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Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Minuteman, Elizabeth and the Battle of Springfield

Apologies for the delay between posts.  This one notes the Minuteman monument in Elizabeth, New Jersey, shown below:

The Battle of Springfield, whose anniversary is this month, took place on June 23, 1780.  A British and Hessian force of some 6,000 under  Lieutenant General Wilhelm, Baron von Knyphausen landed at Elizabethport, seeking to attack Washington's army in northern New Jersey.  This area of Elizabeth, on Elizabeth Avenue at what is now Union Square, was the opening salvo.  A small contingent of minuteman were involved, and the British and Hessians moved in two columns through Connecticut Farms (now Union Township) where the British and Hessians were delayed, but victorious on June 7. They continued on towards Springfield, where they were forced to retreat.

Although the prime effort of the British was in the Carolinas at this point, had this attack succeeded for the British, it could have had a far more significant impact on war.  It failed, and has been relegated to not much more than a footnote in histories of the war, but the argument may be made that its importance has been understated.

In the context of today's Elizabeth, this seemingly incongruous monument is a vivid reminder of the importance of this battle and the close calls that often marked the activity in the Revolution.