Revolutionary War Skirmish on the Maurice River

Municipality: Commercial Township
Category: Battlefield

In August 1781, a skirmish occurred in this area of the Maurice River which is believed to be the only military engagement in Cumberland County in which there were casualties. The skirmish involved some Cumberland County militiamen and a group of Loyalists. Loyalists were Americans who remained loyal to the British in the Revolutionary War and were also called Tories or Refugees.

The details of the battle are uncertain; even the exact date is unknown. The only contemporary account of the battle appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper on August 29, 1781, and was reprinted in the New Jersey Gazette fourteen days later. The full newspaper item appears below:
(Note that a shallop is a type of boat, and “Morris’s river” refers to the Maurice River.)

“Philadelphia, August 29, Last week seven Refugees were brought to town from New-Jersey; they were taken a few days before, near the bridge in Morris’s river, by some of the Jersey militia in a shallop, which they attempted to board, when a sharp contest ensued, during which four of the Refugees were killed and four wounded, when the rest submitted. There were fifteen in all, and it is said the Captain (who was very badly wounded) called out, that he would give no quarters, which occasioned the action to become desperate. Providentially one of the militia received only a slight wound.”