 16 Drs. Sends our bundles down to Henry Moores House, goes down after them, finds Ramsay and Graham (the two Sailors). They inform us the Boat is lying ready at one of the Wharfs. Gives them our bundles to put on board and Six Dollars to purchase Rum &c. A difficulty now arises anent Moores Wife and Boy (4 years old) as we are afraid they will be an incumbrance to us. She consents to stay behind and if we get safe over she will fall upon away to follow us, gives her 8 Drs. to bear her charges. At Twelve Ocolock Midday we go all on bd. the Boat steere first over to Oyster Island gets some Oysters to Dinner Drinks so as to put us in good spirits, stays till about 5 OClock. Rows about 5 miles down the river, then goes about 1/2 mile up a small Creek when one of the Sailors says if we go ashore there that he knows a way that we can get to Elizabeth Town, goes ashore and are taking our Bundles out of the Boat when three Men comes up and hails us enquiring what we are doing there. I answer that I was going down to my vessel which was lying at St. Island, that the Tide being against us I had put in there to wait an hour or two till the Tide turned. I asked them if there was any house to go into. They answered yes their house was round the point and desired me to send the Boat down the Creek and I could go along with them to ye house. They put a Negro into my boat to pilot it round and J. Arthur and I went along with the Men, after we had gone a few yards they came to a Bush when they each of them took a Musket from under it, said they kept their pieces ready as partys of the rebels some times came over. I then began to be a little afraid of our intentions being discovered. After walking a little further we came to house, ye Boat got there about the same time. When we went into the house the Three men introduced us to an old greyheaded man, telling him where they had met us. He asked some Questions. I gave him the same answers as I had the others. He seemed to be a little dubious however after staying about an hour with him he said he thought the Tide would answer us to Proceed. We then went all hands into the Boat and rowed down toward Staten Island. When about a mile from the house, we met the same Negro in a Chance. I hailed him and asked if he knew any way to get to Elizabeth Town. He said yes he could conduct us to a house about 6 Miles through the Woods that had a Canoe with which they would put us over the river to Elizabeth Town. I told him if he would do that I would give him two half ------------------- but if he showed the least sign of betraying I would blow his brains out with a pistol. He promised to be faithful, desired us to row inshore, that he would return with his Canoe and come back to us through the Woods, that he would whistle so as we might know where to row into. I was a good deal afraid to trust him back but none of us knew anything of the way I resolved to run all Risques. We kept rowing inshore about half an hour when we heard the Negro whistling in the woods. We immediately made into him, took our Bundles out of the Boat and away we set (first making the Boat fast to a tree). He led us about 8 Miles through the Woods at last brought us to the house that he said had the Canoe but the People told us they could not help us as there was a Kings Tender lying in ye River that had sent ashore and burnt their Canoe. They however told the Negro that if he would take us back to one Phillips he could put us over. It was now about 12 Oclock at night and being very wearied we resolved to rest an hour or two. We then set out again and got to Phillips about 4 in that Morning. He at first said he had no Canoe and could not assist but the Negro insisted that he had one and upon our urging him and telling him that he should have any price he asked he at last consented to put us over for 5 Drs., which I immediately gave. The Negro then wanted to be going. I gave him 6 Drs. and let him go telling him likewise he might have the Boat. Phillips made his wife get up and make us some Tea for Breakfast which we was not out of need of. He then took us about two Miles from his House down to ye Canoe, told us after he had put us over that river which was called Hackensack or First River that we would have to walk about a Mile over a Marsh when we would come to Newark River, that on the opposite side of it there was a Continental Guard which we must hail and they would come over for us, his Canoe was so small it would hold only two of us and himself at a time so that to take us five over he was oblidged to make three trips. We were now out of all Danger and walked on at our own Leizure over the Marsh. When we came to ye Second River we saw the Guard on the opposite side and hailed us. Directed four of them immediately came over in a Boat and took us across. They told us we must go up along with them to Newark Town which was two Miles to their Commanding Officer which was just what we wanted. They were very civil in carrying our Bundles &c. When we came to Newark the Officer who was a Capt. told us he must send us under Guard to Genl. Maxwell at Elizth. Town which was six Miles. J. A. and I wanted to be excused from going under Guard but the Officer said it was agreeable to his orders and he could not dispense with it if we were his Brothers. We accordingly set out under a Sergts. Guard, stopt at a publick House in Newark where we left our Bundles, got to Eth. Town about 5 oClock at Night. Upon being taken before the Genll I told him my Name, that I had left N. York by stratagem with an intent to go to Robt. Erskines at Ringwood who was my Uncle, that J. A. was to go along with me. He took me by the hand, told me he was very well acquaint with my Uncle that was a good Frd. to America. Dismissed the Guard asked J. A. and I to drink some Punch with him and wrote a Pass for us to go to Ringwood. The two sailors Graham and Ramsay wanted to go to Virginia for which he gave them Passes. Henry Moore was to remain where he was. Moore then took J. A. and I to one John Fergusons a Scots Man who was very kind to us, he had been acquainted with my Frds. at home-that is to say heard my Father Preach &c. We stayed with him till Sunday the 6th when we hired a horse chair to carry J. A. and me to Ringwood and a boy to bring it back. We got to great Falls that Night, 22 miles, which was 1/2 way. Mrs. Goodwin the Landlady told us the other half of the road was so stony and Mountainous we would not be able to get the Chair along and advised us to send it back and hire a Wagon. We took her advise although it cost us double charges as we had paid the Chair hire for the whole way.

Monday 7th Septr. about 5 OClock in the Evening I arrived at Ringwood. Found my Uncle R.E. just arrived from Camp at White Plains where he had been for six weeks. He received me very kindly also my Companion J. A. that I had brought along with me. Next day he inquired into my views of coming to America when I gave him a genuine acct. of my reasons and manner of leaving Home. Upon which he desired me to give myself no Trouble about what was past as I should find in him not only a Relation but a Friend, that I must stay with him till the present Disturbances were over which he hoped would be soon, that then he intended opening a Large Store in New York into which he would admit me a Partner, he likewise shewed me his Commission appointing him Surveyor and Geographer to the United States by which he was oblidged to be most partly along with the Army and upon that Accnt. was happy he had got a Frd. to stay with Mrs. E. in his absence. At present he had no children, Mrs. E. having had the misfortune to have two miscarriages since she came to this Country but that now he believed she was in the way to have one soon. He also offered his Service to J. A. to get him a Berth in the Commissary Department, in ye meantime to make Ringwood his Home till he was provided for. He told me that the Iron Works had mostly stopped as he now had only about 40 hands employed, that he used in former Times to have between 3 and 400 in constant employ, that he still kept two Clarks here at Ringwood and one at Charlottenburgh and one at Long Pond, the first 16 miles and the other four miles from this. One of the Clarks at Ringwood was Robt. Monteith, an old acquaintance of mine at Edinr. He was Clark there with Andrew Sinclair & Hay and came to this Country about six years ago, had lived with Mr. E. ever since, the other Clarks name was Ambrose Gordon, a this Country Lad but of Scots Extraction.

Thursday 10th Septr. took a Ride with Mr. E. to Long Pond and seed the Works there.

Saturday, 12th, Mr. E. set out for Camp along with a Servt. and three Light Horsemen who are appointed to attend him. Before he went away he gave J. A. Fifty Continental Dollars, said he could repay him when he got into employ.

Monday, 26th I went down to Elizabeth Town, found that Hanry Moore's wife had got over from N. York to Elizabeth Town the week after us. She had brought along with her a bag containing some articles of Cloathing belonging to me which I had left along with her.

October 10th. I set out for Head Quarters to seek Mr. E. It was at Quakers Mile about 70 Miles to ye Eastward of this upon the Boarders of Conecticut.

Arrived there the 12th, was introduced by Mr. E. to Genll. Washington who is a very affable goodlooking Man. Mr. E. gives me 100 Continental Dollars to keep my Pocket, stays there till ye 16th and returns to Ringwood ye 18th, had a Light Horseman attending me going and coming.

On the 11th Novembr, our House at Ringwood was Plundered by a Party of Robbers. It was affected in the following Manner:

The two Clarks Montheath and Gordon slept in a room off ye Counting House. (The Counting House stands by itself separate from the Dwelling house about 30 yds.) J. A. and I slept in a room above ye Hall door in ye House.

Between nine and ten in ye Evg. someone knocked at ye Counting house door. Mr. Gordon asked who was there, and was answered A small party of Continental Troops going to Morris town who wanted Lodging upon which he opened the door and immediately there rushed in two Men with Pistols with whom he had a short scuffle but 5 or 6 more coming he was soon overcome. They threatened if he spoke a Word or made the least resistance they would instantly Blow his Brains out. They bound his Arms with a Rope and placed two Centerys over Montheath and him, they then came to the Hall door and knocked there. J. A. was gone to Bed. I was sitting reading, had heard nothing of what passed out of doors. I throwed ye window up and asked who was there, they gave me for answer that they were two Gentn. who were benighted and wanted Quarters. I told them the Family were gone to Bed and they had better go to ye Counting House where Perhaps the Clarks might accommodate them. They said they had been there and Mr. Gordon was gone to Bed and had directed them into the house. I then went down Stairs to open the Door but being a little intimidated I went back and acquainted Mrs. E. (who was undressing). She desired I would let them in and show them to the Room where Strangers usually slept. I then went down again and opened the Hall Door, when immediately Two Men presented a Pistol each of them in my Face. I stammered a few Paces back and had almost fallen with the Surprize. They cryed don't stir or you're a Dead Man, there was then five Men surrounded me with each a cocked Pistol presented at me. One of them says I seaze you in his Majesty's Name. I reply, what in the Name of God do you want, upon which he ordered me immediately to put the two Boys that slept in ye Garret and the Gentn. that slept with me with all ye Arms into their Custody, told me any resistance was vain, that he had been in ye Countinghouse and bound Gordon, that ye house was surrounded with 40 Men and 300 Indians in ye Mountains which he would bring down at ye Firing of a Gun, that Goshen was that night in ashes and if I made ye least hesitation of observing his Orders he would put me to Death on ye Spot. I then told him his Orders should be complyed with as far as lay in my power only begged he would alarm Mrs. E. as little as possible. I then took them up Stairs, Called down ye two Boys (a Negro and Blacksmith Boy) when they took into Custody. I next took them into my own Room where was J. A. lying trembling in Bed. They ordered him to lye still with which he readily complyed. They then seized upon two Muskets which was in ye Room and asked me if this was all ye Arms in the house. I told them it was all that I knew of, they said if they found any more I should suffer for them. They then desired to be introduced to Mrs. E. I took them to her Room door (which she had bolted). She asked who was there, I told her it was some Gentn. who must see her but not to make herself uneasy as they had given their Word of Honour to be Civil to her. She opened the Door but was much alarmed when she saw their presented Pistols. The Man that first addressed me told her he had the Command of ye Party and was come to search for Treasonable papers belonging to Mr. E. He also told her the Frightful Story of Goshen being in Ashes, of ye 40 Men and 300 Indians, same time he told her that if she complyed with his Orders in making the Search she should not be hurt. He then demanded the last Letters she had recd. from Mr. E. upon which she gave him one, he looked at it but told her she had recd. one from him since, that of ye 1st of ye Mth. She acknowledged she had and put her hand in her pocket and gave it to him which he without looking at folded up and put in his Pocket with the other one. He then desired her to open a Trunk which stood behind her which she immediately did, Telling him there was nothing in it but some of her Cloaths. He turned it over a little and told she might shut it again as he did not want any of her Cloaths (in that Trunk was 3000 Continental Dollars). He then desired her to open a Desk which she did. He turned over a number of Papers and ye rest of ye Men began to pick out a Number of articles which was in the Desk viz. a Silver Watch, some Rings and earrings &c. belonging to Mrs. E. He then told her he had certain information of a Chest of hard Money being here belonging to Coll Malcolm and if she did not produce it he would lay the house in Ashes. She assured him there was no such thing to her knowledge and if he would burn the house only begged he would let her and the others People out first, he then demanded her Watch, to which she attempted to give evasive answers but upon their insisting she gave it up. They continued plundering the House of all the Plate, four Silver Watches. Mrs. Es. Silver hilted Small Sword, &c. About one OClock in ye Morning they order us all into the Parlour into which they also brought Montheath and Gordon. Gordon Arms was pinned with a Rope. The then began again to threaten Burning the house if the Chest of hard Money was not produced but seeing these Threats had no Effect, they ordered Gordon, Montheath, Arthur and I down to a Cellar, locked the door upon us and took the Key with them, they then broke the Locks of the Muskets which they did not take with them, they next ordered the Negro Cato to go to the Stable with them where they took out six horses on which they loaded their Plunder and set off threatening Mrs. E. that she should not let any of us out till six OClock, about two hours after they were gone Mr. Gordon takes a horse and sets out to alarm the Boards and other Neighbours about 3 Miles off. Six in Ye Morning the Messrs. Boards, Hoggin &c. six in all comes here armed, informs us that Mr. Gordon had proceeded to Pompton for a Party of Light Horse which comes here about eight when they proceeded down the Road we supposed they had taken, upon coming to Sidmans they inform the same party that robbed us had also robbed them and had left their house just at Day Break. Mr. Gordon proceeds after them with the Party but gets no intelligence of them in ye afternoon and our six horses were found stragling on ye road four Miles below Sufferns.

Midday J. Arthur sets out for Camp to inform Mr. E. of our Misfortunes. The 15th J. A. and Mr. E. returns For several weeks are employed in making Searches and have a number of People taken up on Suspicion but without any Effect until the 8th Feby. from whence I began a Diary of Daily Occurrences.

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