The Military Capital of the American Revolution
Visitors traveling to the area can explore where Gen. George Washington set his headquarters and settled his troops during the winters of 1777 and 1779-80. On Jan. 4, 1777, immediately following the victorious Battle at Princeton, Washington decided not to attack New Brunswick where the British had retreated. Instead, he moved the army into winter quarters at Morristown. Washington and the Continental Army considered Morristown's location a safe haven. The Watchung Mountains and nearby swamps afforded protection for the army, there were adequate provisions and the local residents were helpful. As a result, Morris County and Morristown, in particular, became known as "The Military Capital of the American Revolution."
During the winter of 1777, Washington stayed in Arnold's Tavern, which was on the Morristown Green. While the tavern no longer exists, the Green remains a center of tradition and activities for Morristown. During his second winter encampment of 1779-80, Washington was housed in the massive Georgian style Jacob Ford Mansion, which is now preserved as part of the Morristown National Historical Park, the first national historical park in America. Close by Washington's winter residence is Jockey Hollow, where the Continental Army camped. It too is part of the national park and contains the Wick House and farmstead and several reconstructed soldiers' huts.
At the time, Jockey Hollow had from 1,000 to 1,200 such huts to house around 12,000 troops. Each of the huts measured 14 feet by 16 feet and housed 12 soldiers. Living conditions for the soldiers were particularly brutal during the winter of 1779-80. Classified as the worst winter in 100 years, food was often in short supply or nonexistent as 26 storms between Nov. 1779 and April 1780 slowed or blocked the delivery of food and other supplies. In some cases snowdrifts measured as high as 15 feet and there was 11 to 18 feet of ice in New York Harbor.