Edison, New Jersey Revolutionary War Sites
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REVOLUTIONARY WAR SITES IN EDISON, NEW JERSEY

Revolutionary War Sites in Edison
ST JAMES CHURCH
PISCATAWAYTOWN BURIAL GROUND

St. James Historic Church
Edison, New Jersey
Edison, New Jersey
Edison, New Jersey

St. James Church
Piscatawaytown Burial Ground

2136 Woodbridge Ave.
Map / Directions to the St. James Church
Map / Directions to all Edison Revolutionary War Sites

"St. James Episcopal Church was established in 1704. The original structure was built in 1724. In 1835 the church was destroyed by a tornado. It was rebuilt using as much of the original wood and fixtures as possible. The rear section was built in 1913. There was considerable military activity in the Piscatawaytown area in 1776/1777. Woodbridge Avenue was a main land artery for British communications and movement of supplies and troops. The British Army used St. James as a barracks and a hospital from December 1776 to June 1777. Battles were fought at or very near to the church. To the east of this monument is the common grave of British soldiers who died in the Revolutionary War. They were buried in the British breastworks (defensive trench) emplaced along the Post Road (Now Woodbridge Ave). At the request of the opposing American soldiers, the British also buried a number of American soldiers but their resting place is not known. The Piscatawaytown Burial Ground is one of the earliest in Middlesex County. The oldest readable monument is dated 1693." [3]

OAK TREE POND HISTORIC PARK
Site of the Reuben Ayers House

Oak Tree Pond Historic Park
Oak Tree Pond Historic Park
Oak Tree Pond Historic Park
Oak Tree Pond Historic Park

Oak Tree Pond Historic Park
Oak Tree Rd. and Plainfield Rd.
Map / Directions to Oak Tree Pond Historic Park
Map / Directions to all Edison Revolutionary War Sites

The park has several markers explaining the Oak Tree Engagement, and the events leading up it:

"The Oak Tree Engagement of June 26, 1777 took place in Edison Township near this marker. The engagement was one of four near continuous skirmishes that were known as the Battle of the Short Hills.

"In late 1776, the revolutionary forces under General George Washington had retreated from Manhattan Island to the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River after being defeated by British troops under the command of General Sir William Howe. However, by early 1777, Washington's army had reversed the course of the War after winning the battles of Trenton and Princeton. During the winter and spring of 1777, Washington made his headquarters in Morristown. Between January and late May, he sent American detachments below the Watchung Heights where his troops engaged elements of the British Army, then posted between New Brunswick and Perth Amboy. The Americans, in a series of hit-and-run engagements, struck numerous foraging parties and outposts of Howe's troops. By late May 1777, Washington moved most of the American army to the Middlebrook encampment in the Watchung Heights and from there waited to see what the British Army would do.

"By mid-June 1777, General Howe had assembled his main army in the Raritan Valley area of central New Jersey. Intending to destroy Washington's army of 8,000 men and then capture Philadelphia, Howe's forces totaled 17,000. His initial plan was to draw Washington's army down from the safety of the Watchung Heights and into the open ground near Somerset Courthouse by feigning an overland advance towards the Delaware River. When this failed, Howe pulled back his troops to New Brunswick and began to contemplate his next move which seemed to be the removal of his army from New Jersey.

"On the 21st of June, Howe began his withdrawal from his encampment in New Brunswick and appeared to the Americans to be moving towards Staten Island. Washington responded by attacking the rear of the moving British forces in Piscataway and Bohnamtown. Washington, against his better judgment moved his headquarters and several American divisions to the plains at Quibbletown (i.e. northern Piscataway) The division of Major General William Alexander, known as Lord Stirling, was posted in advance around Ash Swamp and the Short Hills, then part of Woodbridge Township. A detachment of New Jersey and Virginia troops accompanied by Colonel Morgan's famous Rifle Corps were sent closer to the village of Woodbridge to set up a picket line and observe the British.

"On the evening of the 25th, after receiving intelligence that the Americans had moved to the low ground, Howe divided his army in two and began to launch a two-pronged pincer attack against Americans. General Charles (Lord) Cornwallis commanding the right column, consisting of around 5,000 troops, left Amboy very early in the morning of June 26, to travel the route by Woodbridge to Scotch Plains. Their course from Woodbridge followed present-day Amboy Avenue, Green Street and Oak Tree Road. The left column, under the command of General John Vaughan and accompanied by General Howe, with nearly 12,000 troop, left Amboy later that morning following present-day Plainfield Road in Metuchen to join the rear of Cornwallis' column. Howe hoped to cutoff the American Army's avenue of retreat and force Washington to battle the British in the open ground of Piscataway and Woodbridge.

"The first skirmish of the day came before sunrise west of Woodbridge as Cornwallis' division fell against American pickets near present-day Green Street and Route 1. As the pickets retreated, the sound of firing alerted the American camp, which sent out Brigadier General Thomas Conway's Pennsylvania Brigade of about 700 men to support the pickets. Conway's Brigade (actually led by New Jersey Brigadier General William Maxwell) clashed with the British on the high ground near Oak Tree Road and Wood Avenue but was pushed back due to overwhelming enemy numbers. Following this, Cornwallis continues westerly on Oak Tree Road.

"The Oak Tree Engagement began approximately 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. by the road junction near this marker and continued between New Dover Road and Woodland Avenue. Here an American detachment under the command of Colonel Charles Armand, known as Ottendorf's Corps attempted to defend against the British onslaught. Armand lost 32 men out of 80 but heroically saved an American cannon while slowing the British advance.

"Shortly afterward, the remaining American forces, consisting of the New Jersey Brigade (approximately 1,000 men and four cannons) under the command of Lord Stirling, gathered near the vicinity of the Short Hills Tavern (near Old Raritan Road and Inman Avenue) and formed a line stretching east (towards Tingley Lane/ Rahway Road). The New Jersey Brigade moved south, coming into contact with the combined elite troops of the British and Hessians. Now began the largest engagement of the 26th. The Americans were outnumbered nearly five to one and almost outflanked. However, fighting from hill to hill for close to two hours, they were able to withdraw to Westfield and then onto the Scotch Plains Gap in the First Watchung Mountain in good order.

"The battle had cost the Americans nearly 200 casualties and the loss of three valuable cannons. However, the valiant and successful defensive efforts of the day, including the Oak Tree Engagement were instrumental in providing Washington with the critical time needed to extract his men from Howe's trap and return to the safety of the Watchung Heights.

"Indeed without the success of the Oak Tree Engagement and the Battle of the Short Hills, Washington would not have been able to go on to his later victories and ultimate defeat of the British forces." [1]

The Reuben Ayers House

"For over 200 years, a farmhouse was located on this site. It was a simple one and one-half story house that had several additions over the years. The house was on a small hill, facing south, with a driveway leading down to New Dover Road.  During the Revolutionary War, the house was owned by Reuben Ayers, who was in the local militia. At that time, the farm was 9 acres and was bounded by what is now New Dover Road, Marion Street and the JFK-Hartwick facility.  On June 26, 1777, during the Battle of the Short Hills, the house was looted by the British / Hessian forces, and the barn was burned down." [2]

Reuben Ayers in buried in the Old Colonial Cemetery in Metuchen.

Edison NJ in the Revolutionary War

Sources:

1. ^ Text of Edison Historic Preservation Commission sign, dedicated September 11, 2004

2. ^ Historic sign sponsored by TD Bank.   The signs state, "Commerce Bank [now TD Bank} thanks the Save the Oak Tree Pond Committee, with special recognition to Mr. George W. Stillman Sr. for their assistance and preparation of the information provided regarding the Oak Tree Engagement."

3. ^ Historic sign by the Save The Oaktree Pond Committee, sponsored by TD Bank