Fourth New Jersey Infantry was organized under the
provisions of an act of Congress, approved July 22, 1861.
During its time in service it was led by Colonels James H.
Simpson, William B.
Hatch, William Birney, Edward L. Campbell;
Lieutenant Colonels J.L. Kirby Smith, Barzilla Ridgway, Charles Ewing, Baldwin Hufty;
and Majors Samuel Mulford, and David Vickers.
Fourth was fully organized, equipped and officered by August
19, at which time it was mustered into the U. S. service for
three years, at Camp Olden, Trenton. It left the state the
next day with 38 officers, 871 non-commissioned officers and privates, a total of 909. It reached Washington on
August 21, accompanied by a battery of 6 pieces, furnished by the state and commanded by
Captain William Hexamer, who had been waiting for six months for an opportunity to enter the service. It was assigned to the brigade of
General Kearney, then consisting of the First, Second and
Third N. J. regiments. Immediately after the first
battle of Bull Run it joined the brigade near Alexandria, and in the operations along the line of the Orange & Alexandria railroad acted as a support to the advance. Just before the
battle of West Point, Virginia, the brigade relieved the troops in advance and the men lay on their arms in line of battle until daylight, when they were ordered forward, the
Fourth being held as a reserve. At the battle at Gaines' Mill the brigade was formed in two lines, the
Fourth being in the front, and advanced to the brow of a hill, where the
Fourth was sent into the woods by order of an aide of
General McClellan, all the brigade being engaged at the most dangerous and difficult parts of the field, until at last, wearied, bleeding, ammunition exhausted, the brigade slowly retired and crossing the bridge at 11 o'clock,
reached its old camp about midnight, having sustained a total loss of over 1,000 men in killed and wounded, of whom some 500, belonging to the
Fourth were captured in a body, having refused to retreat from the woods when they might have done so, and continuing to fight until completely surrounded. Besides this loss in prisoners the regiment lost 38 killed and 111 wounded.
The regiment participated in the battles of Charles City
Crossroads, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Manassas, Chantilly and Crampton's
Gap, the total loss of the brigade during the latter engagement being 174 in killed and wounded,
Adjutant Studdiford being among the slain. In December,
1862 the Fourth took part in the movement against
Fredericksburg, but in the Gettysburg campaign the Fourth was
detailed for provost duty in Washington. It was back with the brigade again in time for the spring campaign of 1864. At the battle of the Wilderness the
First, Fourth and Tenth regiments, lying on the left, were several times attacked with great ferocity by the Confederates, but at nightfall still held substantially the
ground occupied by them in the morning--a heavy assault by the Confederate
General Gordon just at dusk being repulsed with heroic gallantry. Among the wounded in that engagement was
Lieutenant Colonel Van Syckel of the Fourth. At the battle of Spottsylvania the regiment participated in the charge upon the "bloody
angle," winning its share of the glory and sustaining its share of casualties. During the first eleven days of Grant's
csmpaign against Richmond the regiment lost 26 killed, 126 wounded and 42 missing. The
Fourth fought at the North Anna river, Hanover
Court House, Totopotomoy Creek, Cold Harbor, Weldon Railroad,
Snicker's Gap, Strasburg, Winchester and Charlestown. At the battle of the Opequan the
Fourth was with the troops that pressed forward, swept up the opposite hill and forced back the Confederate line, obtaining permanent possession of the hill and holding it, though constantly exposed to a fire which inflicted severe loss, the
Fourth having 2 killed, 18 wounded and 1 missing. After the
fight at the Opequan the Fourth was engaged at Winchester,
Virginia on September 22, 1864. During the battle at Cedar
Creek, Virginia, on October 19, 1864 the Fourth took part in the
pursuit of the Confederates towards Fisher's Hill. At Fisher's hill a private of the
Fourth named Beach compelled a Confederate lieutenant
colonel to surrender his sword, and there were other instances of daring no less noteworthy.
Fourth New Jersey then took part in the siege at Petersburg,
engaging Confederate troops on January 6, 1865. Jacob F. Nesson
was promoted to Full Sergeant after this action. The regiment
fought again at Petersburg in April of 1865.
After Lee's surrender the regiment was assigned to what was
known as the provisional corps, Army of the Potomac. Jacob F.
Nesson was again promoted, to First Sergeant, on May 1,
Fourth New Jersey Infantry Regimnent mustered out on July 9, 1865. The total strength of the regiment was 2,036, and it lost during service 29 by resignation, 319 by discharge, 83 by promotion, 81 by transfer, 257 by death, 372 by desertion, 3 by dismissal, 109 not accounted for, mustered out 783.
First Sergeant Nessen was among those who mustered out at Hall's
Nessen came to Camden after completing his military service. The
Census of 1870, taken in August of that year, shows Jacob Nessen,
his 20 year-old wife Henrietta, and 5 month-old son William
living in Newton Township. Jacob Nessen was the working as an
iron moulder at one of the nearby foundries. Newton Township was
annexed to Camden shortly after the census was taken, forming
the Seventh and Eight Wards of Camden.
Nessen became active in Republican politics in the Eighth Ward,
where he lived. When the 1878-1879 City Directory was compiled,
Jacob Nessen was living at 428 Jasper
Street, working as a constable. The 1880 Census shows his
living at 428 Jasper Street with his wife, widowed mother
Hannah, and children Jacob F. Jr., Mary, and George W. Nessen.
By 1900 the Nessens had 10 children, but only five were still
living. Jacob Nessen was working as a laborer when the Census
was taken. He worked as a laborer and as an iron moulder at the
Gloucester Foundry in nearby Gloucester City during the early
and mid-1880s. He also stayed active in local politics.
Samuel S. Elfreth
returned as Chief of the Camden Fire Department in 1885, Jacob
Nessen was appointed to the department as a stoker with Engine
Company Number 1. He was still active with the Department in
1886 the Camden Steam Fire Engine
Company Number 1 was located at 409
Pine Street in a three story 20 by 90 foot brick building (the
old Independence Fire Company No. 3 engine house). The company's
apparatus was an Amoskeag second class steamer (maker's plate
6318) drawn by two horses and one Silsby two wheel hose cart
drawn by a single horse. The company was equipped with 1000 feet
of good hose, axes, lamps, etc. The company roster included John
Stockton, Foreman; G. Rudolph
Tenner, Engineer; William
driver; William W.
Laird, stoker; Wilson Bromley and
Jacob F Nessen, hosemen. Call Men were William
Deith, Andrew Miller and
William Bogia. Bromley and Bogia would later suffer line of duty
the spring of 1887 Jacob Nessen had been appointed to the Camden
Police Department. He was still living at 428 Jasper
Street at that time. Jacob Nessen served with the Camden
Police for three years. By the end of 1890 he had moved to 434 Jasper
Street and had gone back to work as a moulder. He was still
living at 434 Jasper
Street when the Census was taken in 1900. The Census shows
Jacob and Henrietta Nessen living with three of their five
living children, George, Emma, and Raymond. Their neighbors at
Street were Camden firefighter Lewis
Buzine and family.
his last day a resident of 434 Jasper
Street, Jacob F. Nessen passed away on January 14, 1903. He
was buried at Evergreen Cemetery.