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Things to do in Hamilton

    Trent House Trent House Trenton, New Jersey
    The William Trent House in Trenton, New Jersey is the oldest house in the city, constructed for William Trent in 1719, and it would be Trent that founded the town that grew into the capital of New Jersey, and became the home for numerous governors. In the summer of 1798, the federal government would escape to Trenton to avoid the pangs of a yellow fever epidemic that was striking the temporary capital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After Congress adjourned in July for the summer, President John Adams would head home to Quincy, Massachusetts and spend the summer and quite a bit of the fall. The Trent House would become filled with federal offices until November, after the threat of danger had passed by. This magnificent old house had recently been rejuvenated, as well as adding a new visitors center, and is now a historic house museum. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, and put on the National Historic Landmark list the same day. Trent had been a rich Philadelphia merchant that built the house for his family, while he spent time working in the former temporary capital. The house would play a role in the Battles of Trenton, which would eventually become the turning point of the war; but the historical artifacts inside don't show any wear for the many centuries it has existed here. The house has been carefully preserved, and with outstanding historical interpretations, you will realize the great significance it has throughout its history. It is a shame that there isn't much known about Trent, not his birth date, nor when he immigrated to the United States, but history tells us that he came to Philadelphia following his brother, James, in 1693, because he was listed on the tax rolls. He would marry his first wife there, named Mary Burge, and through her family connections would be able to purchase the lands by the falls of the Delaware River that would eventually become his estate. He became very successful and rich, trading with Great Britain and the colonies, as well as having some part in slave trade. It is said that at one point he had interest in 40 ships, and exported products like tobacco, furs and flour, then import dry goods, molasses, wine and rum; along with African and West Indian slaves, as well as indentured servants from Great Britain. It wasn't long before Trent was one of the richest men in the city, along with great influence. He would have four children with Mary, who died in 1708, although how or why is not known, but he did remarry within two years, to Mary Coddington. Mary was just 19 years of age when she married, being the stepdaughter of Anthony Morris, a rich Philadelphia merchant and brew master who had been a business associate of William. The couple and Trent's children moved to Philadelphia, and in 1711, Mary gave birth to a son naming him Thomas, who sadly died the same year, but in 1715, she would have another son, William, and he would live. Sometime during the previous year of 1714, Mary is rumored to have been seduced by the rector of Christ Church, Francis Phillips, along with two other women. The rector was recalled back to England and that was the end of that. That same year, Trent would buy 800 acres of land in New Jersey from Mahlon Stacy, Jr. and started building the large brick house that overlooked the Delaware River and especially the falls. In 1721, the Trent family would move from Philadelphia to the new house in what would become Trenton. On Christmas day, 1724, Trent suddenly died from what was believed a fit of apoplexy or stroke, and it was guessed that he was between 58 and 69 years old, while his young widow was only 33. Then in March of 1733, three African slaves were arrested in Trenton for the poisoning of numerous men, with one possible man being none other than William Trent. No one knows for sure about this either, but one thing is certain, the magnificent estate that he left behind is well worth a visit.

    Grounds for Sculpture
    Grounds for Sculpture Hamilton Township, New JerseyGrounds for Sculpture in Hamilton Township, New Jersey sits on 35 acres and houses a marvelous sculpture park and museum where the old state fairgrounds used to be held. John Seward Johnson II, would start the garden in 1992, hoping to dedicate it to providing a venue for understanding and appreciating the contemporary sculpture works in the garden, by holding organizing displays, publishing catalogues and giving the community various educational programs and events. The beautiful park would become a nonprofit in 2000, getting funded by the many patrons, donations, visitors and public grants that would encourage its growth as one of the finest venues for understanding the arts. A sculpture by Carole Feuerman was placed in the permanent collection in 2006, named "Zeus and Hera"; joining the more than 240 large-scale contemporary sculptures interspersed around the park. There are numerous works by Johnson located there, along with other well known and emerging American and international artists. It seems that the sculpture garden grows by 15 new sculptures each year, with the new works being added to complement and augment the current figures, as well as adding new artists into the park and enhance the landscaped park. Dedicated to developing a "sculpture", "garden", the park's efforts have been to thoughtfully integrate the grasses, trees and flowers into the sculptures to augment them, although the living aspect of the displays could change somewhat dramatically during the year. A marvelous lake is located in the park, adding just the right amount of aesthetics to the already spectacular environment, that seems to grow when each new visitor comes here and leaves part of their spirit to help it all envelop each new piece of art or flora. The park is just a thoroughly intriguing environment, filled with natural and sculpted beauty that entices visitors to spend more than just a few minutes here, but as the sun floats across the sky, every visitor's thoughts seem to drift off and the time that had been only moments has exploded into hours with the spectacular exhibits and gardens.

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    Sayen House and GardensSayen House and Gardens Hamilton Township, New Jersey
    Sayen Park Botanical Gardens in Hamilton Township, New Jersey is called the Sayen House and Gardens as well, sitting marvelously on 30 acres of marvelously landscaped grounds, and is both a municipal park and botanical garden that is open all year long and free, although it is busiest in the spring when everything, including the people, are so tired and discouraged by the winter, just seems to explode with colors and magnificent scents. It all started in 1912, as Frederick Sayen, bought the land for his wife, Anne Mellon, daughter of the Mellon family; and proceeded to construct a bungalow style of home, in the arts and crafts style, but with a Victorian interior. It is surrounded by flowers and plants that were picked up during their world travels, with the majority coming from England, China and Japan. The land became a municipal property in 1988, when the city bought it from developer, David Cellars, and it would opened in 1991 to the public as a municipal park, getting improvements and enhancements in 2003. Living inside the park are over 250,000 flowering bulbs that just seem to burst forth with a spring display of beautiful colors and scents, almost 500 rhododendrons and over 1000 azaleas, along with walking trails, bridges, ponds and gazebos. Every Mother's Day, the park hosts a yearly azalea festival, and the house is opened to the public. It is a place for everyone, filled with visual beauty, historic memories and outstanding walkways, a place perfect for any type of gathering, bicycling, meditations, showers, weddings, holiday parties, business meetings and luncheons, and so much more. All through the year, you can see the many annuals, perennials and other plants, fish ponds, walking trails and gazebos that abound on the grounds making it a most enjoyable place to visit for a moment, an hour or all day, depending upon on your schedule, and inclinations. It has grown into one the most scenic sanctuaries in the region, bringing people from all around the area to just sit, relax and enjoy the birds in the trees, or the buzzing of various bugs around the plethora of flowers and a sense of solitude if you so desire.

    Hamilton Veterans Park
    Hamilton Veterans Park Hamilton Township, New Jersey
    The Hamilton Veterans Park in Hamilton township, New Jersey is found on 350 acres of woods, a small lake often filled with migrating birds and open fields usually filled with wildflowers, a great paved path system that connects it all for the enjoyment of walkers, bladers, joggers and bikers. There are even trails through the woods for you to walk slowly through the shady trees, enjoying nature and all of its marvelous sights and sounds, as well as a boardwalk through the marsh to further enhance your experience here. The park has four miles of walking trails and two miles of biking trails, with plenty of places to sit and reflect on the white clouds as they slowly float across the sky, in various shapes and sizes that often help the visitor just drift off into another world, somewhere between waking and dreaming. The park has a wonderful playground for the kids to enjoy while you pleasantly sit and watch, public restrooms when needed at two different locations and plenty of parking at the four lots. The land here was originally part of the John Abbott II farm, and still has the old farm house that was constructed in 1730, the herb garden at the south entrance, a smoke house, doctor's office and a barn foundation. There are seven walking trails here, including the yellow (woodland) trail, the green trail, Bog Garden boardwalk, orange trail, blue trail-red trail and brown trail. Some of the marvelous birds seen in the lake include; mallard ducks, geese, cormorants, also jumping fish, turtles and more.

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Local Restaurants in Hamilton

    Entrees; served with veggie & potato of the day, except pasta entrees; ravioli della Nonna is housemade ravioli filled with ricotta tomato sauce; rigatoni del lattaio is the milkman's pasta with tomato hearts, basil, prosciutto di parma, parmigiano-reggiano, touch of cream, vodka sauce; tortelloni alla carbonara with house made cheese filled pasta, sautéed onions, cured pancetta, parmigiano-reggiano, egg yolk, cream; paccheri con ragu di maiale is old world Sicilian style chunks of pork in its gravy; orecchiette paesanella is sausage & broccoli di rabe, parmigiano-reggiano & extra virgin olive oil; strascinati con vitello e porcini is veal & porcini mushrooms, special truffle demi-glaze brown sauce; gnocchi con funghi e gameri is ricotta dumplings, oyster mushrooms, jumbo shrimp, sage brown butter sauce; bucatini affumicata is jumbo shrimp & diver sea scallops sautéed with tomatoes & smoked mozzarella, smoky tomato sauce; linguine pescatore is lobster tail, shrimp, scallops, mussels & clams in traditional Mediterranean fish broth; linguine gamberi o aragosta is scampi sauce or fra diavolo sauce with jumbo shrimp; pollo all'Erbe is highly seasoned pieces of roasted chicken on the bone; pollo Milanese is pan fried chicken breasts served over arugula; vitello Milanese is veal cutlets pan fried served over arugula; osso bucco di vitello is braised veal shank in brown vegetable gravy served with chef's special risotto; costate di maiale is grilled double cut Berkshire pork chop giambotta is with sautéed peppers, onions, potatoes; costate di agnello is grilled baby porterhouse lamb chops with wild mushroom demi-glaze & white truffle gnocchi; bistecca di tonno is whole grilled fresh fish of the day filleted table-side; risotto casalingo with green peas & parmigiano-reggiano.

    Villa Maria Restaurant
    Entrees; served with choice of 2 of the following: soup, salad, ziti or angel hair tomato sauce; eggplant; parmigiana; sausage & peppers; stuffed eggplant parmigiana is ham, mozzarella & ricotta cheese; meatball parmigiana; linguine Villa Maria is shrimp, clams, mussels & calamari in red or white sauce; ziti vodka is sautéed in olive oil with prosciutto & garlic in creamy pink sauce; ziti quattro formaggi is four cheeses, sautéed broccoli, baked in creamy four cheese sauce; pasta with broccoli or spinach sautéed in garlic & olive oil; linguine with sun-dried tomatoes sautéed in garlic & olive oil or a creamy pink sauce; fettuccine panna is fettuccine with alfredo sauce; gnocchi is house made potato pasta served with tomato or marinara sauce; chicken parmigiana is breaded, boneless breast topped with mozzarella & tomato sauce; veal marsala is sautéed in olive oil, with mushroom marsala sauce; chicken cacciatore is sautéed in olive oil with onion, garlic, mushrooms, marinara sauce & wine; veal sorrentina is sautéed in olive oil & topped with eggplant, prosciutto, mozzarella & light marinara sauce; mussels marinara is sweet, medium or hot; linguine with calm sauce; little neck clams with marinara or garlic & olive oil; shrimp scampi is shrimp & mussels sautéed in butter, garlic, white wine & fresh lemon juice; chicken francese is batter-dipped & sautéed with fresh lemon; veal pizzaiola is sautéed in olive oil with black & green olives, marinara sauce & wine; shrimp marinara or fra diavolo; fried calamari with choice of sauce; seafood combo is jumbo lump crabmeat, scallops, calamari, shrimp, clams & mussels in red or white sauce; shrimp & scallops alfredo served over fettuccine.

Bucatini Affumicata Spigola Hamilton, NJ


Pollo Milanese Spigola Hamilton, NJ


Grilled Pork Chop Giambotta Spigola, NJ

 Ziti Quattro Formaggi Villa Maria Restaurant Hamilton, NJ


Veal Pizzaiola Villa Maria Restaurant Hamilton, NJ



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    Kuser Farm Mansion and Park Kuser Farm Mansion and Park Hamilton Township, NJ
    The Kuser Farm Mansion and Park in Hamilton Township, New Jersey was constructed by Fred Kuser as a summer house, after his father, Rudolph Kuser immigrated to this country from Zurich, Switzerland in the mid-1800s. Some of the other historic structures included in the park include the corn crib, chicken house, laundry house, tennis court, coach house, garages, barn and gazebo, filled with outstanding antiquities from that period. The country estate of Fred and his family has become a favorite place to visit for the community, just as it did to the major movers and shakers of his period. Rudolph and his wife, Rosalie, purchased the land and built a big farm in the Hamilton Township, along the road that now bears his name. The Kusers would continue to become rich and influential over the years, like Anthony R. Kuser who consolidated all the gas and electric companies in the Trenton area and was then made president of the South Jersey Gas and Electric Lighting company, serving on the staffs of three governors and his wife's father, John Dryden. Dryden has been a US senator and started the vastly successful Prudential Life Insurance company, while the Fox Film Company that would eventually merge with 20th Century was started with a $20,000 loan from Kuser, with the entire family becoming major stockholders. Their extended legacy includes the New Jersey Audubon Society and High Point State Park. The magnificent mansion and historical structures surrounding it are part of the tour and the theater in the Dining Room has a state-of-the-art 18 foot curved Cinema-scope screen. The tennis court was one of the best clay courts in the state during its heyday, with many famous and wealthy people coming here to play and visit the influential family. Inside the fabulous basement, there is the Jersey Valley Model Railroad display that is an outstanding exhibit of old small gauge trains and interesting to all that visit here.  The 22 acre park that houses the 22 room mansion filled with original and period furnishings has a formal garden, along with the many other structures mentioned here above.

    Whitman-Stafford House
    Whitman-Stafford House Laurel Springs, NJThe Whitman-Stafford farmhouse in Laurel Springs, New Jersey is where the extraordinary poet and author, Walt Whitman stayed during the summer months. The original house was constructed before 1785, with three stories and two rooms per floor. In the 1880s, another addition was constructed on the backside, to continue the symmetrical style and looks of it. The wood framed house and wooden clapboards are not really distinguishable from many others constructed during that period but were rather constructed for simplicity and usefulness rather than spending any great amount of money on it to impress the owners or visitors that would come here. It may have been a cheap copy of a Georgian style house that were built during that period and in other areas, but its historical value far exceeds its beauty. In the spring of 1876, Walt, after having lost his mother in 1872, and being stricken with paralysis in 1873, met one Harry Stafford in a print shop in Camden in 1876 and was invited to stay with him at his father's farm in Laurel Springs. Walt enjoyed the farm so much that would continue to return in the summers until 1882, and his days there would be some of the happiest times of his life. His relationship with the Staffords soon blossomed into a genuine friendship, which he continued until his death, and he remembered them in his will. During the summer of 1876, his health returned, especially his ability to move about and he started taking long walks through the area. He would write about it in his book Specimen of Days and took many notes about the beautiful area and spring.

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    Samuel Mickle HouseSamuel Mickle House Haddonfield, NJ
    The Samuel Mickle House in Haddonfield, New Jersey is well known in the area as the Hip Roof House because it so unusual for that type of roof to be used, especially since it was constructed in 1736, and then put on the list of the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The town library is now located in the historic structure, that was built to be used as a saddler's shop originally, and moved to its current location in the 1960s to be used as a historic living museum. Then a few years ago, the growing collection of books and other types of literature became too large for the library to house, it was moved here. It is the Historical Society of Haddonfield Library, with a marvelous collection of papers that have concentrated on the history of the town, family papers, church records, genealogies, as well as images and the organizational records of the town and the area round about. It contains more historic and older books about the history of this vicinity and the early Quakers that migrated here to start anew. The society houses numerous big collections of family papers, the church records of the town up to 1900, early Bible and marriage records and genealogies of the families that lived here. Vertical files have been kept here along with the borough directories from 1884 to 1961, as well as recorded and unrecorded deeds. There is a wonderful collection of old photographs and postcards of the town and its local characters along with old photos of the Haddon Town Crier Herald Newspaper. There are maps of Haddonfield and the cemetery surveys for the Methodist cemetery, Colestown cemetery in Cherry Hill and the Haddonfield Baptist cemetery.

    Hopewell Museum
    Hopewell Museum Hopewell, NJThe Hopewell Museum in Hopewell, New Jersey began in 1922, as the Hopewell Free Public Library and Museum Funding and Building Association, so that it could raise money to construct a building that would contain the collection of antiques that had been donated by Sarah D. Stout. That outstanding collection would become the nucleus for the museum's collections, since many of them had been used by the early citizens of Hopewell and their families. The first museum and Hopewell Public Library has been contained in a three story brownstone constructed by Randolph Stout in 1877, but it was moved in 1965 to its current location and two years later a two story addition would be put on to house the museum's collections. That extra space would be very useful and house the excellent Native American collections of crafts that had been donated by Dr. David H. Hill. The museum also displays artifacts of American village life from the early colonial period to the current day. The marvelous collections includes; furniture, crafts, relics, a colonial and Victorian parlors, natural history displays, colonial furniture and furnishings, photographs and maps of the region, antique pewter, glass, china and silver, southwestern Native American crafts, early kitchen utensils, early tools and farm equipment, antique guns, spinning wheels, swords, early needlework and powder horns. One of the newest collections to be donated is the exquisite glass collection that was donated by Robert Hunt, as the museum strives to showcase changing exhibits during the year that augment and complement their wonderful collections.

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    Bainbridge HouseBainbridge House Princeton, New Jersey
    The Bainbridge House in Princeton, New Jersey has become the historical society's headquarters and contains spaces to house permanent and temporary displays, library and offices and a little museum gift shop. The house is one of the oldest buildings in the city that is still standing on its original foundation and one of the finest preserved examples of mid-Georgian style architecture, sitting on Nassau Street that is today, the city's busiest and most historic avenues in the city, and it is located directly across from Princeton University. Job Stockton, successful tanner, was the grandson of Richard Stockton, an early immigrant from England that settled here and cousin of Richard Stockton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, constructed the house in 1766. He bought the land from a Somerset County Sheriff's sale and had local craftsmen build a frame house with brick facade; and these craftsmen included a master builder, shingle makers, bricklayers, clapboard makers, masons, joiners, carpenters and house wrights. Bainbridge house would be named after William Bainbridge who was born in the house in 1774, the son of Absalom Bainbridge, who had leased the house earlier. William would eventually grow up and become a commodore of the US Navy and commanded the USS Constitution, known as Old Ironsides, still to be seen in Boston Harbor today. He would survive the War of 1812 and become a national hero. The historical and famous house would be used as the place for the 1783 Continental Congress, since Absalom, a loyalist fled to New York in 1777, then a physician's office, boarding house for travelers coming to Princeton, as well as students of the well known university, the Princeton Public Library and presently the Historical Society that leases it for $1 a year. The house is now owned by the university, but it would be the society that began restoring it in 1969 to attain the original 18th century condition. Almost 70% of the original interior woodwork is still there, which includes the paneled walls, flooring and staircase. A great majority of the outstanding house is the same original structure except for the changes done in 1814 and a later 19th century addition that would be added to the rear. During the 1991 and 1992 years, a major interior restoration began adding more structural supports, upgraded safety and security devices, climate control and electrical changes. The beautiful pine flooring was refinished and the trim taken back to its original colors, and on parts of the exterior brick facade, they were fortunate to discover some old 18th century bricks and replaced the ones that needed it.

    Thomas Clarke House
    Thomas Clarke House Princeton, NJ
    The Thomas Clarke House in Princeton, New Jersey is a completely furnished Quaker farmhouse constructed in 1770 and become a hospital after the battle on January 3, 1777. It would be in this house turned hospital that General Hugh Mercer, an American, died of his wounds that he would get in the battle. Today, it contains period furniture and Revolutionary War displays, with outstanding relics that are in excellent condition and well preserved. The house was constructed by Quaker Thomas Clarke, which was surrounded by 200 acres of land and the site of the Princeton Battlefield State Park, fought on that fateful January day in 1777 and now is a National Historic Landmark sitting on just 85 acres of the farm. It contains a cutting from the historical Mercer Oak, the memorial colonnade and a graveyard for both American and British soldiers. The battle would later be considered the fiercest fight of its size in the revolution, with the army, led by General George Washington surprising and beating the British regulars. Called the "Ten Crucial Days", it included the famous night crossing of the Delaware River and two battles in Trenton and the Princeton battle, that would give Washington and the new American army it first great victory against the British regular army that was more experienced and armed. The Mercer Oak, that had stood in the middle of the battlefield wasn't too far from where the general fell, is now a memorial as mentioned earlier.

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    Alexander Grant HouseAlexander Grant House Salem, NJ
    The Alexander Grant House in Salem, New Jersey was constructed in 1721, because of the evidence on the deed, that describes the house and the acre and a half it sat on. Grant moved here from Somerestshire, England in 1700, growing to become well known and well thought of in the community, and became a justice of the courts in 1716, for one of the special trials that were held here in 1717. The trial involved an African man who had murdered a person named Jamers Sherron. Grant would also become a significant force behind the founding of an Episcopal church in the town. The present house is a two and a half story structure, lived in by various people over the two centuries that it was a private residence. Once the Grants died, it would be passed to the Gibbon family, then the Johnsons and lastly, the Hubbells, and their last generation would donate the estate to the Salem County Historical Society in 1929; although it was a inn called the Temperance House for a while beforehand. Anna and Helena Hubbell, the sisters that donated the house were direct descendants of Alexander Grant. The outside of the house is constructed of brick, that has bricks with blue and red tints to them, although the foundation is made of stone. The interior walls are made of plaster and the old fashioned pent roof is using wooden shingles to protect it. Over the centuries, the house has seen its share of alterations, but the materials used to do that were always the same. It had been constructed with a higher main section and wing, that ended at the archway on the south side, that now has a passageway. Here you will see a long broad lane going to the rear, and over the front entry is where the pent roof had been, but was taken down during the past. The historical society is now located in it, after being renovated in 1954, which turned out to be more exciting than expected since they discovered an old Horn Book nailed to a joist of the chimney mantel. This old book had been quite a luxury back in the day; it was made with a thin board, covered in leather, which had printed pages placed in it and the whole thing covered with a diaphanous horn to protect it. The Rumsey wing that the society acquired in 1957 showcases parts of its collection, and the wing looks as if it was built in two parts. It was used as a camera shop before they acquired it, and throughout the entire house there are seven fireplaces. Some of the magnificent collectibles include; Native American artifacts, china, manuscripts, furniture and glass. And speaking of glass, one of the finest collections in the house is the Wistarburg glass collection. The Wistar family is quite famous in the region, since Caspar Wistar would found the glass works near Alloway, and it grew to become one of the most successful glass works in the colonies; and its glass has been discovered all throughout the Delaware Valley. The featured display is a marvelous legacy for the county, with numerous pieces of Wistar glass that showcases a bulls-eye pane glass, everyday glassware and decorative whimsies. Another outstanding example of heritage and craftsmanship is the chest-on-chest dresser that was given to Caspar's granddaughter by her father on her wedding day. Her marriage certificate and map of the Wistarburg property is also part of the collection donated by members of the family. There are many more examples of rooms and the artifacts found in them that are still there today for visitor's perusal and enjoyment, learning more about the past and the strong willed people that lived it. It is a really exciting place to visit and learn about the past, the people and the conditions that they lived under. 

    Red Bank Battlefield Park
    Red Bank Battlefield Park National Park, NJThe Red Bank Battlefield in National Park, New Jersey sits along the Delaware River, where the Battle of Red Bank took place in the American Revolution in October, 1777. Fort Mercer and its sister fort, Fort Mifflin on the Pennsylvania side would defend and prevent the British from using the river for transportation of troops and supplies, and sometime after doing this heroic job, they would be either destroyed or abandoned. The site is now part of the Gloucester County parks system, called the Red Bank Battlefield Park. The highlight of the park is the Ann and James Whitall house, a stone and brick structure right outside the works of Fort Mercer that ended up being used as a hospital for many of the wounded from the battle. The house would be damaged by the fighting, while Ann Cooper Whitall stayed inside, tending to the wounded, and earning her the epithet of "Heroine of Red Bank". Quite a bit of the battlefield has been lost to erosion into the Delaware, during the following centuries, with parts of Fort Mercer, which was named after General Mercer who had been killed at the Battle of Princeton, are still standing. Another significant historical feature that still remains from that fateful day is the remains of the ditch that had surrounded the earthworks that has eroded away over the ensuing years. Located around the works and along parts of the riverbank are numerous period cannons that had been raised from the British warship HMS Augustaand Merlin, along with three American cannons that were discovered buried by the house in 1935. Closer to the Whitall house, there is a preserved section of the chevaux-de-frise river defenses for both forts, showcased, as well as numerous shot that was recovered from the battlefield. The park contains a few monuments that honor the combatants, which includes a memorial to the fallen Hessian commander, whose remains were buried on the grounds and a 75 foot monument that was constructed in 1905.

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May 12, 2011