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(Third Part) “The pleasure of their number”: Crisis, Conscription, and Revolutionary Soldiers’ Recollections (A Preliminary Study) Part III."He asked me if we had been discharged …” New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and North Carolina Levy Narratives

(Third Part) “The pleasure of their number”: Crisis, Conscription, and Revolutionary Soldiers’ Recollections (A Preliminary Study) Part III."He asked me if we had been discharged …” New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and North Carolina Levy Narratives

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Published by John U. Rees
A study of the use of a draft to fill Continental regiments during the War for American independence, 1776-1782
A study of the use of a draft to fill Continental regiments during the War for American independence, 1776-1782

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Published by: John U. Rees on Feb 18, 2013
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08/11/2015

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1
“ 
 The pleasure of their number
” 
 
Crisis, Conscription, and Revolutionary Soldiers’ Recollections
 
(A Preliminary Study)John U. ReesPart III.
 He asked me if we had been discharged …”
1
  New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and North Carolina Levy Narratives
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
George Dent, a 1778 2
nd
Maryland levy, recalled in his 19
th
century pension deposition,
“…
wewent into Winter quarters, by building huts, which we commenced on the day afterChristmas day & I think our Mess finished ours in eleven or twelve days - I done no moreservice in the Maryland line, except what I done at this place & was discharged there with
the others of my Countrymen, who were in the detachment with me ...”
2
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
New Jersey Levies Monmouth Battle and Subsequent 1778-79 Service.
On 28 June 1778the opposing armies met at Monmouth Courthouse. New Jersey troops played a minor role
in the battle, marching in the morning with Major General Charles Lee’s advance force, and
then countermarching towards Englishtown without firing a shot. Despite that experiencesome Jersey casualties were incurred during the withdrawal and subsequent afternooncannonade.
3
 
First Jersey private David Cooper recounted Lee’s advance and retreat; “On the morning
of the Battle we were marched within a Mile of Monmouth [and] there changed our 
direction & Marched to the ground where the battle was fought”; and the New JerseyBrigade’s position in the main battle line during the afternoon cannonade; “we were placed
on the extreme Left & in the rear of the first lines where we remained during the action &
then we went back to Englishtown …” John Ackerman, 1
st
Regiment, remembered of the
 battle, “his regement on that day was ordered by the Colo[nel] to retreat which was ef 
fected by passing through a morass [at Spotswood Middle Brook] in which he lost his shoes
 – 
 After retreating through this morass, his regement came to the road just as the troops under the immediate command of Gen Washington were passing
 – 
Gen Washington halted histroops, and the retreating Regement was immediately paraded having become disordered inretreating through the [morass] He well recollects that Gen Washington on that occasionasked the troops if they could fight and that they answered him with t
hree cheers …”
4
 Among other things James Jordan claimed to have witnessed the famous confrontation between General Lee and General George Washington, recalling that on 28 June, "they wereled on by Maxwell to attack the left Wing of the British and had a very severe engagement /this was probably about eight or nine OClock in the morning [we] had no breakfast nor anything to eat that day / the engagement was continued for some time when a retreat wasordered and fought all the way as they retreated back towards and past the Court House atMontmouth / After we had passed the Court House a little we were met by Gen. Washingtonwho came up with the Main Army riding a White Horse this petitioner was within a yard of him and heard him address Gen. Lee by as
king him ‘What is this you have been about today’ …”
5
 
2Several men told of wounds and immediate post-battle doings. William Todd, 2
nd
 
Jersey Regiment, stated he “received a wound from a Musket ball in his thigh during the
Engagement." In a supporting deposition his brother, George, recalled that at the time of the Monmouth battle he "was a soldier in the Militia, and understanding that his brother 
… was Killed in the battle he went in pursuit of him the day after and found him at
English Town about one mile & a half from the Battle Ground on duty as a soldier ..."
Samuel Leonard did not fare so well, having “received a severe wound in that battle the
twenty eighth of June: that on account of the said wound he was Confined to the hospitalfor about Eight months, that on the fifth day of March [1779] ... he was honorablydischarged ..." (muster rolls confirm Leonard was sick absent at Morristown from July1778 to January 1779). Nathaniel Lyon, a 4
th
New Jersey levy, related that "Gen. Maxwell's brigade was
not much exposed during the fighting. The night of the battle [he] … was
detached to assist in burying the dead, & the morning after was ordered to Princeton incharge of the sick. Remaining at Princeton about a week he went to join his company atElizabethtown ..." Frederick Van Lew was both succinct and comprehensive in his account,
“Washington Attacked them at Monmouth, and gain[ed] the victory over them it was on
sunday the hotest day he ever knew remained there two days after the battle, and then left
there for Elizabeth Town …”
6
 At least eight New Jersey levies were listed as casualties during the Monmouth campaignand battle; three wounded, three captured, and two missing. All five captured and missingmen returned to their regiments between mid-July and October 1778.
7
Save for British foraging operations around Hackensack in late September the
remainder of the men’s enlistment was relatively uneventful, spent garrisoning a line
from Newark to Spanktown, with Elizabethtown at the center. Peter Doty noted "a day or 
two after the Battle [they] Marched under General Maxfield to Elizabethtown … [and] they
went into the Barrax where he remained untill his nine months expired ..." James Jordan
“with his regiment, marched to Elizabeth Town ... [th
ey] lay there until Fall [when] Thesecond regiment of the Jersey Blues ... was ordered to New Ark in [New Jersey] ... to Winter 
Quarters ..." Levy William Todd told of being “Engaged while laying [at Elizabethtown] …
in one or two skirmishes with the Brit
ish … remembers while there of his being selected as
one who was sent over on Staten Island to take possession of a number of Guns Drums &c.of the British. After leaving Elizabeth Town marched with the Army to Hackinsack above New Ark ... The British at this time had possession of New York dont recollect how long hewas stationed at Hackensack but remembers while there they had several brushes with theBritish ..." The majority of levies were discharged in late February or March 1779, but at themoment of their departure the British staged a surprise attack on Elizabethtown in anunsuccessful attempt to capture New Jersey Governor William Livingston. One man
recalled the event in old age; Leonard Critzer was discharged at "Elizabeth town … the last
day of Feb. 1779 / on the following Morning [was] attacked by the enemy and drove them
into their boats and left the service and returned home ...”
8
In an odd exception to the rule William Strong was listed on the muster rolls as beginninghis nine-month service April 1
st
 
1779. Strong’s enlistment was delayed for some reason, as
noted in his pension statement: "he entered the Continental service under Captain [John]
Hollinshead in the second Jersey Regiment … he joined the Regiment at Newwark ... he
was under G
eneral Maxfield and … under [Major] General [John] Sullovan he [went on] the[1779] Indian expedeten … he served nine Months ..."
9
 
 
3Most New Jersey levies (71.8 percent) were discharged at the end of their nine-monthenlistment; desertions (9.86 percent) and reenlistments (also 9.86 percent) tied for second place in accounting for the men, while 1.5 percent died in service. Of the 670 Jersey Brigadelevies the fate of a small number (5.7 percent) remains unaccounted for.
10
New Jersey Brigade Strength, August 1778
1,690 enlisted men (670 nine-month men, 1,020 long-term soldiers)Levies comprised 39.7% of the whole.
Numbers of Levies Known to Have Left the BrigadeThrough Discharge, Desertion or Other Specific Causes
481 levies were discharged from service, most of them in February and March 1779.66 deserted from the brigade.10 died in service.2 wounded June 1778.2 missing in action June 1778.3 captured by the enemy in June 1778.66 men reenlisted in the New Jersey Brigade for three years or the war.1 man was discharged in February and reenlisted for the war in March.2 men reenlisted in the light dragoons.633 levies out of a total of 670 total are accounted for through discharge, desertion,enlistment, etc (37 men unaccounted for)
Reenlistment and New Jersey Post-1778 Service
.
 
Continental Army commanders’
entertained hopes early on that numbers of levies could be persuaded to reenlist for alonger term. New Jersey Brigadier General William Maxwell wrote General GeorgeWashington in mid-June 1778, "I believe we could Enlist several of the 9 Months Menduring the War but considering appearances at present and what they are to receive at theend of the war, I do not think there is any advantage in the proposal; they will have 20Dollars in hand, no more, & 100 Acres of land at the End of the war, which may possablyend before their 9 months is out ..."
11
In September the commander in chief wrote Congressregarding bounties and other inducements:
Tho' it is not expressed in the Resolution of [31 August] … that any other bounty is to be given to
the Men who engage for three years or during the War, than Twenty Dollars, I shall take it for granted they are to receive the usual allowances of Cloathing and Land. There are severalContinental Troops, whose time of service will expire at the end of the fall or during the Winter. I
… shall direct every necessary measure to be taken to reinlist them. From the exorbitant State,
Town and Substitute bounties, I am very doubtful whether Twenty Dollars will be found sufficientto engage so great a proportion, either of the Draughts or Continentals, as was at firstapprehended. Our failure in the enterprise against Rhode Island will have its weight and every day,from the approach of the fall and Winter, will add new difficulties. As it is a work of the mostessential importance, I will order it to be begun, the instant the Money arrives; and lest onexperiment, the sum should prove too small, I would submit it to Congress, whether it will not beexpedient to pass another Resolve, authorising a further bounty of Ten Dollars, to be used as

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