WILLIAM R. MAXWELL was born in New York around 1825. He appears to have moved to Camden in during the 1850s. When the Census was taken in 1860, he was living in Camden's Middle Ward with his wife and son, James T. Maxwell. Mrs. Maxwell's given name is recorded as Harriet. Descendents of William Maxwell believe, however, that her name was Susannah or Susan. A daughter, Edith, was born after the Census was enumerated.
On April 13th, 1861 Confederate forces at Charleston, South Carolina attacked Fort Sumter, which guarded the approaches to the harbor. Two days later President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for the states to raise an army of 75,000 men to serve for three months in order to stamp out the rebellion. 116 of Camden's leading citizens, including William R. Maxwell, met the next day to consider the proclamation. George Reeser Prowell wrote the following account in his epic History of Camden County, New Jersey:
On the 16th of April, 1861, three days after the Confederates fired upon Fort Sumter, at the entrance of Charleston Harbor, a large number of loyal and patriotic citizens of Camden City and County issued the following vigorous and spirited response to the President's proclamation:
To the President of the United States:
"Peaceful reconciliation upon the form of our Constitution is repelled and scorned, and secession means, in the hearts of its supporters, both Treason and war against our Country and Nation.
"We, therefore, the undersigned Loyal Citizens of the United States, and inhabitants of the city of
Camden, in the State of New Jersey, responding to the proclamation of the President of the United
States, hereby declare our unalterable determination to sustain the government in its efforts to
maintain the honor, the integrity and the existence of our National Union and the perpetuity of
the popular Government, and to redress the wrongs already long enough endured; no differences
of political opinion; no badge of diversity upon points of party distinction, shall restrain or withhold us in the devotion of all we have or can command to the vindication of the Constitution, the maintenance of the laws and the
defense of the Flag of our Country.
In response to a call, on the 18th of April an enthusiastic meeting was held in the county court-house, which was formed of a large collection of prominent citizens. The court-room was decorated with flags and mottoes. John W. Mickle was chosen president and Samuel C. Harbert and Thomas G. Rowand secretaries. The president addressed the meeting first and Rev. Mr. Monroe offered a prayer. Hon. Thomas P. Carpenter, Thomas B. Atkinson (mayor) and Joseph Painter were appointed a committee on resolutions. Judge Philip J. Grey addressed the meeting, after which the committee adopted a long series of patriotic resolutions. The Washington Grays, Stockton Cadets and the Zouaves marched into the room and were received with cheers, Samuel Hufty read a resolution which was signed by many persons, who immediately formed the Home Brigade. David M. Chambers, Captain Stafford, Benjamin M. Braker, John H. Jones and E. A. Acton each addressed the meeting. James M. Scovel was then called upon and responded in eloquent terms and with patriotic energy. S. H. Grey offered a resolution, which was adopted, that the City Council and the Freeholders of the county be requested to appropriate money for the equipment of persons who may volunteer in defense of the country, and S. H. Grey, James M. Cassady and Joseph Painter were appointed to a committee to look after the interests of the resolution. The meeting continued in session until eleven p.m.
On the 22d of April Samuel H. Grey made an address before the Board of Freeholders in a patriotic appeal, soliciting the board to make appropriations for the relief of families of volunteer soldiers. John S. Read offered a resolution favoring the appropriation of five thousand dollars, which was unanimously adopted. On the evening of the 25th the City Council voted four hundred dollars for the same purpose. On the same evening the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Camden collected one hundred and fifty dollars and purchased five hundred Bibles for the volunteer soldiers of Camden County.
The State Bank of Camden loaned twenty-five thousand dollars and the Farmers and Mechanics Bank ten thousand dollars to the Governor of New Jersey to aid in the prosecution of the war. In July, 1861, the County Bible Society sent large installments of Bibles to the Camden County soldiers at Trenton.
On April 19th the Washington Grays, of Camden, held a meeting and resolved to open the armory for recruits. By Saturday, April 20th, those two companies, the Camden Zouaves and the Union Guards were reported ready for service and the Camden Light Artillery organizing. On the 25th the same correspondent wrote that the following companies had taken their departure from Camden for Trenton :
Washington Grays, Captain E. Price Hunt.
And the following from Gloucester City :
Union Guards, Captain Joseph B.
It was the boast of the Gloucester people that Union township, which had but four hundred voters, sent at this time one hundred and ninety-eight good men to do duty for the cause.
Foster's history asserts that on April 18th, Captain John R. Cunningham tendered the Camden Zouaves, a well-drilled and uniformed company, to the Governor." This organization had been formed under the militia law in the preceding year, when the tour of the principal cities made by Ellsworth's Chicago Zouaves inspired thousands of young men to join companies patterned upon that famous model. It was mustered into the Fourth Regiment, on April 25th, as Company G, under command of Captain Cunningham, First Lieutenant Louis M. Morris and Ensign Joseph L. De La Cour.
The other five companies from Camden County were placed in the same regiment. Captain Hunt's company became Company F ; Captain Van Leer's, Company H ; Captain Jackson's, Company C ; Captain Strafford's, Company D ; and Captain Mickle's, Company E. The two first were mustered on April 25th and the three last on April 27th.
Among the individual offers was that of William B. Hatch, of Camden, who had served in 1859 and 1860 in the cavalry of the Russian army ; he was commissioned as adjutant of the Fourth Regiment in the ninety days' service, and subsequently made major of the Fourth (three years') Regiment. Mrs. Hettie K. Painter, of Camden, volunteered as a nurse, and became known to thousands of sick and wounded men for her gentle and efficient ministrations in the hospitals of the Army of the Potomac.
On the last day of April the quota of the State was complete, and it was mustered at Trenton as a brigade of four regiments, under command of General Theodore Runyon, the present chancellor of New Jersey. The next day the Governor sent a special messenger to General B. F. Butler, commanding at Annapolis, Md., requesting him to prepare to receive the brigade, which was to be sent through the canal route in consequence of the destruction of the railroad bridges near Baltimore by the Secessionists of Maryland. The men were embarked at Trenton on May 3d, on a fleet of fourteen propellers, and proceeded down the Delaware River and through the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal to Annapolis, which they reached on the night of the 4th."
They left Trenton without a round of ammunition. Captain Charles P. Smith was sent to New York that day to procure it, but was unsuccessful, until a Mr. Blunt, a dealer on Broadway, agreed to let him have a certain quantity of cartridges and percussion caps on his personal security. He reached Jersey City with a dray-load, notwithstanding the New York authorities had prohibited any ammunition from being taken from the city. There he had a controversy with the railroad officials, who refused to take such freight on a passenger train, but compromised by allowing it to be packed in an iron crate, which was towed a long way astern of the train.
At 10.30 that night Captain Smith reached Camden, where a tug was in waiting for him. The flotilla with the brigade was intercepted as it was passing the city ; he transferred the crate to the various vessels, and its contents were served out to the men as they went on down the Delaware.
General Butler ordered its advance to Washington, and on the 5th the First Regiment, with six companies of the Second and nine companies of the Third, started forward in two trains of cars. The first of these trains reached Washington about midnight, and the second at eight o'clock the following morning. The same evening the Fourth Regiment and the remaining company of the Third arrived at the capital. The four companies of the Second left at Annapolis, were detailed to guard the telegraph and railroad between Annapolis Junction, and were left without tents and almost without a commissariat for a month.
On May 6th the arrival of the brigade was reported to General Scott, and no camps being provided, the troops went into such quarters as were available in Washington. " On all sides," says Foster, " their arrival was hailed with pleasure. Men felt that now the capital was safe. These three thousand Jerseymen, thoroughly armed and equipped, as no regiments previously arrived, had been, could be relied upon to repel all assaults. New Jersey never stood higher in the estimation of the loyal people of the country than at that juncture, when she sent to the nation's defense the first full brigade of troops that reached the field." On May 7th the command marched past the White House, where it was reviewed by President Lincoln and General Scott. On the 9th the Fourth Regiment moved out to Camp Monmouth, on Meridian Hill, where it was soon joined by the other regiments, and on the 10th the camp was visited by the President and Secretaries Chase and Seward, Mr. Lincoln complimenting the troops on their soldierly appearance. They remained at Camp Monmouth, perfecting their drill and discipline, until the 23d, when the Second, Third and Fourth Regiments (the First following the next day) crossed the Potomac into Virginia, and on the Washington and Alexandria road, at a most important strategic point, constructed and mounted with heavy guns a strong defensive work, which, in honor of their brigadier, they named Fort Runyon. It was the first regular fortification built by the national troops. The brigade remained in this vicinity until July 16th, when it was moved forward a few miles, and placed in the First Reserve Division, to which had also been assigned the First, Second and Third New Jersey three-years' Regiments, which had reached the field a few days previous to the movement. The First (three months') Regiment was ordered to a point on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, three miles beyond Springfield, to guard the track repairs. On the same day four hundred and twenty-five men of the Third Regiment were detailed to escort a provision train, and a portion of the Fourth was charged with guarding another section of the railroad. One company of the latter regiment was then guarding the Long Bridge, and still another was on duty at Arlington Mills, while the remainder was ordered to Alexandria with the Second (three months') Regiment. Colonel Taylor, commanding the Third (three years') Regiment, was at the same time instructed to march to a point on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and during the night following, the First and Second (three years') Regiments were moved forward to Vienna. On the 17th orders were issued to all the regiments in the command to provide themselves with two days' cooked rations, and on the 18th, General Runyon assumed command of all the troops not on the march to the front.
These dispositions were in view of the battle of Bull Run, which was fought and lost by the Union army on July 21st. The nearest that any of the Jersey troops came to participation in it, was that the First and Second (three years') Regiments and the First (three months') Regiment were marched toward Centreville during the day, and that the two first-named reached the town in season to arrest with fixed bayonets the rush of thousands of panic-stricken fugitives toward Washington, and rally them into something like order. They performed this duty most faithfully and the value of their services was fully recognized by General McDowell.
On July 24th the Third and Fourth Regiments, their term of enlistment having expired, were ordered to report to General Mansfield to be mustered out. The First and Second received the same orders on the following day ; and after being formally discharged the brigade returned home to New Jersey, where it was accorded an enthusiastic reception. A majority of the men re-enlisted in the long-term regiments and were back in the field before they had time to forget a movement of the manual of arms.
It has been estimated that in the early months of the war fully five thousand citizens of New Jersey enlisted in New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere in the regiments of other States. They were bent upon entering the army, and as the three months' quota of New Jersey was already filled, they sought service outside. Whole companies were thus transferred to neighboring States and their identity as Jersey commands thus lost. They cannot now be traced, but it may be mentioned that the renowned Excelsior Brigade of New York embraced many Jersey soldiers in its ranks. An unknown number of Camden County men crossed the river, and in Philadelphia enrolled themselves in commands of the Keystone State.
The following is the official roster of the six companies of the Fourth Regiment of three months' troops raised in Camden County:
For reasons of space, only Company C, where William R. Maxwell served, is listed here:
The official record for William R. Maxwell reads as follows:
Enlisted as a 1st Lieutenant on 27 April 1861.
It should be noted that no less than five of Lieutenant Maxwell's men became charter members of the Camden Fire Department when it was founded in 1869. Those men were as follows: Benjamin Connolly, G. Rudolph Tenner, Cornelius M. Brown, John Brown, and Jesse Chew.
In 1908 a nine volume set of books entitled The Union Army. A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-1865—Records of the Regiments in the Union Army—Cyclopedia of Battles—Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers was published. The entry for the Fourth Regiment is below:
Fourth Regiment--Militia.--Col., Matthew Miller, Jr.;
This regiment was mustered into the U. S. service at Trenton, April 27, 1861, to serve for three months, and left the state for Washington, D. C., on May 3, with 37 commissioned officers and
743 non-commissioned officers and privates, a total of 777. On the evening of May 5 it reached the capital, and on the 9th it was ordered to go into camp at Meridian hill, where, within a few days the entire brigade was encamped, and where, on the 12th, it was honored by a visit from the president, who warmly complimented the appearance of the troops. On the evening of May 23 it joined the 2nd and 3d regiments and about midnight took up the line of march in silence for the bridge that spanned the Potomac. This bridge was crossed at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 24th, the 2nd was posted at Roach's spring, and the 3d and 4th about half a mile beyond on the Alexandria road. On July 16, a guard was detailed from the 4th for a section of the Orange & Alexandria railroad, which it was
William R. Maxwell returned to Camden, but did not stay long. In November of 1861 he again answered his nation's call to service and re-enlisted for a term of three years in the newly formed 10th New Infantry Regiment New Jersey. He served with this unit for a little more than a years before being promoted to Captain and transferring to the 4th Infantry Regiment New Jersey, which had suffered many casualties during the Antietam campaign. His official record reads as follows:
Enlisted as a 1st Lieutenant on 15 November 1861.
The 10th Infantry Regiment New Jersey spent 1862 in and around Washington, under the command of the Provost Marshall's office. For all intents and purposes the Regiment served as a Military Police unit. The Provost Marshall’s office had been developed under the command of General McClellan during the early part of the war. This development created the Provost Marshall General, and the newly charged special department who’s duties and definition of this office was for the first time under one management department head.
The Regiment's duties were among included the the following listed:
The suppression of marauding and depredation on private property.
The preservation of good order.
The prevention of straggling.
The suppression of gambling houses or other establishments prejudicial to good order and discipline.
Supervision of hotels, saloons and places of resort and amusements generally.
The Provost Marshall partook the character both of a Chief of Police and Magistrate. Among the duties of this officer he was entrusted with the duty of making searches, seizures and arrest. He had the custody of deserters, and of deserters from the opposing forces and of prisoners of war. All prisoners taken in battle were turned over to the Provost Marshall and by him later transferred to special guards, who delivered the prisoners to prison camps farther North.
He also had jurisdiction over the issuance of passes into camps to citizens as well as to hearing complaints lodged by citizens. Among his contact with the citizens was the supervision of the draft. He, also, saw that order was preserved, and that arrest were made against all offenders against military discipline under his authority, in short, preserving Marshall Law among the citizens. All arrest made, the Provost Marshall was responsible for their safe keeping.
the above-mentioned The Union Army. A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-1865—Records of the Regiments in the Union Army—Cyclopedia of Battles—Memoirs of Commanders and
Soldiers, the entry for the Tenth Regiment is below:
Infantry.--Colonels, William Bryan, William R. Murphy, Henry O. Ryerson;
Lieuteant Colonels, John W. Wright, William S. Truex,
This regiment was organized under the provisions of an act of Congress, approved July 22, 1861, and by authority issued by the war department direct to private individuals resident of the state, and not in any way under the control or supervision of the state authorities. Under the authority thus given, recruiting was commenced and the organization soon completed. It was then accepted by the war department as an
As stated above, William R. Maxwell was promoted to Captain and transferred to the Fourth Infantry Regiment in the fall of 1862. This unit, not to be confused with the three-months unit in which William Maxwell had served with previously, organized in the summer of 1861 after the Battle of Bull Run, when it became apparent that the war would not be over in a matter of weeks. Below is the unit's entry from The Union Army. A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-1865—Records of the Regiments in the Union Army—Cyclopedia of Battles—Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers.
Infantry- Colonels, James H. Simpson, William B. Hatch,
The 4th was organized under the provisions of an act of Congress, approved July 22, 1861. It was fully organized, equipped and officered by Aug. 19, at which time it was mustered into the U. S. service for three years, at Camp Olden, Trenton. It left the state the next day with 38 officers, 871 non-commissioned officers and privates, a total of 909. It reached Washington on Aug. 21, accompanied by a battery of 6 pieces, furnished by the state and commanded by Capt. William Hexamer, who had been waiting for six months for an opportunity to enter the service. It was assigned to the brigade of Gen. Kearney, then consisting of the 1st, 2nd and 3d N. J. regiments. Immediately after the first battle of Bull Run it joined the brigade near Alexandria, and
The regiment participated in the Second Battle of Bull Run and on September 14, 1862 fought at the battle at Crampton's Gap, where again the heavy casualties were taken. Having fought at Crampton's Gap, the regiment was present at the Battle of Antietam, three days later. The regiment did not take part in the attack, but came under sever artillery fire during the fray.
Replacements including Captain Maxwell joined the Fourth Regiment in October and November 1862. The unit took part in the movement against Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862. At Fredericksburg, December 13th and 14th, it saw hard fighting on the left of the line, and Colonel William B. Hatch was fatally wounded in leading the Fourth Regiment to an assault.
The first part of 1863 was relatively quiet for the Captain Maxwell and the men of the Fourth Regiment. During the Gettysburg campaign the regiment was detailed for provost duty in Washington. In that capacity the Fourth New Jersey was utilized to guard the ammunition train of the Union Army's Artillery Reserve at Gettysburg. The following report summarizes the regiment's activities at the battle.
Gettysburg after battle report:
Report of Maj. Charles Ewing, Fourth New Jersey Infantry, Train Guard.
Near Warrenton Junction, Va.,
Capt. C. H. Whittelsey,
In obedience to orders received from headquarters Artillery Reserve, I have the honor to report that on July 2, while in charge of the ammunition train of the Artillery Reserve, my regiment arrived at the scene of action at Gettysburg, Pa
The part taken by the regiment was insignificant, being that of guarding the train, until about noon on the 3d instant, at the time of the enemy's terrific attack upon the left center, at which time the fugitives from the field began to rush toward the rear upon the road upon which I was stationed. I immediately deployed across the road and into the woods on my right flank with fixed bayonets, where I stopped and reorganized between 400 and 500 men, whom I turned over to Gen. Patrick. As soon as the panic subsided, I resumed my former duty with the ammunition train, which was not again interrupted during the battle.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain Maxwell is thought to have been wounded at Crampton's Gap. At some point after Gettysburg he returned to Camden, where he died of neuralgia on February 28, 1864. The 1863-1864 Camden City Directory indicates his residence as 18 Federal Street. After his death Mrs. Maxwell resided at 814 Carpenter Street. By 1870 Mrs. Maxwell remarried, but died not long afterwards. Her husband, a Mr. Smith, relocated to Atlantic City where he raised Edith Maxwell. James T. Maxwell remained in Camden. James T. Maxwell was living in Camden and working as a telegraph operator as late as 1880. He worked as a telegraph operator beginning in the 1860s. He married Sarah Ella "Ella" Lore at Cedarville, New Jersey on October 22, 1873. The couple Maxwells were living at 401 North 2nd Street when the Census was taken in 1880. Not long afterwards they left Camden. James and Ella Maxwell were living in Woodbury, New Jersey at the time of the 1900 Census.
Thanks to Catherine Simmonds and Jonathan Simmonds for their help in creating this page.
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