If Colonel Matthias Ogden were stung by the rebuke he received in Washington's General Orders for "gaming", he certainly did not go out of his way to avoid the eye of his commander in chief in the weeks and months that followed.
On April 17th, 1779, barely a fortnight after the results of his court martial were made known to the Army - acquitted on three counts, guilty on the fourth - his name heads the list of officers from the 1st New Jersey in a "Memorial from the Officers of the Jersey Brigade to the Legislature" protesting the meager pay of the troops in the strongest terms. Almost 50 officers from the three New Jersey battalions signed this document - none more than the 21 who did so in Ogden's regiment.
It was soon followed by a much more lengthy (it would be fair to say "long winded") letter from General William Maxwell, the commander of the Jersey Brigade, and a second letter from a number of junior officers of the 1st New Jersey, including Captain Aaron Ogden (the Colonel's brother) and Ensign Asher Levy.
Maxwell also forwarded these letters to Washington, who was highly alarmed, twice expressing his displeasure directly to General Maxwell:
"There is nothing, which has happened in the course of the war that has given me so much pain as the remonstrance you mention from the officers of the 1st. Jersey Regiment. I cannot but consider it as a hasty and imprudent step, which on more cool consideration they will themselves condemn. I am very sensible of the inconveniences under which the officers of the army labor and I hope they do me the justice to believe, that my endeavours (sic) to procure them relief are incessant. There is however more difficulty in satisfying their wishes than perhaps they are aware; our resources have been hitherto very limited; the situation of our money is no small embarrassment, for which, though there are remedies, they cannot be the work of a moment."
He was also a shrewd politician, as demonstrated in the following excerpt from a letter to President of Congress dated May 11th, 1779:
This is an affair which Congress will no doubt view in a very serious light. To me it appears truly alarming. It shows what is to be apprehended, if some adequate provision is not generally made for the officers. I have frequently taken the liberty to suggest my sentiments of what ought to be done. The subject was particularly discussed in my late interviews with the Committee of conference. A repetition would be needless. I shall observe that the distresses in some corps are so great, either where they were not till lately attached to particular states, or where the states have been less provident, that officers have solicited even to be supplied with the cloathing (sic) destined for the common soldiery coarse and unsuitable as they were. I had not power to comply with the request.
The patience of men, animated by a sense of duty and honour will support them to a certain point, beyond which it will not go. I doubt not Congress will be sensible of the danger of an extreme in this respect, and will pardon my anxiety to obviate it.I view the conduct of the officers concerned in the present instance as highly blameable (sic); and I have signified my disapprobation. I trust the mode will not be thought too mild, when our situation is considered. The causes of discontent are too great and too general and the ties that bind the officers to the service too feeble to admit of rigor.
Their letter to me in which they undertake to justify their conduct was embarrassing. I thought it best to take no direct notice of it; because I must either have done too much for our circumstances, or too little for the nature of the proceeding. I contented myself with writing the letter to General Maxwell of the 10th."
Washington assigned the Jersey Brigade to General Sullivan for the upcoming campaign against the Iroquois. While he seems by mid-April at the latest to had the Jersey men in mind for this assignment, there probably was in this decision both the recognition that they had been until lately among the best he had, and that "idle hands are the devil's workshop" and so hopefully they would be too busy fighting on the frontier to be airing their grievances back home. Politics were hardly absent under Sullivan, but no such letters were dispatched from Iroquoia to cause the Commander in Chief fresh pain.
Of the officers of the 1st New Jersey who were called to testify at Ogden's trial, there is only evidence that one of these, Captain John van Angeln/Anglen, went on Sullivan's expedition, and he was on detached service acting as Commissary of the 3rd Brigade (Hand's) rather than Captain of the 7th company in the 1st New Jersey which was now under Captain Peter Voorhies. On August 10th at Fort Wyoming, he was charged at court martial for "brutally assaulting" Sergeant Lewis Rieskly of the German Regiment and sentenced to be severely reprimanded in Sullivan's General Orders. A portion of this reprimand reads:
"[The Commander] can never suffer Officers to beat and abuse their Fellow Soldiers wantonly; Blows should never be given Given but except when they are necessary to the Preservation of order and Discipleing (sic) and...Unaccountable with these Marks of Malevolence and Cruelty which, were Apparent in the Whole of Captain van Angler's Behaviour, which renders his Conduct still more Criminal was that [the victim] was a Con Commissioner Offr"
Had this happened under Washington's eye, there is little doubt that he would have been cashiered for such ungentlemanly conduct. As it was, he resigned on January 1st, 1781 and did not continue in the next establishment of the battalion, and received an invalid's pension prior to his death in 1812.
Isaac Morrison was no longer in command of his old company, either, but whether his Germantown wound prevented him resuming command or there was some other reason why he was supplanted is not clear. He moved to Kentucky after the war. John Polhemus, whose commission as Major on January 4th, 1778 may have been very brief, as he is believed to have been declared a supernumerary officer that year, was likewise not part of the 1st New Jersey when it went against the Iroquois.
Quite possibly, Morrison, Van Angeln and Polhemus were not even serving with the regiment at the time of the trial, and they certainly were not involved with its subsequent maneuvers. As for Ensign Asher Levy, he never made it to Sullivan's expedition either, because he was in jail as a suspected Tory.
Asher Levy , whose name sometimes appears as Asher Lewis, holds the distinction as the only Jewish officer in the Jersey Line - perhaps even the only known Jew in the ranks. His grandfather Asher (Asser) Levy was the only Jew who remained in New Amsterdam when Peter Stuyvesant surrendered to the British. Ensign Levy was born in 1756 and his family in New York were loyalists. He enlisted in the 1st New Jersey on September 12, 1778 and resigned June 14th, 1779 (Heitman says July 14th, 1779). The timing of his resignation is very interesting in the aftermath of the trial of his Colonel at which he was called to give evidence. According to Oscar Reiss' "The Jews of Colonial America ";
"He was jailed in Burlington, New Jersey, on the suspicion of being a Tory. Levy escaped on March 25th, 1780, but he was recaptured and escaped again on August 9th, 1780. he went to his family in New York who were Tories. There he married Margaret Mary Thompson and moved to Philadelphia, where he died in 1785."
Perhaps Asher Levy did have Tory sympathies. Perhaps he was a convenient scapegoat as the person with the lowest status who may have crossed his Colonel at trial. If Captain van Angeln was sent on detached service as 3rd Brigade Commissary after the trial, this may indicate that he could no longer serve under Colonel Ogden after his testimony. Or it may indicate that he had already been supplanted as supernumerary by Captain Voorhies. By as Ensign Levy resigned from the service and was imprisoned some time after, it has to be considered that his testimony had been damaging to Colonel Ogden and may have related to the charge of gaming for which he was convicted.
As for the other officers of the New Jersey Line who were involved in the trial, Lt. Colonel D'Hart continued under Col. Shreve in the 2nd New Jersey and continued with the regiment when it was consolidated with the3rd battalion in 1781. More information continues to come to light about his service, indicating that he stayed with the 1st NJ until late 1778 before transferring to the 2nd. He also was briefly arrested at Yorktown and scheduled for court martial, but whether the cause these charges were dropped three days later. Whether this indicates a conflict with Ogden or not can only be speculated, but it is curious that the Dayton's New Jersey Brigade had been combined into a single battalion not a week before D'Hart's arrest, placing him once again under Matthias Ogden.
Major Conway rejoined the 1st New Jersey as Lt. Col. under Mathias Ogden on Sullivan's Expedition, transferring from Dayton's 3rd New Jersey with a commission dated July 5th, 1779. He served until the reestablishment of the New Jersey Line on January 1, 1781. From this it would seem that his testimony at Ogden's court martial did not injure their professional relationship.
There is much more I would like to know about this episode in my ancestral past and this period of history, and many more leads to explore. The surviving primary source material in Washington's letters for the court martial of Matthias Ogden offered a basic framework to begin this inquiry. Tracking down leads and developing explanations in this series for how events transpired has been a grand hunt, but as is always the case in uncovering new data there are always more questions to ask, more hypotheses to refine.
There is no simple explanation for why Isaac Morrison brought charges against his Colonel and others testified at his trial. Nor is there a clear case to be made that Ogden was falsely charged on the points where he was acquitted, or for what subsequently became of those who gave evidence. There are strong indications that in an officer corps that was united only in its grievances about relative rank, status and pay, some of these men to resent and later accuse their Colonel who seemed to have things always break his way. It is an old story, as familiar from office politics today as it was in Washington's army. For now, let that suffice.