Bound Brook, New Jersey

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Bound Brook, New Jersey

BOUND BROOK, NEW JERSEY. 13 April 1777. While Sir William Howe's and George Washington's armies were still in winter quarters, much of northern New Jersey became a no-man's-land. Each side sent patrols and foraging parties into the area and sought to ambush the other side's parties. On one such occasion a British foraging expedition (built up to nearly eight thousand men) swept the area around Brunswick. While there it also attempted to cut off the American outpost at Bound Brook, seven miles up the Raritan. Charles Lord Cornwallis led a task force estimated at two thousand British and Germans that moved at night against Major General Benjamin Lincoln's camp. Total American strength was probably about five hundred men, mostly from the Eighth Pennsylvania and supported by three three-pounders from Proctor's artillery regiment (a state unit until becoming Continental in June) and some militia. Although surprised, Lincoln extricated most of his force, but enemy light horse captured the guns. Cornwallis withdrew before Greene arrived with reinforcements.

Knox estimated that the Americans lost six killed and twenty or thirty captured. The British do not appear to have lost anyone. While some suspected that a neighborhood farmer learned the password and gave it to the British, the primary blame for the surprise was put on the militia, which were supposed to be guarding the Raritan, which was fordable at almost every point. Lincoln and his men were considered to have acquitted themselves well. The incident prompted Washington to reduce the number and size of his outposts. Not only was this an effort to prevent further surprise attacks, but it also contributed to Washington's massing of forces to better counter the anticipated British offensive.

SEE ALSO Cornwallis, Charles; Howe, William; Philadelphia Campaign; Washington, George.


Lobdell, Jared. "Six Generals Gather Forage: The Engagement at Quibbletown, 1777." New Jersey History 102 (1984): 35-49.

                          revised by Robert K. Wright Jr.