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Thomas Sandby RA, 1721–1798, British, Encampment at Maestricht, 1747

A Brief History of the 1st NJ

Formed in the early days of the American War for Independance the First New Jersey was a part of significant campaigns throughout the war

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 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.

Stirling writes to Congress that the regiment is still "very deficient in arms, blankets and almost every necessary."  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.

Stirling is promoted to Brigadier General and succeeded as Colonel 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. 


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 Island.


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  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 actively recruiting.  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 missing.


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 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, 1780The 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., 1780Congress 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 1781.


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.

1782-1783The 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 (1754 - 1791) was born into a politically prominant family with deep roots in the colony of New Jersey.  His father, Robert Ogden, served as the speaker of the House of Representatives on the eve of the Revolution.  Matthias attended the College of New Jersey (now 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, becoming colonel 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.







Matthias Ogden's Commission

Maxwells original commission.jpg
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