Brief History of the First New Jersey Regiment

October , 1775

Congress authorizes raising two battalions from New Jersey for one
year of Continental Service. The "Eastern Battalion", raised primarily
in seven counties of "East New Jersey", is designated the First New
Jersey regiment under the command of Colonel William Alexander
("Lord Stirling"), with Lt. Col. William Winds and Maj. William DeHart.
The rest of 1775 is spent recruiting and equipping the various companies
companies of the regiment.

January, 1776

Stirling writes to Congress that the regiment is still "very deficient in
arms, blankets and almost every necessary." A detachment from the
regiment is sent to Long Island to arrest loyalists there. Later in the
month, about 40 men from the 1st New Jersey under Stirling, along with
more than 80 volunteers from Elizabethtown, participate in the taking of
the British supply vessel BLUE MOUNTAIN VALLEY and receive the
thanks of Congress.

March, 1776

Stirling is promoted to Brigadier General and succeeded as Col.
by William Winds. At the same time, Congress appoints Matthias
Ogden to Lt. Colonel ahead of William DeHart, in recognition of his
volunteer service with Benedict Arnold in the expedition to Quebec.
The appointment is protested by Winds and the line officers of the
regiment but remains in effect.
Feb. – April, 1776 The regiment is based in New York where it is employed with
making cartridges and building fortifications, and makes brief
expeditions to Long Island and in response to an alarm on Staten
May – June 1776 The regiment is ordered to the Northern Department to support the
American forces in Canada. It reaches Sorrel at the mouth of the
Richlieu River and moves toward Trois Rivier (Three Rivers) but does
not play any major role in that action.
July – Oct. 1776 Following the retreat from Canada, the 1st New Jersey is
stationed in the defense of Fort Ticonderoga and builds the "Jersey
Redoubt". William "Scotch Willie" Maxwell, Colonel of the 2nd NJ, is
made Brigadier General.
November, 1776

Colonel Winds returns to New Jersey with many of the soldiers of the 1st New Jersey after their term of enlistment expires.He and those who leave with him are castigated by General Gates, while praising others from the regiment who stay on until the 13th of November.

Nov. – Dec. 1776 Congress authorizes a second establishment of the Continental
Line with four regiments from New Jersey. The 1st New Jersey begins
enlisting men for three years service or the duration of the war.
Silas Newcomb is briefly appointed as Colonel by State Legislature,
but is succeeded by Matthias Ogden. Maj. William DeHart is promoted
Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st NJ and remains so until February, 1779
when he transfers to the 2nd New Jersey. His successor is Lt. Col.David Brearley ofthe 4th New Jersey when that regiment disbands.Captain Joseph Morris is appointed Major in the 1st NJ, but later in the year is detached for temporary service in Morgan's Rifle Corps, leaving the regiment without its major.
March-April, 1777 From March, 1777 onward, the 1st New Jersey is brigaded with the
rest of the New Jersey Line under Brigadier General Maxwell. During
this period, elements of the regiment are on active service while still in
recruiting mode. During the "Forage War" a number of minor actions
involve detachments of the 1st New Jersey, including an April 14th attack
at Amboy by Captain John Conway that captures three pickets, and a
failed attack a few days later that results in the capture of Captain John
Flahaven and most of his 25 man detachment.
May - June, 1777 Maxwell's Jersey Brigade is part of Stirling's Division, and posts at Ash
Swamp prior to taking part in the battle of Short Hills, New Jersey (June
26, 1777). In this action, the 1st New Jersey takes very light casualties (1
private killed, possibly 1 wounded), with slightly heavier losses in the rest
of the Brigade.
August, 1777 During Sullivan's Staten Island Raid (August 22, 1777), Colonel Ogden
leads a force consisting of the 1st and 3rd NJ (under Lt. Colonel Francis
Barber) and about 100 NJ militia. They surprise the 1st Battalion of New
Jersey Loyalists, defeat the 3rd Battalion NJV and drive back the 6th
Battalion NJV before withdrawing from the Island with considerable
plunder and more than 80 prisoners. The rest of Sullivan's force is not so
fortunate, and its rear guard is abandoned when there are insufficient
boats available to retrieve them.
September, 1777 General Maxwell commands a temporary corps of Light Infantry
during the weeks leading up to the Battle of Brandywine, leaving Col.
Elias Dayton of the 3rd NJ in charge of the Jersey Brigade. During the
battle (September 11, 1777), the 1st NJ along with the rest of the
Brigade in Stirling's Division are heavily engaged at the "Plowed Hill",
where General Lafayette is wounded. The regiment has a sergeant killed
and several men captured and missing. In the entire New Jersey Brigade,
historian John Rees estimates at least five officers and men are killed
at Brandywine, with 12 wounded, 19 captured and 13 missing.
October, 1777 Maxwell resumes command of the Jersey Brigade at Germantown.
Although assigned to the reserve force, the 1st New Jersey takes its heaviest heaviest casualties of the war in repeated attacks on the Benjamin Chew house or "Cliveden". At least 7 privates are killed and up to 20 wounded. The toll is heavy among the officers. Captain Andrew McMyers (McMires) is killed outright, while Ensign Martin Hurley, wounded and captured, is recognized as a British deserter and hanged. Captain Daniel Baldwin loses a leg and Lieutenant Robert Robinson is disabled by his wounds, but Captains John Conway and Isaac Morrison recover from theirs.
December, 1777 Major Morris, still on detached service with Morgan's riflemen, is
mortally wounded in the engagement at Whitemarsh, PA. The
Jersey Brigade moves into winter quarters at Valley Forge.
May, 1778 The 1st New Jersey is part of the force assigned to the Jersey side of the
Delaware to monitor the movements of the enemy prior to the
evacuation of Philadelphia. The New Jersey regiments are augmented by
levies from the militia, engaged to serve for nine months. The Brigade is
ordered to harry the enemy forces and make their passage overland as
difficult as possible.
June, 1778 The Jersey Brigade shadows the British forces as they cross the state,
skirmishing at various places on the march, including June 20, 1778
near Mt. Holly where the 1st NJ has two dead and one captured.
The 1st NJ is in Maj. Gen. Charles Lee's Advance Corps at Monmouth
Court House during that battle (June 28,1778). John Rees documents
10 casualties in the 1st NJ during the entire Monmouth campaign,
including 3 dead (one who died of fatigue), 2 wounded, 3 captured and 2
July - Dec. , 1778 The Jersey Brigade is posted in the vicinity of Elizabethtown, NJ to
monitor enemy activity, and goes into winter quarters there. Colonel
Ogden receives correspondence from Lt. Lewis J. Costigan, a prisoner of the 1st NJ on parole in New York, who remains in the city for several
months after he is exchanged and provides valuable information.
Feb. - April, 1779 The regiment pursues raiders from Staten Island who attack
Elizabethtown on February 25, 1779) . Colonel Ogden is brought up on
"some charges of a very high nature" by Captain Morrison, and is
acquitted at court martial of all but the last: the pernicious vice of gaming"
contrary to Washington's standing orders. He is reprimanded but retains
command and the confidence of his commander.
June-October, 1779 The Jersey Brigade (now consisting of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd NJ and
Spencer's Additional Continental Regiment) participates in Sullivan's
expedition against the Iroquois. They march from the Wyoming Valley
of Pennsylvania into the Finger Lakes region of New York. The 1st NJ
guards the left flank at the battle of Newtown (August 29, 1779).
Winter 1779-1780 The regiment winters at Morristown, NJ during the coldest winter
on record. In January, 1780, it participates in a raid on Staten Island
under Generals Stirling and Irvine, traveling by sleigh across the ice.
June, 1780 The Jersey Brigade and NJ militia oppose Knyphausen's Raid at
Connecticut Farms, New Jersey, holding back the invading force for
nearly an hour (June 7, 1780). Two weeks later, the 1st New Jersey defends a bridge at the Vauxhall Rd. along with 50 dismounted troops of Lee's Legion and local militia during the Battle of Springfield, NJ (June 23, 1780) after which Knyphausen withdraws from the State.
July, 1780 General Maxwell resigns and is succeeded in command of the Jersey
Brigade by Colonel Elias Dayton.
August, 1780 Col. Matthias Ogden temporarily commands a Light Infantry Battalion
under Lafayette, consisting of 4 companies from New Jersey and 4 from
additional states, leaving the rest of the 1st NJ under Lt. Colonel John
Conway. They remain in the Hudson Highlands and Northern New
Jersey until Lafayette's Light Division is disbanded in December and the
companies return to their regiments.
Sept. - Nov., 1780 Congress authorizes a third establishment of the Continental army with
just two regiments from New Jersey. Colonel Ogden retains command of
the 1st NJ, but is captured while at Elizabethtown in early November and
taken to New York, where he remains on parole until exchanged in mid
January, 1781 Reorganization of the army takes effect on January 1, 1781. About 300
enlisted men of the New Jersey Line mutiny at Pompton, NJ (Jan 20,
1781). Unlike the mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line a few weeks early, this
uprising is met with force and two of the ringleaders, including a soldier
of the 1st NJ, are executed by firing squad.
Feb., 1781 Lt. Col. Francis Barber, now of the 1st NJ, leads a battalion of picked men from the 1st and 2nd NJ to serve as Light Infantry in Virginia under
Lafayette. Aaron Ogden of the 1st NJ, formerly Maxwell's Brigade
Major, is senior Captain of the Jersey troops under Barber. They are
present at Green Spring, VA (July 6, 1781) and later at the siege of Yorktown, where they took part in the successful assault on Redoubt #10 (October 14, 1781).
Aug. – Oct., 1781 The rest of the 1st NJ under Col. Matthias Ogden March with
Washington and Rochambeau to Virginia and are also at Yorktown.
Winter 1781 – 1782 The Jersey Brigade spends winter at Morristown, NJ before being
ordered to join the main Army in the Hudson Highlands.
1782-1783 The 1st NJ is based in the Hudson Highlands at the New Windsor
Cantonment. Colonel Ogden is selected as part of a deputation from the
officers of the army to represent interests before Congress. Dissatisfaction in the army leads to "The Newburgh Conspiracy". Col. Ogden is granted leave to travel to Paris. By the end of the war, the 1st NJ is the State's sole Continental regiment. Officers and men are furloughed in June, 1783 upon news of a preliminary peace treaty, but not discharged until November, 1783 following news brought back from Europe by Col. Matthias Ogden of a definitive peace treaty that ends the war.


Biographical Sketch of

Matthias Ogden

Colonel of the First New Jersey Regiment

     Matthias Ogden was born at Elizabethtown, New Jersey in 1754, the son of Robert Ogden, a lawyer. Robert was politically prominent, serving as the speaker of the House of Representatives on the eve of the Revolution. The family had deep roots in New Jersey: John Ogden had built a house in Elizabeth in 1664 after having moved from Long Island, where he had settled in 1640 from Hampshire, England. Matthias attended the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) as did his brother Aaron. He went along as a volunteer on Arnold's march to Quebec and was wounded in the assault on that city on December 31, 1775. He was named lieutenant colonel of the First New Jersey in March 1776. He became colonel of the same regiment on January 1, 1777 after Silas Newcomb resigned the position. Ogden was captured by the British at Elizabethtown in November 1780. He was exchanged and later granted a leave by Congress in April 1783, to visit Europe. He was breveted brigadier general by Congress in September 1783. Ogden was described by one historian as a "brave and gallant soldier". He died in 1791.