Billingsport, New Jersey

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Billingsport, New Jersey

BILLINGSPORT, NEW JERSEY. 30 September-1 October 1777. In 1776 the Continental Congress and the government of Pennsylvania selected Billingsport for the outermost belt of Philadelphia's Delaware River defenses. They emplaced a double line of chevaux-de-frise twelve miles below Cooper's Ferry (later Camden, New Jersey), protected by a large redoubt on the Gloucester County, New Jersey, side of the river. Thaddeus Kosciuszko had made the original plans, but Congress expanded on them in the early summer of 1777 on the advice of Major General Philippe Tronson du Coudray. Before construction could be finished, Washington reviewed the river defenses and decided to make Fort Mifflin, upstream, the focal point, leaving Billingsport to be manned by the New Jersey militia. On 26 September the British captured Philadelphia from the land side and turned their attention to clearing the Delaware River so that the city could be supplied; three days later Sir William Howe sent Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Stirling at the head of a task force (the Tenth and Forty-second Foot) to start the process. Stirling crossed from Chester to Raccoon Creek (later Swedesboro) on the New Jersey side and then swung north to attack the redoubt. Faced with a major attack supported by the Royal Navy, Colonel William Bradford's garrison of four hundred New Jersey and Pennsylvania militia spiked its guns and withdrew. On 1 October the British occupied the position and covered Captain Andrew Snape Hamond's naval element, which cut through the chevaux-de-frise.

SEE ALSO Howe, William; Kosciuszko, Thaddeus Andrzej Bonawentura; Philadelphia Campaign.

                              revised by Robert K. Wright Jr.