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

John U. Rees
© 2003


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“Our Division formed a line on the eminence …”:
Washington’s Main Army Order of Battle, 28 June 1778

(Note: This main army order of battle (OB) is a work in progress; the amount of hard information concerning unit locations on the day of battle is reciprocated by almost as much educated supposition. A question mark (?) next to units in the culminating OB signifies uncertainty concerning their whereabouts. My thanks to Garry Stone who provided invaluable advice and information to enhance the accuracy of this study.)

18 to 27 June. On 18 June 1778 General George Washington’s main army began leaving Valley Forge to pursue the British across New Jersey. Orders for June 18th stated, “Poor's, Varnum's and Huntingdon's Brigades are to march immediately under the Command of Majr. General Lee. The two Pennsylvania and Late Conway's Brigades to march at three 0'Clock this afternoon and the whole Army to march at five o'Clock tomorrow morning."1

A second set of orders the same day set the marching order for the rest of the army. “The Army is to March to Morrow and till further Orders in the following Order.”

The Marquis De La Fyatte is to lead with Woodford's
North Carolina
} Brigades.
The Baron de Kalb next with Glovers
} Brigades
The Artillery Park and spare Ammunition.    
Lord Sterling with Weedons
1st Maryland
2d Maryland

The army’s baggage followed, “The Commander in Chief's Baggage is to march in the front of the column of Waggons. The Adjutant General's, Paymaster Generals Engineers Muster Master General Auditor of Accounts The Baggage of the Marquis de la Fyattes De Kalbs Division the baggage of Lord Stirlings Division and then the Waggons of the Quarter Master General's department Flying Hospital and lastly the Com[missar]y. and Forage Master General's Waggons. The whole Baggage to fall in the Rear of the Column of Troops."2

The army thus marched in four separate divisions (commanded by Lee, Lafayette, DeKalb, and Stirling) until it was reorganized at Coryell’s Ferry on June 22nd into a Right Wing (Charles Lee commanding Woodford's, Scott's, North Carolina, Poor's, Varnum's, and Huntingdon’s brigades), Left Wing (William Alexander, Lord Stirling commanding 1st Pennsylvania, 2nd Pennsylvania, “Late Conway's,” Glover's, Learned's, and Paterson's brigades), and the Second Line (Marquis de Lafayette commanding 1st Maryland, 2nd Maryland, Muhlenberg's, Weedon's brigades, and “Maxwell's (when it joins)”).

22 June 1778 Army Organization, Coryell’s Ferry, New Jersey

General George Washington, commanding

Right Wing

Major-General Charles Lee
Woodford's Brigade, Brigadier-General William Woodford
Scott's Brigade, Brigadier-General Charles Scott
North Carolina Brigade, Colonel Thomas Clark
Poor's Brigade, Brigadier-General Enoch Poor
Varnum's Brigade (senior colonel?)
Huntingdon’s Brigade, Brigadier-General Jedediah Huntingdon

Left Wing

Major-General William Alexander, Lord Stirling
1st Pennsylvania Brigade, Brigadier-General Anthony Wayne
2nd Pennsylvania Brigade (senior colonel?)
“Late Conway's” Brigade, Colonel William Malcolm
Glover's Brigade, Brigadier-General John Glover
Learned's Brigade, (senior colonel?)
Paterson's Brigade, Brigadier-General John Paterson

Second Line

Major-General Marquis de Lafayette
1st Maryland Brigade, Brigadier-General William Smallwood
2nd Maryland Brigade (senior colonel?)
Muhlenberg's Brigade, Brigadier-General Peter Muhlenberg
Weedon's Brigade, Brigadier-General George Weedon
Maxwell's Brigade, Brigadier-General William Maxwell
          (detached, harassing British column)

From 22 to 26 June General Washington detached and sent forward four separate forces under Colonel Daniel Morgan, Brigadier General Charles Scott, Major General the Marquis de Lafayette, and Major General Charles Lee (see Appendix C). The last three detachments were united under General Lee’s command and opened the Monmouth battle on the morning of 28 June. The first three detachments were provisional organizations composed of picked officers and men. The last force, sent forward under Major General Lee on 26 June, consisted of Scott’s and Varnum’s brigades. With their removal, the Right Wing lost two brigades and came under the command of Major General Nathanael Greene (quartermaster-general), who would lead it during the 28 June battle. The Second Line commander is uncertain (Lafayette having been detached on June 25th), but may have been Major General Baron Johann DeKalb.3

28 June 1778. As a result of the Monmouth battle’s ad hoc nature pre-battle army organization was set aside to allow for the developing situation. Many units were held back to support the Perrine Hill position astride the direct route from Freehold to Englishtown and counter enemy flanking movements, while a large number of Lee’s Advance Force units were spread among the defenses and several others were sent back to Englishtown to reorganize. A number of main army brigades did not reach Englishtown till mid to late afternoon, where they were halted and formed by General Wilhelm de Steuben.

The day of the battle Lee’s troops advanced to Monmouth Courthouse in the morning, and, after confronting the British rear guard, retreated towards Englishtown, meeting Washington’s main force around noon near the west morass in front of Perrine Hill. Several of Lee’s units (including Wayne’s detachment, Varnum’s Brigade, and Cilley’s and Parker’s battalions, Scott’s detachment) continued the fight, at a woods and hedgerow across the morass from the main American Perrine Hill position, and, joined by several main army regiments, in a series of afternoon counterattacks. The 1st New Jersey Regiment covered the retreat from a woods just east of the West Morass, while the 2nd Jersey Regiment was one of the first units forming what would become the main American line of defense on Perrine Hill.

While several regiments of late Conway’s Brigade (3rd Pennsylvania, Malcolm’s, and Spencer’s) fought the late-afternoon Parsonage Farm action, by and large the units marching under Washington played a support role during the action, many enduring the British cannonade or maneuvering under Lafayette to forestall a threatened flank attack. Left Wing commander Major General Alexander, Lord Stirling, wrote that “after passing the new [Tennent] Meeting house, the Right Wing of the Army [under Major General Nathanael Greene] took the right hand Road … and formed … the left Wing which I had the honor to Command took the left hand road … and formed [on Perrine Hill, with a morass in front] …” Major-General Greene then moved further to the right to flank the British left, as noted by Lt. Col. Henry Laurens, “The General ordered Woodford’s brigade [of Greene’s Right Wing] with some artillery to take possession of an eminence [Comb’s Hill] on the enemy’s left and cannonade from thence. This produced an excellent effect. The enemy were prevented from advancing on us, and confined themselves to cannonade with a show of turning our left flank.” The other Right Wing brigades were either not up yet, or held back to reinforce the Left Wing on Perrine Hill. Later in the day two of General Greene’s other brigades were sent forward on the side of the battlefield opposite Greene’s Comb’s Hill position, Washington noting that he “ordered General Poor with his own and the Carolina Brigade [1st and 2nd North Carolina Regiments], to move round upon their Right, and General Woodford upon their left, and the Artillery to gall them in front: The Troops advanced with great spirit to execute their orders But the impediments in their way prevented their getting within reach before it was dark.”4

Other units were also mentioned. One was Glover’s brigade, to which the 1st Massachusetts Regiment belonged, Sgt. Ebenezer Wild of that regiment noting in his diary, “About 2 o’clk … Our Division formed a line on the eminence [Perrine Hill] about a half a mile in the front of the enemy, and our artillery in our front.” Major General Wilhelm de Steuben was sent to Englishtown to regroup some of Lee’s units and form several arriving main army brigades. Steuben wrote, “Scarce had the troops [3rd and 4th New Jersey Regiments and Butler’s Battalion of Scott’s detachment] taken their position [on the west side of Weamacock Creek in Englishtown] when General [John] Patterson arrived with three brigades of the second line ... I placed his three brigades a little more in the rear, on a high ground [west of Englishtown], and I established a battery on the right wing, in front of the second brigade of General Smallwood.” Steuben also mentions Muhlenberg’s Brigade being there. While Paterson’s brigade was officially a Left-Wing unit, the 2nd Maryland and Muhlenberg’s brigades belonged to the Second Line.5

With the information at hand Washington’s main army formed in the afternoon as follows on the 28 June battlefield (Lee’s Advance Force units are also included):

Battle of Monmouth Continental Army Field Dispositions, 28 June 1778
(For 28 June main army brigade composition and strength see Appendix E)

General George Washington, commanding
Major-General Charles Lee
, retired to Englishtown after directing initial holding action at West Morass

Comb’s Hill

Major-General Nathanael Greene, Right Wing commander
Lieutenant-Colonel David Rhea, guide (detached from 2nd New Jersey Regt.)
Woodford’s Brigade (Virginia) - Right Wing unit
          Artillery (Four 6-pounder cannon (?))
          Chevalier du Plessis-Mauduit, lt.-colonel commanding

Perrine Hill

(Note: These forces comprised three lines: a forward screen behind a fence along Perrine/Sutfin farm property lines; the main line; and reserves under Lafayette which moved back to shadow a Crown forces flanking column, then remained in the woods when the enemy withdrew.)

Forward Screen

1st Pennsylvania Brigade - Left Wing unit
Cilley’s and Parker’s Battalions - Scott’s Detachment, Lee’s Advance Force units

Main Line

Major-General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, Left Wing commander
(?) 2nd Pennsylvania Brigade - Left Wing unit
“Late Conway’s” Brigade (largely Pennsylvania) - Left Wing unit
Glover’s Brigade (Massachusetts) - Left Wing unit
(?) Learned’s Brigade (Massachusetts) - Left Wing unit
Huntingdon’s Brigade (Connecticut) - Right Wing unit
          Artillery (10 to 12 cannon, likely 6 and 4 pounders)
          Brigadier-General Henry Knox
          Proctor’s Artillery and other detachments

Lafayette’s Reserve

Major-General Marquis de Lafayette
Poor’s Brigade (New Hampshire and New York) - Right Wing unit
North Carolina Brigade - Right Wing unit
1st Maryland Brigade - Second Line unit
1st and 2nd New Jersey Regts.* - Maxwell’s Brigade,
          Lee’s Advance Force units
          (* Located on extreme left of line)
(?) Weedon’s Brigade (largely Virginia) - Second Line unit

Englishtown Reserve

Major-General Wilhelm de Steuben
Paterson’s Brigade (Massachusetts) - Left Wing unit
2nd Maryland Brigade - Second Line unit
Muhlenberg’s Brigade (Virginia) - Second Line unit
Lee’s Advance Force units:
          3rd and 4th New Jersey Regts. - Maxwell’s Brigade
          9th Pennsylvania Regiment
          Butler’s Battalion - Scott’s Detachment*
          Wayne’s Detachment
          Jackson’s Detachment
          Varnum’s Brigade (Rhode Island/Connecticut)
          Scott’s Brigade (largely Virginia)

(* A fourth battalion of Scott’s Detachment, did not join the retreat, having been cut off and left behind guarding the intersection of the Amboy and New Meeting House roads east of the Craig House.)


1. General orders, 18 June 1778, John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, vol. 12 (Washington, D.C., 1934), 91 (hereafter cited as Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington).

2. General orders, 18 June 1778, ibid., 90-91.

3. General orders, 22 June 1778; Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette, 25 June 1778; Washington to Charles Lee, 26 June 1778, ibid., 105-107, 117-118, 120.

4. Major General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, to William H. Drayton, South Carolina Congressman, from “Camp Whiteplains August 15th: 1778,” “Letters of William Alexander, Lord Stirling,” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, vol, 60, no. 3 (July 1942), 173-174. John Laurens to Henry Laurens, 30 June 1778, The Lee Papers, vol. II, 1776-1778, Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1872 (New York, 1873), 431-434. Washington to the President of Congress, 1 July 1778, Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 139-143.

5. Major General de Steuben testimony, "Proceedings of a General Court Martial ... for the Trial of Major General Lee. July 4th, 1778 ...," The Lee Papers, vol. III, 1778-1782, Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1873 (New York, 1874), 96. Ebenezer Wild, "Journal of Ebenezer Wild," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2nd series, vol. VI (Boston, Ma., 1891), 108-111.

See also:

American army returns, May and June 1778, Charles H. Lesser, Ed., The Sinews of Independence: Monthly Strength Reports of the Continental Army (Chicago, Il., 1976), 68-69, 72-73.

Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution - April 1775 to December 1783 (Washington, D.C.: The Rare Book Publishing Shop, Inc., 1914)

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Appendix E