NATIONAL PARK — Residents and visitors are invited to come and learn about the Battle of Red Bank (Fort Mercer) archaeology project on Saturday, June 20 from 10 a.m. to 4p.m. at Red Bank Battlefield Park.
Gloucester County was awarded an American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) grant to investigate the history and archaeology of Fort Mercer. John Milner Associates, the historical archaeology firm performing the study, will lead the public day.
Historical archaeology isn’t just about the artifacts, but also uses the historical documents, maps, aerial photographs, and topography to learn about the past. All of these various sources of information will be showcased during the public day.
There will be five “battle stations” where visitors can learn about the history of the fort and the landform at Red Bank, and experience archaeology first-hand.
Stations 1 and 2: ARCHAEOLOGY EXCAVATION
Professional archaeologists, assisted by members of the Gloucester Chapter of the Archaeological Society of New Jersey, will be excavating test units in two areas: 1) in the approximate location of the interior fort wall (a little north and west of the Monument) and, 2) along the north fence line, where the eastern fort gate or entrance was located.
Station 3: METAL DETECTION
Under the direction of JMA professional archaeologists, metal detectors with the Battlefield Restoration and Archaeological Volunteer Organization (BRAVO) will be working in 40m by 40m grid squares, with 10-12 metal detectors operating under the supervision of an archeologist. Metal detection is one of the best archaeological techniques for recovering battle-related artifacts and for understanding the ebb and flow of the fighting.
Station 4: GROUND-PENETRATING RADAR (GPR)
JMA geo-archaeologists will be working in the GPR area, which will be along the east side of the fort. It will likely move, as portions of the wall and ditch are explored. The 1777 fort’s ditches are different from the ditches you see today, which date from the 1930s.
Station 5: DOCUMENTARY HISTORY
Dr. Robert Selig, the project historian, will be stationed near the fort entrance and will discuss the general history of the battle. We plan for him to have a handout that briefly tells the battle chronology, and he will also have a handout with several first-person accounts printed on it, so visitors can compare and contrast the written documents.