The Practical Advance Of Human Freedom Under The Trumpet Call Made In 1776 by Charles F Adams

Charles Francis AdamsThe practical advance of human freedom under the trumpet call made one hundred years ago, and the Example of George Washington, by Charles Francis Adams 1876, US Congressman, US Diplomat. The son of 6th United States President John Quincy Adams and grandson of 2nd United States President John Adams. Continued from WHAT HISTORY TEACHES US ABOUT AMERICAN DIPLOMACY Addressed in 1876

“I come now to a fourth and more stupendous measure following that call. The world-wide famous author of it [The Declaration of Independence] had not been slow to grasp the conception that the abolition of all trade in slaves must absolutely follow as a corollary from’ his general principle. The strongest proof of it is found in the original draft of his paper, wherein he directly charged it as one of the greatest grievances inflicted upon liberty by the king, that he had countenanced the trade. The passage is one of the finest in the paper, and deserves to be repeated to-day. It is in these words:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the person of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death on their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian [As King of England, George III was the supreme head of the Church of England, this is one of the reasons for Amendment 1 of the Constitution] King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain the execrable commerce.(1)

There is no passage so fine as this in the Declaration. Unfortunately it hit too hard on some interests close at home which proved strong enough to have it dropped from the final draft. But though lost there, its essence almost coeval with the first publication of Granville Sharp in England on the same subject undoubtedly pervaded the agitation which never ceased in either country until legislation secured a final triumph The labors of Sharp and Wilberforce, of Clarkson and Buxton, and their companions, have placed them upon an eminence of honor throughout the world.

Freedom5 But their struggle which began in 1787, was not terminated for a period of twenty years. On the other hand, it appears in the statute book in 1794, that it was enacted by the Congress of the United States: “That no vessel shall be fitted for the purpose of earning on any traffic in slaves to any foreign country, or for procuring from any foreign country the inhabitants thereof to be disposed of as slaves.” This act was followed in due course by others, which, harmonizing with the action of foreign nations, is believed to have put an effective and permanent stop to one of the vilest abominations, as conducted on the ocean, that was ever tolerated in the records of time.

But all this laborious effort had been directed only against the cruelties practiced in the transportation of negro slaves over the seas. It did not touch the question of his existing condition or of his right to be free.

This brings me to the fifth and greatest of all fruits of the charter of Independence, the proclamation of liberty to the captive through a great part of the globe.

The seed that had been sown broadcast over the world fell much as described in the Scripture, some of it sprouting too early, as in France, and yielding none but bitter fruit, but more, after living in the ground many years, producing results most propitious to the advancement of mankind. It would be tedious for me to go into details describing the progress of a movement that has changed the face of civilization. The principle enunciated in our precious scroll has done its work in Great Britain and in France, and most of all in the immense expanse of the territories of the Autocrat of all the Russias, who of his own mere motion proclaimed that noble decree which liberated from serfdom at one stroke twenty-three millions of the human race. This noble act will remain forever one of the grandest steps toward the elevation of mankind ever taken by the will of a sovereign of any race in any age.

But though freely conceding the spontaneous volition of the Czar in this instance, I do not hesitate to affirm that but for the subtle essence infused into the political conscience of the age by the great Declaration of 1776, he would never have been inspired with the lofty magnanimity essential to the completion of so great a work.

i-prefer-dangerous-freedom-over-peaceful-slaveryI come next and last to the remembrance of the fearful conflict for the complete establishment of the grand principle to which we had pledged ourselves at the very outset of our national career, and out of which we have, by the blessing of the Almighty, come safe and sound. The history is so fresh in our minds that there is no need of recalling its details, neither would I do so if there were, on a day like this consecrated wholly to the harmony of the nation. Never was the first aspect of any contention surrounded by darker clouds; yet viewing as we must its actual issue, at no time has there ever been more reason to rejoice in the present and look forward with confidence to a still more brilliant future. Now that the agony is over, who is there that will not admit that he is not relieved by the removal of the ponderous burden which weighed down our spirits in earlier days? The great law proclaimed at the beginning has been at last fully carried out. No more apologies for inconsistency to caviling and evil-minded objectors. No more unwelcome comparisons with the superior liberality of absolute monarchs in distant regions of the earth. Thank God, now there is not a man who treads the soil of this broad land, void of offense, who in the eye of the law does not stand on the same level with every other man. If the memorable words of Thomas Jefferson, that true Apostle of Liberty, had done only this it would alone serve to carry him aloft, high up among the benefactors of mankind. Not America alone, but Europe and Asia, and above all Africa, nay the great globe itself, move in an orbit never so resplendent as on this very day.

Let me then sum up in brief the results arrived at by the enunciation of the great law of liberty in 1776:

1. It opened the way to the present condition of France.

2. It brought about perfect security for liberty on the broad and narrow seas.

3. It set the example of abolishing the slave trade, which in its turn, prompted the abolition of slavery itself by Great Britain, France, Russia, and last of all, by our own country too.

Standing now on this vantage ground, gained from the severe straggle of the past, the inquiry naturally presents itself, What have we loft for us to do? To which I will frankly answer much. It is no part of my disposition, even on the brightest of our festival days, to deal in indiscriminate laudation, or even to cast a flimsy veil over the less favorable aspects of our national position. I will not deny that many of the events that have happened since our escape from the last great peril, indicate more forcibly than I care to admit, some decline from that high standard of moral and political purity for which we have ever before been distinguished. The adoration of Mammon, described by the poet as the

“least erected spirit that fell
From Heaven; for e’en in Heaven his looks and thoughts
Were always downward bent.”

has done something to impair the glory earned by all our preceding sacrifices. For myself, while sincerely mourning the mere possibility of stain touching our garments, I feel not the less certainty that the heart of the people remains as pure as ever.

One of the strongest muniments to save us from all harm it gives me pride to remind you of, especially on this day—I mean the memory of the example of Washington.

Whatever misfortunes may betide us, of one thing we may be sure that the study of that model by the rising youth of our land can never fail to create a sanative force potent enough to counteract every poisonous element in the political atmosphere.

Permit me for a few moments to dwell upon this topic, for I regard it as closely intertwined with much of the success we have hitherto enjoyed as an independent people. Far be it for me to raise a visionary idol. I have lived too long to trust in mere panegyric. Fulsome eulogy of any man raises with me only a smile. Indiscriminate laudation is equivalent to falsehood. Washington, as I understand him was gifted with nothing ordinarily defined as genius, and he had not had great advantages of education. His intellectual powers were clear, but not much above the average men of his time. What knowledge he possessed had been gained from association with others in his long career, rather than by study. As an actor he scarcely distinguished himself by more than one brilliant stroke; as a writer, the greater part of his correspondence discloses nothing more than average natural good sense; on the field of battle his powers pale before the splendid strategy of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Yet, notwithstanding all these deductions, the thread of his life from youth to age displays a maturity of judgment, a consistency of principle, a firmness of purpose, a steadiness of action, a discriminating wisdom and a purity of intention hardly found united to the same extent in any other instance I can recall in history. Of his entire disinterestedness in all his pecuniary relations with the public it is needless for me to speak. Who ever suspected him of a stain? More than all and above all, he was throughout master of himself. If there be one quality more than another in his character which may exercise a useful control over the men of the present hour, it is the total disregard of self, when in the most exalted positions for influence and example.

In order to more fully illustrate my position, let me for one moment contrast his course with that of the great military chief I have already named. The star of Napoleon was just rising to its zenith as that of Washington passed away. In point of military genius Napoleon probably equaled if he did not exceed any person known in history. In regard to the direction of the interests of a nation he may be admitted to have held a very high place. He inspired an energy and a vigor in the veins of the French people which they sadly needed after the demoralizing sway of generations of Bourbon kings With even a small modicum of the wisdom so prominent in Washington, he too might have left a people to honor his memory down to the latest times. But it was not to be. Do you ask the reason? It is this. His motives of action always centered in self. His example gives a warning but not a guide. For when selfishness animates a ruler there is no cause of wonder if he sacrifice, without scruple, an entire generation of men as a holocaust to the great principle of evil, merely to maintain or extend his sway. Had Napoleon copied the example of Washington he might have been justly the idol of all later generations in France. For Washington to have copied the example of Napoleon would have been simply impossible.

Let us then, discarding all inferior strife, hold up to our children the example of Washington as the symbol not merely of wisdom, but of purity and truth.

Let us labor continually to keep the advance in civilization a3 it becomes us to do after the struggles of the past, so that the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which we have honorably secured, may be firmly entailed upon the ever enlarging generations of mankind.

And what is it, I pray you tell me, that has brought us to the celebration of this most memorable day? Is it not the steady cry of Excelsior up to the most elevated regions of political purity, secured to us by the memory of those who have passed before us and consecrated the very ground occupied by their ashes? Glorious indeed may it be said of it in the words of the poet:

What’s hallow’d ground? ‘Tis what gives birth
To sacred thoughts in souls of worth—
Peace! Independence! Truth! go forth
Earth’s compass round,
And your high priesthood shall make earth
All Hallowed Ground

end quote

(1) Jefferson (Thomas) Included this in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence. The delegations from slave-holding states of George and South Carolina objected, and the offending passage was removed. The complete text is:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.  This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.  Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce.  And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

See also: American Statesman: Tribute to President George Washington Part 1
Christianity and the Founding of the United States the Simple Truth
The Consequence of Bad Legal Precedent in American Legislation
Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of America from the Ancient Authors Part 1
POLITICAL CONSTITUTIONS by Johannes Von Muller (1832)
Constitution of the United States and it’s Governmental Operations (In Plain English)
Advice to Young People from Noah Webster Father of American Education
The Wisdom and Love of God as Shown by His Creation by Noah Webster
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
The Excellence of the Christian Religion by Noah Webster Published 1834 Part 1
THE GRAND MISSION OF AMERICA by Joseph H. Twitchell, July 4, 1876

Colonial & American Revolutionary War History Oct 5

Oct 5 1775 A committee to prepare a plan for fitting out two armed vessels to intercept enemy transport ships is appointed by the Continental Congress.

Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the second Continental Congress used the word “Marines” on one of the earliest known occasions, when it directed General George Washington to secure two vessels on “Continental risque and pay”, and to give orders for the “proper encouragement to the Marines and seamen” to serve on the two armed ships.


It is necessary to sketch briefly the various sources of authority and the administrative systems under which acted the different classes of vessels throughout the course of the war. These classes were: First, Continental vessels; second, the state navies; third, the privateers, commissioned either by the Continental government or by the various states, and in some cases by both.

Public vessels cruising under Continental authority comprised not only the Continental navy, strictly speaking, including vessels fitted out in France, but also the fleets organized by Washington in Massachusetts Bay in 1775 and later in New York; by Arnold on Lake Champlain in 1776 and by Pollock in 1778 on the Mississippi River.

General Washington took the first actual step towards placing a Continental force upon the sea by fitting out the schooner Hannah, which sailed from Beverly September 5, 1775, and returned to port two days later with a prize. An important measure in making effective the siege of Boston, then in progress, was the intercepting of supplies coming to the town by water; the supplies being at the same time of the utmost value to the American army investing the town. Before the end of the year seven other vessels, officered and manned from the army, were fitted out by Washington. The next year he organized a similar but smaller fleet at New York.

The first official suggestion of a Continental navy came from the Assembly of Rhode Island which, August 26, 1775, declared “that the building and equipping an American fleet, as soon as possible, would greatly and essentially conduce to the preservation of the lives, liberty and property of the good people of these colonies,” and instructed the delegates from that province in the Continental Congress “to use their whole influence at the ensuing congress for building at the Continental expence a fleet of sufficient force for the protection of these colonies.” The Rhode Island delegates presented their instructions to Congress October 3 and this brought the matter fairly before that body. Discussion of these instructions was postponed from time to time and it was several weeks before definite action was taken on them. Meanwhile intelligence had been received of the sailing from England of two brigs laden with military supplies bound to Quebec. The practicability of intercepting these vessels was considered in Congress October 5. Strong opposition was developed on the part of a vociferous minority to any participation of the Continental government in maritime warfare; to them it appeared sheer madness to send ships out upon the sea to meet the overwhelming naval force of England. After a lively debate the matter was referred to a committee consisting of John Adams, John Langdon, and Silas Deane. Upon the recommendation of this committee it was decided to instruct Washington at once to procure two Massachusetts cruisers for that service and to request the cooperation of the governors of Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Elbridge Gerry wrote from Watertown, October 9, 1775, to Samuel Adams, then a member of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, saying: “If the Continent should fit out a heavy ship or two and increase them as circumstances shall admit, the Colonies large privateers, and individuals small ones, surely we may soon expect to see the coast clear of cutters.”

On the advice of the committee appointed October 5, Congress voted on the 13th to fit out two vessels, one of them to carry ten guns, to cruise three months to the eastward in the hope of intercepting British transports. Another committee of three was appointed to inquire into the expense. October 30, 1775, is an important date in naval legislation. Congress resolved to arm the second of the vessels already provided for with fourteen guns and also authorized two additional vessels which might carry as many as twenty and thirty-six guns respectively, “for the protection and defence of the United Colonies.” By this vote Congress was fully committed to the policy of maintaining a naval armament. On the same day a committee of seven was formed by adding four members to those already appointed. This committee was the first executive body for the management of naval affairs. It was known as the Naval Committee and the members were John Langdon of New Hampshire, John Adams of Massachusetts, Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island, Silas Deane of Connecticut, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, Joseph Hewes of North Carolina, and Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina.

During the closing months of 1775 much legislation necessary for the organization of the navy was enacted by Congress on the recommendation of the Naval Committee. In the beginning there was strong opposition to all enterprises of a naval character, but it gradually broke down before the arguments of the more far-sighted and reasonable members. November 10 the Marine Corps was established. On the 25th captures of British ships of war, transports, and supply vessels were authorized and the several colonies were advised to set up prize courts. The apportionment of the shares in prizes was prescribed. In the case of privateers all the proceeds went to the owners and captors; in the case of Continental or colony cruisers two thirds of the value of a prize when a transport or supply vessel, one half when a vessel of war, went to the government, while the captors took the rest. November 28, “Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies”were adopted. These early navy regulations were brief, relating chiefly to discipline and prescribing the ration and pay. The rules provided for courts martial, but not for courts of inquiry; there was much subsequent legislation on the subject of naval courts. Pensions for permanent disability and bounties, to be awarded in certain cases, were provided for, the necessary funds for which were to be set apart from the proceeds of prizes. The rules of November 28 were framed by John Adams and were based on British regulations. Adams was a leader in all this early legislation and the part he took in the founding of the Revolutionary navy was important and influential.

Oct 5 1776 In Savannah, GA: The first Constitutional Convention met to draft a plan of government for the state. It was adopted in 1777.


The Continental Congress recommended that the newly independent states adopt a permanent frame of government. Accordingly, Georgians elected delegates to a state constitutional convention that met in October 1776 in Savannah. Whig Patriot leaders of local committees dominated the convention and produced one of the most democratic constitutions of any state. The electorate included all men over twenty-one who possessed property worth ten pounds or were employed as artisans. A one-house assembly enacted legislation, and elected the governor, judges, and other officials. Georgia’s constitution, adopted on February 5, 1777, created the state’s first counties: Burke, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Richmond, and Wilkes, all named for friends of the colonies in British Parliament, except Liberty, a title that honored St. John Parish’s early zeal for American rights.


Oct 5, 1776 Congress following up on the committee’s report on the Army in New York ordered the continental agents to turn over all salt in their hands to the commissary general.


Oct 5, 1776 General and Admiral Howe both went to Long Island to find out the ability to land in Westchester County to get in the rear of Washington and his Army.

Background and bio of Howe

William Howe was born on Aug. 10, 1729, the younger brother of the future admiral Richard Howe. After attending Eton, he entered the army at the age of 17. For the next 30 years he rose steadily in rank. He distinguished himself in the Canadian campaign of the French and Indian War. Serving under Gen. James Wolfe at the siege of Quebec in 1759, Howe in the succeeding year commanded the attack on Montreal. In 1762 he participated in the siege of Spanish-held Havana, Cuba. When the war was over, he had a brilliant record. He also enjoyed important family connections at court and by 1772 had been advanced to major general.

Commander in Chief in America

Howe also held political office. In 1758 he had been elected to a seat in the House of Commons. While he did not take an active role in Parliament debate, he made clear his opposition to the Foreign Ministry’s American policy and declared that he would refuse to accept a command in the Colonies. Yet Howe did go to America in May 1775, explaining that “he was ordered, and could not refuse.” His command of the British forces in the Battle of Bunker Hill displayed personal valor and a considerably greater degree of energy and decision than he would show later. By October, Howe had been given a local rank of full general and made commander-in-chief of the British army in the Colonies. Considerable controversy has always surrounded the roles played by William and Richard Howe during the Revolution, because in addition to commanding the military they were supposed to negotiate peace with the Americans.

Howe was forced to evacuate Boston in March 1776; he moved his troops by sea to New York. His invasion of Long Island and Manhattan included a series of tactical successes. But the long delays and ineffective pursuits that followed, though they mauled the American forces, left Gen. George Washington’s retreating army intact.

British overconfidence, the dilatory movements of Gen. Howe, and the failure of Gen. Charles Cornwallis to catch the retreating Washington all contributed to a surprising turn of events at the end of 1776. Howe had left scattered forces occupying central New Jersey as far as the Delaware River. In a surprise attack on December 6, 1776, the Americans routed a garrison at Trenton, and then 8 days later triumphed in a full-scale battle at Princeton. Gen. Howe had lost another chance to destroy Washington, and 1776 ended on a note of rebel victory.

Again, in 1777, Howe’s strategic failures resulted in reverses for the British. The grand British strategy that year involved a two-pronged attack against the Americans. First, Gen. John Burgoyne would move down from Canada into New York to interrupt colonial communications, recruit Tory allies, and prepare for a later invasion of rebel strongholds. Second, Howe would move overland to engage the Continental Army in a contest for the American capital, Philadelphia. But Howe changed his mind, decided to bring his invading forces by water, wasted time maneuvering in New Jersey, and then spent nearly all of August at sea. Consequently, Howe’s land movement toward Philadelphia did not begin until the end of August. A series of engagements – including British victories at Brandywine and Paoli – saw the British safely into the American capital. And American efforts to oust them were repulsed in early October.

Meanwhile, Howe was confronted with the decisive defeat of Gen. Burgoyne’s troops at Saratoga. Burgoyne had earlier assured Howe of his ability to care for himself; and as a result, when he was besieged, there were no British forces near enough or large enough to rescue him. While the capture of Philadelphia did not really shake the Revolutionary cause, the defeat at Saratoga truly injured the British. It also made possible the Franco-American alliance of 1778.

Return to England

In October 1777, the month of Burgoyne’s surrender, Howe offered his resignation. He then tried unsuccessfully to lure Washington into a general engagement. While Howe’s army wintered in relative comfort in Philadelphia, Washington’s men barely survived their encampment at Valley Forge. Howe finally received word that his resignation had been accepted and left Philadelphia in May 1778. Back in England, Howe became involved in an inconclusive debate on the conduct of the war and published a defense, claiming that all his actions had been determined by military necessity, not by any desire to appease the colonists.

Howe went on to hold a variety of important military positions. He became a full general in 1793. When the wars of the French Revolution began, he held important commands in the north and then in the east of England. In 1799, on the death of his brother, Richard, he succeeded to the Irish title of viscount. Failing health forced him to retire from active office in 1803. He died in Plymouth on July 12, 1814.


Oct 4-5, 1778 Raid on Mincock Island (Egg Harbor), New Jersey; A combined force of British regulars and Loyalists attempts to eradicate this nest of privateers a few miles north of what is today Atlantic City. About 50 colonials die in a surprise attack in the darkness before driving off the British and capturing some of them.

NOTE by Captain James Davis: I am proud to say that, Colonel Patrick Ferguson would later meet his death at the Battle of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, October 7, 1780. King’s Mountain was owned by my 6x Great Grandfather Samuel King.

Captain Patrick Ferguson led 300 men from the 70th regiment and the 3rd New Jersey Tory Regiment against a privateer base at Little Egg Harbor. Meanwhile, a naval force also approached. Pulaski’s Legion of Continentals was sent to combat the British, but Ferguson was able to destroy ten vessels and moved twenty miles up the Mullica River destroying storehouses, shipyards and homes of prominant patriots.

When Ferguson return to the mouth of the river, he learned that Pulaski was camped not far away and security was lax. Some believe that Captain Gustav Juliet had deserted Pulaski and gave the British that information. Ferguson took 250 men, rowed ten miles in small boat under the cover of darkness and surprised Pulaski at Mincock Island. At about 4 A.M. on October 5, 1778, the British Tories entered three house and killed about fifty officers and men by bayonet. Pulaski’s infantry commander Colonel de Boze was killed in the attack. Pulaski arrived with his dragoons and was able to drive Ferguson back to his boats with some of his men captured in the confusion. The Americans raised charges of a massacre. There is some dispute over the dates of the attack with some listing it on October 15, 1778.

Also called the Battle of Chestnut Neck

The Setting:

The southern forests of New Jersey, the Pine Barrens, prior to the American Revolution and during the war years, were a haven, a wondrous place of natural treasures, heaven-scented evergreens, flowing rivers, cedar streams and mysterious swamps teeming with vegetation, but, those same forests were inhabited by a “Nest of Rebel pirates,” as the British called the area, a place where the dense trees offered a cloak for “rebellious” activities.

The sea, the sandy coves and bays along the Jersey coast were places of amazing beauty, where a person could find tranquility, a setting for reflection. The sea cast a spell on the observer, the enigma, the majesty, the excitement and astonishment, but, those same coves were also crowded with sloops and frigates, captained by adventurous men, privateers, some opportunists and some patriots. Their aim? To rid the American waterways of British ships! And perhaps to add a bit of booty to their coffers by capturing enemy ships, taking the cargo and auctioning it in rebel ports, such as Toms River, Chestnut Neck and Mays Landing.

The Colonies, seeking to become an independent nation, had land troops led by General Washington, though few in number. A Colonial navy, however, was almost nonexistent. Washington knew that the “rebels,” without a navy, could not defeat the British. With monetary concerns, the inability to organize and equip a navy, the General had to turn to another source.

Several of Washington’s officers, whom he paid for their experience and knowledge of seafaring, found American sailors, amateur privateers, willing to stalk and capture British vessels. Privateers, just pirates, some said, but there was a difference. Privateers chose a country to have an allegiance to and only “pirated” enemies of that country.

Shortly thereafter Colonial investors commissioned privateers to seek out British merchant ships, board them, seize the cargo and capture the crews. The investors, the Colonial captains and their crews all profited from these activities.

The New Jersey coast grew into a roaring, pulsating center for privateers. At the beginning of the American Revolution, Colonial New Jersey had approximately 80,000 residents. About one third of the population sympathized with the rebel cause, another third were loyalists, and the last third were neutral, yet New Jersey played a crucial part in the war, being the scene of five major battles and two hundred minor encounters.

One of those battles was fought in October of 1778. Chestnut Neck, near the mouth of the Little Egg Harbor River, was a bustling port of trade, and, when tensions between America and Britain burst into fiery flames, the docks were cluttered with privateers and their captured vessels.

The British, frustrated and angered by Jersey’s “Nest of Rebel pirates,” wanted to crush the Colonials and eradicate the entire area of resistance. When the captured vessels Venus and Major Pearson were brought up the Little Egg Harbor River to Chestnut Neck, the confiscated cargo was estimated to be worth $500,000, and the British formulated plans for a major assault. A fleet of nine ships gathered in New York Harbor, led by the sloops Zebra, Vigilant and Nautilus. On September 30, 1778 the fleet, passing by Sandy Hook, encountered strong winds and turbulent waters, which forestalled their arrival off the bar at Little Egg Harbor until October 6. In the meantime, General Washington, having been informed of the expedition by patriot spies, ordered forces, led by Count Casimir Pulaski, to march from Red Bank in Monmouth County to Middle of the Shore (Tuckerton), and on to Chestnut Neck. New Jersey’s governor, William Livingston, sent Express Riders to forewarn the! residents.

The British fleet had been held off by the churning sea, but learning, through Tory spies, that the Colonials knew of the impending attack, the ships made haste to sail upriver to Chestnut Neck. Impeded at every turn, especially by enshrouding fog, the British doggedly pushed toward the port, while the Colonial troops, marching through the pine forest and intending to defend Chestnut Neck, got lost and never reached their destination.

Chestnut Neck had hurriedly prepared to meet the enemy with privateer ships and an armed Pilot-boat. The locals erected a “Work with Embrasures for six Guns,” level with the water, to protect the Channel. As the enemy vessels approached the shore, they were welcomed by Colonial gunfire coming from the tall meadow grass, but the British managed to land, form a line and charge.

The inhabitants, without Pulaski’s reinforcements and facing trained soldiers, retreated into the woods. Chasing, the British exhausted their supply of gunfire, and Tory Volunteers set fire to the homes, the tavern and storehouse. Apparently victorious at the port, the British forces wanted to head upriver toward an ironwork, Batsto, where patriots smelted iron and molded munitions for Colonial troops, but, not knowing the exact location of Pulaski’s men and fearing bottleneck in the river, they returned to the fleet and the expedition sailed for New York. . .without the flagship, Zebra, whose bottom became forever cemented to a sandbar.

The port was burned, but thanks to advance warning, the privateersmen, not one of whom was captured, sailed their ships far up the river, saving their valuable stores and private possessions. The British reported that Chestnut Neck had been destroyed and that it would not rise from the smoldering ashes. Not so. The port was never again what it once had been, for most of the locals rebuilt elsewhere, but just six weeks after the battle, a privateer, Captain Stevens, who had captured the Venus, towed in a prize, the armed schooner, Two Friends. . .and the seizures continued.

Privateers operated out of Chestnut Neck until the close of the War, which can be verified by viewing the Newspaper Extracts in the New Jersey Archives, chronicling the captured vessels and their cargoes for sale at Chestnut Neck.

The question again presents itself, can tranquility and revolution coexist? History seems to answer positively. Within the lovely, fragrant pine barrens of South Jersey, preserved today for all generations to enjoy, and along the shell-strewn beaches, patriots and privateers rousingly rooted out the British, leading the way to the formation of a new nation, America.

Background: Chestnut Neck

     At the entrance to the Little Egg Harbor River was a small village called Chestnut Neck. It became a hotbed of activity during the American Revolution. It was a major center for the privateers who were regularly capturing British Merchant Ships and relieving them of their cargos. The ships were landed in Chestnut Neck and their cargos were transported, first to warehouses at Chestnut Neck or further up the river to a larger community called “the Forks” . Then the captured goods would be disposed of (see below) and most made there way by wagon to Philadelphia.  

The Privateers

The American Colonists did not have and could not afford much of a navy, but the Continental Congress had seen the British effectively disrupt the French economy by commissioning private vessels to prey upon French merchant vessels. They adopted the same kind of system and issued letters (called Letters of Marquee) appointing specific ships, owners & captains to takeover British Merchant ships and confiscate the cargos. The cargos were then sold and the proceeds divided up by the Government’s Court of Admiralty. The ships owners, captains, crews and of course the government all got specific shares. Along the west Jersey coast these sales took place at Chestnut Neck (a small village at the mouth of the Little Egg Harbor River), The Forks ( a larger settlement further up the river), and at Mays Landing (on the Great Egg Harbor River). Large warehouses were built to hold the cargos, while they awaited sales and shipment.

The Privateer system was a great success for the American Rebels. It disrupted the British Merchant Fleet and prevented the British Army from being well supplied. It, also, provided a great income to the participants.

The Iron Works

The iron works at Batsto on the Little Egg Harbor River was started in 1766. Cannon balls and other military equipment was produced there and used by the Continental Army. The importance of the iron works can be seen in the fact that the workmen were given an exemption from military service.

The Salt Works

On the north side of the Bay were numerous salt works. Salt was a highly prized commodity at a time when vast quantities of food needed to be preserved for use by armies and aboard ships.

The Colonist Activity:

During September of 1777, the NJ General Assembly voted to reimburse Lt. Col. Elijzh Clark & Major Wescoat for building the fort at Chestnut Neck. The fort was built at water level and had places for 6 guns. On a nearby hill, a platform was built to mount more guns. It does not appear as if any guns were ever mounted.

Late summer of 1778

According to Mr. Kemps research almost 30 ships and their cargos were sold at “The Forks” and Chestnut Neck in August of 1778. In September at least another 6 ships were sold at Chestnut Neck and “The Forks,” including The Venus of London.

The British in New York

In New York, General Clinton and Admiral Gambier decide to organize an expedition to wipe out the privateering center at Little Egg Harbor and destroy the Iron Works at Batsto. Preparations are begun for an expedition. The expedition would become known to the British as “The Egg Harbor Expedition.”

September 29, 1778, Trenton, New Jersey

The Colonial Governor William Livingston and the Council of Safety become aware of the plans but not the destination. They dispatched riders to warn the residents of the coastal communities and informed General Washington of the expected fleet movements..

September 30,1778

Around midnight, Commander Henry Colins, on the newly commissioned  H.M.S. Zebra and 15 other ships slipped out of New York Harbor.

In command of the troops is Captain Patrick Ferguson of the 70th Regiment of Foot. (Captain Ferguson had invented and patented the Ferguson rifle on 12/4/1776)

October 1-4, 1778

The British – Due to a storm and heavy seas it took the British fleet 4 1/2 days to reach Little Egg Harbor Bay.

The Continental Army – Major General Benedict Arnold received notice of the impending attack and ordered Col. Procter’s Pennsylvania regiment of artillery to the Little Egg Harbor area. (Arnold, also, took it upon himself to empty some warehouses and move his troops and supplies further from the coast. He forgot to get permission from Gen. Washington and this is said to be part of the reason for his later Court Martial hearing. ( I am looking for more information about this part of the story.)

Because of the warning, at Chestnut Neck, several ships were able to put to sea, before the British arrived. Other remaining vessels were sent up to the river to the community known as “The Forks.” Warehouses were emptied and many residents removed themselves and their household items.

At Trenton, General Pulaski was ordered to place his Legion under the command of Major General Lord Sterling and move to the defense of the coast.

October 5, 1778

British fleet reached Little Egg Harbor around noon. At favorable tide a few of the more light weight ships enter the bay to prevent escaping ships. Armed vessels were stripped and loaded with troops. Local loyalists join expedition onboard the Zebra and inform of the militia at Chestnut Neck.

The Continental Army – General Pulaski and his Legion leave Trenton.

The Burning of Chestnut Neck Oct 6, 1778

October 6, 1778

Daybreak, the British assault force began moving across the bay, 7 miles to the mouth of the Little Egg Harbor River. It was very slow going, because of the shallow water and the lack of experienced pilots.

Two ships became grounded near Osborne Island, but the H.M.S. Zebra and two other large ships cross the sand bar and enter Little Egg Harbor Bay.

The Colonists at Chestnut Neck – A group of local militia, under the command of Captain Johnson occupy a two platform fort, that had placements for 6 guns, but unfortunately had none.

Around 4:00 pm

The British arrive and the militia was routed by the bayonet wielding British regulars. There was not much they could do to defend the town. The British had cannons and many men. The defenders of Chestnut Neck, probably numbered less then 20, with no cannons.

Commander Colins found 10 prize vessels still at Chestnut Neck. He ordered the town and all the vessels to be dismantled, set afire and scuttled. It took all night until noon on the 7th.

The Grounding of the British Ships Oct 7, 1778

October 7, 1778

Daybreak Commander Colins faced with the decision to follow the original plan and continue up the Little Egg Harbor River and destroy “The Forks” and the iron works at Batsto or to abort the mission, since the element of surprise had been lost. Local loyalists came aboard the British flagship, Zebra, and told Collins that Procter’s Artillery was on the way. Colins decided to withdraw.

At noon, the British assembled to withdraw. They had taken and destroyed the prized vessels. Burned all the storehouses and wiped out the village. Only one British soldier was wounded.

The British – It was not as easy to leave as they might have hoped. Two of the British ships were aground. Col Ferguson decided to take his soldiers and raid the north shore and the salt works. They destroyed 2 landings, 3 salt works and 10 buildings owned by patriots.

October 8, 1778

The 2 grounded ships were refloated and got underway. H.M.S. Greenwich again became grounded. The H.M.S. Dependance was left with her for protection and the rest of the ships rejoined the Zebra in the bay. Commander Colins planned to search Barnegat and Cranbury Inlets on the way back to New York, but the weather continued to worsen and the ships were unable to cross the sand bar

The Continental Army (Pulaski’s Legion) reached Little Egg Harbor. They enter the little Quaker settlement known as Middle of the shore (now, Tuckerton). They formed and encampment on the farm of James Willet. Pulaski located his headquarters at an unoccupied farmhouse belonging to Jeremiah Ridgway.

October 9 – 18, 1778

The British capture and unwary American Brigantine with a load of lumber. While they are waiting for better weather they transfer the lumber to their ships. It took 10 days to transfer all the cargo. During that time a few other American vessels were captured. Still the British Fleet was unable to put to sea.

October 12, 1778

A Hessian Lieutenant named Juliat had deserted the British on September 12 and joined The Pulaski Legion. He was assigned to the First Troop of Dragoons under Baron Bose. Baron Bose regarded Juliat with contempt for having deserted his post, even if it was with the enemy. Perhaps to get back at Baron Bose or perhaps he was always loyal to the British. Juliat took several men on a fishing party. They did not return and were thought drowned. They had actually rowed the twenty miles and were given permission to board the H.M.S. Nautilus. The story continues with intrigue. (Check it out in The Nest of Rebel Pirates, by Franklin Kemp)

The battle of Ridgway Farm Oct 15, 1778

Colonel Ferguson decides to lead an attack on the Pulaski Legion. They stop at Osborn Island and compel Thomas Osborn to lead them to the encampment. Juliat uses his influence to make sure the attack takes place at the farmhouse where Baron Bose and his troop are encamped. Ferguson left a party of 50 men behind to guard the bridge and loosen the planking, so that it could be easily removed during the retreat.

At the Ridgway Farm, the lone sentry was easily overpowered and sleeping soldiers were awakened and killed, before they could mount a defense. Only 5 were left alive and taken prisoner. Pulaski’s camp was close by and they were quick to respond, but arrived too late. Ferguson’s plan to remove the planks from the bridge, plus the high tide, cut off the pursuit and most of the British returned to their ships without incident. Baron Rose and from 30 to 50 of his men died in the attack.

Abandoning the H.M.S. Zebra and return to New York

October 20, 1778

Commander Colins decided to wait no longer and attempted to get his ships back across the bar and back to New York. After several attempts the Nautilus made it. The attempts to free the flag ship H.M.S. Zebra were unsuccessful.

October 21, 1778

Commander Colins gives up on the attempts to free the Zebra and transfer his men and himself to the Nautilus.

October 22, 1778

The Zebra is blown up and the rest of the fleet moves toward New York.

October 23, 1778

The Little Egg Harbor Expedition ends in New York Harbor, when the Nautilus drops anchor at 5:00 pm on October 23. It is met by Admiral Gambier .