The massacre took place shortly after the Battle of Chestnut Neck, a British raid aimed at suppressing privateers who used the area as a base to harass and seize British ships and their cargoes.
At the time that Captain Patrick Ferguson was wreaking havoc on Colonial shipping in the Mullica River, Kazimierz Pułaski and his newly raised forces were ordered to oppose his actions. Pulaski's Legion, along with three companies of light infantry, three troops of light horse, and one artillery detachment, came too late to be of great use against Ferguson's operations. But their arrival did stop Ferguson from raiding the iron works at Batsto, and stemmed their attacks on privateers at The Forks of the Mullica River.
Pulaski's troops were deserters, mainly, as well as a number of foreign adventurers. They reached the Little Egg Harbor district (near present-day Tuckerton), and immediately set up camp on a farm. A deserter, Lt. Gustav Juliet, found Ferguson and told him of Pulaski's encampment; he mentioned that morale was fairly low, and security almost nonexistent, so that a surprise attack would be devastating.
They ordered Capt. Patrick Ferguson and a force of 300 men of the 70th Regiment, the 3rd New Jersey (Tory) Regiment, and a large naval force to approach from the opposite direction to support him.
On October 4, Ferguson learned that Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski and his Legion was was camped a few miles away with lax security. Capt. Gustav Juliet deserted to the British camp and revealed this information to Ferguson. Ferguson gathered a force of 250 of the 70th Regiment, the 3rd New Jersey (Tory) Regiment, and a large naval force to approach from the opposite direction to support him. They rowed, in the dark, some ten miles to what is now Osborne's Island. He then marched them a further two miles to the site of the infantry outpost, which comprised fifty men a short distance from the main encampment.
On October 5, at 4:00 A.M., the British and Tories charged into 3 houses and bayoneted 50 American troops; only five of his quarry were taken alive. Pulaski heard the commotion and arrived with his dragoons, rallied the survivors of the bayonet attack, and drove ferguson and his men back to their boats. Later, the Americans accused the british of committing a massacre, and the British commanders denied the charges.