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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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British troop re-enactors at Monmouth Battlefield, 1978
"British troops" at re-enactment of the Battle of Monmouth, 1978. (Monmouth Battlefield State Park)

Battle of Monmouth: The Longest Battle of the American Revolution

Visitors to the Monmouth Battlefield State Park in Freehold, New Jersey, can witness a battle re-enactment that recalls the hot summer day of June 28, 1778, when the American and British forces clashed under the direction of Continental Army General George Washington and British General Sir Henry Clinton. On June 24, Washington had called a council of war to establish a strategy of battle against Clinton; the council agreed to avoid a major confrontation with General Clinton, and instead to send a small number of Patriot troops to harass the enemy's right and left flanks.

When Washington arrived at nearby Englishtown on that morning of June 28, he ordered his generals to attack the British. General Charles Lee, who had been opposed to an all-out engagement with the British, was reluctant to attack, but he and his advance force were drawn into battle by British forces. In the confusion of battle, Lee ordered his troops to retreat. Angered, General Washington, directed Lee and "Mad" Anthony Wayne to fight a delaying action, while he took command of the Continental troops and organized them in a defensive position. For the rest of the day, the two armies clashed in the oppressive heat, finally withdrawing after 5 o' clock from exhaustion. Washington planned to resume the battle on the next day, but General Clinton and his men slipped away, undetected by Washington's army, shortly after midnight. Neither side emerged a clear winner of the battle, but the American forces had proved themselves as a professional fighting force.

Other American heroes also were present at Monmouth. LaFayette and "Mad" Anthony Wayne took part in the battle. Molly Hayes, known today as Molly Pitcher, was at Freehold that unbearably hot day bringing water to her husband and his fellow gunners as they fired their cannon. When she returned from fetching water, she discovered that her husband had fallen in battle. She immediately took his place, serving as a gunner for the remainder of the battle. Legend says that she was presented to General Washington after the battle.

Project documentation consists of photocopies of brochures from Monmouth Battlefield State Park, photocopies from the book Washington and the American Revolution: A Guide to the Campaigns in Pennsylvania and New Jersey by Anita D. Blackaby describing the Battle of Monmouth, an article on the battle from an historical journal, and six color photos and one black-and-white photograph of the battlefield. Also included are materials on the archaeological excavation of the Battlefield: six color snapshots, a brochure, a press release, newspaper coverage, an article on the excavation from New Jersey Outdoors, and information on the Deep Search Metal Detecting Club.

Originally submitted by: Christopher H. Smith, Representative (4th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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