Thomas Brown

1760 – ????

During the Revolution I fought in ships along the New Jersey Coast.

I was born in 1760 and was living in Forked River – now part of Ocean County – when the Revolution began. My father was captain of a minuteman company and when I was sixteen I was his first volunteer. We also started building a heavy gunboat that I kept watch over.

In the spring of 1777, Patriot Captain Joshua Studson arrived at Forked River in a whaleboat converted to a gunboat, and I volunteered to serve with him. Shortly after that we captured a British schooner, but then a British force attacked and recovered it, burned our whaleboat and a mill at Middletown Point, and then left. So I returned home and helped complete our boat, which we christened The Civil Usage and launched in May 1777. We guarded Barnegat Bay from enemy attack and captured a British ship coming up from the Caribbean loaded with rum, molasses, sugar and limes.

During the winter of 1779, a barking dog alerted us that a number of Loyalist refugees were near our house. My father and I ran from the house and across a large open field. The refugees fired on us, but we reached our gunboat at Tom’s River. However, they robbed everything from our house, forced out our family, and burned down the house, barn, shop and outbuildings, and a valuable schooner.

I served on the gunboat for the remainder of the war, cruising between the Raritan and Shrewsbury rivers, capturing boats and plunder. I served until the end and afterward lived a long life on the water.


Learn More
Image Thomas Brown

Related Stories