Battle of Monmouth Field Study

Map of Manalapan Area, NJ - Not yet available.

Terrain Integrity

Monmouth Battlefield State Park is the site of one of the largest battles of the American Revolution. The park preserves a splendid rural landscape with miles of hiking and equestrian trails, picnic areas, a restored Revolutionary War farmhouse, and a visitors center.

The landscape is very much undisturbed by development and maintains some of its historical integrity. During the 1800's, the last of the forests were cleared, the marshes were drained, and the roads were straightened. Much of the traditional agriculture within the battlefield area was replaced by orchards and truck farms. Mechanization increased, wetland meadows were abandoned, and urbanization began to creep nearer. Builders even purchased two of the battlefield farms. Fortunately, park land acquisition began in 1963 before the farms were developed. Funds for their preservation were provided through New Jersey's first Green Acres Bond referendum in 1961.

A visitors center stands on top of Comb's hill, which was once commanded by the Continental artillery. Inside is an interpretive display area that offers many detailed maps, primary source accounts, and narrative displays. Two slide booths and a fiber optic map interpret the battle. Artifacts recovered in battlefield archaeology are also on display.

The John Craig house is a restored and refurnished mid-18th-century farmhouse consisting of two sections: a Dutch framed "New House" (now the kitchen) constructed for John Craig's father in 1746-47, and an English framed, two-story addition built around 1770. The house's history is interpreted by the Friends of Monmouth Battlefield.

Other structures related to the Battle of Monmouth are the Old Tennant Church (1751), which is adjacent ot the battlefield, the 1726 Village Inn in Englishtown, St. Peters Episcopal Church (c. 1771), The Monmouth County Historical Association Museum, the Covenhoven House (c. 1752), and the Monmouth Battle Monument.

The park is located in Manalapan and Freehold Townships just west of Freehold Borough with the main entrance on NJ Business Route 33.

Walking Tours

Position 1: Comb's Hill

Situation: The British had positioned ten cannons and howitzers behind the Hedgerow in an attempt to dislodge the Americans from their defensive position near the bridge going over the West Ravine. The largest land artillery battle of the war ensued. Washington instructed his commanders to find someone who knew the ground so as to use his defenses to their greatest capacity. Lieutenant Colonel David Rhea came forward and directed Washington to Comb's Hill. The Continental artillery won the duel when in late afternoon, General Nathaniel Greene brought a brigade of Virginians and four guns to the top of Comb's Hill. The American guns raked the hedgerow, forcing the British artillery to withdraw and their infantry to shift position. The successes the artillery provided was largely based on security elements that protected it.

Teaching Points:

  • O.C.O.K.A.:
    Observation and Fields of Fire
    Obstacles
    Key Terrain
    Avenues of approach.
  • Principles of War:
    Objective
    Economy of Force
    Security
    Unity of Command.
  • Leadership:
    Washington's usage and trust of his subordinates and GEN Greene's control of key terrain and the security elements in support of him had a decided effect on the outcome of the battle.

Position 2: The Hedgerow

Situation: After Washington had joined Lee in reinforcing his retreat, the combined force fell back upon hasty, delaying defenses. When Colonel Henry Beekman Livingston and his troops reached a hedgerow (see maps in background page) he began rallying his men under his own initiative. The hedgerow offered good cover and concealment from which to fire on the British as they moved across an open field. Washington took notice and reinforced the position with more troops. Also Colonel Oswald saw the action and, under his own initiative, moved four of his cannons forward in support. The action here was very intense and resulted in buying time for the building of better defenses. As the British worked to flank this position, the commanders Wayne, Alexander, Greene and Lafayette were able to provide mutual support in counter-flanking manuevers.

Teaching Points:

  • O.C.O.K.A.:
    Observation and Fields of Fire
    Cover and Concealment
    Obstacles
    Key Terrain
    Avenues of Approach
  • Principles of War:
    Objective
    Unity of Command
    Security
    Economy of Force
  • Leadership:
    The initiative of COL's Livingston and Oswald was instrumental in many ways. The coordinated efforts of the commanders of the support and defensive line elements, between themselves and each other, was effective and crucial.
 
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