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Rev. James Caldwell


Rev. James Caldwell

Began his service in the Revolutionary War as Chaplain in the 3rd Regiment NJ Line on 9 Feb to Nov 1776. Chaplain and Assistant Quartermaster General of the Continental Army. Pastor of the church in Elizabethtown from 1761-1780. His church and house were burned by the Tories in 1780. During the Battle of Springfield on 23 Jun 1780, the Hessian mercenaries made the final attempt to invade New Jersey. The Continental and militia forces were outnumbered five to one. During the heat of the battle when they were nearly out of ammunition they found they were also out of artillery wadding. James took the Watts Hymnals from the First Presbyterian Church and is famous for passing out the hymnals by Isaac Watts to use as cannon wadding, shouting Give em Watts boys. The British were fought to a standstill. When the British retreated they burned all but four houses. Known as The Fighting Parson by the patriots and "The Black Rebel" by the British, he preached on Sunday with his pistols on the pulpit and led his troops during the week. While he was off to headquarters with the news that the British were approaching Elizabethtown his wife was shot and killed in a raid on his home as she held their infant child, during the Battle of Connecticut Farms (now Union). His church was used as a Continental Army hospital until it was burned by a Loyalist in 1780. Killed in Elizabethtown, NJ on 24 Nov 1781 by a sentinel in a dispute over a package. It was suspected that the sentinel was in league with a British plot to assassinate the parson and the sentinel was tried and hanged. Born in Cub Creek, Charlotte County, VA in Apr 1734. A monument to James and his wife was erected in Elizabeth, NJ. Caldwell, New Jersey is named for him. Princeton graduate 1759 and AM Degree 1762. Presbyterian clergyman, ordained on 17 Sep 1760. Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Elizabethtown, installed in Mar 1762. Member of the New Jersey Senate (Council) 1781. Trustee of Princeton 1769-1781. Clerk of the Board of Trustees for Princeton 1772-1781. Treasurer of Princeton 1777-1779. Married Hannah Ogden on 14 Mar 1763.

James Caldwell is currently unrepresented in the Society of the Cincinnati. Eligible descendants are encouraged to make inquiry regarding membership.



Captain Jack Hite Gilbert
(1900 — 1988)
Admitted 1951
Admitted 1980
Admitted 1982