Zachariah Beal

Captain Zachariah Beal, Jr., 3rd Regiment, New Hampshire Continental Line

Zachariah Beal, Jr. was born July 18, 1741 in Newbury, Massachusetts. He was the son of Zachariah, Sr. and Ruth (Stickney) Beal. Zachariah Beal, Jr. married Abigail Goodwin, daughter of Aaron and Sarah (Thompson) Goodwin in Berwick, Massachusetts (present-day Maine) on June 2, 1765.

Zachariah Beal, Jr. was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in Enoch Poor’s 2nd New Hampshire Regiment on June 18, 1775. On January 1, 1776, First Lieutenant Zachariah Beal, Jr. was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the 8th Continental Infantry (the temporary designation for the Second Regiment, New Hampshire Continental Line).

On November 8, 1776, First Lieutenant Zachariah Beal, Jr. was promoted to Captain and transferred to the Third Regiment, New Hampshire Continental Line where he assumed command of a Company.

In 1777, the theatre of the war shifted to Pennsylvania during the Philadelphia Campaign. Fort Mercer was a fort on the Delaware River in New Jersey constructed by the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Built by Polish engineer Thaddeus Kosciuszko under the command of George Washington, Fort Mercer was built in 1777 to block the approach to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in concert with Fort Mifflin on the Pennsylvania side. Fort Mercer was located in an area called Red Bank, in what is now the borough of National Park, Gloucester County, New Jersey. The fort was named in honor of Brigadier General Hugh Mercer who had died earlier that year at the Battle of Princeton.

On October 22, 1777, in the Battle of Red Bank, an attack by 900 Hessian troops under British Major General William Howe, then occupying Philadelphia, was repelled by Fort Mifflin’s defenders with heavy losses on the Hessian side, over 500 casualties including the death of their commander, Colonel Carl Emil Kurt von Donop. The defenders suffered only 40 casualties. Galleys of the Continental and Pennsylvania Navies under Commodore John Hazelwood provided supporting fire. Six British warships were also involved, two of which ran aground while avoiding the chevaux de frise. Fort Mifflin and the Pennsylvania Navy engaged the stranded ships the next morning, with cannons and fire rafts, respectively. HMS Augusta of 64 guns caught fire and within an hour the fire reached the magazine and the ship exploded, though the loss was attributed to accidental ignition by the British. One account states a British Marine accidentally fired his musket into a hammock, with the fire resulting from subsequent smoldering. HMS Merlin was also lost.

On October 27, 1777, Captain Zachariah Beal, Jr. died from wounds he sustained at Fort Mercer during the Battle of Red Bank on October 22, 1777.

Sources: Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army, (Baltimore, 1914), 93; Letter from Captain Zachariah Beal to Abigail (Goodwin) Beal, 28 September 1776; Samuel S. Smith, Fight for the Delaware, 1777 (Monmouth Beach, 1970), 8-24; Pension Application of Captain Zachariah Beal, Jr., B. L. Wt. 1839-300; Selected Wartime Service Records of Captain Zachariah Beal, Jr.