Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey

from Off the Beaten Path | 318
Morristown National Historical Park, New Jersey© 2009 NPS PhotoSmaller than the Ford Mansion where George Washington stayed, humble Wick House served as the quarters of Maj. Joseph Bloomfield of the Third New Jersey Regiment during the winter of 1776–1777.

30 Washington Pl., Morristown, New Jersey

With the approach of winter in 1779, Gen. George Washington needed an encampment for the Continental Army from which he could keep close watch on the British in New York City.

Morristown was a strategic location, and Mrs. Jacob Ford, whose husband had died during one of the early campaigns, offered the use of her home and surrounding land.

The elegant Georgian-style frame mansion is furnished approximately as it was when it served as Washington’s headquarters. Walking through the rooms, you can visualize the activity here, with George Washington and wife, Martha, Mrs. Ford and her four children, many servants and officers, and visitors such as the Marquis de Lafayette.

Guided tours of the house begin at the headquarters museum. There is also a film that attempts to capture the brutal conditions at the Jockey Hollow camp, where 10,000 ill-clad, starving soldiers endured one of the worst winters of the century.

Although it was a long ride by horse from headquarters, Jockey Hollow was chosen for the encampment because it had sufficient timber for firewood and the construction of nearly 1,200 huts. Today it is a serene 1,800-acre park populated with woodlands, brooks, and meadows.

From the entrance a pleasant road passes several reconstructed cabins and the parade ground. The park’s 27 miles of trails are used for hiking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. Behind the Jockey Hollow visitors center are open fields, an old apple orchard, a re-creation of an 18th-century garden, and the sturdy Wick farmhouse, where Washington aide Gen. Arthur St. Clair was headquartered to watch over the camp.

Along with the tours and information available from the visitors centers, there are frequent special events and seminars that focus on the fascinating history here. The park is often heavily visited on spring and fall weekends and on Washington’s birthday in late February.

Open year-round except holidays. Admission charged.

www.nps.gov/morr

(973) 539-2016

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