Hessian Burials

Piney Boy

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Sep 19, 2005
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Williamstown, NJ
Piney Boy,

Where did you go to school? What was your major?

Scott
Undergrad I went to the Univeristy of Delaware with a major in history and a minor in anthroplogy. During my time there I worked some local archaeology and some in the Palo Altos in N.M, or on second thought they were the Jemez.
Grad school I went to Villanova University with a concentration in 18th and 19th century America history.
 

Furball1

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Dec 11, 2005
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Florida
Cannonballs

I have posted this previously concerning cannonballs that were found buried at my grandparents home--they lived at the end of third ave. in Brooklawn, very close to the southern shore of the Little Timber Creek. Six were found, and when discovered, caused a stir with a historical society (?), who promptly came to the site armed with metal detectors in search of the brass field pieces you mention. I think this happended in the 50's. It was rumored that the hessians may have retreated from Red Bank through this vicinity, but no guns were found. There was another story about an officer's sword, still in the scabbard, discovered at low-tide in the LTC mud flats along the southern bank. I still possess three of the cannonballs, 6 lb'ers.
 

Piney Boy

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Sep 19, 2005
365
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Williamstown, NJ
Very interesting Furball. The path you mention was in all probabilties the Hessian retreat, I'd love to find out more about the hanger (sword) you mentioned. Are the cannonballs hollowed or are they still filled? No biggy eithier way, just curious.
Some would say that the field piece story is a myth, but I've seen primary documents that attest to the Hessians departing from Red Bank with them and arriving at Coopers Ferry without them. Perhaps the LTC is a place for further investigation. Thanks for the tidbit.
 

Furball1

Explorer
Dec 11, 2005
378
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Florida
Hollow

The cannonballs are hollow, with a small opening. When I first saw them as a kid (yearrrrsss ago!), one was plugged--possibly cork or wood, and was filled with small bits of stone and sand. The sword story came from a "trust-worthy" kid down the street, Kevin McFadden, who claimed his dad found it while boating--I'm not sure where KM is today, as I have been out of touch with him since the early 70's. He always had stories of "finds"---his dad was one of those guys who had a metal-detector and had a knack for finding arrow-heads, too, so I am inclined to believe the story, though I never saw the sword myself. I have always been interested in the history of the Red Bank skirmishes, and few people know how important Ft. Mercer and Ft. Mifflin were to harrassing and impeding the British from attacking and quite possibly bombarding Philadelphia--slowed them down for weeks. Best wishes with your research---count me in as a buyer if it is published!
 

grendel

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Feb 24, 2006
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Fredericksburg VA
I knew a family In National Park that had a sword hanging on the wall that had been found by the Grandfather . He was supposed to have found this sword after a storm alond the beach in front of the monument. The scabard was metal and on the hilt was inscribbed Otto Von crevits. This was about 25 years ago so I don't know if the name is exact but it was something like that.
 
Very interesting information, Furball. Your grandparents resided near the site of "Little Bridge," the span that carried the Old Salem Road over Little Timber Creek. The swale formed by the road can still be seen from Lake Drive coming up from the creek.

Before the Hessians departed to attack Fort Mercer, American patriots had been out destroying bridges and removing boats upstream to keep them from enemy use. Since field intelligence told the Hessian troops that the American had already taken out the toll bridge over Newton Creek between South Camden and Gloucester, the Hessians left Coopers Ferry (Camden) and marched out Haddon Avenue to Haddonfield. From that point, they traveled down Kings Highway and in Market Street, Mount Ephraim/Gloucester, to reach the Little Bridge. Upon arriving on the north shore of Little Timber Creek, they crossed the bridge and moved down the Old Salem Road to Big Timber Creek, where they quickly discovered that the Americans had destroyed the bridge there. This forced the Hessians to double-back into Mount Ephraim and they likely crossed Little Timber Creek using Harrison's milldam, stretching between Mount Ephraim and modern-day Bellmawr. From there, the German troops headed out Creek Road/Browning Lane until they arrived at Warwick Road, which they used to arrive at Davis Road, which took the soldiers to the bridge over Big Timber Creek at what we call today Clement's Bridge. All of the extra marching explains why the Hessians did not arrive at the fort until very late in the afternoon.

Since the Hessians did not actually cross at the Little Bridge, the cannonballs found on your grandparents' property are more likely from British troops under the command of Lord Cornwallis. Cornwallis landed at the unfinished American fort at Billilngsport on 18 November 1777 with the intention of capturing Fort Mercer and taking control of Gloucester. Upon learning of the landing, Washington told the American forces to abandon the fort and destroy all usable goods not readily transportable. After learning of the destroyed fort, Cornwallis marched to the site of the Big Timber Creek Bridge, which the Americans had also taken up. At this point, his military engineers came forward and deployed a hollow copper portable bridge which allowed the British forces to cross the waterway. Cornwallis then marched to the site of Little Bridge and again deployed sections of the portable bridge to gain access to the north shore and Gloucester.

The cannonballs found likely either come from a defensive position established to protect the engineers deploying the bridge or, perhaps, from an upset wagon.

Sorry for the long message, folks!!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Furball1

Explorer
Dec 11, 2005
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Florida
Jerseyman, you're AWESOME!

Unbelievable! The swale you mention was a favorite haunt for us kids while playing, with it's steep walls and narrow base...as I got older and fell in love with Revolutionary War history, I often thought how this topical feature looked like an approach to either a bridge or ferry as it went all the way down to the river...however it was inaccessible due to brush overgrowth. My grandparents lived at the corner of Third Ave. and Lake Dr. All these years I thought I had cannonballs from the Patriots or Hessians, but maybe they're from the Redcoats instead! It would be incredibly awesome if you could refer me to a map detailing your description of the route the Hessians and Cornwallis took, as I am having a hard time transcribing the colonial features to the present ones---is there a website or book you can recommend? It is so amazing to me that my family lived on top of Revolutionary War History!!!
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
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Pestletown
I am in Awe once again.

As long ago when Jerseyman helped me on another matter he continues to amaze! I hope the two of you can collaborate some to define a nice piece of work.
This... is what makes this site. The combined efforts of individuals with like and unlike interests getting together in a synergy of sorts.
Jerseyman... a wonderfull and interesting post. Thank you.

G.
 

Piney Boy

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Sep 19, 2005
365
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Williamstown, NJ
You are indeed right LARGO, Jerseyman is indeed a scholar and gentlemen. Thus far my strong points have been in document research of the folks involved lives and goals, but Jerseyman's knowledge on landscape has already proved useful for me.
As far as books and maps go on the subject there are no real concise works on the subject. Ft. Mifflin of Philadlephia by Jeffrey Donwart has some illustrations and a good deal of information on the topic. The SoJo historian Frank Stewart wrote of the Battle of Red Bank with a good degree of knowledge and some illustrations, although that is out of print. A book I've enjoyed the past few years is Mark Di Ionno's Guide to NJ's Rev. War Trail. While not an in depth look at situations or figures, it has an exhaustive list of of sites throughout the entirety of the state. Lastly, if you have an interest in primary documents I'd suggest Pvt. Yankee Doodle by Joseph Plumb Martin. Plumb Martin was a Continental with a Rhode Island Rgt. who fought throughout the war and gives an exciting picture of Red Bank. Just shout out if you would like some more topics. If hessians pique your interest try Bruce Burgoyne, he transcribed many Hessian journals on the matter, and his books can be found online.
While not gaining anywhere near the celebrity of the battles in the North, South Jersey indeed had its share of Rev. War moments. Skirmishes and battles were fought in Camden, Assanpink, Egg Harbor, Mt. Holly, Gloucester, and a list of others. I think its important for professionals in this field to help others see the important role SJ played in the war for Independence, because if we dont no one else will, and the tide of urbanization will slowly erase the pictures we have left.
 
Folks:

Last night I sent a private message to Furball and indicated a single, siccinct source for him to examine that includes the most important map of the campaign. I hesitated to post it to the entire list because of I was not sure all would be interested. However, since Piney Boy listed a few sources--some better than others--I will share with the list that if they maintain an interest in this subject, they should review a book by Samuel Stelle Smith titled, Fight for the Delaware 1777, published in 1970 by Smith's own press, Philip Freneau Press. This book contains the most important map of the entire campaign and very clearly demonstrates how the Hessians had to reversse their route and cross Little Timber Creek on Harrison's milldam. The original of this manuscript map is part of the Library of Congress collection and is unattributed. LofC lists it as "anonymous."
There are other important maps, both published and manuscript, relative to the campaign to control the Delaware River, but for the attack on Fort Mercer, this is the paramount to all others. BTW, there is also a map that shows the Cornwallis march from Billingsport to Gloucester.

BTW, I should mention that I am not in 100% agreement with what Samuel Stelle Smith wrote in his text, but I do think it a great source.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Piney Boy

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Sep 19, 2005
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Williamstown, NJ
Folks:

Last night I sent a private message to Furball and indicated a single, siccinct source for him to examine that includes the most important map of the campaign. I hesitated to post it to the entire list because of I was not sure all would be interested. However, since Piney Boy listed a few sources--some better than others--
Best regards,
Jerseyman
Oh I was just trying to mix up the topic matter some. Methinks your not a fan of Mr. Stewart. As we've talked, I understand you reasoning, but aside the one area we discussed I think his knowledge on SoJo material is sound. While its obvious the NJ War guide isn't an historical attempt it is a great site finder. Also, gotta say I love the Plumb Martin work, although the title leaves something to be desired, its a great look at the war from the ground up.
The S.S Smith book is an excellent one by the way.
 
Piney Boy:

I hope you did take umbrage at my response to your posting, but I always try to be honest about problematic secondary and tertiary source material, especially for folks who are not as well-versed in a topic as some. Mr. Stewart does have his share of problems, as do several other South Jersey authors. For primary source documentation, you cannot exceed the quality of a diary like the Martin diary. Similarly, some of the Hessian diaries provide a perspective on the war and the Delaware River campaign that is, obviously, totally different from the American vantage point. A careful combining of diaries and official war records with mapping provides a well-rounded view of the occurrences on the physical landscape at that time.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Piney Boy

Explorer
Sep 19, 2005
365
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Williamstown, NJ
Oh no, no, no, no. Its our job to try and find the most credible and honest representation of subject matters at all times, especially when referring the curious to certain topics. My attempt was to use some "softer" material, if you will, combined with harder works, like that of Martin. Perhaps my interest with Mr. Stewart comes from the fact that he is the one who really interested me in the topic at hand. Before him I was ignorant to much of what Red Bank does, and can, represent to South Jersey history. From this, he holds a warm place in my heart.
There certainly is a real an inherent danger when citizens without formal training attempt to write on matters of history though. Lack of citation, footnotes, or a dangerous use of heresay can often muddle the truth with fiction, and Mr. Stewart was certainly guilty of all three. As you say, the combination of diaries, war records, and maps can provide as close a description of the events as we as 21st historians can provide. So we move on; learning, and hopefully teaching, of Southern New Jersey's storied past....
 
Piney Boy:

I do understand your feelings concerning Frank Stewart, despite my misgivings about his writings. As with many of the antiquarians of past generations, we all owe a great debt of gratitude to Stewart. He was a trailblazer for those of us who maintain a high level of interest in local history. He and his contemporary compatriots--including such luminaries as Alfred Heston, Charles Boyer, Nathaniel Ewan, Joseph Sickler, Harry Marvin, and Frank Andrews--identified and documented many of the sources we continue to use today, although we possess the ability to reinterpret those sources using additional source material that has since come to light. These men were responsible for salvaging much of our oral traditions and documentary records from oblivion. They essentially formed a bridge between the past and the present!

For many years, local history remained the realm of antiquarians--the more affluent citizens who "dabbled" in such subjects. It is only in more recent years that many academic historians have "discovered" local history and it is now being taught in institutions of higher learning. But, believe me, without the work of these trailblazers, our knowledge would be much poorer. And for many people on this list, we could add Henry Beck to that list of pioneers!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Piney Boy

Explorer
Sep 19, 2005
365
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Williamstown, NJ
Piney Boy:
He was a trailblazer for those of us who maintain a high level of interest in local history. He and his contemporary compatriots--including such luminaries as Alfred Heston, Charles Boyer, Nathaniel Ewan, Joseph Sickler, Harry Marvin, and Frank Andrews--identified and documented many of the sources we continue to use today, although we possess the ability to reinterpret those sources using additional source material that has since come to light. These men were responsible for salvaging much of our oral traditions and documentary records from oblivion. They essentially formed a bridge between the past and the present!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
Wow my friend, that list of names you through out has me smiling from ear to ear. I can't tell you the amount of times I've been in some little historical library reading "lectures" on record from men like Sickler and Ewan.
And yes, we do have the advantage of hindsight and better training. We are able to use the tools they helped preserve in a more concise scientific matter then they had the ability to. Once again, we have learned from the past to bring a more honest an vibrant picture of events to all interested parties.
 
While not gaining anywhere near the celebrity of the battles in the North, South Jersey indeed had its share of Rev. War moments. Skirmishes and battles were fought in Camden, Assanpink, Egg Harbor, Mt. Holly, Gloucester, and a list of others. I think its important for professionals in this field to help others see the important role SJ played in the war for Independence, because if we dont no one else will, and the tide of urbanization will slowly erase the pictures we have left.
Piney Boy:

You are spot on with your viewpoint! For example, in the Battle of Gloucester, the Marquis de la Fayette led a patchwork of American troops, including a contingent from Morgan's Rangers and from Harry Lee's horsemen, into battle against Hessian pickets. Time and time again, the Frenchman and his soldiers drove the Hessians back, coming very close to completely routing the British out of Gloucester, except the increasing darkness prevented a final all-out assault. This action made Cornwallis so nervous that he dispatched a request for boats immediately to transport his entire force and the forage gathered back to Philadelphia. As Cornwallis saw it, his back was to the Delaware and the bridge to the north and the south had both been destroyed. The only way remaining out of town without boats was the very road that la Fayette was attacking! Not a very strategic place to be for a high-ranking officer.

It was this very battle that won la Fayette a commission in the American Army after George Washington wrote a letter of commendation for the brave young man. His gallantry was unparalleled as he went into battle without one of his boots due to a still-healing wound from the battle at Brandywine. When the American Congress awarded la Fayette a ceremonial sword for his service, one of the four battles engraved on the higly polished blade was the Battle of Gloucester!

Without fighting this one battle, la Fayette may have never received his commission and the outcome of the war could have been very different!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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As we have discovered on this site and from experience, Beck had his problems also. However, without him we most likely would not be having a discussion right now.

Guy
 
TeeGate:

I couldn't agree with you more! I think it highly likely that more people on this forum lit the flame of their Pinelands interest through the spark of Henry Beck's books than in any other fashion! Did Beck and his books have problems with history and historical accuracy? Without a doubt--but he will always be a trailblazer in my eyes!!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

Piney Boy

Explorer
Sep 19, 2005
365
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Williamstown, NJ
Thats a nice rendering of the battle of Gloucester. Guess you been to the G.C.H.C.? They have Washington's commendation later to LaFayette for a job well done. And to think that battle goes pretty much unnoticed in Rev. War history.