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The Manahawkin Militia
Having gone to school in Manahawkin and shopped there most of my life, I tend to forget the historical aspects as I pick up weekend project supplies at Lowe’s, groceries at ShopRite, and the occasional pizza from Pietro’s.
Many historians regard the October 1781 surrender of the British at Yorktown, Virginia as the end of the Revolutionary War, but it took another two years of treaty negotiations for an official cessation. Although major hostilities between the British and Continental Armies ended, local fights continued between those who remained loyal to King George called “Loyalists” and colonists who supported independence and formed local militias to protect their communities.
In southern New Jersey, a number of these “Loyalists” were known as Pine Robbers – a name given because they operated and hid in the Pine Barrens. One of these raiding groups was commanded by Captain John Bacon, loyal to the British, loyal to the two hundred acres given to him by the King, and loyal to the bounty he plundered.
Bacon was familiar with Manahawkin having worked as a laborer on the Crane family farm on the outskirts of town prior to the Revolutionary War. In late December 1781, two months after Yorktown, Captain Bacon and his band of loyalists were plundering the homes of colonists between Tuckerton and Barnegat and word reached Manahawkin residents that they would be next. On the eve of December 30th, members of the Manahawkin Militia gathered at the tavern of Militia Captain Reuben Fitz Randolph which was located about two hundred yards south of the Baptist Church. Sentinels were posted at strategic points to watch for Bacon and his raiders.
Manahawkin Baptist Church and Cemetery
Site of the Manahawkin Skirmish
Just before sunrise on December 31, 1781, the raiders came into town from the north. The Militia sought to organize in the early morning hours, but Bacon’s men opened fire first killing resident and Militia member, Lines Pangborn, and severely wounding Sylvester Tilton in a firefight near the Baptist Church. Outnumbered more than two to one, the Militia retreated, and Bacon’s men continued on through Manahawkin heading south to West Creek.
Captain John Bacon would continue to raid and plunder what is now southern Ocean County through spring 1783 until he met a violent demise near Tuckerton…. And that will be part II of this story next week.
Your “Running Realtor” Andrew Gonzales