November 6, 2005 |
The Hessians were resting in an unquiet grave. They had died by the hundreds in the assault on Fort Mercer known as the Battle of Red Bank, and were buried en masse below James and Ann Whitall's house nearby, overlooking the Delaware River. The battle was a disaster for the German mercenaries. A Gloucester County Historical Society bulletin from 1977 describes the aftermath: Bodies were piled on top of each other . . . and impaled on the sharpened branches of the abatis. The debris of defeat littered the landscape: knapsacks and rifles . . . a German prayer book . . . a regimental drum, its crumpled young owner lifeless beside it. Two weeks ago, the events of October 1777 were reenacted by the 43d Regiment of Foot of Cherry Hill and the Magnolia-based First New Jersey Volunteers Association.
October 12, 2003 |
It was the morning of Oct. 22, 1777. Hessian troops under the command of Count Karl von Donop arrived in Haddonfield and were marching toward Fort Mercer in Red Bank, hoping to take a small contingent of American troops there by surprise. The British hoped that an easy victory by their Hessian allies at Fort Mercer would allow them to break through the American blockade of the Delaware River so that Philadelphia could be captured. But Jonas Cattell, an 18-year-old apprentice blacksmith, would thwart their plans.
October 17, 1999 |
Legend has it that Jonas Cattell lassoed a shark in the Cohansey River. He couldn't stop the shark from trailing him and his buddies by hurling sugar, flour and lemons at it. So he and his friends roped the shark, lugged it to shore, and strung it up in the afternoon sun. Tired of the stench, Cattell slit open its belly and took out those unused lemons and sugar. He set himself up a stand and sold lemonade that afternoon. Cattell was famous in these parts not only for telling tall tales, but for his famous trek that helped the Americans win the Revolutionary War. Every year, the Red Bank Battlefield and The Whitall House museum commemorates the event.
December 22, 2002 |
As the crossroads of the American Revolution, New Jersey was home to some of the most famous battles of the war: Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth and Petticoat Bridge. Don't recall that last one? It was a small battle a few miles outside Mount Holly. And although minor in scope, it played a major role in the American effort in the winter of 1776. William Leap, 74, of Runnemede, recounted the event in a recent interview. Leap has more than 25 years of experience researching and writing about South Jersey history (including a 330-page history of Runnemede)
July 30, 2014 |
When a breathless Jonas Cattell dashed into Fort Mercer that October day in 1777, the enemy wasn't far behind. Hours earlier, the 18-year-old had overheard talk of an attack on the American fort and ran the 10 miles from Haddonfield to Red Bank, Gloucester County, bypassing Hessian mercenaries along the way. His timely warning gave the American defenders time to reposition their artillery and set a trap that decimated the Hessians. About 400 of them - a third of the German force - were mowed down by cannon and musket fire, then buried in a mass grave at what is now Red Bank Battlefield Park.
June 18, 2016 |
On Oct. 22, 1777, hundreds of Hessian troops marched on a smaller cohort of colonial soldiers, intent on taking control of Fort Mercer, an outpost on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River. The Hessians attacked on foot from two directions; in the river, six British ships had the fort blockaded. But the Americans took the Battle of Red Bank decisively. Soldiers fought valiantly on land while small American gunboats took on the British ships. The victory was a much-needed boost of morale for the colonial soldiers.
October 11, 1987 |
The actions of a local patriot will be remembered next Sunday, when Gloucester County Parks and Recreation sponsors the 18th annual Jonas Cattell Run and 18th Century Field Day. Edith Hoelle, the librarian of the Gloucester County Historical Society, said Cattell was a blacksmith's apprentice from Haddonfield. He learned of an attack planned against colonial-held Fort Mercer by 1,200 to 2,000 Hessian mercenaries under British pay during the Revolutionary War. The British were occupying Philadelphia, and the troops from Fort Mercer, located at Red Bank Battlefield in present-day National Park, were interfering with British shipping.
December 28, 1989 |
Even the great general, George Washington, didn't have a strategy when the forces of nature stood in his way. Washington, portrayed by James W. Gallagher, was ready Christmas Day to cross the Delaware. But the river didn't cooperate: It was frozen, and the re-enactment was canceled for only the third time in 37 years. Still, several hundred onlookers who had gathered at Washington Crossing were treated to a small show. Washington mustered his costumed soldiers, marched them along a path to their boats and then marched them back again.
March 22, 1992 |
It was 4 p.m., Oct. 22, 1777. With the sun in their eyes, the 2,000 Hessians gathered in what is now National Park, N.J., for attack. They were cocky and overconfident, as if assembling for an athletic event, heady from a string of victories in the colonies. They got a surprise. "In this case, they were decimated, and when the Prince of Hesse heard this, he told the British he would never again send troops into the 'meat grinder' (of the American colonies) unsupported.
December 26, 1989 |
You think George Washington had it tough, lo those many years ago, forging across the mighty Delaware River to defeat the Hessians in Trenton? You should have been there yesterday. Sure, Washington had all those weary soldiers to inspire, as they tramped onward with their bloody, frozen feet, leaving scarlet footprints in the snow. Yes, he had 2,400 men to transport in 40 Durham boats, in preparation for surprise battle with the Hessians, mercenaries fighting for the British in the Revolutionary War. But at least the father of our country made it across the chilly gray waters of the river 213 years ago. Yesterday, the four boatloads of colonial soldiers who readied for the annual re-enactment of Washington's Crossing looked sternly across the river toward New Jersey, their muskets and oars at the ready.