CHELMSFORD, Feb. 28.
Extract of a letter from quarter-master Sandford, dated Raratan Landing-place, Middlesex County, Dec. 20.
"After our late amazing success, we marched up the Jerseys, with very little opposition from the enemy, to Newark, Brunswick &c. and on to Delaware River, which river the enemy retreated across; for want of boats we could not follow them, or had long ere this been in Philadelphia. --- Lee is taken, and now a prisoner at Brunswick, the particulars as follows: Lieut- Colonel Harcourt, with a party of Burgoyne's light dragoons, about thirty men, advanced a considerable distance in the country, and taking a person who was in the rebel service, declared they'd shoot him if he did not tell where general Lee was; the prisoner informed them where he was. Col. Harcourt immediately surrounded the house with his party, and after a little opposition took Lee; a Frenchman supposed Lee's aid de camp, fought bravely and died; Lee gave great reason to suppose him a coward. This brave action of Harcourt's was within a few hundred yards of Lee's army. Lee shewed great signs of fear, and when taken begged his life in a manner unbecoming a soldier. Col. Harcourt mounted him on a yankee horse, with a halter round the horse's neck, which he held himself, being determined not to lose him. The Col. in this action had a ball pass through the tassel of his cap, and another graze the skin which covered his saddle, but did not lose a man. Lee said "Good God! what will lord and general Howe do with me?" And on the road he said "I am footily taken." He is genteel in his person, but a face as ugly as you can imagine; we expect he will be tried as a deserter from his majesty's service, being I believe on half pay when he joined the rebels; there was a Frenchman taken with Lee, who I think has the rank of colonel in the French service; he was at our quarters several days; he is a well made smart young fellow.
"On Tuesday last a detachment from the brigade of guards consisting of 200 men, well officer'd, commanded by gen. Mathew, marched to Pluckemen, about 14 miles from this place, where it was reported a large body of rebels were, but upon our coming there the rebels retreated to the mountains; I rode forward about 3 or 400 yards into the town, a small flanking party of the enemy's fired some buck-shot, and wounded a country-man in the instep who was just behind me; a surgeon's mate of the guards being near lifted down some railing, and at full speed I pursued a fellow in a yellow rifle-dress, being determined to take him (if possible) as I observed him very busy, there was another 30 yards before him, likewise making for the wood or mountains; I soon came to more rails, and a very deep and broad way which no horse could manage, I then dismounted, having no one to pull down the rails, and pursued on foot, I had much the heels of them, and when within about 40 yards of the rifle jacket man, and within about 60 or 70 of the other, they faced about, I then told them if they fired I'd put them to death, at the same time shewed them a pistol I had slung at my side, and bid the one next me ground his firelock, after some little pause he did so, the other seeing me resolutely advancing and being in possession of the other's firelock, which I presented at him, and my little countryman, who, as I mentioned before, was wounded, coming up; he followed the example and surrendered; I took their pieces (both loaded) upon my shoulders, and brought my prisoners to Gen- Mathew, I told the general how the countryman behaved in coming to my assistance, as fast as he could, the general made him a present of money, and has since been very good to him. I do not mention this as any merit of mine, I did but my duty, I mention it only to convince you of the cowardice of those rascals who will never fight but behind tress, or cross a river. It was certainly easy for them to have shot me and escaped, I having no support, it being impossible for our people to assist me, tho' they were in sight, and many saw the whole affair. In the afternoon we returned to our quarters after taking some arms, ammunition, provision, &c. &c. I am sorry to inform you of the death of Cornet Geary, (son of admiral Geary) of Burgoyne's; he had been out with a small party to Flemming Town, on his return in passing thro' a hollow way by the side of a wood, he was told that a rebel was levelling at him on a rail, he leant forward on his horse to escape the shot, but unfortunately received that or some other (for a volley was fired) in his forehead, and fell dead from his horse, the dragoons fired two rounds, and attempted to bring off the body, but the villains kept within cover, and being many of them, kept a constant fire, that they were glad to retreat without the body of the young gentleman. We know not where we shall winter, perhaps we shall be after the enemy sometime longer, tho' it's the general opinion the wars are nearly over. Since general Howe's proclamation great numbers have come in, and in some places the whole that were in arms."
SOURCE: The CHELMSFOED CHRONICLE, Friday, February 28. 1777.