George Washington Papers
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Proclamation to the Friends of America in the State of New Jersey, 31 December 1776

Proclamation to the Friends of America in the State of New Jersey

Trentown 31 Decr 1776

The Army of the American States, under my Command being lately greatly reinforced, and having again Enter’d the State of New Jersey, I most warmly request the Militia of Said State at this Important Crisis to Evince their love to their Country, by boldly stepping forth and defending the Cause of Freedom, The Inhabitants may be Assured that by a Manly & Spirited Conduct they may now releive their Distressed State from the Depredations of our Enemies—I have therefore dispatched Coll Neilson Majors Taylor, Van Emburgh & Frelinghuysen,1 together with Some other Gentlemen of your State to call together and Embody your Militia, not doubting but Success will attend their Endeavours.

Go: Washington

DS, in Thomas Mifflin’s writing, PWacD: Sol Feinstone Collection, on deposit PPAmP.

1John Neilson (1745–1833), a merchant in New Brunswick, was commissioned colonel of a regiment of Middlesex County minutemen in August 1775, and in August 1776 he became colonel of the county’s 2d Regiment of militia. On 18 Feb. 1777 Neilson surprised and captured a Loyalist detachment near New Brunswick (see GW’s first letter to Hancock of 20 Feb. 1777, DNA:PCC, item 152). Neilson was promoted to brigadier general of militia three days later, but declined. He was elected to the New Jersey general assembly in 1779, and from 1779 to 1780 he supervised the building of a number of warning beacons across the state. Appointed deputy quartermaster general of New Jersey in September 1780, Neilson served in that capacity until the end of the war.

John Taylor (1751–1801) became a tutor at Queen’s College (later Rutgers University) in New Brunswick soon after graduating from the College of New Jersey in 1770. Taylor was appointed a captain in Colonel Neilson’s regiment of minutemen in 1775, and in August 1776 he became first major of Neilson’s 2d Regiment of Middlesex County militia. Promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Middlesex County militia in June 1777, Taylor continued teaching at Queen’s College until June 1779 when he assumed command of a regiment of New Jersey militia levies. Taylor’s regiment was posted at Elizabeth, N.J., and during the late summer and early fall of that year, he corresponded regularly with GW about intelligence operations in that area. Although he was promoted to colonel, Taylor resigned his commission in October 1779. Returning to New Brunswick, he devoted his efforts during the remaining years of the war to keeping Queen’s College open.

John Van Emburg (1736–1803) of New Brunswick was appointed second major of Col. Neilson’s 2d Regiment of Middlesex County militia on 28 Nov. 1776, and he was promoted to first major of the regiment in June 1777. On 14 May 1780 Van Emburg was captured by Loyalists at Toms River, N.J., but he escaped the next day.

Frederick Frelinghuysen (1753–1804) of Somerset County graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1770, and he taught at Queen’s College in New Brunswick until he was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1774. Frelinghuysen was elected a Somerset County delegate to the New Jersey provincial congress in May 1775 and May 1776, and he was a member of the provincial committee of safety. By the end of 1775, Frelinghuysen was an officer in a regiment of Somerset County minutemen, and on 15 Feb. 1776 the provincial congress promoted him to first major of that regiment. In March 1776 Frelinghuysen organized a state artillery company, but he resigned his command of that company in April. Earlier this month Frelinghuysen joined Gen. Philemon Dickinson’s corps of New Jersey militia in Bucks County. Frelinghuysen became colonel of the 1st Regiment of Somerset County militia on 21 Feb. 1777, and he participated in a raid on Staten Island during the summer of 1777 and the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse in June 1778. Although Frelinghuysen was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress in November 1778, he resigned his seat the following April to return to his regiment. In January 1781 Frelinghuysen assisted in quelling the mutiny of the New Jersey Line. He was elected again to the Continental Congress in 1782, but he only attended briefly in 1784. From 1793 to 1796 Frelinghuysen was a U.S. senator.

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