The Broadside


Outwater's Militia Newsletter

#10, January 2010

In this Issue:

Annual meeting Scheduled

Large turnout for Trenton


An account of the skirmish in Amwell township, NJ.

Militia regulations, 1775

Bound Brook photo

Indian fighting- woods tactics

A new man at arms perspective

The Old Paramus Church

The annual meeting will be held on Saturday, Feb. 20th.  We are going to tour the historic 18th Century houses in New Castle Delaware, where Mike is the President of the Historical Society.  They have several nice 18th century homes near the square.   We will meet about 1pm to tour.  We will then go to "The Arsenal", an Inn on the square for the meeting at 4:30pm.  Elections for Commander and Deputy Commander will be held, as well as scheduling and voting on expenditures.

 Large Turnout for Trenton 

 Outwater's continues to grow!   We had 12 men at arms at Trenton, an EXCELLENT turnout! Plus two civilian women!   Tremendous for a late season, purely military event!  Monmouth, which is going to a big event this year, should draw even more people.  Quality AND quantity!

  We had 4 new men that fielded at Trenton.   Commander Glenn Valis gives his deepest thanks to those members who assisted them and kept them working safely and smoothly during the battles.  They did a very good job, and were not noticeable as new!!!  Good Job All !!!!

The Battles of Somerset

  The unit is trying to organize an event to celebrate the various battles in Somerset County.scheduled for late summer or fall of 2011. We are trying to arrange a sponsor or sponsors to provide funding for police/rescue, firewood, insurance, hay, water, portajohns, etc.  Suggestions are welcome!

The Amwell Militia action:

In a previous issue there were photos of the militia monument in Amwell township, along Rt. 202, south of Flemington.    Here is an account of the action there:

"There was at that time some British [at] Pennyton,... went the next day down as far as New Market... got information that some of the British light horse were coming up the next day to Flemington... where Colonel Thomas Lowery, then a commissary, had a large quantity of beef and pork salted down for the army. He [John Schanck] returned with the information to his father and uncle Garret Schenck and that night Captain John Schenck returned from Pennsylvania to his family and got the information and they selected a few men... The next morning a Cornet and 8 light horsemen came up past Ringoes and went up to Flemington found that the beef and pork was there and returned to meet a part of about 500 troops of the British that planned that day to come up and take these provisions, by that time there was 8 men - deponent's father, Esq. Abm. Prall, Capt. John Schenck, Jacob Schenck, William Vansyckle and deponent and two others who had collected and stationed themselves by the road side in a wood about 5 miles below Flemington, in the afternoon the light horse came back and the militia fired on them as they passed and killed the officer - a Cornet, his name "Frederick Geary" was engraved on a silver plate on his cap which deponent got and his shoes, Cpt. Jno. Schenck got his sword, and Wm. Vansyckle his watch, when he fell his horsemen fired on the militia and whirled out of the road and took a course across the farms toward Somerset and the cornets horse followed them. After sunset the British came along and a little past where the officer was killed they stopped at a farm house (Matthias Housel's) to inquire of them had been any light horse along, he told them the officer was killed a little below, they made him get a lantern and go back to the place where they found the blood, they interrogated him and he told them fictictous stories of Washington's having crossed the Delaware and there being a great many of the militia about and that alarmed them, and the regiment wheeled about and marched directly off towards Somerset without going on to Flemington and the provisions were left untouched."

Source:  Pension record of John Schanck (a cousin of the Captain)

Militia Law:

(passed October 25th, 1775) was " An Ordinance for regulating the Militia of New Jersey," :" Whereas, The ordinances of the late Provincial Congress for regulating the Militia of this Colony have been found insufficient to answer the good purposes intended, and it appearing to be essentially necessary that some further regulations be adopted at this time of imminent danger,"

    All able bodied men from 16 to 50 were to be enrolled in the Militia, unless their religion forbid it.   Penalties were increased and were to be strictly enforced.   All eligible males:

" shall with all convenient speed furnish himself with a good musket or firelock and bayonet, sword or tomahawk-, a steel ramrod, priming-wire and brush fitted thereto, a cartridge-box to contain twenty-three rounds of cartridges, twelve flints, and a knapsack, agreeable to the direction of the Continental Congress, under the forfeiture of two shillings for the want of a musket  or firelock, and of one shilling for the want of the other above-enumerated articles";  also " that every person directed to be enrolled as above shall, at his place of abode, be provided with one pound of powder and three pounds of bullets of proper size to his musket  or firelock."

 The unit fires at Bound Brook

  Woods Tactics  

Indians painted for...a wedding...which is more or less just like war paint.    Hopefully we will be doing more Indian fighting at The Battle of Wyoming and Newton, NY again this year.
  The key to woods tactics is working in pairs and everyone staying reasonably close to each other.  When working in pairs, one man can fire while the other holds his, in case the enemy rushes them.  When the first is almost ready, the second man can fire.  They should be within a few yards of each other.
  At the same time different two man teams have to stay within support fire range of each other...if you spread out past 50 yards or so, if an enemy gets on the far flank of your neighbor team, you can not fire in their support effectively.  30 yards between teams at maximum works better.  A muskets effective accuracy range is only about 75 yards!
  Woods fighting is completely different than field work in small teams, without much direct control by the officers, and have to keep an eye on your teammate, the enemy, the neighboring teams,  know where the distant teams are going,  all while moving from tree to tree- sometimes not knowing where you are going, or when you come into contact with the enemy...Excitement at every snap of a twig!
   Remember, SAFETY first!  Don't try shooting past another man, or at an enemy that is too close.  Keep your wits about you!

From the perspective of a new man at arms, by James Smith

Everyone is familiar with the Battle of Trenton. Washington crosses the Delaware and surprises the Hessian soldiers that were stationed at Trenton, providing a much needed victory for the Colonist’s cause.  I was fortunate enough to participate in the Battle of Trenton as my first major re-enactment and am quite pleased with the decision I made. I have always had a love of history and I’m sure I have my family vacations to Colonial Williamsburg and growing up in New Jersey to thank for that. Likewise, I have always wanted to become more involved with history. Re-enacting provides the opportunity to educate the public about an important period in our country’s history, but also provides the re-enactor the ability to do more research and expand their knowledge about the time period as well.

After doing careful research on the subject and meeting the members of Outwater’s at both the Washington Crossing event and Ft. Lee, I knew I made the right choice. At Ft. Lee I was able to participate and get my first hands-on experience with re-enacting. I could not wait for the Trenton event, an event that did not disappoint.  December 27th was a mild December day, and along with other re-enactors, I was thankful for this. Arriving at the historic Old Barracks in Trenton and donning period garb, it felt as if I was stepping back in time.  There was a great turnout from the unit and the camaraderie and professionalism that the members of Outwater’s displayed cannot be ignored. While there were a few new members of the unit that day, the more seasoned members took the time to make sure that our participation went off without a hitch.

As our group drilled on the grounds of the Old Barracks, much as soldiers did over 200 years ago, you begin to understand what makes up a militia unit. These were not professional soldiers, they were ordinary citizens: Farmers, millers, sailors, blacksmiths, hunters, who stood up to the aggression of the English crown.  This diversity showed in the make-up of our men. Not one individual looked the same; we all had different hats, shirts, canteens, and muskets. 

On the flip side, you had the impressive Hessian units. Then, as now, they were intimidating force. Everyone had the same uniform, standard issue, and even their head gear made the soldiers all appear taller and as they drilled on the grounds (their commands being given in German). You could see why they were viewed in such a negative light. They were larger than life and would be seen as very foreign to anyone in the colonies.  As we marched out of the Barracks and stepped back into history, cannons firing, muskets blazing, smoke blinding, and the sounds deafening, I could not help but feel a sense of pride at being a member of Outwater’s and bringing the story of the militia man to life.   

The Old Paramus church, by James Smith

If you ever have been up and down busy Route 17 in Bergen County, you may have passed a very important landmark during the American Revolution that not many people know about. Past the strip malls and fast food joints, stands the Old Paramus Church, in Ridgewood, NJ. The church overlooks the highway and almost acts as a gateway to the northern Bergen County towns of Ho-Ho-Kus, Saddle River, Ramsey and Mahwah. Prior to the American Revolution, Bergen County was an area settled primarily by the Dutch. However, with the Dutch came French Huguenots, Danes, Poles, and eventually the English and Scottish. This was the world of John Outwater.

While Hackensack was the primary town of the region, further north on the King’s Highway (present day Paramus Road, which is still dotted with old Dutch style homes) sat the Old Reformed Church. During colonial times, the area was not known as Ridgewood, but rather Paramus, Pyramus or Paramus Plains. The area was ideal for farming due to the location of the Saddle River and Ho-Ho-Kus Brooks, and the same streams would provide power for mills to spring up along the banks. This church sat on a crossroads, a crossroads that controlled north/south trade and one that George Washington saw as being so vital, he thought it should be defended during the war to restrict trade with British controlled New York. Today it rests on Glen Ave and the Franklin Turnpike. During Colonial times, the Franklin Turnpike would continue south, over the Saddle River, onto where Route 17 is currently located, and link up with King’s Highway (Paramus Road)

Given its close proximity to New York, many people today work in the City and the City relies on its neighbor to the west. This was the same in Colonial times. After the defeats at Trenton and Princeton, and the British decision to pull troops out of New Jersey and back to New York, Bergen County became a vital and forgotten front of the American Revolution. There were no large or famous battles that took place, but the families and the militia that protected them, like Outwater’s, could tell you a different story. Neighbor vs. / neighbor, family vs. family, it made for a long and brutal campaign.

Imagine being on patrol with your company and while you are away, your farm or business is unprotected against Tory raids. Or by declaring that you were a Patriot or Whig, you were left open to Tory persecution. Yet as we peel this history back, we also see that the strife that occurred in Bergen County also had religious undertones. One group favored a split from the Old World control over the Reformed Church, while the  other faction did not. These two separate factions would  find themselves on opposite sides regarding the conflict with England as well.

The Old Reformed Church would see the start of the court martial of General Lee due to his actions at the Battle of Monmouth, and would have such famous visitors as Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette, Anthony Wayne, and Aaron Burr. On April 16, 1780, the British mounted an attack on this crossroads, defended by the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment; however, after the British overran the position, they started their march back to New York. The militia organized and harassed the British on their march back, inflicting serious casualties. This was not the only incursion into the area, but it showed that even though numbers were not on their side, the patriot militia of Bergen County would stand up and fight, even in the face of superior numbers.

Though the original Reformed Church was torn down in 1800, after being damaged from the War and serving as a field hospital, it was rebuilt with the same stones on the same location and has served the surrounding community ever since. So the next time you decide to visit the Garden State Plaza, take a detour and continue traveling north on Route 17  to the Old Paramus Reformed Church.  Stop by the Old School House Museum in Ridgewood, which offers a glimpse of the regions vibrant history as a farming community well into the early 20th century. And if you haven’t done so, pick up a copy of the Revolutionary War in the Hackensack Valley by Adrian Leiby.


The Revolutionary War in the Hackensack Valley, Adrian C. Leiby

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