Winter Encampments

1308708409f302d03b1f2c0975d37a5c1bc020935f-1-300x199The Watchung Mountains, known to Washington as the Blue Hills, were a natural barrier behind which the Continental Army was safe from incursions by the British out of Manhattan and at the same time a menace to British security. Washington with his main army sought the shelter of these hills for three winter encampments, two at Morristown and one at Middlebrook.

Bound Brook Village and the surrounding countryside frequently were targets of British soldiers during their encampment at New Brunswick in 1777. On April 13, 4,000 British and Hessian troops under General Charles Cornwallis marched out from New Brunswick in four columns to surprise the American garrisons guarding Raritan River crossings. Completely overpowered, some fled, others were taken prisoner, and the Battle of Bound Brook was over.

Washington camped along Middle Brook, between the first and second range of the Watchung Mountains, in June 1777. He returned in the winter of 1778-1779 with an army of 10,000, equal to the population of Somerset County, to camp near the village of Middlebrook. To minimize impact on residents, brigades were assigned to locations several miles apart: Maryland to the east of Middle Brook, Virginia on the west, Pennsylvania across the Raritan, on the west side of the Millstone River, and the artillery at Pluckemin. The six-month Second Middlebrook encampment takes its name from Washington’s “Middlebrook” dating of his dispatches; that 18th century village no longer exists, having become the western end of Bound Brook.

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