NJ NATIONAL PARK (AP) — Researchers believe the bodies of as many as a dozen German soldiers who fought during the Revolutionary War have been found in a mass grave in New Jersey, officials said Tuesday.
According to scientists, the remains discovered at Fort Mercer and the site of the Battle of Red Bank in 1777 were 245 years old until the discovery of a human femur in June during archaeological excavations of the trench system surrounding the fort. Additional excavations yielded more skeletal remains and items, including pewter and brass buttons and a golden guinea pig of King George III, which was one month’s soldier’s pay. rice field.
A team of Rowan University scientists and Gloucester County officials announced their preliminary findings at a press conference at Red Bank Battlefield Park, just south of Philadelphia.
Officials believe the bodies were part of a Hessian mass grave that was part of some 377 soldiers killed by colonial forces in the Battle of Red Bank. According to historians, the Americans lost 14 people.
The victory allowed the Continental Army at the fort to delay the British movement of supplies to the Delaware River.
“Based on everything we found and the context of what we found, these are likely Hessian,” said Wade Catz, principal archaeologist at South River Heritage Consulting in Delaware, in a statement. is.
The remains were handed over to a forensic anthropologist from the New Jersey State Police Department of Forensics, who extracted DNA from the bones and teeth to determine their origin. Additional studies are being conducted to examine life history, health and disease.
Scientists hope to identify the remains and find their descendants.
“Eventually, perhaps, we hope to be able to find some of these individuals,” Rowan University public historian Jennifer Janofsky said in a statement. And if you can tell their story, you can name a face… And to me, it’s a very powerful moment in public history.”
Officials said the remains were exhumed with “special care” to protect the dignity of the war dead.
Once research is complete, they are buried elsewhere and the trenches are backfilled. The land is incorporated into the park on a bluff overlooking the river.
“Archaeology is helping us better understand what happened on the battlefield,” Yanofsky said.
Marsh reported from Manasquan, New Jersey.
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