houting "Spare no one! Give no quarter!" loyalist Tories and Hessians raided a house five miles from Salem early today and bayoneted a squad of militiamen who were sleeping there, as well as two civilians.
Although the death toll remains unsettled, it is known that at least 20 of the 30 militia were killed, if not all. Many were stabbed after they tried to surrender.
Some of the militia, who were mainly middle-aged men and teenage boys, recognized some of the loyalists as former neighbors and friends and called their names as they begged for their lives.
Enraged militia leaders and local inhabitants are using such terms as "murder" and "massacre" to describe the killings.
The bloody raid marks the third day of violence in the Salem area in the past four.
On March 18, a battle occurred about three miles from Salem at Quinton's Bridge when a force of 1,000 British regulars and Hessians and 500 Tories ambushed 300 Salem militia at the span over Alloway Creek. The militia lost as many as 40 men as they fled, many drowning in the frigid water of the creek.
The British force was led by Col. Charles Mawhood, who is remembered as the commander who lost the battle of Princeton to Gen. George Washington 14 months ago.
The following day, Mawhood's troops occupied Salem, where he threatened to burn the town and turn the women and children over to the Tories if the militia did not lay down its arms.
Calling Mawhood "Attila," Col. Asher Holmes, commander of the Salem County militia, warned there would be immediate retaliation on Tory families in the area if anything happened to the wives and children of his men. Mawhood backed down.
It was shortly after midnight this morning and during a heavy rain when 300 Tories and Hessians surrounded the home of old Judge William Hancock at Hancock's Bridge. The militiamen were occupying the house as they guarded a bridge over Alloway Creek. After bayoneting the two sentries, the raiders broke into the house through the front and rear doors and surprised the militiamen.
Hancock and his brother, both staunch loyalists, were bayoneted by the raiders in the midst of the slaughter. A 7-man American patrol was surprised along the creek and all but one of them were killed.
Simcoe proceeded to plunder the entire neighborhood and then returned to the mouth of the Alloway Creek. Once there, he then sailed to Philadelphia. The militia had ordered Hancock out of the house, but he returned last night vowing to protect the property.
The attack was led by Col. John Simcoe, the 26-year-old commander of the green-jacketed Tory brigade known as the Queen's Rangers. The militiamen had little chance against the raiders, a group of battle-hardened men who have carried out similar guerrilla missions in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
Mawhood and Simcoe brought their troops across the Delaware River to Salem on flat boats nine days ago. Mawhood's mission was mainly foraging for food for the 19,500 British and Hessian troops wintering in Philadelphia. But Simcoe said he accompanied Mawhood to "chastise the rascals" of Salem County.
At Quinton's Bridge, the Salem militia and Mawhood's force faced each other across Alloway Creek. On the night of March 17, Mawhood concealed part of his force and the next morning feigned that he was withdrawing to Salem. When Holmes' militia gave chase, it hurried into the British trap; with soldiers facing them on three sides. Only the arrival of reinforcements from the Cumberland County militia prevented the battle from becoming a complete rout.
With the British occupying Philadelphia and Washington's army of 8,200 quartered north of the city at Valley Forge, New Jersey has endured a second winter of raiding, looting, and sniping.
Last month, American Gen. "Mad Anthony" Wayne led a foraging party from Valley Forge that ranged from Mount Holly to Salem and collected up to 300 cattle and horses despite the best efforts of patriot and loyalist farmers to hide them. Wayne burned the hay of loyalists when he could not find wagons to carry it.
Burlington and Gloucester counties have born the brunt of foraging and looting by the Tories, British, and Hessians. In Camden County, American Capt. Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee protected patriot property until his troops were forced from the area by a new unit of Tories that calls itself the West Jersey Volunteers. In Mercer County, the American cavalry of Gen. Casimir Pulaski, the Polish adventurer, is attempting to protect patriot property owners.
"Everywhere there is distrust, fear, hatred and abominable selfishness," said Pastor Benjamin Colin of Swedesboro. "Parent and children, brothers and sisters, wife and husband, are enemies to one another."