Union County, NJ – It may be 241 years after the fact, but this weekend it’s time to kick the Hessians where it hurts—in Battle of the Short Hills foosball.
As part of the “Four Centuries in a Weekend”, a celebration across Union County that is free to attend, Scotch Plains resident Rich Palmatier sets up an exhibit explaining the Battle of the Short Hills, a day-long running battle in June 1777, between the British and their Hessian mercenaries, and the colonial troops fighting for independence.
The exhibit is located on the Union County Vocational-Technical School campus, adjacent to the Ash Brook Reservation and the Ash Swamp, where General Washington’s forces drew the British so that their cannons would get bogged down and slow their advance.
While Palmatier has studied the battle extensively, he has always looked for ways to engage young visitors and pique their interest in what was one of the early battles of the Revolutionary War.
“For the past few years, Rich has worked with our county print shop to develop a fascinating exhibit that helps explain Washington’s strategy,” said Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados. “Some of the new materials this year are quite extraordinary, including a map that clearly illustrates how Washington used the Watchung Mountains to protect his troops at Morristown.”
“But his Revolutionary War foosball table is quite an addition to his exhibit, and it may not be just the kids who want to try it,” Granados said.
Some years ago, Palmatier, a resident of Scotch Plains, designed a very realistic-looking cannon that is a replica of the one atop the monument to the Battle of the Short Hills in front of the Ash Brook Golf Course. However, when youngsters visiting the exhibit are asked to try and lift it, they soon discover that this canon is made from Styrofoam and then often want their pictures taken with it.
Palmatier, who has spent years studying the Battle of the Short Hills, will be joined this weekend by Marc Grobman, a parks trail steward who has devoted countless hours to maintaining and improving the trail through the Ash Brook Reservation.
Grobman will be leading tours into the reservation, for visitors to see what the swamp is like and why it served so well to slow the British advance. While the summer rains have inundated the swamp, visitors will be able to walk over first hill and far enough into the reservation to see the sudden change to swampland.
The tours will be at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. and will be leaving from the trailhead by the John H. Stamler Police Academy, located at 1776 Raritan Road, Scotch Plains.
For more information and complete details on all “Four Centuries in a Weekend” events across Union County, visit ucnj.org/4C or contact the Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs at 908-558-2550 (NJ Relay Users dial 711)
An online version of “Union County Across the Centuries,” describing all the historic sites open this weekend, is at: ucnj.org/atc. All sites, including the Battle of the Short Hills exhibit, are open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.
The Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs is a division of the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation, which offers enriching public programs and activities all year. Visit online at ucnj.org/parks or call 908-527-4900.
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