Princeton Battlefield State Park

In 1777, a daring maneuver by George Washington surprised and defeated an isolated British force near modern-day Princeton University, reviving American hopes for independence. Today, the battlefield is preserved as a New Jersey state park.

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The Battle of Princeton was fought on January 3, 1777 between American forces commanded by General George Washington, Major Generals Nathanael Greene and John Sullivan, and Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer, and British forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Alexander Leslie and Col. Charles Mawhood at Princeton, New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was an American victory, and although American forces withdrew in the face of British reinforcements, they effectively freed the state from British control.

After his victories in southeastern New York, British Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis had strung his army along the Delaware River to await the spring, but a successful surprise attack by George Washington on Trenton on December 26 stirred him to action. Cornwallis steadily maneuvered Washington into a precarious position. Rather than risk defeat in another standup fight with Cornwallis, Washington took 4,600 men on a nighttime march north to attack an isolated garrison at Princeton.

Washington met British Col. Charles Mawhood and 800 of his men 1.5 miles west of Princeton. Mawhood was heading toward Trenton when the opposing forces met. His men fired one volley and charged with bayonets, Maj. Gen. High Mercer was mortally wounded, and the Patriots fell back. General Washington arrived with reinforcements in the nick of time.

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Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park

If patriot-turned-traitor Benedict Arnold’s reputation wasn’t already bad enough, the massacre of American forces at Fort Griswold earned him a particularly reviled place in American historical memory.

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The Battle of Fort Griswold (or Battle of Groton Heights) was fought on September 6, 1781 in Groton, Connecticut, between the American garrison commanded by Lt. Col. William Ledyard and British forces commanded by Patriot-turned-loyalist Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold and Lt. Col. Edmund Eyre during the Revolutionary War. The battle was a British victory; Fort Griswold was seized and New London burned, but the British did not achieve any long term gains. The British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia a month later effectively ended the war in the Continental US.

Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold’s raid on New London, Connecticut was an attempt to divert General George Washington from attacking Lord Cornwallis’s army in Virginia. Arnold, who was from the area, believed Fort Griswold, across the Thames River from New London, was only partially constructed and would not be difficult to seize. By the time he realized his mistake, Lt. Col. Edmund Eyre’s assault force had already engaged the fort and it was too late to recall them.

Eyre attempted to persuade the fort’s 150 defenders to surrender, but they vowed to fight. The first British assault was scattered by artillery. Major William Montgomery then stormed the fort at a sparsely-defended point, but was killed by a freed slave named Jordan Freeman. Montgomery’s men opened the gate from the inside, and the garrison attempted to surrender.

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The Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut

Colonial history is alive in the small Connecticut town of Ridgefield, where visitors can still see a British cannonball embedded in a wooden post in a former local tavern.

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The Battle of Ridgefield was fought on April 27, 1777 between American Colonial forces commanded by Maj. Gen. David Wooster and Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold and British forces commanded by Maj. Gen. William Tryon around Ridgefield, Connecticut during the Revolutionary War. The battle was a tactical success for the British, but their actions galvanized Patriot support in Connecticut. Enrollments in the Continental Army soared, and the British limited their operations in Connecticut to coastal raiding.

In spring, 1777, New York Royal Governor Maj. Gen. William Tryon landed on the Connecticut coastline with 1,500 regulars and 300 loyalist militia with the objective of destroying a military supply depot in Danbury, Connecticut. It took too long for colonial militia to muster to save the depot, and on the morning of April 27, the British torched Patriot homes in Danbury and moved south toward Ridgefield.

Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold, with approximately 500 men, erected barricades throughout Ridgefield, while Maj. Gen. David Wooster pursued the British with 200 men. Wooster harassed their rear guard, but at one point the British put up a stiff defense bolstered with cannon. Wooster reportedly called out, “Come on my boys! Never mind such random shots!” moments before being mortally wounded.

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Monmouth Battlefield State Park

In 1778, two armies slugged it out in sweltering heat in these east-central New Jersey fields. Though technically a draw, the Continental Army showed it could finally stand toe-to-toe with the best soldiers in the British Army.

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The Battle of Monmouth Court House was fought on June 28, 1778 between American forces commanded by General George Washington and Major Generals Nathanael Greene, William Lord Stirling Alexander, Charles Lee, and Marquis de Lafayette and British forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis and Lt. Gen. Baron Wilhelm von Knyphausen near Freehold, New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a tactical draw, with both sides exhausted after fighting the longest battle of the war in brutal heat.

After France’s entry into the war on the American side, British Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Clinton withdrew his army from Philadelphia and retreated toward New York City, which was under British control. He sent several thousand Tory volunteers and most of his supplies down the Delaware River, while his remaining 10,000-man army marched overland. General Washington’s 12,000-man army caught up with them at Monmouth Court House.

Washington sent Maj. Gen. Charles Lee and Marquis de Lafayette forward with 5,000 men to attack Clinton’s 1,500-man rearguard. When Clinton turned Maj. Gen. Cornwallis’ forces around to strike Lee’s left flank, the Americans broke and withdrew in confusion. Just then, General Washington arrived ahead of the rest of his army and sharply rebuked Lee. He cobbled together a defensive line, but that also broke under relentless British attacks. Washington’s third line held.

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Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site

This small park and museum commemorates the only Revolutionary War battle fought in what would become the State of Vermont.

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The Battle of Hubbardton was fought on July 7, 1777 between British and German forces commanded by Brigadier General Simon Fraser and Baron Friedrich Adolf Riedesel and American forces commanded by colonels Ebenezer Francis, Nathan Hale, and Seth Warner near Hubbardton, Vermont during the Revolutionary War. The British won the battle but failed to follow up their victory.

In June 1777, British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne headed south along Lake Champlain in one prong of a multi-pronged attack designed to split New England from the rest of the American Colonies. On July 5, the British recaptured Fort Ticonderoga after hauling artillery up to the summit of Mount Defiance. The roughly 4,000-strong American garrison fled without a fight. Major General Arthur St. Clair left Colonel Seth Warner of the Green Mountain Boys Regiment near Hubbardton with a 1,200-man rearguard while the main body continued its southern retreat.

Brig. Gen. Simon Fraser, commanding some 1,030 of Burgoyne’s most experienced troops, including German Brunswick jägers and grenadiers, was in hot pursuit. They initially surprised Warner’s rearguard in the early morning hours, but the Americans regrouped on a hill and put up stubborn resistance. Though wounded, Colonel Francis of the 11th Massachusetts Regiment directed his men to attack a vulnerable point on the British left flank.

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Forts Clinton and Montgomery Battlefield

The Hudson Highlands were once the scene of a heroic last stand at two forts in the shadow of Bear Mountain, New York, unbeknownst to thousands of families visiting the Trailside Zoo each year.

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The Battle of Forts Clinton and Montgomery (aka Battle of the Hudson Highlands) was fought on October 6, 1777 between British forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Sir Henry Clinton and Maj. Gen. John Vaughan and American forces commanded by Brig. Gen. George Clinton and Brig. Gen. James Clinton at the junction of Popolopen Creek and the Hudson River during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a hollow victory for the British due to Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga later that month.

After the Battle of Freeman’s Farm (or First Saratoga), the British and American armies sat licking their wounds. British Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne’s 5,000 supply-starved men hugged the Hudson River near Saratoga, New York. In late September, Maj. Gen. Sir Henry Clinton moved his 3,100-man army north to relieve Burgoyne and open the Hudson River to British ships. Standing in his way was New York Governor George Clinton with 600 men and 20 artillery pieces at Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery, plus the warships Montgomery and Congress and three smaller vessels.

British Maj. Gen. Clinton split his army in two in order to assault both forts simultaneously by land. Nine hundred men under Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell were to attack Fort Montgomery and 1,200 men under Clinton and Maj. Gen. John Vaughan would attack Fort Clinton. They would be supported by seven ships on the Hudson.

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Battle Road at Minuteman National Park

Walk in the footsteps of British soldiers fleeing relentless attacks by colonial militia in this carefully-preserved National Park dedicated to the opening salvo of the Revolutionary War.

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The road from Concord to Boston, Massachusetts was the scene of heavy skirmishing on April 19, 1775 between British soldiers and American Colonial militia in the opening salvos of the Revolutionary War. The day had monumental significance in American history, as the Battles of Lexington and Concord represented the spark that led to the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America.

Early that fateful morning, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith and 700 British regulars departed Boston to capture and destroy Colonial militia supplies in Concord. The night before the raid, Paul Revere and Samuel Prescott departed from Boston to warn the militia of British plans. Paul Revere was captured along the Battle Road but later released. Later that morning, several hundred British soldiers arrived in Lexington and were met by approximately 70-77 militiamen. It’s unclear who fired the first shot, but when the smoke cleared, seven colonists lay dead and eight wounded.

The British continued to Concord, where they set fire to the supplies. At 9:30 am at North Bridge, 400 militiamen confronted 100 British regulars, resulting in approximately two militia killed and four wounded, and three British regulars killed and eight wounded. The engagement shocked both sides. His mission completed, Lt. Col. Smith and his men headed back to Boston. By then, the call had reverberated around Massachusetts and militiamen poured in from the countryside.

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