Every which way you turn in the Philadelphia region, there is a part of our country’s history staring us in the face. Sometimes it is obvious as with Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell and sometimes it is not so obvious. As in the case of the Red Bank Battlefield in New Jersey.
Located on the Delaware River across from Philadelphia sits the hallowed ground where Colonial defenders engaged in battle with Hessian troops. When the smoke cleared on October 22, 1777, 400 colonists, many of them German, were killed by cannon and musket fire and were buried in a mass grave.
The historic battlefield next year will be the sight of an archaeological dig funded by the National Park Service. Historians are expected to unearth musket balls, swords, buttons, buckles, uniforms and human remains. According to those working on the project the human remains will be offered to the German government or they will be reburied at the location and marked accordingly.
Heading up the project is Rowan University history professor Jennifer Jenofsky, who is also the curator of the Red Bank Battlefield and Whitall House. Jenofsky’s students will assist her in the dig as part of a class field trip. Her goal in the project is to make people aware of the role Red Bank and Fort Mercer had in the contributions to America’s freedom.
Professor Jenofsky is excited about the prospects of getting her students involved in the project working side by side by archaeologists as well as having elementary school pupils visit the site during the dig. She said visiting students will be able to touch objects and get to feel history first-hand.
Red Bank is among 21 historic battlefields in the country to win a share of $1.3 million in National Park service grants. Gloucester County’s Red bank will receive more than $46 thousand to help fund the survey and mapping of Fort Mercer where the Battle of Red Bank was fought in October 1777 during the Revolutionary War.