In the spring of 1777, following the first winter in Morristown, Washington moved his army south, to a position in the Watchung Mountains where he could keep a watchful on the British whenever they crossed the Hudson. The mountains allowed him to look out over the settled agricultural plains below, which were a constant target of British foraging parties, so the Americans could harass the enemy when necessary, before withdrawing to safety of the ridges.
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. 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 story of Middlebrook goes hand-in-hand with 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.