Article 68

The Civil War in New Jersey

The Quaker population of New Jersey was especially intolerant of slavery. New Jersey was a major part of the extensive Underground Railroad system. Though New Jersey passed an act for the gradual abolition of slavery in 1804, it ended up becoming the last of the northern states to abolish slavery. It wasn't until 1830 that most blacks were free in the state. By the close of the Civil War, about a dozen blacks in New Jersey were still apprenticed freedmen. New Jersey at first refused to ratify the Constitutional Amendments that banned slavery.

On May 4, 1861, in response to President Abraham Lincoln's call to arms, the U.S. War Department directed New Jersey to fill a quota of three infantry regiments to serve a three-year term of enlistment. Recruitment took place for the new regiments all over the state, and on May 21, the 1st New Jersey Volunteer Infantry was mustered into the Union Army at Camp Olden in Trenton under Maj. Theodore T. S. Laidley of the United States Regular Army. The 9th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, under Col. Joseph W. Allen at Camp Olden, was the last New Jersey regiment to leave the state in 1861 but the first committed to battle. Additional regiments were raised throughout the war, including cavalry and artillery.

No battles took place within New Jersey, however, over 96,000 soldiers made up 58 infantry, artillery, and cavalry regiments. 23,116 of those soldiers served in the Army of the Potomac. Soldiers fought generally in the Eastern theater. Over 6,000 soldiers from New Jersey lost their lives in the war.

Philip Kearny, an officer from the Mexican-American War, led a brigade of New Jersey regiments under Brigadier General William B. Franklin. Kearny distinguished himself as a brilliant officer during the Peninsula Campaign, and was promoted to the position of major general.

New Jersey was one of the few states to vote for Stephen Douglas instead of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election. The people of New Jersey also gave its electoral votes to George McClellan when he ran for President against Lincoln in the election of 1864, being the only free state that rejected Lincoln twice. McClellan later became the governor of New Jersey, from 1878 to 1881.

Many cities like Paterson and Camden, grew extremely strong through the duration of the Civil War. They produced many necessities, including clothing and war materials like ammunition. These cities prospered through constant production even after the end of the war. Cities like those of Paterson and Camden became crucial to the Northern war effort. With the Union's ability to manufacture more supplies, the Union was able to defeat the Confederates and successfully conclude the war and reunite the country.

Page last modified on September 12, 2014