New Jersey Provincials

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> New Jersey Provincials

Origin and History

The Jersey Blues were raised in 1755, by the New Jersey provincial government. It was originally composed of five companies, and was sent to the northern frontier, to guard it against the French. They were known as the "Jersey Blues", partly from the blue coats of the regiment, and partly from the similarity of the uniform to that New Jersey used in the War of Jenkins' Ear.

On April 4 1758, the General Assembly of New Jersey voted to increase the regiment to a strength of 1,000 officers and men, including 100 grenadiers. The province provided to each man a uniform, a check shirt, a white shirt, two pairs of yarn stockings, two pairs of shoes, a blanket, a knapsack, a hatchet, a canteen, a pair of white spatterdashes. Furthermore, the regiment received 200 axes and 200 kettles.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • from 1755 to August 14, 1756: Colonel Peter Schuyler
  • from August 1756 to Spring 1758: Colonel John Parker
  • from Spring 1758 to 1759: Colonel John Johnson
  • from 1759 to 1764: Colonel Peter Schuyler (2nd time)

The regiment was disbanded in 1763

Service during the War

In 1755, a regiment of New Jersey Provincials (500 men), known as the Jersey Blues, joined Shirley's expedition against Fort Niagara. The regiment was under the command of Schuyler. The expedition departed from Albany and slowly advanced towards Fort Niagara along the Mohawk River. By mid September, Shirley realised that Fort Niagara was too strongly defended and abandoned his project. He retreated to New England, leaving the New Jersey Provincials to garrison Oswego. In December, the regiment was recalled to New Jersey where it took position on the frontier till next spring.

In the spring of 1756, the regiment was again on the northern frontier. It was divided into two parts, one garrisoned at Schenectady, while the other was placed under the colonel's direct command. This latter detachment (500 men) was part of Shirley's force which assembled in Albany in May. In August, when a French force under Montcalm laid siege to the complex of Oswego, 150 New Jersey Provincials were garrisoning the small Fort George. On August 14, when Oswego surrendered, the detachment of Fort George, including Colonel Schuyler, became prisoner of war and was brought back to Montréal. A new enlistment in New Jersey compensated for these losses.

In 1757, New Jersey refused to increase its contribution from 500 men to 1,000 men. In July, a detachment of 300 provincials, chiefly New Jersey men, was sent from Fort William Henry under command of Colonel Parker to reconnoitre the French outposts. On July 26, a large band of Indians, led by the French partisan Corbière, ambushed the detachment of New Jersey Provincials not far from Sabbath Day Point on the western shore of Lake George. Parker had divided his force and at daybreak three of his boats fell into the snare and were captured without a shot. Three others followed and shared the fate of the first. When the rest drew near, they were greeted by a deadly volley from the thickets, and a swarm of canoes darted out upon them. The men were seized with such a panic that some of them jumped into the water to escape, while the Indians leaped after them and speared them with their lances. Only some 100 men and three boats made their escape. In the following month, on August 9, the remainder of the regiment, only 301 men, were captured and paroled at the end of the siege of Fort William Henry, under condition of not serving again during 18 months. After the fall of Fort William Henry, New Jersey contributed 1,000 militia who marched to reinforce the British army while another 3,000 New Jersey militia were ready to march if it should be necessary.

In the spring of 1758, the regiment was reformed under Colonel John Johnson, officially counting 1,000 men. In July, this new regiment took part in the expedition against Carillon (present-day Ticonderoga). On July 5, they were embarked at the head of Lake George. On July 6, at daybreak, the British flotilla reached the narrow channel leading into Lake Champlain near Fort Carillon and disembarkation began at 9:00 a.m.. On July 8, they fought in the disastrous Battle of Carillon. At daybreak on July 9, the British army re-embarked and retreated to the head of the lake where it reoccupied the camp it had left a few days before.

The following year, in 1759, the regiment was recruited back up to full strength (1,000 men), serving until November.

In 1760, the regiment was stationed in Fort Oswego, after being brought up once more to full strength. By then, the unit apparently had a ranger unit attached.

In 1761, the regiment was brought up to a new strength of only 600 men, and all but one contingent served until November, with the last one serving through winter.

In the spring of 1762, the regiment was brought up to 665 officers and men.

Little is known of the service of the regiment in 1763.

In 1764, the regiment was brought to a final strength of 600 men, and served at Oswego until the end of the campaigning season, when it was disbanded.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform - Source: Ibrahim90 from a template by Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced yellow with a black cockade
Grenadier British mitre with: a red front edged yellow and embroidered with white scroll work and a white King's cypher surmounted by a crown (yellow with red cushions, white pearls and ermine headband); a small blue front flap with the white horse of Hanover surmounted by the motto "Nec aspera terrent" in white; red back; a red? headband edged yellow. a yellow pompom.
Neckstock white.
Coat dark blue, unlaced highland-style coat with pewter buttons and unlaced buttonholes
Collar none
Shoulder Straps blue, fastened with a white button (left shoulder only)
Lapels red with white buttons
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 white buttons
Cuffs red (slashed in the British style) with white buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red with horizontal pockets, each with 3 white buttons
Breeches Blue (full dress), leather (campaigns)
Gaiters white (full dress), brown, black, or non-existant (campaigns)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natyral leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black or dark brown.


Troopers were armed with a Brown Bess musket, a bayonet, and a hatchet.

Officers

???

Musicians

???

Colours

Colonel Flag: ???

Regimental Flag: ???

References

Arthur, T. S.: The History of New Jersey: From its Earliests Settlements to the Present Time, Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1853, pp. 122-142

The Company of military historians, Military Uniforms in America: The Era of the American Revolution, 1755-1795, Presidio Press, 1974.

Lawson, Cecil C. P.: A History of the Uniforms of the British Army, Vol. III, London: Kaye & Ward, pp. 190-225

Sypher, J. R. And E. A. Apgar: History of New Jersey – From the Earliest Settlements to the Present Time, Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1871, pp. 71-87

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.