1890 -

Essex Troop – 1890     The Essex Troop Organized

May 1890 – Colonel James E. Fleming and a dozen members of the Essex Club joined in parade for the unveiling of the statue dedicated to Seth Boyden. This statue still stands in its original position in Washington Park, across the street from the Veterans Administration building in Newark, NJ. After the parade and ceremony, the horsemen assembled at the Essex Club for lunch. Colonel Fleming remarked that it was unfortunate the City of Newark did not have an organization to depend upon for such occasions. He was asked what kind of organization he had in mind. The reply was “A mounted body, a troop of cavalry.”  It was finally agreed upon that a call would be put forth to form such an organization. The call was sent to sixty prospective members. The original call read, “A number of gentlemen of this city propose organizing a troop of cavalry; and with that object in view, a meeting will be held at the rooms of the Board of Trade, June 3, 1890, at eight p.m. to which you are cordially invited. Should you be unable to attend in person, please signify on or before that date your desire to become a member?”

Copy of the original letter sent to prospective members

June 3, 1890 – The meeting was held this date with Wayne Parker presiding and Frederick B. Young as secretary. There were about fifty attendees, to which forty agreed to join this troop of cavalry. Colonel Fleming, then 54 years old, was elected captain of the newly formed Essex Troop, with several officers and noncommissioned officers elected the same night. Colonel Fleming appointed committees to form a constitution and by-law, membership applications, drill rooms and equipment. The first staff of the Essex Troop included First Lieutenant Frederick Frelinghuysen, Second Lieutenant R. Wayne Parker, First Sergeant Charles Heath, and Quartermaster Sergeant Frederick B. Young.

Copy of the first Minutes of the Meeting of the Essex Troop

Copy of the original sign-in roster of Essex
Troop Charter Members.

Colonel James E. Fleming – Born in Warren, Ohio on July 24, 1836, his family was of Scottish descendents. His family enjoyed horsemanship; therefore his love and knowledge of horses came naturally. He was a student of law in Philadelphia when the Civil War broke out. He was instrumental in organizing a body of cavalry and was assigned to Harlan’s 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry. He served throughout the war, serving on several different general staffs, was captured, escaped and was wounded several times. These wounds would summarily cause his resignation from the Union Army on February 13, 1865.  Colonel Fleming would go on to serve as the first Captain, or Commander, of The Essex Troop until June 1895, when he resigned from active command. He would turn 60 years old on July 24, 1895. He remained active in the Troop’s affairs until his death on April 10, 1909 in Newark.

Colonel James E. Fleming, first Commander of the Essex Troop

June through November 1890 - The Troop drilled dismounted at the old City Armory on Orange Street. Colonel Fleming held meetings weekly with much of the training lead by himself. Gradually the colonel turned the drills over to his first and second lieutenants, and first sergeant. The mounted drills were held at Hill’s Roseville Avenue Riding Academy on Roseville Avenue in Newark. This is the site of the present day Newark Armory. The troop adopted the U.S. Army fatigue uniform, along with the issue saber, revolvers, saddles, bridles and other like cavalry equipment, which was on loan from the state. The state issued saddles soon proved unsatisfactory for cavalry tactics. Trooper J. Newton Van Ness had a number of Whitman Saddles constructed. He offered these saddles to the troop for $12.50 each. Horses were pressed into service from all points, even cab horses were drafted for the nights’ activities and drills. Armorer Aber of Troop A, NY National Guard drilled the first saber training of the Troop.

November 25, 1890 - Thanksgiving 1890 a parade to Waverly Park marked the first public appearance of the Essex Troop. Demonstrations of drill and maneuvers were held on the grounds of the State Agricultural Society that same afternoon.

February 24, 1891 – Washington’s Birthday a parade and inspection by Governor Leon Abbett in downtown Newark. This same day the governor presented the Troop a standard of colors, on behalf of the Ladies of Newark.

July 9, 1892 – First encampment of the Essex Troop at Sea Girt with the Second Brigade of the NJ National Guard.  An article written in the New York Evening Post (July 11, 1892) praised the Troop as “a crack mounted military organization of Orange and Newark, known as the Essex Troop...” The Troop remained in camp for two weeks, working side-by-side with guardsmen from the NJ Third and Sixth Regiments. Newspaper article of the day rendered praise for the Troopers efforts and dedication to the ideals of military discipline.

October 12, 1892 – Troop marched in the New York City Columbian Parade. The Mail and Express, a New York paper of the day, wrote, “The command numbered 50 mounted men and constituted one of the most superb companies of light cavalry ever seen in America.”

February 21, 1893 – The Troop endorsed a bill to be sent before the State Legislature that would allow the NJ National Guard to form two troops of cavalry.  It was introduced into the Senate by State Senator Michael T. Barrett shortly after the 21st. It passed both houses without amendment, but met some resistance with the State Military Board.  Finally after a few weeks, Governor George T. Werts signed the bill and the Adjutant General William S. Stryker, detailed Colonel Michael T. Barrett to muster the Essex Troop on May 17, 1893. In all 52 officers and men, in full dress uniform armed with sabers, swore the oath of allegiance to the state and the newly recognized Troop A, Cavalry, National Guard of New Jersey, at the City Armory, Orange Street, Newark, NJ at 8:00 pm. Troop A was assigned to the First Brigade, National Guard of NJ.

June 1894 – Designated First Troop, National Guard of New Jersey. NOTE: Sometime between February 1894 and May 1894 it is believed that the Troop was designated a Cavalry Company A, National Guard of New Jersey.

August 9, 1894 – Parade for the unveiling of a statue in honor of the Honorable Frederick Frelinghuysen at Military Park, Newark, NJ.

October 24, 1894 – Parade at Philadelphia, for the unveiling of a statue in honor of General George B. McClellan. The Troop’s host was the City Troop of Philadelphia.

November – December 1894 – New armory committee formed to workout the arrangements for a new armory. Committee members were First Lieutenant Frelinghuysen, Second Lieutenant Wayne Parker, Leslie Ward, Fred Stevens and John Tillard. The committee obtained options on the Roseville Riding Academy and adjacent properties. Cost estimates were in the $30,000 range.

March 24, 1895 – Captain Fleming resigned his command; Captain Frederick Frelinghuysen assumed command of the Troop the same day. Lieutenant Parker was promoted to first lieutenant and First Sergeant Heath was promoted to second lieutenant. Promotions were made throughout the ranks; Sergeant Parker was promoted to Second Lieutenant.

March 1896 – Groundbreaking ceremony for the new armory. Construction took about one year to complete and the cost ran up to almost $50,000. The money was raised through subscription from members, friends of the Troop and mortgages secured through the banks. Records indicate the State of New Jersey did not contribute any money for the construction of the armory.

March 1897 – Personal escort for Vice-President Garret A. Hobart in Washington D. C.  Vice-President Garret was a native of Paterson, NJ, and served under President McKinley. A paper of the day wrote, “The Troop presented a fine appearance…”

April 1897 – Dedication ceremonies for the new Troop Armory were held at the site with many friends and dignitaries attending. The facility was a great improvement over the old Roseville Riding Academy and Orange Street Armory. It consisted of a drill hall, assembly room (25’x25”), locker room, general store room and saddle room. The second floor ceiling was low due to the slope of the roof; the lack of space only allowed for a washbasin and the staircase presented a challenge to many when walking up or down.

May 1897 – Participated in the ceremonies transferring President Grant’s tomb to New York City.

April 24, 1898 – President McKinley issued a call for volunteers, and the Troop assembles at the Armory to consider this call. Captain Frelinghuysen addressed the Troop, reminding all of their duty to country, practically all of the members affirmed their willingness to serve. In addition to the regular members of the Troop, a number of “conditional members” were signed on. It is recorded that had the Troop been summoned to active duty, the rolls would have recorded 100 officers and men. The call to active duty would never come; the federal and state authorities saw no need for cavalry troop from New Jersey. Despite undue criticism, the Troop remain faithful to it’s’ allegiance and welcomed home the First New Jersey Infantry by standing on parade at the Central Railroad Station upon their arrival.

June 1899 – Lieutenant R. Wayne Parker succeeded to the command of the troop, upon the retirement of Captain Frelinghuysen. Captain Parker also served as a U.S. Congressman at the same time he took command of the Troop. Lieutenants Bryant and Parker stepped up to the occasion as acting commanders in his absence.

July 15, 1899 – First field exercise with a regular Army unit.  The Troop left the Newark Armory and traveled to Pompton and pitched camp for the first night. The next day, a hike would take the Troop to Green Pond (Northern Randolph Township) where the Troop remained for three days. While at Green Pond, the Troopers received their first instruction on water crossing with horses. Many of the horses did not care for this exercise.  The field marches of the next few days took the Troop near Lake Hopatcong, Convent (Convent Station, Morristown) and finally to South Orange. At South Orange, the Troop paraded for Lieutenant Heath, who was deathly ill and received his final salute at his home. Before the turn of the century the Troop would conduct marches to Chester, Two Bridges and Sea Girt.

September 1899 – Participate in a parade honoring Admiral Dewey in New York City.

1890 – 1899 The Essex Troop worked very hard to develop their individual and troop riding skills. The received instructions from the regular Army; and at one particular event a rough riding lesson from an English gentleman, Captain Turner, who remained in attendance until the officers and NCOs could proficiently drill the Troop. Class attendance for the Rough Riding instruction was a volunteer roster, because each Trooper was required to pay for his mount. This act demonstrated the sincere involvement of the Troopers, since they did not receive any pay or allowances as a Trooper. This instruction was so well received, that an annual competition was organized. This competition was soon to be named the McGregor Medal, named in honor of Graham B. McGregor one of the best Rough Riders to belong to the Troop.

It is interesting to note, that the Essex Troop acted as Honor Guard for each Governor, of the period, at the inaugurations. Additionally interesting is that in the early years none of the troopers received any pay or allowances. Everyone had to buy his own uniforms. The State of New Jersey authorized one allowance after 1899. Each enlisted man was authorized $7.00 towards the purchase of his fatigue uniform. The $7.00 didn’t amount to much when you consider the total cost of the fatigue uniform was $55.00.

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