The American Revolution: Manuscript Sources

The following overview describes highlights from the repository's manuscript collections which pertain to the American Revolution. An expanded guide to manuscripts on this topic, Revolutionary War Manuscripts in Special Collections and Archives, Rutgers University Libraries by Clark L. Beck, is available for consultation at the New Jersey Room reference desk.

NOTE: Advance notice is required to consult some manuscript collections, as the materials must be retrieved from an offsite storage facility. For access information concerning specific collections, please contact the repository.

John Douglass

Orderly book, 3-29 Aug. 1776, kept as captain of a militia company raised in Philadelphia which made up part of the Flying Camp, the reserve troops designed in part to deter the British from landing in New Jersey. Douglass' unit was camped at Perth Amboy in early August (where discipline of the troops was a topic addressed by many of the orders), but had removed to Long Island by the end of the month. A two-page retrospective narrative elsewhere in the volume (also used as an unrelated account book, 1779) details activities of Douglass' unit in central New Jersey during May and June of 1777, by which time Douglass was a captain in the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment, Continental Line.

Azariah Dunham

Volumes relating to Dunham's service as a New Jersey Assistant Commissary of Purchases: an account, April-Aug. 1776, of rations issued in eastern New Jersey and Staten Island to various units of militia in the Continental service, plus additional ledger accounts through 1783; summaries of purchases, Sept. 1777-Aug. 1779, together with accounts, 1782-1784, with army contractors; and a register of certificates issued on account of purchases, 1780-1787. Also provision returns, Aug.-Nov. 1776, for various militia units (from New Jersey and elsewhere) present in Middlesex County.

Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey.

Microfilm copy of a British army orderly book, 1 March-20 May 1778, kept at Philadelphia: "General Greys Orderly Boock 23d Feby 1778 Samuel Brotherton Sergt of said Comp[an]y." (Original in private hands when filmed in 1955; leaves 1-7 [23-28 Feb.] lacking.)

Battle of Monmouth

Eyewitness accounts in letters written by Henry Beekman Livingston (a colonel in the Continental Army who commanded a battalion which saw considerable action at Monmouth and sustained heavy losses) and by William Watson (a captain in Colonel Beekman's Battalion). An additional firsthand account, contained in a letter in the John Neilson papers, is that written by John Taylor, a member of Neilson's battalion. Also of interest are two letters by General Charles Lee in which he defends his conduct at the battle (to Major [George Rogers?] Clark, 3 Sept. 1778) and in which he requests a Congressional investigation of the court martial which found him guilty of treasonous conduct (to Henry Laurens, 29 Oct. 1778).

Gershom Mott

Military correspondence, orders, certificates, accounts and receipts, returns, and other records, 1775-1782. A resident of New York state, Mott served as a captain in Alexander McDougall's 1st New York Regiment, Continental Line, and participated in the invasion of Canada. From 1777 he was a captain in the 2nd Continental Artillery. Among his correspondents were McDougall, Henry Knox and John Lamb. (The Mott manuscripts are a component part of the Williams family papers.)

John Neilson

Letters received and copies of letters sent, 1777-1783, and papers (accounts, receipts, returns, etc.), 1780-1782, kept as Deputy Quartermaster for New Jersey. Among the correspondents of Neilson, who also served as a brigadier general in the state militia, were Aaron Burr, William Livingston, Charles Pettit, Israel Putnam, John Sullivan and George Washington (three letters: 26 June 1778, 31 May 1779 and 2 June 1779). The Neilson papers also contain six letters (Jan.-Oct. 1777) from Washington to David Forman, a resident of Monmouth County, N.J., who was commissioned a colonel in the Continental Army in 1777.

New Jersey Tercentenary Commission

Selected records on microfilm which reproduce originals in the Public Records Office and other British repositories. Most relevant are the loyalist damage claims, the correspondence of William Franklin with the Secretary of State, the Thomas Gage correspondence and the charges and proceedings against Lieutenant Colonel Gordon for conduct at the Battle of Springfield.

Johannes Reuber

Military journal, 1776-1806, of a Hessian soldier, including 295 pages dealing with the American Revolution. In 1776 Reuber took part in the capture of New York and Fort Washington; he later was himself captured at the Battle of Trenton. Freed in a prisoner exchange in 1778, Reuber subsequently participated in attacks on Savannah and Charleston, followed by garrison duty in both places. Some or all of the text (which is in readable, dialectical German) appears to have been written in later years, presumably based upon contemporary diaries or notes.

Israel Shreve

Records (letters received, accounts, returns, etc.), 1776-1781, involving Shreve's command of the 2nd New Jersey Regiment, Continental Line, and letters, 1775-1781, which he sent to his wife while serving in the army. Shreve, frequently stationed in New Jersey, participated in the invasion of Canada (1776), was wounded at Brandywine, wintered at Valley Forge, fought at Monmouth, accompanied General Sullivan's Expedition, wintered at Morristown (1779-1780), fought at Connecticut Farms and Springfield, and wintered at Pompton before resigning his commission in early 1781 (soon after the mutiny in the Jersey Line). This collection is accompanied by typed transcripts and by photocopies of related Shreve papers at the University of Houston.

Jacob Ten Eyck

Records, 1775-1781, kept as captain of a company of New Jersey militia from Somerset County. Included are muster rolls, pay rolls, bounty rolls, receipts, lists of men who took part in various engagements, correspondence, and other records.

Zaccheus Towne

War journal, 17 Mar. 1776-23 Feb. 1777, of a soldier (possibly noncommissioned officer) of Capt. Isaac Bolster's company, Col. Ebenezer Learned's 4th Massachussetts Regiment, Continental Line, which marched southward through Connecticut in early April 1776. In brief entries the journal records Towne's service, 18 April-16 Sept. in New York and Long Island; 16 Sept.-13 Oct. in Bergen and (present) Hudson counties, N.J.; 13 Oct-10 Jan 1777, chiefly in Westchester County, N.Y.; and 11 Jan.-16 Feb. in Morris, (present) Union and Middlesex counties, N.J. Towne then returned to his home in Sutton, Mass.

George Washington

Letters sent by Washington to Nathaniel Heard, 24 May 1777, concerning the defense of Newark and Elizabeth Town, N.J.; to John Glover or Alexander McDougall, 20 June 1777, reporting British troop movements in central New Jersey; to John Hancock (in the hand of Alexander Hamilton), 22 Oct. 1777, expressing regret at Hancock's resignation as President of Congress; to the Justices of Somerset County, N.J., 7 Jan. 1780, concerning the dire need for provisions at the Morristown encampment; to William Livingston, 23 Jan. 1781, regarding the mutineers of the Jersey Line; and to Simeon DeWitt, 29 Aug. 1781, ordering a survey to be made. (Other Washington letters are included in the John Neilson and Anthony Walton White papers).

Anthony Walton White

Receipts and other financial records, 1776, as Lieutenant Colonel of the 3rd New Jersey Battalion, Continental Line; and records (bills, receipts, certificates, enlistment papers, correspondence, etc.) as an officer of the Light Dragoons, Continental Line, at first (from 1777-1779) with the 4th Regiment and then (from 1779-1782) with the 1st Regiment. Early in the war White served as an aide-de-camp to Washington; while serving with the Light Dragoons in 1780 he was appointed a colonel with command of all cavalry in the Southern Army. Among his correspondents were Washington (10 Feb. 1779) and Nathanael Greene.

Thomas Williams

Papers, 1775-1782, including correspondence (both business and personal) with frequent references to the war. Thomas, a loyalist, was a merchant in Detroit apparently active in the campaign to incite the Indians in the northwest against the Americans. Significant documents include a [purloined?] copy of General John Sullivan's troop instructions and a letter from British Colonial Governor Henry Hamilton.

Other Resources

Further documentation relating to the provisioning of military troops; various commissions, petitions, payment orders, payment vouchers, military returns and safe-conduct passes; several items of verse, including "On the River Raritan" by James McHenry (written after the American army's departure from New Brunswick, N.J.) and drafts of "British Prison Ship" and "Spy" by Philip Freneau; and additional correspondence, including war-related letters received by William Paterson (attorney general of New Jersey during the war years) and New Jersey's Robert Morris (the state's chief justice from 1777 to 1779). Also several individual letters: Lord Stirling to George Washington (24 March 1777, draft letter concerning protection of areas under Stirling's command); Philemon Dickinson to Baron von Steuben (17 June 1780, reporting the military situation in N.J.); Jonathan Elmer to Ebenezer Elmer (27 June 1777, discussing the British retreat from New Brunswick to Perth Amboy, N.J.); and Anthony Wayne to Benjamin Rush (30 June 1777, informing him of the progress of the war in N.J.).