During the American revolution, the Somerset Hills were a hotbed of military activity. The area fell victim to British raids, saw the capture of American patriots and played host to the Continental Army's Artillery. For Pluckemin in Bedminster Township, the most important chapter of the Revolutionary War period was the winter of 1778-1779 when, on orders from Washington, General Henry Knox, Chief of the Continental Army Artillery, established in the village of Pluckemin a cantonment, or training ground, for the Continental Artillery, an extensive winter facility hosting as many as 1,000 troops under his command. The Artillery cantonment was a secondary location to the larger Middlebrook encampment, where almost 8,000 soldiers from the general infantry spent the winter of 1778/1779.
What differentiates Pluckemin from any other encampment or cantonment began back on December 20, 1776. General Washington forwarded" A plan for the establishment of a Continental Artillery, magazines, laboratories ... " that was written by General Henry Knox, to the Board of War. While Congress balked temporarily, there is evidence now that Washington later (1778) allowed Knox to create Pluckemin, a formal officer and artillery training facility, which is now recognized as the Pluckemin Artillery Academy. The Academy is the first documented officer training facility and is now recognized as America's First Military Academy, the precursor to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
The site chosen for the encampment was at the foot of the Second Watchung Mountain, secure from British attack. General Henry Knox oversaw the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment and resided at the nearby Jacobus Vanderveer House, the only remaining and restored structure in the area from the Revolutionary War era.
The Lost Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment of 1778-1779