You are on page 1of 16

“The pleasure of their number”

Crisis, Conscription, and Revolutionary Soldiers’ Recollections

(A Preliminary Study)

John U. Rees

Part II.
"Fine, likely, tractable men."
Levy Statistics and New Jersey Service Narratives

Andries Davis, 2nd New York Regiment levy, ”... after laying at Valley Forge for some time,
the British who was in Philadelphia moved off - we … pursued them, overtook them at
Monmouth … when the rest of the Army was Engaged in the Battle, the [2nd] Regiment … was
kept in reserve in the edge of the woods – Major Fish came up and ordered us to prime and
Load as the Enemy were advancing - we did so ... when the order was given … Capt.
Lounsberry addressed [Private John] Van Demark (who was in his platoon and near him) and
asked him ‘How do you feel[?]’ he answered with great resolution ‘good’ …”1


1. Jersey and North Carolina Individual and Group Data

2. Levies’ Prior Service
3. Drafts and Substitutes
4. Mustering and Joining the Regiments.
5. The Monmouth Campaign, 19 to 27 June 1778

Gen. George Washington confronts Maj. Gen. Charles Lee during the morning events at
the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse, June 28, 1778.

Historian/philosopher Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) noted, “History is the essence of
innumerable biographies," a truism that nicely reflects the nine-month levies’
contribution to the American experience, and old soldiers’ pension narratives in general.
To emphasize this we will look at the larger events of 1778 through the microcosm of
New Jersey levies’ personal data, and several states’ soldiers’ late-life accounts.2
New Jersey provides an excellent 1778 levy case study, with comprehensive information
including many men’s physical attributes, trades, places of birth, and former military
service. For comparison, we have a small data set for North Carolina levies mustered at the
same time. The picture thus afforded of the soldiers’ persona and societal status is
invaluable, and largely available only by studying both descriptive lists and 19th century
pension accounts. To this can be added New Jersey muster roll data providing levies’
enlistments, discharges, extra duties, losses, desertions, and reenlistments.

Jersey and North Carolina Individual and Group Data. Levy Frederick Van Lew stated
that “during the … nine months service, in the first place [he] was taken to Princeton and his
name was taken down and he measured his height was then five feet eight inches …” All
New Jersey and North Carolina levies were examined after mustering and details such as
age, height, complexion, and race noted on descriptive rolls. One popular military manual
described “Young, active Men, from seventeen to twenty-five years of age … [not] taller
than six feet, nor lower than five feet, six inches and a half” as making “the most tractable
soldiers.” Recruits should also be free of “ruptures, scald heads, convulsion-fits, or other
extraordinary complaints …” One New Jersey man was rejected as "Unfitt for duty on acct.
of an old wound Rec.d in the Late War." In other cases the examiners were not too
particular. Twenty-year-old Abraham Harcourt was taken into the 2nd Regiment despite a
note that Brigadier General William Maxwell "objects too [him] as being to[o] small &
Lookg unhealthy." Harcourt reenlisted for the war in March 1779, but deserted the next
month. Another man, Nimeon Calder or Caldron, described as 40 years old and having "but
one eye," joined the 3rd New Jersey.3
Compiled New Jersey physical data reveals the greatest numbers of levies were between
the ages of sixteen and twenty (39 percent), and most were from five feet six to five feet
eight inches tall (33.4 percent). For comparison, age and height for sixty-seven Granville
County, North Carolina, levies were provided in twenty-five descriptive lists, all dated
May 25th 1778; 53.8 percent of the North Carolina men studied were under twenty-one
years of age, and most (49.3.percent) were five feet nine to five feet eleven inches tall.4

New Jersey Levy Age North Carolina Levy Age

Sample: 472 men Sample: 68 men
(70.5 % of 670 levies)
185 men 16 to 20 years (39 % of sample) 36 men 16 to 20 years (53.8 % of sample)
140 men 21 to 25 years (29 %) 21 men 21 to 25 years (31.4 %)
87 men 26 to 35 years (18 %) 8 men 26 to 33 years (12 %)
60 men 36 to 53 years (12.5 %) 3 men 40 to 44 years (4.5 %)

New Jersey Levy Height North Carolina Levy Height
Sample: 469 men Sample: 68 men
(70 % of 670 levies)
2 men 4’10” to 4’11” (.03 % of sample)
20 men 5’0” to 5’2” (3 %)
104 men 5’3” to 5’5” (15.6 %) 5 men 5’3” to 5’5” (7.5 % of sample)
224 men 5’6” to 5’8” (33.4 %) 27 men 5’6” to 5’8” (40.3 %)
102 men 5’9” to 5’11” (15.2 %) 33 men 5’9” to 5’11” (49.3 %)
17 men 6’0” to 6’2”) (2.6 %) 3 men 6’0” (4.5 %)

Occupations for sixty and race for sixty-four North Carolina levies were given:

49 planters* (including 4 blacks, 1 mulatto, and 1 half-Indian)

4 carpenters
3 blacksmiths
1 card maker
1 shoemaker
1 wheelwright
1 “possessed of several trades”

* farmer, possibly farm-worker

Of the North Carolina men fifty-four were white, five black (one with no trade), four
mulattoes (three with no trade), and one half-Indian.
Livelihoods of forty-seven New Jersey levies are also known,

14 laborers 10 shoemakers
6 farmers 4 weavers
3 tailors 2 carpenters
1 saddler 1 barber
1 gunsmith 1 cooper
1 "Currier" 1 "Marrine" [probably a seaman]
1 coach painter 1 schoolmaster

Race is noted, too, in New Jersey descriptions, revealing four mulatto and three Indian
levies. These are in addition to two black soldiers enlisted for the war in the 2nd Jersey and
approximately fifteen other blacks known to have served in other regiments of Maxwell's
Another document lists birthplaces for 112 New Jersey levies. While 78.5 percent were
American-born, the proportion of Jersey-born men was relatively high (64.4 percent).
Similar studies of other states would likely reveal differing proportions. Pennsylvania, for
example, would likely have a higher number of foreign-born men, while Massachusetts and
Connecticut seem to have had more stable populations and may have mirrored the New
Jersey case.

New Jersey Levies’ Birthplace
(Out of 112 for whom statistics are available)
78.5 percent American-born
21.5 percent foreign-born

88 American-born (as follows)

72 in New Jersey
7 listed generally as being in America
4 in Pennsylvania (Including 2 from Philadelphia)
3 in New York (Including 2 from Long Island)
1 in New England
1 in Maryland

24 foreign-born (as follows)

11 in Ireland
6 in England
2 in Scotland
3 in Germany
1 in Holland
1 in France

Most levies who provided their place of birth also gave the location of their home in
spring 1778; not surprisingly the majority resided in New Jersey, but nine men had out-of-
state residences, eight in Pennsylvania (including two in Bucks County, one in Philadelphia,
and one in Carlisle), and one in North Carolina.

Levies’ Prior Service. The l778 levies’ prior military service depended somewhat upon their
home state, but by and regardless, there was among the new men a leavening of men who
had spent time as regular soldiers or in field service as militia. Since the draft was generally
based on enrolled militia, most of that state’s nine-month men had served in the militia for
brief terms, including some combat experience. An examination of 266 New Jersey levy
pension depositions also reveals twenty-six former levies (9.5 percent) claiming prior
service in the Continental Army. The breakdown of levies with pre-1778 non-militia
military experience, including the men below, was nineteen men who served in the 1776
New Jersey battalions (eight in the 1st Jersey, one with 2nd Jersey, and ten with the 3rd), two
with Thompson's Rifle Battalion in 1775 and 1776, one each with the 3rd and 5th
Pennsylvania Battalions, and one with the 1st New York Battalion, all in 1776, plus one as
an artificer and one with the Pennsylvania State Navy.6
Twenty-three year old weaver Frederick Van Lew was typical, joining the 2nd Regiment
as a substitute on 28 May 1778, listed as a deserter in November, returned the next month,
and receiving his discharge on 28 February 1779. In 1775 Van Lew lived on Long Island
and served one month in the New York militia. On a visit to his family in New Jersey he
enlisted for five months in an unnamed regiment, claiming service at the Battle of Long
Island where “we had a tight engagement and there we had to swim a tide mill pond and
many of our men drowned in crossing the pond, [he] lost his rifle & coat in swimming the
pond, after crossing the pond we went to Cobble hill Fort about half or three quarters of a

mile distant … and there joined the army again.” Van Lew described his participation in the
Battle of White Plains, and of the Fort Lee evacuation he notes being on guard and
discovering “the River full of the boats of Brittish and as they landed deponent with his men
fired and immediately run for Fort Lee, when we came to the Fort [General] Washington
had left … with his Army, for Hackinsack in New Jersey, and only about seventy men
remained at the Fort of str[a]ggling appearance drinking liquor that was left by the sutlers,
deponent and his men filled their Cantines & left the Fort and went after the Army …” Also
claiming service in the Trenton and Princeton actions Van Lew noted “after the [Princeton]
battle was over, [he] left the Army and went to his Brothers in Montgomery Township
[Somerset County, New Jersey] ...” During 1777 he “became attached to the Militia ...
which was Classed One half went out for one month and then was relieved by the other half,
and so Alternately until the Close of the War, but deponent Enlisted for nine months
[in1778] … in the State troops and joined Washingtons Army …”7
Other men had interesting tales to tell. First New Jersey Regiment levy Joseph Stull said
his "first militia service … he thinks was in the year 1776 ... Was another tour out under
Capt. Ten Eyck [possibly Colonel Abraham Ten Eyck] and marched to Germantown in
Pennsylvania, was in the battle at Germantown. attacked a picket at Chestnut hill, near
Armitage tavern ... Lieut. [John] Brokaw of the same Company was killed by deponent's
side on the ground near the British picket... [He] enlisted for nine months ... in the spring
of the year 1778 ... was enrolled at Somerville and joined the army at Valley Forge. He
enlisted for his class who had to furnish a man for the term by requisition." Twenty-eight
year old Elijah Holcomb (4th New Jersey) enlisted in the 5th Pennsylvania Battalion in
February 1776, participated in the Battle of Long Island, and was captured at Fort
Washington in November, later making “his escape across the North River by swimming to
a boat in the River …” Philip Hornbaker (a.k.a. Baker, 2nd Jersey Regiment) "enlisted at
Carlisle in the state of Pennsylvania in the spring or summer of … 1775 … in the rifle
company commanded by Capt Wm. Hendrickson [Hendricks, Thompson’s Rifle
Battalion] … marched in said company from Carlisle to Boston … remained a few
months and then were marched for Quebeck in Canada under the command of Col
[Benedict] Arnold and [Daniel] Morgan ... after their arrival on Abrahams plains they
were joined by Genl. [Richard] Montgomery ... he was in the attack of Quebec when his
captain was killed and him the said deponent received a shot in the neck and was taken
prisoner and retained until the spring …”8
At least one levy, 24-year-old George Sinclair, saw sea service. In September 1776
Sinclair "at Philadelphia … entered the service of the United States ... to serve on board the
Frigate Washington commanded by Captain Thomas Reed for … one year as a common
sailor... after [receiving a] ... discharge [he] entered ... as a common sailor to serve during
one year on board the [Pennsylvania State Navy] fire ship called the Hell Cat commanded
by Captain Robert French / the Hell Cat was burnt at Mud Island fort [i.e., Fort Mifflin on
the Delaware River] … [he enlisted] a few weeks after [that] ... for one year as a steward on
board of the ship of war [Pennsylvania State Navy guard boat or half-galley] called the
Repulse at Mud Island fort … about two months after [he joined] ... this ship together with
the remainder of the american fleet there situated were abandoned & burnt by the Americans

Drafts and Substitutes. Twenty-six New Jersey levies with known occupations served as
substitutes for men who would not or could not serve. The New Jersey recruiting act
stipulated that each militia regiment was to be divided into "Classes of eighteen Persons in
each.” Each class was to furnish a volunteer; if none came forward the regiment’s officers
were "to detach by Lot one Person out of the said Class to serve." The drafted man was
given the option "to Serve himself or procure a Substitute to serve in his Stead." Fourteen of
the New Jersey substitutes were laborers while the remainder worked at various skilled
trades or professions, including the single schoolmaster. The preponderance of laborers may
indicate a shortage of unskilled work, possibly due to the area economy or seasonal
considerations, or merely that they were able to serve having no other obligations.10
The status of substitutes, and the drafted men in general, merits further discussion. A
system of substitutes for regular tours of militia duty had become commonplace by 1778,
so much so that some men may have earned a good portion of their living from substitute
bounties. The New Jersey General Assembly noted that the need to keep their militia
constantly in the field “in very considerable Numbers … has introduced the Practice of
giving such high Premiums to Substitutes that Recruiting is become almost impracticable in
the State and must so continue as long as the Enemy maintain their present Posts and our
Militia Constitute our Defense." Several states also had provisions whereby one or two
men could provide a substitute to serve in a Continental regiment for three years or the
war, thereby gaining exemption from militia service for the duration of his term. Drafted
men could find their own substitutes, or pay a fine, which was then used for that purpose.
In the case of New Jersey 1778 draftees, they needed to find their own stand-in within five
days of the draft notification. Substitutes not only received the forty-dollar state bounty,
soldier’s pay, and third of a dollar daily subsistence (this last until he joined his regiment),
but also was paid a sum of money decided by negotiating with the drafted man. Many
militia substitutes served in place of fathers, brothers, and other relatives; some of the
nine-month substitutes may have done the same.11
Substitutes and drafted men seem not to have been held in low esteem, Revolutionary
veterans in their pension depositions at least had no compunction telling of service in
either of those roles. Unfortunately we may never know how the long-term Continental
soldiers viewed nine-month men, and the bounties they received for their brief service,
but their Civil War counterparts’ attitude gives some indication. Union volunteer soldiers
were mortified by the system of substitutes, men who received $300.00 and up for
serving in a draftee’s stead.12 Some troops took it out on the substitutes themselves but
others waxed philosophical on the matter. Vermont Private Wilbur Fisk noted late in
1863, “Boys that have served so far through the war without any bounty or extra
compensation whatever, are apt to be envious of those more favored, and to refuse that
cordial sympathy to them in time of need, that they would cheerfully render to one of
their own comrades … Perhaps this is wrong, but it is a fact nevertheless …13 In June
1865, after hearing rumors that veteran volunteer soldiers would be kept in the post-war
army, Fisk evinced a more sympathetic point of view,

The luckiest fellows in this war appear to be those who enlisted previous to October 1st
[1864] for one year. Many of these get enormous bounties as substitutes, reaching as high
as $1500 in all, and in some instances that I have known to two thousand. Now these
fellows happen to come among those who are to go home first, before they have hardly
found out what real soldiering is, or become hardened to it. One of the clerks at Dr.

Parker’s headquarters was telling me … of one who got his discharge day before
yesterday, and is now on his way rejoicing. He got sixteen hundred dollars bounty for
coming out here, and was with his regiment only three weeks when he was taken sick and
sent to the hospital, and here he has been ever since. By some clever diplomacy, which
the rest of us cannot equal, he managed to get a bona fide discharge from the hospital,
enabling him to go home at once. We don’t blame a man who intends to be a soldier for
taking whatever of money may be given him as a bounty, for a man can’t live in this
world without his bread and cheese, and it takes money to buy these; nor is a man’s good
luck in getting his discharge and getting home a thing to be censured …14

Continental soldiers may also have been lenient, especially since they likely knew numbers
of the draftees and substitutes they served with. That likelihood was mitigated by the fact
that soldiers who enlisted for three years or the war before February 1778 received a twenty
dollar bounty plus 100 acres of land at war’s end, while New Jersey levies received forty
dollars for their 1778 nine-months service, and North Carolina volunteers were given a one
hundred dollar bounty, drafted men fifty. Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York levies
received no bonus.15

Mustering and Joining the Regiments. A short time after the New Jersey special
recruiting law was passed on 3 April 1778 provisions for a draft were put into effect. Militia
regiments were mustered the same month and divided into eighteen-man classes. The actual
mechanics of the New Jersey draft lottery is unknown. Pennsylvania citizens chosen for
militia service in 1777 were “Serv’d with notice according to Law”; in several instances
notices were given to a man’s wife, “left at his lodging,” or “left with his Negro.”16
Massachusetts men drafted in 1778 were sent notifications, as follows:

To Mr. James Cook17

Sir. With the advice of the Military Officers Select men and Committee of this Town you are
Draughted to do Eight months Sarvice in the Continantal Army from this Date; and you are
to furnish your Self for Camp and be in reddiness forthwith to Muster and to March When
and Where Ordered or otherwise you are to pay a fine fifteen pounds in Twenty four hours
from the time of your being Draughted –
New Salem April 17th 1778 William Page

Historian Paul Lutz noted that some officials were sympathetic when men gave good
reason for not serving. In one case drafted New York farmer Joseph Depuy explained his
failure to serve as “solely owning to these Reasons, Viz.: He having Last Year Met with the
Misfortune of Loosing his Barn by a Flash of Lightning, and with Much Difficulty and Hard
Labour got the Timber for a New Barn which at the time of his being ordered out, wanted
four Days work of a Carpenter … and said Carpenter Could by No Means Stay Longer with
him and if did not imbrace the then oppertunity had Not the Least prospect of Having a Barn
this Season and further Says that his Wife was very ill and himself very Subject to the
Rheumetism …” Initially Depuy was fined fifteen pounds, but the court record states, “The
Governor Considering the Case of Joseph Depuy & his late Misfortunes remits the
After the required number of volunteers, drafts, and substitutes were collected they were
probably given a short time to put their affairs in order, after which small detachments were
formed, descriptive lists compiled, and the men sent on to join their units. Militia officers

were appointed to conduct the New Jersey levies to camp where they were received and
signed for by Jacob Dunn, state recruiting agent. Since half of the New Jersey Brigade was
at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and the remainder stationed in New Jersey, state authorities
decided that recruits could join at either location, and in any Jersey regiment they chose.
Quite naturally, this meant that relatives, friends, and neighbors tended to join the same
Having enrolled in one of the four New Jersey regiments the new men were distributed
among each unit’s eight companies in preparation for the upcoming campaign. The 1st
Regiment left Valley Forge for New Jersey on May 8th to join the 2nd Jersey Regiment,
which had been in their home state since late March. The 3rd and 4th Regiments marched
from Valley Forge on the 26th, and the New Jersey Brigade was reunited at or near Mount
Holly before month’s end.20
These experiences were exciting for the men, so much so that in later years some former
levy soldiers seeking pensions left vivid accounts of their 1778 service, several quite long,
most brief vignettes, many giving details that would otherwise have been lost. One man,
Benjamin Peachey, was "enlisted under a Capt [Jonathan] Beasley who was a recruiting
officer, and from whom he was transfered to another Capt[ain] whose name he has now
forgot and from whom he was transfered to Capt Wooling [Thomas Walling, New Jersey
militia?] and all the time in the Regt. commanded by Col. Isreal Shreve..." First New Jersey
levy Joseph Stull “enlisted for his class who had to furnish a man for the term by requisition
…”; he “was enrolled at Somerville and joined the army at Valley Forge." Philip Hornbaker
remembered “A man was drafted to serve in the Militia nine months but I cannot recollect
his name, I went for this man as a substitute in a company commanded by Captain John
Petty ... and was in the battle at Monmouth Court House," and Cornelius Rickey stated that
"about the last of April in the year 1778 being sixteen or seventeen years old ... [he] entered
the service ... as a substitute and a private soldier, hired for nine months by a class of
eighteen, and was then living in Bernards town Somerset County, New Jersey. He joined
the [3rd Jersey Regiment] … when it was stationed at Valley Forge ... In about three weeks
... the American army began its march to English town N.J." John Ackerman recalled
enlisting “on the 18 of May [1778] with Christopher Van Deventer, Garlin Ackerman,
Enoch Dunham, John Overt, George Overt, John Freeland, Isaac Blanchard, Garret Nephis,
and served in the first Jersey Regiment ... he first marched after enlisting from Brunswick to
Foster town near Mt Holly - from thence to English town where he arrived on Saturday
preceeding the Battle of Monmouth, and from thence to the Battle ..."21
While the new men began joining the New Jersey regiments in early May, the greatest
number (530) arrived between 21 May and 14 June; one man reached the brigade on August
26th 1778, and the last levy, William Strong, did not join until April 1779.22

New Jersey Brigade Tally for Joining from May to August 1778

(612 levies accounted for out of 670 total)

40 levies joined between 1 May to 20 May (inclusive)

533 levies joined between 21 May and 14 June
39 levies joined between 15 June to 26 August

Once assimilated the levies had to be clothed and equipped, 2nd Regiment Colonel Israel
Shreve noting on 29 May,

The Nine months Levys are Comeing in unarmed, 30 Arrived yesterday, 100 more on their
march for the first Regt., 46 are on their way from the Cumberland. [The] Salem Quoto will join
in six Days, part of [the] Burlington Quoto will join me in a few Days - so from the present
appearance the first and second Regts. will soon be Nearly full. Colo. [Matthias] Ogden Waited
upon Governor [William] Livingston for Arms, was inform'd by the Governor, those leavys
Could not be armed by the State. At least 300 stand of Arms Compleat [are needed]. I would not
wish to Draw one Arm more than Can Immediately be put into Good mens hands ... The Great
Neglect in provideing Cloathing for our Brigade has been such that our troops suffer Greatly on
this Account … The Counties are provideing for the New Rais'd Leavys while the old soldiers
Inlisted for the war Are Quite Neglected. If any such things [i.e., shirts] are in the Cloathier Gen.
store, it would Oblige us to Obtain an order from your Excy. for at least one apeice which will be
about 600 for both Regts. or a Less Number if so many Can't be had. I shall Watch the Motion of
the Enemy and Endeavour to Give your Excy. the Earliest Intelligence." (For a detailed study of
New Jersey levy clothing see, Rees, "'The Great Neglect in provideing Cloathing':Uniform
Colors and Clothing in the New Jersey Brigade During the Monmouth Campaign of 1778"
(part 2),

General George Washington notified General Maxwell on May 29th concerning muskets
“I cannot supply you ... All the unarmed Men are to march, as they will meet Arms coming
from the Eastward." Five days later Maxwell replied, "I have ... got the Arms from Easton,
[and] is now divideing them out. I hope the Jersey Brigade will cut a good figure shortly."
Some levies used their own clothing and equipment, for which the state reimbursed them.
George Sinclair carried into service a musket and bayonet, cartridge box, knapsack, and
blanket, and Captain Jonathan Phillips wrote Colonel Shreve that “Fredrick Van-Lew &
three others who are with him are Compleat with armes and Acqutomets [accoutrements]
Equipment shortfalls continued to pose a problem, the Jersey Brigade commander writing
on 5 June, “I have heard there was some Cartridge Boxes at Trenton and [have] sent for
them if they have not been sent away. I expect them here today." Sufficient supplies still had
not been procured by the 28 June Monmouth battle. Concerning the pre-battle planning
session Maxwell later testified that “General Washington … mentioned, that something
might be done by giving them a very brisk charge by some of the best troops ... [he]
mentioned something about my troops, that some of them were new, and the want of
cartouch boxes, and seemed to intimate that there were some troops fitter to make a
charge than them."25
The troops, old and new, had to be readied for the upcoming campaign in other ways.
Training in the army’s new system of discipline, called "the Prussian Exercise” by Brigade
Inspector Major Joseph Bloomfield, had begun in April for the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Jersey
Regiments. Bloomfield noted that after the brigade was reunited in New Jersey he was
"Engaged ... in Exercising the Brigade & introducing the Baron de Steubens Instructions."26
While some levies had seen previous Continental Army service, or had been in small-unit
militia actions, for many their first experience of a large-scale military campaign occurred
within a month of their joining the army. On the morning June 18th General Sir Henry
Clinton's British and German forces commenced their march across New Jersey, starting off
from the Delaware River, opposite Philadelphia. Major Bloomfield noted in his journal for

that day, "whilst the officers of the [Jersey] Brigade & Gentn. of the Town were feasting on
Turtle & Punch &c. &c…. Information was brought that the Enemy were advancing."27

At least ninety of the New Jersey levies are known to have worn their own clothing and
equipment during their 1778 term of service. If civilian coats were accepted for use by the
new levies, then at least some serving with Maxwell's Brigade wore clothing similar to that
illustrated here. (Photo courtesy of Antoine Randolph Watts)

The Monmouth Campaign, 19 to 27 June 1778. The most intense experience for those
levies who joined in time was the June 1778 Monmouth Campaign and its culminating
battle. On May 26 General Washington had written Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, "There are
now at least 2500 Men, consisting of those whose Arms are out of repair, and the Levies of
New York, New Jersey … and Maryland, who are unable to do duty for want of Arms.”
Thus we know that levies from those three states served during the Monmouth campaign. It

is also likely that at least some Massachusetts levies joined their regiments in time for the 28
June battle.28
Excepting perhaps New Jersey militia, the Jersey Continentals saw more action during the
Monmouth Campaign than any other troops, especially during the eight days opposing the
British march towards Freehold. Levy private Abraham Voorhies, 1st New Jersey, noted
“several skirmishes with the enemy toWitt at the draw Bridge at Mount Holly Crosswicks
and several other places," while Peter Doty remarked that "they were constantly on the
March and countermarch for three weeks after leaving Valley Forge …” David Cooper, also
with the 1st Regiment, recalled “we joined the Jersey Brigade ... at Mt. Holly where we
remained about three weeks untill the British crossed the Delaware / we were then ordered
to march in their advance towards Bordentown throwing all possible obstructions in their
way by tearing down Bridges felling trees &c &c When we crossed the Draw Bridge west
of Bordentown & after cutting it almost down we entrenched on the West side of
Crosswicks Creek & remained about 4 hours when we heard firing in another direction we
then had orders to march & went on through the country to English Town where we stayed
3 days This was 3 Miles from the Battle ground at Monmouth …” Cornelius Rickey of the
3rd Regiment told of marching towards Englishtown, that “While on this march [he], in a
detachment of about 150 men, was in a skirmish with the Brittish at a bridge near
Heightstown intending to impede the progress of the enemy ..." Levy Nathaniel Lyon
provided the interesting detail that while two New Jersey regiments opposed the British
march "Two regiments, of which his [the 4th New Jersey] was one, marched around through
Trenton, [and] Maidenhead, [to] English Town & so forward to Monmouth …”29
Second New Jersey levy James Jordan gave a vivid picture of the hurly burly of the
British advance and small party harassment operations:

after entering the service he was marched from Valley Forge to Mount Holly / the British
drove us out of Mount Holly and we retreated to the Black Horse ten Miles from Mt. Holly
and there encamped / this was ... about the first of June [1778] … they went into a Quaker
Meeting house for the purpose of staying all night the whole regiment was there / about the
middle of the night the British came and surrounded the Meeting house … we retreated out
of the Back door of the Meeting house and through the grave yard to a town in New Jersey
called Crossicks four miles from the Black Horse / this retreat was performed in the night /
In the morning there was a command [i.e., detachment] ordered to watch the motion of the
enemy to see which way they would come he [Jordan] was included in this command / in the
morning following they were compelled to retreat from before the enemy in a swamp …
they were chased by the enemy light horse for three days before the command which was
separated from the regiment ... came up with the regiment / on this retreat there were three
men lost in this flanking party …30

Several levies made themselves useful in other ways, as General Maxwell informed
Washington on June 5th: "There is two of the 9 months Men joyned me with their Horse and
Accoutriments, they expect something extraordinary for their Horse &ca ... I believe several
more would equip them selves and joyn the Brigade had they any encouragement." Along
with some militia light horse these men served as Maxwell’s eyes and ears during the
The final section of this series will conclude New Jersey narratives of the Monmouth
battle and subsequent service, and close with selections from Massachusetts, New York,
Maryland, and North Carolina levy pension depositions.

(Note: For an excellent account of the Monmouth Courthouse campaign and battle see,
Mark Edward Lender and Garry Wheeler Stone, Fatal Sunday: George Washington,
the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle (Norman, Ok.: University of
Oklahoma Press, 2016)
Pension accounts provide only a narrow view of the Monmouth Campaign, anyone
wishing a detailed treatment of those events may examine, "’What is this you have
been about to day?’: The New Jersey Brigade at the Battle of Monmouth”
(narrative and appendices) )


1. Andries Davis deposition (S12742); Index of Revolutionary War Pension Applications in

the National Archives (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1976), copies of
depositions and related materials in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land
Warrant Application Files (National Archives Microfilm Publication M804), Records
of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15, National Archives at
Washington, D.C.
2. Thomas Carlyle, On History, quoted in Winston S. Churchill, Marlborough: His Life
and Times, Henry Steele Commager, ed. (New York, N.Y., 1968), xxvii-xxviii.
3. Frederick Van Lew deposition (S23035), Pension Files, Natl. Archives. " Bennett
Cuthbertson, Esq., System for the Compleat Interior Management and Oeconomy of a
Battalion of Infantry (Dublin: Grierson, 1768), 56,57, 63. A List of Recruits Rais'd 1st
Regt. foot Militia Comded by Coll John Munson in Morris County … Who are to serve
Nine months … June 5th 1778," "A List of Recruits Recd from Coll Summers 3d. Regt. Of
Foot Militia of Gloucester County June 7th 1778,” "... the Second Regt. of Foot Militia in
Hunterdon County ... May 21, 1778," New Jersey State Archives [Trenton] Revolutionary
War Manuscripts (Numbered), Military Records, reel 5807861909, document 3638; reel
5798831908, documents 3602, 3609, 3610.
4. “A Descriptive List of the … men raised under the Present Act of Assembly in …
Company” (fifteen sheets), Granville County, N.C., 25 May 1778, Military Collection, War
of the Revolution, North Carolina State Archives (Raleigh), Box 4, Continental Line, 1775-
1778, Folder 40. New Jersey levy data was compiled from the following documents:
1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th New Jersey (Continental) regiment muster rolls, 1778, Revolutionary
War Rolls, National Archives Microfilm Publication M246, Record Group 93, reels 55-
62. "A list of Men Inlisted by the several Classes of the first Regiment of Monmouth Militia
to Serve as Soldiers during the Term of Nine Months ...," ibid., reel 63, section 60. New
Jersey levy descriptive lists, 1778, NJ Archives, Revolutionary War Manuscripts:
Reel 5798831908: document nos. 3589, "... the Cape May Battalion ...," 8 May 1778; 3592
& 3593, "... 2nd Battalion of Militia in the County of Cumberland ... May 25th 1778," lists
James Delap and William Holmes as Indians; 3595, "... Second Regiment of Essex County
Militia ..."; 3600, "... the first Regiment of Malitia in the State of New Jersey in Essex
County & Township of Elizabeth ... May 2d: 1778"; 3601& 3602, "... 3 Battalion of
Glocester County Militia ... 29 day of May 1778"; 3607, "A Return of the Remaind[er] of
men Raised in the third Battalion of Hunterdon Militia ... June 3d 1778."; 3606, "A List of
Recruits raised in the third Regt of foot Militia ... in Hunterdon County ... May 27, 1778.";

3608, "... Coll. Taylor's [4th] Battalion of Hunterdon Militia ...," lists James Array and
Samuel Peterson as mulattoes.
Reel 5807861909: document nos. 3609 & 3610, "... Second Regt. of Foot Militia in
Hunterdon County ... May 21, 1778"; 3614, "A List of Recruits from the 1st Regt of Militia
in Hunterdon County … Commanded by Col. Joseph Phillips who are to Serve Nine months
… May 28 1778," lists Thomas Case as a mulatto; 3615, "... Col. Joseph Phillips's Regiment
of Hunterdon County ..."; 3616, "... 3d Battalion of Hunterdon Militia ... May 27th. 1778";
3619 & 3634, "... Col. Websters [1st] Battallion of Middlesex Malitia ... this 11th. Day of
May 1778 ..."; 3622, "... Second Battalion of Middlesex Militia"; 3625, "... Third Battalion
of Monmouth Militia ... the 3rd Day of April 1778 ..."; 3634, "... Col. Samuel Forman's Regt.
of Mon[mou]th Militia ...," lists William Cuffey as an Indian; 3638, "A List of Recruits
Rais'd 1st Regt. foot Militia Comded by Coll John Munson in Morris County … Who are to
serve Nine months … June 5th 1778"; 3644 & 3646, "... first Regiment of Salem County
Militia ..."; 3651, "A List of Recruits raisd in 2d Regiment of foot militia Comanded by
Coll. Benj Helms in Salem County … June 2d 1778"; 3655, "... Second Battalion of the
County of Somerset ... May 1st 1778"; 3652, "... first Regt of Salem County militia ... June
10th. 78"; 3660, "... Second Batalion of Sussex County Militia ..."; 3663, "... 3d Battal. of
Sussex County ..."
(Muster rolls listing levy occupations, bounties paid, etc.)
Reel 5798831908, document no. 3587, "A List of Recruits rais'd for the Jersey Brigade in
the first Regiment of the Militia of Burlington County, New Jersey, who have inlisted for 9
Months, agreeable to a late Act of the Legislature of said State," lists arms and equipment
procured by each man, also lists Amos Thompson as a mulatto.
Reel 5807861909, document nos.3617, "A Pay Roll of the Draughts from Col: David
Chambers Battalion of the Hunterdon Millitia for the Nine Months Service," lists bounties,
subsistence "to joining the regmt.," milage and "Value of Clothing" paid the men; 3620,
"List of Substitutes for 9 Months, belonging to the third Battalion Middlesex Militia of N.
Jersey ..."; 3638, "A List of Recruits Rais'd 1st Regt. Foot Militia Comded by Coll John
Munson in Morris County State … June 5th 1778"; 3655, "... Second Battalion of the County
of Somerset ... May 1st 1778"; 3657, "Roll of two men from the 2 Battn of the County of
Somerset ... May 1 1778," actually lists three men and their occupations.
5. John U. Rees, “’An old colored man …’: Blacks, Mulattoes, and Indians Known to Have
Served in the 2nd New Jersey Regiment, 1778-79,” appendix in "I Expect to be stationed
in Jersey sometime ...": An Account of the Services of the Second New Jersey Regiment:
part I, December 1777 to June 1778 (1994), unpublished TMs, copy in the collections of
the David Library of the American Revolution, Washington Crossing, Pa.. See also,
Richard S. Walling, Men of Color at the Battle of Monmouth June 28, 1778: The Role of
African Americans and Native American at Monmouth (Hightstown, N.J.: Longstreet
House, 1994)
6. John U. Rees, "`From thence to the Battle ...': Gleanings from the Pension Depositions
of the Soldiers of the New Jersey Brigade for 1778," appendix in Rees, "I Expect to be
stationed in Jersey sometime …”
7. Frederick Van Lew deposition (S23035), Pension Files, Natl. Archives.
8. Elijah Holcomb (S41654), Philip Hornbaker (S2363), Joseph Stull (S23953), ibid.
9. George Sinclair (S40438), ibid. Thomas Reed was appointed captain on 6 June 1776 of
one of “four ships building in Philadelphia”; his appointment to the frigate Washington was

confirmed on 12 June 1776. The Washington was launched August 7th 1776. William James
Morgan, ed., Naval Documents of the American Revolution, vol. 5 (Washington, D.C.:
Government Printing Office, 1970), 397-398, 497, 1020n. John W. Jackson, The
Pennsylvania Navy, 1775-1781: The Defense of the Delaware (New Brunswick, N.J., 1974),
20, 197, 340, 343, 348.
10. “Act for the speedy and effectual recruiting of the four New-Jersey Regiments in the
Service of the United States," 3 April 1778, “Acts of the General Assembly of the State of
New-Jersey ... begun at Trenton on the 28th Day of October 1777 ...” (Burlington, N.J.,
1778), 64-71, William Sumner Jenkins, ed., Records of the States of the United States of
America: A Microfilm Compilation, (Washington: Library of Congress, 1949), A.3, reel
1, 1775-1776. "List of Substitutes for 9 Months, belonging to the third Battalion Middlesex
Militia of N. Jersey ...," NJ Archives, Revolutionary War Manuscripts, reel 5807861909,
document no.3620, lists twenty-eight substitutes and their occupations: sixteen laborers, one
schoolmaster, four shoemakers, one gunsmith, one saddler, one taylor, one barber, one
weaver, and one carpenter.
11. Statement of the New Jersey Legislative Council and General Assembly, 3 April 1778,
The Papers of the Continental Congress 1774-1789, National Archives Microfilm
Publications M247 (Washington, DC, 1958), reel 82, April 3, 347-349.
In America Goes to War Charles Neimeyer discusses soldiers as wage earners and their view of
bounties and pay. He noted “Washington stated that it was ‘fruitless’ to attempt to enlist soldiers
on the bounty offered by Congress, ‘as the Sums given for substitutes in the Militia, induces all
those, who would otherwise have gone into Continental service, to prefer a line in which neither
duty nor discipline is severe; and which they have a chance of having the bounty repeated three or
four times a year.’” General Washington wrote to the President of Congress in September 1776,
regarding pay and bounties for short-service soldiers before the institution of long-term
enlistments, “It is vain to expect, that any (or more than a trifling) part of this Army will again
engage in the Service on the encouragement offered by Congress. When Men find that their
Townsmen and Companions are receiving 20, 30, and more Dollars, for a few Months Service,
(which is truly the case) it cannot be expected; without compulsion; and to force them into the
Service would answer no valuable purpose.”
Charles Patrick Neimeyer, America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army
(New York and London: New York University Press, 1996), 116-126, 129. "An Act for
completing the four Battalions of this State in the Continental Service," passed at
Haddonfield, New Jersey, 28 May 1777, stated that "any two of the Militia who shall
enlist, or cause to be enlisted, one able-bodied healthy Recruit for any of the eight
Companies of any of the four Battalions of this State in the Continental Army, shall be
exempted from actual Service in the Militia during the Term of such Enlistment ... and
provided that their Freedom from actual service shall not be construed to extend to an
Exemption from Trainings according to the Militia Act, or from doing Duty in case of an
Alarm or Invasion within the several Counties in which they may respectively reside."
These two persons "shall be discharged from the Payment of the Tax to which, by the
aforesaid Militia Act, they are subject to on Account of their Exemption: And shall also,
should the Cause of their Exemption cease, be freed from actual Service as aforesaid,
during the Term of the Enlistment of such Recruit, any Law to the contrary
notwithstanding." “Acts of the General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey At a Session
begun at Princeton on the 27th Day of August 1776 ...” (Burlington, N.J.,1777), 52,
William Sumner Jenkins, ed., Records of the States of the United States of America: A

Microfilm Compilation, (Washington: Library of Congress, 1949), B.2., reel 4, 1776-
1788. A February-March 1778 return of substitutes for the 2nd New Jersey lists twelve
pairs of men, each of which couple procured a substitute for Continental service,
Jonathan Phillips, "A Return of those Persons for which I have received Substitutes,
together with the Names of the Several Substitutes so received by me, & the time of their
enlistment," February/March 1778, Israel Shreve Papers Alexander Library, New Jersey
Room, Special Collections, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. A “General
Return of the First Battalion [Philadelphia militia], when Called into Actual Service”
included “Private Substitutes” who evidently were procured by the drafted citizens
themselves. Thomas Lynch Montgomery, ed., Pennsylvania Archives, 6th series, vol. I
(Harrisburg: Harrisburg Publishing Co., State Printer, 1906), 35-52. Hannah Benner
Roach, “The Pennsylvania Militia in 1777,” The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine,
vol. XXIII, no. 3 (1964), substitutes, 162, 163, 165. Samuel Woodruff (Connecticut),
William Hutchinson (Pennsylvania), John Taylor (North Carolina), and John Suddarth
(Virginia) all told of serving as substitutes, while Edward Elley of Virginia admitted to twice
hiring a substitute to serve for him. Additionally, three of these men served in place of a
brother or father. John C. Dann, ed., The Revolution Remembered: Eyewitness Accounts
of the War for Independence (Chicago, 1980), 100, 151, 205, 234-238.
12. Eugene C. Murdock, One Million Men: The Civil War Draft in the North (Madison:
The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1971), 5-7. For the 1863-65 draft, bounties,
and substitutes see also James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
(New York: Ballantine Books, 1988), 600-606.
13. Emil and Ruth Rosenblatt, eds., Hard Marching Every Day: The Civil War Letters of
Private Wilbur Fisk, 1861-1865 (Lawrence, Ka., 1992), 183.
14. Ibid., 331.
15. Carl Van Doren, Mutiny in January (New York: Viking Press, 1943), 16.
Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina draft statutes are
cited in part one of this series, “’Filling the Regiments by drafts from the Militia.’ The
1778 Recruiting Acts,” ALHFAM Bulletin, vol. XXXIII, no. 3 (Winter 1999), 23-34.
16. Six 1777 Philadelphia militia returns noted “Proper Notices” delivered or attempted
to the men listed, Thomas Lynch Montgomery, ed., Pennsylvania Archives, 6th series,
vol. I (Harrisburg: Harrisburg Publishing Co., State Printer, 1906), 53-56. Hannah Benner
Roach, “The Pennsylvania Militia in 1777,” The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine,
vol. XXIII, no. 3 (1964), draft notifications, 165.
17. Paul V. Lutz, “Greetings, or, Do I Feel a Draught?,” American Heritage, vol. 17, no. 5
(August 1966), 112.
18. Ibid.
19. "A Descriptive Roll of Volunteers ... from the first Regiment of Salem County Militia
...," NJ Archives, Revolutionary War Manuscripts, reel 5798831909, document #3646; this
roll of seventeen men was signed by Lieutenant Aaron Day, 3rd New Jersey Regiment, who
stated that he had "Recd [at] Mount holly June 10th. 1778 in behalf of Major Dunn Agent
For New Jersey State (for Recieving the Recruits raised by said State for Nine Months) all
of the above men, except John Kelly Robert Campbill and John Grimes …” George
Washington to Israel Shreve, 23 May 1778, John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George
Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, vol. 11 (Washington: GPO,
1934), 436.

20. Locations of the four New Jersey regiments in May 1778 are discussed in the chapters
titled “Reinforcements and Alarms: The Actions of Brigadier General William Maxwell
and the Remainder of the Jersey Brigade, May 7 to May 24, 1778” and “The Jersey
Brigade is Reunited: May 28 to June 19, 1778,” in Rees, "I Expect to be stationed in
Jersey sometime …,” 50-55, 67-69.
21. Longstreet's Co., 1st New Jersey, contained 27 Middlesex County levies, 17from
Monmouth County, 5 Somerset County, and 2 Hunterdon County. All the men who
enlisted with John Ackerman served in Longstreet’s Company, viz.,
(1st Battalion Middlesex militia) John Ackerman, Enoch Dunham
(2nd Battalion Middlesex militia) Garlin Occerman (Garlin Ackerman), John
OBart, George OBart (Overt), Garret Nafey (Garret Nephis)
(Middlesex County militia) Christopher Drum, Christr. V. Deventer (Van
(1st Regiment Monmouth militia) John Freland
One of the men, John Vreeland (Freland), stated in his pension papers "his parents were low
Dutch, that when he was in the Army ... he was called Freland, and is usually called
Freeland by the English people ... he enlisted in the [1st New Jersey Regiment] ...Capt.
Longstreet commanded the Company but being taken prisoner Capt. (or Lieut.) Vories
[Peter Van Voorhees] had Command - that he (Vorees) was inhumanly killed by a
detachment of the British light horse [actually Loyalists, 26 October 1779] ... he [Vreeland]
was Cattridge maker …" 1st New Jersey Regiment, Longstreet’s Company, 1778 muster
rolls, Revolutionary War Rolls, Natl. Archives, reels 55-57. John Vreeland (Freland)
(S43216), Pension Files, Natl. Archives.
22. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th New Jersey (Continental) regiment muster rolls, 1778, Revolutionary
War Rolls, Natl. Archives, reels 55-62.
23. Israel Shreve to Washington, 29 May 1778, George Washington Papers, Presidential
Papers Microfilm (Washington, DC, 1961), series 4, reel 49.
24. Washington to William Maxwell, 29 May 1778, Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington,
vol. 11 (1934), 478-479. John U. Rees, "'The Great Neglect in provideing Cloathing':
Uniform Colors and Clothing in the New Jersey Brigade During the Monmouth
Campaign of 1778," Military Collector & Historian, vol. XLVI, no. 4. (Winter 1994), 63-
170, and vol. XLVII, no. 1 (Spring 1995), 12-20.
25. William Maxwell to Washington, 5 June 1778, GW Papers, series 4, reel 49. Testimony
of Anthony Wayne, and William Maxwell, "Proceedings of a General Court Martial ...
for the Trial of Major General Lee. July 4th, 1778 ...," The Lee Papers, vol. III, 1778-
1782, Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1873 (New York,
1874), 4, 89-94.
26. Mark E. Lender and James Kirby Martin, eds., Citizen Soldier - The Revolutionary War
Journal of Joseph Bloomfield (Newark: New Jersey Historical Society, 1982), 133, 135.
27. Ibid., 135.
28. Washington to Horatio Gates, 26 May 1778, Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, vol.
11 (1934), 459.
29. Abraham Vorhies (S33864), David Cooper (S809), Cornelius Rickey (S4096),
Nathaniel Lyon (W9510), Pension Files, Natl. Archives.
30. James Jordan (W8225), ibid.
31. William Maxwell to Washington, 5 June 1778, GW Papers, series 4, reel 49.


You might also like