Joseph Cilley – Continental Army Officer – New Hampshire


Joseph Cilley (1734{spaced ndash}August 25, 1799) was a New Hampshire state senator and general.

Cilley was born in 1734 at Nottingham, New Hampshire to Captain J. Cilley of the Isles of Shoals and his wife Alice Rawlings. In 1758 Joseph Cilley joined Rogers’ Rangers and served in northern New York and Canada. On December 15, 1774 Joseph was with John Langdon and John Sullivan in the raid on Fort William and Mary at New Castle, New Hampshire.

At the start of the American Revolutionary War Joseph was appointed major of the 2nd New Hampshire Regiment. After the Siege of Boston Cilley was promoted to Lt. Col. in the 1st New Hampshire Regiment and he and the regiment were sent to reinforce the Continental Army in Canada fighting at the Battle of Trois-Rivières. With the defeat of the Continental Army in Canada the 1st New Hampshire was sent to New Jersey and Gen. George Washington’s main army. Joseph took part in the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton. With the resignation of John Stark, Cilley took command of the 1st New Hampshire and led them during the Saratoga Campaign of 1777, and the Battle of Monmouth and the Battle of Stony Point in 1778. In 1779, Joseph and the 1st New Hampshire were with Gen. Sullivan in his campaign against the Iroquois and Loyalists in western New York.

On March 19, 1779, the New Hampshire Assembly voted unanimously, “that the worthy Col. Jos. Cilley be presented with a pair of pistols as a token of this State’s good intention to reward merit in a brave officer.” These pistols are now housed at the Museum of New Hampshire History in Concord, New Hampshire. Cilley retired from the Continental Army on January 1, 1781.

After the war, he was appointed major general of the 1st Division of New Hampshire Militia, June 22, 1786. Cilley was elected to the New Hampshire Senate and Treasurer, Vice President and President of the Society of the Cincinnati in New Hampshire. Cilley died on August 25, 1799, at his home in Nottingham.

Cilley married Sarah Longfellow on November 4, 1756. They had ten children, including Greenleaf Cilley, whose sons Joseph Cilley and Jonathan Cilley would become a U. S. Senator and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, respectively.