Helen Kortright Brasher
My house became a battlefield in the American Revolution.
I was born in New York City in April 1739 and married Abraham Brasher. When the war came to New York in 1776, “our peaceful city became a garrisoned town” and women and children were ordered to leave. We all moved to Hackensack, and then Paramus. When Paramus became a post for our army, our house became “constantly filled with officers.”
Later, in April 1780, at about two in the morning, the British attacked and ordered us to “surrender or we will put you all to the bayonet.” The American troops in our house began firing their muskets out the garret windows, the British fired back, and “immediately the house was surrounded and [musket] balls flew in all directions.” I was panicked that my husband had been killed or captured but we found him “up and dressed in my mother’s room where he had hidden.” By now the house was on fire and my husband and I dragged my mother’s burning bed out of the house. “We had scarcely left the house before the roof fell in and all was in light flame. The British gave three cheers and left us.”
In 1783, at the end of the war, I was able to return to New York, to find my house was “racked, abused and filthy.” But we moved back in, and I died there in 1819.