Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. II., Chapter IV.







Ancient Philadelphia. – The "Slate-roof House" and its Associations. – Loxley’s House. – Mrs. Darrah and the British Adjutant General. – Information sent to Washington’s Camp by Mrs. Darrah. – Disappointment of the British. – Swede’s Church. – Wharton’s Mansion-house. – The Mischianza. – Immorality of the Army. – Major Andre’s Description of the Mischianza. – Philadelphia Provost Prison. – Cunningham. – Washington Square. – Office of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. – The Secretary’s Aids. – British Fortifications in Philadelphia. – The British Encampment. – Personal Appearance of the British Officers. – Loss of the Delaware Frigate. – Torpedoes sent down the River from Bordentown. – "Battle of the Kegs." – Alarm during the Mischianza Fete. – Boldness of Americans. – Interesting Places near Philadelphia. – Patriotism of the Philadelphia Women. – Mrs. Reed and Mrs. Bache. – De Chastellux’s Visit to Mrs. Bache. – Contributions of Clothing for the Soldiers. – Germantown. – James Logan. – Speech of Logan, the Indian Chief. – Officers of Government at Germantown. – Chew’s House. – Destructive Effects of War. – Benjamin Chew. – Maneuvers of the two Armies on the Schuylkill. – The British Army at Germantown. – Preparations to Attack it. – Approach of the Americans to Germantown. – Attack on the British Pickets. – Chew’s House a Defense. – Scenes at Chew’s House. – Remissness of the Militia. – Victory lost to the Americans. – Battle of Germantown. – The Americans, deceived, abandon the Field. – Washington’s Chagrin. – The Loss. – Letter of General Agnew’s Servant to the Lady of that Officer concerning his Death. – American Officers Killed. – Washington and his Officers Honored. – General Stephen. – Whitemarsh. – Washington’s Head-quarters at Whitemarsh. – American Encampment. – Skirmish at Whitemarsh. – Retreat of the British to Philadelphia. – Departure of the Americans from Whitemarsh. – Barren Hill. – La Fayette. – His first Impulses favorable to the Americans. – His Liberality. – Visit to England. – La Fayette’s Attempts to leave France. – Sketch of his Career. – Sword presented to him by Congress. – Memoir of La Fayette. – Pictorial Devices on his Sword. – Arrival of La Fayette in America. – His Biography continued. – His Appointment. – Interview with Washington. – Attached to the Army. – La Fayette on Barren Hill. – Maneuvers of the two Armies. – The British deceived. – Retreat of La Fayette across the Schuylkill to Valley Forge. – Generals Poor and Woedtke. – Iron Ore near the Schuylkill. – Conshohocken and its Industry. – Norristown. – Swedes’ Ford.


New streets invade the country; and he strays,
Lost in strange paths, still seeking, and in vain,
For ancient landmarks, or the lonely lane
Where oft he play’d at Crusoe, when a boy.

"All that was lovely then is gloomy now:
Then, no strange paths perplex’d him, no new streets,
Where draymen bawl, while rogues kick up a row,
And fish-wives grin, while fopling fopling meets."


"But all are passing fast away;

Those abstruse thinkers too –
Old churches, with their walls of gray,
Must yield to something new.
Be-Gothic’d things, all neat and white,
Greet every where the traveler’s sight."


Let us stroll through ancient Philadelphia this clear frosty morning [November 28, 1848.], and visit the few fossil remains of the primitive period that lie amid the elegant structures and "be-Gothic’d things" of the present, like trilobites in secondary limestone. We shall have little to do with the great town stretching away to the Schuylkill; it is near the banks of the Delaware that we must seek for the places hallowed by the remembrance of

"The deeds of our fathers in times that are gone;
Their virtues, their prowess, the fields they have won;
Their struggles for freedom, the toils they endured,
The rights and the blessings for us they procured."


One of the most interesting buildings in Philadelphia is the "Slate-roof House," on the southeast corner of Norris’s Alley and Second Street, a little south of Chestnut Street. It was built about 1690 for Samuel Carpenter, and was occupied by William Penn as his city residence in the year 1700. 2 There was the birth-place of John Penn, the governor of Pennsylvania when the Revolution broke out, the only child of William Penn born in this country. From that circumstance he was called "the American." There, in 1702, Lord Cornbury, then governor of New York and New Jersey, was magnificently entertained, with his suite of fifty persons. James Logan, William Penn’s agent, also entertained him at Pennsbury, in a style quite in dissonance with the plain character of Quakers. This house was sold to William Trent, the founder of Trenton, in 1703. For nearly fifty years afterward it was occupied by some of the first men of Philadelphia (among whom was Deputy-governor Hamilton), when it became noted as a superior boarding-house. There General Forbes, the successor of Braddock, died in 1759. In 1761 it was rented by the Widow Graydon, mother of Captain Graydon, the author of "Memoirs of Sixty Years’ Life in Pennsylvania." Captain Graydon describes the house as "a singular, old-fashioned structure, laid out in the style of a fortification, with abundance of angles, both salient and re-entering. Its two wings projected to the street in the manner of bastions, to which the main building, retreating from sixteen to eighteen feet, served as a curtain. It had a spacious yard half way to Front Street, ornamented with a double row of venerable, lofty pines, which afforded a very agreeable rus in urbe in the heart of the city." 3 John Adams and other members of the first Continental Congress boarded in the Slate-roof House; and there many British officers had lodgings while the city was in possession of the royal troops in 1778. A young ladies’ boarding-school was kept there at one time, in which a daughter of General Wayne was educated. 4 General Arnold occupied it as his residence while military governor of Philadelphia in 1778; and there were given those splendid entertainments before and after his marriage with Miss Shippen, which contributed to involve him in those debts that aided in producing his defection to the American cause.


Strolling down South Second Street, I came to an antiquated building, at No. 177, known as "Loxley’s House." Its gallery in front was sometimes used as a preaching-place by Whitefield. The house was then out of town, over "the Second Street Bridge." In front of it was a gentle hill, whose slopes afforded a fine resting-place for the immense audiences who listened to the great missionary. On that hill Captain (afterward General) Cadwallader used to drill his "silk stocking company." 5 Mr. Loxley, the first owner of the house, was a lieutenant of artillery under Braddock, and was present at the defeat of that general at the Great Meadows.

During the Revolution, the Loxley House was the residence of a Quaker named William Darrah, or Darrach, whose wife, Lydia, was a true heroine and patriot. While the British had possession of Philadelphia, the adjutant general made his quarters at Darrah’s; and it being a secluded spot, the superior officers of the army used frequently to hold their confidential meetings there. On one of these occasions, the adjutant general ordered Mrs. Darrah to make the upper back room ready for the reception of his friends, who were expected to stay late; "And," he added, in giving his order, "be sure, Lydia, your family are all in bed at an early hour." His manner was emphatic; and Mrs. Darrah, fearing to disobey, prepared for their reception. The order impressed her quick perception with curiosity, and she resolved to know the purport of the meeting. When the officers came the family were in bed, Lydia alone being up to receive them. This done, she retired to her own couch without undressing. She was restless, and at length a higher impulse than mere curiosity determined her to become a listener. Softly she stole from her room, and, without shoes, traversed the passage to the door of the apartment where the officers were assembled. She applied her ear to the keyhole, when, after a few minutes of silence within, a voice read distinctly an order of Sir William Howe for the troops to quit the city the next night, and march out to an attack upon Washington’s camp at Whitemarsh. Lydia had heard enough, and, gliding back to her room, she threw herself on her bed, but not to sleep. In a few minutes there was a rap at the door; she knew its meaning, and feigned deep slumber. At the third knock she arose quickly, and let the adjutant general and his friends depart.


Mrs. Darrah now possessed a momentous secret. She was a true friend to her country, and she felt that she had a duty to perform, and that quickly. In the still hour of the night she sent up a silent petition for heavenly guidance, and at dawn she was astir. She awoke her husband, and informed him that flour was wanted for family use, and that she must go immediately to Frankford for it, a common occurrence in those days. 6 It was a cold December morning, the snow several inches deep upon the ground [December 3, 1777.]. On foot, and with her bag in hand, she started on her errand, stopping at the head-quarters of General Howe 7 to obtain a passport to leave the city. Mrs. Darrah reached Frankford, nearly five miles distant, at an early hour, and, leaving her bag at the mill, pressed forward toward the American outposts to inform Washington of the intended night attack. She met Lieutenant-colonel Craig, who had been sent out by the commander-in-chief to gain information respecting the enemy. To him she told the secret, and, hastening back to the mill, shouldered the bag of flour, and returned home with a heart full of thankfulness for being made an instrument of usefulness to her country, as she believed, and as the result proved.

From her window, on that cold starry night which succeeded her morning mission, she watched the departure of the British troops to make the attack on Washington’s camp. And again she watched from that window when the distant roll of a drum heralded their return from "a fool’s errand," indeed; for, "forewarned, forearmed," the Americans were on the alert, and fully prepared to receive the enemy when they came. Foiled, the British returned to their encampment in the city. The adjutant general came to his quarters. He summoned Lydia to his room, and, locking his door with an air of mystery, bade her be seated. "Were any of your family up, Lydia," he asked, "on the night when I received company in this house?" "No," she unhesitatingly replied; "they all retired at eight o’clock." This was true, though Lydia afterward arose. "It is very strange," said the officer. "You, I know, Lydia, were asleep, for I knocked at your door three times before you heard me, yet it is certain that we were betrayed. I am altogether at a loss to conceive who could have given information to Washington of our intended attack! On arriving near his encampment, we found his cannon mounted, his troops under arms, and so prepared at every point to receive us, that we have been compelled to march back without injuring our enemy, like a parcel of fools." 8 Mrs. Darrah enjoined Lieutenant-colonel Craig not to disclose her name, for she feared the fury of the enemy; history has therefore omitted the name of Lydia Darrah in its record of events at that time, and left well-authenticated tradition alone to embalm it. 9

I walked down to the navy yard, and visited the old Swedes’ Church, on Swanson Street, near by. Its present pastor, the Reverend Mr. Clay, permitted me to view its interior. Within and without it has been too much modernized to give a very perfect idea of its original appearance. In its burial inclosure, among graves that were digged a century and a half ago, rest the remains of Wilson, the great American ornithologist. Here was the first burial-place in Philadelphia, and here was offered the first Christian worship upon the western bank of the Delaware above the Schuylkill.

Fronting the river, near the present navy-yard, stood Wharton’s Mansion-house, with broad lawns and stately trees around it. The building is yet [1854] there, on Fifth Street, devoted to mechanical purposes. There, on Monday, the 18th of May, 1778, was given a great entertainment in honor of Sir William Howe and his brother Richard, earl Howe (the naval commander), the former on the eve of his departure from America. It was called the Mischianza, an Italian word signifying a medley. This entertainment was probably the most magnificent exhibition of extravagance and folly ever witnessed in America. It very properly drew forth the indignant comments of not only the Whigs in America, but of the true friends of government here and in England, as an appropriate finale to the sensualities of the British army during its winter encampment in Philadelphia. 10 The loose discipline of the army, during those six months of idleness, did more to weaken the power of the enemy than all the battles they had yet experienced here, and fully justified the remark of Franklin, that "General Howe has not taken Philadelphia – Philadelphia has taken General Howe." Major Andrè, in the sub-joined letter 11 to a friend, has given a graphic picture of the Mischianza. It was published in the Annual Register, a London magazine, for the year 1778.

The beautiful lawns and noble trees around the Wharton Mansion-house, the scene of the wicked folly of the enemies of freedom in the midst of a suffering people, have long since disappeared, and the streets and lanes of the expanding city cover the site. Let us turn from the spot and its associations and make our way back to the city proper.


On Walnut Street, near Sixth, was the prison used as the British Provost in 1778. It was under the charge of that infamously cruel scoundrel, Captain Cunningham, a burly, ill-natured Irishman of sixty years, whose conduct as provost marshal here and in New York has connected his name with all that is detestable. There were confined the American prisoners taken at Brandywine and Germantown, many of whom died of starvation after feeling the lash of Cunningham’s whip, or the force of his heavy boot, and were buried in the Potter’s Field near by, now the beautiful Washington Square. It makes the blood curdle to read of the sufferings of those who fell under the sway of that monster, so devilish in all his ways. The miseries of others seemed to give him great delight; and often, in the sight of the starving prisoners, would he kick over a pail of soup, or scatter a basket of fruit or cold victuals which some benevolent hand had placed upon the door-stone with the hope that it might nourish the famished soldiers! We shall meet him hereafter as provost marshal in New York. Tradition says he was hung at Newgate, in England; but the records of that prison, examined by Mr. Bancroft, exhibit no such name.

Washington Square, the finest promenade in Philadelphia, was inclosed and set apart as a "Potter’s Field" – a place to bury strangers in – in 1704; and was used for that purpose until within the last thirty-five years. There a great multitude of soldiers, who died of the small-pox and camp diseases, were buried in 1776-7. It was indeed a Golgotha. Many of the bodies, buried in pits from twenty to thirty feet square, were piled upon each other, the topmost barely covered with earth. At least two thousand American soldiers were buried there within the space of eight months. The bodies of hundreds of victims of the yellow fever, in 1793, there found a resting-place. At that time, the ground being full, interments ceased. It was made a public walk in 1815; and that "city of the dead," shaded by sixty or seventy varieties of trees, is now traversed daily by thousands of the inhabitants of the teeming city of the living around it.

From Washington Square I walked to No. 13 South Sixth Street, to view the ancient edifice on the premises of the late P. S. Duponceau, Esq., mentioned by Watson, in his Annals, as the "Office of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs." 13 I was disappointed, for improvement had demolished the venerated building, and stately edifices, dedicated to traffic, occupied its place. Referring to this building, Mr. Watson observes: "It is a house appropriately owned by such a possessor [Duponceau]; for in it he who came as a volunteer to join our fortune, and to aid our cause, as a captain under Baron Steuben, became afterward one of the under secretaries to our minister of Foreign Relations, and in that building gave his active and early services. In the year 1782-3, under that humble roof, presided, as our then Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Honorable Robert R. Livingston. Up stairs, in the small front room facing the street, sat that distinguished personage, wielding, by his mind and pen, the destinies of our nation. In the adjoining back room sat the two under secretaries – Louis R. Morris, since governor of Vermont, 14 and our venerated citizen, Mr. Duponceau. These having charge of the archives of the nation, they preserved them all within the inclosure of a small wooden press! The only room down stairs, on the ground floor, was that occupied by the two clerks and the interpreter. One of these clerks, Mr. Henry Remsen, was afterward president of a bank in New York; 15 and the other, Mr. Stone, has been governor of Maryland. The translator was the Reverend Mr. Tetard, the pastor of the French Reformed Church." 16 The house, at that time, was quite beyond the verge of city population; now the site is near the center of business. There are other localities of lesser note, made memorable by events of the Revolution. I can not note them all, for other scenes of more general interest demand our attention. The curious in such matters may find a full reward in perusing Watson’s Annals of Philadelphia, which contain nearly all that is worth remembering of the past of that city.

The sites of many scenes of the Revolution are covered up and forgotten forever. I tried in vain to find some living person who could point out the localities of the intrenchments which Howe caused to be thrown up across the isthmus at Philadelphia, between the Delaware and the Schuylkill, and the place of the encampment of the British army when they first occupied the city. I am enabled, however, to point out those localities through the aid of a more reliable cicerone than tradition, a rare and valuable map of Philadelphia, 17 published in London in 1779, the year following the evacuation of that city by the British. It was drawn by competent engineers in the king’s service. It is upon the same scale as the plan of Philadelphia published in Tanner’s Atlas in 1843. By a careful comparison of the two I have obtained the following result, which I am satisfied is quite correct: The line of intrenchrnents from the Delaware to the Schuylkill extended from the mouth of Conoquonoque Creek, just above Willow Street, to the "Upper Ferry" on the Schuylkill, then nearly on a line with Callowhill Street. They consisted of ten redoubts, connected by strong palisades. The first redoubt, which was garrisoned by the Queen’s Rangers, under Simcoe, was near the junction of Green and Oak Streets, and then near the forks of the roads leading to Frankford and Kensington. The second redoubt was a little west of North Second and Noble Streets; the third, between North Fifth and Sixth, and Noble and Buttonwood Streets; the fourth, on Eighth Street, between Noble and Buttonwood; the fifth, on Tenth, between Buttonwood and Pleasant; the sixth, on Buttonwood, between Thirteenth and North Broad; the seventh, on North Schuylkill Eighth, between Pennsylvania Avenue and Hamilton Street; the eighth, on North Schuylkill Fifth and Pennsylvania Avenue; the ninth, on North Schuylkill Second, near Callowhill Street; and the tenth, on the bank of the Schuylkill, at the "Upper Ferry."

The encampment extended westward from North Fifth, between Vine and Callowhill, as far as North Schuylkill Second. The Hessian grenadiers were encamped between Callowhill, Noble, Fifth, and Seventh Streets. The fourth, fortieth, and fifty-fifth British grenadiers, and a body of fusileers, were on the north side of Callowhill, between Seventh and Fourteenth Streets. Eight regiments lay upon high ground, known as Bush’s Hills, extending from Fourteenth, nearly on a line with Vine, to the Upper Ferry. Near the redoubt at the Ferry was another body of Hessians. The Yagers, horse and foot, were encamped upon a hill near the junction of North Schuylkill Front and Pennsylvania Avenue. On the Ridge Road, near Thirteenth Street, and on Eighth, near Green, were corps of infantry. Light dragoons and three regiments of infantry were posted near a pond between Vine, Race, North Eighth, and Twelfth Streets. Gray’s, or "Lower Ferry," was at the grounds of the Naval Arsenal, on the Schuylkill. A little below the "Middle Ferry," at the foot of Chestnut Street, on the Schuylkill, was a fascine redoubt, and near it the seventy-first regiment was encamped. Some Yagers were stationed at the "Point House" (see map on page 92), opposite Gloucester. These localities, with those of the redoubts mentioned on page 104, were all out of the city; its extent then being from Christian Street on the south, to Callowhill Street on the north, or the boundary of Spring Garden. It was widest between Arch and Walnut Streets, where it extended from the Delaware to Ninth Street. 18

When winter set in, many of the troops, and all the officers, occupied the public buildings and houses of the inhabitants, also the old British barracks in the Northern Liberties. The artillery were quartered in Chestnut Street, between Third and Sixth Streets, and the State House yard was made a park for their use. During the winter, General Howe occupied a house on High Street, where Washington afterward resided; 19 his brother, Lord Howe, resided in Chestnut Street, in the building occupied by the Farmers and Mechanics Bank; General Knyphausen lived in South Second, opposite Little Dock Street; Cornwallis’s quarters were in Second, above Spruce Street; and Major Andrè dwelt in Dr. Franklin’s mansion in a court back from High Street. 20

As soon as the British had taken possession of Philadelphia, they erected three batteries near the river, to protect the city against the American shipping. 21 Before the batteries were finished, Commodore Hazlewood ordered the Delaware and Montgomery frigates, each of twenty-four guns, and the sloop Fly, some galleys and gondolas, to move near and attack them. On the morning of the 27th of September [1777.], they opened a cannonade upon the works. The Delaware grounded, at the falling of the tide, near the present Upper Ferry to Camden from Kensington, and, before she could be got off, the guns of the British batteries compelled her colors to be struck. A schooner was driven ashore, and the remainder of the vessels escaped down the river. The affair was badly managed, and disaster followed. These batteries, as well as the lines of fortifications from the Delaware to the Schuylkill, have long since passed away.

During the occupation of the city, the enemy were annoyed by the patriots in various ways. In January, some Whigs at Bordentown sent a number of kegs down the Delaware, which were filled with powder, and furnished with machinery, in such a manner that, on rubbing against any object in the stream, they would immediately explode. These torpedoes were the invention of Mr. Bushnell, of Connecticut, and will be noticed hereafter. They were intended for the destruction of the British shipping then lying in the river opposite Philadelphia. It so happened that, on the very night when these kegs were sent down, the vessels were hauled into the docks to avoid the effects of the ice then rapidly forming. They thus escaped mischief. One of these kegs exploded near the city, and spread general alarm. Not a stick or chip floated for twenty-four hours afterward but it was fired at by the British troops. This battle of the kegs furnished the theme for a facetious poem from the pen of Francis Hopkinson, Esq., one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. 22

On the night of the Mischianza, while the enemy were enjoying the festivities of the fête, Colonel Allen M‘Lane, father of one of our ministers to the court of St. James, devised a stratagem to break them up. At ten o’clock he reached the abatis in front of the British works with one hundred and fifty men, in four divisions, supported by Clow’s dragoons. They carried camp-kettles filled with combustibles, and at a given signal they fired the whole line of abatis. The British beat the long alarm roll, and the assailants were attacked and pursued by the strong guard along the lines. The officers at the fête managed to keep the ladies ignorant of the cause of the tumult without. M‘Lane and his associates escaped to the hills of the Wissahicon, and bent their way toward Valley Forge. This was the last time the British felt the annoyance of the patriots while in Philadelphia; for they soon afterward evacuated the city, crossed the Delaware, and marched for New York. We shall overtake them on the plains of Monmouth.

Germantown, Whitemarsh, Barren Hill, and Valley Forge, lying within a short distance of Philadelphia, are all intimately connected, in their Revolutionary history, with the city, particularly in relation to its possession and final evacuation by the British in 1777-8. We will proceed to these interesting localities, after considering, for a moment, the patriotism of the women of Philadelphia, which beamed out, clear as Hesperus, at the darkest hour of the struggle for freedom.

In the summer of 1780 the distress of the American army was very great, on account of the scarcity of clothing, and the inadequate means possessed by the commissary department to afford a supply. The generous sympathies of the ladies of Philadelphia were aroused, and they formed an association for the purpose of affording relief to the poor soldiers. Never was the energy of genuine sympathy more nobly exercised than by the patriotic women who joined hands in this holy endeavor.


Mrs. Esther Reed, the wife of General Joseph Reed, though feeble in health, and surrounded by family cares, entered with hearty zeal into the service, and was, by the united voice of her associates, placed at the head of the society. 23


Mrs. Sarah Bache, daughter of Dr. Franklin, was also a conspicuous actor in the formation of the association, and in carrying out its plans. All classes became interested, and the result was glorious. "All ranks of society seemed to have joined in the liberal effort, from Phillis, the colored woman, with her humble seven shillings and sixpence, to the Marchioness De La Fayette, who contributed one hundred guineas in specie, 24 and the Countess De Luzerne, who gave six thousand dollars in Continental paper. 25 Those who had no money to contribute gave the service of their hands in plying the needle, and in almost every house the good work went on. It was charity in its genuine form, and from its purest source – the voluntary outpourings from the heart. It was not stimulated by the excitements of our day – neither fancy fairs or bazars; but the American women met, and, seeing the necessity that asked interposition, relieved it. They solicited money and other contributions directly and for a precise and avowed object. They labored with their needles, and sacrificed their trinkets and jewelry." 26 The Marquis De Chastellux, who was in Philadelphia while these efforts were in progress, was delighted with the event. In describing a visit to several of the American ladies, he says, "We began by Mrs. Bache. She merits all the anxiety we had to see her, for she is the daughter of Mr. Franklin. Simple in her manners, like her respectable father, she possesses his benevolence. She conducted us into a room filled with work, lately finished by the ladies of Philadelphia. This work consisted neither of embroidered tambour waistcoats, nor net-work edgings, nor of gold and silver brocade – it was a quantity of shirts for the soldiers of Pennsylvania. The ladies bought the linen from their own private purses, and took a pleasure in cutting them out and sewing them themselves. On each shirt was the name of the married or unmarried lady who made it, and they amounted to twenty-two hundred." 27 The results of this effort were great and timely. The aggregate amount of contributions in the city and county of Philadelphia was estimated at seven thousand five hundred dollars in specie value. Added to this was a princely donation from Robert Morris of the contents of a ship fully laden with military stores and clothing, which had unexpectedly arrived. 28 During the cold winter that followed, hundreds of poor soldiers in Washington’s camp had occasion to bless the women of Philadelphia for their labor of love.

On the morning of the 29th of November [1848.], I left Philadelphia for Germantown, about six miles distant, accompanied by Mr. Agnew, who journeyed with me to Whitemarsh, Barren Hill, Valley Forge, and Paoli. It was a delightful morning, the air a little frosty. The road from the city to its ancient suburban village passes through a pleasant, undulating country, and was swarming with vehicles of every kind a greater portion of the way. The village of Germantown extends along a fine Macadamized road for nearly three miles, having no lateral streets, and, though so near a great commercial city, few places in the United States present more striking appearances of antiquity. Twenty or thirty of the low, steep-roofed, substantial stone houses, with quaint pent-eaves and ponderous cornices, built by the early inhabitants, yet remain, and produce a picturesque feature in the midst of the more elegant modern mansions of a later generation. 29 It was first laid out and a settlement commenced under a grant to Francis Daniel Pastorius in 1684. He purchased six thousand acres from William Penn, and the whole was settled by Germans. James Logan, the confidential secretary of Penn, had a favorite country house upon a hill at the southern end of the village, which is still called Logan’s Hill. 30

In various ways the history of Germantown is intimately connected with that of Philadelphia, particularly at the time of the Revolution. It was then the residence of several men distinguished in the annals of the war; and in 1793, when the yellow fever was raging in Philadelphia, the officers of both the state and federal governments resided there for a short time. President Washington occupied the mansion of the Perot family, where General Howe had his quarters at one time. Jefferson, who was secretary of state, occupied the building afterward the Bank of Germantown; and other officers of the general government were in private houses. The trustees of the Academy agreed to rent that edifice "to the Congress of the United States, at their next session, for the sum of three hundred dollars." The whole building was only eighty feet long and fifty wide, yet it was considered sufficiently large to accommodate the representatives of the nation at that time.


We proceeded to the north end of the village, and reined up at the entrance gate of "Chew’s House," the most noted and attractive relic of the Revolution now in Germantown. It stands back several rods from the street, on the east side, and is surrounded by noble trees and shrubbery in profusion. The house is a spacious stone edifice with ample wings. In various parts of the grounds were the mutilated remains of several fine marble statues and vases, some standing, others lying upon the ground. They are evidences of the refined taste of its distinguished owner, Chief-justice Chew, 31 and at the same time melancholy mementoes of the destructive character of war. These fine specimens of sculpture were all perfect before the conflict known as the Battle of Germantown occurred; they were battered, broken, and cast down by the cannon-balls hurled on that occasion. We passed an hour with the venerable present owner of the mansion, the widow of a son of Chief-justice Chew. She received us with much courtesy, and seemed to take pleasure in leading us to various parts of the grounds. The walls of the large room on the south are covered with old paintings, chiefly family portraits, many of them by eminent artists, and possessing much merit. Mrs. Chew showed me several mementoes of the battle, among which are the scars seen at the head of the great stair-case, which were made by the passage of a cannon-ball through the house. In the stable we saw the old doors of the mansion, completely riddled by musket-balls. Mrs. Chew informed us that the house was so much injured, that four or five carpenters were employed a whole winter in repairing it.

The battle of Germantown was fought on the morning of the 4th of October, 1777. Defeated on the banks of the Brandywine [September 11, 1777.], Washington retreated, with his whole army, back to Philadelphia, and encamped at Germantown. As soon as his soldiers were rested and refreshed, 32 he recrossed the Schuylkill [September 16.], and marched to oppose the army of Howe, then pressing on toward Philadelphia. The two armies met near the Warren Tavern, on the Lancaster road, within twenty miles of the city. Washington made preparations to attack the left wing of the enemy, and an engagement was about to take place a little north of the Goshen meeting-house, when a violent storm of rain came on suddenly, wet the powder of both parties, and prevented a conflict. The storm continued all night, and before dawn the enemy left their position, and moved down the road leading to Swedes Ford. Perceiving this, Washington crossed the Schuylkill above them at Parker’s Ford, hoping to be able to confront them while on their passage of the river. Howe did not cross, but wheeled and made a rapid march up the right bank of the stream toward Reading. Supposing Howe’s design to be either to turn the right of his army, or to get possession of the American stores deposited at Reading. Washington moved his forces up the river near to Pottsgrove (now Pottstown), twenty miles above Norristown. Howe’s march seemed to have been a movement to deceive Washington; for, as soon as the latter moved to Pottsgrove, the former wheeled his army, marched rapidly down the river, crossed it at the Fatland Ford and vicinity (a little above Norristown), and pushed forward to Philadelphia [September 26, 1777.]. 33 That whole region of country, awed by the presence of the British army, was disaffected toward the American cause, and Washington could obtain no reliable information of the enemy’s movements. With correct intelligence, he probably would have foiled Howe by skillful maneuvers, and saved Philadelphia. 34

On first taking possession of Philadelphia, Howe stationed the main division of his army at Germantown. Washington encamped near Pennibecker’s mill, between Perkiomy and Skippack Creeks, about twenty miles from Philadelphia, where he remained until about the 1st of October, undetermined what movement to make next, when his forces were augmented by the arrival of troops from Peekskill on the Hudson, and a body of American militia. Advised of the weakened state of Howe’s army, in consequence of his detaching a portion for the purpose of reducing Billingsport, and Forts Mercer and Mifflin, on the Delaware, the commander-in-chief conceived a plan for attacking the main division at Germantown. The British line of encampment there crossed the village at right angles, at about the center, the left wing extending westward from the town to the Schuylkill. It was covered in front by the German chasseurs, some mounted, and some on foot. The right extended eastward from the village, and was covered in front by the Queen’s Rangers, a light corps under Lieutenant-colonel Simcoe. The center was posted in the town, and guarded by the fortieth regiment, and another battalion of light infantry was stationed about three fourths of a mile in advance.

At a council of officers called by Washington, it was arranged that the divisions of Sullivan and Wayne, flanked by Conway’s brigade, were to enter the town by the way of Chestnut Hill, while General Armstrong, 35 with the Pennsylvania militia, should fall down the Manatawny road by Van Deering’s mill, and get upon the enemy’s left and rear. The divisions of Greene and Stephen, flanked by M‘Dougall’s brigade, were to enter by making a circuit by way of the Lime-kiln road, at the market-house, and to attack the enemy’s right wing; and the Maryland and Jersey militia, under Generals Smallwood and Forman, were to march by the old York road and fall upon the rear of their right. Lord Stirling, with the brigades of Nash and Maxwell, were to form a reserve corps. 36

After dark, on the evening of the 3d of October, Washington, with his army, moved silently from his camp on Metuchen Hill, upon Skippack Creek, toward Germantown. He accompanied the column of Sullivan and Wayne in person. Small parties were sent out to secure every man who might give the enemy notice of his approach, and every precaution was taken to insure complete surprise. He tried to reach the British pickets at Chestnut Hill before daylight; but the roughness of the roads over which his army marched prevented, and it was almost sunrise when he emerged from the woods on that elevation. His approach had been discovered at early dawn by the British patrols, who gave the alarm. The troops were soon called to arms, and placed in battle order on Mount Airy, about a mile north of Chew’s house in Germantown. At seven o’clock Sullivan’s advanced party, drawn chiefly from Conway’s brigade, and led by that officer, fell upon the British pickets at Allen’s house, at Mount Airy, where they had two six-pounders, and drove them back to the main body near, which consisted chiefly of the fortieth regiment and a battalion of light infantry. Sullivan’s main body now left the road, moved to the right through the fields, formed in a lane leading from Allen’s house toward the Schuylkill, and joined in the attack with so much vigor and such overwhelming numbers, that the enemy, after a sharp engagement of twenty minutes, gave way, and fell back to the village, closely pursued by the victors. Colonel Musgrave, who commanded the British center, thus furiously attacked, threw himself, with five companies of the fortieth regiment, into Judge Chew’s large stone house, pictured on page 108, from which such a severe discharge of musketry was poured upon Woodford’s brigade, which was pursuing the flying enemy, that their progress was checked. The fire of the small arms of the patriots upon this refuge was quite ineffectual. General Reed, it is said, proposed to continue the pursuit of the remainder of the enemy, who were then in great confusion, and turning their faces toward Philadelphia; but General Knox, of the artillery, opposed the suggestion, as being against all military rule "to leave an enemy in a fort in the rear." "What!" exclaimed Reed, "call this a fort, and lose the happy moment!" They sought for Conway to decide the point, but he was not to be found. Knox’s opinion prevailed, and pursuit was abandoned.

A flag was now sent by a young man 37 to demand a formal and immediate surrender. The bearer was slain by a bullet when within musket-shot of the house. Cannons were now brought to bear upon the house by the artillery regiment of Maxwell’s brigade; but so strong were the walls and so courageous were the inmates, that it was found impossible to dislodge them. Attempts were made to set the house on fire, but without success. 38 Many of the Americans were killed in the assault, while scarcely a man of the garrison was wounded. The attempt to dislodge the enemy caused many of the American troops to halt, and brought back Wayne’s division, which had advanced far beyond the house. This totally uncovered Sullivan’s left flank, which was advancing toward the enemy’s left, and disconcerted all their plans.

While this attack on Chew’s house was in progress, General Greene had approached the enemy’s right wing, and routed the battalion of light infantry and the Queen’s Rangers. Turning a little to the right, he fell upon the left flank of the enemy’s right wing, and endeavored to enter the village, not doubting that the Pennsylvania militia under Armstrong, upon the right, and the militia of Maryland and New Jersey on the left, commanded by Smallwood and Forman, would execute the orders of the commander-in-chief, by attacking and turning the first left and the second right flank of the British army. Neither of these detachments performed their duty. The former arrived in sight of the German chasseurs, but did not attack them; while the latter appeared too late for co-operation with Greene’s movements. The golden opportunity was at that moment lost. The whole British army, as it appeared afterward, astonished at the valor of the assailants and ignorant of their numbers, were on the point of retreating, and had selected Chester, near the Brandywine, as the place of rendezvous; but General Grey, finding his left flank secure, marched with nearly the whole of the left wing, which was under the general command of Knyphausen, to the assistance of the center, then hard pressed in the village, where the Americans were gaining ground every moment. The battle now raged severely in Germantown, and for a while the issue was doubtful. Colonel Matthews, with a detachment of Greene’s column, composed of a part of Muhlenberg’s and Scott’s brigades from the left wing, advanced to the eastward of Chew’s house, assailed a party of English, took one hundred and ten prisoners, and drove the remainder before him into the town, whither he followed as far as the market-house. A thick fog, which began to form at daylight, now completely enveloped every thing, and the contending parties were unable to discover the movements of each other. Matthews, with his prisoners, was soon stopped at a breast-work near Lucan’s mills. At the same time, the right wing of the enemy, after discovering that they had nothing to fear from the Maryland and New Jersey militia, fell back, and completely surrounded Matthews and his party. This division of the enemy was composed chiefly of the fourth brigade, under General Agnew, and three battalions of the third. The prisoners were rescued; and Matthews, after a desperate defense, and when most of his officers and men were killed and wounded, was compelled to surrender, with his little remnant of about one hundred men. This event enabled two regiments from the enemy’s right to march to the relief of Musgrave in Chew’s house. These regiments attacked and repulsed a party of Americans who had just entered Germantown in flank. The patriots, unable to discern the numbers of the enemy on account of the intensity of the fog, retired precipitately, leaving a great many of their friends dead and wounded, but taking their artillery with them.

General Grey, now having absolute possession of the village, hastened to the aid of the right wing, which was engaged with the left of Greene’s column. Sullivan’s division, with a regiment of North Carolinians, commanded by Colonel Armstrong, and assisted by a part of Conway’s brigade, having driven the enemy to School-house Lane, in the center of Germantown, found themselves unsupported by other troops, and their ammunition exhausted. They could dimly perceive through the fog that the enemy were collecting in force on the right. At that moment, hearing the cry of a light horseman that the enemy had surrounded them, and perceiving the firing at Chew’s house, so far in the rear, the Americans became panic-stricken, and retreated with great precipitation. 39 The divisions under Greene and Stephen were the last that retreated, and these were covered by Count Pulaski and his legion. The prize of victory was abandoned at the moment when another effort might have secured it. 40

The battle of Germantown, which lasted two hours and forty minutes, was a very severe one, and the loss on both sides was great, considering the numbers engaged and the nature of the conflict. The amount of loss has been variously computed; that of the Americans was estimated by Washington, a fortnight after the battle, 41 at about one thousand men in killed, wounded, and missing. 42 There were fewer killed on the part of the British, the number probably not exceeding one hundred; while their whole loss, according to Howe’s official account of the affair, was, in killed, wounded, and missing, five hundred and thirty-five. 43 Among these were several valuable officers, the most distinguished of whom were General James Agnew 44 and Lieutenant-colonel Bird. Their remains lie inhumed together, in the south burying-ground at Germantown. Over their grave I saw a neat marble slab, erected to their memory by J. F. Watson, Esq., the annalist. In the north burying-ground the same gentleman has set up a stone over the graves of Captain Turner, of North Carolina, Major Irvine, and six soldiers of the American army, who were slain in the battle, and buried there together. General Nash, of North Carolina, 45 and Majors Sherburne and White, 46 the two aids of General Sullivan, were also among the slain.

Although the Americans were defeated, or rather retreated from almost certain victory, no blame was attached to the commander-in-chief and the general officers under his command. On the contrary, when Washington’s letter to Congress, describing the battle, was read [October 8, 1777.], that body passed a vote of thanks to him for his "wise and well-concerted attack upon the enemy’s army near Germantown," and to "the officers and soldiers of the army for their brave exertions on that occasion." A medal was also ordered to be struck and presented to General Washington. 47 It was never executed.

Lord Cornwallis sped to the succor of the British camp at Germantown as soon as intelligence of the attack upon it reached General Howe. He took with him a corps of cavalry and grenadiers; but when he arrived, the Americans had left, and retired to their camp on Skippack Creek. There Washington remained until the 29th [October, 1777.], when a council of war was held, 48 and the next day he removed, with the whole army under his command, to the range of hills about three fourths of a mile northeast from the village of Whitemarsh, where he intended to go into winter quarters. Thither we also went on leaving Germantown at noon.


Whitemarsh is situated in a beautiful little valley north of Chestnut Hill, about fourteen miles from Philadelphia, and six from Mount Airy, the upper part of Germantown. The sun glowed warm and bright at midday, and as we passed over Chestnut Hill it revealed many little hamlets in every direction, half hidden behind variegated groves. Descending the northern slope of Chestnut Hill, we passed through Whitemarsh village, and, turning eastward, passed over a lower ridge, crossed a narrow valley watered by the romantic Wissahicon, and skirting the base of a range of gentle, cultivated hills, and arrived at the spacious stone mansion, tottering with age and neglect, where Washington made his headquarters. The house stands upon the edge of a wet meadow, at the head of a fine valley, and was a sort of baronial hall in size and character when Elmar, its wealthy owner at the time of the Revolution, dispensed hospitality to all who came under its roof. It is sixty feet long, twenty-five feet wide, and two stories high. Through the center is a broad passage some fifteen feet wide. The old steps are of fine soap-stone, neatly wrought, and in many particulars the building exhibits marks of former elegance. In front, seen by the rough trees on the right, is the ruin of Elmar’s ancient spring-house; and just below it is a modern one, in which bubbles up a large fountain of pure water. An old thatched barn near by is said to be a cotemporary of the mansion in its earliest days. At the western gable of the house is a high bean or catalpa tree, the trunk of which measures fifteen feet in circumference. The present owner is Mr. John Fitzwater. With a little care and trifling expense, that venerated house might be preserved a century longer. Its roof was falling in when I visited it, and in a few years its stones will doubtless occupy mean places in the foundation of a more elegant modern mansion, or the partition walls of cultivated fields.

The American encampment was upon the hills north of Elmar’s mansion, its right wing resting upon Wissahicon Creek, and its left upon Sandy Run. Near Mather’s mill the remains of one of the redoubts are still quite prominent, and in various places in the vicinity may be seen vestiges of the chimneys of numerous huts of log and stone erected by the Americans. Here commenced those sufferings of the soldiers which became so intense during the winter at Valley Forge. Their chief privation was a want of shoes and other clothing. On the 22d of November [1777.], Washington, in general orders, offered a reward of ten dollars to any person who should, by nine o’clock on the morning following, produce the best substitute for shoes made of raw hides. The commissary of hides was to furnish the materials, and the major general of the day was to "judge of the essays, and assign the reward to the best artist." I have seen no record of the result. Raw-hide shoes were worn by a few soldiers on their march to Valley Forge.

Several expeditions were suggested and planned, but a want of shoes rendered a large portion of the army unfit for marching. A council of war was called on the 25th of November, to consider the propriety of making an attack upon Philadelphia while Cornwallis was absent in New Jersey, whither he had gone to take possession of Red Bank and the neighboring region. The decision of the council was a negative, and the scheme was abandoned. Early in December, the enemy attempted to surprise Washington in his camp, but success was denied them by the patriotic service of Lydia Darrah of Philadelphia, noticed on page 95 {original text has 301.}. The British appeared upon Chestnut Hill, about three miles from Washington’s camp, at dawn on the morning of the 5th of December [1777.]. As soon as their position was discovered, the Pennsylvania militia were ordered out to skirmish with their light advanced parties. Brigadier-general Irvine, who led the detachment, was wounded and made prisoner. On the next day (Friday) the enemy changed ground, and approached within a mile of the American lines, where they remained until Sunday, when they moved further to the left, and seemed to be preparing for a general attack. Their advanced and flanking parties were warmly attacked by Colonel Morgan and his rifle corps, and Colonel Gist with the Maryland militia. The battle was quite severe. Twenty-seven men in Morgan’s corps were killed and wounded, besides Major Morris, a brave and gallant officer, who was badly maimed. Sixteen or seventeen of the Maryland militia were wounded. 49 The loss of the enemy was considerable. On Monday, the 8th [December, 1777.], when the movements of the British gave Washington every reason to believe that an immediate attack was to be made, he was surprised to perceive them, instead of advancing, commence a precipitate march, by two routes, for Philadelphia. As their adjutant remarked to Mrs. Darrah, they had been on a fool’s errand and accomplished nothing. "I sincerely wish," wrote Washington to the president of Congress, "that they had made an attack, as the issue, in all probability, from the disposition of our troops and the strong situation of our camp, would have been fortunate and happy. At the same time, I must add, that reason, prudence, and every principle of policy, forbade us from quitting our post to attack them." General Howe, in his dispatches, said, "They were so strongly intrenched that it was impossible to attack them." They had no other intrenchments than two small redoubts, one on each hill near the head-quarters. Three days afterward Washington broke up his encampment at Whitemarsh, and, in the midst of a deep snow, marched to the Schuylkill, crossed it at Swedes’ Ford, and established his winter quarters at Valley Forge. Hundreds of the soldiers made that dreary march of nineteen miles with bare feet, and the pathway of the patriot army might have been traced all the way by hundreds of foot-marks in the snow stained with blood. 50 Let us follow them thither, and in the head-quarters of the chief, which stands near the banks of the Schuylkill, sit down and ponder upon the wondrous love of country which kept that suffering army together during the winter and spring of 1778.


We left Whitemarsh at about two o’clock for the Schuylkill, passing, on our way, over Barren Hill, the scene of a skillful military movement by La Fayette, with a body of Americans, in May, 1778. Barren Hill is a small village lying upon the western slope of a rough eminence, about four miles west of Whitemarsh. From its summit a fine view of the surrounding country may be obtained. There, on the right of the road leading toward the Schuylkill from Chestnut Hill to Conshohocken (Matson’s Ford), is the old Lutheran church which La Fayette occupied as quarters during his brief tarry on the hill. According to an inscription upon a tablet in the western gable, its title is "St. Peter’s," and the time of erection 1761. By the road-side near the church is a quaint-looking school-house, covered with stucco. The church, the school-house, and two strong stone houses composed this settlement, then in the wilderness, when La Fayette made it his point of observation, and out-maneuvered General Grant. Within the old church-yard, sitting upon a recumbent sand-stone slab, with half-effaced inscription, I made this sketch; and here let us open the record and receive instruction from the chronicler.

As this is the first time in the course of our journey that we have met La Fayette as commander-in-chief of an expedition, it is a proper place to consider the circumstances attending his espousal of the cause of freedom, and his connection with the American Continental army. He was a young man, not yet nineteen years old, when our Declaration of Independence went over the seas, and commanded the admiration of thinkers in the Old World. La Fayette was of noble ancestry. He had just married the Countess Anastasia de Noailles, daughter of the Duke De Noailles, a lady of great personal beauty, immense fortune, and brilliant accomplishments. 51 When the story of America’s wrongs, and of her holy struggle for the right, just begun, reached his ears, it inflamed his young heart with the most passionate sympathy, and an ardent desire to aid them with his purse and sword. 52 He openly espoused the cause of the patriots, and resolved to hasten to their support. Not all the blandishments of rank and fortune, the endearments of conjugal love, made doubly so by promise of offspring, nor the sad tales of reverses to the American arms at the close of 1776, which every vessel from our shores carried to Europe, could repress his zeal or deter him from the execution of his noble purpose. He had just offered his services to Silas Deane, one of the American commissioners at Paris, 53 when the news arrived that the remnant of the American army, reduced to two thousand insurgents, as they were called, had fled toward Philadelphia through the Jerseys, before an army of thirty thousand British regulars. This news frustrated all the plans of Deane for the moment, for it utterly destroyed the little credit which America then had in Europe. Franklin arrived at this juncture, and was greatly pleased with the young marquis and the disinterested zeal which he exhibited, but honestly advised him to abandon his design until better hope for success should appear. But this candid advice was of no avail. The commissioners had not sufficient credit to command the means to fit out a vessel for the purpose of conveying the marquis and his friends, with arms, ammunition, and stores. La Fayette offered to purchase a ship with his own funds. "Hitherto," he said, in the spirit of true heroism, "I have only cherished your cause; now I am going to serve it. The lower it is in the opinion of the people, the greater effect my departure will have; and since you can not get a vessel, I shall purchase and fit out one, to carry your dispatches to Congress and me to America." 54 He went over to London, and mingled freely with the leading politicians there. He danced at the house of Lord George Germaine, the minister for the affairs of America, and at the house of Lord Rawdon, who had just returned from New York, paid his personal respects to the king, and met, at the opera, General Clinton, whom he was afterward to meet on the field of battle at Monmouth. 55 While he concealed his intentions of going to America, he openly avowed his sentiments; often defended the Americans; rejoiced at their success at Trenton; and his opposition spirit obtained for him an invitation to breakfast with Lord Shelburne. He refused invitations to visit sea-ports where vessels were fitting out against the Americans, for he was unwilling to do aught that might afterward be construed into an abuse of confidence. 56

LA FAYETTE IN 1777. 57

From a French Print.

After remaining three weeks in England, La Fayette returned to France, but not to Paris. Information had gone abroad that he was fitting out a vessel for America, at Bordeaux. It was not good policy for the government to allow it. He proceeded to Passy, then the residence of Dr. Franklin, where he found the Baron De Kalb. He remained concealed in the baron’s house a few days, and then proceeded to Bordeaux. His vessel was not ready but he felt it necessary to sail immediately. He left Bordeaux toward the close of February, and proceeded to Passage, a Spanish port, where he awaited the receipt of the ship’s papers. There two officers reached him, with an order from the king (lettre de cachet) prohibiting his departure, and commanding him to repair to Marseilles. He was charged by ministers with violating his oath of allegiance, and by his family with conduct calculated to bring ruin on himself and them. His young wife, however, did not join in their reproaches; she approved of his project, and urged him to persevere.

La Fayette obeyed orders, and returned to Marseilles. He pleaded the justice of the cause in which the Americans were engaged; their declared independence as a people, and various precedents which might justify his course, and petitioned for leave to proceed. His pleadings were in vain, and he resolved to risk the displeasure of his king. Stealthily making his way back to Passage, he set sail with a favorable wind, accompanied by De Kalb, and eleven other French, German, and Polish officers, who were about seeking service in America. He arrived safely at Georgetown, in South Carolina, on the 19th of April, after a boisterous passage of seven weeks, where he and his company were entertained by Major Huger, who provided horses to convey them to Charleston. His vessel likewise was taken to Charleston harbor. 58

Although the French government secretly favored the plans of La Fayette, as it had not yet publicly expressed even a friendly intention toward America, policy required that it should act in seeming good faith toward Great Britain, with which it was then on terms of amity. Vessels were accordingly dispatched to the West Indies to intercept La Fayette. The marquis apprehended this movement, and avoided the islands in his voyage. His proceedings, in opposition to positive orders, were rash; for the loss of all his property in France, and an indefinite term of imprisonment, might have been the consequence had he been arrested on the high seas. In the face of all this immediate and prospective danger, he resolutely persevered, and the French government winked at his disobedience.

La Fayette and his companions traveled by land from Charleston to Philadelphia. When arrived at the latter place, he put his letters into the hands of Mr. Lovell, the chairman of the committee of Congress on foreign affairs. The next day his papers were handed back to him by Mr. Lovell, with the remark that so many foreigners had offered themselves for employment that Congress was embarrassed with their applications, and he was sorry to inform him that there was very little hope of his success. The marquis was convinced that his papers had not been read. He immediately sent a note to the president of Congress, in which he asked permission to serve in the Continental army upon two conditions; first, that he should receive no pay; secondly, that he should act as a volunteer. These conditions were so different from those demanded by other foreigners, that they were at once accepted by Congress. Although he was not yet twenty years of age, the peculiar position in which his wealth, fervent zeal, and social eminence at home, placed him before the American people, gave him great importance, and on the 31st of July [1777.] Congress appointed him a major general in the Continental army. This appointment was considered by Congress as merely honorary, but such was not the intention of the recipient, as subsequent events will show. 59

Washington arrived in Philadelphia soon after La Fayette’s appointment, and they were first introduced to each other at a dinner party, where several members of Congress were present. When they were about to separate, Washington took the marquis aside, complimented him upon the noble spirit he had manifested toward the cause of the Americans, and invited him to become a member of his military family. His kind invitation was joyfully accepted, and while he remained in America the closest intimacy existed between La Fayette and the commander-in-chief. The marquis joined the army, and continued in it as a volunteer, without any command, until the battle on the Brandywine [September 11, 1777.], two months afterward, where we shall meet him presently fighting with all the zeal of a champion of liberty.

La Fayette was anxious to have a command suitable to the rank which his commission conferred; but Congress, fearing his appointment to the command of a division might excite the jealousy of American officers, had withheld the coveted honor from the marquis. Washington repeatedly suggested the expediency of a different course; but it was not until the 1st of December that the wishes of La Fayette were gratified. On that day Congress resolved, "That General Washington be informed it is highly agreeable to Congress that the Marquis De La Fayette be appointed to the command of a division in the Continental army." 60 Three days afterward [December 4.] it was proclaimed, in public orders, that he was to take command of the division recently under General Adam Stephen, who, as we have seen, was dismissed from the army. 61

La Fayette was engaged in various important services during the winter and spring of 1778, while the American army was at Valley Forge; and about the middle of May we find him on Barren Hill, our present point of view. Intelligence had reached Washington in his camp that the British were making preparations to evacuate Philadelphia. They were frequently sending out foraging parties between the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers; and on the 7th of May an expedition went up the Delaware to destroy all the American shipping between Philadelphia and Trenton. Forty-four American vessels were burned; a considerable quantity of provisions and stores were destroyed, and a number of the inhabitants killed and wounded. To restrain these depredations; to cut off all communication in that direction between the country and Philadelphia; to obtain correct information concerning the movements of the enemy; and to be ready to follow with a considerable force immediately in the rear of the British army, when it should leave Philadelphia, Washington detached La Fayette, with about twenty-one hundred troops and five pieces of cannon, across the Schuylkill on the 18th of May [1778.]. He took post at Barren Hill (nearly twelve miles from Valley Forge), a little west of the church. It was a position skillfully chosen. On his right were rocky ledges of considerable extent, and the Schuylkill; on his left were thick woods, several strong stone houses, and the substantial stone church seen in the engraving. His cannon were placed in front; and at about three hundred yards in advance of the left wing were Captain M‘Lane’s company and fifty Indians. Picket-guards and videttes were stationed upon the woods leading to Philadelphia, and six hundred Pennsylvania militia were posted near Whitemarsh. The church was at the forks of the road, one branch of which led to Valley Forge, by the way of the Swedes’ Ford, and the other to Matson’s Ford. 62

La Fayette at first quartered at the house of a Tory Quaker, who sent a messenger with the information to Sir Henry Clinton, then in the chief command of the British army in Philadelphia, Howe having returned to England. Clinton immediately formed a plan for surprising La Fayette. On the night of the 19th [May, 1778.], he sent out a detachment of five thousand of his choicest troops, under General Grant, assisted by Sir William Erskine. They marched toward Frankford, and at dawn the next morning turned toward the left, passed Whitemarsh, and proceeded on the road leading to Swedes’ Ford, to a position in the rear of the Americans. Another strong force, under General Grey, crossed to the western bank of the Schuylkill, and took post about three miles below Barren Hill while Sir Henry Clinton led, in person, a third division through Germantown, and before daylight halted on Chestnut Hill.

The situation of La Fayette was now critical. Owing to the disobedience of orders on the part of the militia, on leaving Whitemarsh, General Grant’s approach was undiscovered, and the little band of Americans were nearly surrounded by a greatly superior force before they were aware of their danger. Early in the morning, scarlet coats were seen through the trees in the distant forest; and an officer, sent by La Fayette to reconnoiter, came back in haste with the information that a large British force was on the road leading from Whitemarsh to Swedes’ Ford, a little more than a mile from his encampment. The marquis at once comprehended the full extent of the danger, and a skillful maneuver was instantly conceived. He changed his front without disorder, stationed a large party in the church-yard, around which was a strong wall, 63 and drew up the remainder in such a manner as to be protected by the stone houses and thick woods. Ascertaining that the only road leading to Swedes’ Ford was in possession of the enemy, he resolved to retreat to Matson’s Ford, although the distance from his position was greater than from that of Grant. The road lay along the southern slope of hills, and was concealed by woods from the view of the enemy. The marquis dispatched several small parties through the woods, with orders to show themselves, at different points, as heads of columns, that the enemy might be deceived into the belief that he was marching to an attack. The maneuver was successful; and, while General Grant was halting, and preparing troops to meet these supposed attacks upon his flank, the Americans made a quick march to Matson’s Ford – General Poor 64 leading the advanced guard, and the marquis bringing up the rear. The heads of columns, who had deceived General Grant, gradually fell back and joined in the retreat, and the whole army arrived at the ford in safety. They crossed the Schuylkill with their artillery, took possession of the high grounds on the west side of the river, and formed in the order of battle. General Grant had marched to the church on Barren Hill, where he joined the division under Clinton, and discovered, with mortified pride, that he had been outmaneuvered by the "stripling Frenchman." It was too late to overtake the retreating patriots; the British pursued them as far as the ford, but, finding it impossible to cross over, they wheeled, and returned, disappointed and chagrined, to Philadelphia. In a skirmish with the enemy’s advanced parties at the ford, while the artillery was crossing, the Americans lost nine men killed and taken. The British lost two light horsemen killed, and several wounded. La Fayette and his troops marched back to the camp at Valley Forge, where they were greeted with the most enthusiastic congratulations.

It was almost sunset when we left the old church-yard on Barren Hill and departed for Conshohocken 65 (Matson’s Ford), on the Schuylkill, where we intended to pass the night. Although four miles distant, we could see the smoke of its furnaces ascending above the intervening hill-tops, and marring the placid beauty of the western sky, where a thin purple haze fringed the horizon, and half hid the crescent moon and its more sprightly neighbor on the occasion, the belted Jupiter. That whole region abounds in iron; and all the way from Barren Hill to the Schuylkill, large heaps of ore, dug from near the surface, were piled. In many places the road was literally paved with iron ore lying in small fragments upon the surface. It was quite dark when we arrived at the village, and it was with some difficulty that we made our way along a steep road to the "hotel," a tavern near the river bank, kept by a good-natured Dutchman. He was so well patronized by the coal-heavers and workmen in the furnaces, that not a single bed was in reserve for strangers; so we were obliged to ride on to Norristown, four miles further up the stream, for supper and lodgings. As we thridded our way among the "fiery furnaces," belching huge volumes of ruddy flame, and observed the rushing rail-way train sweeping along the river brink, while the din of hammers, and bellows, and voices of busy men was rife on every side, I contrasted the past and present, and, in a degree, realized the wonderful strides of progress in our country. Here, where a numerous population are plying the tireless fingers of industry in the creation of substantial wealth, and spreading pleasant dwellings along the banks of the rapid Schuylkill, there was only the solitary hut of a hunter, deserted more than half the year, when La Fayette made his admirable retreat across the river toward Valley Forge. And far more suggestive of true greatness and glory were the noises of these work-shops than the trumpet-notes and clangor of battle.

"The camp has had its day of song;

The sword, the bayonet, the plume
Have crowded out of rhyme too long
The plow, the anvil, and the loom.
Oh, not upon our tented fields
Are Freedom’s heroes bred alone;
The training of the work-shop yields
More heroes true than war has known.

"Who drives the bolt, who shapes the steel,
May, with a heart as valiant, smite,
As he who sees a foeman reel
In blood before his blow of might!
The skill that conquers space and time.
That graces life, that lightens toil,
May spring from courage more sublime
Than that which makes a realm its spoil."

After losing our way in the gloom, and making quite a circuitous journey, we found the "pike," a fine Macadamized road leading from Philadelphia to Norristown, and reached the latter place at about eight o’clock. 66 I was informed that traces of the breast-works thrown up here by Duportail, by order of Washington, to prevent the passage of the British across the Swedes’ Ford, were yet quite prominent about half a mile below the village; and also that the Swedes’ Ford tavern, 67 directly opposite these intrenchments, was still in existence, though changed in appearance by additions. Being anxious to visit Valley Forge and Paoli the next day, we departed from Norristown too early in the morning to allow a view of these vestiges of the Revolution.



1 This view is from Second Street. The building is of imported brick, except the modern addition between the wings, which is now occupied as a clothing store by an Israelite. The house is suffered to decay, and doubtless the broom of improvement will soon sweep it away, as a cumberer of valuable ground.

2 Penn had a fine country residence, sometimes called "The Palace," in Bucks county, on the banks of the Delaware, nearly opposite Bordentown. It was constructed in 1683, at an expense of $35,000.

3 Memoirs, page 53.

4 Watson’s Annals of Philadelphia, i., 163.

5 Watson, i., 412.

6 See page 42.

7 General Howe’s quarters were in a house on High Street, one door east from the southeast corner of Sixth Street, where President Washington resided. Three houses, Nos. 192 to 194 High Street, now occupy the site of this mansion. This view is copied, by permission, from Watson’s Annals.

8 Mrs. Ellett’s Women of the Revolution, i., 171.

9 Washington, in a letter to Congress, dated "Whitemarsh, 10th December, 1777," mentions the fact that, on Thursday night previous, Howe, with all his force, left the city, and the next morning appeared on Chestnut Hill, in front of the American right wing. He says, "From a variety of intelligence, I had reason to expect that General Howe was preparing to give us a general action." Writing to Governor Livingston on the 11th, he says, Howe "came out with his whole force last Thursday evening, and, after maneuvering round us till the Monday following, decamped very hastily, and marched back to Philadelphia."

10 The following advertisement, which appeared in a Philadelphia paper while the British had possession of the city, will serve to show the impudent profligacy of some of the English officers at that time: "Wanted to hire with two single gentlemen, a young woman, to act in the capacity of housekeeper, and who can occasionally put her hand to any thing. Extravagant wages will be given, and no character required. Any young woman who chooses to offer, may be further informed at the bar of the City Tavern." – Watson’s Annals, ii., 288.

11 Major Andrè’s Description of the Mischianza.

12 This edifice was erected in 1774, and taken down in 1836. The beautiful new Athenæum occupies a portion of the ground on Sixth Street, and the remainder is covered by elegant dwellings. It is a singular fact that the architect who constructed it was the first person incarcerated in it. He was a Whig, and, having incurred the displeasure of the British, he was locked up in that prison. The Public Ledger of June 26th, 1837, gives an account of an armorial drawing, representing, in bold relief, a cuirass, casque, gorget, and Roman battle-ax, with radiating spears, which was made upon an arch of one of the second story cells, by Marshall, an English engraver, who was confined there for many years for counterfeiting the notes of the United States Bank. He was the son of the notorious "Bag and Hatchet Woman," of St. Giles’s, London, who followed the British army in its Continental campaigns, and gathered spoils from the slain and wounded on the field of battle. Those who were dead were readily plundered, and the wounded as readily dispatched. This woman and son were master-spirits in the purlieus of St. Giles’s, among robbers and counterfeiters. The gang were at length betrayed, and the parent and child fled to this country, bringing with them considerable wealth in money and jewels. They lived in splendid style in Philadelphia, riding in a gorgeous cream-colored phæton, drawn by richly-caparisoned horses, driven tandem. Their means were soon exhausted, when the son married, and commenced business as an engraver. He counterfeited notes of the United States Bank, was detected, and in 1803 was sentenced to eighteen years’ confinement and hard labor in the Walnut Street Prison, then the State Penitentiary. While he was in prison, his mother, who had wandered away from Philadelphia in poverty and destitution, was executed in another state for a foul murder and arson.

13 A picture of this building may be found on page 656 of this volume.

14 This is a mistake. Mr. Morris was never governor of Vermont. He was clerk of the lower branch of the Legislature of that state in 1790, and a member of Congress from 1797 to 1803.

15 Manhattan Bank.

16 Annals, i., 423.

17 This map is entitled, "A Plan of the City and Environs of Philadelphia, with the works and encampments of his majesty’s forces, under the command of Lieutenant-general Sir William Howe, K. B."

18 The following composed the entire number of public buildings in Philadelphia at that time: State House; Market; Jail; Work-house; Barracks, built in 1755; College and Academy; City Alms-house, Quakers’ Alms-house; two Quaker meeting-houses; Christ Church; Anabaptist meeting-house; Presbyterian meeting-house; German Lutheran Church; Roman Catholic Church; St. Paul’s Church; St. Peter’s Church; the Swedes’ Church; Quakers’ School-house; and a small city court-house. The hospital and play-house were in the unsettled part of the town.

19 See engraving, page 96. Watson has the following notice of the personal appearance of some of the British officers "SIR WILLIAM HOWE was a fine figure, full six feet high, and well proportioned, not unlike in his appearance to General Washington. His manners were graceful, and he was much beloved by his officers and soldiers for his generosity and affability. SIR HENRY CLINTON, his successor, was short and fat, with a full face and prominent nose. In his intercourse he was reserved, and not so popular as Howe. LORD CORNWALLIS was short and thick-set, his hair somewhat gray, his face well formed and agreeable, his manners remarkably easy and affable. He was much beloved by his men. GENERAL KNYPHAUSEN was much of the German in his appearance; not tall, but slender and straight. His features were sharp; in manners he was very polite. He was gentle, and much esteemed. He spread his butter upon his bread with his thumb! COLONEL TARLETON was rather below the middle size, stout, strong, heavily made, large muscular legs, dark complexion, and his eyes small, black, and piercing. He was very active. GENERAL HOWE, while in Philadelphia, seized and kept for his own use Mary Pemberton’s coach and horses, in which he used to ride about town." – Annals, ii., 287.

20 Mrs. Bache, daughter of Dr. Franklin, occupied his house when the enemy approached Philadelphia. She left the city, and took refuge with a friend in the country. After her return in July, she thus wrote to her father, who was then in France: "I found your house and furniture, upon my return to town, in much better order than I had reason to expect from the hands of such a rapacious crew. They stole and carried off with them some of your musical instruments, viz., a Welsh harp, ball harp, the set of tuned bells which were in a box, viol-de-gamba, all the spare armonica glasses, and one or two spare cases. Your armonica is safe. * They took likewise the few books that were left behind, the chief of which were Temple’s school-books, and the History of the Arts and Sciences in French, which is a great loss to the public. Some of your electric apparatus is missing; also, a Captain Andrè took with him a picture of you which hung in the dining-room."

* This was a musical instrument invented by Dr. Franklin. He saw, in London, a musical instrument, consisting of tumblers and played by passing a wet finger around their rims. The glasses were arranged on a table, and tuned by putting water in them until they gave the notes required. Franklin was charmed by the sweet tones, and, after many trials, succeeded in constructing an instrument of a different form, and much superior. His glasses were made in the shape of a hemisphere, with an open neck or socket in the middle, for the purpose of being fixed on an iron spindle. They were then arranged, one after another, on this spindle; the largest at one end, and gradually diminishing in size to the smallest at the other end. The tones depended on the size of the glasses. The spindle, with its series of glasses, was fixed horizontally in a case, and turned by a wheel attached to its large end, upon the principle of a common spinning-wheel. The performer sat in front of the instrument, and the tones were brought out by applying a wet finger to the exterior surface of the glasses as they turned round. It became quite a popular instrument. A Miss Cecilia Davies acquired great skill in playing upon it, and, with her sister, performed in various cities in Europe. She performed in the presence of the imperial court of Vienna at the celebration of the nuptials of the Duke of Parma and the Archduchess of Austria. Metastasio composed an ode for the occasion, expressly designed to be sung by her sister, and accompanied by the armonica. – Sparks’s Life of Franklin, page 264.

21 One of these, with three guns, was on the site of the present navy yard; another, with four guns, was below the navy yard, near Reed and Swanson Streets; another, with three guns, was in front of Wharton’s Mansion, upon an eminence below Front and Christian Streets.

22 Joseph Hopkinson, a son of Francis, was the author of "Hail Columbia," one of our most popular national songs. The following is a copy of


"Gallants attend, and hear a friend

Trill forth harmonious ditty;
Strange things I’ll tell, which late befell
In Philadelphia city.

"Twas early day, as poets say,
Just when the sun was rising,
A soldier stood on log of wood,
And saw a thing surprising.

"As in amaze he stood to gaze
(The truth can’t be denied, sir),
He spied a score of kegs, or more,
Come floating down the tide, sir.

"A sailor, too, in jerkin blue,
The strange appearance viewing,
First d----d his eyes, in great surprise,
Then said, ‘Some mischief’s brewing.

" ‘These kegs, I’m told, the rebels hold,
Pack’d up like pickled herring;
And they’ve come down t’ attack the town
In this new way of ferry’ng.’

"The soldier flew, the sailor too,
And, scared almost to death, sir,
Wore out their shoes to spread the news,
And ran till out of breath, sir.

"Now up and down, throughout the town,
Most frantic scenes were acted;
And some ran here, and others there,
Like men almost distracted.

"Some fire cried, which some denied,
But said the earth had quaked;
And girls and boys, with hideous noise,
Ran through the streets half naked.

‘Sir William
* he, snug as a flea,
Lay all this time a snoring;
Nor dream’d of harm as he lay warm
In bed with Mrs. L---ng.

"Now, in a fright, he starts upright,
Awaked by such a clatter;
He rubs both eyes, and boldly cries.
‘For God’s sake, what’s the matter?’

At his bed-side he then espied
Sir Erskine, at command, sir;
Upon one foot he had one boot,
And t’other in his hand, sir.

"Arise! Arise!’ Sir Erskine cries;
‘The rebels – more’s the pity –
Without a boat, are all afloat,
And ranged before the city.

"The motley crew, in vessels new,
With Satan for their guide, sir,
Pack’d up in bags, or wooden kegs,
Come driving down the tide, sir.

" ‘Therefore prepare for bloody war;
These kegs must all be routed;
Or surely we despised shall be,
And British courage doubted.’

"The royal band now ready stand,
All ranged in dread array, sir,
With stomach stout to see it out,
And make a bloody day, sir.

"The cannons roar from shore to shore,
The small-arms loud did rattle;
Since wars began I’m sure no man
E’er saw so strange a battle.

"The rebel dales, the rebel vales,
With rebel trees surrounded,
The distant woods, the hills and floods,
With rebel echoes sounded.

"The fish below swam to and fro,
Attack’d from every quarter;
Why sure (thought they), the devil’s to pay
’Mong folk above the water.

"The kegs, ’tis said, though strongly made
Of rebel staves and hoops, sir,
Could not oppose their powerful foes,
The conq’ring British troops, sir.

"From morn to night, these men of might
Display’d amazing courage,
And when the sun was fairly down,
Retired to sup their porridge.

"A hundred men, with each a pen,
Or more, upon my word, sir,
It is most true, would be too few,
Their valor to record, sir.

"Such feats did they perform that day
Against these wicked kegs, sir,
That, years to come, if they get home,
They’ll make their boasts and brags, sir."

* Sir William Howe.

The wife of a Boston refugee, who was then a commissary of prisoners in Philadelphia. He is represented by some as being second only to Cunningham in cruelty, while others speak of him as an honorable man.

Sir William Erskine.

23 Mrs. Reed was a daughter of Dennis de Berdt, a London merchant, and for some time agent for the colonies. De Berdt’s house was the resort of many Americans in England, among whom was Joseph Reed, who afterward became his daughter’s husband. They were married in London in 1770. Her father became a bankrupt, and died soon afterward. Esther accompanied her husband to America immediately after her marriage. The Revolution soon broke out, and, as Mr. Reed was an active participator in its earliest hostile scenes, the young wife and mother was kept, almost from her first residence in America, in a state of excitement and alarm. Fragile in body, and of nervous temperament, her health suffered; and, a few months after she became an active member of the association of ladies for the relief of the American army, she went down into the grave. She died on the 18th of September, 1780, aged thirty-four years.

24 La Fayette contributed this sum in the name of his wife. In his letter to Mrs. Reed inclosing the amount, he remarked, "Without presuming to break in upon the rules of your respected association, may I most humbly present myself as her embassador to the confederate ladies, and solicit in her name that Mrs. President be pleased to accept her offering."

M. De Marbois, the French secretary of legation, in a letter to Mrs. Reed on the occasion, said, "You have been chosen, madam, for that important duty, because, among them all, you are the best patriot, the most zealous and active, and most attached to the interests of your country."

25 Equal to nearly one hundred dollars in specie.

26 Mrs. Ellet’s Women of the Revolution, i., 53. Life and Correspondence of President Reed.

27 Travels in North America, i., 197. The marquis, in his account of his social intercourse in Philadelphia, mentions a visit to Mr. Huntington, the President of Congress. "We found him," he says, "in his cabinet, lighted by a single candle. This simplicity reminded me of that of the Fabricius’s and the Philopemens. Mr. Huntington is an upright man, and espouses no party." Mr. Duponceau relates that Mr. Huntington and himself often breakfasted together on whortleberries and milk. On one of these occasions Mr. H. said, "What now, Mr. Duponceau, would the princes of Europe say, could they see the first magistrate of this great country at his frugal repast?" – Watson, i., 424.

28 De Chastellux, speaking of Robert Morris, says, "It is scarcely to be credited that, amid the disasters of America, Mr. Morris, the inhabitant of a town just emancipated from the hands of the English, should possess a fortune of eight millions. It is, however, in the most critical times that great fortunes are acquired. The fortunate return of several ships, the still more successful cruises of his privateers, have increased his riches beyond his expectations, if not beyond his wishes." Morris lost as many as one hundred and fifty vessels, most of them without insurance, during the war; but, as many escaped, and made immense profits, his losses were made up to him. In a letter to a friend in England, Mr. Morris remarked that, notwithstanding he lost immense sums, he came out of the difficulties, at the peace, "about even."

Among the numerous clerks employed by Mr. Morris was James Rees, who entered his service in 1776, then a lad in his thirteenth year. Mr. Rees died at his residence in Geneva, New York, on the 24th of March, 1851, at the age of eighty-seven years.

29 Mr. Watson says (p. 19, vol. ii.), "Many of the old houses in Germantown are plastered on the inside with clay and straw mixed, and over it is laid a thin lime plaster. In a house ninety years of age, taken down, the grass in the clay appeared as green as when first cut. Oldmixon describes Germantown in 1700 as composed of one street, a mile in length, lined on each side, in front of the houses, with ‘blooming peach-trees.’

30 James Logan was the Indian’s friend, and, in remembrance of him, Shikellimus named his son Logan. Shikellimus was a Cayuga chief, and one of the converts to Christianity under the preaching of the Moravians. Logan became a chief among the Mingoes, and dwelt in the present Mifflin county, in Pennsylvania. He was a friend of the whites, but suffered dreadfully at their hands. His whole family were murdered on the Ohio, a little below Wheeling, by a band of white men who feigned friendship, in the spring of 1774. In the autumn of that year his consent was asked to a treaty with Lord Dunmore. On that occasion he made the following speech to the white messenger, which Mr. Jefferson has preserved: "I appeal to any white man to say, if ever he entered Logan’s cabin hungry, and he gave him no meat; if he ever came cold and naked, and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they passed, and said, ‘Logan is the friend of the white men.’ I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, * the last spring, in cold blood, and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not even sparing my women and children. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it. I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbor a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one!" – Notes on Virginia. See page 283.

* It has been satisfactorily demonstrated that Logan was mistaken in the name of the leader of those who slew his friends. This subject is noticed more in detail in a subsequent chapter. See page 283.

31 Benjamin Chew was born in Maryland, November 20th, 1722. He studied law first with Andrew Hamilton, and afterward in London. He went to Philadelphia in 1754, where he held the respective offices of recorder of the city, register of wills, attorney general, and finally became chief justice of Pennsylvania. His course was doubtful when the Revolution broke out, and he was claimed by both parties. After the promulgation of the Declaration of Independence, he took a decided stand against the Whigs, and retired to private life. In 1777 he refused to sign a parole, and was sent a prisoner to Fredericksburg, Virginia. In 1790 he was appointed president of the High Court of Errors and Appeals, and held that office until the abolition of the tribunal in 1806. He died on the 20th of January, 1810, aged nearly eighty-eight years. His father was the Honorable Samuel Chew, of Delaware, a member of the society of Friends. who was a judge and a physician.

32 The condition of the American soldiers was, at that time, deplorable, on account of a want of shoes. Washington, writing to the president of Congress on the 23d of September, says, "At least one thousand men are barefooted, and have performed the marches in that condition."

33 It was at this time that Washington wrote to Gates and Putnam to send on re-enforcements from the northern armies and the Highlands. See page 91.

34 On the approach of the British toward the Schuylkill, Congress, then in session in Philadelphia, adjourned to Lancaster, where they assembled on the 27th of September. They adjourned the same day to York, where they met on the 30th, and continued their sittings there until the British evacuated the city the following summer.

35 John Armstrong, a native of Pennsylvania, was a colonel in the provincial forces of that state during the French and Indian wars. He headed an expedition against the Indians at Kittaning in 1756, which destroyed that settlement, dispersed the savages, and took possession of the stores which the French had sent there for the use of their native allies. For this service the corporation of Philadelphia passed a vote of thanks to Armstrong and his three hundred men, and presented him with a medal and a piece of plate. He was appointed a brigadier general in the Continental army in 1776, and did gallant service in defense of Fort Moultrie, at Charleston, in the summer of that year. He was engaged in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown in the autumn of 1777. Becoming dissatisfied concerning some promotions in the army, he resigned his commission at the close of 1777, and became a member of Congress afterward. He died at Carlisle, March 9, 1795. He was the father of Major John Armstrong, the author of the "Newburg Addresses," whose life and character is noticed on page 674, vol. i.

36 Sparks, v., 78.

37 Lieutenant Mathew Smith, of Middlesex county, Virginia, who was an assistant of Colonel Timothy Pickering in the office of adjutant general.

38 Mrs. Chew informed me that, several years after the war, and soon after her marriage, while a young man named White was visiting her father-in-law, the old gentleman, in relating incidents of the battle in Germantown, mentioned the circumstance that a Major White, an aid of General Sullivan, and one of the handsomest men in the Continental army, attempted to fire the house for the purpose of driving out the British. He ran under a window with a fire-brand, where shots from the building could not touch him. He was discovered, and a British soldier, running into the cellar, shot him dead from a basement window. The young man was much affected by the recital, and said to Judge Chew, "That Captain White, sir, was my father." Mrs. Chew pointed out to us the window, near the northwest corner of the house, from which the shot was fired. De Chastellux says (i., 212) that M. Mauduit tried to fire the house with burning straw.

39 Sullivan’s letter to Mesheck Weare, president of New Hampshire, in the New York Historical Society; John Eager Howard’s letter to Timothy Pickering; Gordon; Botta; Ramsay; Marshall. The latter author was in Woodford’s brigade, and describes a portion of this battle from his own observation.

40 Washington said, in a letter to the president of Congress, written on the 7th of October, three days after the battle, "It is with much chagrin and mortification I add, that every account confirms the opinion I at first entertained, that our troops retreated at the instant when victory was declaring herself in our favor. The tumult, disorder, and even despair, which, it seems, had taken place in the British army, were scarcely to be paralleled; and, it is said, so strongly did the idea of a retreat prevail, that Chester was fixed on as a place of rendezvous. I can discover no other cause for not improving this happy opportunity than the extreme haziness of the weather." Writing, at the same time, to Governor Trumbull of Connecticut, Washington said, "But the morning was so excessively foggy, that we could not see the confusion the enemy were in, and the advantage we had gained; and fearing to push too far through a strong village, we retired, after an engagement of two hours, bringing off all our artillery with us. We did not know until after the affair was over how near we were to gaining a complete victory."

41 See letter to his brother, dated October 17th, 1777.

42 According to the report of the Board of War, the Americans lost in killed, 25 Continental officers, commissioned and non-commissioned; wounded, 102, and an equal number missing. The militia officers were 3 killed, 4 wounded, and 11 missing. Of rank and file Continentals, 109 were killed, and 378 wounded; militia, 7 killed, and 19 wounded; artillery officers, 2 killed, and 11 wounded; and matrosses, 6 killed, and 7 wounded. Total of killed, 152; of wounded, 521. Gordon says (ii., 234), "Upward of 400 were made prisoners, among whom were 54 officers." It may here be remarked that the missing men from the army were not necessarily included in the list of the killed, wounded, or prisoners; for many of those were soldiers who took such opportunities to go home.

43 Gordon says that, when the British left Germantown, some torn papers with figures on them were found upon a chimney hearth by the Americans. On putting the pieces together, it was found that they contained the returns of the number and rank of the British killed in the battle. The total was about 800.

44 The following account of the death of General Agnew I copied from a manuscript letter of Alexander Andrew, a servant of that officer, written to the wife of the general from Philadelphia, on the 8th of March, 1778. I give it as an illustration of the character and duties of a body-servant of a British officer at that time. This letter, and several written by Agnew himself to his wife at various times, are in the possession of his grandson, Henry A. Martin, M. D., of Roxbury, Massachusetts. From one of these I copied the annexed signature of General Agnew.


"Philadelphia, 8th March, 1778.

"DEAR MADAM, – Though an entire stranger to your ladyship, yet, as I had the honor to wait on your beloved husband for a considerable time, which induced me to take the liberty of writing unto you, which I look upon as a duty of mine to you in memory of a good master, to whom I owe many obligations, is and will be always ready and willing to serve any of his if ever in my power. Dear madam, I came into the army in place of a brother of mine, who was cunning enough to persuade me, young and foolish enough, to go in his place. I joined the 44th in ’72, then in Kilkenny, from which time I fancied Colonel Agnew took notice of me, and when the regiment embarked at Cork he took me to be his servant, with whom I had the honor to live very comfortably and happy until the day of his death. Being his principal servant, and the only one he ever would have to wait on him both in public and private, at home and abroad, and in all places wherever his person was exposed, I was there by his side, and an eye-witness to all his sufferings in Boston, in Halifax, Staten Island, Long Island, New York Island, on the expedition to Danberry, in the Jerseys, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and in three pitched battles, viz., 27th August, ’76, the 11th of September, and 4th of October, ’77, besides a number of skirmishes. On the expedition to Danberry, the general was knocked down by a ball, which left its mark for above a month. At the battle of Brandywine, the general had the misfortune to be grazed by a cannon-ball, but continued to head his brigade. It happened to be the last engaged that night, and, though he was very much indisposed, yet he commanded his gallant troops until they beat off and remained masters of the field. During the action the general remained at the head of the 64th, which regiment suffered more than any of the brigade. The army then proceeded to that unfortunate place called Germantown, the 4th of October being the particular and fatal day of which your ladyship has cause to remember and I have much reason to regret. But to let you know the particulars of that day. [Being between the hours of 9 and 12, as the brigade was following the 3d in an oblique advancing line, the general, with the piquet at their head, entered the town, hurried down the street to the left, but had not rode above 20 or 30 yards, which was to the top of a little rising ground, when a party of the enemy, about 100, rushed out from behind a house about 500 yards in front, the general being then in the street, and even in front of the piquet, and all alone, only me, he wheeled round, and, putting spurs to his horse, and calling to me, he received a whole volley from the enemy. The fatal ball entered the small of his back, near the back seam of his coat, right side, and came out a little below his left breast. Another ball went through and through his right hand. I, at the same instant, received a slight wound in the side, but just got off time enough to prevent his falling, who, with the assistance of two men, took him down, carried him into a house, and laid him on a bed, sent for the doctor, who was near. When he came he could only turn his eyes, and looked steadfastly on me with seeming affection. The doctor and Major Leslie just came in time enough to see him depart this life, which he did without the least struggle or agony, but with great composure, and calmness, and seeming satisfaction, which was about 10 or 15 minutes after he received the ball, and I believe between 10 and 11 o’clock. I then had his body brought to his former quarters, took his gold watch, his purse, in which was four guineas and half a Johannes, which I delivered to Major Leslie as soon as he came home. I then had him genteelly laid out, and decently dressed with some of his clean and best things; had a coffin made the best the place could produce. His corpse was decently interred the next day in the church-yard, attended by a minister and the officers of the 44th regiment.]

"He during his life, in his good-humors, often told me that he would do better for me than being in the army; but, having no certificate from under his hand, I was ordered to join the regiment, which I am sure I never would have done. With regard to his effects that were present with him, were equally divided among all the servants, every thing being delivered over by Major Leslie to Major Hope. Payne was cook, and came to the general in Boston; but the other man, Seymour, was only part of one campaign, though he received an equal proportion of every thing the same as me. Agen, even a pickt up negro received equal with me, who bore the burden and heat of the day, silver buckles excepted. Colonel Hope gave me them extraordinary as a reward (said he) for your good and faithful services to your master; and them I have, and am ready to part with them, if your ladyship or Captain Robert chuse to send for them. All the rest of the things which was in store has been all lately sold by vandue, ye, even two great-coats made for me and Payne almost a year ago, was sold, with several other things too tedious to mention, such as remains of cloth, stockings, &c.

"Dear madam, I beg you will excuse this liberty; and if your ladyship please to send me a few lines after the receival of this, I will be under a great obligation to you; and believe me to be, with sincerity and due respect, madam, your most obedient and humble servant while



45 Francis Nash was a captain in North Carolina in 1771, where he distinguished himself in the movements in the western part of the state known as the Regulator War. At the commencement of the Revolution, the convention of North Carolina commissioned him a colonel, and in February, 1777, he was commissioned by Congress a brigadier in the Continental army. When the intelligence of his death at Germantown reached that body, it was resolved to request Governor Caswell, of North Carolina, "to erect a monument of the value of 500 dollars, at the expense of the United States," in honor of his memory. Government neglected to do it; but private patriotism has been more faithful. See note *, page 469.

46 See note respecting his death at Chew’s house upon page 111.

47 General Adam Stephen was an exception. He was accused of "unofficer-like conduct" during the action and the retreat. He was found guilty of being intoxicated, and was dismissed from the army. General Stephen had been a meritorious Virginia officer in the colonial wars. He was a captain in the Ohio expedition in 1754. Afterward raised to the rank of lieutenant colonel, he was intrusted with the command of Fort Cumberland. He was left in command of the Virginia forces while Washington went to Boston on an official errand to Governor Shirley in 1755. He was afterward dispatched to South Carolina to oppose the Creek Indians. On his return, he was placed at the head of troops for the defense of the Virginia frontier, and was commissioned a brigadier. Congress appointed him a major general early in 1777, and he behaved well in the battle of Brandywine. Yielding to a bad habit, he fell into disgrace at Germantown. On the 3d of December, 1777, the Marquis De La Fayette was appointed to the command of General Stephen’s division.

48 Journals of Congress, iii., 335.

49 General Washington reported to that council that the troops under Sir William Howe at that time, who were stationed in Philadelphia and its immediate vicinity, fit for duty, numbered ten thousand rank and file; and that the force under his own command, and fit for duty, was eight thousand three hundred and thirteen Continental troops, and two thousand seven hundred militia. There were, in addition, seven hundred and fifty Continental troops at Red Bank and Fort Mifflin, and a detachment of three hundred militia on their way to re-enforce these posts. A body of five hundred militia were likewise on the other side of the Schuylkill. This was his whole force, and it was likely soon to suffer a diminution of nearly two thousand by the expiration of the term of service of Maryland and Virginia levies.

49 The Reverend Zachariah Greene, now (1854) living at Hempstead, Long Island, was wounded in this engagement, and carried to Washington’s quarters. Mr. Greene was the father-in-law of the late Mr. Thompson, the historian of Long Island.

50 Gordon says that, while at Washington’s table, in 1784, the chief informed him that bloody foot-prints were every where visible in the course of their march. Such was the distress of the soldiers from want of clothing, that Washington, as a last resort, authorized the proper officers to take by force, for the use of the army, such articles of clothing as the people refused to sell. It must be remembered that the people generally, throughout that section of Pennsylvania, were opposed to the patriots, and did every thing in their power to distress them.

51 La Fayette himself had an independent revenue of 200,000 livres – about $37,000.

52 In the summer of 1776, La Fayette was stationed on military duty at Mentz, being then, though only a little past eighteen years of age, an officer in the French army. The Duke of Gloucester, brother to the King of England, visited Mentz, and a dinner party was given to him by the commandant of that place. La Fayette was at the table. The duke had just received dispatches from England relating to the Declaration of Independence, the resistance of the colonies, and the strong measures adopted by the British ministry to crush the rebellion, and he made their contents the topic for conversation. The details were new to La Fayette, and he had a long conversation with the duke. The idea of a people fighting for liberty had a strong influence upon his imagination. He regarded their cause as just, their struggle noble, and from that hour his chivalrous enterprise was the chief burden of his thoughts. He returned to Paris, and there perfected his plans. – Sparks’s Life and Writings of Washington, v., 445.

53 When," says La Fayette, "I presented my boyish face to Mr. Deane, I spoke more of my ardor in the cause than my experience; but I dwelt much upon the effect my departure would excite in France, and he signed our agreements." – See Memoirs, written by himself. La Fayette was accompanied by the Baron De Kalb as interpreter. De Kalb had been commissioned by the Duke De Choiseul to proceed to America for the purpose of ascertaining the condition of the revolted colonies. He came over with La Fayette, and did good service in our army. We shall meet him again on the field of battle near Camden, in South Carolina. La Fayette persuaded Count Segur and Viscount De Noailles to accompany him, but their friends kept them at home. Count Segur accompanied Bonaparte to Moscow in 1812, and has left a thrilling account of that memorable campaign.

54 Gordon, ii., 219.

55 Pictorial History of the Reign of George the Third, i., 302.

56 Memoirs, written by himself.

57 The Marquis (Gilbert Mottier *) De La Fayette was born on the 6th of September, 1757, and in 1774, when a little more than seventeen years old, married the Countesse Anastasie de Noailles, daughter of the Duke de Noailles, a young lady possessing an immense fortune. He joined our Revolutionary army in 1777, and with his purse, sword, and counsel, and his influence with the French court, he greatly aided us in our struggle for political independence. In October, 1778, he asked and obtained leave of absence, and returned to France. Congress, in connection with the resolution for granting him a furlough, also resolved, "That the minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America at the court of Versailles be directed to cause an elegant sword, with proper devices, to be made, and presented, in the name of the United States, to La Fayette.


Franklin, then minister at the French court, procured the sword, and sent it to the marquis in August, 1779, accompanied by a very complimentary letter from his hand, to which La Fayette feelingly replied. La Fayette returned to America in the spring of 1780, bringing joyful news [see p. 655. vol. i.], and was received with great affection. After the capture of Cornwallis, in which he performed a conspicuous part, he again went to France, and, by his own exertions, was raising a large army of allies for America, when intelligence of peace reached him. He returned to America in 1784, and was received with unbounded enthusiasm by his old companions in arms. Again he returned to his native land, bearing the honors and blessings of a free people. From that time until his death he was often a conspicuous actor in the great scenes of his country’s history. He was an active member of the Legislative Assembly of France during the stormy period of the incipience and development of its first Revolution, from 1789 to 1793. He was always the advocate of civil liberty, but conservative in his country, where representatives and constituents were alike inordinately radical. When the Revolution was at its height, he was obliged to flee from France, because of his moderation, and, being caught, he was for three years confined in a dungeon at Olmutz, in Germany. He suffered much in person and fortune during the convulsions in France, and for several years previous to 1814 he lived in comparative retirement. The first downfall of Bonaparte brought him again into public life, and in 1815 he was a member of the Chamber of Deputies. In that assembly he offered the resolution for the appointment of a committee to demand the abdication of the emperor. He was again a member of the Chamber of Deputies in 1818. In 1824 he accepted an invitation to visit the United States as the guest of the nation. The United Slates vessel of war Brandywine bore him to our shores, and his journey among us was a continued ovation. He was every where received with the most affectionate demonstrations of regard, as next to Washington in the great American heart. Even his grandson, who is now (1850) traveling in this country, has been received with marked public attention on account of his relationship to the great and good man. La Fayette was conspicuous in the Republican Revolution in France in 1830, and generously refused the proffered crown of constitutional monarch, and designated the Duke of Orleans (Louis Philippe) as a proper recipient of the trust. It was unworthily bestowed; for the ungrateful monarch not only treated La Fayette with coldness and disdain, but, by a despotic course, betrayed the confidence of the people. La Fayette died in 1834, at the age of seventy-seven years.


His remains rest in the cemetery of Pigpers, a private burial-ground of several families of the nobility of Paris, back of the gardens of what was once a nunnery, but now a boarding-school for young ladies. The sketch here given is from a French picture by Champin, which the artist dedicated "To the Americans, the friends of La Fayette." The monument is inclosed by an iron railing. It is about eight feet square, and composed of dark sandstone. The tablets slope from a ridge upon which is a cross. The inscriptions are in French. On one side of the tablet is an inscription referring to La Fayette; on the other, to his wife. The cross seen in the picture stands over the grave of another.

* In the Biographie des Hommes his name is written Marie-Paul Joseph-Rock-Yves-Gilbert-Mottiers de La Fayette.

The following is a copy of the correspondence:


"Passy, 24th August, 1779.

"SIR, – The Congress, sensible of your merit toward the United States, but unable adequately to reward it, determined to present you with a sword as a small mark of their grateful acknowledgment. They directed it to be ornamented with suitable devices. Some of the principal actions of the war, in which you distinguished yourself by your bravery and conduct, are therefore represented upon it. These, with a few emblematic figures, all admirably well executed, make its principal value. By the help of the exquisite artists France affords, I find it easy to express every thing but the sense we have of your worth, and our obligations to you. For this, figures, and even words, are found insufficient. I therefore only add, that, with the most perfect esteem, I have the honor to be, &c.,


"P.S. My grandson goes to Havre with the sword, and will have the honor of presenting it to you."


The marquis, in reply, after acknowledging the presentation of the sword, said:


"In some of the devices I can not help finding too honorable a reward for those slight services which, in concert with my fellow-soldiers, and under the god-like American hero’s orders, I had the good luck to render. The sight of these actions, where I was a witness of American bravery and patriotic spirit, I shall ever enjoy with that pleasure which becomes a heart glowing with love for the nation, and the most ardent zeal for their glory and happiness. Assurances of gratitude, which I beg leave to present to your excellency, are much too inadequate to my feelings, and nothing but those sentiments may properly acknowledge your kindness toward me. The polite manner in which Mr. Franklin was pleased to deliver that estimable sword, lays me under great obligations to him, and demands my particular thanks. With the most perfect respect, I have the honor to be, &c.,



I here give a fac simile of the pen-and ink sketches, made by a French artist, of devices for the guard of the sword presented to La Fayette. I copied from the originals in the archives of the State Department at Washington. Accompanying the sketches is the following description:

"On one side of the Pommel are the Marquis’s arms in low relief, and on the other the device of a New Moon reflecting Rays of Light on a Country partly covered with wood and partly cultivated – Symbol of the Republic of the United States – with this motto: Crescam ut prosim, "I shall increase that I may do good." It was intended to express,

"1. The present Mediocrity of Strength; as the Light of the Moon, though considerable, is weaker than that of the Sun.

"2. Her expectation of becoming more powerful as she increases, and thereby rendering herself more useful to mankind.

"3. The gratitude with which she remembers that the Light she spreads is principally owing to the kind aid of a great Luminary [the King of France, whose symbol Is the Sun] in another Hemisphere.



"The Handle is ornamented with two medallions. In one, America, represented by a Woman, presents a Bunch of Laurel to a Frenchman. On the other, a Frenchman is treading on a Lion.

"On the Guard are separately represented, in fine Relievo,

"The affair at Gloucester [Yorktown];

"The Retreat off Rhode Island;

"The Battle of Monmouth;

"And the Retreat at Barren Hill.

"The Hilt is of massive gold, and the Blade two-edged. Cost two hundred Louis. Made by Liger, Sword-cutler, Rue Coquilliere, at Paris.

58 This vessel was afterward laden with rice for the French market, but was foundered on going out of the harbor, and vessel and cargo were lost.

59 The following preamble and resolution were adopted: "Whereas the Marquis De La Fayette, out of his great zeal to the cause of liberty, in which the United States are engaged, has left his family and connections, and, at his own expense, come over to offer his services to the United States, without pension or particular allowance, and is anxious to risk his life in our cause:

"Resolved, That his service be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connections, he have the rank and commission of major general in the army of the United States." – Journals of Congress, iii., 247.

60 Journals, iii., 429.

61 See page 114.

62 Matson’s Ford was at the present village of Conshohocken, and Swedes’ Ford was at or near Norristown, four miles above. They were about equally distant from Valley Forge.

63 This wall yet surrounds the old church-yard, and is sufficiently perfect to form a strong breast-work. British writers, following the narrative of Stedman (ii., 337), assert that Washington, from his camp upon the high hills of Valley Forge, discovered the peril of La Fayette, and discharged heavy alarm-guns to apprise him of his danger. None of the earlier historians of the war, except Stedman, mention this circumstance; it must have been inferential on the part of that generally correct and fair writer. Barren Hill may be distinctly seen from the highest point of Washington’s encampment at Valley Forge. Though twelve miles distant, I saw the church on Barren Hill from the observatory, hereafter to be noticed, which stands upon the site of Washington’s marquee at Valley Forge.

64 Brigadier-general ENOCH POOR was a native of New Hampshire. He was a colonel in the Continental army in the expedition against Canada in 1776, where he served with distinction. He was afterward at Crown Point, and was one of the twenty-one inferior officers who signed a remonstrance against the decision of a council of officers there, consisting of Generals Gates, Schuyler, Sullivan, Arnold, and Woedtke, * when it was resolved that the post was untenable, and that the army should retire to Mount Independence. He was appointed brigadier in 1777, and served in that capacity in the battles in which Burgoyne was defeated and captured. He soon afterward joined the army under Washington in Pennsylvania. He was in the camp at Valley Forge, and with his brigade was among the first troops that commenced a pursuit of the British across New Jersey in the summer of 1778. He fought gallantly in the battle of Monmouth which succeeded. He commanded a brigade of light infantry in 1780, in which service he died, near Hackensack, in New Jersey. His funeral was attended by Washington and La Fayette, and a long line of subordinate officers and soldiers. On account of the vicinity of the enemy, the usual discharges of cannon were omitted. Reverend Israel Evans, chaplain to the New Hampshire brigade, delivered a funeral discourse. General Poor was buried in the church-yard at Hackensack, where an humble stone, with the following inscription, marks his grave: "In memory of the Hon. Brigadier-general ENOCH POOR, of the State of New Hampshire, who departed this life on the 8th day of September, 1780, aged 44 years." General Poor was greatly esteemed by La Fayette, who, it is said, was much affected on visiting his grave when in this country in 1825.

* The Baron DE WOEDTKE had been for many years an officer in the army of the King of Prussia, and risen to the rank of major. He brought strong letters of recommendation from Dr. Franklin, and on the 16th of March, 1776, he was appointed by Congress a brigadier general, and ordered to Canada. He died at Lake George at the close of July, 1776, and was buried with the honors due to his rank.

65 Conshohocken is a thriving manufacturing village on the east bank of the Schuylkill, in Montgomery county, about twelve miles from Philadelphia. It has recently grown up in connection with the water-power of the Schuylkill Navigation Company. There is also a great deal of lime burned there for the Philadelphia market.

66 Norristown is a thriving manufacturing village, and the capital of Montgomery county. It has entirely grown up since the Revolution. Its name is derived from Isaac Norris, who, with William Trent, the founder of Trenton, purchased the land from William Penn. Swedes’ Ford was here. The site of Norristown was owned by a farmer named John Bull. He was a stanch Whig, and for this crime the John Bulls under General Howe, when the British marched toward Philadelphia in 1777, burned his barn. The first house erected at Norristown was framed at Valley Forge, and floated down the Schuylkill.

67 The name of Swedes’ Ford was given to this passage of the Schuylkill from the fact that the first settlers there were Swedes. The principal characters were Matts Holstein and Mauritz Rambo. The latter was a famous hunter, and his exploits are yet the theme of many an old man’s story. It is related that at one time Rambo seized a wounded deer, when the animal made off with the hunter on his back. Rambo finally checked the buck by cutting his throat.



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