NJGenWeb ~ Morris County, New Jersey

Morris Militia Notes 1
Morris Co. Up

What follows are some notes about the various engagements and activities of the Militia that I have been able to find. Anyone interested in this period should check out:

"General Washington's Partisan War" by Mark Kwasny. This deals with the Revolution in NJ/NY/Ct and details Washington's evolving use of the short term troops and the campaigns in these 3 states.

I was especially surprised (and proud) to see how Jacob Ford and the Morris County Militia ( including my ancestors William Willis and Ezekial Baldwin) may quite possibly have saved the United States. But I get ahead of myself.
Take care and enjoy, Kevin

Munsell is Munsell's "History of Morris County NJ"
Thayer is Theodore Thayer's " Colonial and Revolutionary Morris County"

After a lowpoint following Washington's retreat across the state in 1775, the NJ Militia would develop into a respectable fighting force. It would be kept busy watching for suspected Tories and enemy raiding parties from Staten Island.

Col. Jacob Ford Jr.'s Eastern Battalion was detailed to cover Washington's retreat across NJ. The troops referred to this as the 'mud rounds'.With 700 militia , he turned back an enemy force at Springfield in Dec. 1776(Munsell MoMCNJ p.33 &114). Morris troops moved to support Essex militia against 800 enemy Dec. 17. Ford started parties skirmishing with British upon his arrival then led his main force into battle in the center of town. Starting near sunset, it didn't last long. Both sides retreated. (Col. & Rev. Morris Co. p.163)

Ford led a force of Morris Co. militia in the dark December days before Trenton raiding in the vicinity of Woodbridge, New Brunswick, Elizabethtown and Newark that numbered about 1000 at it's peak. Reacting to the "infamous mercenary ravagers, whether British or Hessians", Ford's actions sparked an uprising that culminated in Trenton/Princeton and the evacuation of most of NJ. ("Washington's Partisan War" Mark Kwasny p.94-7)

William Winds had charge of the troops at Blue Hills Fort on Vermuele's Plantation in the latter part of 1776 and mid 1777, in Somerset County. This was the scene of much skirmishing. The Battle of Ash Swamp took place either in May or on June 26, 1777 with Hessians encamped at Woodbridge. ("1st Settlers of the Plantation of Picataway and Woodsrige Olde East New Jersey" p.81) William Howe crossed from Staten Island at 2am June 26 in an attempt to strike Lord Stirling's advanced corp near Quibbletown. A forward unit of 700 absorbed the blow with a running battle from 3am to noon. Pulling his army back to Middlebrook, Stirling and Charles Cornwallis fought until Stirling retreated. American loses were about 500 (Kwasny p.151). A 2nd Ash Swamp battle occurred June 1779 (NJ as a Colony & as a State Vol 2 p.337-9)

The action at Fort Polifly was on Sept. 27, 1778 (ibid) when simultaneous enemy forces marched into NJ and NY. Militia mustered under William Winds to support Maxwell's Continental brigade. No major action took place as both sides foraged to deprive the other of resources.

Acquackanonk Bridge took place Sept. 27 1778 (ibid-obviously one date is wrong)

The battle at Monmouth Courthouse took place June 28, 1778. The 1st Reg't Foot Militia under John Munson joined the Jersey Brigade near Mount Holly June 5 (Munsell HoMCNJ p.30) When Henry Clinton decided to evacuate Philadelphia and return to New York thru NJ , Washington followed, with the Militia staying close and constantly skirmishing. Gen. Philemon Dickinson had over 2,500 troops to support the Continentals under Lafayette. Dickinson's report that the British seemed to be withdrawing from Freehold led to a force under Charles Lee to march to his support. As the battle shifted to the Regulars, the militia stayed close, but did not participate. The militia would fade away after the 28th, believing the campaign over, much to Washington's chagrin. Dickinson reported only 300 men June 30. (Kwasny p.207-213)

The battle at Connecticut Farms (now Union) took place June 6-7 1780, when Wilhelm von Knyphausen led 6,000 men into NJ to test rumors of war weariness. Hoping to march to Morristown, he found NJ on the alert as William Maxwell's 800 Continentals withdrew slowly from Elizabethtown while calling the militia. Maxwell with 2,500 men blocked the enemy for 3 hours at Conn. Farms before numbers prevailed. Washington advanced to Short Hills and Knyhausen decided to withdraw from the hornets' nest he had stirred up. Burning Conn. Farms, he retreated to Sandy Hook.

A second advance June 23 followed a similar scenario, with a running battle accompanying Knyphausen's advance and retreat. Nathaniel Greene entrenched at Springfield and repulsed several assaults until outflanked. NJ Militia assaulted the flankers as Greene withdrew to Short Hills. The enemy declined a 2nd battle and withdrew under constant fighting after setting fire to part of Springfield. (Kwasny p.260-8)

The Haverstraw skirmish was probably part of a plan in order to divert English attention from the French in Newport, Washington decided to pressure NYC. Calling the militia, NJ responded slowly in Aug. 1780. About 150 were on the Hudson Aug. 8 and 448 (of 945 called) had assembled in Morristown by the 10th. NJ Militia was also in Haverstraw in Oct. 1777 under William Winds. (Kwasny p.270 & 177)

When Penn. troops and then NJ troops mutinied over lack of pay and food, the mititia was summoned to help keep order and prevent enemy agents from contacting the disaffected soldiers.

The "Bromley Genealogy" (p.45) states William and brother Joseph were employed in Col. Samuel Ogden's Boonton iron works. "History of Morris County" (Munsell) says that Ogden enlarged the Old Boonton works in 1766-7. He added a rolling mill and a slitting mill. Industries as these were forbidden by Parliament in 1749, so the slitting mill was designed so the upper part was a grist mill with the slitting mill underneath.(p. 56 & 243)


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