After Action Report

June 1-2, 2019

  • Old Bethpage Village - Occupied Long Island

  • Old Bethpage Restoration, Bethpage, N.Y.

Yorkers,

At dawn on Sunday, after a cat and mouse street battle in the village (around the Williams and Benjamine houses between a British patrol and our probing force) the prior day, we still found ourselves encamped just northeast outside the village on the Hewlett House hill. Lost buttons, separated seems and missing and broken accoutrements as a result of the inconclusive firefight Saturday were noted and replaced or repaired as best as possible. Saterday night jolification went hard on some troops at first formation on Sunday and one or two troops were certainly dragging their petard!

The hub-bub in camp was all about the impending attack on the British occupied Ft. Franklin that day. In town and in and about camp there were spies everywhere. No one could openly speak of an official battle plan. But there were many rumors. Our intelligence officer saw fit to infiltrate the British encampment and leave behind false battle plans about the Fort to confuse the Lobster backs of our intent.

Soon the time was near and the Continental line formed up. The 3rd NY offered up a plan off attack on the Fort that was accepted by the War Council and the column (deliberatly late to raise the anxiety of the enemy) marched southeast in two files up the Ring Road toward the high ground over the Orchard. At an opportune moment when the view west down through the orchard exposed our column to the British guards. We stoped in plain sight (long out of musket range); right faced and loudly performed the manual of arms to draw and keep their attention.

Off course, this brazen display (the sun glinting off bayonets and the commands echoing off the Fort and village buildings) was to distract the British from our fast moving flanking party that dispatched under cover down the Ring Road during the manual of arms exercise. Their objective was furher southeast of the Fort to the Manetto Hill Church and the woods between them.

After drilling in the open for as long as possibe, probably just before the British Cannon got a bead on us, we loudly marched norh back down the Ring Road the way we came, away from the drection of the flanking party (hoping we were successful in giving them distraction cover), and turned our heavy infantry line west then south to ultimately face the Fort in a frontal assalt from the north.

When in range and when certain the attention of the Fort was fully upon us we opened up volley after volley as fast as our training would permit and closed on the Fort in an oblique attempting to draw their fire west and away from the impending surprise attack from their right flank.

And then it came. The thunderous volly of the flanking line. Until the gunpowder smoke cleared, we were sure for an instant that the party somehow overtook an enemy field cannon and turned it upon the Fort! Just a moment later the smoke thinned and there was the Continental line light infantry assalting the east wall of the fort. Without a doubt equipped with special 3rd NY "parade rounds" for the occasion.

Good knowledge of the terraine and early recon by 3NY scouts allowed the flanking light infantry to use a path through the woods from the church to attack the Fort from the east and confuse the enemy and allow one of the two attacking parties to scale the wall. Were the Brits surprised? We believe so for the volume of fire upon us from the Fort eased and the cluster of muskets aimed at us thined as troops inside began to scramble to defend against the flanking assalt.

Our elation suddenly drained as we saw the advance of our surprise flanking party stopped dead; surprised itself by the swinging opening of 2nd floor barn windows inside the Fort. Muskets bristled out of the newly opened portals and fired on our light infantry. The Brits were apparently ready for some sort of Yankee trickery.

Now both our flanks were stymied. Attrition started to take its toll on our firepower. An attempt by our frontal assalt heavy infantry to close the gap with the flanking party met wth heavy casualties and then both the NCO's from heavy and light infantry went down.

The Crown Forces inside the Fort excited by their success in holding off the assalt soon became confident and formed up and marched from the Fort in a bayonett charge at our boys. A few more "parade rounds" at the Brits did little to slow their advance and so, it was time, under the calming influence of the Quartermaster, to "advance in the opposite direction" and yield the field.

Our plan may have been to do all the above and eventually draw the Brits out into the open with a famous line crumble and rout and then surprise attack the over zelous pursuers with hidden troops held in reserve. Our plan may have worked but for want of numbers!.... Get ye into the field!!

Observed and embellished by Your Servant,

Andy F. Adjutant

3rd NY regiment Long Island Companies