Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

Battle of Chestnut Neck

By Frank H. Stewart

This important Battle in Old Gloucester County in what is now Atlantic County is, like the Battle of Red Bank, called to mind by a beautiful monument overlooking the mouth of Mullica River, erected by the State of New Jersey and dedicated Oct. 6, 1911. The inscription reads "In honor of the brave patriots who defended their liberties and their homes in a battle fought near this site Oct. 6, 1778." Even at this late date cannon balls are dredged up by the oyster tongers of Great Bay and plowed up by the farmers of Chestnut Neck and Clarks Landing.

The British fleet was sent to Little Egg Harbor to destroy the Iron Works at Batsto furnace at the forks of the Mullica River and destroy the ships secreted in the waters of Little Egg Harbor bay and river and the battle of Chestnut Neck resulted. The British burned the town of Chestnut Neck, which was then one of the largest settlements on the New Jersey Coast. They also destroyed the ships in the harbor before being driven away by Pulaski's Legion.

At low tide the wreck of a ship may be seen at Green Bank and two others at Chestnut Neck. The locality is full of traditions of the Revolution. The women and children fled to the swampy woods while the men formed squads to defend their homes.

Lewis French, who donated the ground for the monument, told me that an English officer was killed and buried between his house and the present road, and that another English soldier was killed by a militiaman he was chasing around the house that then occupied the site of the present house which was built a year or so after the battle, the English having burned the original one, together with several others.

A few hundred yards away towards the bay is a mound known since the battle as Fort Hill.

Mr. French while tonging for oysters discovered the wreck of one of the ships sunk during the battle. He tonged out about one hundred bushels of English cannel coal of fine quality and used it aboard his boat.

In the gravel pit, adjacent to his home, several skeletons have been found, one of which was in good condition and was buried under the monument.

Paine's tavern, a famous hostelry of that period, is said to have been burned, as were a number of houses on the other side of the river.

The number of iron relics, such as handmade nails, bolts and hinges, together with cannon balls, grape shot and gun barrels found in the neighborhood, are mute evidences of the devastation wrought there. Near the site of the warehouse where the American privateers stored their spoils before it was carted away to Philadelphia many copper coins and Indian relics have been found.

The foundations of the old houses are occasionally found while the ground is being cultivated.

New Jersey AHGP

Source: Battle of Chestnut Neck, New Jersey Society of Pennsylvania, Volume 1, Compiled by Frank H. Stewart, 1917


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