A brief history of the 3rd New Jersey “ Greys” Regiment, First Establishment.
This is a summary and adaptation of the works of George W. Stillman. For a copy of his complete research and timeline, see
“The Trials, Tribulations, and Calamities of the Third New Jersey Regiment in the Revolutionary War” By George W. Stillman, Copyright 1988.
Works Cited following his report.
On January 10th 1776, the Continental Congress authorized the raising of a 3rd New Jersey Battalion. This new Regiment was to be commanded by Colonel Elias Dayton of Elizabeth NJ who had prior experience as an officer during the French and Indian war. Joseph Bloomfield was commissioned as the Captain of the 1st Coy. by the NJ Provincial congress on February 9th and our company was born.
While the officers of the regiment were mostly from Northern and Central Jersey, most of 1st Coy.’s soldiers came from the Burlington area. Captain Bloomfield is quoted as saying “The 19th, we beat up for Voluntiers and in Eight days, by the 27th. following we inlisted our full compliment of Men & four over…” The company easily recruited the numbers it required plus extra. He went on to say “[The men]…could not be induced to enter into Service from Interest, but from Motives purely to Serve their Country.” Drawing arms and equipment from the Colony stores and buying from the Militia, the men of Capt. Bloomfield’s Coy were outfitted and set forth on their service.
In very early spring 1776, two companies of the 3rd NJ were station at Cape May with the other six in Elizabeth. By mid-April, four companies were in Staten Island building fortifications while four other companies were barracked in Amboy. April 19th 1776 sees “Return to be made this afternoon of the number of coats each company has and the number yet wanted by each company, that they may be procured as soon as possible.” 3rd NJ historian George W. Stillman has found “These were described as being of a pale, greyish color with dark blue facing and cuffs. The men were also supplied new hats with white binding, buckskin breeches, and a new shirt and shoes.” George also found “Evidence indicates that the men were also ordered to powder their hair.” The Jersey Greys found their name.
On May 2nd the Regiment paraded in front of General George Washington in New York City. Being impressed, Washington is attributed to have said the Greys were “the flower of all North American forces.” On May 3rd they received orders and boarded sloops bound for Albany as part of Sullivan’s Brigade. They were headed to the Canadian front with 528 fit for duty.
Upon reaching Albany the soldiers of the Greys were counter ordered and instructed to head down the Mohawk River in the hope of surprising and capturing Sir John Johnson. Once the Greys had reached Johnstown they were alerted that Johnson has evacuated and headed North to British held Canada.
In the months that followed, the 3rd New Jersey garrisoned Johnstown, German Flatts, built Fort Dayton (named for their commander Elias Dayton,) and rebuilt the crumbling Fort Stanwix. Counsels with local Indian tribes were held and treaties of neutrality were negotiated. The 3rd was charged with keeping the peace with the Natives and keeping an eye for any Loyalist hostility.
In early June, led by some officers of the regiment, the men ransacked Johnson Hall. This was to become quite the scandal in the coming weeks as Col. Dayton did his best to find and return the stolen items. To this day the damage to Johnson Hall by the 3rd NJ Greys is still visible.
In mid-August the men were staying busy rebuilding the fortifications and skirmishing with local Indian tribes loyal to the British. Sgts. Younglove and Aitkin captured and Aitkin killed. (Probably) Pvt. Zadock Hedden of Newark wounded. Also 2 Pvts. from Capt. Sharp’s Coy., reported captured and taken to Montreal.
Oct 12th 1776 the 3rd New Jersey received orders to leave for Ticonderoga to reinforce the Northern Army. They arrived at Fort Ticonderoga on November 1st just in time to see the advance of the British column reversed on Lake Champlain.
During the cold month of November, the Jersey Greys manned the Jersey Redoubt, Oblong Redoubt, and Mt. Independence. It was also during this time that Capt. Bloomfield was appointed Judge Advocate of the Northern Army and promoted to Major. November 28th saw the State of NJ committee appointing officers for the 2nd establishment. Major Bloomfield was appointed to staff and spent the winter of 1776/77 in Morristown recuperating from illness in the Wick House.
Cold, misery, and sickness summed up the rest of 1776 for the Jersey Greys at Ticonderoga.
The 3rd NJ Greys stationed at Ticonderoga in January were yearning to go home. Appeals to the headquarters staff of the Northern Army for the 3rd to return to New Jersey were left unanswered. In the meantime, the Greys were used as crews on the galley’s patrolling the waters of Lake Champlain.
Detachments were regularly sent to Crown Point and the bulk of the men were stationed on Mt. Independence scraping the cold earth for earthworks and graves.
March 2nd the men begin their march back to Morristown NJ, heading south into Albany and further south into modern Sussex County NJ via Florida NY. The Greys arrived in Morristown on March 18th, were paid and then formally discharged with Honor on March 22nd 1777. Those who reenlisted in the 2nd establishment were given 20 days furlough.
So ended the 1st Establishment. While the men saw no major combat, their existence in the Mohawk valley would pay dividends in the summer of 1777. The rebuilding of Fort Stanwix and building of Fort Dayton proved vital to the Saratoga campaign and the defense of the Mohawk valley.
The early 2nd Establishment would see service in Northern New Jersey’s forage war, skirmishing regularly with the Crown Forces. The last probably use of the Grey’s drab uniforms was likely at the Battle of Short Hills in June 1777. By this time some of the men were in blue faced red but there was a still shortage of new coats. After the battle the men likely received an allotment of coats destined for them in early June. So ends the jersey Greys and began the famed Jersey Blues.
The 3rd NJ’s combat record would end up including Skirmishing in the Mohawk, (76) Skirmishing in the forage war, (77) The Battle of Short Hills, (77) The Battle of Brandywine, (77, in which Capt. Bloomfield was wounded) The Battle of Germantown, (77) Skirmishing outside of Philadelphia, The Battle of Monmouth (78) The Sullivan Campaign, (79) The Battle of Connecticut Farms, (80) and The battle of Springfield. (80) Following this combat record, they wintered at Morristown and were disbanded and folded into the 1st and 2nd NJ. The men of the 3rd who continued to serve saw service and action around Elizabeth NJ and went onto Yorktown. (81) The regiment was again posted to Morristown/Elizabeth in (82) and was at New Windsor Cantonment for the final disbanding of the Continental Army (83).