The Watchung Mountains provided a significant strategic position for the Continental Army in the defense of New Jersey. Paralleling the primary, settled agricultural area of the state, the mountains allowed Washington’s army to keep a watchful eye on British activities whenever they crossed the Hudson. From the heights of the mountains, the Continentals could watch British movements in the plains below and harass British foraging parties before withdrawing to the safety of the unassailable ridge-tops. The mountains were a crucial element in a defensive ring that the American army created around the British base in New York City.
Middlebrook was the headquarters for of this defensive ring at key points during the war. Washington first moved his army to the Middlebrook encampment in the vicinity of Somerville in the spring of 1777, following the winter in Morristown. The army returned to spend the winter in Middlebrook during the winter of 1778-1779. Encamped from the vicinities of Bound Brook and Somerville northward to Pluckemin, the army exerted control over New Jersey’s agricultural countryside yet was unassailable because of the mountain defenses.
The storyline Middlebrook and the Defense of New Jersey is the opportunity to tell the story of the New Jersey’s strategic defense and the particular role that the Middlebrook encampments played. The story should be coordinated with interpretation at sites in New York north of Manhattan that completed the encirclement of the British. At Middlebrook, preserved sites at the Wallace, Staats, Van Horne, Van Veghten, and Vanderveer Houses provide centers from which a coordinated interpretation of the Middlebrook encampment can be told. The storyline is closely associated with the theme A Revolutionary Landscape and sub-theme Strategy as well as the theme Rendezvous for Rebellion and sub-theme Encampments and the Daily Life of Soldiers.