Fighting For Freedom: Samuel M. Shute and the 2nd New Jersey Regiment

The American Soldier, 1781. Artist H. Charles McBarron. Image courtesy of the Center for Military History

Samuel Moore Shute was born on February 28th, 1763 in Cumberland County, New Jersey to William and Hope Moore Shute. A Patriot, Shute joined the ranks of the Continental Army to fight for the American cause during the American Revolution, and enlisted again to defend his young country during the War of 1812.

Samuel Shute joined the 2nd New Jersey Regiment as a private on October 31st, 1775, under the command of Colonel William Maxwell. By March of the following year, the regiment found themselves assigned to the Canadian Department where they took part in the Siege of Quebec. When the siege ended on May 5, 1776, they retreated with the rest of the Continental forces and on June 8 took part in the action at Three Rivers where they sustained heavy casualties. The Three Rivers blunder forced the Continental forces to continue their withdraw from Canada, and the 2nd New Jersey eventually made their way to Fort Ticonderoga in New York. During the retreat, Shute was promoted to Ensign, his first of many promotions. The 2nd remained at Ticonderoga until mid-November when they were sent back to New Jersey.

The Soldiers in the 2nd New Jersey had enlisted for a year, so upon arriving home in early December 1776, the 2nd New Jersey disbanded. Many of the troops reenlisted for three years, and the regiment was reformed. During the winter of 1776-77 the 2nd New Jersey, along with the other regiments of the New Jersey brigade, was assigned to the main Army under George Washington. With dawn of spring came campaign season. The 2nd New Jersey, now commanded by Colonel Israel Shreve, saw action at Short Hill in June and the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. At Brandywine, Shute received his second promotion to 2nd Lieutenant. The regiment’s last major engagement of 1777 was at Germantown in October, after which Shute and the 2nd New Jersey moved on to White Marsh, Pennsylvania.



These were the weapons most heavily used by Soldiers in the United States Continental Army.

The regiment remained at White Marsh for a month and a half before moving to winter quarters at Valley Forge. In the 1700’s, armies typically moved into semi-permanent camps for the winter months. The lack of modern waterproof and insulted clothing, transportation problems, and the difficulty of keeping loose gunpowder dry during months of rain and snow combined to make large-scale winter operations difficult. Unfortunately, although winter quarters provided a break from combat, the cold and wet made for long, miserable days.

At winter’s end the warmer weather invariably brought more fighting. In June 1778, the 2nd New Jersey helped to cover the Continental’s retreat following the Battle of Monmouth.


Replication of Yorktown Redoubt #10 on the Army Heritage Trail at the USAHEC.

In 1779, regiment marched to Easton, Pennsylvania to join General Sullivan’s expedition against the Iroquois, who were allied with the British. The regiment spent most of the campaign season raiding in Pennsylvania and western New York before returning to New Jersey for the winter.

In 1780, Shute became a 1st Lieutenant. In June, the regiment was engaged in both the Battle of Connecticut Farms as well as the Battle of Springfield. The remainder of the year they were posted in various locations in New Jersey until October when they moved up to West Point before retiring again to winter quarters.

Colonel Israel Shreve resigned in 1781, and Elias Dayton took command of the regiment just in time to deal with a mutiny inspired by the Pennsylvania Line mutiny a few days earlier, when Soldiers, upset over their living conditions and disputes over the terms of their enlistment, attempted to desert. In the 2nd New Jersey, the mutiny ended with the execution of two of the brigade’s leaders.

During much of the summer of 1781, the companies of the regiment were placed on detached duty, and by August’s end the Continental army left New Jersey and headed for Virginia where Cornwallis’ British forces were stationed. The Siege of Yorktown began on September 29th, and by October 19th the British forces at Yorktown surrendered.

With the war all but won, the New Jersey men spent the rest of 1782 on guard and picket duty before setting up winter quarters at New Windsor, New York. After the war ended on April 19, 1783, Shute continued to serve until November 1783 and earned a promotion to brevet Captain.

With the war over, Shute embarked upon a new career: medicine. The soon to be doctor began his studying under his father-in-law, Johnathan Elmer. Dr. Shute prospered, residing in a fine house on Broad Street in Bridgeton, New Jersey. In 1813, the Governor of New Jersey appointed Shute as Surrogate of Cumberland County, New Jersey, a position he held for two years. When war broke out with England in 1812, Shute once again answered the call of duty, serving from 1814-1815 as Brigade Major. Dr. Samuel Moore Shute passed away on August 30th, 1816.


Primary Sources

Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, 1779 by General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben

The USAHEC Archives contain an original copy of the Regulations.  These digital images are courtesy of the Library of Congress, and are made from a copy in their possession.

Cover Page & Order of Congress
Instructions for Commandant
Instructions for Major
Instructions for Adjutant
Instructions for Quarter-Master
Instructions for Captain
Instructions for Lieutenant
Instructions for Ensign
Instructions for Sergeant Major & Quarter-Master Sergeant
Instructions for First Sergeant of a Company
Instructions for Sergeants & Corporals
Instructions for Private
Samuel Shute’s Journal dated September 27, 1781 – October 6, 1781

Read More

Smallpox During the Revolution
Revolutionary War Equipment
Valley Forge
The Battle of Yorktown


Samuel M. Shute Papers, 1781-1782.  Box 1.  USAMHI.

“The 2nd New Jersey Regiment in the Revolutionary War.”  American Wars 101, Last modified June 22, 2011.

“The American Soldier, 1781” by H. Charles McBarron.  U.S. Army Center of Military History.  http://www.history.army.mil/images/artphoto/pripos/amsoldier/1/1781.jpg.

Ward, Harry M.  General William Maxwell and the New Jersey Continentals.  Greenwood Press: Westport, CT, 1997.

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