Recent Activities - Red Bank / Fort Mercer


Battle map of the River Forts (Fort Mercer on lower right)


     Late in September 1777, Philadelphia was captured by British General William Howe, with a serious disadvantage. Extensive American river defenses blocked the shipping of food and supplies to the British army and citizens of Philadelphia. A major attack was planned against the garrison at Fort Mercer. A British brigade of about 1,200 Hessians under Colonel Carl Emil Ulrich Von Donop was ferried over to Coopers Ferry (now Camden) spending the night in Haddonfield.

     On the morning of October 22, 1777, Colonel Von Donop and his brigade marched on Fort Mercer. Young Jonas Cattell, an apprentice blacksmith, alerted Colonel Christopher Greene that a surprise attack was imminent. Around 4 pm, the attack began. Quickly gaining the old northern section of the fort, the Hessians faced another 10 foot wall and abatis of sharpened tree trunks and branches. The disordered Hessians tried to move forward, but the Americans gained the advantage and held the fort. Hessian casualties amounted to over 500, including the mortally wounded Von Donop; while American counted 14 killed and 23 wounded out of 600. Many of the wounded, including Von Donop were taken to the Whitall house where they were tended by American doctors and Ann Whitall, who had remained in her home. Colonel Von Donop died in another house nearby and was interred with remains of his brigade on the battlefield.

     The battle of Red Bank resulted in heavy losses to the British and was a much needed morale builder to Washington's army, giving new hope and rallying the spirits of the soldiers. This victory coupled with the British defeat at Saratoga, New York, resulted in the French decision to enter the war against Great Britain. (Text from the Fort Mercer Battlefield information signs)



     Although this was the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Mercer, we do not have any battle pictures to present.  Your humble photographer was in attendance on Saturday, and the battle reenactment was scheduled for Sunday.  Therefore, we present you with a study of the history of the battle, and not the reenactment thereof.




Famous words to live by







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Sign which bears the history of the battle as presented in the text above

Sign showing how the fort received word of Von Donop's attack

The Memorial Statue to those who fought and died

The original 1828 Memorial statue

The obligatory

11th PA photo

Bill has found a new recruit

... it didn't work !!

With "Ned",  trying to get in good with the ladies cooking dinner

Charles stands by an old, original fort cannon

The Whitall house, where many of the wounded were taken

Close up of the Whitall house year in brick

Bill brings the battle to life for Noah

That's a pretty big hill to climb ... and the abatis is no longer there

Looking down into the remains of the original redoubts

Do you think they even stood a chance of taking the fort?

Looking up that redoubt hill to attack the enemy

Outside Links to the Delaware River Battles

CLICK HERE to read the diary of Sergeant John Smith, First Rhode Island Regiment

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Philadelphia Campaign

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Red Bank Battlefield

Want to visit the site yourself?  CLICK HERE for directions

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