Deserters

During the American Revolution, newspapers carried advertisements of soldiers who deserted from there regiments. These disriptions are a rich source of information on how the New Jersey Brigade and the rest of the Continental Army were clothed at certain stages of the war. They also give us a glimpse into there looks and behavior, and also were they came from.

Source: Documents Relating To The Revolutionary History Of The State of New Jersey . Volume I. Extracts From American Newspapers. 1776-1777. Edited By William S. Stryker, A.M., LL.D., Adjutant -General Of New Jersey.


 

March 30, 1776.

DESERTED on the 28th of March inst, from the company of Capt. Thomas Reading, in the Third Battalion of New-Jersey troops, commanded by the Honorable Elias Dayton,' Colonel; a certain ISAAC TOBY, about 28 years of age, 5 feet, 5 inches high, slim built,much pitted with the small-pox, and a sober looking fellow; had on when he went away, a purple coloured coat of superfine cloth, a beaver hat, buckskin breeches,yarn stockings, and coarse shoes. Whoever takes up said TOBY and delivers him to the above Captain in ElizabethTown, or secures him so that he may join the company again, shall have FIVE DOLLARS Reward, and reasonable charges, besides his pay and subsistence money from the date hereof until he is secured, if within three months. Also, PATRICK NIXSON, about 22 years of age, Born in Bethlehem Township, Hunterdon County, West- Jersey, about 5 feet 6 inches high.-John M'Bride, an Irishman, about 35 years of age, a down looking fellow, a true votary to Bacchus, very talkative and impertinent. Abraham Thompson, about 21 years of age, born in Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, 5 feet 8 inches high. Whoever takes up all or either of them, shall be entitled to the above Reward. THOMAS READING,' Captain.

N. B. Also a certain THOMAS BEVERLY often calling himself SWINDLE Derb shire man, slender made, about 5 feet 7 inches high, very fond of strong liquor, talkative and impertinent, knock-kneed, &c. Whoever takes him up shall have the above reward, paid by the above Captain.-

 

Five Dollars Reward

FOR taking up each of the following deserters from Capt. Henry O'Hara's company, now stationed at Fort George, above Albany, viz. John Clarke, late a regular soldier, 6 feet high, black curled hair, stutters a little, by trade a nail maker.
John Lynch, born in Ireland, 40 years of age, -5 feet 5 inches high, black hair.
Joshua Duly, a likely young man, 5 feet 10 inches high, long sandy hair, shows his upper teeth, born in Essex, Morris county. Adrian Post,' 5 feet 9 inches high, thin faced likewise born in Essex, Morris county.
James Dailey, 5 feet 5 inches high, well set, pock marked, has a scar in his face from a late hurt, and blackish hair.
Robert Field, 5 feet 4 inches high, well set, pock marked, not talkative, has been a sailor, and is very civil.
John Emery, 5 feet 9 inches high, full faced, thick lightish coloured curled hair. The above deserters have all received their full pay for subsistance and wages, took with them their blankets and frocks, and are supposed to be gone toward the new county in New-Jersey. A constant search will be made after these robbers of the public, any person harbouring or concealing them,will be dealt with as enemies to their country. FIVE DOLLARS reward, and all reasonable charges, for taking up and returning each of them, will be paid by the said Captain (now in Albany) not (as advertised in a former paper) by Patrick M'Dant, who has no cash deposited in his hands for that purpose.- New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, June 10, 1776.

 

Amboy, -April 25th 1776.

Deserted from my Company in the Third -Battalion of Jersey troops, now lying at Staten Island, opposite Amboy, the three following Men, viz.
THOMAS DUNN a Native of Ireland, about 30 Years of Age, a strong well built Fellow, about 5 Feet, 8 Inches high, very found of getting drunk, and very abusive when he is so, of a dark Completion, and black Hair, has been in the King's Service, had on, when he deserted, a new Hat, bound with white Binding, a new Regimental Coat, of a drab colour, faced with blue, Pair of Buckskin Breeches, a new Shirt, and Shoes. EPHRAIM CRAMMER, born in America, near 30 Years of Age, about 5 Feet, 9 Inches high, a tolerably well built man, brown Complexion, and black hair; has been sick some considerable Time, and looks thin in the face; his clothing the same as the above mentioned DUNN`S. LEVI BISHOP, a Native of this Country, about 23 Years of Age, 5 Feet, 7 Inches high, of a brownish Complexion and clothed as the others; he lived most of his time in Sussex county East-Jersey, and is supposed to have gone there. Whoever takes Up and secures said Deserters, and acquaints me of the same or delivers them at Amboy, shall receive FIVE DOLLARS each, and reasonable Charges, paid by
JOHN ROSS, Captain.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, May 1, 1776.

 

FORTY DOLLARS REWARD

Deserted from Captain Ephraim Anderson's company of the second New Jersey regiment, commanded by Col. Israel Shreves, a certain Charles Downs, about 26 years of age, full faced, of a swarthy complexion, 5 feet 7 or 8 inches high ; had on when he went away, a brown coat, light coloured waistcoat and buckskin breeches. Also a certain James Boyd, about 29 years of age, full face and fair hair; had on when he went away, a grey surtout, light coloured waistcoat and leather breeches; has one sore toe, and could not wear a shoe on his left foot. Whoever takes up said deserters, shall have the above Reward, or TWENTY DOLLARS for either of them, and reasonable charges, paid by EPHRAIM ANDERSON, Captain.
The Pennsylvania Packet, February 11, 1777

 

Deserted last evening from Capt. Thomas Yard's company of the New-Jersey Second battalion, at Burlington, the two following persons, viz. PATRICK ASHLEY, about twenty-six years of age, five feet six or seven inches high. He had on a linen frock coat, light coloured vest with 5th P. B. marked on the buttons, linen breeches, and a light colour surtout coat, his left cheek is swelled, and has a black patch on it. The other a slim fellow, about five feet seven or eight inches high, well dressed, a gold button and loop to his hat, and has a good hanger with him. He enlisted by the name of JOHN WHITE, and appears to be about twenty-five or twenty-six years of age. They both inlisted about two hours before they deserted, and received their full bounty. Whoever detects these villains, shall have TWENTY DOLLARS reward, or TEN DOLLARS for each.
Feb. 18.
Capt. THOMAS YARD.'
The Pennsylvania Evening Post, February 22, 1777.

 

Burlington County, March 20, 1777.

Deserted from the Second Regiment of the State of New-Jersey, and of Captain John Noble Cumming`s company,now quartered at Woodbridge in said State: WILLIAM MILLER, about 23 years of age, 5 feet, 10 inches high, dark complexion, much pock-marked, short brown hair, sandy beard, talkative, speaking much in his own praise. Had on when he deserted, a pale blue coat, jacket and breeches new beaver hat. Stole and took with him the night when deserted, 100 Continental Dollars, the property of his aged father, who lives in Bucks county, Pennsylvania; and a servant girl to William Grendine, late of Burlington. Whoever takes up said deserter, or secures him in any goal of the United States, or returns him to the regiment, shall receive the sum of TWENTY DOLLARS Reward.
JOHN NOBLE CUMMING, Captain.

 

TWENTY DOLLARS REWARD.

Deserted from my company, a certain JEDIDIAH ADAMS, about five feet 2 or 3 inches high, well set,redish hair, which he usually wore tied; had on, when he deserted, a blue regimental coat, faced with red, spotted jacket and blue breeches he served his apprenticeship with Samuel Bouger, tailor of Mount Holly. Whoever takes up the said deserter, and delivers him to any of the Militia Officers of that place, or to me at Bound-Brook, shall be entitled to the above reward, and One Shilling per mile allowed for expences.June 9,1777.
JOHN ROSS,' Capt. 3d. Jersey Regiment. The Pennsylvania Gazette, June 11, 1777.

 

The Recruits of COL. SHREVE'S regiments are commanded immediately to join their respective companies, at Burlington; such as neglect will be considered as deserters, and advertised as such.
ISRAEL SHREVE, Col. 2d. J. R.
Philadelphia, February 7, 1777.
-The Pennsylvania Gazette, February, 12 17

 

Deserted from Captain James Dillon's company, and second regiment of the State of New-Jersey, commanded by Israel Shreve, Esq ; the following men, viz.
William Glinn, about 5 feet, 9 or 10 inches high, light blue eyes, fresh complexion; had on a light coloured Wilton coat, striped lacey jacket, leather breeches, blue yarn stockings, small round hat ; he says he belongs to Marcus-Hook, Pennsylvania.
Edward Evenden, about 5 feet 5 inches high, pale complexion, thick set, a worthless ordinary fellow, pretends to beat on the drum, had on a grey short coat, white stockings, new shoes.
George Gettill, a Dutchman, about 5 feet 6 inches high, dark complexion, grey eyes, short curled hair; had on a blue regimental coat, turned up with red, grey cloth jacket, and leather breeches.
Thomas White, a short thick fellow, fresh coloured, light blue eyes, much given to liquor; had on an old regimental coat, faced with red, leather breeches, Wilton jacket; this fellow makes a practice of defrauding the continent by listing in several different companies.
Barnaby Higgins, about 5 feet 4 inches high, fresh coloured, short curled hair, blue eyes, by trade a Baker ; it is supposed he has enlisted in the second Pennsylvania regiment; had on a blue regimental coat, Wilton jacket and leather breeches.
Those fellows have been enlisted near two months.-A reward of SIX DOLLARS and TWO THIRDS will be paid for each, on delivering them to the commanding officer at Burlington, or to the Captainat Gloucester. NATHANIEL BOWMAN, Lieut.

 

Princeton, April 3, 1777.

Deserted from the second Regiment of the State of New-Jersey, commanded by Colonel Israel Shreve, Esq. ;and of Captain John Noble Cumming's Company, now quartered at Princeton, the following persons, viz.
VALENTINE ROCHESTER about 25 years of age, 5 feet 4 inches high, dark complexion, brown hair and grey eyes,inlisted at Ticonderoga.
William Wood about 30 years of age, 5 feet 9 inch high, fair complexion, black hair and blue eyes, remarkably squint eyed, inlisted at Albany.
Consider Adition about 35 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches high, fair complexion, red hair and beard, and grey eyes inlisted at Albany.
CHARLES SALTER ;inlisted at Ticonderoga
Patrick M'Mullin ; inlisted Wood's town Salem county.
George Powers, about 5 feet 5 inches high, 35 years of age, swarthy complexion, light brown hair; inlisted at Gloucester.
Edward Parker, about 25 years of age, 5 feet 11 inches high,dark complexion hair and eyes inlisted at Gloucester.
Thomas Burns; inlisted at the cross Roads of Cumberland.
Owen Ward, a native Irishman, about 39 years of age, 5 feet 4 inches high, his fore teeth gone, knock kneed, had the letters O. W. pricked out with gunpowder on his arm; had on what deserted, an old brown coat, striped linsey trousers, and old shoes; supposed to have gone through Mount Holly.
John Stephenson, about 23 yare of age, 5 feet 9 inch high, well made, an Irishman, brown complexion, dark brown hair, which curb naturally in his neck, wore a brown cloth coat and vat, buckskin breech; inlisted in Gloucester county, where he has lived some time, and well acquainted; the last intelligence of him, he was over Delaware river,
Henry Bishop, about 22 years of age, 5 feet 11 inches high, fair complexion, brown hair, grey eyes; had on, when he deserted, a long skirted brown coat and vest, buckskin breeches; born in Burlington county, and inlisted in Wood's-town, Salem County.
Gideon Steel, Hector M`Neil and Thomas Day all of the above county. Whoever takes up the said Deserters, and secures them so that they may be brought to justice for haring been guilty of perjury, shall receive the sum of TWELVE DOLLARS reward for each, that an account thereof may be transmitted to the commanding Officer of said Regiment JOHN NOBLE CUMMING,' Capt. 2d. J.B.- The Pennsylvania Gazette, April - 23, 1777.

 

 


Glossary of Terms

Broadcloth- Fine plain weave woolen cloth a felted finish Woven in wide widths.
Duffel- A blanket fabric made of low-grade woolen cloth with a nap on both sides.
Linsey Woolsey-(less often, woolsey-linsey or in Scottish English, wincey) is a coarse twill or plain-woven fabric woven with a linen warp and a woollen weft. The name derives form a combination of linen and woollen.
Oznabrigs- A course unbleached linen or hempen cloth first made in Osnabruck, Germany. It was commonly used for trousers, sacking, and bagging. Osnabrigs were used at Williamsburg to strengthen wallpaper. They are to have been made in brown, blue, and white although other colors were probably available. In the colonial period (1767) Osnabrig was woven in Germany, Lancashire, and Scotland.
Serge- is a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides, made with a two-up, two-down weave. The worsted variety is used in making military uniforms, suits, great coats and trench coats. Its counterpart, silk serge, is used for linings. French serge is a softer, finer variety. The word is also used for a high quality woolen woven.
Shalloon- a light twill-weave woollen fabric used chiefly for coat linings, etc.[from Old French chalon, from the name of Châlons-sur-Marne, France, where it originated]
Surtout- a close fitting man's overcoat in the style of a frock coat a heavy coat worn over clothes in winter [from French, from sur over + tout all]
Wilton- a kind of carpet woven on a jacquard loom with a close velvet pile of cut loops
Buckskin- The skin of a male deer. A soft, grayish-yellow leather usually having a suede finish, Clothing, especially breeches or shoes, made from buckskin. A person who wears buckskins, especially an American backwoodsman or soldier in the Revolutionary War.
Swanskin- A fine woolen cloth of a plain weave, sometimes referred to as fleecy cotton
Drab- a fabric of a dull grey or brown colour [from Old French drap cloth, from Late Latin drappus, perhaps of Celtic origin]
Beaver- a woollen napped cloth resembling beaver fur, formerly much used for overcoats, hats etc