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Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Mills of the Revolution

There is no real agreement on the number of "battles" during the Revolutionary War.  Some, such as the First Battle of Trenton, might otherwise have counted as a small skirmish were it  not for the momentous political significance of it.  Other "smaller" skirmishes often produced higher casualties than some more well known encounters.

Here in Plainsboro, New Jersey, a small plaque set in a boulder tells us that within 500 feet was the Scudders Mill, that functioned as a grist, saw and fulling mill from 1737 until destroyed by British troops in December 1776.

The plaque also notes that the son of the original mill owner, Colonel William Scudder, fought in the war.  One source attributes the British action in destroying his mill as a personal act of vengeance in retaliation for his exploits in the war.  See Hageman, John Frelinghuysen, History of Princeton and Its Institutions (Vol. 1 1879).

The site is a reminder that the Revolutionary War in large part was a war of attrition.  The Forage Wars emphasized the bitter battle for food and supplies by both sides.  This episode, if Hageman's comment is correct, also reinforces the personal nature of this war.

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