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column had taken a wrong road; Burr came up and turned us to the left into a wood, and rode along the column from front to rear, encouraging the men, and led us out to the main army with very small loss.
"The coolness, deliberation and valor displayed by Major Burr, in effecting a safe retreat without material loss, and his meritorious services to the army on that day, rendered him an object of peculiar respect from the troops, and the particular notice of the officers.'
Both for impudence and courage, it was a notable exploit for a young man of twenty, but it received no mention in official dispatches. For himself, "if I have any plain metal buttons . I should be glad of them all," he wrote Sally in October. "If I have a pr. of leathern drawers send them, and two pr. of the coarsest on my winter stockings."
After the evacuation of New York, Major Burr remained on General Putnam's staff for some nine months, and then, in July, 1777, he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of Malcolm's Regiment-the youngest officer in the army to hold so advanced a rank, but the young man was not pleased. "I would beg to know," he complained to General Washington, "whether it was any misconduct in me, or any extraordinary merit or services in them, which entitled the gentlemen lately put over me to that preference?"
Malcolm's Regiment had been raised by a wealthy merchant of New York, a worthy patriot who made no pretensions to any military talent; so that when the new Lieutenant Colonel arrived at Ramapo, Mr.
Malcolm was only too pleased to withdraw from the command and leave the regiment to Burr. A strict disciplinarian, the acting Colonel nevertheless soon endeared himself to his men, by his personal generosity in providing for their comforts, and by certain modifications which he introduced in the prevailing punitive code. "I served in this regiment all the time it was under the command of Colonel Burr, being about two years," Judge Gardner of Newburgh afterwards related. "During the whole time he never permitted corporeal punishment to be inflicted in a single instance; yet no regiment in the army was under better discipline, and I doubt whether it was excelled by any one."
One of its most conspicuous exploits during that year was its repulse of a marauding expedition of some twenty-five hundred Tories under ex-Governor Tryon, who had invaded New York State from Connecticut and plundered their way through Orange County. The regiment was at Suffren's, in the Clove, and Colonel Burr marched immediately towards Hackensack with all his available men. they were on the march, Judge Gardner recalled, “an officer arrived by express from Major General Putnam, recommending or ordering Colonel Burr to retire with the public stores to the mountains; to which Colonel Burr replied that he could not run away from an enemy whom he had not seen, and that he would be answerable for the public stores and for his men."
They arrived at Paramus-Colonel Burr was often to come to Paramus in other days-and there were "considerable bodies of militia, in great alarm and disorder, and doing much mischief to the neighbor
Now reproduced for the first time from a drawing in pencil by Ramage, dated May 2, 1789. Courtesy of the Robert Fridenberg Galleries.
ing farms," but there was no definite news of the enemy. Colonel Burr put the militia to repairing the fences they had destroyed, set some guards and went forward with thirty men to reconnoiter. At ten o'clock that night they learned that they were within a mile of the enemy pickets. "Colonel Burr then led the men into a wood, and ordered them to sleep till he should awake them. Colonel Burr then went alone to discover the position of the enemy. He returned about half an hour before day and waked us, and told us that he was going to attack the picket of the enemy. That we had only to follow him, and then forbid any man to speak or to fire, on pain of death." After marching thirty miles the extraordinary man had apparently not slept at all himself.
"He led us between the sentinels in such a way that we were within a few yards of the picket guard before they suspected our approach. He then gave the word and we rushed upon them before they had time to take their arms, and the greater part were killed." They themselves had only lost one man. Colonel Burr then sent messengers to Paramus "to order all troops to move and to rally the Country. Our little success had so encouraged the inhabitants that they turned out with great alacrity and put themselves under the command of Colonel Burr. But the enemy, probably alarmed by these threatening appearances, retreated the next day, leaving behind the greater part of the cattle and plunder which they had taken."
But there was no pursuit, for "peremptory orders" had come "to join, without delay, the main army