Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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CALDWELL, James, clergyman, born in Charlotte County, Virginia, in April, 1734; died in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, 24 November, 1781. He was graduated at the College of New Jersey, Princeton, in 1759, and three years later became pastor of the church in Elizabethtown. During the political agitations preceding the revolution he took an active part in arousing the spirit of rebellion, thereby incurring bitter hatred on the part of his Tory neighbors. As chaplain in the New Jersey brigade, after the beginning of hostilities, he soon earned the nickname of the "soldier parson," and suffered for his patriotic zeal by having his church and house burned in 1780 by a party of British marauders and Tories. His family sought refuge in the village of Connecticut Farms (now Union), New Jersey, but before the close of the year a reconnoitering force from the British camps on Staten Island pillaged the place, and Mrs. Caldwell was killed by a stray bullet while in a room praying with her two children. Her husband was at the time on duty with the army at Morristown. Shortly after this (23 June, 1780) he distinguished himself in the successful defense of Springfield, New Jersey, which was attacked by a heavy force of the British. During the engagement he supplied the men with hymn-books from a neighboring church to use as wadding, with the exhortation, "Now put Watts into them, boys!" He was shot by an American sentry during an altercation concerning a package, which the sentry thought it his duty to examine. The soldier was delivered to the civil authorities, tried for murder, and hanged, 29 January, 1782. Such was the popular indignation at the time that it was commonly believed that the sentry had been bribed by the British to kill the chaplain. A handsome monument commemorating the life and services of Mr. Caldwell and his wife was erected at Elizabeth-town in 1846, on the sixty-fourth anniversary of his untimely death.--His son, JOHN E., was taken to France by Lafayette, and there educated. He became a prominent philanthropist, edited the "Christian Herald," and was one of the founders of the Bible society.
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