While visiting home in New Jersey this past week I was able to travel to many different sites associated with the Monmouth Campaign of June 1778. One of those sites in particular was Coryell’s Ferry (or Landing), which straddled the Delaware River in present-day New Hope, Pennsylvania and Lambertville, New Jersey.
France’s official entrance into the war on the Americans’ side in early 1778 forced the British to alter their overall military strategy. His Majesty’s Forces began withdrawing from the American interior and were consolidated along the coast between New York City and Newport, Rhode Island. From there, reinforcements were ordered to be dispatched to Florida and the Caribbean to counter France’s impending threat in that region. Philadelphia, which had been occupied since the previous September, was deemed unnecessary to hold any longer. By June 17, 1778, British Lt. Gen. Henry Clinton’s army of over 20,000 men had crossed the Delaware at Cooper’s Ferry (present-day Camden, New Jersey) and was marching northeast towards New York City.
Three days later the Continental Army was in full pursuit with Washington’s advanced column being led across the river by Maj. Gen. Charles Lee at Coryell’s Ferry (some thirty miles northeast of Philadelphia). By June 22, Washington and the last elements of his army were in New Jersey as well. What exactly was to happen next was not yet known. Clinton could either transport his army to New York City via South Amboy or from Sandy Hook. Until it could be discerned what the British general’s intentions were, Washington planned to “govern ourselves according to circumstances.” In six days the two armies would collide in desperate battle near the small village of Monmouth Court House.