Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon and command staff in the Sheriff’s Office Bureaus of Law Enforcement and Corrections saw where General George Washington slept and ate in Morristown during the Revolutionary War as part of a retreat Wednesday to reinforce leadership principles.
Morristown National Historical Park was the setting for “The Leadership Experience at Washington’s Headquarters,” hosted by Morris County Sheriff’s Office Detective Lieutenant Mark Chiarolanza, Morristown National Historical Park Superintendent Tom Ross and Ranger and Park Historian Eric Olsen.
Using the resiliency of General Washington and his Continental Army during the “Hard Winter” of 1779-1780 spent in Morristown as a backdrop, Detective Lieutenant Chiarolanza identified for his colleagues effective leadership and management principles he learned as a graduate of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police Command and Leadership Academy.
Among those principles: emotional intelligence that includes ability to read personnel, good listening skills, competence and character, and the ability to restore balance when an employee perceives unfairness.
The presence of a Sheriff in Morris County predates the Revolutionary War: Thomas Clark was Sheriff from 1739 to 1740, and the historic Morris County Courthouse, built in 1827, was designed by then-Morris County Sheriff Joseph M. Lindsley.
Sheriff Gannon, Morris County’s 77th Sheriff, thanked Superintendent Ross for allowing the gathering of a dozen command staff, including Bureau of Corrections Undersheriff Alan J. Robinson and Bureau of Law Enforcement Undersheriff Mark Spitzer, to occur at the historic site.
“I’m very thankful, Superintendent, to you and your staff for opening up a national treasure to us, right here in our backyard,” Sheriff Gannon said.
Ranger Olsen, the Park Historian, led the command staff on a tour of Washington’s Headquarters Museum and the neighboring Ford Mansion, a private home in which General Washington, his top aides, ambassadors and servants lived during the winter of 1779-1780 while troops suffered from severe cold and lack of food as they built an encampment at Jockey Hollow in Morris Township.
Ranger Olsen explained the trove of treasures amassed for the museum from the Revolutionary War, including a hunting sword owned by General Washington, a waxwork of his image, and documents he signed, including “The Last Official Address of His Excellency, General Washington.”
The museum features specialized rooms that focus on themes, like the Style Room that showcases clothing, fine glassware and dishes and other items that wealthy people enjoyed during the war. Another exhibit showed the adulation people had for General Washington, even after he died in 1799. The exhibit includes a reverse painting on glass entitled “The Apotheosis of Washington,” which depicts the leader being raised from his tomb by Immortality and a winged Father Time.
Washington’s Headquarters Museum procured a gem – a thick wooden door with a porthole from the original Morristown Jail that stood on the Morristown Green from 1770 until 1827.
Ranger Olsen escorted the command staff to the nearby, historically-protected Ford Mansion, where General Washington lodged that harsh winter of 1779-1780. He led a tour through the room General Washington slept in, past the kitchen, sitting room and a small room he commandeered for his meetings and paperwork.