Belleville: The War Between The States

Each year, the tradition in Belleville is to gather on July 4th morning and read the names of our Second River forefathers who fought in the American Revolution.

Nearly 70 Belleville veterans of that war are buried in the Dutch Reformed Church cemetery. Their names are listed on plates. We read their names aloud in a solemn ceremony.

The men named on these plaques risked everything to provide freedom for those of us who stand here today. When the men of Belleville rose up against England, it was no sure thing that the colonies would prevail but more than likely that the revolutionaries and their leaders might hang.

Less than one hundred years later, our country was torn apart by the War Between the States. The story of the war is taught in eighth grade history classes in town. But little is known or taught about the men of Belleville who fought and the half-dozen who died in that war.

Revolution War Veterans memorial

One Belleville casualty of the Civil War, Captain Henry Benson, is buried in the family plot in the Dutch Reformed Church cemetery. Five other young men from our area are buried in military cemeteries near the battlefields where they fell.

In 1861, Belleville consisted of the town we know today and what was called for a short time North Belleville. Due to taxation without representation, where Belleville charged North Belleville taxes and used the cash to build roads in Belleville, not North Belleville. the people of what is now Nutley hated Belleville so much that they refused the name North Belleville and took the name of Franklinville in honor Benjamin Franklin’s only son, William, New Jersey’s last royal governor.

We do know that six men, three each from Belleville and Nutley (Franklin), perished on the battlefield.

From Belleville, two soldiers died in the Seven Days’ Battle (Peninsula Campaign) as Thomas Stevens (Stephens) was killed in action June 27, 1862, and Captain Henry Benson died August 11, as a result of his wounds received in action July 1, 1862.

John Rogers (Rodgers) was killed in action on April 8, 1865, at Fort Davis while defending Washington, D.C., shortly before the war ended.

From Nutley (Franklin), then part of Belleville, Sgt. John Donaldson died of his wounds May 17, 1862, in the first pitched battle of the Peninsula Campaign, known as the Battle of Williamsburg, Va., and the battle of Fort Magruder.

Byron Lawton was killed in action September 14, 1862, in the Battle of South Mountain, or the Battle of Burkittsville in Central Maryland during the Maryland Campaign.

James H. Cunningham was killed in action on May 3, 1863, in the Second Battle of Fredericksburg, also known as the Second Battle of Marye’s Heights.


About the author: Anthony Buccino has written several collections about life and growing up in and around Belleville, New Jersey. He also created Old Belleville, a web site of local history. His latest book is Belleville and Nutley in the Civil War – a Brief History, paperback or ebook. For more information, http://www.anthonybuccino.com/

Copyright © 2012 by Anthony Buccino – used by permission.