Barnegat, New Jersey Revolutionary War Sites
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REVOLUTIONARY WAR SITES IN BARNEGAT TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY

Barnegat NJ Historic Sites
SITE OF THE AFFAIR AT CEDAR BRIDGE
December 27, 1782

Affair at Cedar Bridge Affair at Cedar Bridge
Affair at Cedar Bridge Affair at Cedar Bridge
Barnegat in the Revolutionary War Affair at Cedar Bridge Monument
Affair at Cedar Bridge Affair at Cedar Bridge
Site of the Affair at Cedar Bridge
This sign shown above is located at the corner of Route 72 and Old Halfway Rd.
Cedar Bridge Tavern is located about a mile down Old Halfway Rd.
An identical sign is at the corner of Old Cedar Bridge and Warren Grove Roads
Map / Directions to the signs and tavern

A reenactment of the Affair at Cedar Bridge is held here every year on December 27 at 2 p.m.

Call 609-971-3085 for more information.




Background

The last large-scale battle of the Revolutionary War took place at Yorktown, Virginia, and ended on October 19, 1781. The surrender of British General, Charles Cornwallis, at Yorktown brought about the decisive blow to the British army. However, the war did not officially end for another two years. For the most part, major fighting between the American and British armies was stopped during this period, as both sides waited for treaty negotiations to officially end the war.

However, for the citizens of New Jersey, the violence and bloodshed unfortunately continued during this period. Rather than fighting between large armies, there was fighting between local residents and militia who supported American independence, and those who remained loyal to Britain. Monmouth County was a particular hotspot for this form of partisan fighting. [1] Although modern-day Barnegat Township is part of Ocean County, this area was then part of Monmouth County, because Ocean County was not formed until 1850 from a portion of Monmouth County. [2] 

Some of the Loyalist raids and plundering in this area were conducted by men known as Pine Robbers. The name derived from the fact that they tended to operate and hide out in the large wilderness section of South Jersey known as the Pine Barrens. One of the most infamous of the Pine Robbers was Captain John Bacon. The most notorious of Bacon's actions in Monmouth County occurred in October 1782, when he took part in the killing of sleeping men on the beach on Long Beach Island.

A reward of £50 for Bacon's capture was offered by the Governor of New Jersey, William Livingston. A reward of £25 was also offered for one of Bacon's men, Ichabod Johnson. [3]



The Affair At Cedar Bridge [4]

In late December of 1782, a group of Burlington County militia set out to find and capture John Bacon. They consisted of six cavalry commanded by Captain Richard Shreve, and twenty infantrymen commanded by Captain Edward Thomas. They searched for Bacon as far as the shore, and then after several days of not finding him, they decided to head west back to Burlington. Along the way, the men stopped to rest at the Cedar Bridge Tavern, located very close to a bridge over the creek. While they were in the tavern, Bacon and his men appeared on the other side of the bridge.

Shreve and the militiamen attempted to charge and attack Bacon's men, but they were repelled. They were at a disadvantage because they needed to charge over the narrow bridge while Bacon's men could fire at them from fixed positions on the other side of the creek. Bacon's men were especially determined to fight hard to avoid being captured; they knew that they could not expect leniency as prisoners because of the severity of the crimes they were wanted for, and they would likely be executed if caught.

Several local Loyalist residents came to the aid of Bacon, and fired on the militiamen, who were forced to halt, allowing Bacon's men to escape. One of Bacon's men, Ichabod Johnson, who had the £25 reward on his head, had been killed. Several others were wounded. Bacon himself had been wounded, but he had managed to safely escape. Seven of the local Loyalists who had come to the aid of Bacon's men were captured and taken to the Burlington jail.

The Americans had also suffered several wounded and one killed. The man killed was William Cook; his brother Joel Cook would have his revenge on Bacon the following spring.

The Affair at Cedar Bridge is sometimes described as the last skirmish of the Revolutionary War, although different historians name different skirmishes. At the very least, it is the last documented skirmish in New Jersey. Afterwards, troops on both sides waited for the treaty to be finalized to end the war.


The Capture and Killing of John Bacon
April 3, 1783

After the Affair at Cedar Bridge, Bacon remained in hiding in Monmouth County. It appears that the rest of his men left New Jersey for the safety of British-occupied New York City.

Several months later, Captain John Stewart set out to capture Bacon, with a group of men which included Joel Cook, the brother of William Cook who had been killed at the Affair at Cedar Bridge. They caught up with him on April 3, 1783, about twelve miles south of Cedar Bridge, between West Creek and Tuckerton, and Bacon was captured and killed. As with many events involving John Bacon, the exact circumstances of his capture and death are uncertain. [5]  The following account was published in 1846, decades after the war, based on information obtained from Charles Stewart, the son of Colonel John Stewart, who killed Bacon: [6]

"John Bacon was a notorious refugee who had committed many depredations along the shores of Monmouth and Burlington [Counties]. After having been a terror to the people of that section of the State for some time, [Captain] John Stewart... resolved, if possible, to take him. There had been a reward of fifty pounds offered by the Governor and Council for his capture, dead or alive. A short time previous, in an engagement at Cedar Bridge, Bacon and his associates had discomfited a considerable body of State troops, killing several, among them a brother of Joel Cook, of Cook's Mill (now Cookstown) Burlington countywhich excited much alarm and exasperated the whole county. On the occasion of his arrest, Captain Stewart took with him Joel Cook, John Brown, Thomas Smith, John Jones and another person whose name is not recollected, and started in pursuit well armed. They traversed the shore and found Bacon separated from his men at the public house or cabin of William Rose, between West Creek and Clamtown (now Tuckertown), in the county of Burlington. The night was very dark, and Smith being in advance of his party approached the house and discovered through the window a man sitting with his gun between his knees. He immediately informed his companions. On arriving at the house, Cap. Stewart opened the door and presenting his musket demanded a surrender. The fellow sprang to his feet, and cocking his gun was in the act of bringing it round to the breast of Stewart, when the latter, instead of discharging his piece, closed in with him and succeeded after a scuffle in bringing him to the floor. He then avowed himself to be John Bacon, and cried for quarter, which was at once granted by Stewart. They arose from the floor, and Stewart, (still retaining his hold on Bacon,) called to Cook, who, when he discovered the supposed murderer of his brother, became exasperated, and stepping back gave [Bacon] a bayonet thrust unknown to Stewart or his companions. Bacon appeared faint and fell. After a short time he revived and attempted to escape by the back door. Stewart pushed a table against it—Bacon hurled it away and struck Stewart to the floor, opened the door and again attempted to pass out, but was shot by Stewart, (who had regained his feet,) while in the act. The ball passed through his body, through a part of the building and struck the breast of Cook, who had taken a position at the back door to prevent his egress. Cook's companions were ignorant of the fact that he had given Bacon the bayonet wound, and would scarcely credit him when he so informed them, on their way home. They examined Bacon at Mount Misery, and the wounds made both by the ball and bayonet were obvious. They brought his dead body to Jacobstown, Burlington county, and while in the act of burying it in the public highway, near the village, in the presence of many of citizens who had collected on the occasion,[John Bacon's] brother appeared among them, and after much entreaty succeeded in obtaining his body for private burial."

Bacon's death was a late act of violence in the Revolutionary War. The fighting had basically stopped, as the Americans and British conducted treaty negotiations across the Atlantic Ocean in Paris, France. Five months after Bacon's death, the Treaty of Paris was signed, officially ending the Revolutionary War. However, due to the slowness of Atlantic Ocean travel in the 1780's, it took almost two months for news of the treaty to reach America.

When the news of the treaty did reach America on October 31, both General George Washington and the Congress were in New Jersey to receive the news. Washington was headquartered at Kingston, and Congress was at that time meeting in Nassau Hall in Princeton. I consider it only fitting that after New Jersey's significant role in the Revolutionary War, both General Washington and Congress were in New Jersey at the time they received this momentous news!

Source Notes:

1. ^ For those interested in a book which focuses on the partisan fighting in Monmouth County during the Revolutionary War, see:
Michael S. Adelberg, The American Revolution in Monmouth County - The Theatre of Spoil and Destruction (Charleston; The History Press, 2010)

2. ^ Regarding Ocean County formed from Monmouth County in 1850, see:

John F. Snyder, The Story of New Jersey's Civil Boundaries: 1606-1968 (Trenton: Bureau of Geology and Topography, 1969) Page 201
Available as a PDF on the State of New Jersey website here. (Note that although the information is on the page numbered 201 of the document, it is on page 191 of the PDF file.)

Journal of the Sixth Senate of the State of New Jersey: Being the Seventy-Fourth Session of the Legislature (Somerville, N.J.: Allan N. Wilson, 1850) Pages 161-163, 170, 178-180, 185-186, 194, 206, 209, 212, 215, 217, 219-220, 243, and 277
Available to be read at Google Books here

3. ^ Votes and Proceedings of the Seventh General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey, at a Session Begun at Trenton on the 22nd Day of October, 1782, and continued by Adjournments (Trenton: Printed by Isaac Collins, 1783) Pages 126 and 132
Available to be read at the Internet Archive here
 ▸ Recording of the petition for payment and the decision to pay 50£ for the capture and John Bacon, and 25£ for the capture of Ichabod Johnson, one of Bacon's men. Refers to "the Reward offered by His Excellency's Proclamation for securing Ichabod Johnson and John Bacon." (His Excellency refers to the Governor of New Jersey, William Livingston.)

4. ^ This account of the Affair at Cedar Creek Bridge is based on the four contemporary sources listed below.

New Jersey Gazette, January 8, 1783

The New-York Gazette and the Weekly Mercury, January 13, 1783

Israel Shreve, Report to Governor William Livingston, December 28, 1782

Report of William Shreve, January 4, 1783

As is often the case with reports of Revolutionary War battles and skirmishes, the number of men fighting and the number of casualties varies in these accounts. However, both newspaper accounts mention the deaths of Cook and Johnson, and Israel Shreve's report also mention's Cook's death.

5. ^ On April 9, 1783, the New Jersey Gazette printed only a one-sentence account of Bacon's capture and death. It reads in full:
"Thursday last the infamous John Bacon, a refugee from New-York, who has murdered several good citizens of this state, and plundered many defenceless families, was surprized [sic] and killed at Egg-Harbor by a detachment from Capt. Shreve's light horse, commanded by cornet Cook."

6. ^ George F. Fort, M.D., "An Account of the Capture and Death of the Refugee John Bacon," Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, Vol. 1 (1845-1846) (Newark: 1847) Pages 151-153
Available to be read at Google Books here

 ▸ Fort states that the facts "were communicated to me by Mr. Charles Stewart, of Cream Ridge, Monmouth county, the son of the Capt. Stewart, hereinafter alluded to as a prominent actor in the scene."
He also states, "I have heard several different versions of the death of Bacon, and have for that cause been particular in detail, as I believe this statement to be substantially correct, coming as it does from the son of the principal actor in the scene."

 ▸  ▸ Note that Fort was elected the Governor of New Jersey in 1850, and served one term.
For biographical information about Fort, see:
Michael J. Birkner, Donald Linky, Peter Mickulas, Editors, The Governors of New Jersey: Biographical Essays (New Brunswick, NJ and London: Rutgers University Press, 2014) Pages 155-159
Available to be read at Google Books here

 ▸  ▸  ▸ Nineteenth century historian Edwin Salter quoted most of Fort's account in this 1878 book, Centennial History of Ocean County. He then mentions that he had heard some local lore about Bacon's death which disagreed with the story Fort obtained from Charles Stewart. However, he then states that "after much patient investigation and inquiry," he believed "that the correct version is about as Governor Fort has given it."
The same text also appears in Salter's 1887 book Old Times in Old Monmouth - Historical Reminiscences of Old Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Edwin Salter, Centennial History of Ocean County (Toms River: 1878) Pages 61-62
Available to be read at the Internet Archive here

Edwin Salter,  George C. Beekman, Old Times in Old Monmouth - Historical Reminiscences of Old Monmouth County, New Jersey (Freehold, New Jersey: 1887) Pages 122-123
Available to be read at the Internet Archive here

 ▸  ▸ ▸ The recording of the petition for payment and the decision to pay fifty pounds for the capture and John Bacon, (cited in Source Note #3) states that a man named John Brown was paid the fifty pounds "being for the Use of himself and the Party of Men that assisted in securing John Bacon."
John Brown is one of the men listed in Fort's account as having taken part in the capture of John Bacon.


Website Researched, Written, Photographed and Designed by Al Frazza
This website, its text and photographs are © 2009 -2017 Al Frazza. All rights reserved.