June 28, 1878, marked the centennial of the battle of Monmouth, and the anniversary did not pass without commemoration in the town of Freehold, New Jersey, the original location of Monmouth Courthouse. Local newspapers reported that over 20,000 people attended the various ceremonies, orations, and performances that were held, with local and state politicians, and veterans of the War of 1812, Mexican-American War, and the recent Civil War in attendance. George B. McClellan, former commanding general of the Union Armies and the Army of the Potomac, then serving as New Jersey’s governor, reviewed state troops and participated in the cornerstone laying of the Monmouth Battle Monument. The ceremony was the center of the commemorations that day. Although the 94-foot-tall monument crowned by a statue of “Colombia Triumphant,” would not be completed and dedicated until November 1884, those who attended the centennial events understood the significance of what it would represent. After all, it had only been thirteen years since the end of the previous war—one that was fought to save the republic that those who had bled at Monmouth fought themselves to establish. The symbolism was not lost on Enoch L. Cowart, a veteran of the 14th New Jersey Volunteers, which was trained at Camp Vredenburgh around the old battlefield. On July 4, 1878, an original poem he had written, “Centennial of the Battle of Monmouth,” was published in the Monmouth Democrat. Here is that poem below:
It is that time again, for another Emerging Revolutionary War Sunday Night Happy Hour! This will be our 50th Sunday Night Happy Hour! There is no better way to celebrate than to talk about New Jersey in the American Revolution.
New Jersey was one of the most fought over areas during the American Revolution. Most know of the battles of Trenton, Princeton and Monmouth, but central New Jersey witnessed many small battles and important events during the Revolution. This area saw it all: from spies and espionage, to military encampments like Morristown and Middlebrook, to mutinies, raids, and full blown engagements like Bound Brook and Springfield. This part of New Jersey saw more action during the Revolution than anywhere else in the young nation. A full understanding of the war demands a study of these events and places.
We welcome historian and author Robert Dunkerly who has authored the latest ERW book titled “Unhappy Catastrophes: The American Revolution in Central New Jersey, 1776-1782” due out later this year. This talk coincides with our bus tour this November of Trenton and Princeton and will provide a good backdrop on the situation in New Jersey in 1776.
This Sunday, August 22nd at 7pm we will go live on our Facebook page. We look forward to this lively discussion and we encourage questions and comments via the chat box. “See” you this Sunday!
If you are from a certain geographical area of the United States the title of this post is a saying you have heard numerous times. Heck, you may even use it yourself. I’ll admit that I have found usage of this American style vernacular a few instances in my lifetime.
Did you know that there is one version that connects the popular saying to a figure in American history and has its origin dating back into the 18th century?
While reading a history of Osceola, I came across the mention of Benjamin Hawkins and as many of you know, did some internet research, consulted other books on the Seminoles, Creeks, and other Native Americans and the research took off from there. This is just a brief overview of Hawkins and his possible, albeit tenuous, connection to this saying.
A possible first mention of the saying above is attributed to Hawkins, whose name probably does not ring a bell for a large segment of people, historians included. Hawkins, born in North Carolina on August 15, 1754 into a family of six, was a gifted individual who attended the College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton University with an aptitude for linguistics, which apparently including learning Native American dialects.
Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historians Karl G. Elsea and William W. Welsch for thefinal installment of their three part series
The v. Lossberg Artillery detachment:
Bombardier Conrad Volprecht was about 44 years old with over 27 years of service. He led the v. Lossberg artillery detachment consisting of another bombardier, 13 gunners and 3 matrosses, with two three-pounder guns and associated horses, harness, and limber.[i]
Over two years after the battle and being a prisoner Bombardier Volprecht gave testimony that indicated the sequence of battle for his detachment was roughly as follows: First went to field, second fired north, third ordered south, and fourth got stuck in the mud till the end of the battle. There is a problem though, the sequence that better fits the data from the battle was as follows: first went to field, second ordered south, third fired west, and fourth got stuck in the mud.
John Adams wrote “Facts are stubborn things. They cannot be altered by our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions.” In studying firsthand accounts of the battles in the Revolutionary War they are sometimes not correct or even true. For example, there is an enjoyable firsthand account (written many years later) by a patriot Sergeant White (The Good Soldier White) that is often quoted in accounts of the battle. Parts of his story are no doubt true. The problem is that when Sgt. White states he was with “Lieut. Munroe, our late President of the U. States” and “I was the first that reach them [cannons],” and “They had all left it, except one man tending vent,” those specific parts of the story cannot be true. Hessian Lt. Englehardt would not have time to do all that he did and then cross the Assunpink bridge before the Jagers if artillery men from Sullivan’s column were that far up King Street. Facts from the battle mean that part of that story does not work.
The most important place in all the 13 states fighting for independence on December 26, 1776 from 8:00 am to 9:00 am was the long, narrow bridge over the Assunpink creek. It was held by Hessian Sergeant Muller and 18 men. Sgt. Muller was about 50 years old with about 32 years of service. The importance of this place was not fully realized by the Hessians, but the Patriots knew it had to be closed, and General Washington had two full brigades, Sargent’s and Glover’s, tasked with taking, as quickly as possible, and then holding the bridge.
At about 8:03 am Patriot General Sullivan was about one mile from Trenton center along the River road when he attacked the outlying Jager pickets. General Sullivan had the artillery fire several canister shots at the Jagers. This firing also served as a signal to General Washington so he would know his other wing was attacking. It was to be recalled that General Washington started his attack about 8:00 am on the Pennington road and he also was about a mile from Trenton center. This cannon firing was also a signal to General Ewing so he knew when to start his distraction. General Ewing heard the three cannon shots and he quickly followed with his guns and howitzers firing ten shots from across the Delaware River. General Ewing kept up his firing until he could make out that Patriots were approaching. The v. Knyphausen regiment was forming on Second Street and was the logical unit to resist any attack coming from the River Road.
Volprecht’s detachment with its two guns followed Lt. Fischer’s detachment east on Fourth Street from the Methodist church into the field north and east of the Quaker lane. Lt. Fischer’s detachment was falling back from its earlier engagement and picked up the v. Lossberg detachment as it passed by. It took longer for the v. Lossberg artillery detachment to prepare for the battle because the horses had to be collected, harnessed, hitched, and the guns limbered. Fischer testified that the “cannon were unhorsed, and the horses unharnessed and brought back again into the stable” from the cancelled early morning patrol.[ii] For the morning patrol the horses had been hitched and guns limbered at 4:00 am but the patrol was cancelled so the men/horses/limber/guns were brought back to the Methodist church and waited for sunrise to unhorse.
The infantry of the v. Lossberg and Rall regiments followed Volprecht’s detachment into the field. It was in this field that these two regiments would form a line for battle. While waiting for the v. Lossberg regiment to form Volprecht was ordered by Lt. Weiderhold, “Artillery men, come here with the cannon” meaning they were to join the v. Knyphausen regiment.[iii] The v. Knyphausen regiment was on Second Street heading to the open field just east of Trenton and away from the Assunpink bridge. Volprecht and his v. Lossberg artillery detachment moved south on Quaker lane, linked up with the v. Knyphausen regiment, and set up his gun position facing threats coming from Trenton. The following map presents Trenton as it was in 1776.[iv]
While this was happening on the Hessian side, the right wing of the Patriot forces was moving east on River Road. General Sullivan rushed two of his brigades toward the Assunpink bridge. Neil’s battery with Sargent’s brigade and Sargent’s battery with Glover’s brigade made it to the bridge and across. Glover’s brigade with Sargent’s battery continued along the Assunpink creek to cut off possible exits for the v. Knyphausen regiment. St Clair’s brigade was moving east on Second Street with Moulder’s (three four-pounders) and Hugg’s artillery (two three-pounders).
Hessian Bombardier Volprecht testified that he fired his gun five times and the other gun fired one time.[v] One of those six shots hit the fore horse of one of Hugg’s three-pounder guns as they advanced in support of Patriot St. Clair‘s brigade. John Greenwood, a fifer in the 15th Continental, recorded that one of Hugg’s guns had the fore horse shot by a Hessian three-pounder gun, ”the ball from which struck the fore horse that was dragging our only piece of artillery, a 3-pounder. The animal, which was near me … was struck in its belly and knocked over on its back. While it lay there kicking the cannon was stopped.”[vi] That was the only hit scored by the Hessian artillery that day. St. Clair’s brigade with Col. Stark’s infantry in the lead applied great pressure causing the v. Knyphausen regiment to pull back farther east. Volprecht’s artillery detachment pulled back with the regiment.
As the Hessian artillery detachment pulled back east disaster struck both guns. Volprecht had been ordered into a valley without the ground being checked. Both guns got stuck in the mud. The rest of the battle the men of the artillery, with some aid from nearby infantry, was spent trying to extract the guns from the mud. One gun was extracted just before the surrender, the other gun was extracted after the battle was over.
Mud ended the third artillery engagement. The battle at Trenton was over. The Patriots had a great victory. What is shocking was the limited number of shots from the Hessian artillery. The Rall artillery detachment fired twelve solid shot and one grape, the v. Knyphausen artillery detachment fired “seven or eight shots,” and the v. Lossberg artillery detachment fired six shots.[vii] These few shots lend support for how quickly the Patriots won the Battle of Trenton.
[i] William S. Stryker, The Battles of Trenton and Princeton (The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1898), 388
[ii]Hessian Documents of the American Revolution, Morristown National Historical Park, ML, The Affair at Trenton Dec. 26, 1776, English Translation, ML 337
[iii] Hessian Documents of the American Revolution, Morristown National Historical Park, ML, The Affair at Trenton Dec. 26, 1776, English Translation, ML 277
[v] Hessian Documents of the American Revolution, Morristown National Historical Park, ML, The Affair at Trenton Dec. 26, 1776, English Translation, ML 277
[vi] John Greenwood, Revolutionary Services of John Greenwood of Boston and New York, 1775-1783, 40-41. “the first intimation I received of our going to fight was the firing of a 6- pound cannon at us, the ball from which struck the fore horse that was dragging our only piece of artillery a 3-pounder.” Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/revolutionaryser00gree/page/38/mode/2u
[vii] Hessian Documents of the American Revolution, Morristown National Historical Park, ML, The Affair at Trenton Dec. 26, 1776, English Translation, ML 341
Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historians Karl G. Elsea and William W. Welsch
The v. Knyphausen artillery detachment:
Lieutenant Friedrich Fischer was about 37 years old and had about 20 years military experience. He was the senior artillery officer in Trenton. For administrative purposes he saw to the needs of the men, and horses, and equipment for the artillery in Trenton. However, for tactical considerations he was a detachment commander to two three-pounder field guns and crews and horses and equipment assigned to support the v. Knyphausen Regiment. He was to follow their orders unless overridden by the Brigade leader, Colonel Rall. Lt. Fischer never made it to his assigned regiment. The reason was the rapid advance by the Patriots on all fronts.
Each regiment of the Hessians as they came to Trenton in mid-December was assigned a significant building, usually a church, to form its “center of gravity.” The v. Knyphausen regiment was assigned the Presbyterian church, the Jagers were assigned the Old Stone Barracks, the v. Lossberg regiment the English church, the dragoons were assigned the Quaker meeting house, and the Rall regiment several taverns. The Artillery was assigned the Methodist church at the northeast corner of Queen Street and Fourth Street. Thus, the artillery horses, harness, and limbers were at the Methodist church for the three detachments. Three of the neighboring houses to the Methodist church each contained the men for an artillery detachment.
The hottest part of the hotttest temperature engagement in the American Revolution happened on June 28, 1778 at Monmouth Court House in New Jersey. The portion that gets the most attention out of this entire battle was the supposedly heated exchange between General George Washington and his second-in-command, General Charles Lee.
What ensued was the end of an American military career, as Lee would face a court martial, a suspension from duty, and a fall into obscurity. Historians have sorted through the primary sources of the time period to reconstruct what exactly happened on that balmy June day.
Yet, for the first time, a dedicated study, from the lens of both a historian and a practicing attorney, brings into focus the details of that fateful day in New Jersey. That topic, his new book, and historian Christian McBurney will be the focal point of this week’s “Rev War Revelry” as a Facebook live, this Sunday at 7 p.m. EST.
McBurney, an attorney in Washington D.C. and president of the George Washington American Revolution Round Table of Washington D.C. will speak on his latest publication, George Washington’s Nemesis, The Outrageous Treason and Unfair Court Martial of Major General Charles Lee during the Revolutionary War. This book is one of five that McBurney has written on the subject of the American Revolution.
For more information on those books, click here. To read up or read the synopsis of the book at the center of the historian happy hour this Sunday, click here.
We look forward to welcoming you this Sunday; whether you read the book or on the fence about adding this volume to your expanding library or just want to know the history behind this last major battle in the northern theater in the American Revolution. Or all three! Remember to bring your comments, questions, and a favorite beverage to sip on as you tune in.
The largest, in terms of military forces deployed, engagement in the American Revolutionary War occurred on September 11, 1777 in southeastern Pennsylvania. The Battle of Brandywine was a pivotal moment in the British campaign that captured the patriot capital in Philadelphia. With the anniversary of the engagement happening the Friday before, the Emerging Revolutionary War crew will make this engagement and campaign the focal point of Sunday’s “Rev War Roundtable with ERW.”
Joining the “Rev War Revelry” this Sunday, at 7pm on Emerging Revolutionary War’s Facebook page will be Michael C. Harris, historian and author of Brandywine: A History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphiabut Saved America, September 11, 1777, which was published and is available for purchase by Savas Beatie. Click here to order.
Besides authoring the history mentioned above, Harris has an upcoming release, on another important battle in Pennsylvania, Germantown, fought on October 4, 1777. Rumor on the street has it that he will be joining ERW at a future date to discuss this important battle and talk about his new book.
A bit of a background on Harris. He is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and the American Military University. He has worked for the National Park Service in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at Brandywine Battlefield. He has conducted tours and staff rides of many east coast battlefields. Michael is certified in secondary education and currently teaches in the Philadelphia region. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Michelle and son, Nathanael.
Although the battle lost Philadelphia for the patriots, Harris does not hold back on the culprit for the setback:
“Washington failed the army, the army did not fail Washington.”
To hear the reasoning behind that emphatic quote we hope you join us this Sunday!
This Sunday, at 7 p.m. join Emerging Revolutionary War on our Facebook page as we interview William “Billy” Griffith, author of the latest volume in the Emerging Revolutionary War Series.
His book, A Handsome Flogging, The Battle of Monmouth, June 28, 1778 was just released by Savas Beatie, LLC this month. The book is so new that Amazon still has it listed for pre-sale, but don’t worry, you can purchase the book directly from Savas Beatie by clicking here.
Billy Griffith is a full-time contributor to ERW and is also the author of The Battle of Lake George: England’s First Triumph in the French and Indian War, which was released in 2016 by HistoryPress. A native of Branchburg, New Jersey, he has a family connection to the the Monmouth area; he graduated with a degree in history from Shepherd University and holds a graduate degree in military history from Norwich University. He currently works as a full-time Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide. We would be remiss if we did not include his other passion, besides American military history, the New York Yankees. Feel free to join the Facebook Live to disparage his love of the Evil Empire!
ERW looks forward to seeing you, hearing your questions, comments, and what personalized message you want inscribed on your copy of Billy’s latest publication. Although this happy hour historian discussion centers on an author interview, it is still a “happy hour” so bring your favorite brew; we can guarantee the two historians on the program will be imbibing theirs!
The odds are good that you haven’t been able to visit some of your favorite Revolutionary War sites during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of these locations rely on foot traffic for their annual income and may be struggling to stay afloat amidst various state lockdowns and a smaller number of visitors. (We left out many national, state, and local parks, which sometimes have access to government funds. But, they often have partnerships with non-profit foundations that provide vital support for their activities.) So, we decided to start a list of museums and parks that you can help out now and visit as circumstances allow. No doubt it will grow. The list does not constitute a solicitation or endorsement, but many of our historians visited some of these museums in the past and found them really helpful to our own work. (You may need to copy and paste some links.) If you search our “weekender” posts, there are even more sites to support and visit when you can.
Cresswell found cheap lodging in New York and reunited with Joseph Brewer, who had fled Philadelphia himself, leaving his wife behind. “The persecution against the friends of Gorvernment was too violent for a man of his warm temper to stay any longer amongst them with safety either of person or property.” While in New York, he watched the buildup of forces that Howe would later take on the Philadelphia campaign, but his focus remained on securing passage home. It would take months, but Cresswell found ways to kill time, including watching a skirmish with the Americans he had so frequently cursed.