Born in New York City, William E. Blewett came to Belleville at an early age.
In the spring of 1861, just after the Civil War broke out, he organized a company of volunteer troops for service in the Union Army.
The 101-man company, comprised mostly of Belleville men, arrived in Washington, D.C., in May.
Blewett’s company, part of the First New Jersey Brigade, helped to cover the retreat of the Union Army after the first battle of Bull Run in Virginia two months later.
A second lieutenant in 1861, Blewett was made a first lieutenant by order of General Philip Kearny (for whom the town across the Passaic River is named) in 1862.
At the Battle of Gaines’ Mill in June 1862, the Union troops sustained losses of nearly 6,000 killed and wounded at the hands of the Confederate Army; one of the dead was Color Sergeant Thomas Stevens of Belleville.
Blewett was shot in the chest but the bullet traveled down and lodged in his side. While returning to the rear for medical treatment, an exploding shell blew off his belt.
Blewett came home to Belleville on the Fourth of July. The fact that the bullet could not be located and removed prevented him from returning to active service.
Blewett served in the New Jersey National Guard and rose through the ranks to become a captain, major, and lieutenant colonel before resigning in 1874.
A jeweler by trade, William E. Blewett died in 1913.
Sources: American Civil War.com; Belleville: 150th-Anniversary Historical Highlights 1839-1989 by Robert B. Burnett and the Belleville 150th-Anniversary Committee Belleville, New Jersey. 1991