Sunday, November 18, 2012

Millstone, Militia and Local Heroes

I've been to the major (and many less major) Revolutionary War battlefields from Quebec, Canada to Ninety-Six, South Carolina, but it's always interesting to look for the lessons in the smaller scale, lesser known engagements.  One such nearby battle is the Battle of Millstone in central New Jersey.  On January 20, 1777 General Philemon Dickinson led about 400 New Jersey and 50 Pennsylvania militia in battle, defeating about 500 British Regulars and Hessians under Lieutenant Colonel Robert Abercromby that were on a foraging mission, and captured some 40 wagons and 100 horses.

The precise location of Van Nest's Mills along the Millstone, where the battle occurred, is locally disputed but this is the area of the Millstone River where the battle most likely occurred, near the Weston Causeway in Somerset County.

The battle focuses attention on the thousands of small-scale actions, no less bitter or fatal than some of the more well-known ones, that marked the war and the role of the militia.  Ironically, at the same time he was praising Dickinson--whose house still stands in Trenton, New Jersey--to Congress, he was writing Dickinson to complain about another militia in a New Jersey county that was abandoning service.

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