The winter of 1979 to 1980 was the coldest in recorded history in New Jersey. That winter, 10,000 soldiers, poorly clothed and starving, cut down thousands of trees in Jockey Hollow to build log cabins to survive that brutal winter of deep snow and severe cold.
In the first week of October, a group of volunteer docents from the Whitall House, National Park, NJ drove the two plus hours up to visit Washington's Headquarters in the Ford Mansion and to see the Wick House and Jockey Hollow where the soldiers struggled to survive while General Washington strove to work out his military strategy and to feed and clothe his dwindling army. I thought the folded portable camp cot was interesting. I'd never seen one before although I have seen them unfolded and set up at various re-enactments.
You have to wonder, if you were a man in that army at that time, would you have stayed, or would you have headed back home to check on your wife and children, the family farm, and to get something to eat and simply get warm again. What a moral struggle for those men. Twelve men shared each of the one thousand cabins built on the land adjoining the Wick Farm.
General Washington was invited by the widow Ford to share her mansion. She and her children occupied a few rooms while the General and his entourage of officers and servants occupied the rest of the house. There would have been over 80 people sharing the house and even though it is a very large place, it must have been crowded and noisy. The Wick House, a charming New England style farm house was shared by the Wick family with General St. Clair.
The army spent two winters in the Morristown area, 1777 and 1779-80. New Jersey has a treasure trove of sites where the hundreds of battles, skirmishes, and other crucial events of the Revolution took place.
The Ford mansion had been closed for repairs but is now open for visitors and I hope you will find a day to visit this important place in our nation's history.
We had a wonderful time there and October is a perfect season for visiting our parks. We ate lunch in nearby Morristown at a quaint Irish Pub where I enjoyed a delicious butternut squash soup and cranberry bread.