This week, on June 7, we mark the anniversary of the Battle of Connecticut Farms, and later in the month, the Battle of Springfield on June 23, 1780. These battles, involving relatively large numbers of troops over a fairly wide area, marked the last significant effort of the British in New Jersey and the northern theater to destroy Washington's army. Unlike some of the smaller battles and skirmishes led by Hessian commanders, such as Karl von Donop at Red Bank (Fort Mercer), Hessian General Wilhelm von Knyphausen led a force of 6,000 British and Hessian troops to attempt to engage the Continental army encamped at Jockey Hollow, near Morristown, New Jersey.
Connecticut Farms is now known as Union Township, New Jersey. This is the current First Presbyterian, replacing the one burned by the British that stood on the battle site in 1780. In the adjacent courtyard is a mass grave containing the remains of British and Hessian soldiers. We tend to forget that the Revolution was a major war fought mainly on American soil, and foreign soldiers are buried here, much as Americans are buried in European battlefields of World War II. Some have called the Revolution the first world war, or the logical consequence of its predecessor global conflict, the French and Indian War. The fact that such a memorial grave exists on an otherwise barely marked battlefield in a densely populated county, is remarkable. There's a poignancy and sadness to a mass grave, as though these individual human beings can only find relevance in their collective anonymity.