“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Scotch Plains in Union County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Battle of The Short Hills

June 26, 1777

Battle of The Short Hills Monument Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 22, 2009
1. Battle of The Short Hills Monument
Inscription. On the 26th of June in 1777 Washington’s continental forces of under 6,000 men fought a running battle on the plains below the Watchung Mountains with the combined British and Hessian troops numbering about 12,000. Early on that hot Thursday morning the British under the command of General William Howe, after feigning a departure from New Jersey, suddenly at midnight began to march upon the “rebel” army that had left their mountain camp to come to the low country at Samptown (South Plainfield), Quibbletown (Piscataway – North Plainfield), and outposts in Short Hills, and Ash Swamp (Scotch Plains) in order to watch the British.

In Howe’s words, “The right, under command of Lord Cornwallis, with Major General Grant, Brigadiers Matthew and Leslie and Colonel Donop took the route by Woodbridge towards Scotch Plains. The left, where I was, with Major Generals Stirn, Vaughn, and Grey, Brigadiers Cleveland and Agnew, marched by Metuchen Meetinghouse to join the rear of the right column in the road from thence to South Plainfield.” A little before sunrise scouts of Daniel Morgan’s riflemen encountered Cornwallis in Woodbridge (Green St. / Rt. #1) and shots alerted Washington of the enemy’s surprise approach. Discerning the British intent to secure the mountain passes, Washington began with haste to
Battle of The Short Hills Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 22, 2009
2. Battle of The Short Hills Marker
remove the main forces at Quibble Town and ordered the divisions of Greene, Lincoln, Stephens and Sullivan back to the heights. The delaying tactics of the riflemen gave the American troops and the local militia time to assemble.

Lord Sterling’s Horse Shot
General Maxwell Nearly Captured

The first massed resistance by American troops was on the crossroads at Oak Tree where Cornwallis’ column was fired upon by a body of about 600 men under Brigadier General Thomas Conway at about eight a.m. His troops were joined by three companies of Pennsylvania-German volunteers of Major Nicholas Ottendorff, newly placed under the command of the French Colonel Charles Armand-Tuffin with three brass field pieces making the first use of French command and arms in the war. After considerable fighting Conway’s troops, forced by the British through “Martin’s Woods” (New Dover Rd., Edison,) withdrew to join Stirling’s main body at The Short Hills near Ash Swamp.

Lord Stirling, divided by Cornwallis, drew his troops into battle formation on rising ground near Ash Swamp determined to make a stand. His force of 1,798 men included General William, “Scotch Willie,” Maxwell’s Brigade consisting of four New Jersey Regiments and Conway’s and Armand’s troops. In addition, they were joined by Morgan’s and Dark’s riflemen as well as an undetermined number of
Lord Sterling’s Horse Shot Panel Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 22, 2009
3. Lord Sterling’s Horse Shot Panel
The stand taken by Lord Stirling saved Washington's army by allowing them to safely reach their mountain stronghold in Middlebrook.
militia. The 3rd Hessian Grenadier Battalion of von Minnigerode attacked the rebels left flank and were joined by Howe’s column.

Outnumbered by Howe’s full forces with at least 15 cannons, the Americans stood their ground, but the superiority of arms and numbers forced them to withdraw. Howe’s aide Mueuchhausen in writing of the battle states: “General Lord Stirling who was in command had his horse shot and General Maxwell was almost captured by the Hessian Grenadiers missing him only by a hair’s breath . . . three new French brass three-pounders were taken.”

Wounded Taken by Wagon to the Mountains
37 wagons, counted by the Hessian Meuchhausen, carried the wounded to the heights (New Providence Road, also called the Bloody Gap). British Captain John André states, “We could see the wagons ascending the mountain, and could judge the steepness of the ascent by the frequent halts they made.”

Washington hastily wrote orders to his generals to guard the five mountain gaps: Lord Stirling at the Westfield Gap; Parsons and Varnum, the Scotch Plains – Browntown Gap; Lincoln at the two gaps from Quibble Town; Stephens and Woodford’s Brigade, the hills as far as Steel’s Gap; Sullivan at the rear and center between Stirling and Parsons; and Greene at the rear and center of Lincoln and Stephens. Having no prospect
Wounded Taken by Wagon to the Mountains Panel Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 22, 2009
4. Wounded Taken by Wagon to the Mountains Panel
The glass coverings on the panels of the monument were vandalized in the past and have not been replaced.
of forcing Washington from his mountain stronghold, the British offensive was stifled.

In frustration and rage the British plundered and burned the entire countryside, camping overnight in the areas of Westfield (Willow Grove Road – Rahway Ave., and Grove St. to Center Ave.) and in homes and stores of the village. By nine the next morning, the British columns marched out of Westfield by the roads closest to their camps (Rahway and Central Aves.) to Rahway (via Grand and Rahway Aves.), where they camped on the 27th on the south side of the Rahway River. American Light troops under Brig. Gen. Charles Scott with Morgan’s Rifle Corps pursued their rear flanks with two officers and a sergeant of the riflemen taken.

The trials and hardships both to American military and civilian population of New Jersey were rewarded with the entire evacuation of the state by the British on June 30, 1777. There was great rejoicing as the entire country celebrated its first anniversary of independence.

Erected by the Scotch Plains American Revolution Bicentennial Committee, June 1977.

In Memory of those who Served Their Country June 26, 1777 – At Short Hills
American Troops / British Forces
This panel lists the American, British and Hessian troops who took part in the Battle of Short Hills.

Known American Causalities – Between 60 to 80
American Troops / British Forces Panel Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 22, 2009
5. American Troops / British Forces Panel
The American, British and Hessian troops known to have participated in the June 26, 1777 battle appear on this panel.
men killed including 3 captains and upward to 200 officers and men wounded; 64 prisoners were taken including a Major, two captains and an Adjutant.

Known British and Hessian Causalities – About 70 men killed, wounded or suffocated in the heat of the day; two Light Dragoons and eleven Infantry were made prisoners.
Erected 1977 by Scotch Plains American Revolution Bicentennial Committee.
Location. Marker has been reported missing. It was located near 40° 36.67′ N, 74° 22.391′ W. Marker was in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, in Union County. Marker was on Raritan Road, on the right when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is at the entrance to Ash Brook Golf Course. Marker was in this post office area: Scotch Plains NJ 07076, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this location, measured as the crow flies. Frazee Homestead (approx. half a mile away); “Terry Well” (approx. 0.6 miles away); “Dolbier House” (approx. 1.2 miles away); “Littell Half Way House” (approx. 1.2 miles away); Homestead Farm at Oak Ridge (approx. 1.5 miles away); Plainfield Garden Club
Battle of The Short Hills Monument Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 22, 2009
6. Battle of The Short Hills Monument
(approx. 2.1 miles away); Quaker Meeting House (approx. 2.2 miles away); Police Athletic League Memorial Field (approx. 2.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Scotch Plains.
More about this marker. The Battle of Short Hills Monument consists of a stone tower topped by a Revolutionary War cannon. Each side of the monument features a panel telling the story of the battle. Also on the panels are a map of the battle area, a picture of Lord Stirling on horseback, and wounded soldiers being evacuated in wagons after the battle.
Also see . . .  The Battle of Short Hills. The American Revolutionary War website. (Submitted on August 22, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
Additional comments.
1. Battle of The Short Hills Marker
I just went to this marker today (June 28, 2010) and the narrative plaques on each side of the pedestal are all missing. Only the cannon remains. I do not know if it was vandalized or if it is being modified. Nevertheless, a shame to see it that way.

Editor's Note: Thank you for the update. Hopefully, they will be replaced
Marker at the Ash Brook Golf Course Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 22, 2009
7. Marker at the Ash Brook Golf Course
    — Submitted June 28, 2010, by Michael Russell of Rahway, New Jersey.

Categories. War, US Revolutionary
Closeup of Cannon Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 22, 2009
8. Closeup of Cannon
Battle of The Short Hills Monument Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, February 20, 2013
9. Battle of The Short Hills Monument
As seen in the photo, the marker panels are still missing from the monument.
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 2,642 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   9. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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