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

Go to Part I

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.24

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.

One of the earliest records of any wearing apparel being received for the soldiers' use in 1778, and the only one before December in any coats are mentioned, is dated 28 February. That document lists clothing and cloth received by the 2nd New Jersey Regiment. Among enumerated items are thirty-one coats and various quantities of material including twenty-six and one-quarter yards of brown narrow cloth and twenty-seven and one-half yards of brown light coating, all of which could have been made into wool coats.25 Another source of clothing for the enlisted men of the brigade was mentioned in a newspaper article dated 17 March 1778:

The following donations were lately received at the hospital in Princeton, viz.; From the Rev. Mr. Hardenburg's congregation at Raritan, 180 pairs stockings, 62 good shirts, 43 [shirts] in part worn, 20 pair linen trousers, 5 [pair of linen] breeches, 2 [linen] jackets, 11 shirts, 50 wollen jackets, 25 pair of [wool] breeches, 17 coats, 4 blankets, 5 pair of shoes

... And from the Reverend Mr. Chapman's congregation in Newark Mountains, 10 blankets, 19 sheets, 45 shirts, 9 coats, 40 vests, 27 pair breeches, 105 pair of stockings, 2 pair of shoes, 3 surtouts, 3 watchcoats, 15 pair of trousers... [in addition to a variety of cloth and bedclothes.]

The donors of the above, and those who before contributed, and [those] who may contribute in the same way, are hereby informed, that a proper assortment of all kinds of clothing will be kept in the hospital [for the] sick and wounded soldiers in general of the Continental army, who shall be sent to the hospital, and the residue will be distributed to them who are fit for service, paying a particular attention to the regiments of this state [New Jersey], whether in hospital or camp.26

As noted, donations of civilian clothing had been made before and it is not unreasonable to assume that more were made later. It is also fair to assume that at least a small proportion of this clothing eventually made its way to the soldiers of the New Jersey brigade.

In January, Colonel Israel Shreve and Lieutenant Colonel David Brearley (of the 4th Regiment) left the brigade at Valley Forge and embarked on a special errand. On 19 January, Shreve wrote his wife that "tomorrow morning I shall set out for Jersey once more on a Command for Cloathing for our Brigade..." The two officers were also to present a memorial to the Legislature of New Jersey concerning "the want of proper Cloathing, [by which many men] are rendered unfit for duty." The previously mentioned coats and material were probably one of the results of this mission. Other materials were purchased or requisitioned for the New Jersey officers by the two men and these shed some light on a preference in uniform coat colors at the time. In a listing of cloth "taken at Salem [New Jersey] for the use of the four Jersey Regts", a note by Israel Shreve states that "2 1/4 yds Scarlet Broad cloath" and "3 1/2 yds blue" broad cloth was "kept for My Self and Lt. Shreves", his son. This material was most probably used for making a blue and red regimental coat, perhaps the same one documented by the colonel when he noted the disbursement of monies late in January for "Makeing a uneform Coat."27

A common soldier of the New Jersey Brigade wearing a hunting shirt with an open front, representing either a new levy serving for nine months or a long-term soldier enlisted for three years or the war. Maxwell's Brigade was part of Major General Charles Lee's advance force at the Battle of Monmouth (28 June 1778). Lee later ascribed the difficulties he had in handling his forces during the battle to the fact that "the regiments had no uniforms or distinguishing colours [i.e., flags]..." Illustration by Peter F. Copeland.

Another document is even more comprehensive in listing the "Clothing purchased by Colo. I Shreve and D. Brialy [Brearly] for the New Jersey Brigade." Among the assorted wools and linens of various colors and quality are twenty-five and three-quarters yards of blue nap [possibly of coat material quality], two and one-quarter yards of blue serge, twelve yards of blue broadcloth, and two and one-quarter yards of blue coating. In addition, there is listed one and one-quarter yards of scarlet serge, four and one-quarter yards of scarlet broadcloth, four and five-eighths yards of scarlet coating and fourteen and one-quarter yards of red nap. Various other shades of red (claret and blossom colored) as well as some gray and brown wool are included in some minor quantities. This is a relatively small quantity of cloth and it may have been intended for the making of uniform coats only for the regimental officers.28 One other listing is interesting since it denotes the materials issued to several officers of the 2nd New Jersey Regiment and seems to indicate the color of the clothing worn by the surgeon and paymaster, as well as specifying [showing – out]the miscellaneous colors and varying shades that the other officers were given. The following is "An Account [of] Cloth Trimmings etc. Delivered out of the Cloths etc. purchased at Salem for the use of the Jersey Brigade February 1778:"

To Colo. Shreve & Lt. Shreve
  2 1/4 yds Scarlet Broad Cloth
  3 1/2 yds Blue Do.
  4 yds Blue Shalloon
  7 yds Brown Durant
to Doctor Lewis Howell
  3 1/2 yds Black Broad Cloth
  4 3/4 yds Black lining
to John Peck Pay Master
  2 1/2 yds Dark Brown Broad Cloth
  1 1/2 yds Brown Lining
to Benajah Osmun, Q Master
  2 1/2 yds Scarlet Coating
  1/2 yd & 1/2 Quarter black Broad Cloth
  3 yds Shalloon
  1 1/2 yd White Flannel
Capt. Bowen
  2 yds black B. Cloth
  1/4 Scarlet Do.
  3 yds Black Lining
to Lt. Derrick Lane
  1 3/4 yard Blue Broad Cloth
  1 1/2 yds Claret Do.
  1 1/2 yds Red Shalloon
  2 yd Brown Durant
  1/4 yd Scarlet Cloth
  1/4 yd Black Broad Cloth29

Besides the mention of the black coating materials being issued to the surgeon and the brown material to the pay master, it seems that there was some attempt to clothe the other field and company grade officers in coats of blue cloth with red facings (or several shades thereof). Brigadier General Maxwell himself was described in September 1778 as wearing "an old thread-bare blue coat, and a still shabbier hat. In England, one would take him for an invalided corporal of Artillery." At this time a corporal of the Royal Artillery would have worn a "dark blue coat which had a scarlet collar, cuffs and lapels, all of them edged with gold lace." The linings were of red cloth and the corporal's coat was to have gold epaulets. The buttons worn on the coat were of plain brass and the hats had yellow bindings.30 Since they had to purchase their own clothing, the coats of the officers were problematical at best. Even continuing into the latter years of the war, there was still no standardization of the clothing of the officers within regiments. A November 1780 General Order stated:

As nothing adds more to the beauty and appearance of a Corps than exact uniformity of dress; the General [Washington] recommends it thus early to the Field officers newly arranged to fix upon a fashion for the regimental clothing of the officers of their respective corps (if it is not already done) confining themselves to the ground, facings, linings and buttons already assigned to the states to which they belong: The General sees with concern the difficulties which the officers labor under in procuring clothes; it is not therefore his wish that those who are already furnished should run themselves to the expence of new uniforms if their old are not exactly conformable, but that they should in future comply strictly with the regimental fashion, and if possible get their old clothes altered to it. It has a very odd appearance especially to Foreigners to see the same corps of officers each differing from the other in fashion of the facings sleeves and pockets of their coats.31

"The following Articles of Clothing..."

1778 Nine Months Levies' Apparel

Beginning in May 1778, the incorporation into the New Jersey Continental regiments of men from the New Jersey militia enlisted for nine months of service also had an effect upon the appearance of the brigade. The act authorizing the use of these short-term soldiers was passed on 3 April 1778 by the New Jersey General Assembly. The success of this program was such that the strength of the four Jersey regiments was raised considerably, although attainment of the optimum complement for the brigade (2,932 officers and men according the 1778 table of organization) still remained elusive. As close as can be determined, out of 1,690 non-commissioned officers and rank and file, 670 were nine-months levies, amounting to almost forty percent of the brigade. The result of this success was that a large proportion of the Jersey Brigade through the summer and fall of 1778 was comprised of more or less inexperienced soldiers, many of whom needed to be supplied with clothing and accoutrements.32

The legislation which enacted the nine-month draft included measures providing for the clothing of the new men. These provisions were as follows:

...for the Encouragement of fit, able and effective Persons to enter voluntarily into the Service of their Country... every such Person... shall receive, on his being mustered and approved ... Forty Dollars, together with the following Articles of Cloathing, that is to say, a Blanket, a Hunting Frock, a Pair of Cloth [possibly wool] Breeches, a Hat, a Shirt, a Pair of Stockings and a Pair of Shoes ... if any Person, enlisted or detached ... shall supply himself with the Clothes herein allowed, or any Part of them, he shall he entitled to the current Price of each Article so found...33

Various returns, receipts and accounts verify the manufacture and purchase of all the items listed above. Included are numbers of hunting shirts and wool breeches, as well as the wool and linen to be used in making such apparel. There are also several items of clothing not included in the allotment stipulated by the state, but which were nevertheless manufactured and issued to the new levies. At least a small number of trousers was made up and twenty-four yards of "Coating" and "four Blankett[s] for Lining and facing" were purchased despite the fact that the short-term men were to be issued hunting frocks and not coats.34

In addition to clothing issued by the state, some of the men chose to supply their own and in return "Rec[eive]d the value of their Summer Cloathing" in currency. Although most of the men who used their own clothing received the full value of the clothing allotment (the cost of which ranged from a high of fifteen pounds to a low of approximately fourteen pounds, depending on the county), some of the new levies were given smaller amounts, an indication that some of the clothing they wore into service was issued to them. In a series of listings of nine-months men who entered the New Jersey Brigade and received the "Value of [their] Clothing", twenty-one men were given fifteen pounds, twenty received fourteen pounds, ten shillings and six pence, one man received thirteen pounds, thirteen shillings and nine pence, three men were given nine pounds, and one man was given six pounds, sixteen shillings and nine pence. These rolls show that at least ninety of the new levies, from four counties, wore their own clothing during their nine-months enlistment, amounting to 13.45 percent of the total number of levies who served with the brigade. Since the available records give an incomplete picture of the bounties paid to the new men, this percentage must in actuality have been higher. It is reasonable to assume that perhaps as much as twenty-five percent of the total number of levies who volunteered or were drafted (approximately 170 men) wore their own clothing into service.35

Numbers of Levies Known to Have Received a Clothing Bounty
County of Origin Men Known to Have Served
From the County
Men Who
Received a Bounty

Salem 44 25 (57%)
Hunterdon 86 25 (29%)
Sussex 30 15 (30%)
Middlesex 61 25 (41%)
(The counties of origin are known for 450 levies.)
Total Number of
Levies Who Served
Levies Known to Have
Received a Clothing
Estimate of the
Total Number
of Levies Who
Received the Bounty

670 90 (13.45%) 25% (168 men)

The types of clothing some of the new men supplied on their own is open to conjecture. Although the 1778 draft legislation stipulated that any new levy could "supply himself with the Clothes herein allowed, or any Part of them" (including a hunting frock and breeches), the availability and widespread use of hunting frocks by large numbers of New Jersey militia is doubtful at best. The only mention of the use of hunting frocks by the militia concerned only that portion of the men from the state designated to serve as "minute-men" during 1775. In August of that year, approximately one-quarter of the militia were to be embodied in that capacity and, in a resolution dated 31 August, it was directed that "for the sake of distinction and convenience [these men were] to adopt as their uniform hunting frocks, as near as may be similar to those of the riflemen now in the continental service." Whether this directive was ever effected is not known, but all of the other legislation which authorized or regulated the militia during the first four years of the war stipulated only the equipment which the men were to use during their normal periods of service, leaving these civilian-soldiers to acquire both the clothing and proper accoutrements on their own. The lack of uniformity in the militia resulting from the absence of a central source of supply was probably carried over to some degree during the nine-month levies’ period of service with the Continental regiments. Due to the great desire to arm, equip and clothe the new men as quickly as possible, it is probable that apparel other than hunting frocks was accepted for use. Alternatives would have included any serviceable coats of civilian manufacture (such as linen common frocks, sleeved jackets made of linen or wool and other coats of varying patterns) typical of those worn by most militia soldiers during the war.36

At least ninety of the nine-months levies are known to have worn their own clothing and equipment during their term of service in 1778. If civilian coats were accepted for use by the new levies, then at least some of the men from the New Jersey militia serving with Maxwell's Brigade wore clothing similar to that illustrated here. Illustration by Donna Neary, from Marko Zlatich, New England Soldiers of the American Revolution (Santa Barbara, CA, 1993). Reprinted courtesy of Bellerophon Books.

"Only few light things in the Spring."

Clothing the Jersey brigade's Long Term Soldiers', 1778

In stark contrast to the types of clothing known to have been worn by the New Jersey levies in 1778, information concerning the coats and other clothing worn by the long-term soldiers of Maxwell's Brigade during the same period is sorely lacking. As previously noted, extant records show that only thirty-one coats can be verified to have been issued to the New Jersey regiments during the first half of the year. Another document, a note written in late May or early June by Captain Jonathan Phillips of the 2nd Regiment, states that "I have got 200 Vests and as many Breeches the C[l]oather has Linning for twenty Shirts & as Soon as they Can be maid [they] Shall Be Sent by the first oppurtinity." This gives some indication of the types of other wearing apparel which reached the soldiers of at least one of the regiments of the brigade. In addition to this clothing, small quantities of wool and linen were purchased, although a proportion of these materials were intended for the use of the officers rather than the enlisted men. Even the officers of the brigade were not exempt from the experience of well-worn clothing, as evidenced by Colonel Shreve's request to his wife on 15 January to "hurry the taylor about my Coat as I want it much."37 In view of a statement such as this, and taking into account the rigors of the 1777 campaign, the regimental coats issued in 1777 to the common soldiers of New Jersey, some of which may have been received as early as February of that year, could hardly have survived into the spring and summer of 1778. With these factors in mind, along with others which will be examined below, it is probable that the long-term soldiers in the brigade, like numbers of the new levies, were issued hunting shirts. The likelihood that these soldiers wore hunting shirts during the Monmouth Campaign is further supported by the nature of the garment itself as well as by a known preference for the use of this apparel during warm weather. In addressing the first factor, when compared with regimental coats made of dyed wool, the materials needed for hunting shirts were less expensive and more easily obtained, and the shirt’s loose fit required a minimum of tailoring, ensuring faster delivery to the troops. Because of these attributes, hunting shirts were focused upon as an alternative to uniform coats as early as 1775. Writing on 10 July of that year, George Washington noted that,

I find the Army in general and particularly the Troops raised in Massachusetts Bay very diffident in necessary Clothing: Upon Inquiry it appears there is no Probability of Obtaining any supplies in this Quarter; upon the best consideration of this matter... I am of [the] Opinion that a number of hunting Shirts, not less than 10,000, would in a great Degree remove the difficulty in the cheapest and quickest manner.38

A month later, he described hunting shirts made of "Tow Cloth... as a Species of Uniform both cheap and convenient", and informed the army that he had "hopes of prevailing with the Continental Congress, to give each Man a hunting shirt." Although it seems that the commander in chief was disappointed in his hopes of clothing the army in this manner in 1775, in May 1776 he again recommended that "those Corps which are not already supplied with Uniforms ... provide hunting Shirts for their men."39 During the summer of the same year Washington reiterated his reasons for issuing hunting shirts and emphasized the attributes of the garment as he saw them:

The General being sensible of the difficulty, and expence of providing Cloaths, of almost every kind, for the Troops, feels an unwillingness to recommend, much more to order, any kind of Uniform, but as it is absolutely necessary that men should have Cloaths and appear decent and tight, he earnestly encourages the use of Hunting Shirts, with long breeches, made of the same Cloth, Gaiter fashion about the Legs [i.e., overalls], to all those yet unprovided. No Dress can be made cheaper, nor more convenient, as the Wearer may be cool in warm weather, and warm in cool weather by putting on under Cloaths which will not change the outward dress, Winter or Summer — Besides which it is a dress justly supposed to carry no small terror to the enemy, who think every such person a complete Marksman.40

In addition to the mention made in the letter above, other references to the suitability of hunting shirts for warm weather campaigning can also be found. In June 1777, George Washington again related that "Hunting Shirts and over alls will... be more comfortable at this Season than Uniform..."41 This preference for hunting shirts during the warm months was emphasized in the latter half of 1778 and again in 1779. After his regiment received its portion of a shipment of imported French clothing, Colonel Moses Hazen wrote in December 1778:

...as I wish to Take every Measure and all Possible care in preserving the uniform Cloathing, I would beg to propose a linen Coat, or hunting shirt, and some overalls for the Spring - That the uniform Cloathing may be Pack'd up and Laid by During the hot weather in Summer and for this purpose I would beg your Excellency will please to order a sufficient Quantity of Coarse Linen from [the] Public Store at Boston to be made up by our own Taylors in Camp During the winter.42

In autumn 1778, General Maxwell noted that the New Jersey Brigade had been given "only a few light things in the Spring." "A few light things" possibly included hunting shirts, as indicated by the Hazen's note (above) and what we know from preparations for Major General John Sullivan's 1779 expedition. Letters and returns referring to Sullivan's soldiers' apparel spoke of "Summer Cloathing" or "Light Cloathing." Other documents note the preferred clothing consisted chiefly of hunting shirts and overalls. Although it seems a full supply of such clothing did not reach the troops, according to the Board of War at least 2,000 hunting shirts were forwarded to the army under General Sullivan in 1779. All these references point to a connection between "light things," "Summer Cloathing," "Light Cloathing," and hunting shirts.43

The nine-months men in general were better clothed than those soldiers enlisted for three years or the war. Repeated requests made by Colonel Israel Shreve for new shirts for his regiment support this contention.44 In a letter dated 29 May 1778 he wrote General Washington:

I am very sorry to trouble your Excy with matters the State of Jersey Ought to atend to. The Great Neglect in provideing Cloathing for our Brigade has been such that our troops suffer Greatly on this Account. I have not been Able to Draw one Shirt for my Regt. since I have been in Jersey [Shreve's regiment had been posted in New Jersey since the latter half of March 1778]. A Number of my men has none at all. To see Good men in this situation Distresses me Greatly. The Counties are provideing for the New Rais'd Leavys while the old soldiers Inlisted for the war Are Quite Neglected. If any such things are in the Cloathier Gen. store, it would Oblige us to Obtain an order from your Excy. for at least one apeice which will be about 600 for both Regts. [i.e., the 1st and 2nd New Jersey] or a Less Number if so many Can't be had.45

The question as to whether the good colonel's account of neglect extended to the number, type and quality of the other clothing worn by the brigade provides food for thought, but cannot be accurately determined. One other letter does support the contention that the New Jersey troops were ill-supplied at this time. On 3 July 1778, New Jersey Governor William Livingston wrote that:

The distressed Condition of our Brigade for want of Clothing induces us to desire you will use your utmost endeavours on this Occasion. We have been informed that General Arnold... has collected a very considerable quantity of Cloths & Linnen in the City of Philadelphia. This being doubtless the common supply of the Troops from the several States ... What we wish is, that the Quantity which will be our Proportion, might be sent us in the Materials, as we can have them immediately made up, & forwarded to the Brigade much sooner in all probability than the Clothier General... There are Persons now in the Employ of the State, who will forthwith set to work in making up the Cloths.46

PULLOVER HUNTING SHIRT. The exact type of hunting shirt/frock issued to the soldiers of the New Jersey Brigade is not known. It has been conjectured that some hunting frocks were made in a pullover style. The garment illustrated resembles the civilian common frock which may have been worn by some of the nine-month levies during 1778. This rendering is based on a nineteenth-century reproduction of an original specimen, a photograph of which can be found in Charles Bolton's The Private Soldier Under Washington. Illustration by Henry M. Cooke IV, from Henry M. Cooke, IV, "Tenth Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Line: Documentation of Hunting Shirts", (unpublished monograph, 1988), and Charles Knowles Bolton, The Private Soldier Under Washington (Williamstown, MA, 1976), photograph following p. 160.

That this supply of materials was ever made up and sent to the soldiers is doubtful at best. Referring to wearing apparel, on 27 October William Maxwell noted that the New Jersey soldiers "have had nothing this summer only a few light things in the Spring." Almost a month later, on 25 November, Governor Livingston was still able to write that "The New Jersey Troops ... are in a deplorable Condition respecting their Cloathing."47

A final series of references gives some insight into the general appearance of at least a part of Washington's army in the summer of 1778, including William Maxwell's four Jersey regiments. At the court-martial of Major General Charles Lee for his actions at the Battle of Monmouth on 28 June, Lee attempted to enumerate some of the chronic problems he encountered in controlling and maneuvering the units under his command, the chief of which was that "...the regiments have no uniforms or distinguishing colours [i.e. flags]..." In conjunction with General Lee's remark concerning the lack of uniforms among the various units which composed his advance force (including the Jersey Brigade), there were two other accounts of Monmouth which seem to point out the singularity of a unit with any kind of uniform coat. While Colonel Henry Jackson's Regiment was in the process of retreating from a position where they were exposed to enemy artillery fire, "General Lee rode up to the regiment and spoke in these words: This blue regiment must form behind this fence..." A short time later at a court of inquiry concerning the conduct of Colonel Jackson, another officer gave his version of the same incident: "...I found we [Jackson's Regiment] were retiring — Then I look'd round & saw Genl. Lee on Horseback and Col. Jackson at a considerable distance... Genl. Lee immediately halloo's where is that damned blue Regiment going..." The significance of these remarks concerning the distinctive clothing of a single regiment may indicate that this was one of the few units with any type of standardized regimental coat and, more importantly, coats which had actually been issued in sufficient numbers to clothe most of the men. On the other hand, it may also have been that any other uniformed regiments present wore coats of brown, the other predominant color at the time, or uniforms of another color, and that Jackson's Regiment was the only one wearing blue coats during this part of the action.48

For most of the remainder of the year, the clothing situation was to remain generally the same, the only difference being the probability that at least some additional issues of smaller items such as waistcoats, breeches, overalls and trousers were made. A return evidently made sometime in the fall of 1778 gave the "State of the Clothing for the New Jersey Brigade" and showed that as regards coats, there were only 244 "Made up, and now on hand" and 240 for which the "Materials for making up [are] paid for". This left 916 coats "Still wanted supposing there to be 600, old, and 800, 9 Months Troops."49

A State of the Clothing for the New Jersey Brigade Sundry Articles of Clothing
[This document is undated, but probably was made in the autumn of 1778, as evidenced by the reference to nine-months levies and the expected need for new and warmer clothing with the onset of cold weather.]
  Made up, and
now on hand
Materials for
making up paid for
Still wanted supposing
there to be 600,
old, and 800, 9 Months
Coats 244 240   916
Vests 863    
Breec[hes] 388 350  
Shirts 220 535 1245
Hose 926   1074
Shoes   90   1310
Hats 218 540  
[Additional notes stated the cost for the needed items. Under this category the making of 540 hats is mentioned but no mention made of bindings for the hats. Also listed is the costs for "Facings, Thread &c for 916 Coats" and "Thread and Buttons for 1832 Shirts." A postscript notes that "Blankets [are wanted] for the Whole..."]

By the end of the year, the fortunes of the New Jersey Brigade became decidedly better as regards clothing. In September 1778, a shipment of about 20,000 French-made uniforms arrived in Boston and, shortly thereafter, General Washington was informed that "the Cloathing is of fine Quality, quite fresh and in good Order free from Moth or damage the Coats consists of only two sorts blue turned up with red and brown turned up with red the Waistcoats and Breeches are all white." It was decided to hold a lottery to determine which coat colors would be issued to each state, the result of which was that the New Jersey regiments were chosen to receive blue coats faced with red. Although a detachment of Jersey troops was sent, on 27 October, "for the Cloathing belonging to the New Jersey Brigade," it was not until after the 1st of December that the new supplies were received. The change must have been striking, as Colonel Shreve wrote on the 4th of the month that "General Washington ... Last Evening Reviewed our Brigade, who made a Good appearance being all Compleatly Cloathed in uniform." Unfortunately, contrary to the legislation passed in April that authorized the nine-month draft, most of the levies did not receive the new, warmer clothing which had been promised although they would continue to serve until late February or March 1779. The law had stipulated that the recruits would receive "on the first Day of October next [1778], if not sooner discharged, a regimental Coat, a Shirt, a Pair of Stockings and a Pair of Shoes." Disregarding this, General Washington himself wrote on 27 October that "the drafts are not intitled to the new cloathing," leaving these men lacking in proper wearing apparel for the remainder of their term of enlistment, unless they were lucky enough to be issued any coats made up prior to the the imported clothing's arrival.50

On the whole, the specific type of any uniform clothing worn by the New Jersey regiments for the greater part of 1778 is open to speculation. Although the number of regimental coats issued to the common soldiers during the first eleven months of the year would have been few at best, it does seem that blue and red as uniform coat colors had gained some acceptance in the brigade. This assertion is borne out by the fact that at least two Jersey officers wore blue and red coats during 1778 and a number of others had obtained cloth suitable for coats of similar colors. It is also known that significant numbers of nine-month levies (who comprised forty percent of the brigade) were issued hunting shirts to wear which would have given them a more or less uniform appearance. Unknown numbers of these recruits wore their own clothing into service which may have consisted of a mix of hunting shirts, common frocks and various types of other serviceable coats of civilian manufacture. Finally, although an unknown number of regimental coats, and possibly sleeved waistcoats, may have been made for the long-term soldiers of the brigade from materials purchased for that purpose, the number could not have been great. It is more likely that those men enlisted for the war who served during 1778 were issued hunting shirts and continued to wear them until they received the imported French clothing in December.

The common frock typically worn by farmers, laborers and other working men to protect their clothing from dirt and wear. This type of outer apparel may have been worn in service by some of the nine-months men who chose to supply their own clothing. Illustration by George C. Woodbridge, from George C. Neumann and Frank J. Kravic, Collectors Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (Harrisburg, PA, 1975), p. 242.

The illustrations contained in this piece were reproduced with the permission of Company Fellow Peter F. Copeland, Fellow George C. Neumann, Henry M. Cooke IV, and Bellerophon Books of Santa Barbara, California. There are a number of people whose encouragement and assistance contributed greatly to the writing of this article. Fellow James Kochan, as always, is an invaluable source of information as well as a good friend. Fellow Peter Copeland has been supportive of my various efforts and was kind enough to supply an unpublished drawing for use with this work. Fellow Ronald Beifuss and Larry Schmidt brought to my attention important documents pertaining to the early war clothing of the Jersey troops. Fellow Donald Londahl-Smidt assisted me greatly with a careful reading of the narrative, and in bringing my system of notations into the latter half of the 20th century. And, finally, my thanks to Garry W. Stone of Monmouth Battlefield State Park for providing the interest and impetus I needed to transform a mass of material on clothing into the present, hopefully coherent, format.


24. William Gifford to Benjamin Holme, 12 January 1778, Revolutionary War Documents, New Jersey Historical Society.

25. Listing of clothing and cloth received by Colonel Shreve's 2nd New Jersey Regiment, 28 February 1778, ISP Rutgers.

26. William Stryker, ed., "Extracts from American Newspapers, vol. II. 1778," Documents Relating to the Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey, Second Series (Trenton, NJ: 1903), pp. 116-117.

27. Shreve to Mary Shreve, 19 January 1778, Israel Shreve Papers, Buxton Collection, Prescott Memorial Library, Louisiana Tech University, (henceforth cited as ISP Buxton). Memorial of Israel Shreve and David Brearley to the Governor and Legislature of New Jersey, 29 January 1778, PWL, reel 6, pp. 845-847. "An Account of Cloth kept for My Self [i.e., Israel Shreve] and Lt. Shreves," undated, ISP Rutgers. Receipt for tailoring for Colonel Shreve by William McHenney, 28 January 1778, as follows: "To Makeing a uneform Coat," two pounds, fifteen shillings; "To Ripping and Cleaning," seven shillings, six pence; "To Silk Mohare & thread," one pound, five shillings. Ibid.

28. "A List of Clothing purchased by Colo. I Shreve and D. Brialy [Brearly] for the New Jersey Brigade," 2 February to 14 February 1778, 1SP Rutgers. Richard M. Lederer, Jr., Colonial American English: A Glossary (Essex, CT, 1985), shalloon—woolen stuff used mainly for linings; durant (or durance)—glazed woolen stuff called by some "everlasting"; broadcloth — fine, plain-woven woolen cloth used mainly for men's clothing.

29. "An Account Cloth Trimmings etc. Delivered out of the Cloths etc. purchased at Salem for the use of the Jersey Brigade February 1778," NJSA Rev. War, no. 9963.

30. "Dr. [John] Berkenhout's Journal, 1778," entry for September 1778, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 65 (1941), p. 89. The Royal Artillery uniform in 1768 consisted of a "dark blue coat [which] had a scarlet collar, cuffs and lapels, all of them edged with gold lace." The linings were of red cloth. As of July 1773, the corporal's coat was to have gold epaulets. See also Plate 45 for a rendering of an officer of the artillery, 1781. Hew Strachan, British Military Uniforms 1768-96 (London, 1975), pp. 275, 282. The artillery uniform coats were blue faced with red with plain yellow lace and plain brass buttons with yellow bindings on the hats. Philip R.N. Katcher, Encyclopedia of British, Provincial, and German Army Units 1775-1783 (Harrisburg, PA: 1973), p. 24. For an illustration of an officer of the Royal Regiment of Artillery see Philip Katcher, Armies of the American Wars 1753-1815 (New York, 1975), p. 62.

31. General Orders, 15 November 1780, WGW, vol. 20(1937), pp. 349-350.

32. "An Act for the speedy and effectual recruiting of the four New-Jersey Regiments in the Service of the United States," 3 April 1778, "Acts of the General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey... begun at Trenton on the 28th Day of October 1777 ... second Sitting ... second Session," (Burlington, NJ: 1778), pp. 64-71, State Records, B.2, reel 4, 1776- 1788. Rees, "The new Leveys are coming in dayly,..." contains numerical data from a detailed study of the nine-month draft in New Jersey during 1778.

33. "An Act for the speedy and effectual recruiting of the four New-Jersey Regiments...," 3 April 1778, Acts of the General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey... begun at Trenton on the 28th Day of October 1777 ... second Sitting ... second Session," (Burlington: NJ, 1778), pp. 66, 68, State Records, B.2, reel 4, 1776-1788.

34. "The State of New Jersey to Caspar Shaffer [and] Peter Shaffer for sundry disbursements for the Nine Months men raised in the County of Sussex." lists fifteen frocks and two pairs of trousers in addition to other minor items of clothing and some material, NJSA Rev. War, no. 5883. "State of New Jersey 1778 May 20th to Sundry Cloathing for Col. Nielson of 2 Battalion of Middlesex Militia in 9 Mo. Service"; among other items, this return includes 36 hunting frocks and 25 pairs of breeches. Twenty-three of the breeches are stated to be made of wool, ibid., no. 5868. "May the... 2:1778 account of Clothing for the 9 months men," Included in this list are 36 pairs of shoes, 15 pairs of stockings, 17 blankets, 18 shirts, 24 yards of "Coating," 45 "Dozen of Buttons," and "four Blankett for Lining and facing," ibid., no. 5877. A listing of clothing "Del[ivere]d. to Soldiers in the 9 Months Service ... 1 June 1778" consisting of 6 blankets, 3 ruggs, 5 pairs of stockings and 13 hats, "pr Bill," ibid., no. 5890. "Caspar Shaffer Account of Clothing," undated, includes 15 frocks and 11 trousers, ibid., no. 5883. A list of clothing "Received November the 30:1778 of Peter Rt. Shaver six pound & one Shilling for making fifteen frocks & tow [two] paire trowsers for the Nine months men of Sussix County by me John Kirkpatrick," ibid., no. 5870.

35. Rees, "The new Leveys are coming in dayly...," miscellaneous data from a detailed study of the nine-month draft in New Jersey during 1778. The breakdown of the numbers of levies from each county known to have received the clothing bounty and supplied their own apparel is given below. The counties of origin are known for only 450 out of a total of 670 levies.

Salem County Drafts: As per "The new Leveys are coming in dayly..." at least 44 men from Salem County are known to have served as new levies. Twenty-five men from the 1st Regiment of Salem County supplied their own clothing. "An Accot: of Bounty Value of Clothg Subsistance & Milage paid the Nine Mo. Recruits in the C[ount]y. of Salem," undated, NJSA Rev. War, no. 3666. "A Descriptive Roll of Volunteers from the first Regiment of Salem County Militia...," undated, ibid., no. 3644. "A Descriptive Roll of Volunteers... from the first Regiment of Salem County Militia...," May 1778, ibid., no. 3646. Documents used for comparison: "A List of Recruits raisd in 2d Regiment of foot militia Comanded by Coll. Benj Helms in Salem County State of New Jersey are to serve Nine months from the Day of their joining any of the four Regts. Raisd by sd. State for Service of the United States. June 2d 1778," ibid., no. 3651. "A List of recruits in the first Regt of Salem County militia ... June 10th. 78," ibid, no. 3652.

Hunterdon County Drafts: As per "The new Leveys are coming in dayly..." at least 86 men from Hunterdon County are known to have served as new levies. Twenty-five men from 3rd Battalion of Hunterdon County supplied their own clothing. "A Pay Roll of the Draughts from Col: David Chambers [3rd] Battalion of the Hunterdon Millitia for the Nine Months Service," undated, NJSA Rev. War, no. 3617. Documents used for comparison: "A List of Recruits raised in the third Regt of foot Militia ... in Hunterdon County New Jersey: Who are to serve Nine Months ... May 27, 1778,"ibid, no. 3606.

Sussex County Drafts: As per "The new Leveys are coming in dayly..." at least 30 men from Sussex County are known to have served as new levies. Fifteen men supplied their own clothing. "The State of New Jersey to Caspar Shaffer [and] Peter Shaffer for sundry disbursements for the Nine Months men raised in the County of Sussex," undated, NJSA Rev. War, no. 5883.

Middlesex County Drafts: As per "The new Leveys are coming in dayly..." at least 61 men from Middlesex County are known to have served as new levies. The following levies supplied their own clothing: 21 men from 1st Battalion of Middlesex; 4 men from 3rd Battalion. First Battalion Middlesex Militia, 1 May 1778, "Agreeable to an Act of Assembly passed 3d April 1778 for the speedy recruiting the four New Jersey Riedgments... the ... Gentleman Commissioners met on the 1st May 1778 and divided the Battalion into 26 Classes...," NJSA Rev. War., no. 3751. Contained in this document is a list of twenty-five numbered and unnamed substitutes from twenty-six classes. Only four men "drew Cloaths" from the state while the other twenty-one substitutes were paid fourteen pounds and three shillings in lieu of a clothing issue. The clothing issue consisted of the following items:

  Pounds Shillings Pence
A Blanket Valued at   3 10   0
Frock   2 10   0
Pr. of Breeches   1 10   0
Hat   1   2   6
Shirt   3 10   0
pr. Stockings   1   2   6
pr. Shoes   18   0
  11 62 12
(Total Clothing Cost: 14 pounds, 3 shillings)
Rate of Exchange: 20 shillings = 1 pound; 12 pence = 1 shilling

Dennis L. Krowe, "A Great Mystery Dispell'd!," The Brigade Dispatch, (Journal of the Brigade of the American Revolution), vol. XIX, no. 1 (Spring 1987), pp. 2-3. This article discusses monetary values and the rates of exchange. Jonathan Phillips to Israel Shreve, undated, but either May or June 1778 as Frederick VanLue was a substitute from the 3rd Battalion of Middlesex County Militia: "I received yours two days ago, (but two Late) as the Greates part of my Recruts has marched, the bearer Fredrick Van-Lew & three others who are with him are Compleat with armes and Acqutomets [accouterments]...," ISP Rutgers. "List of Substitutes for 9 Months, belonging to the third Battalion Middlesex Militia of N. Jersey...," lists 28 substitutes and their occupations, Frederick VanLue is noted as having enlisted with 3 other men on May 18, 1778, NJSA Rev. War, no. 3620.
Monmouth County Drafts: "Return of Recruits from Col. Samuel Forman's Regt. of Mon[mou]th Militia...," return made after June 2, 1778, NJSA Rev. War, no. 3634.

36. The deliberations and legislation concerning the militia of New Jersey (1775-1778) are to be found in State Records, Session Laws 1776-1788 (B.2) and Addendum 1775-1776 (A.3). Beginning on 3 June 1775 a number of laws were enacted for the regulation of the militia. In an examination of all the acts through the end of 1778 there was found only one reference to the coats to be worn by the men of the militia. This mention concerned only those men serving in the latter half of 1775 who were to be embodied as minute-men, approximately one-quarter of the State's militia. It is not known whether these minute companies saw continued service after 1775 or whether the recommended procurement of hunting frocks was successful. Below are the New Jersey militia laws which were examined: "The draught of a plan for regulating the militia of this colony,..." 3 June 1775; Resolves of the New Jersey Provincial Congress (16 and 31 August 1775) and the Continental Congress (18 July 1775) regarding embodiment of a regular militia and the forming of companies of minutemen; "Extracts from the Journal of the Proceedings of the Provincial Congress of New-Jersey... May, June and August, 1775." (Burlington, NJ, 1775) pp. 16-19, 28-41, State Records, A.3, reel 1. "Ordinance, for the further regulation of the militia forces of this colony,..." 28 October 1775, "Journal of the Votes and Proceedings of the Provincial Congress of New-Jersey ... October 1775." (Burlington, NJ: 1775), pp. 56-59, ibid. "An Act for the raising of four Battalions" of militia, 27 November 1776; "An Act for the better regulating the Militia," 15 March 1777; "An Act to explain and amend... An Act for the better regulating the Militia...," 23 September 1777, "Acts of the General Assembly of the State of New- Jersey ... begun ... on the 27th Day of August, 1776, and continued ... till the 11th of October 1777," 3 sessions (Burlington: NJ, 1777), pp. 9-11, 14, 26-35, 98-101, ibid., B.2, reel 4. "An Act for the Regulating, Training and Arraying of the Militia," 14 April 1778, "Acts of the General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey ... begun at Trenton on the 28th Day of October 1777 ... second Sitting ... second Session." (Burlington, NJ: 1778), pp. 42-56, ibid.

37. Captain Jonathan Phillips to Shreve at Fostertown, undated, but either May or June of 1778 as mention is made of four "Recruts ... Fredrick Van-Lew & three others." VanLue was a nine-months man who enlisted on May 18, 1778 (see note 35 under Middlesex County drafts), ISP Rutgers. Shreve to Polley Shreve, Camp at Valley Forge, 15 January 1778, Soldiers of the Revolution, vol. IV, The Dreer Collection, Society of Pennsylvania, 52:2, p. 122.

38. Washington to the President of Congress, 10 July 1775, WGW, vol. 3 (1931), p. 325.

39. Washington to Nicholas Cooke, Governor of Rhode Island, 4 August 1775, General Orders, 7 August 1775, Washington to the President of Congress, 21 September 1775, WGW, vol. 3, pp. 387, 404, 511. General Orders, 6 May 1776, ibid., vol. 4 (1931), pp. 20-21.

40. General Orders, 24 July 1776, ibid., p. 336.

41. Washington to James Mease, 13 June 1777, ibid., vol. 8 (1933), p. 237.

42. Moses Hazen to Washington, 24 December 1778, GW Papers, series 4, reel 55.

43. Mark M. Boatner, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (New York, 1966), pp. 1074-1075. Oliver Spencer to Washington, 31 April 1779, GW Papers, series 4, reel 58. Alexander McDougall to Washington, 13 May 1779, ibid., series 4, reel 58. Sent along with this letter were enclosures containing "a Return of the Light Cloathing wanted in this Department..." and several regimental returns. These returns show a great preference for hunting shirts and overalls which, according to all the correspondence on the subject, was the clothing issued to many or most of the troops on the Sullivan Expedition. Washington to John Sullivan, 24 May 1779, Otis G. Hammond, ed., Letters and Papers of Major-General John Sullivan, vol. III (Concord, NH: 1939), pp. 40-41. Washington to Daniel Kemper, June 14,1779, WGW, vol. 15 (1936), pp. 278-279. Proceedings of the Continental Congress regarding General John Sullivan's censure of the Board of War, 12 October 1779, The Sullivan-Clinton Campaign in 1779: Chronology and Selected Documents (Albany, NY, 1929), pp. 171-172. William Maxwell to Washington, 27 October 1778, GW Papers, series 4, reel 53.

44. Washington to Maxwell, 27 May 1778, WGW, vol. 11 (1934), p. 462.

45. Shreve to Washington, 29 May 1778, GW Papers, series 4, reel 49.

46. William Livingston to the New Jersey Delegates to the Continental Congress, 3 July 1778, Carl E. Prince and Dennis P. Ryan, eds., The Papers of William Livingston, vol. 2 (Trenton, NJ: 1980), pp. 379-380, (henceforth cited as Livingston Papers).

47. Maxwell to Washington, 27 October 1778, GW Papers, series 4, reel 53. William Livingston to Henry Laurens, 25 November 1778, Livingston Papers, vol. 2, pp. 485-486.

48. Deposition of General Charles Lee at his trial, "Proceedings of a General Court Martial... for the Trial of Major General Lee. July 4th, 1778.” Collections of The New-York Historical Society for the Year 1873 ibid., p. 223.

49"A State of the Clothing for the New Jersey Brigade", listing "Sundry Articles of Clothing", "Made up, and now on hand" and "Still wanted.", undated but probably the latter part of 1778, NJSA Rev. War, no. 5853.

50. Harold L. Peterson, The Book of the Continental Soldier (Harrisburg, PA: 1967), p. 234. Samuel Fletcher to Washington, 10 October 1778,GW Papers, series 4, reel 52. Washington to George Measam, 14 October 1778,WGW, vol. 13 (1936), p. 78. Washington to Measam, 28 October 1778,ibid., pp. 172-173. Washington to Measam, 25 November 1778, ibid., vol. 14 (1936), pp. 330-331. Maxwell to Washington, 27 October 1778, GW Papers, series 4, reel 53, At the time of Maxwell's writing the New Jersey troops had not yet drawn the imported clothing. Israel Shreve to Mary Shreve, 4 December 1778, ISP Buxton. "An Act for the speedy and effectual recruiting of the four New-Jersey Regiments...," 3 April 1778, "Acts of the General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey ... begun at Trenton on the 28th Day of October 1777 ... second Sitting ... second Session" (Burlington, NJ: 1778), p. 66, State Records, B.2, reel 4, 1776-1788. Washington to Horatio Gates, 27 October 1778, WGW, vol. 13, p. 164, Referring to the deficiencies of various articles of clothing in the army Washington wrote: "In deliveries here we use a proportion which you will also observe. We allow a shirt a pr. of stockings and a pr. Shoes pr. Man; half the number of blankets deficient in each regiment and 1/4 of the hats wanting. The insufficiency in the quantity of these last articles forces us to use this disagreeable oeconomy."