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The first battle in the war for independence happened in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1775, and the final battle, the knockout blow, in 1781 took place in Yorktown, Virginia, where some 7,000 British soldiers were captured. While the years in between saw the Continental and British armies face each other in many locations, New Jersey was the site of several crucial milestones and came to be known as the crossroads of the revolution -- the perfect place to tour Revolutionary War sites.

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Key battles took place in Springfield, Monmouth, Princeton, and Trenton, among other places, and many of those sites, along with historic buildings that served as headquarters, fields where soldiers erected temporary barracks, private homes that housed American officers, and grist mills that were used to help feed the soldiers are included in the state's chronicles of its role in the Revolutionary War.

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A State Park Marks The Site Of Washington's Crossing Of The Delaware River

New Jersey is well known for its role in General George Washington's famous crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas night in 1776. Washington's troops were headed into New Jersey from Pennsylvania with the goal of making a surprise attack at Trenton, where mercenaries of the British were entrenched. The perilous journey on a stormy night, followed by a nine-mile hike to Trenton, ended well for the Continental Army, which captured nearly 1,000 of the mercenaries.

Washington Crossing State Park marks the site. It's a 3,575-acre New Jersey state park that is part of Washington's Crossing, a U.S. National Historic Landmark area. It is located in the Washington Crossing and Titusville sections of Hopewell Township, just north of Trenton along the Delaware River.

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The park's Washington Crossing Visitor Center Museum features more than 500 artifacts from the American Revolution. The museum has two galleries, one focusing on New Jersey’s role in the Revolution and the other chronicling “The Ten Crucial Days” surrounding Washington’s Crossing and the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. 

Visitors can tour the Johnson Ferry House, a 1740 farmhouse where Washington and his officers likely spent time after crossing the river. In addition to several picnic areas, the park offers 13 miles of hiking trails, two-plus miles reserved for horseback riding, and five mails of biking trails.

Some facilities for campers are available in four group campsites located in the Phillips Farm area of the park. Each site has picnic tables, fire rings, and a composting toilet. There is no water or electric service available, however.

There is no admission fee to the park.

Several Key Revolutionary War Sites Are Found In Morristown

For Revolutionary War buffs, the Morristown National Historic Park, which is home to Washington's Headquarters Museum and Ford Mansion, is a must-see site. Located at 30 Washington Place, Morristown, the park is free to visitors, and guided tours inside the mansion are offered free.

General Washington used Ford Mansion as his headquarters in 1779 and 1780 while some 12,000 of his soldiers camped in nearby Jockey Hollow. The house was built by Jacob Ford Jr., who died in the war while serving as a colonel in the New Jersey Militia. Washington and his staff stayed at the mansion as a guest of Ford's widow. It's furnished to appear as it did during General Washington's stay.

Washington's Headquarters Museum is located next to the Ford Mansion and houses three galleries and a collection of items said to be owned by or associated with Washington.

The American Style Gallery, featuring an original Edward Savage portrait of George Washington, highlights the culture of 18th-century America with a display of clothes, jewelry, musical instruments, and household utensils. The Military Gallery has collections of muskets, cannons, and pistols, along with portraits and maps. Also on exhibit is the sword that Washington wore when he was inaugurated as president. The Lloyd W. Smith Gallery displays pamphlets and other documents from the Revolutionary War era.

Morristown National Historical Park also is the location of Jockey Hollow, where more than 1,000 huts were built by the Continental Army, which was wintered there in 1779. The Jockey Hollow Visitor Center shows a short film about the winter encampment and displays a replica of the inside of a soldier's hut.

None of the original structures are still standing, but several replicas are available for visitors to see.

Follow The Patriot's Path Through Northern New Jersey

Similar to the Freedom Trail in Boston, New Jersey's Patriots' Path is 46 miles long, with 27 miles of spur trails across nearly 300 acres in the northern part of the state. Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, as well as green open spaces. The path links several federal, state, county, and municipal parks, plus historic sites and other points of interest throughout Morris County.

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Jockey Hollow and the Ford Mansion are included in the pathway, as are other historical sites such as Fosterfield Living Historical Farm and the Cooper Gristmill.