“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 2 of 2)
The area around Green Brook Park in Plainfield, New Jersey, was the site of two significant military encampments during the revolution and the new nation’s first international conflict, the Quasi-War. This is part two of a two-part article arguing the significance of the site in both conflicts through an analysis of surviving primary-source material. (The first installment was published in the Summer 2022 issue of this journal.) This article concerns the Quasi-War–era cantonment established in Plainfield, known as the Union Camp. Established in October 1799, the Union Camp served as a winter cantonment for three regiments of the “New Army,” raised in anticipation of possible war with France. This article examines the reasons why the New Army’s officers, especially Inspector General Alexander Hamilton, chose to quarter three regiments (known as the Union Brigade) in Plainfield. It also examines the hutting practices used at the Union Camp to shelter the three regiments, and the many ways the men of the New Army both relied on previous experience from the revolution while also innovating. Lastly, it discusses many aspects of life in camp, issues with health and supplies, and the interactions of a controversial army with the local population.
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