Friday, June 13, 2014

Setting up the Frontier Guard, 1755-56

1755 was generally a year of disasters for British Forces in North America.  The most notable mishap was the sad fate of Gen. Braddock's expedition on the Monongahela, but with the exception of Sir William Johnson's costly victory on Lake George, there was little to cheer for His Majesty's subjects.

New Jersey was not immune, as parties of Lenape raiders, coming through the area of the Walking Purchase in eastern Pennsylvania, crossed the Delaware and raided into Sussex County, killing numerous frontier settlers.  On December 3, 1755, the Governor's Council met and began to make preparations to secure the frontiers:

The following is excerpted from

Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey, ed. by Frederick Ricord, Volume XVI, "Journal of the Governor and Council, 1748-1755," pp. 569-571.

The Council having Considered the orders and Papers Relating to the Defence of the Frontiers of this Province Mr Ogden Chairman of the Committee reported as followeth.

May it please your Excellency

In obedience to your Excellencys Commands Relating to the Dangerous State of the Frontiers of this Province we have Considered of the Same and are of opinion that your Excellency Issue orders to the Colonels of the Several Regiments in the six Following Counties in the Province to make the Following Detachments from their respective Regiments Viz' Bergen Two Subalterns and Thirty Men Hunterdon one Captain one Subaltern and Sixty Men Essex one Captain one Subaltern and Fifty Men, Middlesex One Captain One Subal tern & Forty five Men, Morris One Captain One Subaltern and Forty Men Somerset One Captain one Subaltern and forty Men to be under the Direction of a Commander in Chief to be appointed by your Excellency to whom we are of Opinion your Excellency should give the Following Instructions You are to take with you such a Number of the Officers and men under your Command as you shall see Necessary Posting the rest from time to time in such Place or Places as you shall find best for the Service and with such Number you are to take an Exact Review of the Frontiers of this Province in the Countys of Morris and Sussex Noting such Places and Passes as an Enemy can pass thro, Either in Large Bodies or Covert Scouting Parties Describing when and how such may be best Defended, in Remarking the Nature of such Defence, such holds & Fastnesses as are fit to take Post upon, for Building Block Houses, Forts or Magazines, or whether there be any House so Situated that it may & can be so Strengthened as to defend such Pass, in doing of which you are to have Particular Regard that there be a Communication thro the whole Line, You are also to observe such Fords Landings &c where the Line of our Frontiers runs, along Rivers, Creeks, Lakes, or Drowned Lands, as an Enemy can Pass in a Large Body or Small Covert Parties you are also to observe all such Places as are Proper or Likely to be made use of By the Enemy for Concealing their Canoes Battoes &cc You are by such Parties Divided into such Numbers of the Men under your Command as you see Necessary to take Post in such Places as above shall appear to you best Adapted for the Defence of this Line of Frontiers, You are there to order & See such Posts Fortified and Strengthened in the best Manner you are able keeping out a Constant Patroll from Post to Post appointing at each Post Proper Signals of Alarm Acquainting the Inhabitants of the Country with such Signals taking Care to Distinguish by your Signals whether the Alarm be only of a Scouting Small Party or Whether of a Large Body Distinguishing also by your Signals Whether it be Necessary for the Forces of the Country to Assemble or Whether only to be upon their Guard that the Country may not be Harrassed and put to an Expence upon every Little Alarm As soon as you have finished your Review or Sooner if you find it Necessary You are to make Report to me of all your Proceedings as also of such Review You are also from Time to Time as often as Occasion shall require or you have Convenient Opportunity to make Report to me of the State of the Service and of the State of the Forces under your Command You are to order all Officers Acting under you upon every Command and Party to make Report to you of their Respec tive Proceedings which you are also to Transmit to me. You are to Consult upon your Review in Delineating where the Block Houses are to be Erected with Colonel Van. Campen Colonel Anderson & Richard Gardiner Esqr.

And Whereas I have Received Advice that the like Measures are taking for the Defence of the Frontiers of New York, you are to keep up a Constant Friendly Correspondence with the Officers of that Government & Forward all Neces sary Intelligence to them and to give them Assistance if required they having orders to give Like Assistance and Information to the officers of this Government who are to Avoid all Disputes Concerning the Limits or Line Between the two Governments.

By order of the Committee David Ogden Chairman Elizabeth Town \ Decr 3, 1755

Which being Read was approved by His Excellency & this Board

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Eighteenth Century Pop Music for Vocalists

So what songs might a soldier in the New Jersey Frontier Guard have sung when stuck on the Delaware River frontier in 1756-1758?

Of course, there are religious songs. One of the most enduring hymns of all time is Martin Luther's  1529 hymn, "Ein' Feste Burg ist Unser Gott" (A Mighty Fortress is Our God) .

Some of the most popular in the Anglican Church from the eighteenth century come from Isaac Watts, such as, "O God, Our Help in Ages Past"

 If a recruit belonged to the then relatively new "heresy" of Methodism, he might have sung one of the hymns of Charles Wesley, such as "Christ The Lord is Risen Today".  As I understand it, however, one did not have to be a Methodist to sing Wesley's hymns, as many were and are still popular in the Anglican Church.  Perhaps one of my readers can tell me more; info, anyone?

In a less religious vein, recruits would have probably known "God Save the King". I say probably, not definitely, because the song was first publicly sung in London in 1745, after the Jacobite Rebellion, although the tune and words may both be as early as the seventeenth century, according to the British Royal Website

Thomas Arne's "Rule Brittania" is also very familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of British history. Arne composed the piece in 1740, and it was an instant hit, long outlasting the other pieces in the oratorio for which Arne originally set it.

"Barbara Allen," which dates back to the seventeenth century, is one of the most popular folk songs of all time, and would certainly have been a familiar piece.

"The British Grenadiers" was a popular tune in the mid-eighteenth century, as it is today, and probably dates back to the War of the Spanish Succession.  Interestingly enough, it's one of the few details that the Spencer Tracy film Northwest Passage actually gets right, as Robert Rogers sings the song while getting the drunken protagonist to enlist.

"Over the Hills and Far Away" has become famous, with slightly altered lyrics, as the theme to the BBC series Sharpe's Rifles, but the song long predates the Napoleonic Wars.  George Farquhar's 1706 play The Recruiting Officer uses the tune and the martial version of the lyrics, while John Gay's The Beggar's Opera of 1728 uses the same title and tune, but with completely different lyrics.  Which was more popular in New Jersey in the 1750s, I can't say.

I'm only scratching the surface here, and I'm sure someone who reads this will know more and can make some additions.  I haven't included more "highbrow" music, like Handel's Messiah or opera arias, as I doubt enlisted men in a ranging company would have been familiar with them in the 1750s, but I will gladly accept correction, if anyone can offer it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Warren Technical school

On June 6, several members of the Frontier Guard were on hand for presentations and musket demonstrations at Warren County Technical School.