George Washington is best known as the nation’s first president. But, before then, it was General Washington who led the Continental Army to victory over the British troops. Many crucial moments in history took place during this time, with New Jersey as the backdrop. Today, those interested can still feel Washington’s presence at these historic locations throughout NJ.
Morristown National Historical Park
Location: 30 Washington Place, Morristown
Details: Morristown was the epicenter of Washington’s time in New Jersey, particularly because of its strategic location between Philadelphia and New York. Today, visitors to Morristown National Historical Park can commemorate the site of the December 1779 to June 1780 encampment at Jockey Hollow, during which time the Continental Army soldiers experienced the coldest winter on record. There is a museum and library dedicated to the history of the encampments, as well as Washington himself.
More info: www.nps.gov/morr/index.htm or call 973-539-2016 x210
Location: 30 Washington Place, Morristown
Details: Part of Morristown National Historical Park, Ford Mansion has the same address, but is separate from the outdoor encampment. Built in the Georgian style in the early 1770s, Ford Mansion was the home of Jacob Ford Jr., his wife Theodosia, and their four children. Jacob passed away while soldiers from Delaware were staying in the home. Later, Theodosia allowed Washington, his family, servants, dignitaries and others to stay with her and the children. Today, visitors can join a guided tour to see what the house looked like back in Washington’s day.
More info: https://www.nps.gov/morr/learn/historyculture/ford-mansion-washington-s-headquarters.htm or call 973-539-2016 x210
Fort Lee Historic Park
Location: Hudson Terrace, south of the George Washington Bridge, Fort Lee
Details: Fort Lee Historic Park sits atop a cliff with fabulous views of the George Washington Bridge. The site includes a visitor center and reconstructed Revolutionary War encampment. Schools can make reservations for the “living history” program, which has students act as soldiers in the Continental Army as actors lead them into battle. Visitors are also welcome to stop by the park and check out the “fort” from which George Washington and his troops retreated in 1776. A reenactment of the retreat takes place every year in November but the grounds are open all year long.
More info: www.njpalisades.org/fortlee.html or call 201-461-1776
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Location: Last exit off Route 80 in western New Jersey
Details: Known as the Old Mine Road, this stretch of street follows the Delaware River, which is rich with historical significance. It dates back to well before the Revolutionary War. Still, the area is linked to George Washington because he and his soldiers frequently traveled the road. And lest we forget that Washington and his troops crossed this river when it was icy and cold on December 25 to 26 in 1776 to execute a surprise attack on a Hessian army of about 1,400 soldiers in Trenton.
More info: www.nps.gov/dewa/index.htm or call 570-426-2452
Rockingham Historic Site
Location: 84 Laurel Avenue, Franklin Township
Details: This was George Washington’s last home during the Revolutionary War. It is here, on October 31, 1783, that he learned the final version of the Treaty of Paris had been signed and the colonies were free of Great Britain. He also wrote the “Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States” from here. The site supports a fine collection of 18th-century furnishings and military reproductions, a Colonial kitchen garden and a children’s museum. Guided tours of Rockingham Historic Site are available Wednesday through Sunday.
More info: www.rockingham.net/index.html or call 609-683-7132
Location: 199 Totowa Road, Wayne
Details: Dey Mansion served as Washington’s headquarters during the summer and fall of 1780. Many notable figures visited here (and even called Dey Mansion home) during this time, including Alexander Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette. Today, the mansion serves as an example of Georgian architecture as well as an important historical landmark in the Preakness Valley. Dey Mansion is open for tours Wednesday through Sunday.
More info: https://www.deymansion.org/ or call 973-706-6640
Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage
Location: 71 Somerset Street, Somerville
Details: When George Washington found himself in need of assistance at the height of the Revolution, Wallace House became a temporary home for the general. Washington spent two weeks at Wallace House during the winter of 1778 before heading to Philadelphia. He then returned to Wallace House in 1779 to plan a successful military campaign against the Iroquois League.
More info: www.wallacehouseassociation.org or call 908-725-1015