General George Washington and St. Patrick
One of Morris County’s longest traditions, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, is just around the corner. In fact, the holiday will be celebrated this year for the 223rd time.
General George Washington brought the Continental Army to Morristown, New Jersey, for two winters, in 1777 and again in 1779-1780. The second winter encampment took place at Jockey Hollow, today part of Morristown National Historical Park (MNHP). Over 10,000 men took over parts of the Guerin and Wick farms and suffered immeasurably during the worst winter on record. After 28 snowstorms, supply lines were impassable and officers looked the other way as soldiers foraged in the nearby woods for berries, birds and small animals to keep from starving. Six hundred acres of wood were cut down to build soldiers huts for shelter and firewood. One private, Joseph Plumb Martin, wrote in his memoir of that “hard winter” that soldiers tried boiling and eating tree bark when desperate to put something, anything, in their stomachs.
Of the 11 brigades encamped at Morristown, 7 of them had generals who had either been born in Ireland or had parents of Irish heritage. It was estimated that one quarter of the entire Continental Army had been born in Ireland. On March 17, 1780 General Washington ordered that generals were not to assign duty to any Son of St. Patrick, and the holiday marked their first day off that winter in Jockey Hollow. To commemorate the Irish contribution to the War for Independence a plaque was unveiled at Jockey Hollow on Saturday April 17, 2010 with a pipe and drum corps and speeches by members of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the Deputy Consulate General of Ireland, Breandan O’Caollai.
The Irish will show their pride once again in Morristown at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday March 9, 2013. The parade steps off at noon from Morristown Town Hall at 200 South Street and continues down South Street to the viewing stand near the Morristown Green. The parade concludes at Morristown High School on Atno Street at 2 p.m. For the line of march and more information visit www.paradeday.com.
For more things to see in do in historic Morris County visit www.morristourism.org.
- Contact Information
- Deidre Schunk
- Information Manager
- Morris County Tourism Bureau
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