Days of Yore
 
as recounted by

Bill Day

 


Jonas Cattell saved the day
In October every year an historic foot run is commemorated that was made two hundred years ago during the Revolution.  Runners leg it from Haddonfield to Red Bank, NJ, and the program is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Deptford Township, with Charles Crabbe Thomas the chairman.

A young man named Jonas Cattel was 18 years old in 1777.  He lived in Haddonfield and was employed by John Middleton whose farm was where the high school now stands.  Middleton was also a blacksmith and Jonas was his apprentice smithy.

One evening in October, 1777, a Hessian force numbering 2400 began moving into Haddonfield.  Crossing the Delaware River by ferry it had come by the ferry road, now Haddon avenue, from Camden.

Their arrival was a complete surprise as no advance warning of their approach had been received.  The troops spent the night tented in the field near the Kay Mill at Evans Pond.  The Hessian commanding officer, Count Donop, spent the night in Greenfield Hall.

Jonas Cattell and a number of other were taken as prisoners and were forced to spent the night in the camp.  When morning came an officer gave Jonas his liberty and said he could go home.  He slipped away and immediately started to run on foot to Red Bank to warn the American army at Fort Mercer of the approach of the enemy.

When he arrived at Red Bank, he was directed to Colonel Green, the commanding officer of the Fort.  When the Hessians arrived in midafternoon, the Fort was prepared for the attcck and the British force was repulsed.

The enemy returned to Haddonfield and Jonas was found back home resting from his marathon ordeal, and once again he was taken prisoner.  However, he was soon freed as the Hessians were in a state of confusion after their setback at Fort Mercer.

Jonas became a volunteer in the American forces.  His plucky run that night has earned him his place in the history of the fight for independence.

The fact for this item were secured from an original copy of The Constitution, a weekly newspaper published in Woodbery in 1846.  A doctor in Woodbury had interviewed 87 year old Jonas Cattell and secured him from the account of his experiences.


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