The park’s memorials and information plaques explain the battle and life during 18th century New Jersey. Experts are available on-site to discuss Revolutionary War history and early American life with visitors.
The battlefield also houses the restored Whitall House, once the home of Quaker farmers Ann and James Whitall. Their property along the Delaware River now holds picnic pavilions and a scenic dredge spoil area that provides good wildlife viewing. You can find information on all of these and more by clicking here.
The Battle of Red Bank
Those who exit 295 in West Deptford will soon notice a sign for Red Bank Battlefield Park that reads “Hessian Avenue.” Hessians were the German soldiers hired by the British to defend Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War, and in October of 1777, they suffered a major defeat here at Fort Mercer. It was a victory that gave American forces the boost they needed to go on and win independence.
Fort Mercer was an earthen fort built by local colonists on land owned by James and Ann Whitall, Quakers who ran a bustling plantation along the Delaware River that included fruit orchards, a lumberyard, and a shad fishery. The fort and the Whitall home would serve as field hospitals after the Hessian attack.
A recent archaeological dig here at the battlefield uncovered bone fragments from more than 17 Hessian soldiers in a trench four-and-a-half feet deep. Forensic anthropologists are working to identify those remains. The discovery is the largest find of Hessian remains from the Revolutionary War to date.
In 1777, a Continental Army earthen fort was built here and played an important role in blocking the British advance into Philadelphia. Today, the park includes a monument, cannons, Philadelphia views, and the Whitall House, which was used as a makeshift hospital during the battle.
On June 26, during what was to be the final day of a public archaeology dig in one of the battlefield’s trenches, Rowan University history professor and Red Bank Battlefield park director Jennifer Janofsky, and Wade Catts, president/principal archeologist at South River Heritage Consulting, made a discovery that would alter their work.
They discovered the remains of Hessian soldiers killed on the field in October of 1777. The items found around the remains—brass buttons, a Hessian gold guinea and a rare pewter badge—are consistent with those Hessian soldiers were wearing during the battle. This is the first time these Hessian remains have been recovered at a Revolutionary War battlefield. The discoveries are a significant step toward understanding what happened during the Battle of Red Bank. Here is another spot to visit.
Located on the banks of the Delaware River, Red Bank Battlefield National Park is home to the James and Ann Whitall House. The site also houses a historic museum and offers battlefield and program tours throughout the year. The expansive park along the river features grassy areas, a paved walking path, and picnic pavilions. Waterfowl graze on the adjacent dredge spoil area, and there is great birding in season.
The Quaker couple’s 400-acre farm had fruit orchards, a lumberyard, shad fishery, and livestock. But when British soldiers urged residents to leave their homes during the Revolutionary War Battle of Red Bank in 1777, Anne Cooper Whitall refused. Her home was converted into a field hospital during the battle, earning her the nickname “the Heroine of Red Bank.”
When Jennifer Janosky landed a curatorial gig at the Whitall House as part of the Giordano Fellowship in Public History at Rowan University, she knew that highlighting the role of African Americans at the Battle of Red Bank would be a key focus. She partnered with park volunteer Joe Becton, who had already done extensive research on the topic, but which hadn’t been fully incorporated into the battlefield’s interpretive program.
The park has a number of guided tours and activities to offer visitors. These include battlefield and historic museum tours, as well as monthly educational programs. The park also hosts events that celebrate the lives of the Revolutionary War soldiers who fought here.
A new archaeological discovery made at Red Bank Battlefield Park may have changed the story of the park. A trench was found on the site of the former Hessian garrison during a dig in 2021. Park director Jennifer Janofsky and archaeologist Wade Catts of South River Heritage Consulting thought that this was going to be a typical day at the dig.
The park is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. The Battlefield is free to visit, but tours of the Whitall House are available for an additional fee. The Quaker couple who owned the house refused to pick sides during the Revolutionary War, so it was used as a makeshift hospital. Continue reading the next article.
Driving directions from Apex Estates to Red Bank Battlefield Park
Driving directions from Red Bank Battlefield Park to Proprietors Park