Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Bloodstained Pew

Sleep after toll,
port after stormy seas,
ease after war,
death after life does greatly please.
                                    --Edmund Spencer

Old Tennent Presbyterian Church located in Manalapan, New Jersey was the first Presbyterian congregation in the United States. It was established in 1692. A Scotch Presbyterian built Old Tennent church in 1751. 

It had several different names before it was named after two of its most beloved ministers in the 18th century who were brothers, John and William Tennent. This church is still used for worship.

During the Battle of Monmouth during the American Revolutionary War in June of 1778 Old Tennent was used as a temporary hospital. This church building still has the marks of cannon balls that struck it during this battle. As late as 1916 four cannon balls were dug up near the church. 

Its’ pews are still scarred from the saw marks that cut wounded limbs from soldiers that would have otherwise died. One pew’s wood bench, the second from the last is stained by the blood of one of these brave wounded soldiers. 

In 1924 a book was published that told a story about one soldier that was wounded by cannon fire during the Battle of Monmouth and died. This story resulted in a well-known ghost legend that is still told today.

In this 1924 legend a soldier by the name of Tunis Coward was sitting in the graveyard that is by Old Tennent Church watching the Battle of Monmouth. He unfortunately choose the wrong spot to sit for a cannon ball struck him in the leg and then sheered off the top of a red sandstone tombstone behind him. ** 

His friends discovered his dead body and carried him into the church and placed him on this back pew where the bloodstains are still seen.

Ever since this soldier’s ghost has been seen by witnesses wandering through this graveyard. There are 120 Revolutionary War veterans buried here. 

The red sandstone marker that was sheered in half by the cannon ball that struck him still stands. This legend has endured for so many years that that even the name of the soldier killed has been changed so that one tombstone in this cemetery can be used as proof that he did exist. 

A Captain Henry Fauntleroy is buried in the cemetery and on his tombstone is etched, “Killed by cannon ball at the Battle of Monmouth 28th June, 1778.” This line fits nicely with the legend so some state this was the soldier whose blood is still seen on this pew.

Regardless of his name this ghost has been seen by many witnesses over the years wearing a Revolutionary War uniform in the Old Tennent Graveyard. 

It is not hard to believe that this ghost is the soldier from the legend ** since this battle happened right next to the Old Tennent Church and graveyard.

** Many cannons were fired that June day and many were killed. After all, this was the battle that made Molly Pitcher famous. This was just a nickname for her real name was Mary Ludwig. 

She assisted her husband who was firing a cannon by bringing water to him and many other thirsty soldiers. When her husband collapsed in exhaustion it is said she even took over his post and continued to fire his cannon.

No comments: