In October of 1777, General George Washington’s Continental Army was beaten and demoralized after losing control of Philadelphia and failing to successfully counterattack at the Battle of Germantown. Washington’s soldiers desperately needed to regroup and retreat from their position north of Philadelphia. British forces, however, were unable to mount an attack against the diminished American army, as they lacked sufficient soldiers and supplies. If the Redcoats could get supplies and additional soldiers to Philadelphia by moving them up the Delaware River, Washington’s army would be imperiled. Two American forts – one on either side of the Delaware – were all that stood in the way of certain defeat. The British dispatched over a thousand Hessian soldiers – German mercenaries under their command – to attack Fort Mercer in New Jersey. On October 22, American forces, outnumbered three to one, repulsed wave after wave of attack, killing, injuring, or capturing over 400 Hessian soldiers. Holding out until November 18th, the vastly outnumbered Continental Army soldiers bought enough time for Washington to move his army to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, to regroup and rearm for the winter (via Wikipedia).
Over the past week, I have traveled from New Jersey to the Adirondack Mountains of New York, hosted family for Thanksgiving, and then made my way to explore a historic battlefield located close to home. It’s been a whirlwind! Before detailing my exploration of Red Bank Battlefield in National Park, New Jersey, I wanted to offer some more updates.
Time for Updates:
The Salem Oak
You may remember in a previous post my exploration of the Salem Oak, a 600-year old tree in southern New Jersey. Not only was it the oldest white oak in the state, but at 103-feet tall, a trunk that had a 22-foot circumference, and a 104-foot span of its branches, it was also one of the largest. Sadly, this great oak collapsed in June of this past year. You can read about it more in this “tree obituary” in the Philadelphia Inquirer. While it’s sad that the tree has passed, I feel fortunate to have seen it while it was still alive. Happily, its seedlings have been planted in towns throughout New Jersey, allowing its legacy to live on.
Another Adirondack Visit
Red Bank Battlefield Park
The time in and around South Jersey was a great way to spend the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. If you are looking for a fun, historical, and free way to spend an afternoon in the Philadelphia metropolitan region, I would highly recommend Red Bank Battlefield Park. The park is open year round from sunrise to sunset (although it is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day). The Whitall House is open for tours from April through October, Thursday through Sunday from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm.
I hope you had an enjoyable and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday, and thanks for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead!