Indian Patriots in the Revolutionary War from New Jersey

Given that it’s the 4th of July, I thought something about Native people who served in the Revolutionary War would be nice for today.

New Jersey is a smaller state, but due to their position on the coast and the amount of shoreline, they held a critical position in the War.  Slaves were never permitted legally to serve.  Because of that, New Jersey struggled to raise the required number of men. 

In the Forgotten Patriots book, they tell us how New Jersey raised the required number of men.  An Act for the better regulating of the Militia on March 15, 1777 required that each militia captain “take a list of all able-bodies men, not being slaves…between the ages of 16 and 50 years, who are capable of bearing arms.” 

I’ve always wondered what each of the men who served took with them when they left for war.  Among the provisions that each man was to bring for himself were: “a good musket, a knapsack, a canteen, 12 flints, and 23 pounds of cartridges.”  In place of a musket, with all of its necessary equipment, the recruit was allowed to substitute a sword, cutlass or tomahawk.  The mention of a tomahawk is interesting. 

During the American Revolution, small groups of Indians resided in New Jersey particularly the Brotherton Indians in Burlington County.  Unfortunately, no clear information has been found as to whether these groups supported the American cause, although there is evidence that the Brotherton Indians worked at nearby iron works at Atsion near the reservation. 

Other than the unknown number of Brotherton Indians who worked at the iron works, only 7 Indians are known to have served from New Jersey.

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About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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