Days of Yore
 
as recounted by

Bill Day

 


Chevaux-De-Frise
A Haddonfield's family involvement in a segment of the Revolutionary War has been disclosed.

On the authority of the Committee of Safety of the Province of Pennsylvania, of which Benjamin Franklin was the chairman, the chevaux-de-frise were built and sunk across the Delaware River to Billings Island at Billingsport, NJ, which is just south of Woodbury.  These ware machines were huge cribs probably more than six feet square, constructed of heavy planks and timbers to which long logs, thirty to sixty feet long, were attached at angles.  On the tips of the logs, long iron points were fastened.  These were anchored securely to the bottom of the river by heavy stones piled in the cribs that were brought by barges down the Schylkill River from the quarries.

A British ship carrying soldiers and supplies attempting to reach Philadelphia via the river from Delaware Bay would impale itself on these chevaux-de-frise and sink.  Some sixty of these were placed in the water.

Joseph Tatem, the five times grandfather of our Haddonfield Tatem family, owned fifty acres of land along the Woodbury Creek.  He operated a boatyard, has he was a shipwright.  It is believed that some chevaux-de-frise were built by him with the timber for them being hauled to his yard by neighboring landowners.  After the construction was completed they were towed down the creek to the river and anchored to the river bottom.  They were under the surface from six to ten feet down.

Several of these chevaux-de-frise were found and are on view under a shelter at the Red Bank State Park on the Delaware River at Red Bank.  The Tatem family is the same after which our elementary school, the J. Fithian Tatem School, is named.


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