On Sunday, April 13, 1777, a four-column force of 4,000 British Crown troops led by Lord Charles Cornwallis attacked a small American garrison of about 500 commanded by General Benjamin Lincoln and located in the town of Bound Brook. The objective: surround the town, capture the garrison and provisions located at this patriot stronghold and gain a foothold in the war against the American Revolutionary army. In the surprise attack, an advance column led by Hessian Jaeger scouts fighting for the British were pinned down by Colonial soldiers who put up a spirited resistance at the Old Stone Arch Bridge located near the Queens’ Bridge.
The skirmish bought precious time for the bulk of the American force in Bound Brook as British forces poured into the area. When a second column of 1,000 British soldiers charged over the Queen’s Bridge to attack, the Colonials retreated, escaping the trap. The American army regrouped in the area later in 1777, in a larger encampment called First Middlebrook.
General George Washington’s army was also settled in the winter and spring of 1778-79 in a Second Middlebrook lengthier stay, during a cantonment in the area of Bound Brook. Nearly 10,000 troops gathered at Middlebrook, with attendant artillery camps, hospitals, commissaries, post office, artificers, quartermasters’ stores, corrals and other military operations situated in nearby locations ranging from present-day Manville up into the area of the Pluckemein hills. General Washington and many of his officers stayed in homes in the area, near to the main encampment. General Baron Frederich von Steuben made his headquarters at the home of Abraham Staats in South Bound Brook ~ today known as the Abraham Staats House.