George Washington didn’t sleep at the Van Veghten House but he danced there for more than three hours.
Washington and his wife Martha did sleep at the Wallace House in Somerville during the winter of 1779.
Visitors climbed into buses and traveled around Somerset County Sunday, taking the Five Generals Tour of the Heritage Trail Association, a group that highlights and teaches the county’s role in American history.
“The history covers George Washington’s Middlebrook Cantonment over the 1778-1779 winter,” said Cindy Blumenkrantz, president of the Heritage Trail Association.
Washington’s 10,000-soldier Continental Army camped around the county and more than doubled its then-population of 9,000, Blumenkrantz said. Washington wintered here because he knew the area and the colonials who lived here were friendly.
Those on the tour visited the following five locations:
- The Van Horne House in Bridgewater, where Gen. William Alexander, also known as Lord Stirling, stayed and who was left in charge when Washington went to Philadelphia.
- The Abraham Staats House in South Bound Brook, residence of Gen. Baron von Steuben, an inspector general who helped train the Continental Army.
- The Jacobus Vanderver House, home to Gen. Henry Knox, an artillery commander who built a large academy and artillery park.
- The Wallace House, Washington’s headquarters and where he and Martha Washington lived for several months.
- The Van Veghten House, host to Quartermaster Gen. Nathanael Greene, who was in charge of supplying the Army. Letters show Washington danced for three hours with the General’s wife, Kitty Greene.
Four tour groups totaling 100 people spent several hours learning about the homes and New Jersey’s history, for $30 per person.
“There is only one place in the country that has winter cantonment houses from the Revolutionary War that are still in the same location and still open to the public,” said Blumenkrantz.
“It was great, I learned a lot,” said Maryann Czarcinski.
“How can a people survive if they don’t know where they came from and how did they have any idea on where to go if they don’t know where they came from?” Blumenkrantz asked.
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Ed Murray may be reached at [email protected].