“A very smart cannonading ensued from both sides.”
Continental Artillery at Monmouth Courthouse, 28 June 1778
(Including information on artillery attached to the New Jersey Brigade)
 

By John U. Rees
Sometimes the larger view of an historic event is all that is available when finer points are desired. A case in point concerns certain details of the afternoon artillery duel at the June 1778 Monmouth battle. Beginning about 2 o’clock, Brig. Gen. Henry Knox, American artillery commander, stated "The Army was drawn up on advantageous ground to receive the Enemy who advanced to the Attack with Considerable impetuosity and by a brisk Cannonade which was return'd with becoming spirit … the Cannonade lasted untill about Six in the Evening." READ MORE
“I have ... got the Arms from Easton, [and] is now divideing them out.”
Clothing and Equipment Needed to Recreate a 1778 New Jersey Continental Company Augmented with Nine-Months Levies

by John U. Rees
Long-term soldiers: Some long-term soldiers still may have been wearing wool caps during the Monmouth campaign. It is known some form of wool cap was worn during the 1777-78 winter camp, Gen. George Washington writing in November 1778, “an officer very attentive to the health of his men, informs me that he found an inconvenience from the use of Woolen Caps last Winter [at Valley Forge], instead of Hatts. When the men put them off in the Spring, they, many of them, took violent colds from the sudden transition. They also contribute to keep the Head dirty, than which nothing is more unhealthy."READ MORE

"One of the best in the army."
An Overview of the New Jersey Brigade, 1775-1783


John U. Rees
© 1998, 2002

(originally published in The Continental Soldier,
vol. XI, no. 2 (Spring 1998), 45-53. )
 

Jersey Brigade had a long, varied, and distinguished history, but General George Washington's brief, candid comment to Major General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, concerning the condition of the brigade at the midpoint of its career speaks volumes about its shifting fortunes:

        22 January 1780, "... I am sorry to find the Jersey brigade appears to have fallen off from what it formerly was – one of the best in the army. The emulation of the officers I am persuaded will not permit them to let it remain inferior to any."1

    By the winter of 1779/1780, the New Jersey Brigade had indeed "fallen off from what it formerly was," through no fault of its own. The previous summer and autumn had exacted a severe toll on the soldiers, clothing, and equipment of the three New Jersey regiments which had taken part in General John Sullivan's expedition against the Iroquois in Pennsylvania and New York. The service was arduous, involving hard marches through rough and heavily wooded country, far from any place of supply. Nathan Davis, 1st New Hampshire Regiment, described the clothing worn by most of the troops under Sullivan; these "consisted of a short rifle frock, vest, tow trousers, shoes, stockings, and blanket." Davis also mentioned the condition of the clothing when they reached Fort Sullivan (Tioga) at the end of the campaign. "Marching nearly the whole time in the woods, among thick underbrush, it may well be supposed that we had but little left of our clothing, on our return to the garrison ..." The New Jersey soldiers were in the same situation. Jonathan Peck, 2nd Regiment paymaster, noted that in October 1779 "I was dispatched from Tioga ... [to] receive the Clothing of the Regt., and forward it to Easton, that it might be ready for the troops (who were then almost naked) ..." (In actuality, sufficient new clothing of good quality was not received by the Jersey regiments until late February or March 1780.)2  READ MORE 

"The Great Neglect in Provideing Cloathing..."
Uniform Colors and Clothing in the New Jersey Brigade
During the Monmouth Campaign of 1778: Part I

John U. Rees
©1994, 2002

(Published in Military Collector & Historian,
vol. XLVI, no. 4 (Winter 1994), 163-170)

 

Of the first four years of the War for American Independence, 1778 stands out for several reasons. It was a period of transition during which the focal point of British activity began to shift from the northern and middle states to the south, with the last major battle fought in the north occurring in the summer of that year at Monmouth Courthouse in New Jersey. The result was a stalemate in the north, which was to last for the remainder of the war, punctuated by numerous skirmishes and minor actions, while more decisive battles took place elsewhere. It was also the year in which the fledgling United States learned of their formal recognition as an independent nation by the Court of France. During 1778, some of the effects of this recognition were seen, the most obvious of which was a shift from the surreptitious and intermittent material aid formerly afforded by France towards open and large-scale support in the form of troops as well as supplies. Read More

 

 

"The Great Neglect in Provideing Cloathing..."

Uniform Colors and Clothing in the New Jersey Brigade

During the Monmouth Campaign of 1778: Part II

John U. Rees
©1995, 2002

(Published in Military Collector & Historian,
vol. XLVII, no. 1 (Spring 1995), 12-20)

 

"The Regiments Have No Uniforms or Distinguishing Colours:"

Uniform Coats and the New Jersey Brigade 1778

The men of Maxwell's Brigade began 1778 in a ragged and ill-clad condition. As Captain William Gifford of the 3rd Regiment wrote on 12 January from "Camp at Valley Forge:"

We have a large Army in every respect fit... for Action, Tho' some are very bare for Clothes, I wish with all my heart our State wou'd make better Provision for our Brigade, respecting Clothing & other necessaries than they do, if they had any Idea of the hardships we have & do undergo, they Certainly wou'd do more... than they do. I assure you Sir we have had a very severe Campaign of it, since we came in this State.

The clothing worn during 1778 presents an interesting change in fortunes for the four regiments of the brigade. In the beginning of the year the men's clothing was, on the whole, worn out and the prospect of obtaining replacements for the old items somewhat dismal. Contrasted with this situation was the state of the clothing at the end of December 1778 when all four regiments were clad in coats, waistcoats and breeches imported from France, one of the few periods during which the soldiers of the New Jersey Brigade were (except for hats) uniformly attired. Relating to the spring, summer and fall of the year, no information has been found which would indicate that any large numbers of regimental coats were worn by the New Jersey soldiers, while there is much evidence that only light clothing was issued and worn (probably including hunting shirts) until early December when the imported French clothing reached the brigade. Read More

 

"The proportion of Women which ought to be allowed..."
An Overview of Continental Army Female Camp Followers

John U. Rees
©1995, 2002

Published in The Continental Soldier (Journal of the Continental Line),vol. VIII, no. 3 (Spring 1995), 51-58.

Like all the armies that preceded it the Continental Army was not just a community of men. Numbers of women and their accompanying children followed the troops throughout the war, performing tasks that contributed to the soldiers’ welfare. From the war’s beginning women’s numbers fluctuated greatly between regiments, and from company to company within each regiment. In December 1777 a return for the main army at Valley Forge showed a total of 400 women present, or one woman for each forty-four enlisted men (though it is possible there were more women with the army during the previous summer). In January 1783, a return for the army at New Windsor gave an average of one woman for every twenty-six enlisted men. During the intervening years the average ratio may have been within the range of one-to-thirty and one-to-thirty-five, or approximately three percent of the total number of troops. READ MORE

 

What is this you have been about to day?"
The New Jersey Brigade at the Battle of Monmouth

By John U. Rees
Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton’s British forces evacuated Philadelphia on 18 June 1778, after a nine-month occupation. Brigadier General William Maxwell’s four New Jersey regiments were already in their home state, positioned to observe the British army and oppose any overland move towards the coast. Clinton’s columns commenced their march towards New York on June 18th, and New Jersey Continentals and militia immediately began operations to impede the movement. The 20 to 27 June harassment operations caused more casualties in the New Jersey Brigade than the campaign’s culminating battle. Acting most often in small parties, usually in conjunction with militia, the four Jersey regiments suffered two killed, an additional death possibly of sunstroke, five wounded, nine captured, and one missing. In contrast, Maxwell’s brigade casualties in the 28 June battle were seven (possibly eight) wounded and four missing. General George Washington’s Monmouth battle losses were 224 killed and wounded; 132 men were also listed as missing, but an appended casualty note stated “Many of the missing dropt thro’ fatigue and have since come in -“1 READ MORE
“The Enemy … will have no Mercey upon our loaded barns.”British Foraging at Hackensack, September and October 1778
By John U. Rees

From 1776 to 1781, territory in proximity to British-held New York was always in danger of sporadic Crown force’s sorties, often with the sole purpose of gathering foodstuff for their troops and livestock on Manhattan, Long, and Staten Islands. In mid-September 1777, while two large armies of American regulars were confronting invasions in southeastern Pennsylvania and northern New York, approximately 4,000 British troops crossed the Hudson (North) River to forage the area around Hackensack, opposed only by New Jersey militia with “a foundation of C[ontinental] troops.”READ MORE
"So much for a Scotch Prize."
Paramus, New Jersey, 23 March 1780

By John U Rees
The winter of 1779-80 was the worst of the War for Independence, indeed the entire century, and General George Washington's chief concern was finding sufficient food, clothing, and blankets for his troops. Despite the severe weather, numerous small actions occurred during the time of the Continental Army winter cantonment near Morristown, New Jersey. From December 21st 1779 to April 30th 1780 at least a dozen confrontations took place within a fifty-mile radius of Morristown, probably the best known being American Major-General William Alexander Lord Stirling's 15 January 1780 raid across the ice to Staten Island. Two lesser-known clashes happened at or near Paramus within the space of a month early that spring; this monograph examines the first of those actions.1 READ MORE