Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sandy Hook and the Absence of Memory

I have not made an exhaustive study, but it would appear that Sandy Hook accounts for perhaps more action than any other sole place during the Revolution.  David C. Munn, in his 1976 Battles and Skirmishes in New Jersey of the Revolutionary War, identifies 29 separate naval actions in or around Sandy Hook, and 18 separate land actions.  Here is the lighthouse as it looks today, farther inland from the tip than it was at the time:

In his study of engagements during the Revolution and American casualties, Howard H. Peckham notes 1331 military (as opposed to naval) engagements.  The first listed land action in New Jersey in his The Toll of Independence was at Sandy Hook on April 23, 1776--prior to the Declaration of Independence--when, as he writes, "Americans captured 35 of a watering party from HMS Asia, Capt. Vandeput." A day later, "[a]nother British watering party fled into lighthouse and was captured by Americans." For a more comprehensive discussion of activity at Sandy Hook, see the article appearing in the U.S. Lighthouse Society publication 

I have noted throughout this blog that the Revolutionary War was a mosaic of many pieces, and that there were many smaller skirmishes and battles that were no less deadly--and in some cases, there were more killed than in some of the more famous actions.  When you look at a place like Sandy Hook and walk its grounds, it is worth thinking about those 18 separate land actions that occurred here.

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