"What is this you have been about to
The New Jersey Brigade at the Battle of Monmouth
John U. Rees
© 2003, 2010
Return to Table of Contents
“Be pleased to fill up the vacancy with the eldest Captain in the line …”:
Field Officers, Commissioned Officers, and Staff of the 2nd New Jersey Regiment
December 1777 to May 1779
Continental Army regimental and company command structures were changeable entities, dependent upon officer promotions, dismissals, resignations, sickness, and casualties. This study shows variations in the officers and staff of one regiment in Brigadier General William Maxwell’s Jersey Brigade through two active campaigns and two winter camps, providing some appreciation of command, control, and personnel difficulties for similar lower level organizations.
The 2nd New Jersey Regiment was authorized in autumn 1775, and recruited that winter with one-year enlistments expiring at the end of 1776. The regiment then reenlisted and reorganized in winter and spring of 1777. William Maxwell, the colonel in 1776, was appointed brigadier general of New Jersey troops, and Israel Shreve, the 1776 lieutenant colonel, was made the 2nd Regiment’s colonel. During 1777 officer casualties, resignations, and promotions further changed the command structure. Officers were moved from company to company; for instance William Helms was promoted from lieutenant in Luce’s Company to captain of Maxwell’s Company after that officer’s December 1777 resignation. Helms’ commanded former Maxwell’s company until February 1779 when he took command of Luce’s Company upon Captain Luce’s resignation. Helms’ former company then became the Lieutenant Colonel’s Company commanded by 1st Lieutenant Samuel Naglee. Through all those changes, plus the addition of enlisted recruits, levies, and transfers, a core of enlisted personnel and junior company officers remained relatively static.
Beginning in May 1778 large numbers of nine-month levies from the New Jersey militia began to join the Jersey Continental regiments. With the expiration of those short-term enlistments in February 1779 the number of New Jersey regiments was reduced from four to three. The 4th New Jersey was disbanded and its officers and men distributed to the remaining regiments. At the same time a ninth company was added to regimental organization to allow for the newly authorized light infantry companies.
1. Field officers 2. Staff officers 3. Warrant officers 4. Company organization, December 1777 to January 1779 (Inclusive) 5. Company organization, February to May 1779 6. Company lineage, 1777 to 1779 7. Continuity of company command through May 1779 8. Sources
(See also: "He Come Out with us this time As a Volunteer ...":Soldiers Serving Without Pay in the Second New Jersey Regiment, 1777‑1780; Online )
Field Officers Date of Commission (etc.) Colonel Israel Shreve 11/28/76 July 1778, sick absent October 15, 1778, on furlough March 1779, on furlough Lieutenant Colonel David Rhea 11/28/76, resigned 11/78 William DeHart commissioned 1/1/77 appointed to 2nd New Jersey, 2/79 Major Richard Howell 11/28/76, resigned 4/7/79 July 1778, sick absent Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. 1778, on command at Monmouth January 1779, on furlough 20 days February, March 1779, on command at Spanktown John Ross commissioned 1/1/77, appointed to 2nd New Jersey, 5/79 Staff Adjutant Luther Halsey 1/1/77 December 1778, on furlough 10 days Quartermaster Benajah Osmon 1/1/77 August 1778, on command at Phila. Derick Lane 4/3/79 Paymaster John Peck 4/1/77 July 1778, sick absent November 1778, on furlough 30 days December 1778, on furlough 4 days Surgeon Lewis Howell 1/1/77 [?] died of sickness 7/5/78< Ebenezer Elmer 7/5/78 November 1778, on furlough 20 days Surgeon's Mate Ebenezer Elmer appointed April 1777 Moses Elmer 8/21/78 December 1778, on furlow 10 days March 1779, sick absent Volunteer George Walker acting as an officer, "with reputation, without pay." Wounded in the side at the Battle of Monmouth. Appointed ensign as of 9/12/78 Warrant Officers Serjeant Major William Barr 1/1/77 August 1778, sick present Quarter Master Serjeant George McDonald 1/1/77 August 1778, sick present Drum Major William Burtless 1/1/77 January 1779, furlough 25 days
December 1777 to January 1779 (Inclusive)
(Note: Parenthesized abbreviations for each company denote the captain’s name; these abbreviations are used in other sections of the 1778-79 2nd New Jersey history.)
Company Officers (With Date of Commission, etc.) 1st Company (Ho) Captain John Hollinshead 1/1/77 August 1778, on furlough 1st Lieutenant Samuel Hendry 1/1/77 transferred to 8th Company, October 1778 2nd Lieutenant Derick Lane 11/8/77 promoted to 1st Lieut., Luce's company 1/1/78 2nd Company (Cu) Captain John Noble Cummings 1/1/77 January 1778, on furlough June 1778, on command July 1778, on furlough August 1778, on command at Monmouth September 1778, on command November 1778, on furlough 10 days 1st Lieutenant Nathaniel Jenkins 1/1/78 January 1778, on furlough December 1778, on furlough 90 days January 1779, sick absent, on furlough for 59 days 2nd Lieutenant Samuel Shute 9/11/77 January 1778. on furlough June 1778, on command November 1778, on furlough 12 days December 1778, on command at Salem after deserters 3rd Company (Lu) Captain Henry Luce 1/1/77, resigned 2/18/79 July 1778, on command October 1778, on command December 1778, on furlough 30 days January 1779, sick absent 1st Lieutenant William Helms promoted to captain 12/77 Derick Lane 11/8/77 September 1778, on furlough 2nd Lieutenant John Shreve 9/10/77 July 1778, on guard August 1778, on furlough 6 days September 1778, on furlough October 1778, on furlough January 1779, on command at Elizabeth Town 4th Company (Re) Captain Samuel Reading 1/1/77 1st Lieutenant Abraham Stout 1/1/78 prisoner 4/5/78 2nd Lieutenant Jonathan Rhea 4/1/78 August 1778, on command at Monmouth January 1779, sick present 5th Company (Bo)
(formerly Lawrie's Company)
Captain Nathaniel Bowman 9/11/77 August 1778, on command at Newark October 1778, on command at Newark 1st Lieutenant Aaron Lane 7/10/77, cashiered 8/25/78 January, June & July 1778, on command 2nd Lieutenant John Hutchins promoted 1/1/78 to 1st Lieut., Capt. Sparks Co. Ensign Jonathan Rhea 6th Company (Ph) Captain Jonathan Phillips 12/1/77 January 1778, on command February to November 1778 on command at Princeton 1st Lieutenant Abraham Appleton 1/1/78 2nd Lieutenant vacant 7th Company (He) Captain James Maxwell resigned 12/1/77 William Helms 12/1/77 December 1778, on furlough 18 days January 1779, furlough 15 days 1st Lieutenant Samuel Naglee 12/1/77 November 1778, on command at Second River December 1778, ditto 2nd Lieutenant George Ross resigned 12/18/77 James Paul 7/1/77 May 1778, on command October 1778, command at Newark January 1779, on command at Second River 8th Company (Sp) Captain James Dillon resigned 12/1/77 John Sparks 1/1/78, resigned 8/31/78 June 1778, on furlough Samuel Hendry captain-lieutenant as of 10/78 1st Lieutenant George Reynolds resigned 1/3/78 John Hutchen 12/1/77 January 1778, on furlough April 5, 1778, captured by the enemy 2nd Lieutenant Francis Declos 1/1/77, cashiered 10/27/78 June and August 1778, on command at Newark
February to May 1779
Company Officers (With Date of Commission, etc.) Colonel Shreve's Company
Captain-Lieutenant Samuel Hendry 11/30/76 on command at Spanktown, 2/79 and 3/79 2nd Lieutenant John Shreve 7/10/77 on furlough at Elizabethtown, 2/79 Lieutenant Colonel's Company
1st Lieutenant Samuel Naglee 11/30/76 on command at Spanktown, 3/79 2nd Lieutenant Jonathan Rhea 4/1/78 Major Howell's Company (newly raised)
(Major Ross's as of May 1779)
Lieutenant Able Weyman 11/1/77 on command at Spanktown, 2/79 Ensign Joseph Buck 2/1/79 on furlough 2/79 4th Company Captain John Hollinshead 11/30/76 on furlough February and March 1779 1st Lieutenant Luther Halsey 11/9/77 2nd Lieutenant John Peck 11/10/77 5th Company Captain John N.Cummings 11/30/76 on command at Trenton April and May 1779 1st Lieutenant Nathaniel Jenkins 1/1/77 on furlough 2/79, sick absent 3/79, died 4/27/79 2nd Lieutenant Samuel Shute 9/11/77 6th Company Captain Samuel Reading 1/1/77 on furlough 2/79 1st Lieutenant Abraham Stout 1/12/78 captured 4/5/78 Ensign George Walker 9/12/78 7th Company Captain Nathaniel Bowman 9/11/77 1st Lieutenant Samuel Conn 11/12/77 2nd Lieutenant James Paul 12/1/77 captured 4/3/79 8th Company Captain Jonathan Phillips 12/1/77 1st Lieutenant Abraham Appelton 1/1/78 9th Company Captain Henry Luse 1/1/77 resigned 2/18/79 William Helms 12/1/77 1st Lieutenant Derick Lane 11/8/77 2nd Lieutenant Benajah Osmun 11/12/78
Colonel Shreve's Company (formerly Sparks')
Samuel Hendry, captain-lieutenant 11/30/76
on command at Spanktown, 2/79 and 3/79
John Shreve, 2nd lieutenant, 7/10/77
on furlough at Elizabethtown, 2/79
Lieutenant Colonel's Company (formerly Helm's)
Samuel Naglee, 1st lieutenant, 11/30/76
on command at Spanktown, 3/79
Jonathan Rhea, 2nd lieutenant, 4/1/78
Major Howell's Company (newly raised)
(Major Ross's as of May 1779)
Able Weyman, lieutenant, 11/1/77
on command at Spanktown, 2/79
Joseph Buck, ensign, 2/1/79
on furlough 2/79
John Hollinshead, captain, 11/30/76
on furlough February and March 1779
Luther Halsey, 1st lieutenant, 11/9/77
John Peck, 2nd lieutenant, 11/10/77
John N. Cummings, captain, 11/30/76
on command at Trenton April and May 1779
Nathaniel Jenkins, 1st lieutenant, 1/1/77
on furlough 2/79, sick absent 3/79,
Samuel Shute, 2nd lieutenant, 9/11/77
Samuel Reading, captain, 1/1/77
on furlough 2/79
Abraham Stout, 1st lieutenant, 1/12/78
George Walker, ensign, 9/12/78
Nathaniel Bowman, captain, 9/11/77
Samuel Conn, 1st lieutenant, 11/12/77
James Paul, 2nd lieutenant, 12/1/77
Jonathan Phillips, captain, 12/1/77
Abraham Appelton, 1st lieutenant, 1/1/78
Henry Luse, captain, 1/1/77
William Helms, captain, 12/1/77
Derick Lane, 1st lieutenant, 11/8/77
Benajah Osmun, 2nd lieutenant, 11/12/78
2nd New Jersey Regiment, 1777 to 1779
The seniority of captains and their companies in 1777 was probably as follows:
(Source: Israel Shreve letter, Burlington City, N.J., 30 December 1786, Revolutionary War Rolls, National Archives Microfilm Publications, Record Group 93, M246 (Washington, 1980), reel 57, section 23.)
1. John Hollinshead's Companys
2. John Cummings' Company
3. James Dillon's Company, Dillon resigned December 1, 1777.
4. James Maxwell's Company, Maxwell resigned December 1, 1777.
5. James Lawrie's Company, Lawrie died in captivity of wounds received at the Battle of the Short Hills, June 26, 1777.
6. Ephraim Anderson's Company, Anderson was killed at the Battle of the Short Hills, June 26, 1777.
7. Henry Luse's Company
8. Thomas Yard's Company, Yard resigned in December 1777.
9. Joseph Stout's Company, Stout was killed at the Battle of Brandywine, September 11, 1777.
On June 26, 1777 Captain Ephraim Anderson was killed at the Battle of the Short Hills in New Jersey. In August 1777 the enlisted men of his company were dispersed among four other companies of the regiment: 1 sergeant and 2 privates joined Cummings' company; 1 sergeant, 2 corporals and 8 privates joined Hollinshead's company; 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 2 privates joined Lawrie's company; 2 privates joined Luce's company; and 1 corporal joined Dillon's Co.
Continuity of Company Command Through May 1779
Captain Hollinshead commanded the same company from January 1777 to May 1779
Captain Cummings commanded the same company from January 1777 to May 1779.
Captain Dillon's company (as of January 1777) became Captain Sparks' (as of January 1778); the company then became Colonel Shreve's Company (as of February 1779).
Captain Maxwell's company (as of January 1777) became Captain Helms' (as of December 1778); the company then became Lieutenant Colonel DeHart's Company (as of February 1779).
Captain Lawrie's company (as of January 1777) became Captain Bowman's (as of September 1777). This company was designated light infantry as of June 1779.
Captain Luce's company (as of January 1777) became Captain Helms' (as of February 1779).
Captain Yard's company (as of January 1777) became Captain Phillips (as of December 1777).
Captain Stout's company (as of January 1777) became Captain Reading's (as of December 1777).
A ninth company, Major Howell's, was added in February of 1779. This company became Major Ross's in May 1779.
1. Second New Jersey Regiment muster and pay rolls of field, staff and commissioned officers, 1777, 1778 and 1779; company muster and pay rolls, 1777 to 1779, Revolutionary War Rolls, National Archives Microfilm Publications, Record Group 93, M246 (Washington, 1980), reels 57 to 60 (hereafter cited as Revolutionary War Rolls, Natl. Archives).
2. Israel Shreve to Dr. Bodo Otto, "Turkey Gap Sunday 29th. June 1777"; Shreve noted that after the Short Hills battle "... the Inhabitants Buried 12 of ours they tell us; Among them Capt. E[phraim]. Anderson of my Regt. ...," Israel Shreve Papers, Buxton Collection, Louisiana Tech, University.
3. William S. Stryker, The Battle of Monmouth (Princeton, N.J., 1927), 290.
4. Israel Shreve letter, Burlington City, N.J., 30 December 1786 regarding funds used for recruiting the 2nd Jersey Regiment in 1777: "... At the Battle of Brandywine, Stout was killed, I was badly wounded so as not to be able to do duty untill Jan. 1778. During my absence from the Regt. Dillon, Maxwell, and Yard resigned and were gone so that six of the nine Captains were quite out of my power. In November 1778 at Elizabeth Town I drew money to recruit Nine months men whose times were nearly out. Here Hollinshead, Cummings and Luse produced their enlistments and settled up with me to that time." Revolutionary War Rolls, Natl. Archives, reel 57, section 23.
5."Promotions to be made in the 2d. New Jersey Regt. Commandd By Coll. Shrieve - James Paul a Volunteer & wounded at sho[r]t hills was promised by his Excellency a Commisn. Dated 1st July 1777.
Lieut. Saml. Reading to be a pointed Capt. in the room of Capt. Lawry Deceasd 10th. July in New York shortly after the battle of Short Hills.
Aaron Lane to be a first Lieut. on Capt. Lawry's Dec[ease].
John Shrieve to be 2d. Lieut. at Capt. Lawry's Deceas
Nathaniel Boman to be Capt. in the room of Capt. Stout Deceased the 11th Sept. 1777.
George Reynolds to be a first Lieut. at Capt. Stouts Deceas
Samuel Shute to be 2d. Lieut. at Capt. Stouts Deceas
Given in Camp at Towaminsing Township
the 12th Day of Oct. 1777
Wm. Maxwell B.G.”
Revolutionary War Rolls, Natl. Archives, reel 57, section 21-3, p. 14.
6. George Washington to the Board of War, 15 April 1779: "Sir: Inclosed you have the Commission of Major Howell of the 2d. New Jersey Regt. who resigned the 7th instant. Be pleased to fill up the vacancy with the eldest Captain in the line and send forward the Commission. The Captain Lieutenant of the Regiment from which the Captain is taken to succeed Major Howell will be entitled to a Company, be pleased also to make out and send a Commission for him, one for the Officer succeeding to the Capt. Lieutenancy and one for the Ensign to be promoted to a Lieutenancy, in consequence of the above." John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799 (39 volumes), vol. 14, (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1936), 392.
Return to Table of Contents