Camden, New Jersey Revolutionary War Sites
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REVOLUTIONARY WAR SITES IN CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

Camden NJ Historic Sites
COOPER'S FERRY SITE
Cooper's Ferry Site - Camden NJ Cooper's Ferry
Cooper's Ferry Cooper's Ferry
Camden in the Revolutionary War Camden in the Revolutionary War
Camden in the Revolutionary War Camden in the Revolutionary War

Cooper's Ferry Site
Cooper St. and North Front St.
Map / Directions to the Cooper's Ferry Site

This historic sign in front of the Cooper Branch Library at Johnson Park marks the site of Cooper's Ferry, which ran across the Delaware River to and from Philadelphia. The Delaware River is located three-tenths of a mile west from here.

During the Revolutionary War, British forces occupied Philadelphia from September 26, 1777 until June 18, 1778. Because Cooper's Ferry provided an entrance into New Jersey from Philadelphia, this area became the site of military activity during that time. Three important events are described below.

Camden New Jersey in the Revolutionary War

Hessian Route to and from the Battle of Red Bank
October 1777

On October 21, 1777, the British sent Hessian troops under the command of Colonel von Donop from Philadelphia to attack Fort Mercer, an American Fort on the Delaware River in what is now National Park. (Hessians were German mercenary soldiers hired by the British to fight in the Revolutionary War.)

The Hessians crossed the Delaware River from Philadelphia into New Jersey, landing in Cooper's Ferry (now Camden). They marched to Haddonfield, where they camped for the night.

The following morning, they marched southwest towards Fort Mercer. In order to reach Fort Mercer, the Hessians needed to get across the Big Timber Creek at some point. They marched to a bridge in what is now Brooklawn, but discovered that the bridge here had been dismantled by American forces. This caused the Hessians to march an additional eight to ten miles, and cross the Big Timber Creek at the Clement's Road Bridge.

Later that day, the Hessians made their attack on Fort Mercer, in what became known as the Battle of Red Bank where they were defeated. They retreated to Haddonfield and then Cooper's Ferry, from where they crossed back into Philadelphia on October 23. [1]

Camden New Jersey in the Revolutionary War

Site of Foraging and Skirmish
February / March 1778

In February, the British forces occupying Philadelphia were in need of food for their troops and for their horses. They planned a large foraging expedition into this part of New Jersey to collect cattle and hay. General Washington, then with his army at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, received word of this plan, and he sent General "Mad Anthony" Wayne to this area to collect and take away cattle and destroy hay before the British got there.

On February 25, General Wayne was in Haddonfield, from where he wrote to General Washington that he had collected 150 head of cattle, which he had sent on, and had burned quantities of hay to keep it from the British.

General William Howe, in command of the British at Philadelphia, got word of Wayne's activities, and ordered thousands of troops across the Delaware River into New Jersey to cut Wayne off. About 2000 British soldiers under Colonel Sterling and Major John Simcoe marched to Haddonfield. Additional British forces remained at Cooper's Ferry and foraged in the area, while the others had gone on to Haddonfield.

Wayne received advance warning of this, and because he was greatly outnumbered (his own forces totaled about 500, including 300 militia), he evacuated Haddonfield to Mount Holly before Simcoe's arrival.

Wayne sent a request for assistance to General Pulaski, who commanded a group of cavalry. Pulaski met up with Wayne in Mount Holly with about fifty cavalry to reinforce Wayne's strength, and they headed towards Haddonfield. Upon hearing that Wayne would be returning to Haddonfield with Pulaski's cavalry, Simcoe's troops evacuated the town and retreated to Cooper's Ferry, where they skirmished with Wayne and Pulaski's men before crossing the Delaware River back to Philadelphia on March 2.  

Wayne and Pulaski's forces had been largely successful in preventing the British from capturing food and forage. They carried only about fifty-six head of cattle with them back to Philadelphia. [2]

Camden New Jersey in the Revolutionary War

British Abandon Philadelphia and Enter New Jersey
June 18, 1778
~ Their march across New Jersey would lead them to the Battle of Monmouth ten days later ~

The British army occupied Philadelphia from September 26, 1777 until June 18, 1778. Philadelphia had been serving as the American capital, and the British occupation forced Congress to move to York, Pennsylvania, which had a demoralizing effect on the Americans.

During that same winter of 1777, General George Washington and his Continental (American) army were camped about twenty miles away from Philadelphia in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Valley Forge provided a good strategic location for the army's winter quarters: It was close enough to keep an eye on the British troops in Philadelphia, but in a strong defensive position should the British decide to attack.

In early June 1778, the British forces in Philadelphia decided to abandon Philadelphia and march towards New York City, the main British stronghold in America. British forces under General Henry Clinton began their trip on June 18, 1777, when they crossed over the Delaware River at Coopers Ferry into New Jersey. They then marched as far as Haddonfield where they encamped for the night. Over the following days, they marched through and encamped at locations in Cherry Hill, Mount Laurel, Moorestown, Mount Holly, Bordentown, Crosswicks, Upper Freehold and Monmouth Courthouse (now Freehold).

During this time, General Washington and his Continental army were also on the move. After hearing of the British evacuation of Philadelphia, Washington made the decision to leave Valley Forge. On June 20, they crossed into New Jersey at Coryell's Ferry and marched in pursuit of the British troops. On June 28, they would encounter the British forces at Monmouth Courthouse and fight the Battle of Monmouth, the longest continuous battle of the war. [3]

Camden in the Revolutionary War

Source Notes:

1. ^ Samuel Stelle Smith, Fight for the Delaware, 1777 (Monmouth Beach, N.J.: Philip Freneau Press, 1970) Pages 18 - 23
This includes the map on page 20, which traces the route taken by the Hessian troops. The book states that the map was, "based largely on the extensive road research of Mr. Harry Marvin of Mullica Hill, N.J."
▸ The map is also reproduced on the "Fort Mercer is Attacked" sign at the Red Bank Historical Park.

See also:
Letter from British General William Howe to Lord George Germain, dated Philadelphia, October 25, 1777, reprinted in:
Francis B. Lee, editor, Archives of the State of New Jersey, Second Series, Vol II (Documents Relating to the Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey | Extracts from American Newspapers relating to New Jersey) (Trenton: John L. Murphy Publishing Company, 1903) page 237
Available to be read at Google Books here

For more information and accompanying source notes about the events mentioned in this section, see the town pages linked from within the text.

2. ^ “To George Washington from Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 25 February 1778,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-13-02-0566 [last update: 2015-03-20]). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 13, 26 December 1777 – 28 February 1778, ed. Edward G. Lengel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2003, pp. 668–671.

“To George Washington from Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 26 February 1778,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-13-02-0575 [last update: 2015-03-20]). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 13, 26 December 1777 – 28 February 1778, ed. Edward G. Lengel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2003, pp. 677–678.

“From George Washington to Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 28 February 1778,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-13-02-0601 [last update: 2015-03-20]). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 13, 26 December 1777 – 28 February 1778, ed. Edward G. Lengel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2003, pp. 700–701.

“From George Washington to Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 2 March 1778,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-14-02-0027 [last update: 2015-03-20]). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 14, 1 March 1778 – 30 April 1778, ed. David R. Hoth. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004, p. 42.

“To George Washington from Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 5 March 1778,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-14-02-0056 [last update: 2015-03-20]). Source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 14, 1 March 1778 – 30 April 1778, ed. David R. Hoth. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004, pp. 72–75.

New Jersey Gazette No. 14, Mar 4, 1778, reprinted in:
Francis B. Lee, editor, Archives of the State of New Jersey, Second Series, Vol II (Documents Relating to the Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey | Extracts from American Newspapers relating to New Jersey) (Trenton: John L. Murphy Publishing Company, 1903) page 91
Available to be read at Google Books here

"A Correspondent Desires Us to Insert The Following" New Jersey Gazette No. 15, Mar 11, 1778, reprinted in:
Francis B. Lee, editor, Archives of the State of New Jersey, Second Series, Vol II (Documents Relating to the Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey | Extracts from American Newspapers relating to New Jersey) (Trenton: John L. Murphy Publishing Company, 1903) page 101-102
Available to be read at Google Books here

John Graves Simcoe, Simcoe's Military Journal (New York: Bartlett & Welford, 1844) pages 38-46
Available to be read at Google Books here

3. ^ For more information and accompanying source notes about the events mentioned in this section, see the town pages linked from within the text

Revolutionary War New Jersey

Website Researched, Written, Photographed and Designed by Al Frazza
This website, its text and photographs are © 2009 -2017 Al Frazza. All rights reserved.