Revolutionary War
"At the Crossroads"

By Ernest Richard Bower

  Buttons of an Additional Continental Regiment

Over 209 years after it had been lost,  it lay in the palm of my dirty hand. A worn one piece white metal button, its face caked with orange mud. 

It was 1986 and I had been hunting here for a little over 6 months.  These quiet woods were the site of a brigade size encampment occupied by Pennsylvanians under command of General Anthony Wayne in 1777.  Even 200 years later one could look out from the encampment site and see the city of New Brunswick seven miles away.  It wasn't hard to imagine soldiers standing here gazing at the smoke from thousands of British campfires that must have stained the skyline back in those uncertain days.   

Its hard to describe the feeling I got when I found that particular button. Staring at a piece I knew had once adorned a soldiers uniform but not yet knowing if this button was going to be a plain flat button, decorated
civilian button or a marked American Regimental button.  I vaguely remember making a deal with God and feeling like I was tottering on a razor's edge between victory or defeat.  It may be silly but I just kind of sat there, staring at this lump of mud, knowing that a quick wipe would probably reveal a plain face but holding out a faint hope that this might be something special like a USA button. 

Thomas Hartley

 Little did I know at that moment, that I had made a Revolutionary War relic hunters "find of a lifetime" and that 30 feet away from where I was standing, I would find an identical button one year later.Carefully brushing off the mud, I could see right away that this was no plain flat button.  My heart was beating like a drum as the letters "HR" stared back at me.  I had never seen another button like this one.  I knew this one was good.........real good.

By the end of the day, I was able to piece together the rest of this story and determine the significance of the "HR" button and how it had gotten to where I found it.

The spring of 1777 marked a new, more positive period in American military history.  The stunning and unexpected victories of Washington's army at Trenton (December 26, 1776) and Princeton (January 3, 1777) in New Jersey all but erased the effects of  disastrous losses  the previous fall.  The British army which had controlled most of Central New Jersey at the end of 1776 now found itself pinned in fortified garrisons along a 10 mile stretch of the Raritan River from Perth Amboy to New Brunswick.  An American army that was at the point of simply dissolving at the beginning of December 1776 now found itself victorious and strengthened by the daily arrival of new recruits from all over the rebellious colonies.

Near Morristown, N.J. the main Continental Army was hutted along the wooded slopes of the Watchung Mountains.  As the spring campaign season approached, brigade by brigade, the Continentals moved southward toward the Raritan Valley and New Brunswick.  Advanced American outposts at Quibbletown, Bound Brook and Somerset Court House had detected activity in the British lines that indicated a possible advance by the enemy from New Brunswick towardsPhiladelphia.

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