Having now transcribed several excerpts from 1776, it seems quite clear that Belcher was not present with the regiment during its 1st establishment. Nor have we yet discovered anything in his Journal to indicate militia service during this period. Belcher did take part in at least two military enterprises as a civilian volunteer in 1776, however; namely, the Blue Mountain Valley Whaleboat Raid , and against the British Fleet off Staten Island in an experimental demi-submersible of his own design.
Belcher appears to have been something of a waterman - at least, he had an affinity for fishing and was comfortable enough in boats to fall asleep in one small watercraft on a January evening, and to put to sea largely beneath another. Thus it is perhaps to be expected that he might have found the prospect of privateer service attractive, and indeed in the Fall of 1776 we find a Journal entry that confirms that Constant Belcher entertained notions of freebooting for Liberty. It is fortunate for him, and for posterity, that it proved but a passing fancy, for the vessel in question was the scummiest he'd ever seen, and as aficionados of seafaring folk songs know full well, she was lost with nearly all hands (and all legs) in her first engagement.
The lure of Prize money did draw on board a ducid curious collection of Bergen Dutchmen, the larger part fisherman an by their talk no friends of Liberty / Found upon examination Letter of Marque affixd with stamp of the Crown / Slipped my cable lest I fall into ruinous company and returnd Eliza. Town full glad to be free of that nest of Tories / Predict our shiping will have little to fear from that rum crew as but one fat ball will serve to stove her in.”