JOURNEYS INTO NEW JERSEY
George Washington spent a lot of time in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War.
Most of us know that much. But beyond the basic "facts," unless one's a historian, very few of us know much more.
My own knowledge (lack thereof) for many years ran something like this: Independence was declared by the colonies; the British were not happy; there was a protracted war that included a retreat by the Continental Army across New Jersey, passing through what is now my hometown of River Edge (New Bridge Landing); a tough winter in Valley Forge, and eventually the momentous Christmas Day crossing of the Delaware. And there were many other stops along the way — like Morristown and Princeton.
Most all of us know of a historic site in our state where it is said that "George Washington slept here."
It got us to thinking — at just how many places in New Jersey did George Washington sleep? Is there an "official" list of those places? And just what does it mean to say that "George Washington Slept Here"?
For the record, General George Washington and the Continental Army spent almost half the American Revolution in New Jersey — more than anywhere else. From 1775 to 1783, the Garden State was home to a series of decisive events in the war for independence. Strategically located between the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and the British Army in New York, and midway between the New England colonies and the American South, New Jersey was the spot where Patriots, Tories, British and Hessians maneuvered; where Trenton, Princeton and Monmouth witnessed dramatic American victories; and where the Continental Army endured the hardest winter of the century. It was at Nassau Hall at Princeton University that the Continental Congress convened in 1783. And it was in New Jersey that General George Washington delivered his farewell orders to the Continental Army.
There are many homes dotted throughout the state where he slept and made war plans, they tell.
For example, right here in River Edge is situated the New Bridge Landing, where the Steuben house was raided seven different times. My home county, Bergen County, is said to have suffered more than 100 raids as it was located just across the river from British-held Manhattan.
There were various locations around the state where Washington lived and/or set up headquarters.
Just how many and where is the something I set out to learn.
Here are just a few of the places that Washington used as headquarters during his time in New Jersey.
Washington's HQ-Morristown; Headquarters-New Bridge Landing; Douglass Home-Trenton; Rockingham-Rocky Hill; Wallace House-Somerville; Schuyler-Colfax House-Wayne; Van Allen House-Oakland; Hermitage-Ho-Ho-Kus; The Boylan House-Pluckemin; The Henry Doremus House-Towaco; Dey Mansion-Wayne; Jacob Morrell House-Chatham; De Wint House Tappan, NY (at the time part of New Jersey); Old Paramus Church-Paramus/Ridgewood border.
At the end of the day, I was not able to locate a definitive answer to my question (How many places Washington slept at). But I haven't given up. We'll keep at it and let you know if there's anything new to report.
Ironically, while most of the war was fought up and down New Jersey, when the war finally ended it was in Washington's native Virginia — just down the road from his Mount Vernon home — in Yorktown.
These days many places connected with Washington are open to the public, visible and visitable. Some are military battlefields and headquarters. There are private homes opened to Washington and his lieutenants. Others are colonial homes, built when N.J. was a colony and which provide insight to what New Jersey was like back then.
If you are interested in learning more, you might start by contacting: The New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry for a driving guide, map and information on New Jersey's Revolutionary War Trail (800-843-6420 to request a copy) or at http://www.njparksandforests.org
Also a good resource book: "George Washington's New Jersey — A Guide to the Crossroads of the American Revolution; by Craig Mitchell, Middle Atlantic Press; Moorestown, NJ; 2003.
Eric Model explores the "offbeat, off the beaten path overlooked and forgotten" on SIRIUS-XM Radio and at journeysinto.com.
ALSO BY ERIC MODEL