Jonas Cattell Route to Fort Mercer at Red Bank.
October 22nd, 1777
by Robert Allen
Jonas worked as a blacksmith apprentice to John Middleton in Haddonfield, NJ. Middleton’s farm was where the Haddonfield High School now stands, and is about 7 miles from Jonas’ family farm on Lavender Hill in Deptford. Jonas would travel to work and back on foot daily and knew every road and trail along the route. These were also his hunting, fishing and trapping grounds so he knew the land intimately.
The Hessians being led by Count Von Donop broke camp before daylight on Oct 22nd and set their captives free. Jonas was extremely tired from being up all-night and hungry too. His adrenalin is up because of the situation at hand. His first thoughts are to head home to get warn is family that 1200 Hessian soldiers would soon be marching right past their home. The bridge is out in Westville and the only route for the Hessians to Fort Mercer at Red Bank will be over Clements Bridge. This is also the route Jonas needs to take to get home. His most likely route would be down Warwick Road to Davis Road, then on to Big Timber Creek just east of Clements Bridge. He stays away from the bridge, still not knowing which way the Hessians are going and fearing he will be seen and stopped.Chews’ Landing was used as a shipping port as early as 1762 for transporting produce from South Jersey to market in Philadelphia and during the war all of the boats had been scuttled to keep the British from supplying their troops in Philadelphia. Jonas knew this, and proceeded to Isaiah Marpoles place. There were several scuttled boats there and he took one, hoping it would get him across the creek. He knew how to swim but did not want to take a dip in the cold October waters. The boat slowly filled with water as he crossed Big Timber Creek and was nearly full when he reached the other side. He is now cold, wet, hungry and tired.
Using these rates, Jonas could make it from Evans Pond in Haddonfield to the Fort in just over 2 hours – 3 if you take into account the crossing of Big Timber Creek and his stopping home to change. The Hessians would take closer to 6 hours, still giving Colonel Green 3 hours to prepare the Fort.
The story about stopping home is mine and is purely speculation. The reasoning is this:
1) He is soaking wet with 6 more miles to run.
2) His house is less than a mile away and on the way.
3) He would want to warn his family about the 1200 Hessian soldiers that will be coming by shortly.
4) He needs a weapon.
It would make for an interesting reinactment if we could have Hessian Soldiers marching their route and the Cattell runners following this one. Having the runners stop at the Cattell cemetary off of Caulfield Ave for a quick snack of dried meat and some fresh water. (Thanks Rick)
The information in this article is based off of an article in the Constitution, March 10, 1846. This tells where the Hessians camped, where Jonas was working at the time and where he crossed the river. The roads listed are based on quickest / shortest routes using the points mentioned, while remaining out of site of the Hessian army. The final route to the fort was probably main roads all the way since Jonas knew he was far enough ahead of the Hessians to not be seen.