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Washington deceived by Clinton. Second Invasion under Knyphausen. Disposition of opposing Troops. The Battle
barking troops in transports on the Hudson, as if an expedition was intended against West Point. Washington was deceived by this movement, and, with a considerable force, marched toward the Highlands, leaving Major-general Greene in command at Springfield. Clinton, perceiving the success of his stratagem, crossed over to Elizabethtown, with Knyphausen and additional troops, and at break of day on the 23d the whole army, consisting June, of about five thousand infantry, a considerable body of cavalry, and from fifteen to 1780. twenty pieces of artillery, advanced toward Springfield. They moved in two columns, one on the main road (the present turnpike) leading to Springfield, the other on the Vauxhall Road, leading to the principal pass among the Short Hills, a series of high ridges at the head of the Springfield plains. The Americans were under the immediate command of Greene. The right column of the enemy, on the Vauxhall Road, was opposed by Major Henry Lee with his cavalry, and some pickets under Captain Walker, and the left was confronted by Colonel Dayton, of the New Jersey line." The remainder of the American troops had been posted upon the roads leading to the different passes over the mountains, and it was with considerable difficulty that they were collected in force at Springfield to oppose the enemy concentrating there. The latter, after maneuvering to gain the flanks of the Americans, formed upon a gentle eminence on the eastern side of the Rahway, near the - house of Mrs. Mathews, which is still standing. Colonel Angell, with his regi-- ment, was posted in the orchard upon the knoll west of the stream, with a single ; field piece under the charge of Captain Little, to defend the bridge; and Colonel # Shrieve's regiment was drawn up at the second bridge, in the rear of the town, to # cover the retreat of the Americans, if such a movement should become necessary. Lee's dragoons, and the pickets under Captain Walker, were stationed at the Vauxhall Bridge, and the militia were drawn up on the flanks, principally under the command of General Dickinson, of New Jersey. The first attack was made by the enemy upon Lee's force at the Vauxhall .* Bridge, and the Americans were repulsed. At that instant the British troops near the first Springfield Bridge moved to attack Colonel Angell in the orchard. Captain Little played his artillery so briskly and well, that he kept the enemy east of the bridge for some time; but bringing their artillery to bear, they pressed forward, forded the stream (which is there only about two rods wide), and drove the Americans from their position and across the second bridge. The artillery of the British, being leveled too high, did but little execution, except among the branches of the apple-trees, and the Americans retreated with very little loss. The enemy were warmly received at the second bridge by Shrieve's regiment, but overwhelming numbers obliged the gallant little band of Americans to fall back and join the brigades of Maxwell and Stark upon the hill. - The situation of the patriot army was now critical. The enemy Mrs. Mathews's House.” was pushing vigorously forward on the Vauxhall Road, leading in
'Elias Dayton was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, in 1735. He joined the army during the French and Indian war. He was a member of the corps called “Jersey Blues,” raised in 1759 by Edward Hart, the father of John, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. With that corps he fought under Wolfe at Quebec. He was one of the Committee of Safety at Elizabethtown at the beginning of the Revolution; in February, 1778, Congress appointed him colonel of a New Jersey regiment; and in 1782 he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He was in several of the principal battles of the Revolution, and had three horses shot under him—one at Germantown, one at Springfield, and one at Crosswick Bridge. He was the first president of the Cincinnati of New Jersey, and, during the life of Washington, enjoyed the warm personal friendship of that distinguished man. He died at Elizabethtown in 1807.
* This sketch was made from the left bank of the Rahway, at the site of the old bridge. This is now the rear of the house, but, at the time of the battle, the road was upon this side of it, which formed the front. The deviation of the road is indicated in the map by a dotted line. Remains of the abutments of the ol, bridge, where the British crossed, may still be seen.
Partial Retreat of the Americans. Burning of Springfield. Retreat of the Enemy. Colonel Barber. Connecticut Farms.
their rear, and their numbers were too small to guard the several passes through the mountains, and have a respectable force engaged in battle. Greene accordingly ordered the main body of the army, except the two brigades already mentioned, to take post on the hills in the rear of Byram's Tavern, and detached the regiments of Colonels Webb and Jackson, with one piece of artillery, to check the advance of the enemy on the Vauxhall Road. The movement was successful, and that important pass was secured. The Americans were now advantageously posted, and General Greene was anxious for an engagement; but Knyphausen saw his own disadvantage, and, after setting fire to the village, began a retreat toward Elizabethtown. Greene ordered out detachments to extinguish the flames of such houses as were not within the reach of the enemy's cannon, but their ef. forts were of little avail. The church, and every house and barn in the village but three, were burned. One of the latter now stands close by the tavern of Mr. Reynolds. It is a very well built house, and exhibits an orifice in the northwestern gable, made by the passage of a cannon-ball. The parsonage was saved, and in it the congregation worshiped until a more convenient place was supplied. As soon as the village was fired, the enemy began their retreat. Captain Davis, with one hundred and twenty men and large parties of militia, fell upon their flanks and rear, and kept up a continual fire upon them all the way to Elizabethtown. The retreat was so precipitate that Stark's brigade, which was put in motion, could not overtake them. At midnight the enemy began crossing over to Staten Island on a bridge of boats, and by six o'clock in the morning they had evacuated Elizabethtown and removed their bridge." The loss in killed and wounded has not been fully given on either side. Lieutenant-colonel Barber, in his return to General Greene, reported thirteen Americans killed, and fifty-eight wounded and missing. In this report was not included the return of Davis's detachment and of the militia that pursued the enemy to Elizabethtown. The militia had twelve wounded and none killed. The loss of the enemy is unknown. The newspapers of the day put down their loss in the skirmish at Connecticut Farms and vicinity, two weeks previous, at one hundred and fifty killed, and as many wounded. Colonel Barber, who act. ed as deputy adjutant general on the occasion, was particularly recommended for his activity, by General Greene, in his report of the engagement.” General Washington, on hearing of the movement of the enemy toward Springfield, sent a re-enforcement, but it was too late to save the town. Greene, in his report, says, “I lament that our force was too small to save the town from ruin. I wish every American could have been a spectator; they would have felt for the sufferers, and joined to revenge the injury.” After much difficulty, I procured a conveyance to Elizabethtown. Mr. Meeker, a resi. dent of Springfield, seventy-four years old, kindly left his plow, and in a light wagon took me thither, by the way of Connecticut Farms, a small village now called Union, lying four miles northwest of Elizabethtown. Almost every building in that village was destroyed by the British invaders while on their way to Springfield, on the 6th of June, 1780. An event occurred there at that time, which excited the greatest indignation throughout the country. The family of the Rev. James Caldwell, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church at Elizabethtown, and an ardent Whig, had removed to Connecticut Farms as a place of greater security, and occupied the parsonage. Mrs. Caldwell was the daughter of John Ogden, of Newark, and was greatly beloved for her piety and benevolence. When she heard of the
* Report of General Greene to the commander-in-chief.
* Francis Barber was born at Princeton in 1751, and was educated at the College of New Jersey. He was installed rector of an academic institution connected with the First Presbyterian Church at Elizabethtown, in which situation he remained until the commencement of the Revolution. He joined the patriot army, and in 1776 was commissioned by Congress a major of the third battalion of New Jersey troops; at the close of the year was appointed lieutenant colonel, and subsequently became assistant inspector general under Baron Steuben. He was in constant service during the whole war, was in the principal battles, and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. He was with the Continental army at Newburgh in 1783; and on the very day when Washington announced the signing of the treaty of peace to the army, he was killed by a tree falling upon him while riding by the edge of a wood.—Rev. Nicholas Murray.
Murder of Mrs. Caldwell. Her Murderer identified. Timothy Meeker and his Sons. His Idea of a Standing Army.
approach of the enemy, and the people fled from the town, she resolved to remain, trusting in Providence for protection. When they entered the village, she withdrew, with her infant in her arms, into a private apartment, and engaged in religious devotions. A maid, who had charge of the other children, and accompanied her to the private apartment, saw a “redcoat soldier” jump over the fence into the yard, and told Mrs. Caldwell that he was approaching the window. Mrs. Caldwell arose from a bed on which she had been sitting, and at that moment the soldier discharged his musket at her through the window. It was loaded with two balls, both of which passed through her body, and she fell lifeless upon the floor, in the midst of her children." It was with much difficulty that her body was saved from the conflagration that ensued. It was dragged into the street, and lay exposed for several hours in the hot sun, when some of her friends procured liberty to take it to the house of Captain Wade, on the opposite side of the road. Her husband was at the Short Hills that night, suffering dreadfully from anxiety respecting his family. The next day he procured a flag and went to Connecticut Farms, when he found the village in ruins and his wife no more. That cold-blooded murder, as well as the wanton destruction of the peaceful village, changed many Tories to Whigs, and helped to confirm the settled hatred of the well-affected and the patriots against the British government, whose military officers winked at such atrocities. On our way, Mr. Meeker related some interesting facts concerning his family. His grandfather was a stanch republican, and had eight sons and four sons-in-law in the Continental army, who were remarkable for their physical strength and moral courage. The father of Mr. Edwards, the old gentleman who went over the Springfield battle-ground with me, was one of the sons-in-law. One of his sons (Mr. Meeker's father) lived up among the Short Hills, and was a substantial farmer. A conversation which he had one day with General Dayton, at Elizabethtown, well illustrates the political character of many of the yeomanry of that period. While a portion of the standing army, under the administration of the elder Adams, was at Elizabethtown, Mr. Meeker went to General Dayton to pay his direct tax, in hard cash, for the support of the army. “Of what use is your standing army 2" asked Meeker. “To support Congress,” replied Dayton. “Ay, to support Congress indeed,” said the old man, bitterly. “To support Congress in taking away our liberties, and in altering the Constitution so as to place men in public offices for life. I fought for freedom through the war for nothing (his Continental money was worthless), and now I want to pay for my land and be independent indeed, but tax upon tax keeps me poor. I could at any time raise one hundred men among my neighbors upon the Short Hills, say privately to your standing army, Come and help us'—and they would come, and we'd march to Philadelphia and take your Congressmen from their seats. We will not have a standing army. Disband it.” “Our standing army,” said Dayton, “will intimidate the British.” “Look ahere, General Dayton,” said Meeker, while his eyes sparkled with emotion, “you are well acquainted in London. Write to your acquaintances there, and tell them that Timothy Meeker is dead, and that he has left seven sons, every one of whom is a stronger man than he. Tell them we are seven times stronger than before, and that will intimidate them more than all your standing armies, that suck the life-blood from the people.” Such was the logic of New Jersey farmers in 1798, and our government soon acted in accordance with it. We reached Elizabethtown at about noon, and having ample time before the departure
| Such is the current history, and the diabolical act was fixed upon “a British soldier.” Some believed
that the occurrence was a mere accident, resulting from the cross firing of the combatants, but there is ample evidence that it was a deliberate murder. A correspondent of the Newark Advertiser says that “there is evidence of a very direct character, which affixes the guilt of murder of the poor lady to a particular individual.” “A very respectable citizen,” he adds, “lately deceased, who was a witness of the scenes of that day, says that a man named M*Donald, from the north of Ireland, who had been in the employment of Mr. Caldwell, or of his family, was the person who committed the atrocious deed. This man, from some unknown cause, had conceived a violent enmity against his employer, and it was in this manner he satiated his revenge. The witness to whom reference is now made, further declared that he saw M*Donald after the murder, and heard him avow it, saying, at the same time, that “now he was satisfied, upon which he joined and went off with the enemy.”
Burial-ground at Elizabethtown. Caldwell's Monument. Dickinson's Tomb. Boudinot's Wault
of the evening train for Middlebrook, my next tarrying-place, I visited the several Revolutionary localities in the vicinity. The burial-ground of the First Presbyterian Church, on Broad Street, was the chief attraction within the village, for therein repose the remains of many distinguished men of the Revolution. The church that occupied the site of the pres: ent one was burned on the night of the 25th of January, 1780, tegether with the academy (which stood upon the ground of the present lecture room) and the court-house. A notorious Tory named Cornelius Hetfield fired the church with his own hands, and was heard to lament that the “black-coated rebel,” as he called Dr. Caldwell, the pastor, was not burned in his pulpit. . Near the Broad Street front of the burying: ground stands the monument erected to the memory of the Rev. James Caldwell and his wife, by citizens of Eliza. bethtown. It is a handsome marble obelisk, which, with an inscribed pedestal, rests upon a granite base. On the left in the picture are seen a recumbent slab, and also an upright one. The former is of brown stone, and covers the grave of Jonathan Dickinson," the founder of the Col. lege of New Jersey, now located at Princeton; the latter is of white marble, and is sacred to the memory of Mar. garet Van Pelt, a grand-daughter of Mr. Caldwell. On the west side of the cemetery, in the rear of the church, are several vaults shaded by a venerable oak, among which is that of the celebrated Elias Boudinot, who was president of Congress in 1782, and an active patriot during the Revolution. Of him I shall have occasion to write hereafter. A little south of Boudinot's vault is that of General Dayton, just mentioned, and in the vicinity are the graves of General Crane, an active patriot of the Revolution; Colonel Barber, already mentioned; Moses Ogden, a young American officer, who was killed at Connecticut Farms when that settlement was burned; and of several others of colonial and Revolutionary eminence, among whom is Governor Belcher.
* Jonathan Dickinson was born in Hatfield, Massachusetts, April 22d, 1688. He graduated at Yale College in 1706, and two years afterward became the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church at Elizabethtown, New Jersey, where he continued nearly forty years. He was the cotemporary of Whitfield, Brainard, Edwards, and the Tennants. He was chiefly instrumental in organizing the academy at Elizabethtown, which was chartered as the College of New Jersey in 1746. He was made its first president, but the institution did not long enjoy the advantages of his care, as he died on the 7th of October, 1747, aged fifty-nine. The first commencement of the college was in 1748, when six young men graduated, five of whom became ministers of the Gospel.
* The following are the inscriptions upon the Caldwell monument:
East Side. “This monument is erected to the memory of the Rev. JAMEs CALDwell, the pious and fervent Christian, the zealous and faithful minister, the eloquent preacher, and a prominent leader among the worthies who secured the independence of his country. His name will be cherished in the church and in the state so long as Virtue is esteemed and Patriotism honored.”
West Side. “Hannah, wife of the Rev. James Caldwell, and daughter of Jonathan Ogden, of Newark, was killed at Connecticut Farms by a shot from a British soldier, June 25th,” 1780, cruelly sacrificed by the enemies of her husband and of her country.”
North Side. “‘The memory of the just is blessed.” “Be of good courage—and let us behave ourselves valiant for our people, and for the cities of our God, and let the Lord do that which is good in his sight.’ ‘The glory of children are their fathers.'”
South Side. “James Caldwell. Born in Charlotte county, in Virginia, April, 1734. Graduated at Princeton College, 1759. Ordained pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethtown, 1762. After serving as chaplain in the army of the Revolution, and acting as commissary to the troops in New Jersey, he was killed by a shot from a sentinel at Elizabethtown Point, November 24th, 1781.”
* This is an error, as will be perceived by reference to the text.
Death of Mr. Caldwell. Execution of his Murderer. Mr. Caldwell's Funeral. His orphan Family.
The death of Mr. Caldwell, which occurred a little more than a year subsequent to that of his wife, was regarded as a foul murder. He was shot upon the causeway at old Elizabethtown Point, by an American sentinel named Morgan, who was hung for the deed. The circumstances are substantially as follows. At the time of the occurrence the Americans had possession of Elizabethtown, and there was established there a commissariat of prisoners, under the superintendence of Major Adams. To facilitate the business for which the commissariat was established, a sloop made weekly trips between the Point and New York, then the head-quarters of the British army. Passengers with a flag, and also parcels, were frequently carried by this vessel, and a strong guard was placed at a tavern on the shore, having one or more sentinels upon the causeway that extended across the marsh to the wharf. On the 24th of November, 1781, this vessel arrived at the wharf, having on board a Miss Berlah Murray (afterward Mrs. Martin Hoffman), who had permission to visit her sister (Mrs. Barnett), at Elizabethtown. Mr. Caldwell went down to the sloop in his chaise to receive her, but she was not there. He went on board the vessel, when a small bundle belonging to her was placed in his charge, with which he started for his vehicle. James Morgan, a sentinel on duty upon the causeway, ordered Mr. Caldwell to deliver his bundle to him for examination, as his orders were not to let anything of the kind pass without strict scrutiny. Mr. Caldwell told him it was the property of a lady, which had been placed in his charge, and refused to give it up. The sentinel reiterated his demand, when Mr. Caldwell turned from him, and, it is said, went toward the vessel to leave the bundle, rather than subject it to the inspection of the soldier. The latter, probably irritated by disobedience of his orders, and, it may be, by words, leveled his musket and shot Mr. Caldwell dead upon the spot. Opinions were, and still are, various as to the motive of the sentinel. Some justify him as acting in strict obedience to his orders; others believe him to have been bribed to murder the active patriot when the first opportunity should offer; and others, again, simply condemn him for exceeding the spirit of his instructions. Morgan was arrested, the coroner's inquest brought in a verdict of willful murder against him, and he was tried, found guilty, and executed at Westfield on the 29th of January, 1782. He was taken to the church, where a sermon was preached by the Rev. Jonathan Elmer, from the words of Jeremiah, “O, do not this abominable thing which I hate;” and immediately after the close of the services the prisoner was hung. The place of his execution is about half a mile north of the church, in Westfield, and still bears the name of Morgan's Hill. A local controversy has arisen upon the subject, which seems to turn more upon the inferences of the several writers than upon the material facts here given. “Who shall decide when doctors disagree ?” Cotemporary records form the best umpire in such cases, and correct history, the patient in question, is not likely to suffer from such a disagreement.
The death of Mr. Caldwell, a pious and eloquent minister, and such an active patriot, made a powerful impression on the public mind, and there was “a voice of mourning” wherever his eminent virtues were known. It was Saturday afternoon when he was shot. His body was conveyed to the house of his friend, Mrs. Noel, whence it was buried the following Tuesday. “Many,” says Dr. Murray, “were ignorant of the tragical deed until they came to church on the Sabbath; and, instead of sitting with delight under his instructions, there was a loud cry of wailing over his melancholy end. There was a vast concourse assembled to convey him to his tomb. The corpse was placed on a large stone before the door of the house of Mrs. Noel (now the residence of Miss Spalding), where all could take a last view of the remains of their murdered pastor. After all had taken their last look, and before the coffin was closed, Dr. Elias Boudinot came forward, leading nine orphan children, and, placing them around the bier of their parent, made an address of surpassing pathos to the multitude in their behalf.”
I rode down to Elizabethtown Point, a place famous in the annals of the Revolution.
* Notes on Elizabethtown, page 77. The funeral sermon was preached by Dr. M'Whorter, of Newark, from Ecclesiastes, viii., 8.