Press Release


Captain Thomas O’Neil, III, is a former US Marine Infantry Officer who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is a direct descendant of Ezekiel Anderson of Lawrenceville, a private and scout in the second Continental Army.

Ezekiel Anderson was one of several local militiamen responsible for helping direct Washington’s men safely and covertly from Trenton to Princeton on the night of January 2-3, 1777, to avoid the British troops who were intent upon their destruction. Knowing the land well, Ezekiel helped relocate the 5,000 American troops in the dead of a cold and blustery night to attack and defeat the British at Princeton the next morning for the third time in eight days and help America achieve independence. Recently, Captain O’Neil, a native son of Lawrenceville, has discovered that his roots in this area go back to the 1700’s to the area’s earliest settlers, militia and businessmen.

When Captain O’Neil returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2013, he discovered a nation at odds with itself, a time of separation and disharmony, a country divided by race, ethnicity and social class. Captain O’Neil is here today to walk this walk with his brothers in solidarity, to deliver a clear message to his fellow Americans, that we were a strong country united against a common enemy that lead to one of the most powerful nations in history, and that now, more than ever, we must again unite against the common enemy of strife and division and become a great nation once again.

Captain O’Neil will be joined in this historic recreation by Specialist Leo Bridgewater, OIF/OEF, and their march from the Old Trenton Barracks to Princeton Battlefield at midnight on January 3, 2017, will mark the 240th anniversary of this event. Specialist Leo Bridgewater is a decorated African American Iraq-Afghanistan War veteran who served for six tours and represents the one-quarter of the northern Continental Army of African descent. O’Neil and Bridgewater want to remind Americans that blacks and whites have been working together since the Continental Army, and that unity of all Americans is possible by cooperation, perseverance, and understanding.

We want to invite this divided country to come together now in unity and find common ground to be the great nation our forefathers saw we could be, a country so many want to come to its shores for the promise of religious freedom, racial equality, and human rights. On this important night, Captain O’Neil wants to show that we stand in solidarity and strength as a people today as we did 240 years ago. This march exemplifies this goal.

In addition, Captain Tom O’Neil and Specialist Leo Bridgewater will be visiting local schools to remind students of the exceptional role this area played in our history and of the critical role that black soldiers played in United States history.

O’Neil and Bridgewater will be placing a wreath at the common grave of British and American troops at Princeton after dawn on January 3rd on the Princeton Battlefield and also to honor Captain William Shippen, the first Marine to die in a land-based battle at Princeton.