Colonel Tye, the Black Loyalist, famed for his role in the Battle of Monmouth, locked horns with Joshua Huddy, the “Martyr of Old Monmouth,” at least once.
Colonel Tye, or Titus Cornelius, commanded the Black Brigade in support of the British during the Revolutionary War. Tye, a runaway slave, wielded an extraordinary knowledge of the Monmouth, New Jersey environs, where Joshua Huddy, formerly a petty criminal, was a Captain in the rebel Militia in
1779. Both men combined a superior understanding of skirmish strategy with rage; ruthlessly combative, their intent to kill was likely mutual.
Huddy led numerous, lethal guerrilla raids against the British, and Tye did the same against the Continental Army. Known for their unflinching, quick and bloody executions of the enemy, feared and hated by the opposition, rising to local infamy at the same time, Tye and Huddy were bound to meet on the field.
In September, 1780, Colonel Tye and over two dozen of his brigade attacked Huddy’s house in Colt’s Neck, New Jersey. With help from a servant, Huddy held Tye and the raiders at bay for two hours but, fed up, Tye had his men set fire to the house. Huddy agreed to surrender if the fires were put out. They closed the deal.
Colonel Tye took Huddy as prisoner, and intended to ship his captive out to the Loyalists in New York, who would presumably have either killed, or tortured and then killed, the dangerous Huddy. Patriots interrupted the plan, however, firing on the boat. It capsized. Although wounded in the fray, Huddy escaped with minor leg injuries.
Colonel Tye had been hit in the wrist with a musket ball during the raid on Huddy’s house. It may have seemed like a relatively minor injury at the time, but tetanus and gangrene from the untreated wound shortly killed him.
- Joshua Huddy was compared to Nathan Hale by the New York
Times. Both Patriots mustered bravery in the face of execution by the British. Hale, of course, uttered the legendary “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Joshua Huddy’s final words were less memorable, but the gist was that he “would die innocent and in good cause.”
- Tye, too, was acknowledged as a hero, even by the opposition. Many think of Colonel Tye as a “brave and courageous man whose generous actions placed him well above his white counterparts.”