, 2022-08-14 07:01:00,
It was a mass grave at a Revolutionary War battlefield in Gloucester County, unmarked and undocumented until it was discovered during an archeological dig in late June.
Experts are still using DNA testing to identify the skeletal remains of at least 14 soldiers — believed to be Hessians fighting for the British in 1777 — who were found in the field. After that, archeologists want to rebury the newly-discovered soldiers.
The big question is — where?
Should the soldiers be reinterred in their native land in Germany? Or should they be returned to the New Jersey battlefield where they lost their lives and rested four feet underground for 245 years?
Or should they be moved to a nearby graveyard, the oldest in Camden County, where about 50 fellow German soldiers from the same Battle of Red Bank are buried?
“We will consider any and all options to offer them the dignified burial they did not receive in 1777,” Jennifer Janofsky, director of Red Bank Battlefield Park, said Friday.
Reburying war dead is a sensitive issue, but perhaps more so in this case because it involves long-lost soldiers from a foreign land. The troops, known as Hessians for the area of Germany where many of them were born, were paid by Great Britain to battle the Continental Army in the war for independence.
The one-day Battle of Red Bank on the banks of the Delaware River in what is now the borough of National Park was an inspiring victory for the outnumbered colonists. Of the 2,000 Hessian soldiers, 377 were killed, while the colonists only lost 14 of 500 troops.
Archeologists and volunteers were excavating a trench on a quarter-acre lot that adjoins the battlefield, recently acquired by Gloucester County, when a leg bone fragment was located on June 26. Eventually, the remains of at least 14 soldiers — the exact total remains unconfirmed — were removed and turned over to the New Jersey State Police’s Forensic Unit.
Officials notified the German Consulate General’s office in New York City following the discovery, but no representatives from the German government attended the Aug. 2 announcement of the discovery at the battlefield.
“When we get to reinterment, I’d like them to be involved,” said Janofsky, who is also Rowan University’s public historian.
It is possible Germany might request the remains, Janofsky said. If that happens, the soldiers could be reburied in the native country.
If they stay in New Jersey, the soldier’s remains could be reinterred at the…
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