Gloucester Co NJ - History & Genealogy  
     


RED BANK BATTLEFIELD PARK &
JAMES and ANN WHITALL HOUSE


Since the formation of the Gloucester County Parks and Recreation Department, in 1976, that department has been seeking to preserve the county's precious resources, natural and historical. They have done an amazing job, with ongoing restoration efforts of the James & Ann Whitall House in addition to Red Bank Battlefield.

Current Red Bank Park | Brief History of Red Bank Battlefield
History of James & Ann Whitall House | Photographs
Ongoing Programs & Activities | Links | Old Deptford Strangers Burial Ground
STORIES: The Headless Hessian | "Two Generations of Quakers--An Old Diary (Ann Whitall)"
PHOTOGRAPHS: See 18th Century FIELD DAY at Red Bank Battlefield - 2006 & 2005


ABOUT THE CURRENT RED BANK BATTLEFIELD PARK
The James & Ann Whitall House is an 18th century historic house, located on the Delaware River. In addition to the home, there is a kitchen/herb garden located near the kitchen door with herbs grown and cared for by a group of talented volunteers. The 44 plus acres park provides a passive recreational area, riverside walking paths, playground equipment and picnic pavilions. This is the historic site of Fort Mercer, one of the twin military installations which guarded the Philadelphia harbor and all communities north of Philadelphia along the Delaware River during the American Revolution. Across the river, on the Pennsylvania side, was Fort Mifflin.

The Gloucester County Historical Society was formed here in 1903 by local citizens acting to preserve the site. In 1905-06 the State of New Jersey called public attention to the action at Fort Mercer by building a 75-foot-tall commemorative monument. The Fort Mercer site is the northern section of the Red Bank Battlefield Park. The Park itself is focused on the James and Ann Whitall House (1748), which served as a military hospital after the Battle of Red Bank. Returning to their 400-acre farm here in April 1778, the Whitall family restored the place to prosperity, with orchards, livestock, grist mill, ferry across the Delaware, smoke house and shad fishery. Four generations of the Whitall family lived here until 1862. In 1972 this park was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The U.S. Government owns the 44-acre Park site, which is administered by the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Gloucester County administers the Whitall House except for two rooms in the charge of the Ann Whitall Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. The grounds around the Whitall House include a kitchen garden and a small orchard. Illustrated signage offer visitors self-guided tour information. The park is open year-round from dawn to dusk.

Location:
100 Hessian Avenue
National Park, N.J. 08063
(856) 853-5120
Directions - from Yahoo Maps

Park Hours: Dawn to Dusk Daily

James & Ann Whitall House Hours:
April - September, Wednesday-Sunday, 1-4 PM
October - March, Wednesday-Friday, 9 AM to 12 noon & 1-4 PM
From November to March, Closed Weekends

For more information about the park, the house, or the programs below, Call: (856) 853-5120 | Office Hours: Weekdays 8:30 AM to 4 PM

The Jonas Cattell Run and 18th Century Field Day are held here each year on a Sunday in October. (In 2006 it was held on October 15).
Run (10 miles) starts in Haddonfield and ends in National Park; field day will be at Red Bank battlefield in National Park. Field day includes re-enactments of the Battle for Red Bank, Colonial crafters and musicians and more.
Call (856) 468-0100 for more information.

2010 HERITAGE DAYS at Red Bank Battlefield (all events held 12 noon to 4 PM)

Gloucester County will continue its regular monthly Heritage Days this Sunday, May 17th from 12 noon until 4 pm at the James and Ann Whitall House Gloucester County's Red Bank Battlefield Park, 100 Hessian Avenue, National Park.

This month is a hands-on history event called Colonial Life 101. Candles were a necessary part of colonial life and visitors to Heritage Day can learn how to make their own candle. Colonists often put candles into punched tin lanterns. You can try that craft as well! No charge. As always, there will be hearth cooking demonstrations.

Heritage Days takes place every 3rd Sunday of each month through October, with the exception of June when Heritage Day will be held on June 28th and feature the Annual Flower Show.

Heritage Days are free of charge and are a service of the Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders. For more information or to view upcoming events visit www.gloucestercountynj.gov and click on the Calendar of Events, or call 856-853-5120.


BRIEF HISTORY OF RED BANK BATTLEFIELD
During the American Revolution, the Continental Army seized the riverfront property of James & Ann Whitall, because of its strategic defense location. The Whitall's orchard became the site of FORT MERCER (Fort Mercer was built in the apple orchard north of the house)


Shortly after the British occupied the city of Philadelphia, General Howe sent approximately 2000 Hessian soldiers to Red Bank (the one in Gloucester, not Monmouth County) to destroy the American Fort which was defended by 400 men. On October 22, 1777 the British attacked, and after a short but fierce battle were forced to retreat. The American forces were led by Colonial Christopher Greene (not Nathaniel as some sources state), and the Hessians were led by Count Carl Emil Kurt von Donop. Both sides fought with incredible bravery, and the battle was described as, "One of the most glorious stands ever made by patriots fighting for home of country." The finally casualty count was 200+ Hessians killed (including Count von Donop), wounded or captured, and 37 Americans. The wounded men were carried from the grounds into the Whitall's home, which was used as a field hospital for several weeks. SEE Old Deptford Stranger's Burial Ground and the Story of the Headless Hessians.

Although the battle helped to lift the morale of the patriot troops and colonists, it was not especially significant from a military point of view. Less than a month later, General Nathaniel Greene ordered Fort Mercer abandoned and burned when nearby Fort Mifflin was taken by British, and Fort Mercer could no longer be defended. Colonial Greene was honored with a sword by Congress for his victory, but never lived to receive it. He was killed in a skirmish with Tories in 1781 in Croton, New York.

Map of Fort Mercer - GIF (from "Historical Collections of the State of New Jersey.." by John Warner Barber, New York, S. Tuttle publisher, 1844.

Read MORE about the burial location of both Hessian & American soldiers.


BRIEF HISTORY OF JAMES & ANN WHITALL HOUSE
Red Bank was the plantation of James and Ann Whitall, prosperous Quakers who built their home here in 1748. [See above for the house's role in the American Revolution.] Ann. Whitall, who had remained at her spinning wheel throughout the battle, emerged to tend the injured soldiers, American and Hessian alike. After the war, the farming activities resumed at Red Bank, where four more generations of Whitalls would thrive on their ancestral land. The grounds around the James and Ann Whitall House are vastly different from how they must have appeared in the eighteenth century. Originally, there were over 411 acres of land that belonged to the Whitall's, who were quite wealthy.
After 1872, Red Bank was government property under federal authority. In 1904, it was transferred to the county of Gloucester via patent.

ABOUT ANN (COOPER) WHITALL
Ann Cooper Whitall (1716-1797) was a prominent Quaker woman in early America, and was
born (Ann COOPER) in Woodbury, New Jersey. She married James Whitall. She is called the Heroine of Red Bank for her actions at that time. Ann Whitall kept a diary starting in about 1760 that contains important historical insight into the lives of people in the Red Bank area. She died in 1797. Her remains are interred along with her husband's at the Friends Burial Ground in Woodbury, New Jersey.

Ann Cooper Whitall's brother, John Cooper served in the Continental Congress in 1776. Her great-granddaughter, Hannah Whitall Smith, was a prominent speaker and writer. One great-great-granddaughter, M. Carey Thomas, was a president of Bryn Mawr College. Another great-great-granddaughter was Alys Pearsall Smith, the first wife of Bertrand Russell.


PHOTOGRAPHS
All of these photographs are the property of the webmaster. Please do not use for any reason without my (the webmaster's) express written permission. Doing otherwise violates copyright law. These photographs were taken in August and September of 2005.

My special thanks to Bill Fean, and Joyce Stevenson, the docents (volunteer tour guides) who are seen in several of the pictures below.

Distant view of Whithall House
Distant view of Whitall House
James & Ann Whitall House in National Park New Jersey
James & Ann Whitall House in National Park New Jersey
James & Ann Whitall House
James & Ann Whitall House
Greeted at the Whitall House by Bill Fean, docent
Greeted at the Whitall House by Bill Fean, docent
Great Room in Whitall House
Great Room in Whitall House

Parlor in Whitall House
Parlor in Whitall House
Bill Fean, docent, gives a tour
Bill Fean, docent, gives a tour
Colonial clothing and bedding
Colonial clothing and bedding
View of the Delaware from the Whitall House
View of the Delaware from the Whitall House
Entering the kitchen (built at a later date than the rest of the house)
Entering the kitchen (built at a later date than the rest of the house)
Military artifacts
Military artifacts
Current "back" of the house was the main entrance when built
Current "back" of the house was the main entrance when built
Joyce Stevenson of Ann Whitall Chapter, NSDAR, a docent at the Ann Whitall house
Joyce Stevenson of Ann Whitall Chapter, NSDAR, a docent at the Ann Whitall house

Joyce Stevenson proudly displays an antique clock, loaned to the Ann Whitall House by the Ann Whitall Chapter, DAR
Joyce Stevenson proudly displays an antique clock, loaned to the Ann Whitall House by the Ann Whitall Chapter, DAR

Another view of the lovely herb garden
Another view of the lovely herb garden
Uriah Paul Book
Uriah Paul Book on display
Example of a British soldier's uniform in the bedroom of the Whitall House, where the wounded were nursed.
Example of a British soldier's uniform in the bedroom of the Whitall House, where the wounded were nursed.
A fine exhibit of colonial style clothing
A fine exhibit of colonial style clothing
A display of colonial surgical and medical items
A display of colonial surgical and medical items
Are these blood stains on the bedroom floor?
Are these blood stains on the bedroom floor?
Old kitchen fireplace
Old kitchen fireplace
An unusual oven in the kitchen of the original house
An unusual oven in the kitchen of the original house
Tea Anyone? In the Parlor of Ann Whitall House
Tea Anyone? In the Parlor of Ann Whitall House
Ann Whitall Sat Here (actually she did -- this is her chair) -- loaned by the Ann Whitall Chapter, NSDAR
Ann Whitall Sat Here (actually she did -- this is her chair) -- loaned by the Ann Whitall Chapter, NSDAR
Colonial herb garden is a highlight of the grounds
Colonial herb garden is a highlight of the grounds
Colonial herb garden is a highlight of the grounds
Path to the Memorials
This statue marks the approximate spot of Fort Mercer
This statue marks the approximate spot of Fort Mercer
Battle of Red Bank MAP
Battle of Red Bank MAP, provided by Bill Fean of Gibbstown
Assorted Photographs of Heritage Days at Red Bank
August 19, 2007 (right)


18th CENTURY FIELD DAY [This topic now has its own separate page


ONGOING PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES

For more information about the park, the house, or the programs below,
Call: (856) 853-5120 | Office Hours: Weekdays 8:30 AM to 4 PM

VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES
Volunteer guides provide house tours and assist with special school tours in April and May, and serve as general guides during regular house hours. Ann Whitall gardeners maintain the herb gardens and meet the first Thursday of every month. The Ann Whitall Gardeners provide special programs, lectures, field trips, and garden activities. Openings are available, please call the museum office for more information (856-853-5120).

ANN WHITALL HERB GARDENERS
Volunteer opportunities to attend informative meetings, maintain herb gardens, provide related tours of herbs in bed and their uses. Special program on tea with "tea" refreshments prepared by members. Ann Whitall Herb Gardeners meet on the first Thursday of each month at 7 PM, visitors are welcome.

LINKS about Red Bank Battlefield & Whitall House

- South Jersey in the American Revolution
- Essay on the Battle of Red Bank

- Defense of the Delaware - 1777
- Red Bank Battlefield - from South Jersey.com
- Captain Tew's Company - Rhode Island

Site Menu - also see links at the bottom of each page


 
 
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Copyright © 2003-2014 | Janice A. Brown | All rights reserved.
Please do NOT write to me if you have questions about Red Bank Battlefield or Park, contact those places directly.
 
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