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Friday, August 17, 2012

The Aliens Among Us--Chestnut Neck

Between October 6 and October 15, 1778, two of the more colorful military leaders of the Revolution clashed in a small town along the Mullica River, not far from contemporary Atlantic City.  Captain Patrick Ferguson (later Major, and killed at King's Mountain) led a force of 400 soldiers consisting of the 5th Regiment British Foot and the Third Battalion New Jersey Volunteers, to cut off the privateering activity in the area.  Washington sent General Casimir Pulaski and his Legion to protect the wharf at Chestnut Neck.  Ferguson found a small number of militia at Chestnut Neck, then  a 12 house town and commercial wharf, and easily defeated them with minimal casualties, on October 6.  On October 4, Pulaski left Trenton on October 8, reached Tuckerton (then called Middle of the Shore).  After a week of watching each other, Ferguson surprised one of Pulaski's outposts on October 15 with 250 men, and in essentially a bayonet attack, destroyed the outpost and left.

Pulaski was one of the various foreigners that were commissioned by Congress to serve in the Continental Army, like his Polish compatriot, Tadeusz Kościuszko.  Kosciuszko served as an engineer; Pulaski had been a cavalry officer.  He would be mortally wounded at the Battle of Savannah a year later.  This monument in the area of where he fought at this obscure battle in New Jersey serves as a reminder that the United States has always depended upon "the aliens among us."


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