“For the Defense of the Liberties and Independence of the United States”: Remembering a Forgotten Militia Post and Quasi-War Cantonment in Plainfield, New Jersey (Part 1 of 2)


  • Ryan Radice




The area around Green Brook Park in Plainfield, New Jersey, was the site of two significant military encampments during the American Revolution and the new nation’s first international conflict, the Quasi-War. This is part one of a two-part article arguing the significance of the site in both conflicts through an analysis of surviving primary source material. Part one concerns the Vermeule militia post during the American Revolution. In late December 1776, a militia post was established on the property of Cornelius Vermeule, a well-known Patriot and significant landholder. This militia post is examined in the context of the forage war, the petite-guerre that raged in the New Jersey countryside between January and late June 1777. Various aspects of the post are interpreted, including its role in defending the countryside from Crown depredation, what life may have been like at the post, and what impact the militia and the post at Vermeules had on the course of the forage war and raising American military skill and morale. Part two, which is forthcoming, concerns the reuse of the site as a winter cantonment by Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Ogden, William S. Smith, and three regiments of the “New Army” during the winter of 1799–1800.