Thursday, April 28, 2011

May 3, 1861: Second Call to Duty

On May 3, 1861, a call for three-year enlistments went out through New Jersey.  The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Regiments of NJ Volunteer Infantry would make up the First NJ Brigade.  The four NJ Militia Regiments of three months troops would be attached to the First NJ Brigade when it traveled to Washington, D.C. to defend the federal capital.  Both groups of troops would be trained in camps in and around Trenton. 

In May 1861, the following Warren County men enlisted in the 1st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment with  Lieutenant Colonel Robert McAllister, of Oxford Furnace: Company D [primarily made up of the Phillipsburg Garibaldi Guards Company]: Robert S. Beckwith, Winchester T. Bennett, Alonzo D. Corby, John Dilts, Philip Hearie, Jeremiah Levers, Henry A. McLaughlin, Charles Wesley Mutchler, Samuel B. Mutchler, John Myers, Peter Myers, Jacob L. Ricker, James Rondaham, John S. Ryan, John Saylor, Charles Seagraves, Charles W. Sitgreaves, Jr., Samuel W. Stebbins, William A. Steward, James Stockman, John Sweeney, Alfred Thompson, James P. Vandergrift [enlisted August 6], Lewis P. Vandergrift [enlisted August 20], Joseph    S. Wesley, and Willard S. Wood, all of Phillipsburg; from Belvidere: Edward Allen, Theodore Allen, Smith G. Blythe, Theodore Carhart, Jr., John Gano, James J. Krom, William T. Neal, Zachariah Nye, Dr. Redford Sharp [Regimental Surgeon], Edward H. Swayze, Edward Willever, and Jethro B. Woodward; Isaiah Nelson Albertson, of Hope; John Schoonover, of Oxford Furnace; Edward Fehr and Ezra J. Hutchings, of Washington; and from undisclosed towns: Joseph Allison, Calvin Calkins, George W. Creveling, Barnet Devlin, James Flood, Paul Gravet, Josiah M. Hollock, Robert Hough, John W. Kirby, Thomas Leonard, Wilber F. Lovel, William S. Merrill, Albert J. Miller, Frank Murray, Wellington Person, David B. S. Prall, Peter Stead, and Peter S. Taylor.

Warren men enlisting in other companies of the 1st NJ Volunteer Infantry were: Adjutant William Henry, Jr., of Oxford Furnace; Regimental Sergeant Major Henry C. Warner, of Oxford Furnace;  Company B: Thomas R. Grover, of Belvidere, and Francis W. Laird [enlisted in June], of Phillipsburg; Company C: Ephraim G. Brewster, of Oxford Furnace, and John W. Morris, of Phillipsburg; Company F: George H. Osman, of Belvidere, and Samuel Cook, of Hope; Company H: Jacob Deagle, of Washington; and Company I: Benjamin W. Higgins, Jr., of Belvidere, and Charles A. Brown, of Phillipsburg.

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

Monday, April 25, 2011

The 1861 Arrest of Col. James Wall

While NJ Militia units were forming and joining federal service to protect the Union, Colonel James W. Wall, son of Senator Garret D. Wall, the man who developed Belvidere as Warren County's capital, had been speaking out against taking up arms against Americans in the southern states.

Col. Wall, a Democrat, was quickly labeled a "Copperhead" by Secretary of War Cameron.  On September 11, 1861, at 2:00 p.m., US Marshall B. Deacon arrested Wall in his Burlington home. 

The September 12th issue of The Trenton Republican stated, "Having procured assistance, the Marshall about half past two o'clock, proceeded to Col. Wall's residence, and informed him that he was there for the purpose of arresting him.  The Colonel, with a fierce oath, declared that he would not be arrested - that he had business of his own to attend to, and that he would be damned if he would suffer himself to be arrested.   The Marshall was prepared for this, and calling his assistants, directed them to take him.  Upon this, Wall started up the stairs but was seized and brought down.  He struggled and swore and struck one or two of the officers, but they did not release their hold.  A man who was employed by him, and Joe Wright, came to the Colonel's assistance, but they were soon disposed of, and Mr. Wall, without any hat, his collar open, and cravat untied, was carried to Belden's Hotel, struggling and threatening the direst vengeance against the Marshall, the Secretary of War, and mankind in general.  After reaching the Hotel, he became rather more quiet, and the members of his family were permitted to see him and take his directions.  When the 2 o'clock train from Philadelphia reached Burlington, the Colonel was put on board and took his departure for Fort Lafayette [in New York], via Amboy.  We understand he threatened loudly to kill the Secretary of War on the first opportunity.  Notwithstanding this, if Mr. Cameron lives until he is killed by Col. Wall, he will enjoy a very respectable immortality.  Our informant says that the arrest gave very general satisfaction to the citizens of Burlington - with the exception of his friend Joe Wright - Col. Wall having made himself very obnoxious by his active and avowed sympathy with rebellion and treason."

On September 13, The Trenton Republican stated, "The arrest of Col. Wall has caused no small sensation in this city, where he was so well known and where he has so many friends.  Whatever may be the regret of the unfortunate condition to which his course has reduced him, there is general feeling of approval at this display of energy on the part of the Government.  All men feel that this is no time for hesitation, but that men who are leading their aid to treason must be made to feel that they cannot do so with impunity.  We regret, however, to hear that a few men have been so thoughtless as to taunt good Union men who are at the same time       Democrats, by saying that Col. Wall was a Democrat.  It is true that Col. Wall was a Democrat, just as John Bell was a Whig, but when men become traitors, they cease to be Democrats or Whigs either...Let us then try to forget old causes of difference and all join heartily in the work of strengthening and upholding the Government in the work of putting down treason and rebellion."

The October 11th issue of The Belvidere Intelligencer followed up on Wall's arrest, "Col. James Wall, the Defender of the Constitution.  We have been somewhat at a loss to know why it was that the admirers of Col. Wall styled him 'Defender of the Constitution.'  We know that his friends, the rebels, have done their best to destroy it, but we never imagined that the Constitution was so desperate as to stand in a need of defense.  But we have found it!  Col. Wall became a 'Defender of the
Constitution' by solemnly swearing to keep the following oath: 'I do solemnly swear that I will support, protect and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States against all enemies, whether domestic or foreign; and that I will bear truth, faith, allegiance and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution or law of any State Convention or Legislature, to the contrary     notwithstanding.  And further, that I do this with a full determination, pledge and purpose, without any mental reservations or evasion whatsoever.'  No wonder his friends rejoiced!"

Col. Wall was imprisoned in Fort Lafayette for two weeks until he signed the oath of allegiance to the Union.  The Democrats in the New Jersey Legislature rallied around Wall, and on February 20, 1862, the NJ General Assembly Judiciary Committee reported the Republican administration in Washington, D.C. had violated the laws and that Col. Wall   should be entitled to redress.  However, the State Legislature had no jurisdiction over the federal government so the  Democrats elected Col. Wall to the US Senate in 1863.

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 30, 1861 Warren's First Casualty

Warren County has the distinction of being the home of New Jersey's first officer killed in action during the Civil War.  However, Captain Joseph Henry, of Oxford Furnace, was not Warren County's first war-related casualty.  Peter Oberly, of Oxford Furnace, died on April 30, 1861.

On April 29, Captain Edward Campbell, of Belvidere, and his Warren Guards, left Belvidere by train for Trenton to answer the New Jersey's call for soldiers to serve in federal service for three months.  Campbell's company of fifty men, three officers and four sergeants was recruited in Belvidere and surrounding hamlets.  Although Campbell's company was the first unit formed in Warren County and the first to go to Trenton, the ranks of New Jersey's four three months militia regiments were already filled when the Warren Guards arrived.

This fact was not known to Peter Oberly.  Oberly was one of Oxford's "town drunks."  In the patriotic zeal to "Save the Union," Oberly volunteered his services to Campbell's Warren Guards, but he was rejected because of his alcoholism.  The site of the huge crowd of people cheering the Warren Guards as they marched to the train in Belvidere gave Oberly reason to go on a drinking binge.  On April 30, Oberly died in Oxford Furnace of delirium tremors. 

[On February 21, 2012, Andy Drysdale, curator at Shippen Manor in Oxford, found a different last name for Peter in the Oxford Township book of Births, Marriages & Deaths, 1848-1872.  On April 30, 1861, the township book lists Peter Obinger, a copper, as dying of "intemperance." Oberly was the name listed in the Belvidere newspapers.]

Some Warren County men did enlist in the New Jersey Militia before the ranks were filled:
First NJ Militia Regiment: 1st Sgt. Monroe H. King of G Company, Charles Sargent of F Company and John Charles of G Company, all of Phillipsburg;  and John N. Dickinson of I Company, of Johnsonburg.

Second NJ Militia Regiment: Charles W. Butts and Abram Depue of H Company, both of Belvidere; John Ogden of A Company, of Phillipsburg; and Joseph W. Johnston, John T. Langstaff, Jacob T. Thomson, and James Vannatta, all of Washington, in H Company.

Third NJ Militia Regiment: Ensign Martin Wyckoff of H Company, of Asbury; 1st Sgt. Charles Lanning, Jr. of D Company, of Washington; James McKeever of A Company, of Oxford Township [now White Township]; Edward Cobb and William C. Cobb of B Company, of Oxford Furnace;  Jerome B. Bogart, Lewis T. Brant, and James E. Moon, all of Phillipsburg and in E Company; and Peter S. Mutchler of A Company, of Phillipsburg.  [McKeever would be wounded in the leg during a rear guard action after the First Battle of Bull Run at Manassas, VA.]

Fourth NJ Militia Regiment: Charles G. Clendening of F Company, of Phillipsburg; and John Force, Jr. of K Company, of Washington. 

Other Warren County men enlisted in three-months militia units in other states:
First Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: Captain Charles A. Heckman, of Phillipsburg; George W. Brooks of A Company and James Hulshizer of D Company, both of Stewartsville; William H. Hagerman of E Company, of Hope; James Ballentine of H Company, Edward B. Galligan of D Company, John Moore of H Company, Jacob Rustay of C Company, and John Wolfram of C Company, all from Phillipsburg; and Andrew A. Neal and Thomas A. H. Knox, of Belvidere.
Fifth Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: Hiram France, of Blairstown. [France would lose an arm from a wound at First Battle of Bull Run.]
Seventh Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: Daniel Moyers of D Company, of Phillipsburg.
Eighth Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: Thomas Jefferson Mutchler, of Phillipsburg.
Ninth Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: Antoine Lieberman, Godfrey Lutz and Francis J. Mildenberger, all of Phillipsburg and in G Company.
Sixteenth Pennsylvania National Guard Regiment: John Beers of H Company, of Phillipsburg.
Eighth New York Volunteer Infantry: William Stevenson of G Company, of Phillipsburg.
Eleventh New York Volunteer Infantry [Ellsworth's 1st NY Fire Zouaves]: Lieutenant William Mathews of K Company, of Belvidere.
Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Joseph D. Vanns, of Washington.

Copyright: 1999-2011: Jay C. Richards

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 1861: First Call To Arms

On April 16, 1861, New Jersey men were called to duty by President Abraham Lincoln and Governor Charles Olden.  Company A of the National Guard, of Trenton, was mustered for special duty.  On April 17, four regiments of the NJ Militia were detached for three months duty to guard Washington, D.C.  A call for volunteers to fill the companies of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Regiments, NJ Militia rang out across the state.  The Olden Guard of Trenton is credited with being the first militia company mustered into federal service on April 23.

On April 16, Captain Edward L. Campbell, of Belvidere, founded the Warren Guards militia company,  He began recruiting on April 17 and 18.  In less than a week Capt. Campbell's Warren Guards boasted 50 enlisted men, three officers, and four sergeants.  This was the first Warren County, NJ company formed.

The Warren Guards of Belvidere consisted of the following: Capt. Campbell, Lieutenant John J. VanAllen, Ensign William Penn Robeson, Jr., Orderly Sgt. Joshua Brokaw, Sgt. Edward T. Kennedy, Sgt. Nehemiah Tunis, Sgt. George Fox, and Privates: Charles W. Butts, James J. Krom, John Gano, John Shay, Peter Mettler, Abram S. Swisher, John H. Jackson, Dr. George Summers, Andrew Hiram Ackerman, George W. Freeman, William Fisher, Joseph Williams, Edward Willever, George A. Bemler, John A. Person, Henry L. Cummings, George Fritts, John Sipp, Robert Bishop, Abraham M. Salmon, Jonathan R. Fitzer, Roderick B. Stephens, Abraham Ackerman, Joseph Smith, Theodore Carhart, John E. Matthews, William Salmon, G. Peter Oblinger, Henry C. Snyder, Smith G. Blythe, Moore G. Coen, Nelson S. Easton, John Sutton, Derrick Albertson, Nelson Schuyler, George W. Shipps, Henry D. Neimeyer, John C. Chamberlain, Samuel Vanatta, J. Scott Drake, Joseph H. Banghart, Joseph S. Burdge, William Mathews, Edward H. Swayze, George Stute, James E. Babbitt, Alfred L. Hann, Henry Cook, Jacob Meyer, and William N. Barnett.  Oxford Furnace school teacher John Schoonover enlisted shortly after the group was formed.    

Phillipsburg was the second town to enlist a full company of militia, The Phillipsburg Garibaldi Guards.  Captain Valentine Mutchler and Ensign Charles Sitgreaves, Jr. enlisted 78 men in their company.

In Oxford Furnace, the Oxford Guards enrolled 30 men in a day or two.  In Asbury, the Musconetcong Rifle Guards enlisted  volunteers.  Captain DeWitt Clinton Blair, Esq. called for volunteers for his infantry company in Belvidere.  In Washington, the Union Guards company was formed. 

On April 18, a "Save the Union Rally" was held at the Warren County Court House, with Colonel Charles Scranton presiding.  Speeches were made by Scranton, Capt. Phineas B. Kennedy, David Ayres Depue, Jehiel G. Shipman, I. H. Norton, and James M. Robeson.  Donations of $1,500 were received at the Belvidere rally to support the families of the volunteers who joined the militia.   

On April 19, Scranton presided over a similar rally in Oxford Furnace at Seldon T. Scranton's company store, across from Shippen Manor.  Speeches were made by Col. Scranton, Robert McAllister, Seldon Scranton, George B. Weistling, Capt. Phineas B. Kennedy (by letter), and Jehiel Shipman (by letter).

On April 29, people of all ages gathered at the railroad station on Second Street in Belvidere  to cheer the Warren Guards as they departed for Trenton.  John Simerson wrote in The Warren Journal, "Doubtless one of the grandest, yet most sorrowful copes witnessed in Belvidere for some time, was the departure for Trenton of the Warren Guards, the volunteer company of this town.  Some thousand people assembled at the depot to witness their departure, and the parting scene was truly effecting.  The company was accompanied to Trenton by the Belvidere Band, and their arrival at that place, noticed as follows by The Trenton True American: 'The Warren Guards, of Belvidere, Warren County, Captain Campbell, arrived in this city yesterday.  They were accompanied by a fine band of music and presented the appearance of a healthy, able body of men'."

The Warren Guards soon learned the three months militia units were already full so they could not be mustered into federal service at that time.  Capt. DeWitt Clinton Blair, a Belvidere attorney with offices in Belvidere and New York City, used his own funds to transport his militia company  to Trenton.  Blair, like Campbell, arrived to find the three months militia quota filled so Blair paid the cost of transporting his men back to Belvidere. 

Many of Blair's men joined the Warren Brigade, NJ Reserve Militia, which would later be incorporated into the 31st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment in August 1862.   Blair did not wait.  Blair enlisted for three months service in the 22nd New York National Guard ["The New York Grays"] as a private on June 6, 1862.  He would later write to his father, John I. Blair, noting his regret in enlisting as a private instead of buying a commission as an officer.

Some Warren County residents were able to enlist in three months militia regiments. Charles Butts and Abram Depue, of Belvidere, and Jacob Thomson, John Longstaff, James Vanatta, and Joseph Johnston, of Washington, enlisted in Company H, 2nd NJ Militia Regiment.  Andrew Neal and Thomas A. H. Knox, of Belvidere, enlisted in a Pennsylvania Militia regiment for three months service as soon as the call was made.  William Mathews, stepson of Belvidere Intelligencer editor/publisher Franklin Pierce Sellers, enlisted in Elmer Ellsworth's 1st New York City Fire Zouaves [11th New York Regiment] as a lieutenant in Company K on April 25, 1861.      

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

April 1861 Duel: Coffee & Pistols For Two

The secessionist flag incident in Belvidere on April 14, 1861 spurred debates throughout Belvidere. The debates were not just about the flag incident but also about the merits of preserving the Union.  Another little known incident was a duel that almost occurred between a young Republican lawyer and a Democrat.  Republicans had rallied around their new President, Abraham Lincoln, while "Buchanan Democrats" expressed a live-and-let-live attitude regarding the seceding states.

John Simerson, editor and publisher of The Warren Journal, was a Democrat. Simerson wrote about the attempted duel which was to take place just outside the town limits.  However, since Simerson kept the duelists anonymous, their identities have been lost over the century and a half that has elapsed. 

Simerson wrote, "INTENSE EXCITEMENT IN BELVIDERE - ALMOST A DUEL.  A young limb of the law in this town, who is one of the most violent Republicans to be found, and who in season and out of season, is thrusting his opinions upon every body, recently conceived an idea that he had been grossly insulted by a gentleman of this town in a political discussion, and thereupon waxed exceedingly wrathy and desired to heal his wounded honor in a manner that would have been highly pleasing to John C. Heenan or Tom Sayers. 

"The challenged party not belonging to the fancy, and having no desire to make a blackguard of himself, respectfully declined, but being considerable of a wag, signified his willingness to give the young disciple of [Sir William] Blackstone a chance to get satisfaction and proposed 'coffee and pistols' for two.  This was immediately accepted by young Blackstone, and the parties, unattended by friends, started for a secluded spot where they could adjust the matter without interruption.

"Arriving at the appointed place, the gentleman giving the offence informed his antagonist that as the challenged party, he had the right to select the weapons and had chosen daggers, thereupon produced a couple and declared himself ready for the contest.  At the appearance of weapons, young Blackstone turned deadly pale, his knees smote together, and his courage oozed out at his fingers, and with an exclamation of 'Oh, my God! Don't murder me!' started for Belvidere, his coat tails extending at an angle of forty-five degrees, never stopping until safely lodged in his Preceptor's office."

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April 14, 1861 Belvidere's Brief Secession

One hundred and fifty years ago the United States was divided on political and economic issues. The disagreement turned to violence and civil war when Southern militia soldiers fired their artillery guns on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. 

Warren County, NJ was, and still is, a rural county.  Most of the men of Warren had rarely traveled more than 15-20 miles from their farms or hamlets until the war took them south and west to unknown places and into situations of which they never dreamed.  A number of Warren County soldiers wrote letters to their families and to their local newspapers.  The Belvidere Intelligencer, originally created as The Belvidere Apollo by the father of General Daniel Sickles, offered to print all letters about the war written by local veterans.  The Warren Journal also asked soldiers to be their war correspondents.  This blog will showcase the firsthand accounts of local soldiers.

Belvidere's Brief Secession
On April 12, 1861, members of the South Carolina Militia artillery  fired on the soldiers of the United States Army garrisoned at Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, SC.  Although seven states had seceded earlier, it was this attack on a Federal installation that triggered the Civil War.

Two days later, Belvidere, the county seat of Warren County, NJ, seceded from the Union - if only for a few hours.  The tale of Belvidere's secession is practically unknown in the 21st Century, but in April 1861 it was the subject of newspaper articles and gossip.

Late in the evening of April 13, or in the early morning hours of April 14, someone had raised a specially made flag over the Stadelman Institute on Prospect Hill (also known as Seminary Hill) where most of the townspeople could see it when they awakened. The flag honored South Carolina and the seven Confederate states - but with a Belvidere twist.  The flag was red with the white Palmetto tree of South Carolina and seven red stars in a circle were placed in a white canton. 

In the April 19, 1861 issue of The Warren Journal, editor and publisher John Simerson wrote, "SECESSION IN BELVIDERE - Last Sunday morning, the citizens of this town were very much astonished to see a Palmetto Flag waving proudly from the Stadelman Institute.  the flag was composed of red and white, with a large Palmetto tree in the center, and seven stars on a white field.  It was promptly taken down as soon as discovered by those having charge of the Institute, and efforts have since been made to find out who placed it there, but yet without success."

No one ever found out who the prankster or pranksters were.  However, from the moment Stadelman Institute founder, Dr. J. Marshall Paul, ran up the hill from his Paul Street mansion to tear down the secessionist flag and replace it with the American Flag, Belvidere residents and merchants felt the honor of Belvidere was at stake and patriotism had to be displayed.  American Flags popped up throughout Belvidere like quills on a porcupine. 

Simerson wrote in The Warren Journal, "On Monday last [April 15, 1861] the Stars and Stripes were raised in front of the Post Office by Mr. William Carhart.  A subscription paper is now being circulated for the purpose of purchasing a large flag, which will be raised, at some point hereafter agreed upon, in this town.  The Star Spangled Banner is now floating on almost every post in this village. On Wednesday and Thursday, flags were raised by Mr. Peter Fisher on the American Hotel, Mr. William A. Fritts on the Washington Hotel, Rev. J. Addison Whittaker on the Belvidere Seminary, on the Cotton Factory, Mr. R. A. Boyd, Druggist, Dr. J. Marshall Paul, and others." 
Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards