Second River in the American War for Independence

Belleville, New Jersey

Belleville Son Joseph Hornblower Killed in Action

Private Joseph Hornblower, 21, was killed in action on April 4, 1777, at the Battle of Quibbletown in central New Jersey, during the American Revolution. Joseph was born in 1756 in the Hornblower home adjacent to the old Dutch Reformed Church on what is now Main Street in Belleville.

He was the eldest son of Josiah and Elizabeth Hornblower. His father, Josiah, assembled the first steam engine in America, served as Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly during the war and after the war served in the Continental Congress and worked on the passage of the U.S. Constitution.

Private Hornblower was one of five American soldiers killed in the April 4 engagement with the British. Quibbletown is today known as New Market, a section of Piscataway Township. Private Hornblower was most likely buried in an unmarked grave on or near the battlefield as was the practice at the time.

Thirty-three days after the death of Private Joseph Hornblower, a new child was born to Elizabeth and Josiah Hornblower. In honor of their recently killed heroic son, the Hornblowers named the newborn Joseph adding the middle name of Coerten.

Private Joseph Hornblower's brother Joseph Coerten would go on to become the long serving and distinguished Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court and founder of the New Jersey Historical Society.

-- Courtesy Michael Perrone, Belleville Historical Society

The Battle of Second River

Cannon on the Second River (Belleville) side of the Passaic River held back British troops during Washington's retreat in September 1777. Read about the battle of Second River (Belleville) and the Belleville Historical Society effort to establish a monument to the first day's battle fought at the Dutch Reformed Church.

Private Benjamin Salter, Eastern Battalion, Morris County Militia, was killed in action in Belleville in the second day of fighting during the Battle of Second River on Sept. 14, 1777. Private Salter would have been buried there in an unmarked grave on or alongside the battlefield. Eight British soldiers were also killed and buried in what today is Belleville Park along the Second River.

Originally known as "Second River" or "Washington", the inhabitants renamed the settlement "Belleville" in 1797.

The village of Second River (what today is Belleville and Nutley), included all the land between the Second and Third rivers, or roughly from present day Mill Street in Belleville to Kingsland Road at the Nutley-Clifton border. The Dutch Reform Church at what is now Main Street and Rutgers Street, Belleville, was the spiritual, political and military center of the community. The village rallied about 200 militia men to serve in the new republic's army.

Colonel Phillip Van Cortlandt was the commanding officer of the 2nd Essex Regiment, he was the highest ranking Revolutionary War officer from Essex County. Van Cortlandt lived on Main Street also and is buried in the Van Cortlandt crypt in the cemetery at the Dutch Reform Church.

Captain Abraham Speer, was the commander of the local militia unit, headquartered at the Dutch church. He lived on what is now Chestnut Street in Nutley. He was the owner/operator of the ferry that operated in front of the church. Tradition says that his father John Spear shot and killed a British officer on the North Arlington side of the river. Spear then crossed the river and took the officers pocket watch as a souvenir. Both Abraham and John Spear are buried in the cemetery.

Battle memorial in Belleville Park on Mill Street.

Read more about the battle of Second River

Second-River Son Manus Brown Killed in Action

Pvt. Harmanus Brown, 18, of Second River (Spring Garden, Nutley), was killed in action at Connecticut Farms (Union, N.J.) on June 8, 1780, and is buried in the Dutch Reformed Church cemetery. The Belleville Historical Society dedicated a monument to Private Brown at the old Belleville Dutch Reformed Church on July 4, 2015.

Second River (Belleville/Nutley) in the American Revolution

Includes background and history of more than 65 American Revolution war veterans buried in Belleville, N.J. Includes story of Gen. Washington's retreat along Second River, and the two-day battle fought in Belleville, the only skirmish fought in Essex County, N.J.

Belleville's American Revolution War Stories

Col. Philip Van Cortlandt added to roster of veterans buried in church cemetery

American Revolution Soldiers Buried in Belleville

Names of Soldiers, Services, Military References

Revolutionary War Sites in Belleville, N.J.

Sources and References

Belleville Sons Honor Roll

  A Place of Honor and Remembrance In the Home of the Brave

Belleville, New Jersey

American Revolution


JULY 4, 2017 11 a.m., DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH, 171 Main St, Belleville, N.J. 07109 (Main Street at Rutgers Street)

Join us as we honor the Belleville men who fought in the War of Independence and other heroic soldiers who paid for our freedom. Come share our town's rich history.

Sponsored by the Belleville Historical Society

Free and open to the public.

Belleville and Nutley were the village of Second River, that is, the village included all the land between the Second and Third rivers, or roughly from present day Mill Street in Belleville to Kingsland Road at the Nutley-Clifton border.

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BELLEVILLE SONS HONOR ROLL - Remembering the men who paid for our freedom

Belleville and Nutley in the Civil War - a Brief History

Nutley Sons Honor Roll

Anthony Buccino



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