CADWALADER, JOHN. (1742–1786). Militia general. Pennsylvania. Born on 10 January 1742 in Philadelphia, John Cadwalader was active in public affairs, a member of the Committee of Safety, captain of the city's "silk stocking" militia company, commanding officer of a city battalion and, in 1776, colonel of a Pennsylvania militia regiment. His militia figured in George Washington's plan for the attack on Trenton on 26 December 1776, but his troops were unable to cross the Delaware River south of Trenton until the battle was over.
Cadwalader's military intelligence materially contributed to Washington's success at Princeton. Although Washington offered him an appointment as a Continental brigadier general, Cadwalader declined in order to serve as a brigadier general of the Pennsylvania state militia from 5 April 1777 to the war's end. In the fall of 1777, at Washington's request, he organized militia on the eastern shore of Maryland. In 1778 he served as a volunteer at Brandywine and Germantown, and led a number of guerilla operations against the British. On 4 July 1778 he fought a duel with General Thomas Conway, over the latter's insults to Washington, and shot Conway in the mouth. On 10 September 1778 Cadwalader was again offered a commission as Continental brigadier general, and again declined. After the war he moved to Maryland and became a state legislator. He died 10 February 1786 at the age of 43, leaving a large fortune to his heirs.
SEE ALSO Conway, Thomas.
revised by Michael Bellesiles