December 13, 1777

General Conway

In a direct rebuff of General Washington, Congressestablishes the Inspector General Department of the Continental Army, andpromotes General Thomas Conway to Major General above other senior Generals andin a position that, from the civil side, is equal to that of Washington.  This indicates a move by several in congressto replace Washington with General Horatio Gates, who has had more success oflate.  Thomas Conway had been involved inwhat historians call the “Conway cabal,” which was a loose attempt by severalin the army and out of the army to replace Washington with Gates.  As a younger man Washington would haveresponded to this action with an angry letter of resignation, but this olderand wiser Washington will bide his time.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours forPhiladelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours. Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to IndependenceHall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank,Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church. If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us forour Valley Forge Tour.  For those interested in the Civil War, come see Gettysburg

December 8, 1777

George Washington and his men at Battle of White Marxhg

In the morning, British generals and engineers analyzed the American positions tosee if they could exploit any part of their defenses.  To the astonishment of the British, the Americans, and historians ever since, Howe chose to withdraw and return to Philadelphia.  He had been successful in thetwo major skirmishes during the previous two days, but he had not gotten as fararound the American flank as he had hoped and his provisions were running low.  Also, as the now disparaged song goes, “Baby, It’s cold outside.”  The troops had left their tents and gear in Philadelphia.

At 2:00 pm, the British began their withdrawal,lighting numerous campfires—as Washington had done three days earlier—toconceal their movements. An American reconnaissance party, led by Capt. McLane,discovered that Howe was marching back down Old York Road into Philadelphia and communicated this information back to Washington. Morgan’s troops harassedthe enemy’s rear, in particular Grey’s column, which was hindered by the weightof the artillery that it was transporting. A contingent of Hessians formed tooppose them with their fieldpieces and Morgan’s troops retreated. The British arrived in Philadelphia later that day.  Washington would begin thinking about Winter Quarters.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours forPhiladelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours. Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank,Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church. If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For those interested in the Civil War, come see Gettysburg. 

December 6, 1777

Emlen House, which was Washington’s Headquarters during Battle of Whitmarsh

The second day of the Battle of Whitemarsh passes with thetwo armies watching each other across the Wissahickon Valley.  General Howe is hoping that Washington willleave his positions to attack the British, but Washington is holding back inorder to see what move the British will make. By the end of the day, Howe decided to go forward on the 7thg with aflanking movement toward Jenkintown and Cheltenham Township, while MajorGeneral Charles Grey’s forces woud create a distraction by attacking theAmerican center.  This is a familiartactic of Howe’s that Washington should be not only used to, but expecting atthis point. 

Meanwhile, in Paris, France, French foreign minister Count Charles de Vergennes responds positively to the American suggestions of amilitary alliance in the wake of the American victory at Saratoga.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s BestHistorical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, aswell as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, GraffHouse, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church. If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us forour Valley Forge Tour.  For those interested in the Civil War, come see Gettysburg

December 5, 1777

After his defeat in Germantown, General Washington had led his army along the Skippack Pike to Pawling’s Mill, beyond the Perkiomen Creek wherethey temporarily encamped. From there they marched east on Skippack Pike andturned left on Forty-Fort Road, marched to Semnyetown Pike, and camped on theproperty of Frederick Wampoe near Kulpsville in Towamencin Township.  After Howe’s successive battles, Washingtonwas expecting an attack.

General Howe did indeed entertain thoughts of an attack that would destroyWashington’s army before both sides took their winter pauses.

Washington marched his men to Whitemarsh, which was approximately 13 miles east of Philadelphia.  He established headquarters at the Emlen House, and set his army to building redoubts and defensive works.

It was just after midnight that Cornwallis’s vanguard,consisting of two British light infantry battalions, skirmished with anAmerican cavalry patrol near Three Mile Run on Skippack Road.  Washington received a message alerting him tothe British movements.  At the same timethe main body of British troops marched through Germantown, Beggarstown, andFlourtown.  At 3:00 a.m.. the Britishhalted on Chestnut Hill, just south of the American defenses, and waited fordaybreak.  Washington ordred his troopsto build additional campfires to deceive the British.  According to Hessian Major Carl vonBauermeister, “[I]t looked as if fifty thousand men were encamped there.  By day we could see this was merely a trick…”  Expecting a battle, Washington dispatched histroops to discover the size and intent of the British.   Colonial troops met up with British troops onthe north side of Chestnut Hill.  ThePennsylvania militia was quickly routed by the British, and fled.

General Howe arrived and went to the church’s bell tower in order to view Amerian positions.  There he decided that the Amerian defenses were too strong to attack with his present force and chose to shell their defenses with artillery fire.  However, the guns did not have adequate range to reach Washington’s men.

Howe and his men encamped for the night at Chestnut Hill, and planned for a new manner of attack the following day.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, GraffHouse, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church. If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us forour Valley Forge Tour.  For those interested in the Civil War, come see Gettysburg

July 5, 1777

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Hessians and British under command of German General Friedrich von Riedesel and British General Simon Fraser defeat the retreating Americans at Hubbardton.  American forces are commanded by Colonel Seth Warner with 730 men, with 41 killed in action, 95 wounded in action and 234 captured.  British forces had 1,030 men, with 60 killed in action and 138 wounded in action.  Although the Americans are defeated they fight off the enemy and gave General Arthur St. Clair’s troops time to withdraw.  The Battle of Hubbardton involved approximately 2,000 troops and resulted in approximately 600 casualties, losses on both sides was equal.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

June 13, 1777

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General Arthur St. Clair takes command of Fort Ticonderoga.

Benjamin Franklin sends an exuberant adherent to the American cause to General Washington, despite the fact that Washington is clearly up to his ears with French “officers.”  “The Person who will have the Honour of delivering this to your Excellency, is Monsieur le Baron de Frey, who is well recommended to me as an Officer of Experience and Merit, with a Request that I would give him a Letter of Introduction. I have acquainted him that you are rather overstock’d with Officers, and that his obtaining Employment in your Army is an Uncertainty: But his Zeal for the American Cause is too great for any Discouragements I can lay before him, and he goes over at his own Expence to take his Chance, which is a Mark of Attachment that merits our Regard. He will show your Excellency the Commissions and Proofs of his military Service hitherto, and I beg Leave to recommend him to your Notice.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

 

 

 

May 17, 1777

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Almost one-third of Colonel John Baker’s 109 men are captured after Baker’s troops are attacked by Indians and the British regulars at Thomas’ Swamp.  The Indians kill 15 of the captives before British Colonel Augustine Prevost intervenes to stop the massacre.

John Adams writes to Abigail about the money problems facing the congress and the failure of all of the colonies – except for Massachusetts – to do their duty:  I never fail to inclose to you the News papers, which contain the most of the Intelligence that comes to my Knowledge.  I am obliged to slacken my Attention to Business a little, and ride and walk for the Sake of my Health, which is but infirm.—Oh that I could wander, upon Penns Hill, and in the Meadows and Mountains in its Neighbourhood free from Care! But this is a Felicity too great for me.  Mr. Gorham and Mr. Russell are here with a Petition from Charlstown. It grieves me that they are to return without success. I feel, most exquisitely, for the unhappy People of that Town. Their Agents have done every Thing in their Power, or in the Power of Men to do, and the Mass. Delegates have seconded their Efforts to the Utmost of their Power, but all in vain.  The Distress of the States, arising from the Quantity of Money abroad, and the monstrous Demands that would be made from Virginia, N. Jersy, N. York and elsewhere, if a Precedent should be once set, has determined the Congress, almost with Tears in their Eyes, to withstand this Application at present.  Every Man expressed the Utmost Tenderness and Humanity, upon the Occasion: But at the same Time every Man except the Mass. Delegates expressed his full Conviction of the ill Policy of granting any Thing at present.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.  Also, you don’t want to miss out on our podcast, Chasing American History!

 

May 9, 1777

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Congress appoints William Lee as the United States’ representative to Vienna and Berlin.

John Adams writes to Nathaniel Greene about the many causes that were keeping people away from the army, one of which was the “debauchery” to be found there:  “The Indifference of the People about recruiting the Army, is a Circumstance, which ought to make Us, consider what are the Causes of it. It is not, merely the Melancholly, arising from the unfortunate Events of the last Campaign, but the Small Pox, and above all the unhappy State of our Finances, which occasion this Evil. There are other Circumstances, which are little attended to, which contribute, much more than is imagined, to this unfavourable Temper in the People. The Prevalence of Dissipation, Debauchery, Gaming, Prophaneness and Blasphemy, terrifies the best People upon the Continent, from trusting their Sons and other Relations among so many dangerous snares and Temptations. Multitudes of People, who would with chearfull Resignation Submit their Families to the Dangers of the sword, shudder at the Thought of exposing them, to what appears to them, the more destructive Effects of Vice and Impiety. These Ideas would be received by many with Scorn. But there is not the less Solidity in them for that. It is Discipline alone that can Stem the Torrent. Chaplains are of great Use, I believe, and I wish Mr. Leonard might be in the Army, upon such Terms as would be agreable to him, for there is no Man of whom I have a better opinion. But there is So much difficulty in accomplishing any Thing of the Kind, that I wish G. Washington would either appoint him, or recommend him to Congress.  The Utility of Medals, has ever been impressed Strongly upon my Mind. Pride, Ambition, and indeed what a Philosopher would call Vanity, is the Strongest Passion in human Nature, and next to Religion, the most operative Motive to great Actions. Religion, or if the fine Gentlemen please, Superstition and Enthusiasm, is the greatest Incentive, and wherever it has prevailed, has never failed to produce Heroism. If our N. Englandmen were alone, and could have their own Way, a great deal of this would appear. But in their present Situation, I fear We have little to expect from this Principle, more than the Perseverance of the People in the Cause. We ought to avail ourselves then of even the Vanity of Men. For my own Part I wish We could make a Beginning, by Striking a Medal, with a Platoon firing at General Arnold, on Horseback, His Horse falling dead under him, and He deliberately disentangling his Feet from the Stirrups and taking his Pistolls out of his Holsters, before his Retreat. On the Reverse, He should be mounted on a Fresh Horse, receiving another Discharge of Musquetry, with a Wound in the Neck of his Horse.1 This Picture alone, which as I am informed is true History, if Arnold did not unfortunately belong to Connecticutt, would be sufficient to make his Fortune for Life. I believe there have been few such Scenes in the World.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

April 24, 1777

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A twenty-seven year old candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, James Madison, was defeated.  Madison chose not to engage in the time-honored practice of purchasing liquor for voters.  Madison would later recall that he had  regarded the liquor custom as “equally inconsistent with the purity of moral and of republican principles.”  He was “anxious to promote, by his example, the proper reform.”   He made the mistake of believing that “new views of the subject” would “prevail with the people.”  They did not.  They cast their votes for his opponent, who was the owner of a brewery.

Joshua Loring gives a message from British General William Howe about the American prisoners being held in New York:  “I am directed by his Excellency Sir William Howe to inform you, that your Prisoners here are in the greatest Distress for want of Cloathing The sick in the Hospitals are particularly in Want of this Article, so essential to their Health; To guard against the Sufferings which the Prisoners lately, in our hands underwent for want of Cloathing, & of the other Necessarys which they had a Right to expect from their Friends, and to prevent the unjust Interpretations which have been thrown out with Regard to their Sufferings, His Excellency has thought proper to have this early Intimation convey’d to You, that you may take such Steps as You shall judge necessary for their immediate Supply.  I am likewise to inform You that the General has no Objections to your employing Mr Pintard or any other Person in furnishing your Prisoners with Provisions or any other Necessary Articles1 you may be desirous of sending in to them.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.

April 20, 1777

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New York adopts a new Constitution.

John Adams writes to James Warren:  “Last Evening, a Letter was received, by a Friend of yours, from Mr. John Penn, one of the Delegates from North Carolina, lately returned home to attend the Convention of that Colony, in which he informs, that he heard nothing praised in the Course of his Journey, but Common sense and Independence. That this was the Cry, throughout Virginia. That North Carolina, were making great Preparations for War, and were determined, to die poor and to die hard, if they must die, in Defence of their Liberties. That they had, repealed, or Should repeal their Instructions to their Delegates against Independence. That South Carolina had assumed a Government chosen a Council, and John Rutledge Esqr., President of that Council with all the Powers of a Governor, that they have appointed Judges and that Drayton is Chief Justice. ‘In short, sir,’ says this Letter, ‘The Vehemence of the southern Colonies is such, as will require the Coolness of the Northern Colonies, to restrain them from running to Excess.’…I think, by all the Intelligence We have that North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey will erect Governments, before the Month of June expires. And, if New York should do so too Pennsylvania, will not neglect it. At least I think so.  There is a particular, Circumstance relative to Maryland, which you will learn eer long, but am not at Liberty to mention at present, but will produce important Consequences in our favour, I think.  But, after Governments shall be assumed, and a Confederation formed, We shall have a long, obstinate and bloody War to go through and all the Arts, and Intrigues of our Enemies as well as the Weakness and Credulity of our Friends to guard against.  A Mind as vast as the Ocean, or Atmosphere is necessary to penetrate and comprehend all the intricate and complicated Interests which compose the Machine of the Confederat Colonies. It requires all the Philosophy I am Master of and more than all, at Times to preserve that serenity of Mind and Steadiness of Heart, which is necessary to watch the Motives, of Friends and Enemies, of the Violent and the Timid, the Credulous and the dull, as well as the Wicked.  But if I can contribute ever so little towards preserving the Principles of Virtue and Freedom in the World, my Time and Life will be not ill spent.  A Man must have a wider Expansion of Genius than has fallen to my share to see to the End of these great Commotions. But, on such a full sea are We now afloat, that We must be content to trust, to Winds and Currents with the best Skill We have, under a kind Providence to land us in a Port of Peace, Liberty and Safety.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our historical vacation packages.