“The rebels at Egg Harbour have sixteen strong new privateers and a frigate there, and four weeks ago unfortunately captured six three- and two-masted ships… among them a royal provision ship. The local insurance company has to stand the loss of 80,000 pounds sterling, for these ships were loaded only with English goods and wine. If but a single frigate had been sent along as convoy, everything would have been saved.”
-Hessian Major Carl Bauermeister, May 1779
The naval action associated with the conflict in New Jersey during the fight for independence is the big untold story within Crossroads of the American Revolution.
Faced by a British Navy considered to be the finest in the world, the Continental Congress commissioned private merchant vessels to capture British supply ships. Not only would these privateers seize valuable supplies from the British, but the cargo would be sold and proceeds split among the American captains, crew and government.
The Hudson River and the Delaware River were both scenes of significant naval encounters and strategic planning. Ports at Perth Amboy and New Brunswick were vital to British logistics, and the Raritan River experienced piracy and naval conflict. To the south, the Great and Little Egg Harbor Rivers hosted warehouses and markets for the plundered British cargo.
British and French fleets, merchant vessels, and privateers plying the Atlantic Ocean off New York and New Jersey were a constant source of concern, anxiety and conflict.