June 23, 1780: Give ’em Watts Boys!

June 7, 1780 was a day of deep tragedy for the Reverend James Caldwell, a Presbyterian Minister.  Known as the soldier parson because of his ardent support of the Patriot cause, he was with the Continental Army in Morristown as a chaplain.  Tragically, war came to his home and his wife Hannah Caldwell was killed by a British soldier during the Battle of Connecticut Farms when he fired into her house.   Caldwell quickly found an opportunity for revenge when he partipated in the defense of Springfield, New Jersey, the last major battle of the American Revolution in the North, on June 23, 1780.  A mixed band of Continentals and militia were stubbornly defending the town from 2500 British and Hessian regulars, when they began to run low on musket wadding.  Caldwell did not hesistate.  Running into the Springfield Presbyterian Church he gathered up hymnals and passed them out to the troops to tear out the pages for wadding, all the time yelling “Give ’em Watts Boys!  Give ’em Watts!”  Hailed as a hero of the battle, an American victory, Caldwell did not survive the war.  He is buried beside his beloved Hannah in the church yard cemetery of the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the church he served as pastor for 30 years.  Their nine orphaned children were raised by friends and family in a free America.

Published in: on June 23, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on June 23, 1780: Give ’em Watts Boys!  
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