CLARK, NJ -- Union County residents and visitors can partake in a once-in-a-lifetime experience this Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25 at Oak Ridge Park in Clark, when hundreds of uniformed men, women, and children stage a re-enactment to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the 1777 Battle of Short Hills.
The two-day event covers everything from dramatic clashes with British regulars to the everyday challenges – and occasional pleasures -- of camp life for a war weary army on the move.
Members of the public are invited to view the battle scenes, visit the camps and participate in multi-age activities. The event is free, and free parking is available. A free outdoor concert by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at Oak Ridge Park this Friday, June 23 will jump start the action packed weekend.
“The Battle of Short Hills was a crucial moment early in the Revolutionary War. It revealed the relentless courage, tenacity and ingenuity of ordinary citizens who fought the battles and supported the solders in camp,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “This commemorative re-enactment will be an enriching experience that is unlike any other the Freeholder Board has ever staged in our County parks, and we are proud to partner with the Brigade of the American Revolution to present it for all to enjoy, free of charge.”
The re-enactment is a project of the Brigade of the American Revolution and is sponsored by the Freeholder Board. BAR is the premier international living history organization dedicated to portraying the challenges facing the men and women who won freedom for the former British colonies in America.
“When you see the Battle of Short Hills unfold before your eyes, you gain a deep respect for the citizens who rose above their day to day concerns and joined together for a greater cause,” said BAR President Tom Delucco. “We hope that this weekend’s event inspires all who witness it with a renewed appreciation for the freedom we enjoy today, and for which our forebears sacrificed their comfort, their livelihoods, and their very lives.
The Battle of Short Hills was a running battle that crossed half a dozen towns in the general area of Scotch Plains in Union County and nearby in Middlesex County on June 26 in 1777, when General William Alexander (aka Lord Stirling) and his division of the Continental Army teamed up with local militia to engage General Howe’s superior British force.
Historians credit the outgunned and outnumbered Colonials with preventing the British from pursuing other Continental Army troops lead by General George Washington. The result was a strategic victory that played a pivotal role in the many long years of war to come.
The Battle of Short Hills 240th Anniversary Commemoration is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25.
All ages are invited to participate in public activities in the camp before the battles begin, and watch from a safe distance as the action unfolds. Activities include musket and cannon demonstrations, an up close look at cooking and other routines of the camp, a step by step follow-along with a soldier’s life and more. A complete schedule is available online at ucnj.org/parks-recreation.
Educational displays and programs sponsored by the Union County Department of Cultural and Heritage Affairs and local historical societies will be featured on site.
In association with the Freeholder Board, the FreeWalkers fitness and history organization is also sponsoring a “Battle of the Short Hills” march to coordinate with the Oak Ridge Park event on Saturday, June 24.
The Battle of Short Hills Commemoration is free of charge and free parking is available. Visitors are advised to bring water, sun protection and a portable chair or blanket, as the event is staged in open fields. Food trucks will be on site and visitors are also welcome to pack their own food. Access is via the main entrance of Oak Ridge Park, on Oak Ridge Road in Clark.
Visitors can start the weekend early by coming to Oak Ridge Park on Friday, June 23. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will present a musical “Road Trip Across the USA” featuring John Williams’s moving score for the film Lincoln among other history-themed works.
The concert kicks off Union County’s Summer Arts popular series of free outdoor concerts and yoga programs. The yoga session begins at 6:30 (participants should bring their own mat), and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will take the stage at 7:30.
For the full Summer Arts schedule and other activities in Union County parks this summer visit the Special Events Calendar online at ucnj.org/parks-activities. For more details on the Battle of Short Hills 240th Anniversary commemoration visit on Facebook, facebook.com/BoSH2017. More information about BAR is available online at brigade.org.