Technically a draw, the Battle of Monmouth was a political victory for George Washington and a major morale boost for the Continental Army.
One of the largest battles of the American Revolution took place in the fields and forests that now make up Monmouth Battlefield State Park. A reenactment of the June 1778 battle is held annually with volunteers that portray both armies. The two armies camp in the park with their camps open to the public, and battle in the fields for all to see.
The Visitor Center features an orientation video, exhibits and interactive media that reveal the American and British strategies of battle, the heroism and horror of combat, the impact of war on the homefront and the political outcome of George Washington's victory.
For more information visit Monmouth Battlefield State Park.
On June 28, 1778, the Continental Army under Commander in Chief George Washington met the British forces under Commander in Chief, North America, Sir Henry Clinton in one of the American Revolution’s biggest battles. The opposing armies maneuvered and/or fought from before the sun rose to just after it set on a hot summer’s day (nearly 100F) near the village of Monmouth Courthouse. The attacking Continental advanced corps of nearly 5,000 men under the command of Major General Charles Lee were forced to withdrawal after the British counterattacked with approximately 9,000 troops. Lee and his force fell back until they encountered Washington and the rest of the Continental Army on farmland that now comprises Monmouth Battlefield State Park.
Washington took command, ordering some troops under Brigadier General Anthony Wayne to set up an ambush at a position referred to as “The Point of Woods” to harass the British, while Lee took other troops to set up a defensive position at a fence line separating two of the farms (called the “Hedgerow”). Wayne and Lee were able to slow the British long enough for Washington to establish the rest of the army on some high ground (Perrine Hill), including a line of at least 10 cannons that covered the withdrawal of the advanced troops and kept the British from overrunning Washington’s position.
In response to the Continental Artillery, Clinton moved his own artillery forward (10 cannons and one Howitzer, which fired exploding shells). The British took over the position that Lee had established at the Hedgerow. For over three hours the opposing artillery forces fought the largest field artillery duel of the war, called the Great Cannonade. The stalemate was finally broken when Washington was able to get Major General Nathanael Greene on Combs Hill. This placed four additional Continental cannons on the left flank of the British position. The British were forced to withdraw, but not until all their forward units could be safely withdrawn.
The British 3rd Brigade had not pursued the Continentals with the main body of the British forces; Clinton sent them on the right flank of the main force to pursue a regiment of Continentals that had not rejoined General Lee during his retreat. The most forward portion of this brigade was the 2nd Battalion of the 42nd Foot (also known as the Black Watch or Highlanders), which were pinned down by Continental cannons in an apple orchard. Washington sent two units (approximately 500 men) commanded by Colonels Joseph Cilley and Richard Parker to attack the Highlanders. These were special units formed before leaving Valley Forge with some of the best and most experienced men, called “Picked Men.” The Continentals charged the withdrawing British with fixed bayonets, and after a bloody and hard fought engagement were able to push the Highlanders off the field.
After the success of the Picked Men, Washington launched a second attack on the rear guard of the British, the 1st Grenadiers (an elite British unit of about 600 men). Washington sent General Anthony Wayne with three regiments (around 400 men) to attack the Grenadiers. At first Wayne pushed the Grenadiers back, but then, reinforced by the 33rd Foot (with about 360 men), they counterattacked. As Wayne retreated to the Parsonage Farm, the British units reformed and prepared to charge, but the cannons on Combs Hill opened fire. The British retreated and Wayne ordered his men to attack, chasing the British off the field.
As night fell, the fighting ceased with both armies exhausted. Around midnight, the British marched to rejoin the rest of their army. Technically the battle was a draw, with both sides achieving their primary goals. For the Continentals, the Battle of Monmouth was a major morale boost, cementing Washington as Commander and proving that the newly trained Continental Army was capable of standing toe-to-toe with the British Army. For the British, by keeping the Continental Army at Monmouth, the rest of the army, along with the civilians and baggage train traveling with them, safely made it to Middletown where they waited for boats to carry them from Sandy Hook to New York (Clinton was commended for crossing New Jersey without losing any of the approximately 1,500 baggage wagons he had brought from Philadelphia).
Famous and Infamous Historical Figures Present at the Battle of Monmouth
William Alexander, Lord Sterling
Marquis de Lafayette
Baron Friedrich von Steuben
Facilities for People with Disabilities
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20 State Route 33
Manalapan, NJ 07726
Grounds Hours Check Monmouth Battlefield State Park webpageVisitor Center Hours
Admission is free, program fees may apply.