Iron Works Hill Battle Memorial
To support this effort, please see the GoFundMe page.
From our friends at the Rev War Alliance of Burlington County (New Jersey):
In December 1776, the American Cause for independence was at an all-time low. After losing New York to the British, General George Washington’s Continental army limped into eastern Pennsylvania broken and on the verge of defeat. Against all odds, Washington chose to attack the garrison at Trenton on December 26. The crossing of the Delaware River and victory that followed are widely recognized as having saved the American Revolution. What is less known are the events that occurred in Burlington County, New Jersey that affected this battle.
Between December 21-23, 1776, Hessian detachments under the command of Colonel Carl von Donop were busy prodding the countryside south of Bordentown. American Colonel Samuel Griffin, with a force of 600 mixed units (more than half no older than 15 years old), established a foothold at Mount Holly. Two days of harassment at Petticoat Bridge (Mansfield Township) convinced von Donop that rumors of an American force of 3,000 at Mount Holly were true. On his own authority, the Hessian colonel moved his force of 2,400 on the morning of December 23. What transpired were a series of firefights at Petticoat Bridge, the Mount (along Woodlane Road) and finally at Iron Works Hill on the southside of the Rancocas Creek. The American forces retreated to Moorestown, leaving Mount Holly fully occupied by the Hessian forces. Instead of returning to Bordentown, von Donop stayed. Why? Our answer comes in the journals of Burlington resident Margaret Hill Morris and Hessian Jager Captain Johann Ewald. Both write of a “beautiful young widow” who kept von Donop occupied for three days. The Hessians remained at Mount Holly, more than a day’s march from Trenton. On December 26, a bugler rode into town delivering the news of Washington’s victory. Had Colonel von Donop remained or returned to Bordentown prior to the attack, he would have been readily available to reinforce Colonel Johann Rall at Trenton, likely changing the outcome of the battle.
In 1976, a stone monument was erected at St. Andrew’s Cemetery on Pine Street in Mount Holly to honor the events that took place in December 1776. While this monument has served its purpose, we, the Rev War Alliance of Burlington County, feel the time has come to enhance the visitor experience with a new monument project. To coincide with the coming 250th of American Independence, we have received permission to add/build to the existing monument along Pine Street.
The provided sketch/plan is broken down into three phases with Phase 1 being the purpose of this fundraiser.
The proposal is to relocate the existing stone monument by moving it fifty feet closer to Pine Street, centering it in the middle of an open meadow, and adding new structures around it. These structures will be two reading boards: one for December 1776 and one for June 1778 when the British Army under generals Clinton and Cornwallis marched through and encamped for two days at Mount Holly. Each reading board will have new educational information with primary source materials, maps and a list of valuable resources to help visitors link the events at Mount Holly to the Revolutionary War. To accompany these reading boards, we will be adding a wooden rail fence, a paver entrance walkway and two park benches.
We currently have support among the local business community, the Rancocas Valley Regional High School sending districts, and from political leadership of all affiliations. As we are a band of historians, we consider ourselves members of the community first and part of an organization second. We are not political and we strictly remain neutral in our public goals in order to appeal to all Americans. As members of the community, we feel this fundraiser should come from individuals who care about our history and want to see it preserved for future generations to learn, understand and cherish the stories of past Americans who fought and died for our liberties and freedom. There is plenty of history waiting to be discovered and told, and this addition for the 250th Anniversary is the first of what we hope to be a series of new interpretive guides for the community.
Our goal for Phase 1 is to raise $5,000.00. If this donation effort proves successful, and with the community’s support, we plan to continue enhancing this monument with additional structures, as pictured in the sketch/plan. If we exceed our target number, monies will be kept for Phase 2/3. Transparency is a core component to our group’s mission. Any future endeavors will be made clear to the public prior to their development.
If you’re still unsure and unaware of the significance of these events, consider the following quote by someone who was present in Mount Holly in December 1776, Hessian Captain Johann Ewald:
“This great misfortunate, which surely caused the utter loss of the thirteen splendid provinces of the Crown of England, was due partly to the extension of the cordon, partly to the fault of Colonel Donop, who was led by the nose to Mount Holly by Colonel Griffin and detained there by love….Thus the fate of entire kingdoms often depends upon a few blockheads and irresolute men.”
We thank you for your donation towards preserving our history. We graciously ask that you share this fundraiser among your family, friends, peers and your community. As we are all Americans, we hope to build a unifying message on the eve of the 250th Anniversary of our country’s founding. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you in Mount Holly.
The Rev War Alliance of Burlington County
Here are two links providing the full historiography of the events in December 1776 at Mount Holly.
This link shows the current 1976 monument as mentioned, along with other Rev War related sites in Mount Holly.
The following link is a presentation on the “Widow of Mount Holly.”
The Rev War Alliance of Burlington County can be found here: