Revolutionary War "Battle" Skirmish of
Dallas Landing

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On the Maurice River off the end of Main St.
On the west bank and Menhaden on the east Port Norris, NJ 08349
By Cumberland County. NJ

View from Peak of the Moon . Photo by Rachel Cobb

General Information:
Although the battle took place on the river, and the militia were Capt. Riggins Co. from Maurice River, the Port Norris side would have been the point of departure for Dallas's shallop, and was most probably the source of the Tory boarders. It is most likely also, if Ogden's story of the British being buried on shore is true, that the burial was on the Port Norris side. Ogden was a Downe (now Commercial) Twp. resident.

Site of the only Revolutionary War conflict known to have taken place in Cumberland County in which blood was spilled. Some time during the last of August 1781, an encounter took place off Dallas's landing between the Tories or Refugees, as they were some times called, and a few New Jersey Militia commanded by Capt. James Riggins.

Once the main landing for what is now Port Norris, then known as Dallas's Landing or Dallas's Ferry. The site is between Robbins Bros. Clam House and the river and has reverted to marshland since the dikes fell into disrepair. It is opposite Menhaden on the east side of the river.


Heritage Day at Bayshore Center at Bivalve
– Life on the Bayshore During the Revolutionary War
August 22, 2015 Read More

Battle of Dallas Landing Archeology Public Meeting November 21, 2014 
Cumberland County Cultural & Heritage Commission
Published on Dec 15, 2014 The Battle of Dallas' Landing was a skirmish between two sailing vessels on the Maurice River in August 1781. A grant from the National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program funded the research and archeology of the site. In November 2014 the Cumberland County Cultural & Heritage Commission hosted a public meeting in Mauricetown, NJ to present what had been discovered in the research so far and what was planned for the site.
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Search for lost graves of Revolutionary War battle
victims renewed in Cumberland County

By Spencer Kent/South Jersey Times
December 09, 2012
Download Story as PDF file.


August 15, 1781 • Battle of Dallas Landing in Port Norris



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The Maurice River Reaches Project
Peak of Moon Dallas Ferry
Reach #43
By Citizens United

Speakeasies and rumrunners. Tories and local militia and a bloody battle. A man named Dallas and a man named Coffee. A rodeo and a racetrack. Salt hay farms and oysters. There's no easy way to encapsulize a place that has all that history. The place is Port Norris. It lies on the western banks of the Maurice River, not very far from the Delaware Bay.

In the beginning, the wide swath of property encompassed 10,000 acres, edging the river and stretching beyond meadow, marsh and uplands all the way over to what is today called Dividing Creek. That tract was surveyed in 1691, by Budd and Worledge for Dr. James Wasse of London. The property was called the Yock Wock tract, for the stream of that name that crossed through it.

In 1728, William Dallas purchased a large parcel of that tract from Dr. Wasse. On the edge of the Maurice, he built a log cabin, established a tavern, and operated a ferry across the Maurice. By 1749, the woodsmen and watermen who came to do business with Mr. Dallas took to calling the settlement Dallas Ferry Landing.

There is one reference that predates the Dallas Landing name. Many decades ago a Port Norris resident, Uriah Lore, related that this point on the Maurice River was once called Yock Wock Landing.

But from the timeframe when William Dallas and then his son Jonathan built up their cordwood business and operated their ferry, this point on the Maurice River was called Dallas Ferry. William Dallas died in 1784. Jonathan continued to operate the ferry until he sold it to a wealthy Philadelphian in 1810. That man was Joseph "Coffee" Jones. (It is surmised that Joseph's nickname was a reference to the wealth he accrued as a result of his father's financial success in the coffee market.) In 1812, Coffee Jones renamed the town in honor of his son Norris and thus it became Port Norris.

With a start like that, it isn't hard to understand why so much legend, lore and hard-to- believe truths are attached to this part of the Maurice River. Looking back to the time of the Revolutionary War, one of those truths is the account of the Battle of Dallas Ferry. It is recorded as the only Revolutionary War battle in Cumberland County where blood was shed. As recorded by local historian Herbert Vanaman, there are two accounts of the battle. One report, printed in the Philadelphia Bulletin on Aug 29, 1871, just days after the incident, called the fighting a "sharp conflict" that ended in the deaths of all 15 Tories, or refugees, as the Tories were sometimes called. The captain of the local militia was Captain James Riggins. Vanaman added that the battle occurred on the Maurice River between Menhaden on the east and the Port Norris meadows on the west.

Lifelong resident Lou Capaldi owns farmland adjacent to the site of this battle. He related that some artifacts were found in the vicinity. He would like to see the state designate a section of the area as an historic site. Capaldi created his own marker to let visitors know about it when they are coming along Route 553 into Port Norris and to the Peak of the Moon.

Peak of the Moon is a name that is subject to conjecture. Local reisdent Everett Turner said that years ago, old-timer Ned Stowman revealed what he knew about the name of this Maurice River reach. Turner related Stowman's version: "It was a good place for rumrunning - during the prohibition days. During the peak of the moon - that was during a full moon - the rumrunners could travel the river at night, with no lights or anything, and make their trades for rum, for alcohol. The Peak of the Moon is where they did their trading."

Turner said that the rum trade could be carried out on both shores of the Maurice River at that point, because there was a road on either side. "You could go to Port Norris and you could into Maurice River Township. It was one of few places that fast land went right down to the river in that area," Turner said, explaining that "fast land" is hard land you can drive or walk on. It's land that connects the meadows to the farmland.

Warrington Hollinger is a long-time resident of Port Norris. His memories span decades. Hollinger related how the town came to have a racetrack - and a rodeo. "Now Peak of the Moon was owned by our family for quite a number of years," Hollinger said. "They had a shucking house, (a building where mollusks are opened and the meat is removed from the shell) and a shell grinding plant. At one time we had 500 Chincoteague ponies down there. We had a half-mile racetrack there. We had, similar to Cowtown, a rodeo. This was before the war, of course. We used to have a big celebration there once a year. They paid everyone off in silver dollars."

Hollinger said that his family was involved with the rodeo. "My uncle went down to Chincoteague and bought 500 ponies," Hollinger said. "And then one year there was some kind of disease in the grass. It wiped practically all of them out." Hollinger's uncle returned to the barrier island for more ponies. "Ponies ran all over that meadow for a number of years," Hollinger recalled, adding that there were several barns, but that most of the ponies roamed freely in the meadows, which belonged to his family. That was in the mid-1930's, Hollinger said. " Our family property right at the end of Main Street.”

The history of the town is tied to the oyster industry and the meadows that were once banked to grow bountiful crops of produce and salt hay. When the dikes failed, when the oysters were plagued by the parasites that destroyed the oyster beds, the residents of Port Norris showed their resilient nature. Through the generations, many of the families remained and continue to make their home here along the Maurice River.


Cumberland County New Jersey
Resolution RES-2012-622
Resolution Authorizing Grant Application to the National Park Service’s American
Battlefield Protection Program

Department: Planning & Development Category: Grant Applications
Sponsors: Freeholder Mary Gruccio
Freeholder Tony Surace

WHEREAS, the National Park Service has funding available through its American Battlefield Protection Program; and

WHEREAS, the Cumberland County Cultural and Heritage Commission desires to apply to the National Park Service for up to $75,000 in grant funding to identify, document, record and interpret the Revolutionary War battlesite of Dallas’ Landing along the shores of the Maurice River in Commercial and Maurice River Townships; and

WHEREAS, the Battle of Dallas’ Landing represents the only known officially-recorded skirmish during the Revolutionary War to occur in Cumberland County; and

WHEREAS, the battle took place on the Maurice River between two small sailing vessels, or shallops, in which fourteen Tories were either killed or wounded by forces of the New Jersey Militia commanded by Captain James Riggins.


1. That this Board hereby authorizes the Department of Planning and Development to pursue funding in an amount not to exceed $75,000.00 in grant funds from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program.

2. That this Board hereby authorizes County staff to perform non-cash matching work to meet the grant
requirement provisions.

3. That this Board hereby authorizes the Director and Clerk of this Board to execute the grant application and any and all associated documents affiliated with this grant.

Passed and adopted at a regular meeting of the Board of Chosen Freeholders held at the Cumberland County Court House, Broad and Fayette Streets, Bridgeton, New Jersey on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. prevailing time.

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