Read the story
The battle of Second River, fought in September 1777 in what is now Belleville, N.J.
Story courtesy The Belleville Times.
Skirmish of Second River
In September of 1777 there was an engagement which is most frequently referred to as the “Battle of Second River”. It is for this engagement that a memorial plaque has been erected in the park. The British intended to expand their invasion with a larger force in central Jersey. But first, they had to pass through Second River and beneath the old church tower.
Eyes in the tower saw the advance and sounded the alarm. Under the direction of Captains Hornblower, Joralemon, Rutgers and Rutan, a defense was prepared. Skirmishes went on for two days. It began with an artillery barrage of our town followed by musket and cannon battles in the streets.
Sending for reinforcements, the American troops valiantly held their ground and managed to damage British General. Sir Henry Clinton’s hilltop headquarters with a direct hit from a cannonball, which happened to be on what is now Franklin Ave. September 14th turned into an all-day pitched battle.
With patriot reinforcements pouring in from neighboring communities, front lines eventually took shape near to Mill Street and Union Avenue. The British forces, overwhelming in numbers, eventually broke through. But once again, the local militia had succeeded in delaying the advance and weakening the invading army.
A large boulder also rests at the fork in the road between Union and Franklin Avenues on Mill Street as a landmark to mark the spot where the final shots of the Battle of the Second River were fired. A bronze plaque was placed on the rock in 1932
Sources: Norman Price, Village of Second River author; Michael Perrone, Dave Hinrichs, The Belleville Times.