Samuel Moore Shute Full Biography
I was born on February 28, 1763 in Cumberland County, New Jersey, the fourth child of William and Hope Moore Shute. My father had served as a lieutenant in 1761 during the French and Indian War and on November 28, 1775 he was commissioned as a captain in the recently authorized Second New Jersey Regiment of the Continental Line. I was just 13 years old, but my father took me with him to the Burlington barracks where his regiment was organizing under Colonel William Maxwell and Lieutenant Colonel Israel Shreve. Half the regiment organized at Burlington and the other half at the Trenton barracks.
Getting the new regiment organized and fully equipped took several months and we finally marched off through Trenton to Canada in late February 1776. Lieutenant Colonel Shreve also brought along his 14 year old son, John. The march to Quebec was very difficult in the harsh winter weather – sometimes travelling by sled, crossing frozen lakes, sleeping in the snow – and a number of our men became sick, many with the small pox. We finally got to Quebec City and participated in the siege until the British forced us to retreat on May 6. The retreat was very chaotic and both my father and John’s tried to keep us ahead of the retreating army and out of harm’s way. On June 14 John and I were ordered to take our guns, accoutrements, blankets, and clothes and go to Philadelphia in the care of Lieutenant Ephraim Anderson, who had been badly burned when a fire-ship he was commanding to attack the British ships in Quebec harbor caught fire too soon. Too severely wounded to perform his military duties, Lieutenant Anderson was sent to Philadelphia to inform the Continental Congress of the disastrous battle during the retreat at Three Rivers on June 8. In addition to concerns for our safety, our fathers wanted us to attend school to prepare us for future campaigns when we could be officers in the regiment.
Lieutenant Anderson abandoned us not long after we got as far as Fort Ticonderoga and took the money John’s father had given him to pay for our needs. John and I continued on foot to Albany and then took a boat to New York before continuing overland through New Jersey and on to Philadelphia. I was to stay with John’s mother until I could get a ride home. While in Philadelphia, both John and I were made ensigns in the Second New Jersey Regiment. On August 25, John’s father wrote him to say, “You are at a good school. Do all you can to learn, you are not to join the Regiment until we come home which will be some time in November. Consider now you are an officer in the army of the United States of America. Spend not your time playing on the streets & with misbehavior boys, but study to be the scholar and the soldier.” I was to do the same.
When the Second New Jersey Regiment reorganized in early 1777, John’s father commanded the regiment and my father continued as a captain. About the time of the battles of Brandywine and Germantown in the fall of 1777 I was promoted to second lieutenant. We spent the winter at Valley Forge where we suffered greatly and the army lost many men who died of illness. When spring came, were engaged at the Battle of Monmouth. In 1779 we were part of General Sullivan’s expedition to destroy the towns and food supplies of the Iroquois Indians in New York who were allied with the British. We then spent the winter at Morristown in the worst winter weather of the century. In 1780 I was promoted to first lieutenant and we were engaged at the battles of Connecticut Farms and Springfield. In 1781 we headed south and were at the defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown. After Yorktown we went into quarters at New Windsor, New York until the war ended in 1783 and I was promoted to Brevet Captain. All of this happened before I turned 20 years old in 1783.
My father died in 1784 and I inherited his sword. After the war I settled in Bridgeton, Cumberland County and in 1795 married Sarah Elmer, whose father was teaching me to be a doctor. I became a well-known and beloved doctor, even inspiring at least one man to take up medicine himself. When war broke out with England again in 1812, I served from 1814-1815 as Brigade Major in the Cumberland County militia. Sarah died in 1814 and I married Hannah Maskell in July 1816. Sadly, I died in August at Bridgeton only a few weeks later at age 54 and was buried in the cemetery of the Presbyterian Church.
John Shreve Pension File S3890, NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application File
Anderson, Mark R. The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony: America’s War of Liberation in Canada, 1774-1776. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2013.
Ward, Harry M. General William Maxwell and the New Jersey Continentals. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1997.