This is the audio-only described version of the park’s official brochure. Text, color photographs of the site and its artifacts, illustrations and a map help tell the park’s story and provide information. Side one focuses on the history of Morristown and the Continental Army’s winter encampment under the leadership of George Washington. Side two highlights things to do at the site and provides information about planning your visit. Content is provided under individual headings.
At the top and bottom thirds of the page are two color illustrations of Martha Washington’s arrival at the winter encampment (top) and a typical day at the encampment (bottom). In the middle is the story, told in text and the presentation of seven artifacts. Descriptions and text are presented under their own sections.
Quote: "The weather was cold enough to cut a man in two." Pvt. Joseph Plumb Martin, 8th Connecticut Regiment
Text: For two agonizing winters, Morristown sheltered the main body of the Continental Army under Gen. George Washington. In early 1777 the general rebuilt and reorganized the young army. Two years later, the harshest winter in decades, some 10,000 soldiers endured relentless cold and snow, meager supplies, and constant hunger. Led by Washington and mustering their own determination, they emerged as a cohesive force. Since the Revolutionary War, each generation has found its own way of telling Morristown’s story and honoring those who lived it. These chapters unfold in many ways at Morristown National Historical Park. Exhibits display artifacts lovingly preserved by soldiers’ families. Restored homes remind us that war affected civilians. Original encampment sites are places to contemplate those trying winters or take a walk in the woods.
Morristown, protected behind the Watchung Mountains from British forces 30 miles east in New York City, was a strategic choice for the Continental Army’s 1777 winter encampment. Soldiers sought shelter wherever they could—in public buildings, private homes, stables, barns, sheds, and tents.
Gen. George Washington hoped to spend the winter rebuilding and retraining his war-weary army, but it dwindled further because of desertions and expired enlistments. Then smallpox struck. Washington’s decision to inoculate soldiers and civilians alike saved countless lives. Reinforcements finally arrived in spring 1777, and the army moved out in June.
During the winter of 1779–80, at least 20 snowstorms cut supply lines for food, clothes, and shoes. “The weather was cold enough to cut a man in two,” wrote Pvt. Joseph Plumb Martin. Despite the conditions, the business of maintaining the 10,000-man army continued. Thousands of acres of trees were felled for over 1,000 log huts, built in precise rows on the hillsides. Huts housed 12 enlisted men; field officers had larger quarters. Units from each state generally encamped as a group.
Routine work included hauling and chopping wood, cooking, digging latrines, troop inspections, and guard duty. Many soldiers were accompanied by wives and children. Two women gave birth in camp.
Theodosia Ford, widow of Jacob Ford Jr., a colonel in the local militia, allowed Washington to use her large home as his headquarters. Ford and her four children squeezed into two rooms while Washington and his senior staff took over most of the house.
On New Year’s Eve 1779, Martha Washington arrived to spend the winter with her husband. Like other officers’ wives, she traveled to her husband’s winter quarters every year. Hastily built additions (since removed) provided an office for the aides and a kitchen for the headquarters. Servants and slaves tended to domestic duties. Military guards stood watch over a constant stream of visitors. Washington wrestled with the problems of the army and the precarious coalition of states that was not yet a nation. The Continental Congress could not fund the army, and ruinous inflation made the purchase of badly needed food and clothing almost impossible.
The general sought help from neighboring New Jersey counties and other states. The response from New Jersey was immediate and generous; it “saved the army from dissolution, or starving,” wrote Washington.
In May 1780 the Marquis de Lafayette arrived at the Ford Mansion with welcome news of aid from France. The next month the camp dispersed, as the last of the troops were ordered into battle yet again.
Caption: An imagined scene shows many of the Ford Mansion’s occupants outside as Martha Washington arrives in late 1779 to join her husband at his winter quarters.
Description: The overall scene is the exterior of a white eighteenth-century Georgian-style house in winter with officers, soldiers, horses, and a horse-drawn sleigh in front of the house. The house has two sections: a smaller kitchen wing on the right and a larger main portion of the house on the left. Snow covers the ground and piles up in areas where no one has walked. In other places, the snow is pockmarked with footprints. There is an overall blue tone to the painting to impart the cold temperature.
The main section and kitchen wing of the house have central doors with two windows on either side of the door. There is a symmetrical arrangement of windows. Each window in the main section of the house has nine panes in the upper sash over nine panes in the lower sash. The windows in the kitchen wing are smaller with six panes over six panes. The ground floor windows of both wings have green paneled shutters. There is a golden glow in the windows of the first floor from the fireplaces and candles inside the rooms. Some of the golden light is reflected on the snow outside the windows. Mrs. Ford's 12-year-old daughter watches the activity outside from a first-floor window. The front door of the main section has a long, narrow window on either side of the door and a semicircular window over the door. The door and the windows are surrounded by decorative moldings. Several steps and a porch lead from the ground to the front door.
The main activity of the scene takes place outdoors on the left side of the illustration in front of the main section of the house. General Washington has walked down the stairs from the entrance. At the bottom step, he greets his wife Martha. He wears a blue regimental coat with buff trim called facings and gold epaulets on both shoulders. Martha is seen from behind and faces him. She is covered almost entirely with a brown hooded cloak. Behind Washington on the stairs and front porch are two of Washington's aides in their uniforms. Mrs. Ford, the owner of the house, also stands on the porch. She wears a brown dress, white cap and a shawl wrapped around her neck and shoulders.
Guards stand at either side of the main portion of the house. They wear blue regimental coats with buff trim, red waistcoats and buff colored overalls which cover over the tops of their shoes. They each hold the top portion of a musket to their right, the butt of which rests on the snowy ground. Because they are enlisted men, they wear simple round hats with the left side pinned up compared to the officers who wear more stylish cocked hats in which three sides are pinned up making a hat with three points to the brim.
To the right of Martha Washington stands the green horse-drawn sleigh she has just arrived in. The driver, bundled up in a black greatcoat, is descending from the front seat of the sleigh. The rear seat where Martha and an officer sat is empty. With his back toward us an officer, who has accompanied Mrs. Washington, walks from the sleigh towards General and Mrs. Washington. A soldier holds the horse that has pulled the sleigh.
On the far right side of the illustration in the foreground are three officers mounted on horses. One officer faces forward. He talks to a soldier standing in front of him. Another enlisted man stands between the two other mounted officers. Clouds of vapor come from the mouths of the men as they talk or breathe in the frigid air.
Behind the three mounted officers, two African-American servants emerge from the front door of the kitchen carrying food outside to be brought over to Washington's dining room in the main portion of the house. Servants have to go outside to avoid passing through the two rooms Mrs. Ford and her four children occupy between the kitchen and Washington's rooms on the far left of the illustration. The two servants are dressed in common eighteenth century civilian clothing and are being watched by a white female servant whose dress is covered by a white apron and a gray shawl.
The front of the house fills almost the entire background of the picture except for a small portion on the far left. Here there are trees covered with snow. Above the trees, the sky has the darkening blue of an afternoon sunset with gray clouds highlighted with bits of orange. A small portion of the second floor of the house appears bright white where the last bit of sunlight hits the house while most of the house has a darker white color and shadows.
Illustration credit: NPS/ Keith Rocco
Caption: An imagined scene depicting typical daily activities at the Pennsylvania Line encampment, 1779–80
Description: During a frigid winter's morning, soldiers begin to assemble outside their snow-covered log cabins for morning orders.
Across the middle section of the painting is a row of three log cabins with soldiers in blue uniform coats with red trim lining up outside. The roofs of the cabins are covered with snow. Icicles hang over their edges. The snow on the ground is packed and covered with footprints in the high traffic areas but the snow drifts up to a height of one or two feet against the cabins where no one has walked.
On the far right, a group of ten soldiers are in two lines in front of their cabin holding their muskets. Vapor coming from their mouths gives an impression of the cold temperature. An officer whose back is to us addresses the soldiers. He wears a cocked hat and a black greatcoat, that comes below his knees. He carries a six-foot long spear called a spontoon as a symbol of his rank.
To the left is the second cabin where six soldiers are just beginning to line up. On the far left is the third cabin. An officer with his back to us calls into the cabin through a partially open door. Behind the officer, a single soldier with his musket slung over his shoulder walks the well-trodden snow path out to the line up at the second cabin. On the left side of this cabin is a group of three soldiers' wives working amidst some firewood. One woman has her back to us. The second woman holds a hatchet in her right hand as she prepares to split an upright piece of wood. The third woman walks around the rear of the hut carrying a load of firewood.
In the foreground on the far left is a pair of brown oxen pulling a sled carrying six recently felled long logs. A soldier stands behind the oxen with a stick driving the animals. A second soldier walks carrying an axe. A dog whose fur is matted with ice and snow walks beside the group.
In the foreground on the far right two soldiers who are musicians stand with their backs to us awaiting orders to play. Both wear red coats with blue trim, which is the opposite of the other soldiers, to make it easier to identify them as musicians. The musician on the right holds a wooden fife drum in front of him. The musician on the left has a drum slung over his shoulder. He steadies the drum with his left hand as it hangs at his left side and holds two drumsticks in his right hand.
In the background behind the row of three cabins, glimpses of parts of a second row of logs cabins can be seen. The sky is a winter's bluish gray and is filled with smoke coming from the chimneys of every cabin. A dull yellow morning sun is partially seen through the smoke over the cabin on the far left.
Illustration credit: NPS/ Keith Rocco
In the middle center of side one are a series of five artifacts presented in a row. In addition, a sword lines part of this row above and a musket lines part of this row on the bottom. Following is the caption and then the description of each item presented from left to right.
Caption: From left: George (1776) and Martha (1772) Washington portraits by Charles Willson Peale; Washington’s dress sword from the first inauguration; makeshift frying pan fashioned from a shovel; Brown Bess musket; Joseph Martin’s firsthand account of his experience as a Revolutionary War soldier; Isaac Whitehead’s canteen.
In the far right middle of the brochure is a list of the units under George Washington from 1775 - 1783. They are:
The top of side two of the brochure begins with the title “Morristown Past and Present.” Underneath and across the page are seven color photographs highlighting areas throughout the park. Underneath the photos is text numbered one through ten, which provides additional information about places to visit within the park, seven of which correspond to the photographs. This text and the photo descriptions are under their own sections. Information about trails, historical collections and New Jersey’s role in the American Revolution are accompanied by photographs, which are described under their own sections. The park map takes up the majority of the page and that, along with information about planning your visit, are presented under their own sections.
Each of the ten numbered park highlights is presented under its own section along with any associated photos. The numbers correspond to their locations on the map. Their locations are identified under the map description section.
Designed by John Russell Pope, the Colonial Revival-style building was completed in 1937. Exhibit galleries focus on 18th-century domestic life of wealthy families like the Fords; military tactics, weapons, strategy, and camp life; and the Lloyd Smith collection of rare manuscripts and books. Information desk, museum store, exhibits, short movie, tickets for Ford Mansion tours. Entrance fee for museum.
From December 1779 to June 1780, this was Washington’s quarters and base of operations. Ranger-led tours only; admission included with museum fee.
Photo description: A three-quarter view of a two and a half story white Georgian mansion with a hipped roof covered in brown wooden shingles sits behind a snow-covered lawn and a brown stone foundation. Two large white chimneys with black tops project out from the main roof. A smaller two and a half story kitchen wing is attached on the right in the photo. Another large white chimney with a black top projects from the end of the wing. The front of the main section of the house is more decorative than its sides or the kitchen wing. It is covered with ship-lapped boards that give the appearance of a smooth surface while the left side of the house has clapboard. The main focus of the front of the house is the centrally located door and the Palladian window above it. The front door has smaller windows to the right and left sides and is topped by a semi-circular window. The door and these windows are surrounded by decorative moldings. The second-floor Palladian window features a large central window with a semi-circular top and two separate smaller side windows. The rest of the windows are arranged symmetrically with two windows to both the right and left of the central hallway. The windows of the main section have twelve small panes in both the upper and lower window sashes. The windows of the kitchen wing have six panes over six panes. The windows of the first floor of the main house and wing have green shutters.
In May 1777 Washington’s troops fortified this strategic crest with earthworks and trenches.
Photo description: A three-quarter view of a replica eighteenth-century bronze cannon on a gray wooden two-wheeled carriage points out over an overlook. The cannon sits on a gray gravel path surrounded by green grass and orange autumn leaves. Trees immediately beyond the cannon are bare. The tops of trees downhill from the cannon project above the grass in front of the cannon but do not block the view of the town and the mountain range to the east.
Some 10,000 Continental Army soldiers camped in this area during the winter of 1779–80. The visitor center has an information desk, exhibits, reproduction hut, short movie, and gift shop.
Photo description: The front of a low one-story brown brick building. The center of the building is dominated by floor to ceiling glass windows on either side of a center set of glass doors. A brown brick walkway leads the viewer from the entire foreground of the photo to the front door of the building, which is in the background of the photo. There is a low brick wall on either side of the walkway. The building sits within a forest of bare trees. Both the trees and building are similar in color. Photo credit: NPS/ Eric Olsen
Henry Wick and his family lived in this New England-style house on a 1,400-acre farm. During the 1779–80 encampment, Gen. Arthur St. Clair made his headquarters here.
Photo description: An autumn scene and three-quarter view of a red Cape Cod style house. A garden surrounded by a post and rail fence surrounds the portion of the house in the photo. The front of the house is covered with plain, unpainted wooden shingles. A black front door is centrally located with single windows to the right and left. The windows' frames and shutters are painted red. The side of the house is painted red and covered with clapboards. Green plants growing in the garden obscure the first-floor windows on the side of the house. Much of the left portion of the picture is dominated by trees in autumn colors of orange, yellow and green, which also lay fallen on the grounds surrounding the house. These trees shade most of the house but splashes of light break through to the roof and front of the house.
Precise rows of log huts on this hillside housed 2,000 soldiers during the 1779–80 encampment. Replica huts open.
Photo description: In the background, four snow-covered log cabins, also called “huts,” sit on a snowy hillside. The snow-covered ground and hillside fill the front and middle section of the photo. A wall of bare gray trees is behind the cabins. Each cabin has a single open door and a single open window without any glass or covering. The four cabins are uniform in size and shape but the doors and windows are in random order.
An enlarged portion of this photo is at the bottom of the page and fades into the park map above it. The photograph has been treated so that it is faded and sepia-toned and has the appearance of looking through a fog. The center cabin is recognizable, but the cabins on either side fade away into a fog. The cabins are covered with snow and surrounded by trees. The empty doorways and windows of two cabins give the appearance of abandoned structures.
This field was the center of camp life. Even in the harshest winter weather, soldiers gathered daily for inspections, guard detail, and drilling. General orders were issued from the orderly office, (no longer standing), the camp’s administrative headquarters.
A monument on the hillside marks the encampment site of Brig. Gen. John Stark’s 1,270 men from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Note: Walk-in site only.
About 900 soldiers of the New Jersey Brigade, the last group to arrive that winter, encamped on a steep plot of land. Note: Walk-in site only.
The early 20th-century landscape of the Cross Estate includes a formal perennial garden, native plant garden, pergola covered by wisteria, pathway bordered by mountain laurel, and several large specimen trees.
Photo description: A formal garden overflows with short green bushes and flowers of light purple, white, and red. A large decorative red clay urn sits in the center of the garden. An ivy covered stone wall is in the rear of the garden with a forest of trees beyond the wall.
The park has about 27 miles of designated hiking trails. Ranging in difficulty from easy to moderate, the trails let you experience natural beauty while also exploring Revolutionary War history.
The 2.25-mile Yellow Trail connects the key historic and interpretive sites throughout Jockey Hollow. The White Trail/Grand Loop Trail is the longest trail in Jockey Hollow—6.5 miles. The Blue Trail, 3 miles roundtrip, includes the Stark’s Brigade encampment site, which offers the best view of the landscape from Mt. Kemble. While hiking in the park please keep your pets on a leash at all times. You can print a trail map and park map from the park website. Morris County’s 35-mile, multiuse Patriots’ Path connects several dozen natural and historical sites. Printable maps are available at www.morrisparks.net. Bicycles are only allowed on the 3-mile-long paved Tour Road. Biking is not allowed on hiking trails.
Descriptions for two photos next to this block of text in the middle left of side two follow.
Because of its central location among the American Colonies and its well-developed transportation, provisioning, and defense systems, New Jersey played a key role in the struggle for independence.
Within the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area, New Jersey’s rich history unfolds—from Fort Lee at the Palisades to Red Bank Battlefield on the Delaware River. The national heritage area covers 2,155 square miles over 14 counties. Historic sites; preservation groups; historical societies; friends organizations; state, county and local governments; and schools, libraries, and museums work together to tell the stories of the American Revolution and New Jersey’s key contributions to building the nation.
For information and a virtual tour, visit www.revolutionarynj.org.
Photo caption: Catch a live demonstration on encampment weekend. Photo description: Smoke erupts from the muzzle and vent of a replica bronze cannon during a firing demonstration. The foreground features a cannon and five soldiers in blue regimental coats with buff trim, vests, and britches. A group of visitors both young and old watch the firing from the middle ground of the picture. A faded red barn and bare gray trees complete the background.
Morristown National Historical Park has over 500,000 artifacts in its museum, archives, and library collections. While the overall collection emphasizes the Colonial and Revolutionary eras, the rare book and manuscript collections document the nation’s development and contain items from the 15th to 20th centuries. The park’s cultural resources office has regular research hours. See the virtual museum at www.nps.gov/morr. You can also visit www.morristownnhpmuseum.blogspot.com.
Photo caption: Students examine original documents from the park’s extensive collections. Photo description: A group of high school aged boys and girls gather around a large table looking at historic documents preserved under clear plastic while a female archivist points to a particular document. Both the archivist and the students are wearing white cotton gloves.
This map shows the entire park including the tour road, hiking trails, points of interest, restrooms, scenic overlooks, and a picnic area. The map is oriented with north at the top and covers an area of eight miles by seven miles, also noted by the map’s legend, which indicates that about one and three-quarters of an inch equal a mile and a little over one inch equals one kilometer.
The park is made up of four separate units which are surrounded by urban Morristown and suburban communities. The four park areas stretch diagonally across the map from the lower left corner in the southwest to the upper right corner in the northeast. The Washington's Headquarters area is in the upper right corner. Points of interest in this area are the Park Museum. Washington’s Headquarters/ Ford Mansion and the Traction Line Recreation Trail. The museum is wheelchair accessible and restrooms are available.
Two inches to the left and traveling in a southwesterly direction for another mile or so is the Fort Nonsense area, which has a scenic overlook, picnic tables, parking, and a self-guiding trail.
Continuing in a southwesterly direction and about six inches to the left and six inches down is the largest park area, labeled Jockey Hollow. This area includes the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center, the Wick House, Replica Soldier Huts, the Grand Parade area, a paved tour road and several hiking trails. It is also the site of the Pennsylvania Line encampment (1779 - 1780) and the Stark’s Brigade encampment (1779 - 1780), where there is a scenic overlook. There are several parking areas and two restroom locations.
Continuing in a southwesterly direction and about four inches to the left and four inches down is the New Jersey Brigade Area which has hiking trails and the restored formal garden at the Cross Estate where parking is available. This area is also the site of the New Jersey Brigade Encampment (1779 - 1780).
Interstate Highway 287 and Route 202 both travel from the southwest to the northeast and are the primary roads to access the park’s units.
A dotted line labeled as “Patriot’s Path” meanders along the park to the north and forks off to the northwest as well as to the southwest where it cuts into the Jockey Hollow unit of the park.
The park grounds are open daily 8 am to sunset. Park buildings’ hours and days of operation vary seasonally. Before you visit, please call or check the website for updated schedules of park hours, Ford Mansion tour times, and other activities. The park is closed on Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1.
We strive to make our facilities, programs, and services accessible to all. For information, ask a ranger, check at the visitor center, call, or visit our website.
The portrait is an oval miniature of George Washington painted on ivory. He wears a dark blue regimental coat with gold epaulets on each shoulder. The collar and lapels of his coat appear almost white but are really a light tan called buff. under the coat he wears a vest called a waistcoat with a thin line of gold embroidery around the neck and down the front edges. White cloth circles his neck and a white piece of ruffled shirt peaks out from the top of his vest. A blue sash crosses over his waistcoat and under his coat on a diagonal going from his right shoulder down towards his left side.
Washington's face appears like a long oval. He has white powdered hair combed back from his face and it covers over the tops of his ears. He looks directly at the viewer. he has a prominent nose, thin slight smile and a bit of a five o'clock shadow. There is nothing in the background except a light blue color.