The Reading Beatty Revolutionary War Journal

Raab announced today it has acquired the original, unpublished journal of officer and doctor Reading Beatty, participant in some of the great events at the start of the war. Beatty was present for the British invasion of Long Island, the fall of New York, and many more of the skirmishes and battles in that region from 1776 through 1777.

In late 1776, at Fort Washington, Beatty was captured. Much of the journal is devoted to life inside occupied New York.

In the past several decades, only a handful of first-hand accounts during the Revolutionary War have reached the public market. Most are penned after the events and are either reminiscences or copied from other draft journals that no longer exist. None relate to the major events covered in this journal, describing the capture of New York, fighting on Long Island, the arrival of Cornwallis and the retreat of the army toward New Jersey. Moreover, we found none penned from inside captivity, describing life as a POW.

 

A Great Historical Discovery

“Beatty’s diary is a find of high historical importance. I have never encountered a diary such as his. A journal written by a junior officer in the Continental army is rare and a first-person account of life during captivity in British-occupied New York City is rarer still. The combination gives a unique perspective on the events of the early part of the war in the New York City area. Such a unique account would be worthy of publication and would add to our corpus of knowledge on this era of the Revolutionary War.”

Benjamin L. Huggins, Associate Editor, the Papers of George Washington

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