Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Meeting Notes: July 15, 2020

 ARRT-Richmond 7/15/20 Meeting Notes

Pre-Guest Speaker Notes:

ARRT-R’s next meeting is scheduled for 9/16/20 at 6:30 p.m.  This is a zoom meeting!  Sign in details will be provided in the August newsletter.  Thanks again to Peggy Watson for allowing us to utilize the Osher network.

ARRT-R’s featured speaker on 9/16/20 will be Norm Bollen. Norm will be speaking on his new book, George Washington and the Mohawk Valley.  Norm is chairman of the board of the Fort Plain Museum and Historical Park. He is former president of the Mohawk Valley Museum Consortium and the president and founder of Mohawk Country, Inc., a non-profit group which promotes historic preservation and heritage based tourism  in the Mohawk Valley.

Guest Speaker: Bert Dunkerly, “Four Winters at Morristown: Smallpox, Starvation, and Mutiny.”

Bert Dunkerly is currently a Park Ranger at Richmond National Battlefield Park.  He holds a degree from St. Vincent College and a Masters in Historic Preservation from Middle Tennessee State University.  Bert recently spent six months as the Acting Supervisory Ranger at Morristown National Park.

Why did George Washington select Morristown as a base?

1. While Morristown’s location in northern New Jersey was close enough to New York City to threaten the British it’s located more than a day’s march from the city.  This would prevent the British from quickly moving on the Continental Army.

2. Morristown was a crossroads village with multiple roads leading in and out allowing for easy movement of troops and supplies.

3. Natural resources such as water and timber where in abundance in the area surrounding the village.

4. While parts of New Jersey contained large percentages of “loyal” subjects the area around Morristown was considered very friendly to the rebellion.

Winter#1: 1776-1777

The Continental Army arrived at Morristown on January 6th, 1777.  The army that arrived numbered only 2000 men.  Troops where not quartered in huts but in private homes and barns.  The Army faced issues including dwindling enlistment, desertion, and a lack of supplies and pay.  Within weeks of arriving in Morristown the Army also faced an issue with a smallpox epidemic.  In response, Washington instituted an inoculation campaign in a successful effort to stamp out the epidemic.

Washington created a defensive network around Morristown.  The most significant part of the defensive sites was “High Hill – Fort Nonsense”.   From “High Hill” you can see Manhattan on a clear day.

Winter#2: 1778-1779

In 1778 the Army returned to Morristown.  Winter#2 was much colder than Valley Forge.  Instead of living in private residences the Army built huts.  

Deaths due to disease and other causes where much smaller at Morristown in 1778-1779 than at Valley Forge.  The Army had learned lessons involving issues such as sanitation and camp layout. 

Winter#3: 1780-1781

Instead of the entire Army being based in Morristown only Pennsylvania troops were quartered in and around the village.

On January 1, 1781 much of the Pennsylvania force mutinied.  The mutineers marched to Princeton in attempt to meet with the Continental Congress.

Winter#4: 1781-1782

Only New Jersey troops where based in Morristown.  Troop numbers where estimated to be around 700.

--Noah Rogers

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