Cornet Francis Geary (1752-1776), son of Admiral Sir Francis Geary, and a party of eight troopers of the 16th (Queen's) Light Dragoons were engaged in a scouting mission when fired upon by a party of local irregulars under the command of Capt. John Schenck of the 3rd Regiment Hunterdon Militia. Geary, the only casualty, fell in the first volley from the revolutionaries with a musket ball to his head. The remaining British troops scattered and returned to their lines.
The American company buried Geary in a shallow grave and divided his possessions amongst themselves. He had little on him at the time: a sword, watch, hat, coat, sash, boots, and other clothing.
The ambush resulted in British troops reducing the range of their scouting forays. This was crucial as the Americans were massing boats along the Delaware River prior to Washington's December 25, 1776 crossing to attack the British at Trenton. Geary's troops had been within five miles of the Malta Island staging area for the crossing.