George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Johann Kalb, 8 February 1779

From Major General Johann Kalb

Camp Middle Brook
febr. 8th 1779

To His Excellency General Washington

The Works which I had the honor to mention to your Excellency, to be erected or repaired, for the Security and defense of the left Wing of your army, in this Camp, are.

1st At or near the Top of the mountain at the Place called Lincoln’s Gap. a Strong Redoubt with Some pieces (four or thereabout) of Canon, to Command the wooden Bridge on Bound Brook1 & the Roads Leading along the Top of the mountain, behind the Camp as far as Wayne’s Gap; with a Guardhouse therein, for a sufficient number of Troops, to Stop the Enemies, & give time to our army to draw up in Such a Position as may be thought proper.

2dly A Parapet to be constructed below the mountain for about [ ] Men, nearer the Bridge to defend the Same with Small arms.

3dly the Fording places, below & above Said Bridge, could be obstructed with either Ditches, abbatis or Chevaux defrize, only on the right or on both Banks of the Creek, to Secure the Passages.

A Small Piket Guard to be constantly posted at the Redoubt, to keep at least three Sentries, viz. One over the artillery & Works thereunto belonging; one at the Works of the Parapet, and another at the Bridge. This last Sentry might also prevent the Soldiers Stragling out of Camp Especially if the Fording places were rendered impassable, & the Loggs here & there on the Creek taken off.

Said Piket Guard to be reinforced as necessity will require, at the Shortest notice of the Enemy’s movements.

4thly To repair an old Batterie at Boundbrook very judiciously laid out for four pieces, commanding both, the Bridge on Rariton River and the Stone Bridges upon the Creek.2

5thly To have a kind of Gate in the form of chevaux de frize on the nearest Stone Bridge. Rariton Bridge not wanting any, because it may be broken off in the middle for any length.

The Engineer Capt. dela Roch fontaine being aquainted with the Ground, might Superintend these Works.3

This my opinion I humbly Submit to Your Excellency’s consideration.

The Baron de Kalb

ADS, DLC:GW. GW docketed this document: “report Of the Baron de Kalb respectg the defence of the Camp 8th Feb: 1779.”

1Lincoln’s Gap cut through the First Watchung Mountain about one mile east of Wayne’s Gap. The bridge over Bound Brook was no more than 500 yards south of the Lincoln’s Gap elevation.

2The village of Bound Brook is located where the stream of the same name flows from the north into the Raritan River. American troops apparently had prepared a battery at Bound Brook prior to a British attack on 13 April 1777 (see GW to Owen Biddle, 14 April 1777, and n.3 to that document, and GW to Alexander McDougall, 17-18 April 1777).

3Etienne-Nicolas-Marie Béchet de Rochefontaine (1755–1814), who had been a second lieutenant in the French army’s engineer corps, was appointed a captain of engineers in Continental service by Congress on 18 Sept. 1778 with a commission backdated to 15 May 1778 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 12:926). In America he was called simply Rochefontaine instead of Béchet de Rochefontaine. During the winter of 1779–80, Rochefontaine supervised some of the fortifications in the vicinity of West Point, and he participated in the siege of Yorktown during the fall of 1781. Breveted a major of engineers by Congress on 16 Nov. 1781, Rochefontaine remained in the Continental army until the fall of 1783, when he returned to France to resume his French army career (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 21:1121; see also GW’s certificate for Rochefontaine, 19 Aug. 1783, DLC:GW, and GW to La Luzerne, 6 Nov. 1783, Archives des Affaires Étrangères, Paris). Rochefontaine was made a chevalier de Saint Louis in 1790, and the following year he became adjutant general at Saint Domingue (now Haiti) with the rank of colonel. In 1792 Rochefontaine emigrated from Saint Domingue to the United States, apparently to escape the Reign of Terror. He was engineer in charge of fortifications in New England during 1794, and he served in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel of artillerists and engineers from 1795 to 1798. Rochefontaine died in New York City.

Index Entries