Continued . . . . . . .
at Trenton, a considerable detachment of troops was sent sixteen
miles further up the river, to make the attempt at Coryell's Ferry,
and which attempt doubtless would have been successful but for the
wisdom and foresight of General Washington, who, notwith- standing
the condition of the river, and foreseeing just such a contingency,
had planned against it, and thus defeated the designs of the British
To better realize this, however, we must go backward
somewhat in memory to the month of November, 1776, when Washington,
having evacuated "Fort Lee" yonder on the Hudson River,
and retreating before Lord Cornwallis's troops through New Jersey,
arrived, on the 3rd day of December, at the Eastern bank of the
Delaware River, to find boats and floats ready to convey the American
Army to Pennsylvania on the other side. All these had been secured
by and through the
activity of two patriotic young men, named Jerry Black and Daniel
Bray, to whom, acting under military orders, and to their correct
knowledge of every
boat and boat owner from Trenton to Easton, General Washington was
to be, several weeks later, further indebted for the larger fleet
procured, which ferried the Continental troops over the river just
above the present Taylorsville, at the point now world famous as
Cornwallis, leisurely following our army through New Jersey, doubtless
felt confident of its capture or destruction at this critical period.
With the turbulent waters of the Delaware in front of the Continentals,
and (as he supposed) no transportation or ferriage to carry them
over, with an overwhelming force of trained regular troops in their
rear, it appeared that the war then and there might come to an untimely
end, for the raw army he considered but little more than a rebellious
All attempts of the British, however, to enter Pennsylvania either
at Trenton or "Coryell's Ferry," having failed, the two
hostile armies remained facing each other, on opposite sides of
the river, from the eighth to the twenty-fifth of December, 1776,
and the cause of independence was saved, as history states. Lord
Cornwallis (who could never have dreamed of a battle at Trenton),
seemed to feel sure of his prey, having, no doubt, bright visions
float through his mind of our army marching on to its annihilation,
and but little reckoned the true picture the
camera revealed when turned on the scene of his own troops, defeated
and broken, many wounded and killed, stores, arms and cannon surrendered,
and all that went to make glorious the battle and victory at Trenton.
Many circumstances make it appear not unlikely at this period that
Cornwallis believed Washington would be forced to surrender his
army on reaching the banks of the Delaware, at Trenton, and the
war be of short duration, nor dreamed of his own sun setting at
Yorktown long after. How different from this situation results might
have been had the British succeeded in entering Pennsylvania at
"Coryell's Ferry," we can now only imagine, and, with
grateful hearts, be thankful.
So sure was Cornwallis of the defeat of Washington at this juncture,
that it has been stated he had obtained leave of absence to return
to England, and that his luggage was packed and ready for shipment,
when a dispatch rider from Count
Donop informed him of the Trenton disaster; and here it may be interesting
to note that the house in which the Hessian commander, Colonel Rahl,
died of his wounds, stood on the site of the present Roman Catholic
Cathedral, on Warren
Street, Trenton, on which is a tablet, reciting the fact, erected
by the Cathedral corporation.
New Hope, on the Delaware ("Coryell's Ferry") has much
to make it interesting. The site of the borough was a part of a
grant of one thousand acres to Robert Heath in 1700; surveyed in
1703 and 1704, and patented to R. Heath in 1710.
"The Old York Road" was opened from Philadelphia to the
Delaware in 1711, and in 1719 John Wells was granted by the Pennsylvania
Assembly the privilege, for seven years, of establishing a ferry
at New Hope, which then became known as "Wells' Ferry,"
later being termed "Coryell's Ferry," for George Coryell,
who was the owner of half the ferry rights on the New Jersey side.
All these rights and privileges were vested in 1915 to the New Hope
Delaware Bridge Company
(organized in 1811 and chartered by Pennsylvania and New Jersey
1812). The grant of the ferry rights to John Wells expired in 1733,
when John Penn, Thomas Penn and Richard Penn, Proprietors of the
Pennsylvania, granted Wells further rights and privileges, among
which was the excluding and prohibiting of all other ferries within
a distance of four miles above and below Wells' Ferry.
The ferry rights on the New Jersey side of the river were granted
in 1733, by King George the Second, to Emmanuel Coryell, of Amwell,
in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, and were to operate a ferry, at
a place called "Coates Ferry", New Jersey, opposite "
Wells Ferry", on the Pennsylvania side, and excluding any other
person or persons from operating a ferry at this point. Both Wells
and Coryell kept inns, or taverns, near their ferry landings.
As " Wells' Ferry" the settlement was known until 1770,
when it was changed to "Coryell's Ferry". This name it
bore until near the close of the eighteenth century. The change
was made probably about 1790, for reasons noted later on.
Amid the present quiet and peaceful surroundings about us today,
it is difficult to realize that at several periods of the Revolution
the whole section around Coryell's Ferry was bristling with arms
and the tramp and tread of armed men, as our patriot sires advanced
into, or were driven out of New Jersey, and that
during most of the month of December, 1766 (just prior to the battle
of Trenton), a large portion of the Continental Army were there
and in close proximity. Within the limits of that ancient borough
the eye rested everywhere upon the valley, hillside and fields,
dotted with the tents of the Continental soldiers, and " Coryell's
Ferry" became a military camp. Within ten minutes ride, below
New Hope, at the Neeley (Thompson) farmhouse, were quartered Lieut.
James Monroe, afterwards President of the United States, and other
officers, including Captain James Moore, of the New York Artillery,
who died there of camp fever and lies buried on the farm with a
number of others, including several officers whose graves are unmarked.
Nearby, at "Chapman's", were General Knox and Captain
Hamilton (killed later on by Aaron Burr in their memorable duel).
At "Merrick's" farmhouse were General Greene and his staff,
and the General (especially fond of good cheer) devoured the poultry,
etc., on the farm, to the horror and dismay of
the family; while a few fields away General Sullivan and staff occupied
the " Hayhurst " home.
General Washington's headquarters were at the " Keith"
house and farm, on the road from Brownsburgh (below New Hope) towards
Newton; and Generals Stirling and De Fermoy, with their troops,
at "Beaumont's" and "Coryell's Ferry."
These officers were all in close touch with each other, all watching
and waiting, eager and anxious to bear their part in the bloody
engagement, which they we11 knew was near at hand.
President Monroe never forgot his friends at the Thompson (Neeley)
farmhouse, where he had stayed in 1776, and always inquired about
them whenever opportunity offered.
Captain James Moore, who died at the " Neeley" (Thompson)
farmhouse, lies buried on the farm, with other officers, as stated.
At Buckingham, "The Friends" Meeting House was used as
a hospital during a portion of the Revolutionary War, and several
soldiers were buried about
where the turnpike crosses the hill, some of whose remains were
uncovered when the pike was made. On Meeting days the soldiers put
one-half of the house in order for Friends, many of them attending
the services. Blood stains may still be seen upon the floor.
New Hope, on the Delaware (" Coryell's Ferry" of the Revolution),
the termination of the Old York Road of Pennsylvania, at the Delaware
River, was, as before noted, a most important strategic point during
the first few years of the Revolutionary War, and in December, 1776,
became a military camp. General William Alexander (more commonly
known as Lord Stirling), who, although he bore a title, was none
the less an ardent American, and intensely patriotic, caused two
different parts of the property owned by the speaker's family to
be placed in a state of armed defense. One of these was on a hillside
across the pond made by the Great Spring or Ingham's Creek; and
in its southwesterly direction from the Old Parry Mansion there,
from a point easterly from where the yellow schoolhouse now stands,
he had a line of earthworks thrown up, which extended
in an easterly direction along and well up the hillside, towards
the Delaware River. The outline of these earthworms could be quite
plainly seen and traced, within my earliest recollection, but have
now disappeared. At the river's brink (the termina-
tion of the "Old York Road" in Pennsylvania), just below,
the ferry landing, and also a part of this property (purchased from
the Todds), stockade entrenchments were erected, and batteries were
placed; as was also the case above the ferry
landing, some distance along the river front. General Alexander
(Lord Stirling) also had another redoubt thrown up on the Old York
Road -- at the corner of Ferry Street and the present Bridge Street
(which latter street did not, however, then exist). The site of
this defense is easily recognized, being where the present Presbyterian
chapel and an ancient stone house (both on the south side of the
York Road) now stand. This stone house was once owned by Captain
Edward F. Randolph, a " patriot of 1776 " and citizen
of Philadelphia, who purchased it for his son, Charles, then a practicing
physician in New Hope. Captain Randolph, as first lieutenant in
Colonel William Butler's Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment, Continental
Army, commanded the outlying picket guard at "The Massacre
of Paoli," where he was desperately wounded and left upon the
field for dead, escaping by the merest chance. A sightless eye in
its socket was one of the mementos of that affair, which he carried
with him through life.
At Malta Island, at the southern end of New Hope, and which is now
main land, but was, in 1776, surrounded by water and covered by
timber, most of the boats were collected and secreted and floated
down by night to Knowles Cove, above
Taylorville, and were used in making the famous "Washington's
Crossing of the Delaware," on Christmas night and morning of
At " Malta Island" these boats were watched over and protected
by a military guard. "Malta Island" was at one time owned
by the late Daniel Parry, a younger brother of Benjamin Parry, for
whom the "Old Parry Mansion" was built in 1784.
The importance of "Coryell's Perry" in the Revolution
can easily be realized and appreciated when we know the great care
and attention which General Washington gave to it, and how very
necessary its possession was to the American cause at several periods
of the war. Its defenses in 1776 were so well
planned that it would have been most difficult for the British to
have captured it; for, even if their troops could have effected
a landing at the Ferry, the firing by the American square in their
faces, down the Old York Road (the only approach) at the stone house
mentioned, and a raking side fire from the hillside across the pond,
would have caused them great slaughter before they could have accomplished
their purpose. It is much to be regretted that the old name of "
Coryell's Ferry" should ever have been dropped. "Fort
Washington", "Fort Lee", "King's Bridge",
"Dobb's Ferry", etc., having revolutionary interest, have
never been altered or changed. And here it may be well to explain
how the change came about. Benjamin Parry, an influential citizen
of Bucks County and a man of means, owner of the "Prime Hope
Mills", on the opposite bank of the Delaware
River, in New Jersey, was also the owner of the flour, linseed oil
and saw mills on the Pennsylvania side, at New Hope (then Coryell's
Ferry"), which, in the year 1790, were all destroyed by fire
and burned to the ground. The linseed oil mill
was never rebuilt, but the others were, and, as the mill in New
Jersey was termed "Prime Hope", it was determined that
the new mills is Pennsylvania should be called "New Hope"
and commence operations with new and fresh hopes for the future.
With this change also came the change in the name of the village.
A growing patriotic sentiment makes it not unlikely that the old
name may yet be restored and New Hope again become known to the
world by its old style of "Coryell's Ferry".
Interesting spots other than those which have been named in New
Hope "Coryell's Ferry" -- are the site of the "Old
Fort," as the headquarters of Generals
Stirling and De Fermoy were known, only a few yards to the west
of the Presbyterian Chapel.
Immediately across the Old York Road from the Old Fort, in a field
of the Paxsons, troops were encamped, as well as on the hillside
south of the pond; and also on the river front, below and above
the ferry; and a strong detail at "Malta Island" guarded
the boats collected there. On the Old York Road, near the ferry
landing, stood in 1776, and still stands, though enlarged, "The
Ferry Tavern," which appears to have been so named until 1829,
when Abraham D. Meyers,
succeeded Mr. Steel as landlord, and gave it the name of the "Logan
House". This old hostelry was much frequented in the days of
the Revolution, and here, in
December, 1776, the Continental soldiers made wassail, and drank
to the success of their cause and the downfall of King George the
Third in his American Colonies.
At the corner of "The Old York Road" and the "Old
Trenton or River Road" (severally called Ferry Street and Main
Street within the borough limits), and, walking southward across
the iron bridge, over the pond, we come to the
"Town Hall," almost opposite which, on Mechanics Street,
stands the "Old Vansant House," believed to be the oldest
in New Hope. On the removal of a decayed roof years ago, it was
found full of rifle marks and bullets shot into it by a party of
British soldiers, who passed through the village and encamped at
"Bowman's Hill", below town, and said to have been in
charge of gold to pay the British soldiers. Being surprised, they
left hastily, and, burying the treasure on
top of the hill, expected to return for it some time; but the chances
of war or leaving the country prevented, and from that time to this
natives dug all over the hill for the money, hoping, but never having
The United States Government several years ago provided New Hope
with cannon and cannon balls, which are set up in the Borough as
memorials of the events which occurred there in the "days of
Jericho Hill, below New Hope, joins Bowman's Hill, and, in addition
to the interest given it from having had the quarters of the distinguished
officers previously named located upon it, the crest of the hill
was cleared and used as a signal station by our army; and, being
in winter and the trees leafless, the various
generals easily communicated with each other, up and down the river,
from this point.
I have endeavored to picture to you the situation at "Coryell's
Ferry", in "the times which tried men's souls", and
that they were most trying is evidenced in many ways; the hardships
and sufferings endured by our patriot sires in 1776 at "Coryell's
Ferry", and along the banks of the Delaware River, being a
preparatory school for their later and longer experience in 1777-78
at "Valley Forge".
The winter of 1776 was an exceptionally severe one, and the whole
face of the country was covered with ice and snow; the air was keen
and biting, and the men insufficiently clothed and badly protected
in their tents. Major Enion Williams, of the First Pennsylvania
Rifles, stationed at the Neeley-Thompson farm, wrote, December 13th,
1776, that many of his men were barefooted, and General Washington
wrote to Congress from his headquarters at Keith's, on December
16th, 1776, asking its help, and stating many of his troops were
almost naked and most of them unfit for service. He also appealed
to "The Bucks County Committee of Safety" for old clothes
and blankets for the soldiers, which the Committee furnished, and
received his written thanks.
Of all the actors in these stirring scenes, not one survives today;
but the Delaware (noble river, as the Founder Penn described it)
and the beautiful Hudson, yonder, each still flows on in their tireless
courses to the sea, as they did in Revolutionary
days, mute reminders of the acts and deeds performed on their banks,
and which have made their names and their memories imperishable.
In taking leave of my subject, I might add that History, dealing
only with plain facts, sometimes becomes dull and prosy; but the
"Annals of the Revolution" breathe the very atmosphere
of Poetry, Romance and History combined; and, though their recital
must ever be but the old, old story of a patriotism unsurpassed,
yet to each succeeding generation it comes with an added freshness
and interest, and into willing ears are poured those tales of long
Let us, of this generation, then, appreciate those deeds of our
sires; that made possible this great United States of America, through
the War of the Revolution, and later kept our country intact, through
the Civil War, and, in turn, perform our
patriotic duty, as well and as faithfully as they who have gone
Each of us, in gratitude to our forbears and as a duty to our country,
owe our best efforts to see that the Government of the United States
of America and each of its historical States, properly and adequately,
preserve and mark the historical spots within its and their confines;
that the generations to follow may not lack for patriotic reminders
to serve for all time as an incentive to equally great patriotism.
Such monuments of gratitude live forever as object lessons in patriotism,
not alone to us of this generation, but to those to follow, and
further serve to install that love of country our ancestors possessed
and which history teaches us is so necessary for the unity and preservation
of all nations.
Without detracting from the greatness of Valley Forge - the winter
quarters of the Continental Army in my own State of Pennsylvania
-- the speaker remains sensible of the fact that there would have
been no "Valley Forge;" nor "Battle of
Trenton," nor other similar historical spots of later date
- which were the trying points in the struggle of the Revolution
- had not Washington with his Continental Army performed the remarkable
and unexpected feat of crossing the Delaware and camping at "
Coryell's Ferry" and adjacent sections, thus making possible
the subsequent events that ultimately brought Victory.
"Coryell's Ferry" should have, in addition to the Government
cannon, small parks or squares at the river bank; where "the
Old Fort" and "Washington's Chestnut Tree" stood,
at " Malta Island," etc.; with special markings on each
historical building and spot.