Kings Highway will be a battleground on Saturday, June 2, when a sea of British Redcoats and rebel colonists fight to the death in the streets.
Kings Highway will be a battleground on Saturday, June 2, when a sea of British Redcoats and rebel colonists fight to the death in the streets. This will be the sixth annual re-enactment of the conflict in Haddonfield on the soldiers’ march to Monmouth, hosted by the Indian King Tavern.
Michelle Hughes, resource interpretive specialist of New Jersey, said the re-enactment, started by Dr. Garry Wheeler-Stone in 2013, marked the anniversary of the British Army’s “brief” encampment in Haddonfield, which took place June 18 and 19 of 1778.
“The event has grown in numbers of both participants and audience members,” Hughes explained. We are hoping to have more people understand the connection between this skirmish and the battle that would follow a few days later at Monmouth since it was a turning tide for the war.”
This year marks the 240th anniversary of the battle and is expected to be both entertaining and interactive. The patriots will be speaking at the Indian King Tavern about why they chose to fight, and loyalists will be in and out of the shops throughout Haddonfield to stock up on supplies before the big battle. Residents will be able to hear and smell the aromas of war, according to Hughes. “Who will ultimately occupy the tavern is anyone’s guess,” Hughes said. “We find that now people look forward to the skirmish each year.”
Hughes also encouraged residents to look on the tavern’s Facebook page for firsthand accounts from both sides about their time in Haddonfield and to check out the vendors at the museum.
Echoing Hughes’ sentiments, historic interpreter at the tavern Linda Hess agrees the reenactment is an important day in the community.
“The village of Haddonfield takes its historic heritage and connections rather seriously,” Hess said. “It is a great local history event that feeds perfectly into the national story of being free.”
Both say that although it is important to think of places like Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., as being historical spots that have given birth to many of the freedoms we have today, history can also be found in Haddonfield. Not only does the skirmish provide entertainment for residents but it also creates a unique learning experience, according to Hughes.
“We have found the community likes to connect to their historic roots,” Hughes explained. “Events like Skirmish on the Highway give history a tangible, exciting and relatable aspect. It makes history ‘real’ as opposed to reading words in a book.”
Adding to Hughes’ explanation, Hess also believes the skirmish will capture the attention of all age demographics, through the realistic theatrics of the reenactment.
“Living history is a great tool to engage those who might not otherwise be interested or see the connections to the past,” Hess said.
The day’s events begin at 10 a.m. on June 2, when the Second Pennsylvania Regiment, the Continentals, will encamp at the Indian King Tavern Museum until the troops foray with the First Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers, the Redcoats, according to a release by the tavern.
The battle will take place at 1 p.m. and will last approximately 20 minutes. Soldier reenactors will be available to meet visitors after the skirmish. Tours of the tavern will also be offered all day. For any questions or concerns about the skirmish, residents can contact the Indian King Tavern at (856) 429–6792.