Bordentown, New Jersey

By Drew Smith - Kings Rangers

The First Occupation:

By December of 1776, British Forces pushed General Washington across New Jersey into Pennsylvania. A chain of British posts were spread across New Jersey, Bordentown being one of them. One thousand German and British troops under Count Carl Von Donop were assigned to occupy Bordentown.

Immediately after Washington attacked Trenton on Christmas Day 1776, Von Donop's troops evacuated Bordentown. Within a few days, General Cadwalder's Pennsylvania Brigade entered and occupied Bordentown.

Battle of the Kegs:

In January 1777, Colonel Borden of the Burlingtown County Militia, constructed floating "mines" at his copper shop on Park Street. The mines, referred to as kegs, were floated down the Delaware River toward Philadelphia, where the British fleet was anchored. One of the kegs struck a British barge, killing four men. This event was later referred to as The Battle of the Kegs, and was made famous in a poem by Francis Hopkinson entitled, The Battle of the Kegs.

The Second Occupation:

In May 1778, General Clinton was preparing to evaculate Philadelphia and return to New York via New Jersey. To secure the crossing of the Delaware River, Clinton sent a corps of light infantry to destroy the Pennsylvania Navy that was moored at Bordentown and White Hill (Fieldsboro).

On May 8, 1778, the British Force landed at White Hill, finding a few of the Pennsylvania boats already scuttled. As the British Force marched from White Hill to Bordentown on the Burlington Road, they were met by two companies of militia with an artillery piece. As the British formed, the militia fired one volley and fled into Bordentown. The British immediately marched into Bordentown and destroyed those vessels that had not already been scuttled.

Local loyalists directed the British to the homes of Colonel Borden and other influential rebels, which they burned. Their dark deed complete, the British retired to Philadelphia.

The Third Occupation:

In June of 1778, General Clinton's army moved across New Jersey en route from the Occupation of Philadelphia to New York City. Very early in the morning of June 23, 1778, General Leslie entered Bordentown with his advanced corps of the Fifth British Brigade and the Hessian Jagers. They marched through the village on to the road to Crosswicks.

The Sixteenth British Regiment of Light Dragoons passed through Bordentown at dawn and continued on to the bridge on the Crosswicks Creek (which is presently where Route 206 crosses over the Crosswicks Creek), capturing the bridge from the Jersey Militia under the command of General Dickinson.

During the day, a foraging party from General Lord Cornwallis' Division went up Black's Creek to Lewis Mills, taking all the flour and grain in the building and then burning it. Cornwallis then proceeded toward Crosswicks by a road south of the Creek while under constant fire from General Maxwell's New Jersey Brigade.

Later, Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe's Queens Rangers (Provincial Corps) passed to the east of Bordentown and proceeded to a bridge over the Crosswicks Creek which presently is where Route 130 in Yardville crosses over the Creek. At this point, the Queens Rangers engaged the 2nd New Jersey Regiment and the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment. The Queens Rangers captured the bridge and later moved on to Crosswicks.

Bordentown was never again occupied by British Forces until June of 1997.


Pennsylvania Archives
New Jersey Archives
Stryker's Battle of Monmouth

Copyright © 1997 Drew Smith. All rights reserved.