The Dutch claimed it after Henry Hudson (sailing for the Dutch East India Company) explored Newark Bay and anchored his ship at Weehawken Cove in 1609.The African slaves were used for labor at the ports to support shipping, as well as for domestic servants, trades, and farm labor.Bergen was the location of several battles and troop movements during the American Revolutionary War.Fort Lee's location on the bluffs of the New Jersey Palisades, opposite Fort Washington in Manhattan, made it a strategic position during the war.
The 1709 borders were described as follows:† The line between East and West Jersey here referred to is not the line finally adopted and known as the Lawrence line, which was run by John Lawrence in September and October 1743.In November 1776, the Battle of Fort Lee took place as part of a British plan to capture George Washington and to crush the Continental Army, whose forces were divided and located in Fort Lee and Hackensack.After abandoning the defenses in Fort Lee and leaving behind considerable supplies, the Continental forces staged a hasty retreat through present-day Englewood, Teaneck, and Bergenfield, and across the Hackensack River at New Bridge Landing, one of the few sites where the river was crossed by a bridge.Bergen County saw skirmishes throughout the war as armies from both sides maneuvered across the countryside.The Baylor Massacre took place in 1778 in River Vale, resulting in severe losses for the Continentals.
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They destroyed the bridge to delay the British assault on Washington's headquarters in village of Hackensack.The next day, George Washington retreated to Newark and left Hackensack via Polifly Road.Soon after the Battle of Princeton in January 1777, British forces realized that they couldn't spread themselves thin across New Jersey.Local militia retook Hackensack and the rest of Bergen County.Several sources attribute the name to Bergen, Norway, while others attribute it to Bergen, North Holland in the Netherlands.
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Some sources say that the name is derived from one of the earliest settlers of New Amsterdam (now New York City), Hans Hansen Bergen, a native of Norway, who arrived in New Netherland in 1633.
This became known as the Erie Main Line, and is still in use for passenger service today.
The Erie later leased two other railroads built in the 1850s and 1860s, later known as the Pascack Valley Line and the Northern Branch, and in 1881 built a cutoff, now the Bergen County Line.
British forces pursued, and Washington continued to retreat across New Jersey.
The retreat allowed American forces to escape capture and regroup for subsequent successes against the British elsewhere in New Jersey later that winter.