Lt. William Colfax, 2nd Commander of the Commander-in-Chief Guards

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Lt. William Colfax

Birthdate: (82)
Birthplace: New London, New London County, Connecticut Colony
Death: September 9, 1838 (82)
New Jersey, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of George Colfax, Sr. and Lucy Colfax
Husband of Hester Colfax
Father of Schuyler Washington Colfax and Elizabeth Hogan
Brother of Sarah Colfax; George Colfax; Ebenezer Colfax; Lucy Colfax; Jonathan Colfax and 4 others

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About Lt. William Colfax, 2nd Commander of the Commander-in-Chief Guards

ensign, Jan. 1, 1777; lieut., June 1, 1778; captain commandment of Washington's lifeguards, 1778, 1781-1783 {Comi. Men in the Rev'n, 146, 299, 347, 360, 368, 373). He was made major of the third reg't of New Jersey militia, 1793; lieut.-col., 1806; brigade-general, detached militia, 1814; commanded brigade of consolidated militia and "sea fencibles," third military district, New York, 1815 (Washington's Body Guard, 141). He was a member of the Order of the Cincinnati. His son, Schuyler Colfax, m. Hannah Striker, and was the father of Schuyler Colfax, congressman and vice-president of the United States.

THE GROTON AVERY CLAN, Vol. I, by Elroy McKendree Avery and Catherine Hitchcock (Tilden) Avery, Cleveland, 1912. p. 247


Lieutenant William Colfax was the second commander of the "Commander-in-Chief Guard" (aka, "Washington's Life Guard") during the American Revolution.

Lieutenant William Colfax served in the Guard since Valley Forge and commanded the Guard since Caleb Gibbs was promoted to Brevet Lt. Colonel and transferred to the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Line. Colfax was later replaced by Captain Bezaleel Howe, of the New Hampshire Battalion, who was destined to command the Guard on it's last mission.

He was later a general in the New Jersey militia who also commanded the Jersey Blues. He married Hester Schuyler, a cousin of general Philip Schuyler. (William and Hester were the grandparents of Vice President and Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax).


Revolutionary War Army Officer, War of 1812 Militia General. Born in New London, Connecticut, at the age of seventeen he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the Continental Army. He participated in all battles of the Revolutionary War from Bunker Hill to Yorktown, and was present at the surrender of General Charles Cornwallis. George Washington made him Captain of his personal Life Guard. At the end of the war, he settled in Pompton, New Jersey where he married Hester Schuyler, a cousin of Revolutionary War General Philip Schuyler, on August 27, 1783. He continued to be active locally after the war and became a Judge of the Bergen County Court of Common Pleas until his death. He also served in the New Jersey Legislature from 1806 to 1813. In 1810 he was commissioned a Brigadier General in New Jersey Militia and served his country again militarily in the War of 1812. He died in 1838 and was buried with full military honors. (bio by: Richard H.)

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Lt. William Colfax, 2nd Commander of the Commander-in-Chief Guards's Timeline

July 30, 1756
New London, New London County, Connecticut Colony
August 3, 1792
Age 36
Pompton Plains, Passaic County, New Jersey, United States
Age 37
September 9, 1838
Age 82
New Jersey, United States