Bloomfield, Joseph (1753-1823) to Elias Dayton
Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01450.455
Author/Creator: Bloomfield, Joseph (1753-1823)
Place Written: Pits Grove, Salem County, New Jersey
Type: Letter signed
Date: 11 October 1777
Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 19.9 x 15.5 cm.
Summary of Content: Written by Major Bloomfield to Colonel Dayton. Begins by saying this is the first time he has been able to write since he was wounded at the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777. Says he lost so much blood that he could not ride to Chester and had to cross the Delaware River at Marcus Hook to avoid being captured. Reports that his wound was not dressed until 52 hours after he received it and that it bled for 23 of those hours. Says wound became inflamed, which caused a violent fever that last two weeks. Says on 2 October 1777 he was forced to flee Dr. Otto’s, where he was coalescing, when 1,200 British troops moved to take Billingsport. Says the British came within 50 yards of the house and that the militia then retreated ”helter skelter.” Says he joined them and that artillery shells were landing among them and that the British almost surrounded them. Mockingly says ”the Militia eminently distinguished themselves by the Swiftness of their heels (many out running my horse which I galloped briskly).” Says he took to the pine forests and hired a wagon to Pits Grove. Mentions that his wound is healing, but he can’t bend his arm or move his fingers. Says he wants to join Dayton as soon as he can ride free from pain. Pleased to hear of recent successes of the army, which has revived the spirits of the populace. This is a curious line since Washington’s performance at the Battle of Germantown (where Dayton fought) a week earlier was not illustrious. Works out arrangement for his pay, saying he has drawn 200 dollars from Dayton’s son Captain Jonathan Dayton and that Dayton should draw his army pay to make up for it. Bloomfield says he owes Dayton for the horse named ”Independence.” Sends regards to others in his regiment. Paper is fragile and has been repaired at several points. Darkened at some points, possibly by acid in the paper. Slight text loss.
Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783
Full Transcript: [excerpt], …My wound was not dressed till late Saturday night, being 52 hours after I received it, 23 hours of the time it bled, which with the Inflamation of my arm brought on a violent fever that - lasted fourteen days, when the swelling subsided & the wound began to heal - [illegible] 2d ins: 12,00 of the Enemy came over to the Jerseys in order to take Billingsport, the motley crew of militia to the amot. of 350 [inserted: under new castle] pretended to make a stand about 50 yards from Dr. Otto’s where I then lay, but, whilst I was preparing to move my quarters, the militia retreated (Helter - Skelter) and your major in the midst of them, The Enemy playing their artillery incessantly, [struck: having] [inserted: at] the same time their Infantry had almost surrounded us, but the militia eminently distinguished themselves by the swiftness of their heals (many but running my horse which I galloped briskly) till they got over [inserted: Mantis] Bridge which they took up & 3 or 400 yds from it made a stand - for my part I took into the Pines, part of the Enemy followed the road I took five miles - the day after I hired a wagon & came to this place.  The healing of my wound being not a little retarded by my late retreat in which I suffered a good deal of pain in riding, & my arm not being dressed for three days - Though this wound is now in a fair way of healing. Yet I cannot bend my arm or stir my fingers without great pain -Dr. Harris who attends me says it is probable it will be Six or Eight months before I have the use of my arm, which discourages me very much…
Keywords/Subjects: Battle;, Revolutionary War;, Military History;, Injury or Wound;, Health and Medical;, Global History and US Foreign Policy;, Global History and US Foreign Policy;, Militia;, Artillery;, Finance;, Soldier’s Pay;
Sub Era: The War for Independence
Background: Bloomfield went on to be Governor of New Jersey (1801-1812), a Brigadier General in the War of 1812 (1812-1815), and a U.S. Congressman (1817-1821). He was known as an opponent of slavery.Order Image