Morristown National Historical Park: Jockey Hollow

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The Jockey Hollow unit of Morristown National Historical Park is the site of the Continental Army’s main winter encampment. My first stop was the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center. There, I watched the 15 minute film and arranged for a volunteer to take me inside the Wick House.

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The film described what life was like for the common soldier who wintered at Jockey Hollow during the harshest winter of the War, from December 1779 to June 1780. Huddled in log cabins with rags for clothing and little food, the army hunkered down to wait for Spring.

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The miserable conditions gave rise to desertions and mutinies, but the death toll was actually small compared to the winter previously spent at Valley Forge. Lessons learned from Valley Forge led to smarter construction and better hygiene designed to prevent the spread of disease.

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After watching the film and touring the Wick House, I decided to walk the 2.5 mile park loop road. There are 27 miles of hiking trails in the park, but these were all covered with snow and ice on the day of my visit. There were plenty of pedestrians, dog-walkers and cyclists sharing the road with me.

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About halfway around, I came to the Grand Parade. This is now just a field representing the original larger field where soldiers drilled, lined up for inspection and is where an administrative office stood from which court marshals were issued. A few men were hanged and buried here.

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Next I came to the site of the Pennsylvania Brigade’s encampment. Here there are reconstructed soldiers huts which are used for historical reenactments in the Spring. The log cabins were small and bunked 12 men.

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The officers’ huts were bigger, with two separate rooms that housed two men each. The officers’ huts were built last, after the soldiers’ cabins were completed.

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By 1780, the soldiers had constructed 1200 huts in Jockey Hollow.

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Morristown Posts:

Location: 586 Tempe Wick Rd, Morristown, NJ 07960

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designated or established: 3/2/1933

Date of my visit: 2/23/2019

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