Forage War Area



Battle Summary
Details Stats Colonists/Allies British/Allies
Name: Skirmish at Drake’s Farm (New Jersey Campaign) (Forage War) Total Forces:
Date(s): 02/01/1777 Killed: 27 36
Location: Metuchen, New Jersey Wounded: 20 100
Duration (days): 1 Captured:
Victory: Neutral Total Ships:
Col./Ally Cmdr.: William Maxwell Ships Lost:
Brit./Ally Cmdr.: Charles Mawhood Ships Captured:


On 1 February 1777, Brigadier General Sir William Erskine, 1st Baronet set up a clever trap. He sent a party of foragers to Drake’s Farm near Metuchen. When Scott’s 5th Virginia tried to gobble up the small party, Erskine rushed his large force into action. Battalions of grenadiers, light infantry, 42nd Foot and Hessians appeared, supported by eight artillery pieces. Instead of fleeing, the Virginians launched a vicious attack which momentarily broke a grenadier battalion. Under intense cannon fire, the American attack was stopped, but the soldiers fought tenaciously until the British fell back toward Brunswick. The Americans admitted 30 to 40 casualties while claiming to have killed 36 British and wounding 100 more. The action was marred by an ugly incident when Lieutenant William Kelly and six other wounded Americans were abandoned during a tactical withdrawal. The frustrated British fell upon the seven helpless men with bayonets and musket butts and slaughtered them all. When the Americans recovered the mangled bodies they were infuriated. Brigadier General Adam Stephen exchanged a series of irate letters with Erskine, who denied all responsibility for the incident.