Brig. Gen. Silas Newcomb

Brig Gen. Silas Newcomb. (1723 – 1779) was Alex’s first cousin, eight times removed in the Miller line. Silas had such an interesting career as a Greenwich, New Jersey tea partier and a general under General Washington that I made him his own page

Brig. Gen. Silas Newcomb  was born 17 Apr 1723 Edgartown, Dukes, Mass.  His parents were Capt. Joseph Newcomb and Joyce Butler.  His grandparents were Lt. Andrew NEWCOMB Jr. and and his second wife Anna Bayes.    He married in 1745 in Fairfield, Cumberland, New Jersey to Bathsheba Dayton.   Silas died  17 Jan 1779 in “New England Cross”, Farifield, Cumberland, New Jersey.

Bathsheba Dayton was born in 1725.   Bathsheba died in 1781 in Fairfield, Cumberland, New Jersey.

Children of Silas and Bathsheba

Name Born Married Departed
1. Mary Newcomb 6 May 1749 Fairfield, Cumberland, New Jersey Capt. John Daniels
30 Jun 1770
Cumberland, Cumberland, New Jersey
6 Jul 1788  Swedesboro, Gloucester, New Jersey
2. Dayton Newcomb 1753
Fairfield, Cumberland, New Jersey
23 Mar 1809
Fairfield, Cumberland, New Jersey
3. Silas Newcomb 1756
Fairfield, Cumberland, New Jersey
4. Dr. Ephraim Newcomb 4 May 1757
Fairfield, Cumberland, New Jersey
Bathsheba Preston
Cumberland, Cumberland, NJ
21 Aug 1795 Cedarville, Cumberland, New Jersey
5. Webster Newcomb 4 May 1757 Fairfield, Cumberland, New Jersey Abigail Powell
18 Sep 1781
Fairfield, Cumberland, New Jersey
16 Dec 1792
Fairfield, Cumberland, New Jersey

Both General Newcomb and his wife were baptized at Fairfield in 1759 and in the record he is called “Captain.”  He resided near his brother William.

Silas Newcomb served as Lieutenant in the Quebec Campaign of the French War, 1758-1759.

28 Mar 1759 – Appointed by the governor as one of the officers to command a regiment at Perth Amboy, N.J.,

1760 – Elected sheriff of Cumberland County

Dec 22, 1774 – Greenwich, New Jersey was  one of the five tea-party towns in America, the others being Charleston, Annapolis, Princeton, and Boston. Greenwich’s was the last tea party before war broke out. In 1908 the monument seen above was erected in the old market place on Ye Greate Street. It lists the names of the known participants including Silas Newcomb and his son Ephraim.

Greenwich Teaparty Monument

Greenwich Tea Party Monument

In the autumn of 1774, a year after the tea party in Boston, a British ship, the “Greyhound”, that was denied entry into Philadelphia, tried to sell its cargo in Greenwich, Cumberland Co., NJ. She was loaded with a cargo of tea sent out by the East India Tea Company, and was undoubtedly under the impression that the conservative feelings and principles of the people of New Jersey would induce them to submit quietly to a small tax.

Having found a Tory, or English sympathizer, one Daniel Bowen, the Greyhound’s crew secretly stored the cargo of tea in the cellar of his house. However, this unusual procedure was noted by the citizens.

News of the Boston Tea Party had already reached Greenwich and that defiant example was regarded by many of the local settlers as worthy of their own contempt for the British. Fate now presented them with a ready-made opportunity to duplicate the act.

A company of about forty young patriots, including Silas Newcomb and his son Ephraim, disguised as Indians, entered the cellar of Bowen’s house. They took all the cargo from the cellar into an adjoining field and set it on fire.

After the “Indians” had destroyed the tea, a county-wide committee met the next day. It piously resolved: “first that we entirely disapprove of the destroying of the tea, it being entirely contrary to our resolves; second, that we will not conceal nor protect from justice any of the perpetrators of the above act.”

Quite a few tongues must have been in quite a few cheeks when the vote was taken on that resolution. There on the committee sat at least two of the tea burners: Silas Newcomb and Joel Fiftian.

Two legal efforts were launched to punish the tea burners. Neither was successful.

One was a suit brought by the East India Company’s Philadelphia agents, against alleged members of the group, including the two Newcomb boys.Twelve hundred pounds’ damages were demanded. But a public subscription raised funds for the defense, eminent counsel were engaged, and trial was stalled off until the Revolution ended the royal judicial authority in Cumberland County. The other legal move was a grand jury investigation.This was ordered by Chief Justice Frederick Smyth.

Judge Smith gave very Large Charge to the Grand Jury concerning the times, and the burning of the tea the fall before.But the Jury came in without doing anything, and Court broke up.

Judge Smith sent a Jury out a second time, but the Sheriff had packed this jury with Patriots. So again no action was taken.

14 Jun 1776 –  Colonel of the First Battalion of Cumberland Co., New Jersey Militia,

28 Aug 1776 – Commanded a battalion of General Heard’s Brigade, New Jersey Militia, at the Battle of Long Island

28 Nov 1776 – Promoted to Colonel of the First Battalion, Second Establishment, New Jersey Continental Line

15 Mar  1777 – Commissioned Brigadier-General of the New Jersey Militia, .

10 Aug 1777 –  Brigadier-General Silas Newcomb writes General Washington at Neshaminy Camp, Penn., that he is assembling his militia.

In Pursuance of an Order from His Excellency Govr Livingston of the 27th of last month,1 I have assembled here a Detachment of my Brigade of Militia; and expect in a Day or two to have about 500 Men.

I wait for Orders from Your Excellency; and Am, with most dutiful Respect, Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servt

11 Aug  1777 –  General Washington, then near the Cross Roads, writes Brigadier-General Newcomb, New Jersey, requesting militia for Red Bank.

To BRIGADIER GENERAL SILAS NEWCOMB Head Qurs., near the Cross Roads, August 11, 1777. [Note:Cross Roads later became Hartsville, Pa. ]

Sir: Your favour of Yesterday from Woodbury I have this Moment received. As you have got so many of the Militia collected, I would think it highly impolitic to discharge them until we can with some degree of precision, explain the late extraordinary Movements of the Enemy, and determine the object of them. In the interim my desire is that you order your Men to Red Bank to assist in completeing the Works there [and at Fort Island]. The Officer Commanding will take orders from General De Coudray or whoever he has left there to Superintend them. The disagreeable Suspense we are now kept in, cannot possibly be of long duration, during which, your Corps will be doing a Service to their Country, at least equal to the pay they draw, which I am satisfied will be more agreeable to them than to remain idle. I am etc

20 Aug 1777 – Brigadier-General Silas Newcomb writes General George Washington at Neshaminy Camp, requesting permission to march his detachment home; he at that time was at Woodbury, N.J.

10 Oct 1777 –  Alexander Hamilton writes to Brigadier-General Silas Newcomb, requesting militia for Red Bank.

15 Oct. 1777 – General Washington write Brigadier-General Newcomb and orders him to reinforce Red Bank and hold the place to the last extremity.

22 Oct 1777 –  General Washington writes Brigadier-General Silas Newcomb regarding operations against Fort Mifflin and Red Bank, reinforcements of militia, supplies, etc.

To BRIGADIER GENERAL SILAS NEWCOMB Head Qurs., October 22, 1777.

“Sir: The Enemy seem determined to possess themselves, if possible, of the Forts on the River. Their operations against Fort Mifflin have been carried on for several days with unremitted attention, and from various accounts they mean to storm Red Bank or to invest it. For this purpose, it is confidently said, that a pretty considerable Detachment crossed the River Yesterday morning. It is of infinite importance to us, to prevent them from effecting these objects. I therefore request you to give every aid in your power to that end. If they have or attempt to invest the Fort, I hope you will be able to fall on their Rear with such a respectable number of Militia, as to make them decline the project, and if that should not be the case, it may be the means of further Detachments being sent from the City to their support, which will afford us perhaps a favourable opportunity of striking a successful blow. I will not enlarge upon the Subject. You are sufficiently impressed with the importance of it, and I trust you will exert yourself to render every service you can. The earliest aid should be given, delay may bring on a loss extremely interesting in its nature and irreparable. I am &ca.

P.S. I cannot forbear observing to you, and the Inhabitants of Jersey, the dreadful consequences that must follow should the Enemy keep possession of Philadelphia, and that if they get Red Bank into their hands, a considerable force must consequently be kept there by them, to the distress and terror of those within their reach, this I hope will stimulate the Militia to a speedy and vigorous opposition.

I must request that you do every thing in your power to throw in supplies of provision to Fort Mifflin and Red Bank, this I concieve to be a matter of the utmost importance, as the Enemy may intend to starve them out.”

29 Oct. 1777 –  David Forman, near Red Bank, N.J., writes General Washington at Whiteplain of his attempt to assemble militia, “weather and Brigadier-General Silas Newcomb’s obstinacy retarding.”

General Silas Newcomb was in command of a force detailed to guard Delaware Bay and to prevent any landing of English forces there. Their services were commemorated and their names perpetuated by the state of New Jersey through the efforts of the Daughters of the American Revolution. A beautiful granite and marble tablet, with the names of Brigadier-General Silas Newcomb, Colonel Isaac Preston, and other officers that were in command of the colonial forces, marks the historic spot.

4 Dec 1777 –  General Newcomb resigned his commission


Washington, George, 1732-1799. The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 9 Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library

Smugglers’ Woods, Jaunts and Journeys in Colonial and Revolutionary New Jersey by Arthur D. Pierce

This entry was posted in Historical Monument, Line - Miller, Veteran and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Brig. Gen. Silas Newcomb

  1. vanbraman says:

    I thought maybe we connected through the Newcomb line. But, my immigrant ancestor is Francis who married Rachel Bracket.

  2. m milano says:

    The Silas Newcomb who took part in the Greenwhich Tea Party is Silas, Jr. Brig Gen Silas was not in the area at thetime

  3. Terence says:

    I descend from Silas Newcomb through his descendants Hezekiah Newcomb, Daniel Newcomb and Irene Newcomb. Irene married Joseph Ostrander and named her son Daniel Newcomb Ostrander. I note that the Miner pedigree also includes some descendants of the Pier family in 17th century. I also descend from the Pier family—Teunis Pier born 1670—had a daughter, Maria Pier in 1711. Maria married Peter Ostrander, and their 3rd great grandson was Daniel Newcomb Ostrander. As I share two distinct pedigree lines with the Miner family, I wonder if our respective DNA reflects such a relationship?
    To study further my pedigree find on OTHELLO REED OSTRANDER.

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