Guest post: The Real Pirates of New Jersey

No, I don't have any Columbus Day posts to share, but I do have a fun little piece that my husband Rob put together for me. An attorney by day, he's an avid New Jersey history buff with a particular preference for Revolutionary War stories. He told me about real pirates in New Jersey and of course, we hunted down the actual scene of the battle and presently standing monument. Here's more about NJ pirates and The Battle of Chestnut Neck by Rob Morris.

If you daydream of being a pirate, or like to fly a pirate flag, you may be surprised to learn that there actually were “pirates” who plied New Jersey’s waters and called New Jersey ports their home. If you were a sailor on a British merchant vessel you had no doubts, these sailors from New Jersey were pirates and should be avoided wherever possible. A major port for New Jersey’s “pirates” was Chestnut Neck, not far from Atlantic City.

On October 5, 1778, at least 5 British warships and 400 soldiers arrived in the Bay. Fortunately, the American “pirates” had been warned and had put to sea or floated up the Mullica River out of reach of the British. The British force landed at Chestnut Neck on October 6, 1778 and immediately destroyed the town, its warehouses and the “pirates’” abandoned prize vessels. By late October 1778 the British had pulled out of Chestnut Neck, and the American “pirates” were back in action.

So the next time you launch a pirate daydream, consider a raid on British merchantmen from Chestnut Neck, New Jersey in the summer of 1778. But be forewarned, life as a privateer had many risks; if caught you could be confined to a prison ship in New York harbor.

For those who still don’t believe in “pirates”, visit the monument immediately off Exit 48 on the Garden State Parkway that help commemorate the major contribution that this area played in the American cause.

The next time you drive over the Mullica River on the Garden State Parkway, look to your east and remember New Jersey’s “pirates” that called Chestnut Neck their home.

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