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The Razing of Tinton Falls: 16 Dead in Waterfront Fighting Between Monmouth County Patriots and Loyalists

On June 10, 1779, a raiding party of about 100 Loyalists left British-controlled Sandy Hook and attacked Tinton Falls for the second time in six weeks, seeking guns, ammunition, food, supplies, and to arrest local leaders of the militia.  The village was caught completely by surprise; the raiders put houses and barns to the torch, rounded up militia leaders and placed them under arrest, and generally plundered the entire area, behaving “like wild or mad men.”  A group of militia caught up with the raiders as they were transferring their stolen goods and hostages to barges, and launched an ill-fated attack.  Lacking bayonets, the militia were no match when their ammunition ran low.  Fourteen militia and two Loyalists were killed in brutal hand-to-hand combat. The Loyalists escaped to Sandy Hook with their plunder and prisoners.

Why did this happen?  During the American Revolution, the ~12,000 residents of Monmouth County were about equally aligned with the opposing forces of the Continentals and their supporters, and the ruling British and their Loyalist supporters.  From 1776-1779, these residents turned against one another.  Armed groups arrested one another, and confiscated property, especially anything that could aid in the war effort.  In early 1777, supporters of the Revolution, aided by Contintental Army soldiers, succeeded in breaking up the organized Loyalists, who fled to the safety of Sandy Hook, which was controlled by the British for the entirety of the war.  But the Continental leaders felt the garrison at Tinton Falls was more of a target than disincentive, and they withdrew.  Loyalist parties, sometimes aided by Redcoat regulars, began conducting raids against the interior of Monmouth County, with reprisals from the Patriots.  Both sides engaged in property confiscation and sale, kidnapping, arson, and armed conflict. The attack on Tinton Falls of June 10, 1779, was one of hundreds of such incidents, but it is one of the best-documented such events.

Source: Adelberg, Michael S. (2010). The Razing of Tinton Falls: Voices from the American Revolution.  The History Press, Charleston, S.C.

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