The Ancient & Honourable Order
of the Jersey Blues
The Ancient and Honourable Order of the Jersey Blues was organized at Piscataway and Woodbridge, New Jersey in 1673 "to repel foreign Indians who come down from upper Pennsylvania and western New York (in the summer) to our shores and fill (themselves) with fishes and clams and on the way back make a general nuisance of themselves by burning hay stacks, corn fodder and even barns."
In 1732, The Blues were sent to Barbados to put down the black uprising. This was the first and only time a militia regiment was not only sent out of a province but also out of the colonies to a foreign land.
In 1743, after the first campaign against the French and Indians, General Braddock spoke of them as "my beloved Blues," In this campaign they were ambushed at Sabbath Day Point and lost two-thirds of their complement. They returned home and were doubly subscribed.
The Campaign of 1768 ended with complete victory for The Blues, and terminated the French and Indian War. It was at this time that Governor Tyron of New York remarked "This is the best set-up, equipped regiment to take the field."
Meanwhile, The Blues became the Queen's Rangers with headquarters at the Parker Castle in Perth Amboy (New Jersey).
With the advent of the American Revolution, The Blues went with the colonies. They fought at Brooklyn Heights, the Heights of Harlem, White Plains, Trenton, Assunpink and Princeton, and suffered and wintered at Morristown. They bore the main action at Springfield both times. Later, from Scotch Plains to Amboy, they hung on the rear of the retreating British.
If one consults a field map of the encampment at Valley Forge, he will find that The Blues occupied the guard position for General Washington's headquarters. At Monmouth they fought under Maxwell. With Maxwell they went through the Sullivan Campaign in western New York, returning in time to take part in the terminal action at Yorktown. By this time they were the New Jersey Continental Line..
When the Whiskey Rebellion broke out in 1794-1795 in Pennsylvania, President Washington called The Jersey Blues and the Virginia Rangers to put it down. The Jersey Blues were then under the command of Governor Richard HOWELL of New Jersey. His granddaughter was later the First Lady of the Confederacy, Varina HOWELL Davis of Natchez, Mississippi, wife of President Jefferson Davis.
At the beginning of the War of 1812 they guarded the redoubt at Sandy Hook and later Fort Lafayette on the Brooklyn side of The Narrows. Relieved by New York troops now, under General Pike, they were the only victorious American York troops in Canada, now Toronto.
In the Civil War, this regiment fought through eighteen major engagements.
When the Spanish-American War broke out, they entered service and got as far as Key West; then peace was signed. Returning to their homes they organized three fire companies in Piscataway, Woodbridge and Rahway. When the paid companies came into existence, The Blues would have passed into oblivious except that they remained as social clubs.
The first Commander of The Blues, in 1673-1685, was Captain Francis Drake of Piscataway; the sergeant was Charles Gilman of Woodbridge. This was a company of only 85 men.
The second Commander was Colonel Farmer (1685-1701). Now The Blues were a regiment of 500 men. The next Commander was Colonel Peter Parker of Perth Amboy. He was followed by General Schuyler of New Barbados (now Arlington, section of Kearny). Then, during the Revolution, Generals Ogden (Newark), Dayton (New Winsor), and Maxwell (Elizabeth, followed in that order.
In 1954, the President of the New Jersey Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Ross Keelye Cook, of East Orange, commissioned Colonel C. Malcolm B. Gilman to investigate for a color guard. It was not difficult to select The Jersey Blues.
In 1956, William Young Pryor arranged the incorporation. He felt a permanent memorial should be set up in the form of a broad organization, taking in descendants of any of the men who fought in The Jersey Blues in the Colonial, Revolutionary, War of 1812, Civil or Spanish-American Wars.
It is fitting that the history, perseverance, tradition and bravery of this regiment should continue. The present unit carries tomahawks and flintlock muskets; the sergeant carries a halberd, a kind of spear and battle axe reminiscent of the Crusades, all traditionally correct.
Colonel C. Malcolm B. Gilman has authored a history of the Order, entitled The Story of the Jersey Blues.
Source: The Hereditary Register of the United States of America. Published by The Hereditary Register Publications, 444 West Camelback Rd., Suite 305, Phoenix, AZ 85013. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 77-82348
Submitted byJeany Roark [23Feb02]
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