In 1777, why would General Alexander (Lord Stirling) stay in a house 1 mile from Middlebrook when his REAL home was 7 miles away?

Brooks Betz's picture

Phillip Van Horne, who built his home in 1754 in Bound Brook was such a genial entertainer of officers of both armies that his house was known as “Convivial Hall.” Van Horne’s house was one of General Cornwallis’ objectives in the Battle of Bound Brook. His home was at 941 E. Main St. Bridgewater NJ 08807.

It states that General William Alexander (known as Lord Stirling) used the house as his headquarters during the 1778-1779 Second Middlebrook Encampment. The Middlebrook Encampment of 1778-79 was less than 7 miles from Alexander's real home, yet he stayed less than 2 miles away in Bound Brook at the Van Horn house.

I get the distance, but also know human nature. Why stay there vs. stay in his own home which was noted as being "an estate?" Just doesn't seem right. If Washington had the choice of staying at Mount Vernon, or some neighbors house, I'm sure he would have picked Mt. Vernon., right?

General William Alexander, Washington’s second in command, likely did so for a number of reasons - based predominantly from a military standpoint - remaining with his troops. None of the roads were as we now know them and were "just dirt paths through the forest"...so travel would have taken longer, especially in wet or snowy weather. As he often suffered from gout, that would have affected his ability to travel. He was placed in command there, for a time, when Washington left the encampment for Philadelphia. See https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-19-02-0135#GEWN-03-19-02-0135-fn-0001-ptr

Also, with consideration to his wife & two daughters, am sure he would want to isolate them from any flux of officers or soldiers coming and going if he elected to stay at his home for any period of time. He may also have desired to shield them from danger, as he had been targeted for capture by the British. The website which gives some background on the area, http://www.raritan-online.com/rwar.htm identifies Middlebrook as: " This was a strategic position as on a clear day the Americans using the telescopes of the era were able to watch the British troops as far away as New Brunswick." so Gen. Alexander could best monitor the enemy from that position.

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Additional note from orignal poster: "Small typo. The heading says 1777 but it was actually 1778-1779. Apologies."