Two Distinct Accounts of Captain Mott

My family tradition: John Mott (1746 - 1823), son of Ebenezer, married Naomi Daggett as his third wife. Their eighth child was Mary Alma Mott Jones (1813-1870), the mother of Amanda T. Jones (1835-1914), who published the family tradition in the introduction to her book of poems, Poems, 1854-1906. She republished that introduction in her 1910 autobiography, A Physic Autobiography

Three generation descendants of John Mott (1746-1823)

Source: Jones, Amanda. A Psychic Autobiography (New York, Greaves Publishing, 1910):

Their son, my grandfather, John Mott, supposed himself to be a “Friend,” until about thirty years of age, although he had lost his “birth-right” by marrying out of the Society. It came about, however, that owing to this following circumstance, he became a fully accredited Revolutionary officer. One bitterly cold Sunday in December, 1776, John Mott was forced to defend his family (a wife and three children) from six marauding Hessian soldiers.They broke down the barricaded door with axes, but were without firearms, as was the case with my grandfather (unless, indeed, tongs and poker might be so classed).As a result three took to their heels, and the remaining three were cast out over the door-sill dead.One of the two little girls, hidden in the cellar, never forgot the tumult overhead – she living to be not much under a hundred.

The following morning John Mott went to General Washington’s camp, near the Delaware, and received from Washington’s “own hand” a lieutenant’s commission, authorizing him to organize a company of recruits for the Continental Army. This he did at once, equipping them at his own expense; and thereafter spent all his possessions in the service of his country throughout five years and eight months, till conclusion of peace.

Be it noted that his “saintly” mother, after having been taken by him through camp, humbly confessed that the “carnal heart took pride and rejoiced in the protection of a son who was tall and brave soldier.”The son would never apply for a pension, although forced to support his third family (a wife and eight children, of whom my mother was the youngest) by learning and practicing the tailor’s trade – nor yet in a beggarly way, for he had apprentices. Hale and unbowed at seventy-seven, he died, as did Washington, of quinsy and mismanagement.Shortly before his death his sons and others saw him crossing the Mohawk river on the string-pieces of a very long bridge in the process of building, but none dared follow.

The fact that his name does not appear on pension rolls makes it difficult to obtain a complete record of his services.* We know that he fought at Brandywine and at Germantown, and 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.His older children stated that he never spoke of the three Hessians whom he was forced to kill, without tears, saying always that it seemed like murder.Yet after that, he fired with intent to kill, upon a Hessian soldier, who was flaying a live cow for meat, after a manner known to exist among his countrymen.(Pages 11-13)

*See Appendix I

 Appendix I (Page 428)

 By late advices from the War Department and from the New Jersey Adjutant-General, we learn that three men of the State, named John Mott, served in the War of the Revolution. The account given from both sources, of one of these three tallies with our family traditions so far as they extend.

This one “was appointed first lieutenant in Captain Thomas Paterson’s Company of Colonel Elias Dayton’s battalion of forces raised in New Jersey, February 8th, 1776, and re-engaged and promoted November 30, 1776. The records also show that one John Mott (the same) served as a Captain in the Third New Jersey Regiment, commanded by Colonel Elias Dayton, Revolutionary War.This name appears on the rolls of that organization, for the period from February 14, 1777, to February, 1779; which shows that he was commissioned November 30, 1776.”

My mother stated from remembrance of his conversation, that although persistently calling himself a Quaker, he had felt that when necessity should arise he must be ready to join in the defense of the State.This may account for the earlier lieutenancy; but if we have him rightly located, his term of army service, whether as Captain, private or secret and trusted agent, was exactly five years and eight months from the date of re-organization for active warfare.He was therefore one of the Continental Army, until the news arrived of the signing, at Paris, of the Treaty of Peace, when forces were mustered out.

My honored Cousin Wesley Mott, only son of my Mother’s brother, Mayhew Daggett Mott, writes to me of him:

“My own father has often told me about his terrible encounter with the six Hessian soldiers, and his going to Washington’s camp and accepting an appointment under him as lieutenant and afterward being engaged in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. Your mother, when I visited her forty years ago (in 1867) told me many additional facts of great interest about grandfather Mott.

The other family tradition: John Mott (1734 - 1804?), son of William, married Eleanor (widow Johnson). Their first son, Gershom, had a son Gershom who became a Major General in the Civil War. He had only one child, Kate, who recorded the family tradition in a genealogy of the family published in the New England Historic Genealogy Society's Register in April, 1894, the original at NEGHR, April, 1894, page 52. Volume image 112.

Detailed genealogy of the descent of Gershom Mott (abt. 1663-1733)

Source: Mott, Kate A.,  "Descent of Major-General Gershom Mott, of New Jersey" (New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, April, 1894)

In the official records of the local military organizations of New Jersey John Mott is named on 9th February, 1776, as First Lieutenant in Captain Patterson’s Company in the Third Battalion (Stryker’s Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War), but it does not appear whether this was his first or second or third term of service.A little before this, on the 8th of December, 1775, the First and Second New Jersey Battalions had been ordered to New York. On the 3rd of May the Second and Third Battalions went up the Hudson in sloops, and thence to Ticonderoga as reinforcements of General Sullivan, who, after the retreat of the British from Boston on the 17th of March, 1776, had taken command of the army which had retreated from Quebec. As Lieutenant John Mott was in the Third Battalion he was probably in this expedition. The New Jersey battalions were successively in Johnstown, German Flats, Fort Schuyler, Fort Dayton, and Ticonderoga and Fort Independence.They were chiefly engaged in preventing Indian incursions. But they all returned in time to take part in the campaign in New Jersey in the autumn and winter of 1776-77 (See below).

…(Paragraph skipped)

But meantime a new army was being organized. New recruits were brought in, enlistments were made for longer terms or “for the war” instead of for the previous short dated, and Congress on the 12th of December gave Washington full power relative to the army. Lieutenant Mott and his comrades under Sullivan had just return from Ticonderoga.In the new organization of the New Jersey troops, John Mott was made captain of the Fifth Company in the Third Battalion (19th November 1776), and now the four New Jersey battalions constituted the “New Jersey Line” or Maxwell’s Brigade.

  But here, near his old home, Captain Mott’s local knowledge made him of great service as Washington’s guide, in planning and conducting a new attack upon the British in Trenton. Other farmers of the neighborhood were also called in. On the 20th of December General Sullivan arrived with troops from near Morristown.On the 25th, in the night, General Washington recrossed the Delaware and marched on Trenton,.Captain Mott in the darkness of the morning carried a fusee on his shoulder to light General Washington. The weather was stormy, and after they had marched about three miles the Captain said to General Sullivan that the priming powder in the muskets was becoming damp.. Sullivan replied: "Well, boys, we must fight them with the bayonet."  When Washington heard this he said:  "Tell tem to use the bayonet, and to penetrate the town, for the town must be taken!  I am resolved to take it!"  As is well known he took the town and captured a thousand Hessian prisoners.

Captain John Mott can be traced during the remainder of the war in the “New Jersey Line” or Maxwell’s Brigade. On the 11th of September, 1777, they opened the battle of Brandywine and afterward encamped near Germantown and formed the reserve corps and left wing at the battle of Germantown….


Kate Mott clearly mixes the two men, as does the History of Burlington and Mercer Counties on page 39. The militia Captain never fought at Brandywine or Germantown, nor was at Valley Forge, but he was clearly the guide to Washington at the Battle of Trenton and had a very useful and active time of it during the Revolution defending his homeland. General Philemon Dickinson wrote to Washington on December 24, 1776:

“I have order’d a Capt. & 25 men to Genl Stevens’s Quarters, agreable to Genl Green’s request, there to wait your Excellency’s Orders—The Bearers Capt. Mott with a few others, now waits upon my Lord Sterling to give him some Information about certain roads, agreable to his Lordships requests—Capt. Mott is a man that may be relied upon in every respect.”

There is a very well documented article about the militia Captain's life and Revolutionary War career at his Wikipedia article.

The Supernumerary Complaint Letter of April 21,1779

There are several definitions of "supernumerary" in the Oxford Dictionary. In Charles James' New and Enlarged Military Dictionary (1821) it means officers and non-commissioned officers that are attached to a regiment or battalion as "back-ups." Another definition in the Oxford Dictionary: "Beyond that which is necessary, useful, or desired; superfluous, unnecessary."

The letter is in the pension application papers of Rebecah White, the former widow of Elias Longstreet; Pension number W. 2504: NARA RG 15, Roll 1582. image 104 and 105 Image 104 at Fold3.
Longstreet's widow's file is 122 pages.


To His Excellency William Livingston Esq. Governor over the State of New Jersey and to the Honourable Council and General Assembly of the Same Convened at Trenton.

We the Subscribers late officers of the New Jersey Brigade beg leave with all due respect to lay our cases before you. We humbly presume to inform you, that from a laudable desire to defend our own and Country’s rights we engaged in the present war. The recommendations accompanying this address will best shew how we have discharged the trust reposed in us. We address you not only as injured officers, but as injured Citizens; we observe by one of [? united] Confederation of the United States, that every officer from the Colonel down the line, was to be appointed by the Legislature. This we conceive, in what is called the arrangement, has in one instance been infringed and in another rendered nugatory.

First, as in the Brigade, on this arrangement one Major, four Captains and eleven Subalterns have been made without your Concurrence.

Secondly, as Seven Captains & Six Subalterns have been dismissed the Service without Court Martial, the only mode proposed by the articles of War, without their own or your consent, which renders the appointment by you only negative; and this mode of demission, has been in such a manner as never was Known in any Country where liberty was not entirely banished _ Filial, Fraternal, Consanguineal, intimate and local Connections have Served to Substitute others in our places, and our fate has depended on those whose resentment or party pique has rendered us obnoxious. Sure none but the most abjectly mean, would have accepted a commission, had he Known at the time that he was to hold it as the precarious tenure of a Colonel or Field Officer’s will; at least we ought to have been told So that by fawning, flattery and dissimilation, we might have qualified ourselves for a Continuance in the Service. But hard as it is, that Congress should authorize a field or field officers to say who should or should not be Supernumeraries, yet this hard doctrine has been exceeded and Stretched; for not attending to the Circumstance of its being [? Intended] only to preclude Supernumeraries, many have been wantonly and interestedly put out, and others who held no rank in the army have been put in their places, by which means those officers are not only injured in the most tender and feeling manner by one perhaps who wished for Such an opportunity to gratify himself, but the public is also defrauded of the Sums allowed those officers as Supernumeraries, who were only made So by the person or persons who returned them.

We also beg to leave to remind you of a promise made us in the name of the Legislature by the Commissioners at Ticonderoga and Schenectady in the close of the year Seventy-Six That no officers should be superseded in the future.

We most humbly and heartily Submit the above to your Consideration, and doubt not of the most ample redress.

State of New Jersey
21 April 1779

Elias Longstreet Capt. 1st Reg.
John Mott Capt. 3d Regt.
Isaac Morrison Cap. 1 Regt.
Jno Polhamus

Sample Muster Rolls, Pay Rolls, and Combined Service Records:

Officers and Staff at Mount Independence - February, 1777
Pay Roll of Captain Mott's company - Feb. 7 to May 1, 1777
Muster Roll of Captain Mott's company for March, 1778 at Valley Forge
Muster Roll of Captain Mott's company for September, 1777 at Elizabethtown.
Two of forty-five Combined Service Record cards in Captain Mott's folder, number 42. "Supernumerary Not recommended" on right card.

Additional Maps and Pictures: Mount Independence & Fort Ticonderoga

Map prepared in July, 1777 by Lt. Charles Wintersmith, an assistant engineer on General Burgoyne's staff.
Trail map on Mount Independence today.

Thanks to Elsa Gilbertson of the Vermont Historic Sites (

Map drawn for the August 25, 1778 trial of Major General St. Clair.
In the fall of 2002 I visited Mount Independence with my late wife Cara. While lacking a good camera and a day free from mist, these two pictures came out ok looking across the narrows at Fort Ticonderoga.

Damage Claims

Revolutionary War Inventories of Damages by the British; Burlington. -- New Jersey State Archives records:

N 229 Inventory of the goods of John Mott plundered by the troops
of the British Army in Dec.1776 & June 1778.
3 large Hogs, 1 calf, 3 ????, 4 acres crop £ 12.10.0
2 Sides Leather, 1 Broad cloth coat and Jacket. 6.?.?
2 pr. breeches, 6 pr. Stockings, 4 Shirts and 2 pr ????
4 Blankets, 3 Sheets, 2 Coverlids, 6 Pillows, ????, 7.5. ???
2 Bedsteads, 1 Chaf Bet, 12 lb Cheese, 2 lb Gammons 2.14.6
30 lb Pork, 2 Bushels Rye, 2 Bags, 6 lbs sugar, 1/2 lb tea. 1.15.9
12 lb Candles, 20 lb Dried Beef, 10 Bushels Potatoes, 1/2 Bushels Salt  2.6.3
2 lb Stocking yarn, 2 Silk Hanket, 2 Iron pots, 1 Pewter Quart 1.12.6
10yds home made Linnen, 6 Queenware plates, 1 Calicoe gown 2.7.6
  Total: £ 38.19.1


"Job Atkinson being affirmed, Declared that he saw some part of the goods contained in the foregoing inventory in the possession of the troops of the British Army at the house of this affirmant and does believe that the whole therein contained was plundered and taken by the said troops.". (Signed Job Atkinson) "Peter Shiras ?? being sworn deposeth that he is a near neighbor to the above applicant and does believe that the goods contained in the foregoing inventory was lost as therein set forth." (Signed Peter Shiras)

Two claims that John Mott witnessed:

Claim 226: of Job Atkinson of goods plundered in Dec.1776 totaling 4 pounds John Mott witnessed: "John Mott being affirmed that he is a near neighbor to the above claimant, and was well informed of Hessian troops being at his house at the time above mentioned, and soon after their departure heard the said claimant complain of the loss of his goods by the said troops, and from sundry circumstances does believe the above inventory is just and true." (signed John Mott)

Claim 298: John Mott witnessed and declared that the goods of John Gaskill, who he knew, were plundered by the British troops in Dec 1776 and June 1778. The claim was mostly for sheep that were stolen amounting to 71 pounds.(signed John Mott) (This was also witnessed by Daniel Gaskill)

Page created January 2020 an Appendix to John Mott of the Continental Line (1776-1779)

© Text copyright: Steve Spicer

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