Daniel Van Winkle
Web version, edited by GET NJ
Web version, edited by GET NJ
CLOSE OF THE REVOLUTION.
EVENTS were now rapidly culminating, and the long struggle for independence drawing to a close. The surrender of Cornwallis in October, 1781, virtually ended the war, although there were many skirmishes between detachments of the two armies, especially throughout the southern country, resulting in frequent bloodshed. The territory of Bergen still continued debatable ground, as will be seen from the following accounts:
British Report, New York Mercury, September 17, 1781.
British Report, February, 1782.
On Wednesday evening last a party of eleven men under Capt. Wm. Harding, went from Fort Delancy on Bergen Neck, to Closter, and captured a rebel guard of six men and fifteen cattle, and tools them safely to the fort.
December 4th, 1783, Washington bade farewell to his officers at Fraunce's Tavern, Broad and Pearl Streets, in NewYork. A barge was in waiting at noon at Whitehall ferry to convey him across the Hudson to Paulus Hook, on his way to Annapolis, where he was to surrender his commission as commander in chief. As he approached the Jersey shore, the scene of so many anxious moments, he must have been affected by conflicting emotions. The contrast was marked. Only a few months had passed since the time when he could draw near to the shore only with the greatest caution. Now, he was welcomed with loud acclamation, the people of " Old Bergen " vying with each other in showing their love and admiration. He was hailed as the deliverer of his country, and many who, under his command, had endured and bled for their native land, invoked Heaven's choicest blessings on his head.
As he passed over Bergen Heights, his pride was mingled with sadness, as the surroundings revived in his mind recollections of former associates, his old companions in arms, whose dangers and privations he had shared, and many of whom had given their lives for the cause they loved. Among these was the gallant, self-sacrificing Mercer, whose faithful watchfulness from these very heights had aided so much in the result that had been attained, but whose life blood ebbed away, even as the turning point of the war was reached at Trenton and Princeton.
A few years afterward, when Washington received the reward of his labors and self-sacrifice through his selection as president of the infant confederacy, he again visited this scene of his early privations. On his journey to New York, on the occasion of his inauguration as first president of the United States, in 1789, his route was projected to pass through New Jersey to Elizabethtown Point, and then proceed by water to New York. His whole journey was in the nature of a triumphal procession, but nowhere was his reception more enthusiastic or his greetings more sincere than on his passage from the Point through the Kills. He embarked in a barge, splendidly decorated, and convoyed by others, with flags and music. As he entered the Kills, between Staten Island and Bergen Point, the procession was met by other boats from the shores, gay with bunting. From the shores of Bergen Point, which was lined with the citizens of " Old Bergen," he was greeted with the booming of cannon, waving of flags, and loud huzzas of the people. Their joy knew no bounds, and until the procession receded in the distance, their applause and rejoicing continued.
Says the general in his Diary: