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

December 3, 1777

From the very start, Charles Lee has felt no doubt that, despite what story might need to be peddled for public consumption, that he, and not George Washington, was the man who should be leading the army.  His pedigree, education, and level of experience clearly exceeded that of the man who had been given the position.  Lee never felt any compunction in peddling his personal theories to members of congress and other leaders about how he felt the army should be run, and the revolution conducted.

In this letter, sent in December 3rd, Charles Lee explains his theories to Benjamin Franklin – 

Dear Sir,
I am very happy that my letter to Lord Thanet meets with your approbation. I send you here some crude notions of what ought be adopted.
1st  A solemn league and covenant defensive and offensive to be taken by every man in America, particularly by those in or near the Sea Port Towns; all those who refuse, to have their estates confiscated for the public use, and their persons remov’d to the interior par[t of] the Country with a small pension res[erved?] for their subsistance.
2dly  New York to [be] well fortify’d and garrison’d or totally destroy’d.
3dly  No Regiments to be rais’d f[or any?] particular local purposes, but one general g[reat?] Continental Army adequate to evry purpose. South Carolina may be excepted from its distance and peculiar circumstances.
4thly.  The Regiments to be exchang’d those who are rais’d in one Province to serve in another rather than in their own, viz. the New Englanders in New York the N. Yorkers in New England and so on. This system will undoubtedly make ’em better Soldiers.
5thly.  A general Militia to be establishd and the regular Regiments to be formd by drafts from the Militia or their substitutes.
6thly.  A certain portion of lands to be [assign]ed to evry Soldier who serves one campaign [a d]ouble portion to him who serves two, and so on.
7thly.  A strong flying camp to be kept about Hampton Bay, another about Annapolis and Charles Town in S. Carolina to be well watch’d and guarded.6
8thly.  The greatest [pains?] to be taken and no expence to be spar’d in securing the Indians to our interest.
These measures may appear bold but I am sure they will be efficacious and decisive decision is the onset[?] of success.

By pushing for militias instead of a regular standing army, Lee has made himself popular among the pro-democracy Whig elements in Congress.  This popularity is growing due to George Washington’s recent military defeats.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s BestHistorical 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 Civil Warbuffs, come see Gettysburg

December 2, 1777

 

 

David Bushnell, inventor of the submarine “The Turtle” creates a minefield of gunpowder kegs to harass British shipping.

“The Turtle” is the first submarine.  Bushnell came up with the idea while studying at Yale in 1775.  While at Yale he proved that gunpowder could be exploded under water.  He followed up by creating the first time bomb.  He then combined these ideas with his building of the Turtle, which was designed to attack ships by attaching a time bomb to their hulls while using a hand powered drill and ship auger to penetrate the hulls.  Its first use was in an attack on September 6.  However, on that date it failed to destroy the 64 gun ship, HMS Eagle, that was its target.

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 those interested in the Civil War, you will never forget our Gettysburg Tour, which is offered in either one-day or two-day packages.

 

 

 

 

December 1, 1777

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Choosing Winter Quarters is never an easy matter, particularly not in the circumstances in which George Washington currently sees himself, militarily and politically.  Some believe he should be staying close to Philadelphia in order to continue to fight the British.  Others believe he should leave the region entirely and seek a village or town with where they can be sure to secure food and shelter.  Washington seems to have been far more concerned about military concerns – i.e., finding one last way to strike a blow at the British before the winter comes – then he was concerned about winter quarters.  His military concerns were at least, in part, due to the heavy criticism he had been receiving of late and the activities of those who sought to have him replaced by a general with more military experience and education, such as General Horatio Gates.  (For the moment, Washington had no need to worry about Charles Lee as he had been captured by the British.)  We will continue to discuss Washington’s decision to go to Valley Forge in the next couple weeks.  In order to truly gain an appreciation for the Valley Forge experience, however, you should join us for our Valley Forge Tours, which continue to operate.  After all, they didn’t let the snow stop them, so why should you?

General John Armstrong writes the following letter to George Washington:  “I beg leave to recommend, that as early as it may be Safe to make such movement, the Army may pass Over the Scuilkill & take for Some time a position on that Side.  With respect to Winter Quarters for the Army—The longer I consider the measure pointed out in the back Villiages of this State, the more inadmissable that Step appears to be, as by the large lattitude thereby given the Enemy thro’ the Winter & early part of the Spring, every doleful & pernitious consequence must be expected—The hearts of good-men thro’ all the States depressed, and this State in particular, little less than Sacrificed to the whole without real necessity! Amongst the innumerable evils resulting from that Situation, the impossition of the Oaths of Allegiance & an end to Government & the future aids of the Militia thro’ a great part of the State, must inevitably follow.  I’m therefore of opinion that in proper time, part of your Army Take possession of Wilmington, and the residue form a Chain from thence to Downingstown & perhaps the White Horse on the Lancaster road, at these two Some Cover may be had, and Hutts with Some use of Houses in the intermediate Space—these are the best Out lines that appears to me, which may be corrected and better determined when the Army is on that Side. And am with perfect respect, Yr Excellencys Most Obedt humbe Servt…John Armstrong”

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.

 

 

 

November 28, 1777

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It was kind of a “good news/bad news” situation for Abigail Adams.  After such a long separation her husband, John, had finally returned to Braintree.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that Silas Deane, the Ambassador to France, was not only suspected of financial impropriety, but had been discovered to have been intimating in letters that the Revolutionary Cause was hopeless.

On this date John Adams received the following letter from Daniel Roberdeau:  “I would not take pen in hand until I could reasonably suppose you safe arrived to your long wished for home, on which I now presume to congratulate you and sincerely hope you have met with Mrs. Adams and your Children well and every domestick concern to your entire satisfaction for all which I feel myself much interested from the sincere regard contracted for you in our short intimacy, which I shall be ever ready to cultivate whenever Opportunity offers.

I congratulate you or rather my Country in the choice of you this day as a Commissioner to France for the united States, in lieu of Mr. Dean who is recalled.1 Your domestick views of happiness was not consulted on this occasion, but the necessity of your Country for your Talents, which being devoted to her service, I expect a chearful acquiescence with a call so honorable, which I doubt not will prove a lasting honor to you and your Connections as well as a blessing to these States. I should be sorry for the least hisitation. I will not admit the thought of your refusal of the Office which would occasion a publick chagrine. I wish you had improved the opportunity when here of studying the French language, which our friend Mr. Garry is now doing. I would advise your taking french books with you and a french Companion, and if an Opportunity does not immediately present from Boston a trip to the West Indies and a passage in a french vessel to Paris would be of considerable advantage.”

Bad news for Abigail.  Good news for future historians – this appointment would cause the long separation between John and Abigail Adams which would, in turn, give us one of the greatest correspondences in American history.

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.

 

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.

July 5, 1777

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American Major General Arthur St. Clair is not able to continue holding defense of Fort Ticonderoga and evacuates, leaving substantial supplies behind.  During this time, the British occupy an undefended Mount Defiance, which overlooks Fort Ticonderoga.

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 30, 1777

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General John Burgoyne’s army begins to arrive near Fort Ticonderoga.

British General William Howe leaves New Jersey for New York City and Staten Island.  He intends to carry out the plan to begin an offensive attack against Philadelphia.

George Washington’s aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton, writes the following letter warning General Charles Scott about possible surprise attack from Great Britain:  “I wrote you this moment by His Excellency’s order; but he is so anxious you should be acquainted with his apprehensions on the score of the enemy’s leaving Amboy, with some of their stores remaining in it, that fearing a miscarriage of my former letter he desires me to write another to the same effect.  The enemy have had their own leisure to go off and carry whatever they thought proper. What then should induce them to leave any stores behind unless by way of ensnaring some party of ours that should be tempted by them to venture incautiously into the place they have quitted? This is much to be suspected, and you are strongly enjoined to reconnoitre well before you trust any part of your men into the Town. It will be the easiest matter in the world if you are not exceedingly vigilant to throw a party across the river upon your rear and intercept you. You had better not send your whole Brigade in; but only send in a small party to take possession of the stores, and convey as many out as you can to some other place. For this purpose you will collect as many waggons as you can about the neighbourhood. You are, by no means, to remain in Amboy all night; but retire immediately after you have put an end to any endeavours to carry off the remaining stores. Keep parties reconnoitring from Amboy to Elizabeth Town point and take every precaution to avoid a surprise.  I have ordered down provisions to Bonum Town. You can either go that place or send for the provisions from thence.

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.