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Revolutionary war battlefield saved from development

Ian Harvey

The Civil War Trust has recently signed an agreement to buy almost 15 acres of land across from the Princeton Battlefield State Park for a cool $4 million from the Institute for Advanced Study.

The site being purchased is called Maxwell’s Field, and it is where historians believe that George Washington’s charge first hit the British lines in January 1777 at the Battle of Princeton.

The Princeton battlefield with its map
The Princeton battlefield with its map

Princeton University has occupied the nearby site since its creation in 1746. It sustained some damage in the battle from cannon ball fire as well as military occupation. The conflicts which occurred at the site played a pivotal part in the American Revolutionary War. Upon purchase, the land will be donated to the Princeton Battlefield State Park, further protecting it from any property development. It is a hard area to preserve with all the modern expansion and changes going ahead in the area.

Princeton University has existed since before the Revolutionary War and continues to operate today as one of the world’s leading universities. It would be impractical to try to preserve the entire sprawling area involved in the battle – the Civil War Trust has to select areas for preservation carefully, not just at Princeton but in surrounding areas as well.

A map of the Princeton Battlefield / Stony Brook Village Historic District. Photo Credit
A map of the Princeton Battlefield / Stony Brook Village Historic District. Photo Credit

In the past, battlefield preservation has been focused mostly on significant monuments and prominent features like fortifications and earthworks. It’s unrealistic to be able to save and preserve everything.

The experts have noted that many Revolutionary War battlefield sites weren’t recorded and are only rediscovered when artifacts happen to be found. The Civil War Trust is a non-profit organization and depends on donations and grants to make purchases like the one at Princeton. The Institute had donated 32 acres in the 1970’s for the development of the Princeton Battlefield State Park.

Princeton Battlefield State Park, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
Princeton Battlefield State Park, Princeton, New Jersey, USA. Photo Credit 

The land, which has been surveyed and discovered to be littered with both American and English artillery shells, will shed light on how the forces clashed, and aid with reconstruction of troop movements. The patterns of remains show an advancement of the American army and subsequent withdrawal of the British and their troops, Mail Online reported.

Read another story from us: Grays Hill: Where the British were defeated in during the Revolutionary war

Since being formed, the Civil War Trust has grown to nearly 200,000 members and has managed to save more than 40,000 acres of American Civil War battlefields. Its ongoing task is to pursue further understanding of the past and protect sites of historical and cultural value.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News