Israel Shreve – Continental Army Officer – New Jersey


Israel Shreve (December 24, 1739 – December 14, 1799) was a colonel in the 2nd New Jersey Regiment during the American Revolution. He fought at the Battle of Springfield.

==Life and work==

Israel Shreve was born December 24, 1739 in the Shreve family homestead at Mount Pleasant, in Mansfield Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, an old community founded by Quakers. His father was Benjamin Shreve and his mother was Rebecca French; they were married at Springfield Township Friends Meeting House February 23, 1729 and raised eight children, of whom Israel was fifth. Israel married Grace Curtis February 27, 1760 at a Quaker meeting somewhere in Burlington County, New Jersey, and after she died in 1771 Israel married Mary Cokely on May 10, 1773 in Philadelphia. Grace gave birth to four children, while Mary gave birth to seven more. One of these was Henry Miller Shreve. Israel worked and owned farm land and was appointed justice of the peace for Gloucester County, New Jersey in February, 1775.

After news came of the battles of Lexington and Concord, Israel and his brothers William and Samuel enlisted as officers in the New Jersey State militia. In October, 1775, the Continental Congress recommended to the Provincial Congress of New Jersey that two battalions of soldiers be raised for service in the Continental Army. Israel was appointed lieutenant colonel in the second battalion, under command of Colonel William Maxwell. Also serving in this battalion was Israel’s thirteen-year-old son, John.

The 2nd New Jersey Regiment was sent north to relieve Benedict Arnold’s attack on Quebec. The regiment arrived in Albany by March 27, 1776, then reached Fort Ticonderoga by April 18. Shreve arrived in Quebec City May 3 under cannon fire from the British. When a British fleet appeared in the saint Lawrence River, Shreve retreated west with 1,900 Americans. General John Thomas ordered Shreve to take some of the wounded to Sorel, at the juncture of the Richelieu and saint Lawrence River. By June 11 Americans had been defeated by British troops near Trois Rivieres, Quebec, and they abandoned Sorel June 14, just three hours before the British arrived. Shreve was back at Fort Ticonderoga June 16, 1776, and remained there until November, when the enlistments for the 2nd New Jersey expired.

By April, 1777, Shreve and his regiment were in Princeton, New Jersey. He spent the summer in Reading, Pennsylvania, and returned to service in November, 1777. From March to May, 1778, Shreve and the 2nd New Jersey were stationed at Haddonfield, New Jersey. When General Charles Cornwallis led British troops out of Philadelphia, some of his men burned Shreve’s house near Mount Holly, and Sir Henry Clinton offered a reward of 25 guineas for information on the soldiers’ identities. Shreve’s 2nd New Jersey followed the British to Monmouth Courthouse, site of the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778. Shreve walked over the battlefield after the British had retreated farther north to New York.

The following year Shreve took the 2nd New Jersey on the Sullivan Expedition. They left Easton, Pennsylvania June 18, 1779, arriving in Wyoming, Pennsylvania five days later. They remained in Wyoming more than a month before loading 117 rowboats with 1,200 pack horses and 900 cattle. The regiment reached Wyalusing August 5 and Tioga August 11. The next day General John Sullivan ordered his combined forces to Chemung, ten miles (16 km) west of Tioga, where they burned an Indian village and Israel’s son, John, saw a skirmish with a retreating native tribe who killed a man standing next to him with musket fire. Both Israel and John Shreve returned to an army fort at Tioga while Sullivan led his command farther west.

In November, 1779, Shreve led the 2nd New Jersey Regiment to the Continental Army’s winter encampment at Morristown, New Jersey. On June 7, 1780, the British Army under Henry Clinton crossed from Staten Island to New Jersey. On June 23 they came west from Elizabeth toward Chatham and Morristown, and met Americans at Springfield Township. The ensuing fight became known as the Battle of Springfield Shreve’s men waited at a bridge just west of the village of Springfield as Hessians under Lieutenant General Wilhelm, Baron von Knyphausen came from the east. As Shreve’s men fired cannons, a musket ball crashed into a soldier standing next to John Shreve, and as he turned his companion over another musket ball hit John’s calf. Israel Shreve’s regiment was in danger of being surrounded, so General Nathanael Greene ordered him to retreat.

Shreve resigned his commission in early 1781. In 1788 he led his wife and six of his children, along with twenty one other settlers, to land in western Pennsylvania. He contracted to lease land in Fayette County, Pennsylvania from General George Washington. Five years later Shreve contracted to buy {convert|1744|acre|km2} of land from Washington, but spent several years haggling over payments and prices. Washington threatened to bring a lawsuit for payment, but no suit was recorded. Washington wrote Shreve in 1798 and 1799 asking for payments due, but could not bring himself to sue a fellow army officer. Shreve and Washington both died on the same day – December 14, 1799 – although hundreds of miles apart.