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John Dewey, Private, Revolutionary War

Created: April 2010

John Dewey served as a Private in the Revolutionary War at least two times. According to "The Life of George Dewey, rear admiral, U.S.N.; and Dewey family history" which was published in 1898, he was "One of the company of minute men which marched from Westfield on the Lexington alarm April 19, 1775; re-enlisted April 28 for eight months in Captain Park's company, Col. Danielson's regiment." During his second enlistment from April, 1776 through February, 1777 he kept a journal. The words he wrote have been preserved for the future. I have written it below as it was written in the Dewey genealogy book. The authors of this book do not mention if they saw this journal themselves or where they obtained it. Although I have found proof of John Dewey serving during the Revolutionary War, what I found does not prove this journal nor disprove it. Although the book attributes this journal to John Dewey, son of Aaron and Sarah Noble, it offers no sources. This journal captures one of the defining moments of the Revolutionary War - the crossing of the Delaware River and the Battle at Trenton (New Jersey). 120 years had passed from the dates of this journal until it's published date of 1898. I am presenting it here as written in the book. Since the organization "Daughter's of the American Revolution (DAR) accept this diary as fact, one can assume they have somehow verified it's authenticity. Below the diary will be official documents of the Revolutionary War pertaining to John Dewey.


His Diary

" Journal of John Dewey, a Private in the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment, from April 4, 1776, to February, 1777.

April 4th, A. D. 1776. We marched from Roxbury Camp to Dedham;

lodged at Walpole.

5th to Wentham; lodged at Attleboro.

6th to Tucket; lodged at Providence.

7th to Johnson; lodged at Scituate.

8th to Coventry; lodged at Vollentown.

9th to Plainfield; lodged at Norwich two nights.

10nth to New London.

Sunday night, the 14th inst., we lodged aboard the sloop called the Lion, commanded by Capt. Champten. At 9 o'clock in the morning we set sail for New York; we sailed about three miles; the wind shifted, and we were obliged to halt. At night we sailed back into New London harbor; in the morning (i6th inst.) the wind favored us. With a pleasant gale about sun- rise in the morning we hoisted sail, and we sailed within about eighteen miles of New York; at sunset we cast anchor. The next day we got into New York about noon, and a fine city it is.

May 6th Our regiment moved into tents about two miles from the city, by the side of the North river.

September 14th, evening We marched out of New York. On the isth, at 9 o'clock, the regular troops landed on the island.

i6th There was an engagement; our men drove them; the number that was killed is unknown to me; the engagement held about two hours; the same day our regiment crossed the ferry just below Fort Washington, and encamped by the river at Burdet's ferry, thirteen miles from New York.

i8th We moved about two miles to a place called the English neighbor- hood and encamped.

20th We marched back and encamped half a mile from Fort Constitu- tion I mile.

22d - In the evening we marched to Bull's ferry and worked there all night stopping the roads to prevent the enemy approaching 3 miles.

23d We marched to Bergen and encamped 8 miles.

October sth We marched from Bergen to the English neighborhood, about twelve miles, and encamped.

13th We marched from the [camps], crossed Burdett's ferry and marched to King's bridge and lodged there.

14th We marched to Capt. Chester, about a mile from the town, and encamped 14 miles.

i6th We marched about one mile toward Frog Point and encamped in tiie woods.

lytli We marched to West Chester, about two miles, and encamped.

19th About 8 in the morning we had an alarm as we were marching off; we heard the small arms very brisk; Col. Read's regiment attacked them, but was obliged to retreat with the loss of two men. About noon Col. Shepard's regiment tackled them, but was obliged to retreat with the loss of one man.

20th We encamped at Mile Square, about 4 miles from West Chester, where the engagement was.

2Sth We marched to White Plains. 26th Encamped; 13 miles.

27th We marched almost i mile and encamped on a hill in a wheat field.

28th They had an engagement in White Plains.

29th We moved up a hill in the woods about lo rods and encamped.

November loth We moved from Mount Misery about a mile and a half, into the bounds of North Castle.

i6th Fort Constitution was taken.

26th Marched to N. Castle 12 miles.

28th Marched to Crum Pond 12 miles.

December ist Marched to Peekskill 5 miles.
3d Marched to King's Ferry, 4 miles; crossed the ferry and encamped.
4th Marched to Haverstraw, 5 miles; a detachment of 100 men from each brigade to reconnoitre with Gen. Lee.
5th Marched to Cacoat; 10 miles.
6th ^ Marched to Ramapo; 16 miles.
7th Marched to Pompton ; 4 miles.
8th Marched to Hanover; 8 miles.
9th Marched to Chatham ; 8 miles.

loth Marched to Morristown; 7 miles.

nth We lay by, and at night it snowed and rained very hard.

i2th Marched to Pepack; 12 miles.

13th About 9 o'clock Gen. Lee was taken by a plan of the Tories at Baskingridge. We marched to Germantown; 7 miles.

14th Marched to Rockaway; 9 miles.

15th Marched to Phillipsburgh; we marched all day and till 5 o'clock in the [morn. (?)] ; crossed Delaware river at Eagletown; 24 miles.

i8th Marched to Bethlehem: crossed the river at Rope Ferry: 14 miles. Bethlehem is inhabited by the Moravians.

19th ^ Marched to Burlington; 16 miles.

20th It snowed and rained: we laid by.

2ist We struck our tents and marched to Newtown; 14 miles.

24th Marched one mile to another grove.

25th, Christmas Day Gen. Washington, with part of his army, marched to Trenton, where was a body of the enemy stationed (Hessians and a num- ber of light horse); we marched 4 miles to Brown's ferry; crossed Delaware river at 10 o'clock at night; marched 8 miles towards Trenton.

26th Attacked the town, and after a smart cannonading and musketry of about an hour we killed, took prisoners and put to flight the whole body of the enemy. The number of prisoners taken at Trenton; i colonel, 2 lieutenant-colonels, 3 majors, 4 captains, 8 lieutenants, 12 ensigns, 92 sergeants, 12 drummers, 9 musicians, 25 servants, 742 privates; total 910

Number killed of the enemy, 1 colonel, 2 captains, 3 lieutenants, 60 privates. 2,150 of our men were in the action. The loss 'on our side was very incon- siderable, but only 4 or 5 killed, and 13 wounded. It was severe cold, and it snowed, rained and hailed the night after the 2Sth afid all day the 26th. In the time of the action our regiment was ordered through a river which proved to be about midthigh, in order to cut off the enemy's retreat; we marched back to the ferry in the lots and wet; there were so many of us to cross that we could not get over before the next morning; there were two of our men perished of the cold and wet, and one Hessian.

27th We arrived in camp after a very fatiguing journey of 14 miles. This is a Christmas worthy of remembrance.

30th We struck our tents and turned them into the store, and marched to Trenton ; 9 miles.

31st This day our time was out and by the General's desire we agreed to stay six weeks longer.

January 2, 1777 About 10 o'clock our camp was alarmed; the enemy had collected the chief of their forces from Princetown and Brunswick, and had begun their march to Trenton to attack us there. After our army had got posted in the best manner for their own defense, our brigade, with some other troops, was ordered to march up the river to a certain fordway, to prevent the enemy crossing the river. At this place we were drawn up in a line, where the enemy upon the other side took much advantage of the ground, which [they] improved, to cannonade us very severely when there was nothing to cover us from their shot but the open air. After going through an operation of this kind we retreated a small distance to a grove of wood, in which we built our fires; the enemy encamped right against us upon the other side of the river. A part of the enemy marched about sunset into Trenton and got repulsed by our troops, so the whole of the enemy encamped on one side of the river, and ours on the other.

3d In the morning at i o'clock we were ordered to swing our packs and march off; the most profound silence was to be observed on the march to Princeton; we steered our course, and about 8 o, clock we attacked the town; the enemy sallied out and gave us battle with a great deal of spirit and insolence; a large number were killed and 380 taken prisoners; the rest made their escape. Our loss was 30 or 40 killed and a number wounded; the enemy we left fighting the lines at Trenton had then taken alarm and was pursuing us with a great fury. We plundered the town and pursued our march this night. We arrived at Summerset, 26 miles from Trenton, where we lay out in the open air.

4th Marched to Pluckemin, 14 miles, and encamped without tents or barracks.

' 6th Marched to Morristown, 18 miles.

8th The brigade marched to Chatham; I, being unwell, staid at Mor- ristown until the 12th, then I joined the regiment, 8 miles. This day our people took possession of Elizabethtown, and they killed and took 200 in and about that place.

22d Marched to Springfield; 4 miles.

27th Marched to Westfield; 5 miles. The division marched on to Scotch Plains, 3 miles.

28th I crossed at 5 o'clock, and marched on and found the regiment.

29th Marched to Elizabethtown, 12 miles.

31st To Springfield and to Chatham, 11 miles.

24th inst. [Col. Parker, with a scouting party which consisted of 300 men, engaged a party of the English troops of 500 that came out from Amboy after hay; they had two field pieces, and our men had none. The Regulars got the heights, and our men had the lowlands; the action came on. Col. Parker and his party stood about 7 or 8 fires; the enemy's field pieces played so hot that they were obliged to retreat. Our men killed 25 of the enemy and wounded 70; we had not so much as a man killed, but 2 taken.] "

" Chatham, in New Jersy State, February 14, 1777.

I began my march to New England, and marched to Pompton Plains, 23 miles, isth, marched to Cacoat, 26 miles. i6th, marched to Chatliens, to the Peekskill, and to Chatlien's Manor; lodged at Fredericksborough, 40 miles. Rode 18 miles in a stage.

17th, to Quaker Hill; lodged at Ldt. Coon's, m Dover; 20 miles. i8th, to the OblcAgs and Sharon; lodged at Salisbury; 23 miles.

19th, to Sheffield, 8 miles.

20th, to Lt. Crary's, at Westfield; 36 miles."

" [Discharge.]

Chatham, Feb. 13, 1777.

These may certify that John Dewey hath faithfully served the term he engaged for in the 3d regiment, and is discharged with honor, and hath liberty to return to New England, and carry with him his arms, they being his own property.

N. PETERS, Commanding"

Revolutionary War Documents

I have found a number of Revolutionary War documents for John Dewey. The documents I found list 2 John Dewey's or a single John Dewey in different regiments. The dates on the documents are for different time periods so it could be one John Dewey who re-enlisted. This would support the previously mentioned Dewey Genealogy book of 1898. My search of this book found only one John Dewey who would have been old enough or young enough to serve in this war. Below will be all the documents I could find.

Porter's Regiment

One series of documents list John Dewey serving in Porter's Regiment which began in Northampton and Pittsfield, Massachusetts. This regiment began on January 19, 1776. This regiment was assigned to the Canadian Department. On July 20, 1776 the regiment was assigned to (Benedict) Arnold's Regiment. This is probably not our John Dewey, based on his diary and The Dewey Genealogy published in 1898.

Below are some Revolutionary War documents bearing John Dewey's name.