North Jersey Highlands Historical Society, founded in 1954.
North Jersey Highlands Historical Society

Great Chain on the Hudson River, 1777.



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Robert Erskine Timeline

1735 Robert Erskine was born in Scotland. He became an engineer, surveyor and inventor and (nominated by Ben Franklin) was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was also a member of the Freemasons and was inducted into the American Philosophical Society.
1771 On June 5 Erskine arrived at his new appointment as the Manager of the American Company ironworks (including Long Pond, Charlottesburg and Ringwood) headquartered at the site of the present Ringwood Manor.
1773 to 1775 Erskine wrote letters of concern to England regarding the brewing revolt in America.
1773 Erskine established the Bellegrove Store (in modern Mahwah), a retail sales and trading enterprise that served the main thoroughfare from New York to Boston and Albany.
1775 On April 19th, there were battles at Lexington and Concord, MA. The Colonial Army mobilized under George Washington.
1775 In the summer, Erskine was commissioned as a Captain by the NJ State Legislature and formed Erskine’s Militia. It varied in size between 45 and 75, with some estimates as high as 200 men. Lookouts were posted in the Ramapo Mountains and drills were help at Ringwood Manor and Long Pond.
1776 General Stirling establishes a Fire Beacon warning system starting at Sandy Hook, N.J. and reaching into the New Jersey Highlands, including Federal Hill in Pompton and Gouverneur Mountain in Ringwood.
1776 Erskine submits a design for a tetrahedron-shaped marine Chevaux-de-Frise. Although many had previously been built, none were used in the Hudson River before the British invasion of NYC later that year.
1776 Erskine meets George Washington in the fall.
1777 Erskine and Washington meet several times during the winter in Morristown.
1777 In early July, Washington visits Ringwood Manor for the first time.
1777 to 1778 Ringwood’s ironworks makes parts of both Hudson River chains (Ft. Montgomery and West Point). Ringwood also makes iron points for the Chevaux-de-Frise to be used in the Hudson River at Newburgh.
1777 On July 13th, Washington and Erskine meet in Pompton at the "Old Yellow House Tavern."
1777 On July 27th, Erskine was commissioned as Geographer and Surveyor General to the Continental Army.
1777 to 1780 Until his death in 1780, Erskine performed field work, completing over 200 maps and surveys for General Washington. Ringwood was the headquarters for the U.S. Army’s Defense Mapmaking Agency. During this time Erskine often traveled with the Army, and met Washington at various army camp headquarters, including Morristown, Valley Forge, White Plains, West Point, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, etc.
1777 Cast iron camp ovens were ordered by Washington from Ringwood ironworks. They were completed and delivered to the army camps.
1777 to 1783 Periodically, Continental Troops bivouacked at Ringwood and munitions were stored there.
1778 General Greene surveyed and built the Continental Army road through Ringwood under orders from General Washington. This supply road connected Morristown with New Windsor, NY.
1778 On June 28, Captain Board’s Company of the Bergen County Militia (members of Erskine’s Militia) fought in the Battle of Monmouth. It was a successful rearguard attach on the British.
1778 Ringwood Manor was raided on Nov. 11th by Claudius Smiths’ gang. Mrs. Erskine was robbed and horses were stolen, but there were no injuries.
1779 An Artillery Unit camped at Ringwood for several months, where carriages were repaired and re-equipped.
1779 On June 5th, General Washington headquartered at Ringwood Manor on his way North to New Windsor.
1780 The ironworks stopped production due to a shortage of manpower in the area. For two years, men had been leaving to enlist in the army or work in other wartime capacities.
1780 On Oct. 2nd, Erskine died after a short illness (probably pneumonia). Washington attended his funeral at Ringwood after traveling from Tappan where Major Andre was being hanged for treason.
1780 In the early fall, a contingent of General Rochambeau’s French Army camped at Ringwood while on its way to Yorktown, VA. Some French soldiers died from disease and are buried in unmarked graves at Ringwood cemetery.
1781 From Jan. 26 to 28, Washington headquartered at Ringwood and directed the operation to quell the mutiny in Pompton by the New Jersey units of the Continental Line. Two ringleaders were executed by firing squad in Pompton.
1782 On March 30, George and Martha Washington visited Ringwood and planed an Elm tree at Erskine’s grave.
1783 On April 19, Washington returned to Ringwood Manor as the end to the hostilities was declared. He met with General Lincoln regarding the arrangement of POW exchanges with the British. It was eight years to the day that the first shot was fired on Lexington Green.

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