General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN


Cumberland Gap Patriot

William Mershon

William Mershon, a NJ patriot who became one of the first settlers in Laurel county KY
William Mershon was born on August 12, 1756 in Lawrenceville NJ in Hunterdon County New Jersey is often called the Crossroads of the American Revolution because of its Geographical position located in the center of the new emerging nation. Due to its geographical location, New Jersey was involved in more battles and skirmishes, Over 296 documented battles than any other colony due to British Troop movements across the State between New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey is also called the crossroads of the American Revolution because of the important battles such as Trenton and Princeton that were won by the Continental army while fighting in New Jersey. Winning the battles of Trenton and Princeton revitalized the Revolutionary cause. If the Continental army had lost at either place the American Revolutionary war would have ended in New Jersey. On November 20, 1776, Washington crossed into New Jersey after his defeat at Fort Lee NY with the British army in hot pursuit.
Mershon joined the NJ militia in December 1776. His militia regiment was first ordered to participate in the first battle of Princeton but while on the way there they were ordered back to Lawrenceville to help evacuate the city from the encroaching British army. While marching through New Jersey, the British army adopted a scorched earth policy burning every town they came in contact with during the march. New Jersey, the seventh most populated colony suffered more property loss than any other colony. The bright side in all of this hell was it caused many Tories who initially supported the Crown to become patriots and join the NJ militia.
 Mershon’s first major battle was at the battle of Burlington NJ fought on December 24, 1776, twelve hours before the battle of Trenton. Here Mershon and the NJ militia defeated General Von Droop, the Hessian Commander of all Hessian Forces in the British Colonies. This kept Von Droop from reinforcing Col. RAll at Trenton which helps assure a Continental victory at Trenton making it a decisive turning point in the war.
  Mershon second battle was fought at the Battle of Millstone NJ on January 22, 1777. Here the NJ militia attacked a British Supply train and routed the British capturing 40 wagons, 100 horses, 70 sheep,115 cattle and 2 cannons. During the rest of the winter of 1777, Mershon and the NJ Militia continually harassed British supply trains using the food to help supply the half starved Continental army.
 Mershon’s next battle was the battle was at Bound Brook NJ. This was the first Continental defeat in New Jersey. Here Cornwallis, the British commander attacked the American garrison and defeated the continental army there.
 On June 12, 1777 fought a battle at Metuchen Meeting house also called the battle of Short hills. Here Cornwallis forced the Continental army and NJ militia to retreat to Westfield NJ after firing 15 cannons continually at the Meeting House. After this battle, the NJ militia attacked several British columns along the retreat. For this act the British burned 50 houses between Somerset NJ and Perth Amboy NJ.
 In September 1777, Mershon was sent to fight in the battle of Brandywine Creek PA. Here the NJ militia fought bravely around the Birmingham meeting house before being forced to retreat when The British soon broke the Continental right flank.
 On August 19, 1779, Mershon fought with Light Horse Harry lee at the battle of Paulus hook NJ. This American victory forced the British to lose control of half of New Jersey
 During the battle of Connecticut farms fought on June 6, 1780, Mershon and the NJ militia kept the British from overwhelming the Continental army. The NJ militia continually attacked the British even after being driven back several times. The NJ militia also kept the British army occupied while the Continental army retreated.
At the battle of Springfield fought on June 23, 1780, the Americans defeated the British preventing them from attacking Morristown NJ and confiscating the food supplies there. Most history books do not even mention the battle of Springfield. It is often referred to as the forgotten victory of the American Revolutionary war.
 At the battle of Yorktown Mershon fought under the command of Lafayette. After the American victory at Yorktown, the NJ militia fired cannons at the British Located on Staten Island during a victory Celebration.
 In October 1782, Mershon joined the NJ militia the New Windsor Cantonment in New Windsor NY for the last winter quarter the Continental army would spend during the war. Here in April 1783 Washington ordered a cease fire and an end to hostilities against Britain.
 In 1795, Mershon moved to Laurel county KY making him the first pioneer to settle there after traveling through Cumberland Gap. In 1796 Mershon met Nancy Weedon and wee soon married. They had 6 children from this union. In 1832, Mershon applied for a pension while living in Laurel County.  On April 11, 1841, Mershon died and was buried on his farm in Laurel county Ky.




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