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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Battle of Wyoming on July 3, 1778 exemplified the brutality of the war and the involvement of Native Americans in the conflict.



Here is "Bloody Rock," well-protected now by a grate, and situated modestly along Susquehanna Boulevard a few blocks off Wyoming Avenue on the west side of the river.  Approximately fourteen to sixteen Americans have been said to have been murdered here after their capture, at the hands of the Native Americans.    Esther Montour, born Iroquois, and otherwise known as Queen Esther, is said to have tomahawked the survivors.  One of the legacies of the Wyoming massacre, as it is sometimes called, was the devastation inflicted by General John Sullivan the following year on Indian villages in the region.

As with Parker's Revenge at the Battle of Concord, we again see the brutality of revenge that was one of the patterns and features of the Revolutionary War.




  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Omnipresent Henry Lee

The Battle of Paulus Hook was a daring raid on the British fort at Paulus Hook (now in Jersey City) across from Manhattan.  It was proposed by then Major Henry ("Light Horse Harry") Lee following the success of the Americans at Stony Point.  Following a night time expedition, on August 19, 1779 Lee, with 400 men, surprised the British, took some 150 prisoners, and then beat a retreat.  Washington wrote Congress that Lee "displayed a remarkable degree of prudence, address and bravery upon this occasion, which does the highest honor to himself and to all the officers and men under his command.

This is a view of the spot of the fort today:

This is at the intersection of Washington Street and Grand Street in Jersey City, looking towards New York.  Landfill and the development of the area, coupled with the construction of the Morris Canal nearby, makes it hard to get a real sense of terrain, as one does at Stony Point.  Nonetheless, the obelisk visible in the photograph helps orient us.  Lee received a Congressional gold medal for his efforts.  Though perhaps more well  known generally for his service in the Southern Theater of the Revolutionary War, this officer was one of those keystones of Washington's command.  It is interesting to walk in his steps, even if the ditches, mills, streams and swamps, and indeed the actual coastline, have been altered.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Iron Works Hill

     Most Americans, to the extent they are knowledgeable about the basics of the Revolutionary War, can name, perhaps, a handful of battles.  The war consisted of thousands of skirmishes, most not rising to the level of "battle" nomenclature, but often just as significant and as bloody.  As we walk the ground of these lesser known places, it is good to remember that such places as well are places where men died, on both sides, in this war.  One such place is in Mount Holly, otherwise known as the Battle of Iron Works Hill.  Here we are looking up at the battlefield from the current road.
      General George Washington's surprise attack on Trenton on December 26, 1776 was successful in part due to the diversionary efforts, such as the skirmish at Iron Works Hill in Mount Holly on December 23, 1776.  Colonel Samuel Griffin was directed to lead New Jersey militia to take a position in Mount Holly, and distract Hessian Colonel Carl von Donop.  Griffin first skirmished at Petticoat Bridge and retreated to take up a position in Mount Holly here.  On the actual "Mount" Holly, Donop set up artillery.  The main battle occurred here.  The distraction worked, and Donop did not participate in the First Battle of Trenton.