Captain John Mott of the Third New Jersey

The Identity Crisis

About 1994 I began trying to document the story of the Revolutionary War career of my GGG Grandfather, John Mott, which had been written by his granddaughter, Amanda T. Jones, and subsequently perpetuated by my Great Aunt and her brother, my Grandfather. (Footnote: In all fairness, they, and my uncle Nate Wauda, did their due-diligence, writing to the War Department and the State of New Jersey seeking information. What they got back was simply a regurgitation of what Stryker’s register recorded. Those letters are in my possession; they do not appear in John’s pension file, since he never applied for a pension. ) I was immediate put into a quandary when I discovered that there were two distinct family lines that claimed the same man. I wrote a webpage in the late 1990s that reflected the confusion over two men named John Mott, both Captains from New Jersey; that confusion was even recognized in David Hackett Fischer’s Pulitzer prize winning book on the Battle of Trenton, Washington’s Crossing. (Footnote: Fn 21, page 511. Fischer, David Hackett. 2004. Washington's crossing. New York: Oxford University Press. )

Amanda T. Jones wrote her account of her grandfather in the introduction to her 1906 book, Poems, 1854-1906 and then reproduced it in her 1910 autobiography. Kate Mott wrote about her grandfather in New York Genealogical and Biographical Record in April of 1894. The parallels reflecting the confusion are remarkable and reproduced in an appendix web page.

The research had taken me to the David Library of the American Revolution at Washington’s Crossing, Pennsylvania, but it wasn’t for years that a blog post, Paucity of Militia Records Leads to Identity Crisis, in that library’s newsletter provided me further understanding when Larry Kidder wrote

"The lack of official records relating to the New Jersey militia can cause identity problems. Since many men served at different times in both the Continental forces and the militia, it is difficult to know what the actual service of any one individual was. Was the man said to have been in the militia also the same man who served for a time in the Continentals? Even standard and highly regarded sources can lead one astray. Here is one case study – Captain John Mott."

As Mr. Kidder points out in his article, the confusion stemmed from Stryker’s Official Register of the Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War published in 1872. Mr. Kidder, the eminent historian of Trenton, has produced, among other books and articles, two significant books researching original records of militia units, Crossroads of the Revolution, Trenton 1774-1783 and A People Harassed and Exhausted – The Story of a New Jersey Militia Regiment in the American Revolution. It is in the latter that the story of Captain John Mott of the 1st Hunderdon Militia Regiment unfolds. This John Mott lived just north of Trenton on the River Road on a 165-acre farm about where the Trenton Country Club is today, and he was most certainly the man who guided Washington at the Battle of Trenton. (Footnote: The sale of his farm advertised in the Philadelphia Gazette in 1792 identified it as 165 acres lying on the river 2 ½ miles north of Trenton. This 1872 map of Mercer county, georeferenced, locates the N.J. State Asylum, which then was located about 2 ½ miles north of Trenton: http://davidrumsey.georeferencer.com/maps/677030995614/view (zoom in on Trenton). The reference to militia Captain John Mott's house being about where the State Asylum was, in the 19th century, is from the History of Burlington and Mercer Counties, New Jersey published in 1883 in the biographical sketch of John's grandson, Civil War Major-General Gershom Mott. It too confuses the identities of the two men but is likely correct when it comes to the location of the farm and grist mill. )

While Kidder’s blog was posted in 2011 it took me a number of years to finally document “my" John Mott. While the militia Captain Mott was from Trenton and the guide to Washington, the regular army John Mott, my ancestor, was from Mount Holly.


John Mott of Mount Holly

Mount Holly, New Jersey is some 15 miles, as the crow files, south of Trenton in Burlington County, and 19 miles east of Philadelphia across the Delaware river. Documents on hand or online leave no doubt: his father’s purchase of land there in 1754, his will of 1770 leaving the property to his son John, records of the Quaker meetings listing children, removals and those disunited, and the tax rate tables are among the many records. While I’ve never been able to pin down exactly where his land was, it seems likely that it was just north and west of Mount Holly. One clue to that is in the Revolutionary War Damage Claims, 1776-1782 done by the State. John’s claim, number 229, was witnessed by Job Atkinson, whose claim, number 226, was witnessed by John. John also witnessed the claim of John Gaskill whose brother Daniel was married to John’s sister Hulda; John’s father, Ebenezer Mott, had bought, in 1754, his land from James Gaskill. A much later map, 1849, identifies both J. Gaskill and J. Atkinson, no doubt descendants, as having homesteads north and west of Mount Holly. Also, in 1782 there is a record of John having sold approximately 2 ¼ acres to one Axel Harker and his wife.

While the damage claims identify damages done in December, 1776, and June, 1778, what Amanda Jones wrote that “One bitterly cold Sunday in December, 1776, John Mott was forced to defend his family…” is clearly in error in that, as we shall see, John was many miles away in New York State. (Footnote: Two places at one time? John Mott witnessed the claims of both Job Atkinson and John Gaskill of damages done in December on 1776. He very well might have known about these damages, for, as we shall see, he was likely back in Mount Holly by the end of February, 1777, having left Mount Independence by at least the 20th of February. And the inventory was taken years later.There is a curiosity here however, for the Mott Bible records a fourth child born May 10, 1777, conceived then when he was supposedly in New York. ) That does not negate that his property was violated in 1776, for the British occupied Mount Holly with heavy fighting north of town on Christmas Eve. An article in the Journal of the American Revolution, Engagement at Woodlane details this, the prelude to the Battle of Iron Works Hill at Mount Holly around Christmas, 1776. We shall see later the occupation of Mount Holly in 1778.

Whatever and whenever damage occurred to John’s homestead and family, throughout the Revolution much of New Jersey was subject to the ravages of troops from both sides as well as deserters and robbers.

The Revolutionary War Career of John Mott of the Continental Line


The Mohawk River Valley - Into the Fray

Two days before the Declaration of Independence was read to the public Lieutenant Mott of the Third New Jersey Battalion sat near the banks of the Mohawk River in central New York State drinking a toddy with Ebenezer Elmer, his battalion’s surgeons’ mate. (Footnote: Elmer, entry for July 2, 1776. No doubt a cold toddy, made with whatever alcohol could be obtained, sugar and water. ) They were at German Flats where work was beginning on fortifying what was come to be known as Fort Dayton. (Footnote: See the Article on Fort Dayton at the “Fort Wiki.” ) This episode was featured in the first part of the highly popular but fictionalized 1939 movie “Drums Along the Mohawk.” (Footnote: Based on the 1936 highly researched historical novel by Walter D. Edmonds, the popular movie does little to do what the book did in terms of illustrating the complex factors in this violent and bloody clash of cultures. The book was on the best-seller lists for two years and went through 48 printings in the two decades after its release. ) Things were tense. Many of the Scots-Highlanders and Dutch settlers were British Tories and the loyalties of the Indians were divided. (Footnote: For militia activity and the flight of Sir John see online Chapter 59 of the 1925 “History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925. While this work has been superseded, augmented, or corrected since 1925 it’s a good place to start. http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/resources/mvgw/history/059.html )

Five months earlier Lt. Mott had been commissioned First Lieutenant in the second company of Elias Dayton’s Third Battalion. (Footnote: “Battalion” and “Regiment” were used interchangeably then, and today in the histories. Generally eight companies to a battalion, a company consisted of at least three commissioned officers, a Captain and two Lieutenants, and sometimes an Ensign. The number of sergeants and corporals varied from one to four, as did whether the company had a fifer and durmmer. The number of Privates varied between twenty and twenty-eight. See the Appendix for some sample muster rolls. ) The company, that of Captain Thomas Patterson, had organized and left from New York City with the battalion after being addressed by General Washington as “…the flower of all the North American forces.” (Footnote: Elmer, entry for May 2, 1776. ) Sailing north on the Hudson on May 3rd they were to meant to bolster the campaign against the British in Canada, a campaign that was failing disastrously even as they sailed. (Footnote: Indeed, the beginning of the end of the siege of Quebec was on May 6th when a squadron of British ships with relief arrived and subsequent engagements forced the Americans to retreat south to Crown Point. ) Arriving at Albany on the 9th, the situation had changed. Albany, and the Hudson, was vulnerable to British attack from the north, but too it was vulnerable from attack from the west down the Mohawk. General Philip Schuyler, in charge of the army’s Northern Department, ordered Dayton’s battalion west. (Footnote: Founders. Schuyler to Washington, May 21, 1776, Fort George. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-04-02-0297 : “I have ordered Colonel Drayton (sic), with 300 Men into Tryon County to bring away the Highlanders & their Families and to make Sir John Johnson a close prisoner, who regardless of his Parole has secretly combined with other Tories to levy Troops, and cut off the Communication and two of the Informants agree that they intended to assassinate me and my Family & destroy my Buildings..” In a letter 5 days later Schuyler informs Washington that he considers it important that Dayton remain in the west and Washington replied on June 9th that “As there is but too much Probability That Sir John will attempt to ravage the Frontier Counties & to excite the disaffected to take Arms against Us, I think It will be advisable that Col. Dayton should remain as You request, as long as You apprehend a Necessity for It.” )

Their mission was threefold. They were to secure (capture) Sir John Johnson, the infamous Tory son of Sir William Johnson who had died in 1774 but had had the favor the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. (Footnote: The Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca, and the Tuscarora tribes. ) Secondly they were to treat with the Indians, and after two days of conferences, May 20th and 21st, Dayton had convinced the warriors that no harm would come to them provided they did not take the side of the British in the white man’s “family quarrel.” (Footnote: Bloomfield, entries May 19-21, 1776. The two day conference beginning on the 20th started with Bloomfield’s description, “This morning the Commissioners appointed by Genl. Schuyler to treat with the Indians arrived in Town & at twelve, Abraham, the Indian King accompanied by the Sachems & Indian Warriors painted & dressed in their Warlike Manner also arrived and the Treaty was opened by the Indians demanding in a haughty manner of or great Warrior (as they called Col. Dayton) what He meant by coming into their country with armed Troops & whether He was for Peace or War?” The night before was one of apprehensiveness: “The officers & Men lay in the Tents on their arms. The forepart of the Night we could frequently hear the Indian Warriors yell the War-hoop or Alarum in a most hideous manner and this added to the Darkness of the Night, being in a strange Country surrounded with woods added greatly to our apprehensions of being attacked which made our Centuries as Watchful as Night-Owls. ) The third part of their mission would take the rest of the summer into the fall.

While his friend Ebenezer Elmer remained the rest of the summer at Fort Dayton, it seems evident (Footnote: Bloomfield mentions Lt. Mott as a member in three court martials at Fort Stanwix in September and October (Sept 9 & 25, Oct 2). Muster rolls for this period don’t seem to exist anywhere, although an Account Book for Captain Patterson’s Second Company exists at the New Jersey Historical Society. https://jerseyhistory.org/manuscript-group-216 Not examined. There are entries for Lt. Mott in 1776 and 1777 per email communication from the archivist, January 2, 2020. For the Court Martial on Sept 9, 1776 see https://books.google.com/books?id=ibbNAAAAMAAJ&dq=brigades%20middlebrook%20new%20jersey&pg=PA17#v=onepage&q&f=false ) that John, with his Company, would go even further up the river to Fort Stanwix, (Footnote: https://www.nps.gov/fost/index.htm (National Park Service) & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Stanwix (Wikipedia article.) ) which they renamed Fort Schuyler, (Footnote: Bloomfield, Tuesday, August 6 entry. "...returned from Fort Schuyler formerly called Fort Stanwix but named last Week after Major-Genl. Schuyler by Col. Dayton & his officers..." ) and begin work on restoring the fort which would be critical the following year in repulsing a British attack from the west. (Footnote: Fort Stanwix, which Col. Dayton had renamed Fort Schuyler in honor of his immediate superior, was to prove a stronghold repulsing attack from the west in the British three-pronged strategy of dividing the colonies in 1777. While General Burgoyne was repulsed at Saratoga coming down from Canada, Brigadier General Barry St. Leger’s siege of the fort in August of 1777 was unsuccessful. )

On October 12th Lt. Mott, along with the entire battalion, was ordered to return to Fort Ticonderoga. (Footnote: Bloomfield: Saturday, October 12 entry; also Saturday, October 19 entry: "By an Express to Col. Dayton we are informed Genl. Arnold our admiral on Lake Champlain has been severely handled by the British fleet & oblidged to retreat with great loss, and that our Regt. is ordered immediately to Tyconderoga & all the Militia of this & the lower Countys to Saratoga." ) With the defeat of Benedict Arnold’s navy on Lake Champlain at the Battle of Valcour Island on the 11th, the powers to be became fearful of a renewed British attack from the north and Fort Ticonderoga, and Mount Independence just across the narrows, were in need of fortification. Sir John Johnson had fled west even before the conference with the Indians and was not a threat for the time being. The next summer's fighting in the Mohawk valley would, however, be some of the bloodiest and violent of the Revolution.


Winter 1776-1777:
Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence

"The living grew quite wearied in digging graves"

John and the troops garrisoned the winter of 1776-1777 at Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence would endure conditions that rivaled, or exceeded, the more famous encampment a year later at Valley Forge. Very cold air came mid-November, the lake froze over, the bridge over the lake connecting the two outposts got blown away by wind and ice on December 14th, and a storm on Boxing Day left snow knee deep. (Footnote: Elmer, entries from November 20 through February 20. ) Michael Barbieri’s excellent article, Winter Soldiering in the Lake Champlain Valley details those conditions more fully and compares them to Valley Forge the next year. John was sick in the barracks when the muster roll was taken on the 6th of December. Joseph Bloomfield, whose journal as Captain of the seventh company is so valuable, had taken sick on the 29th of November and remained so until he left for the Jerseys on Christmas day. On December 21 Ebenezer Elmer, himself sick, wrote that the “Regiment in general very sickly. Scarcely a day passes but some one dies out of it.”

On the 16th of January the whole garrison assembled to hear the news of the victory at Trenton, and 10 days later, on the 26th Lt. Mott learned that he was now a Captain, (Footnote: Elmer, entry Jan 26, 1777: “This day Major Barber, in a letter from Capt. Bloomfield, got the whole appointments of the officers in the State of New Jersey. So we spent most of the day in examining them.” ) having been commissioned such the previous month by the New Jersey Legislature. He must have made somewhat of a recovery from whatever ailed him, for on February 9th he commanded a scouting trip, returning on the 11th “without any discover.” (Footnote: Elmer, entries of February 8 and 11. )

On the 22nd Ebenezer Elmer wrote that “…the men died so fast for some time that the living grew quite wearied in digging graves for the dead in this rocky, frozen ground.” (Footnote: Elmer, entry February 22, 1777. “A scene something diverting, though of a tragic nature, was exhibited some time ago on this ground; the men died so fast for some time that the living grew quite wearied in digging graves for the dead in this rocky, frozen ground: when it happened one day that two of our men being dead, graves were dug for them, but whilst they were busied in preparing the corpses and bringing them to the place, the Pennsylvanians took two of their dead men and carried them to the graves our men had dug, having none prepared of their own, and were just finishing their last kind offices to them, in covering them over in our mother earth, when our men arrived with theirs, and finding the Pennsylvanians making use of their repository a wrangle between the two parties ensued; and finally, our men proving the strongest dug up the others and buried their dead in their own vaults, so the others were obliged to cover their dead in gutters with logs and stone, thinking it too hard to labor so much for those for whom they might never expect any return as to cover them with frozen earth.” ) Two days before he wrote that, however, the now Captain Mott may have left for New Jersey as the muster roll for the 23rd says “Reingaged. On commd, to New Jersey Feb 20.” (Footnote: Muster roll taken on Mount Independence, Feb 23: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WB-C4L7 (A free account at Family Search is required to view the image.)) On the 28th the Third New Jersey was ordered off duty and after a march of 20 days was discharged at Morristown, New Jersey with pay and 20 days furlough. (Footnote: Elmer entries February 28 and March 20, 1777; Bloomfield, entry March 22, 1777. ) The First Establishment of the New Jersey Line was now gone, dissolved at Morristown where General Washington had taken winter quarters and was busy consolidated his ragged army.


Captain Mott in the Second Establishment of the New Jersey Line

Now a Captain in Elias Dayton's battalion, John reported for duty in April of 1777 and participated in the battles and skirmishes in eastern New Jersey, the June 26th Battle of Short Hills in particular, when British General Howe made a feint into New Jersey hoping to draw Washington into a major battle. Washington wasn’t fooled; Howe boarded his ships and sailed south to then come up the Delaware River to attack and occupy Philadelphia, the rebel capital. (Footnote: Citizen Soldier, page 17; Bloomfield entry June 26, 1777. For more on the Battle of Short Hills see https://revolutionarywar.us/year-1777/battle-short-hills/ and https://www.thoughtco.com/battle-of-short-hills-3963410 but perhaps the best account is in Robert A. Mayer's book The Forgotten Revolution: Reviving Forsaken Locations (Heritage Books, Berwyn Heights, MD, 2014), pages 191-200. ) Raids and skirmishes by both the British and the Colonials continued across the narrow river between Staten Island and New Jersey, all the way from Perth Amboy north to Elizabethtown. In reprisal for a raid by the British on Woodbridge, NJ, Colonel Dayton’s battalion was among those ordered over to Staten Island where they secured captives and prizes on August 22. (Footnote: Bloomfield, August 22, 1777 entry;
Founders: Sullivan to GW, 24 August 1777 https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-11-02-0054 )
At the end of August the battalion marched south through Philadelphia to join Washington’s whole army at Wilmington, Delaware. New Jersey was truly the “Crossroads of the Revolution,” and this map shows the extent of that.

Washington had moved to protect Philadelphia and John joined in the principal Battles of Brandywine and Germantown. The payrolls and muster rolls for this period lack a location. However, Captain Mott’s participation in these battles is verified by, among others, Private James Ray, whose name appears on all of Mott’s payrolls from February/May, 1777 to December, 1778, (Footnote: FamSearch, Folder 61-New Jersey (jacket 39-43) > image 451 of 641 https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WB-CH2F?cc=2068326&wc=M61K-JP8%3A355085301 ) and whose pension papers legally depose that he served in Mott’s company and fought at the battles of Short Hills, Brandywine, Germantown in 1777, and Monmouth Court House in June of 1778. (Footnote: Fold3Pen, Pension Number S.33,531. James Ray, 16 pages including his discharge papers at https://www.fold3.com/image/1/13103810 (Images at Fold3.com require a paid subscription.))

While the British occupied Philadelphia in the winter of 1777-78, John joined his mates in Valley Forge in December. (Footnote: Valley Forge Legacy – the Muster Roll Project has him furloughed in February and March of 1778 and sick absent May 1778. They missed his record being furloughed in January: http://valleyforgemusterroll.org/muster.asp?id=NJ27862 ) By then all four battalions of the New Jersey line had come under the leadership of General William Maxwell, known as “Maxwell’s Brigade.”  He likely missed most of the brutal conditions of camp for in the December payroll his Lieutenant, Mahlon Ford, is noted as “commanding the company,” and on the next two payrolls, January and February, it is indicated that he was on furlough, perhaps with his family in Mount Holly, some 35 miles due east as the crow flies.

In March and April Captain Mott was present with his company at Valley Forge per the muster rolls. Washington knew that the British were about to abandon Philadelphia, but did not know what route they would take back to New York City. In May he was fairly sure that they would take the shortest route, through Mount Holly and central New Jersey. On May 25th he instructed General Maxwell to take his brigade and join the militia units of militia General Philemon Dickinson to position themselves in New Jersey to harass the British retreat. (Footnote: Founders: GW to Dickinson, May 24, 1778; GW to Maxwell, May 25, 1778 and May 29. ) In his May 29th letter to General Maxwell he wrote, “you are, as before directed, in conjunction with the Militia, to break up and obstruct the Roads, and make their march as difficult as possible.” This is why we find Captain Mott’s company mustered at Mount Holly on June 12th. (Footnote: Fold3WR, Signed: "Mount Holly June 12, 1778 Mustered Capt. Mott’s Company as specified in the above roll. Samuel F. Parker DMM" (Deputy Muster Master) (Original at https://www.fold3.com/image/1/10154886) Muster Roll image downloaded: ) Also mustered there that day was Captain Isaac Morrison’s company, about whom we will hear more about later. (Footnote: Fold3RWSR, Isaac Morrison’s card is at https://www.fold3.com/image/19003159. I have not as yet found the full Company muster roll for Morrison’s company of the 1st Regiment, Colonel Matthias Ogden Colonel. ) John is, however, listed as ‘sick / absent” as are several others in his company who are either “sick / absent” or “on comm’d.” (Footnote: My theory is that he, having known the area around Mount Holly from childhood, was operating with a smaller squad scouting and spying on the British. ) On June 9th, the British began crossing the Delaware with a 12-mile long procession which along the way plundered everything they could find, from household goods to livestock. On June 20th the British paused at Mount Holly for two days, burning the iron works and the home of Colonel Shreve, the commander of the 2nd New Jersey battalion. (Footnote: One of the best accounts of the withdrawal through New Jersey is in Robert A. Mayer's book The Forgotten Revolution: Reviving Forsaken Locations (Heritage Books, Berwyn Heights, MD, 2014), chapter seven. ) Another record from this time is in the Quaker “Record Book of Sufferings” which names John as a ‘constable’ having appropriated a horse and some lumber. (Footnote: “Taken from Robert Howe by John Mott Constable by virtue of an Execution Signed by Joseph Hollingshead, one Mare…" (28 Aug 1778), Ancestry.com Online Database, U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935; New Jersey > Burlington > Evesham Monthly Meeting > Record Book of Sufferings, 1776-1828, Image 10. (The Record Book was a listing of property requisitioned by the army or civil authorities which named the value of the property as well as a ‘Fine Demanded." The dates add to a mystery as to what he may have been doing, but then the dates may not reflect the actual date of the event, only the recording.) Also, an entry in the same book, dated 23 Nov 1779 of a requisition of 1419 feet of board taken by John Mott and John Reeve, Constables. (Image 11). ) Washington took the main army out of Valley Forge, moved north and then east to intercept the British at Monmouth Court House, a battle in which John and his company participated. (Footnote: [Fold3Pen, Pension Number S.33,531. James Ray, 16 pages including his discharge papers at https://www.fold3.com/image/1/13103810; Also Continental Forces, 28 June 1778, prepared by Dr. Garry Stone, Monmouth Battlefield State Park https://www.friendsofmonmouth.org/articles/CONTINENTAL%20FORCES,%20afternoon,%20Stone%20031201.doc] ) Monmouth, one of the longest and hardest fought engagements of the war, showed that American troops, now well-trained, could stand up in open field combat against the best the British had to deploy.

While the May, June, and July, 1778 muster rolls show him as “sick absent”, starting in August Captain Mott was with his company garrisoned at Elizabethtown, no doubt dealing with Tories and threats of raids from Staten Island. (Footnote: Fold3WR, the roll for the month of June was taken at Elizabethtown on July 14th, John is listed as “sick absent.” He is also absent for the month of July muster taken August 17th but present, “on Commd” for the August muster taken Sept 12th. ) His granddaughter, Amanda T. Jones, wrote, “…[he] was much employed by Washington in secret service. He, himself, related to my mother (then a child of nine), the story of his pursuit and capture of a spy who was carrying important papers to the British.” (Footnote: Jones, page 13. ) This could very well have happened in the months following Monmouth when in Elizabethtown that he was so “employed”; his Colonel had been charged by Washington to keep track of British movements and had been doing so since the summer of 1777. (Footnote: Founders, GW to Elias Dayton, 27 March 1780 note: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-25-02-0124 )

In January or February of 1779 Captain Mott lost his company. The muster roll for February taken at Elizabethtown on the 23rd of March has much of his company, from First Lieutenant Nathaniel Leonard to Private James Ray and others, now under the command of Major Conway. (Footnote: Fold3WR, Muster roll of Major John Conway’s company of the 3rd NJ, Nathaniel Leonard Lieutenant https://www.fold3.com/image/10155010. ) John had been unwillingly relieved of duty, declared a supernumerary.


Declared Supernumerary - or Fired?

Dated April 21, 1779, John was one of four signatories of a letter to the Governor and General Assembly of New Jersey. The four, along with a handful of others, had been made supernumerary and paid off in February and their complaint was that the army, or the “Confederation of the United States,” had no authority to do so given that they had received their commissions from the State of New Jersey. The full letter transcribed is in the Appendix to this article. It was a messy time, that late winter and spring of 1779, as the army was stretched for money and units were consolidated; the 4th New Jersey regiment was dissolved and many of its officers transferred to the 1st New Jersey.

There may have been another reason why these men were paid off though, and the key to this lies with one of the four signatories, Isaac Morrison. Morrison had brought charges against his Colonel, Matthias Ogden, which led to Ogden’s court martial in March. In a letter to the commander of the New Jersey regiments, Brigadier General William Maxwell, General Washington wrote, “Capt. Isaac Morrison has lodged some charges of a very high nature against Colo. Ogden…I think myself under the necessity of having the matter enquired into.” (Footnote: Founders: GW to Maxwell, 20 Feb 1779. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-19-02-0243 ) The trial of Matthias Ogden has been closely examined by one of his descendants in a series of blog articles and there is no reason to go into it here, other than to say that of the four charges, neglect of duty, repeated frauds, cowardice, and gaming were all dismissed save gaming, or gambling with enlisted men, something that Washington had seriously discouraged from the onset of his command. (Footnote: The navigation of this eleven-part blog written in 2010 is difficult and has broken links to Washington’s letters. Part’s I and II of the blog are at https://greensleeves.typepad.com/berkshires/court-martial-of-col-matthias-ogden/page/2/ and the remaining nine parts are at https://greensleeves.typepad.com/berkshires/court-martial-of-col-matthias-ogden/ ) While three of the signers of the letter to Governor Livingston, Elias Longstreet, John Polhemus, and Morrison, were involved in the trial, Captain Mott was not. I am certain that he was friends with Morrison and that may have had something to do with his being paid off, declared a supernumerary.

There seems to be more here than meets the eye. Suspicions of nepotism and retribution can come from different interpretations of what is known. The Ogdens and Daytons were close; Hannah, the daughter of Captain Mott’s Colonel, Elias Dayton, was married to Colonel Matthias Ogden. Two of the men elevated in rank with the re-arrangement of commands and units were Dayton’s son and brother, Jonathan and Aaron respectively; both were certainly worthy of the promotion. The best examination of the whole mess is in Timothy Abbott’s blog, The Court Martial of Matthias Ogden. Part VI examines the socio-economic status and seniority factors.

Whatever really happened, an unhappy Captain Mott was no longer a Captain, no longer in the army as of February, 1779. Neither he nor any of his descendants ever applied for a pension. (Footnote: Jones, page 12. Searches at Fold3.com: There was a land warrant (No. 2523) for 300 acres issued to James Mott in 1797 for services of “Captain John Mott, of the New Jersey Line.” This was no doubt results from identity confusion: Captain John Mott of the New Jersey Line never had a son or grandson named James; the militia Captain John Mott did. )


Civilian and on to New York

The day before Christmas, 1782, the Pennsylvania Gazette reported that John, along with two other men from Mount Holly, took into custody one Kemble Stackhouse, a young white man, and four other men, negro refugee slaves, and jailed them in Burlington. They were subsequently moved to Philadelphia, where three of the men were hanged for robbery in February of 1783 despite the pleas of Stackhouse’s mother. Public executions were fairly common at the time, but thankfully the sentence for robbery was reduced from execution in 1786. (Footnote: History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884. Scharf, J. Thomas (John Thomas), 1843-1898. cn; Westcott, Thompson, 1820-1888, joint author. (Philadelphia, 1884) Vol 3. Page 1831-2. )

His granddaughter, Amanda T. Jones, wrote, “The country, after the war, was overrun with desperate men; and my grandfather was chosen County Sheriff, to hold them in restraint…he organized a search-party, caused the glen to be surrounded and arrested the three…my grandfather labored hard to get his sentence (Stackhouse) commuted.” (Footnote: Jones, page 13. Indeed, the editor of the Pennsylvania Packet on February 1st chose to offer an apology for the lack of compassion to all the men under sentence of death and called for a reconsideration of the case. ) A rather apocryphal description of a documented event, I've found no evidence that he was “chosen County Sheriff.” In any case John was at home in Mount Holly, picking up the pieces of his shattered family and homestead.

Exactly when or why John left for New York State is not known for sure, although it occurred before 1790 when he appears on the census of Rensselaerwick Township. As to why, an educated guess is that having run out of resources to raise a family in New Jersey he went to live with, or near, his older brother, Ebenezer. (Footnote: There were three by the name of Ebenezer Mott from New York who fought in the Revolution. Various family trees ascribe the Captain Ebenezer Mott of Dutchess County, New York to be John’s brother, but without documentation or evidence. I do not believe this to be the case. Instead, I believe that Ebenezer had relocated sometime before the Revolution to virgin land east of Albany and is the Ebenezer who enlisted in the Sixth Regiment of the Albany County Militia per the Land Bounty Rights seen at https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.31158005604565&view=1up&seq=271. The index to that volume has the references to the other two Ebenezers. There is really no firm evidence but on the 1810 census of Petersburg, New York, Ebenezer is listed only a few lines from John Mott with a very young family which may be the John who was John’s son by his second marriage, or a son of Ebenezer's. ) (Footnote: In the 1790 census John appears in the township of Rensselaer, Ebenezer in the township of Stephen Town. Both are in the southern part of what would be created Rensselaer County out of Albany County in 1791. ) John did not stay long in southern Rensselaer County, drawn 20 miles north to Pittstown by something, or someone, namely Miss Naomi Daggett, twenty-three years his junior. Naomi, along with her father, Mayhew Daggett, were among the founding members of the Pittstown Baptist Church in 1787 after moving to Pittstown from Rhode Island following the death of her mother. (Footnote: Lundell, Kay. Triumphant banners--Higgins, Lowry, Gardner, Tuttle / written and compiled by Kay Lundell. Ogden, Utah : K. Lundell, c1987 Supplement One. Image 6 at https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/581793. Now available online, this invaluable resource solves another “identity crisis” in the family history, that of two men by the name of Mayhew Daggett who were born five years apart in the 1730s. A print copy of this superbly researched 88-page document has been in my possession for years. ) On July 15, 1793 John was baptized and received as a church member in full communion in that church. (Footnote: FamSearch, [Pittstown Baptist record books], 1787-1924. https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/2465210 Initially, the founding members were listed in the Spring, 2005 newsletter of the Pittstown Historical Society. https://www.pittstownhistorical.org/s/7.pdf I’m indebted to Connie Kheel of that Historical Society and to Glenn Rouse, a descendant of one of the founders of the church who has done a yeoman’s job of transcribing the early records and making them available on FamilySearch. ) He served as its clerk until about 1808 when the family moved west up the Mohawk River into country he was familiar with from his time in the army in 1776. While there are about 12 references to him in the church records, the last is this entry: “Brother Mott and Naomi his wife Reec’ed letter October the 10 1808.” (Footnote: For some time I thought this might have been a Quaker style letter of removal or introduction, but given that Theodocia, their seventh child is documented as having been born in August 7, 1808 (Bible), and also in Oneida county (State censuses, 1855 and 1865) the letter must have simply been a greeting. ([Pittstown Baptist record books] – FamilySearch.org, image 168. https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/records/item/376622-pittstown-baptist-record-books ) (Click on "View All Pages," then in the bottom right replace "1" with "168" to go to that page.))

We know the dates that John and Naomi died from the family Bible; as to where, no conclusive records have been found. Many maintain he died in Bridgewater, Oneida County, but this is the result of a confusion with another John Mott who was buried in that town, a completely different family. (Footnote: Another part of the family legend of John Mott as written by Amanda is that, "Shortly before his death, his sons and others saw him crossing the Mohawk river on the string-pieces of a very long bridge in process of building, but none dared follow." Whitestown is right on the river, Bridgewater is some 15 miles south of it.
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/11825608/john-mott for the Find-a-Grave memorial of the apparent progenitor of the different family. )
There were at least twenty-three men by the name of John Mott in the State of New York in 1820, but I am confident that he is the one in Whitestown, Oneida County which is likely where he, and possibly Naomi, died. (Footnote: John died April 15, 1823, Naomi on July 11, 1840 (Mott Bible). Oneida County, with a population of over thirty-three thousand in 1810, would be divided into two counties in the next decade. The stretch along the Mohawk between Utica and Rome, some fifteen miles with Oriskany smack in the middle, would become one of the major industrial centers of the State in wool products production. )

We know from the Family Bible that John and Naomi’s first child, Mayhew, was born in Pittstown in 1795; by the censuses, their seventh child, Theodocia was born in Oneida county in August of 1808, (Footnote: Mott Bible for the date of Theodocia’s birth, the 1855 and 1865 State censuses for her birth in Oneida County. ) and their last, Mary Alma, was born in Oriskany, Oneida County, New York, in February of 1813. (Footnote: Mott Bible, page of Births and Jones, page 8. ) John Mott appears on the 1820 census of Whitestown as a family of five persons. (Footnote: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Whitestown, Oneida, New York; NARA Roll: M33_73; Image: 295. Ancestry.com image 7. Pre-1850 censuses are always problematic in that they list only the age categories of males and females. ) John’s son, Mayhew, was drafted into the New York Militia at Whitestown in 1814. (Footnote: His Land Bounty Claims and the Pension Applications of his widow, Mary, are at Fold3.com in a folder of 36 pages. Page 9 of the folder states that he was drafted at Whitestown. ) Three sons, Mayhew, John Jr, and Lemuel, appear on the 1830 census of Whitestown, as does the youngest daughter, Mary Alma, having married Henry Jones in 1828 when she was fifteen. Lemuel Mott and John, Jr. appear next to each other in the 1830 census, Lemuel with only himself and one female, 60-69, who must be Naomi. (Footnote: 1830 U S Census; Census Place: Whitestown, Oneida, New York; Series: M19; Roll: 99; Page: 213; Family History Library Film: 0017159; Ancestry.com image 33 in Whitestown. ) Amanda T. Jones, wrote, “At three we (1838 - Amanda was born in 1835) were visited by my grandmother Mott, whose beautiful, white face filled me with wonder.” (Footnote: Jones, page 16. )

So-far I have recorded some 300 descendants of John Mott. From the communications I’ve had over the years I know there are many more, and many more that I simply haven’t searched out and recorded. Further research may fill in missing pieces of family history and his activities during and after the Revolution.


Acknowledgments, Photo Credits, and links.

  1. Many thanks to Elsa Gilbertson, the regional site administrator covering Mount Independence for the Vermont Historic Sites for providing the image of the mural of Mount Independence and the trail map used in Appendix courtesy of Mount Independence Coalition and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. My late wife Cara and I visited Mount Independence in 2002. Apparently many things have changed and progressed at that historic site.
  2. The 1776 contemporary map of Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence is from the Library of Congress Ticonderoga & its dependencies, August 1776. (click on "Links".)
  3. Thanks to Robert A. Mayers, the Revolutionary Detective for the map of the Battle of Short Hills, his excellent history of the battle in his book, and the chapter on the British withdrawl from Philadelphia. The Forgotten Revolution at Amazon.com
  4. As mentioned in an endnote, many thanks to Connie Kheel of the Pittstown Historical Society and to Glenn Rouse for his transcriptions and indexing of the Pittstown Baptist church records.
  5. Over the years I've gotten valuable documents from The New Jersey State Archives, including the Damage Claims, Ebenezer Mott's will, and some land records.
  6. In the Appendix to this page is the map prepared by Lt. Charles Wintersmith, an assistant British engineer on General Burgoyne's staff, in July of 1777. The original is in the Public Archives of Canada. Digitals of the map are available at several places on the internet - just Google Wintersmith map 1777.
  7. Another interesting document is a study prepared in 1990 on the General Hospital at Mount Independence: Northeast Historical Archaelogy

References used in the endnotes:

  1. Bloomfield: Lender, Mark and Martin, James. Citizen Solder, the Revolutionary War Journal of Joseph Bloomfield (Yardley, PA, 2018). A transcription of Bloomfield’s journal with an excellent 30 page introduction.
  2. Elmer: Elmer, Ebenezer. “Journal Kept During an Expedition to Canada in 1776” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society (Vol. II, 1846-1847, Newark, N.J. 1848. Pages 95-194; Continued: (Vol. III, 1848-1849, Newark, N.J. 1849 pages 21-56; 90-102.) Available at Archive.org or download it here: Elmer's Journal. Ebenezer Elmer was commissioned an Ensign in the Third Battalion, subsequently appointed Surgeon’s Mate with the Third Battalion and then transferred to the Second Battalion as Surgeon (Stryker, page 73.) His Find-a-Grave Memorial.
  3. Jones: Jones, Amanda T. (1835-1914). Poems, 1854-1906. (Alden Brothers, New York, 1906). The preface, “The Author to Her Friends” was reprinted in her A Psychic Autobiography (1910). References are to the Autobiography edition which is now online. Much of her writing about family is apocryphal having been written years after hearing the stories from her mother who died in 1870. She was also a victim of mis-information from the State about her grandfather, as were those who used her writings.
  4. FamSearch: FamilySearch.org requires only a free account to view records, documents, genealogies, and a wealth of other information. FamilySearch has a great collection of Pay Roll abstracts and Unit Muster Rolls which list staff and officers.
  5. Fold3Pen:: (Fold3.com requires a subscription to view images.) Revolutionary War Pensions: https://www.fold3.com/title/467/revolutionary-war-pensions. A massive collection of applications and queries filed over many years following the Revolution. There are many interesting depositions given by both the veterans and their descendants.
  6. Fold3WR: Revolutionary War Rolls: https://www.fold3.com/title/469/revolutionary-war-rolls these are the muster rolls at Fold3.com. The muster rolls for Capt. Mott’s company are in Folder 42 starting at https://www.fold3.com/image/1/10154803
  7. Fold3RWSR: Revolutionary War Service Records: https://www.fold3.com/title/470/revolutionary-war-service-records these are essentially index cards for the muster rolls of individuals and units. Captain Mott’s cards begin at https://www.fold3.com/image/24031981 The individual cards as a Lieutenant begin at https://www.fold3.com/image/20881947
  8. Mott Bible: This 1836 Bible purchased that year in Rome, NY by Mayhew Daggett Mott (1795-1869), John’s first child by his wife Naomi, is in my possession and includes several pages of Family Records. See this page for images and details of the family record pages.

Endnotes:


Page created January 2020 as a rework of a 20 some year old page on John Mott

© Text copyright: Steve Spicer

Feel free to email me: steve@spicerweb.org