Nestled at the beginning of the Watchung mountains of New Jersey lies the colonial town of Middlebrook. During the time of the Yankee Doodle Spies Middlebrook was a small village north west of Bound Brook. The village of Middlebrook no longer exists but has been absorbed by the town of Bound Brook. During the American Revolution this small farming community sat astride the
route of two armies engaged in a struggle for a continent and much more - a struggle for ideas. In the case of the Continentals it was a struggle for a new nation and a new idea of government. For the British Army it was a struggle to maintain the old order and the rights of a King.
|NJ: Area of operations|
|Gen Washington at Princeton|
|As in so many other hard fought battles,|
Hessian troops played a pivotal role at Middlebrook
secure positions. By the end of June a frustrated Cornwallis and his British forces retreated to Staten Island. The British held ground near New Brunswick, the Amboys and at the Paulhus Hook (Jersey City) but much of the
rest of Jersey was a no man's land where Loyalist and Patriot factions, militias, and criminal elements from both sides fought. Middlebrook was at a pivotal point of that no man's land.
|Troops marching near Washington's|
British General Burgoyne's army to founder in the wilds of upper New York. Thus the modest engagement at Middlebrook played a key role in a chain of events that helped turn the course of the war. Realizing the need for a new strategy for 1778 summer campaign, the British abandoned Philadelphia to once more concentrate in New York. Washington struck them from the rear and the largest pitched battle of the American Revolution was fought at Monmouth. When the British column withdrew to its safe zone around New York and its immediate environs, Washington once again used the Middlebrook area as a base from which to observe and threaten the British.
|The Wallace House|
Watchung Mountains. Here they were protected from some of the weather, had a good supply of trees for construction and firewood, and were supported by a generally patriotic population, with an active militia. Fortunately the winter was a relatively mild one. The Continental army remained in the second Middlebrook encampment until late June of 1779. That winter quarters at Middlebrook would be noted for a symbolic event.
|Site of the first flag flown at|
an Army base
There is an interesting footnote to the story of Middlebrook. On June 14, 1777, Congress adopted the Flag Resolution, establishing the famed Betsy Ross flag national flag. An official flag was brought from Philadelphia to be flown at the Middlebrook encampment before the soldiers took the field for the summer campaign season. In an act whose symbolism was important to the new and struggling nation, the first thirteen star American flag was flown at an American army base. One wonders what the beleaguered but determined soldiers would think if they could see into a future where their descendants would champion the very ideas they fought for in campaigns across the globe. Or a future in which the flag they flew over Middlebrook would be flown as a symbol of liberty at hundreds or army bases across the yet unexplored continent and later on scores of foreign shores.