Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Journal of Constant Belcher [April, 1777]: Regimental Coats

There is very limited documentation for the uniform of the 1st NJ Regiment (2nd Establishment) of the Continental Line in 1777.  Historian John Rees has done more research on this topic than anyone else, and according to him; "There is no information available for the 1st...Jersey Regiment...concerning the colors of any regimental coats worn by the soldiers during 1777. No deserter descriptions survive for the 1st New Jersey for 1777".  Rees deduces based on returns of clothing issued by the Clothier General that the 1st Regiment received 408 uniform coats issued "probably in June" [1777], but whether these were blue faced with red as with the 3rd Regiment or in other cuts and colors has not up to now been established in the surviving historical record.

The Belcher Journal, however, indicates that at least one company received uniform coats of blue and red cloth through the efforts of Paymaster Lieutenant Aaron Ogden and his dogsbody, Constant Belcher, although with unintended consequences.

Apr 1st [1777]                       This morning sent on Command by ordr Lt. Ogden / Set out for Elizath to procure enuf brodcloath to make coats for Col’s compny of our rigiment /  Much teaged from goin afoot by Gallopen Hill road /  Stayed this night at the Farms at Wade’s - excelent pidgin pie.

Apr. 2nd                                  This day came to Eliza. Town, wair instructd taylors to make of Cozen Matthias brodclothe  8& thirty red faced blue regimentals/ Told to return a fortnight Hence.

Apr. 3rd                                  This day went a-visitin to hear the news /   Brothers of Maj. Hetfield notorious Tories with the Greens on Staatan Isl. / The Maj. himself, tho a Hero at  Montreser’s in the last Campain, now in the Common Gaol at New Ark for passin false bills.

Apr. 4th                                  Went to horses an took £3 & 6 on bobtailed nag, with Bay to show.

Apr. 5th                                  Went to meeting /  Had a fine sermon by Rev. Caldwell on the Wages of Sin / Parson C. keeps a brace of pistoles near to Hand if our disloyal Neighbors across the water come lookin for Salvation.

Apr. 6th                                  This Day herd the militia had a sharp fight at Quibbletown and drove the enimy with Small loss.

Apr. 7th                                  To Day had a diff’rence of Opinion over pair half boots with one of Meeker’s Horse /  Gave better than receivd  but lost the Argument – a pity as were a Good fit for me.  

Apr. 8th-13th                        In Guard House.

Apr. 14th                               Sentenced to Ride a rail 15 min. an returnd to my duty.

Apr. 15th                              This day give tailors Colo. Ogden’s letter of Credit /  Acceptd  barrel of  Coats for Colo.’s  Co. / Contrived Wheel barrow to Convey back to rigiment.  

Apr. 16th                                Made but 4 miles this day, stay’d this night at the Farms with Wades /  Et baked cheese and cider.

Apr. 17th                                Traitered wheel Barrow for Goat Cart and boer Goat /  Drove beast & burden back to Camp arrived after Dark /  Reported Lt. Ogden most agitated for news of my errand.

Apr. 18th                                This Morning at first light Broached barrel / Dismayd at finding Lt. Ogden’s order intended blue coats faced red an these the reverse like that of the Enimy.

Apr. 19th                                In Guard House.

Apr. 20th                               This Day received 12 lashes on my bare back & returnd to my duty /  Colo. Ogden most annoyed with Lt. Ogden over his waisted Cloathe /  At night I Reminded Cozen Aaron that musicians wear reverse colours also.

April. 21st                              This day on the road back to Elizath to procure 17 drums and 21 fifes for the Colo.’s Co. of this rigiment.

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