Sunday, March 29, 2020

Episode 142 Disease in the Revolution

I said last week I would be covering Burgoyne’s Northern Army as it prepared to attack Fort Ticonderoga.  However, I changed my mind.  I’m going to do something a little different this week.  Normally, I cover a specific event in time during the American Revolution.  But as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the world, I thought it would be interesting to take a broader look at disease in the American Revolution.

Mortality Rates

In the eighteenth century, disease was a part of life, and a common cause of death.  For twenty-first century listeners who take antibiotics and advanced medical care as a given, it may be hard to appreciate how far we’ve come from a time when amputations with dirty saws and unwashed hands were the norm, and a simple cold could kill you.

The eighteenth century was a time that, if you lived to adulthood, you had beaten the odds.  Infant mortality rates from that era, which are sketchy and can vary greatly depending on your source, seem to show that your odds of making it to ten years old were about 40%.  Less than a third made it to age twenty.

George Washington visits sick at Valley Forge (from ArtNet)
Europeans had brought many diseases to North America, which famously wiped out more than 90% of the native population.  The reason the Pilgrims were able to settle in Plymouth, Massachusetts and found good farming land ready for planting, was that explorers had traveled through that same area while infected with smallpox a few years earlier and wiped out every member of the tribe that had lived there.

Disease in the colonial era was always a problem. Wars only made a bad situation worse.  Crowding people together in large groups, providing inadequate food, poor access to fresh foods, and exposure led to high death rates among the military without a shot being fired.  The British army calculated that it lost 11% of its soldiers just transporting them across the Atlantic Ocean.  It was an expectation that an army would lose a fair portion of its soldiers to disease in any given year.

On the American side, less than seven thousand soldiers were killed in action.  Conservative estimates say at least 17,000 died from disease, and that is probably an underestimate. A great many sick soldiers went home or left for civilian care and died from their disease without being counted.   Some estimates put the number at over 60,000, or about nine times the number of battle deaths.

That’s also just counting soldiers.  The movement of troops spread disease all over the continent.  Civilians and soldiers alike contracted disease and died.  In only one year, 1777, and from only one of many diseases, smallpox, estimates are that over 100,000 soldiers and civilians died.

Smallpox was one of the most virulent killers of the era.  If you caught smallpox and survived, you had immunity.  George Washington had traveled to Barbados as a teenager and contracted the disease there.  This probably saved his life during the war as smallpox ravaged his army.  However, he had pock marks on his face for his entire adult life as a result of contracting the disease.  Some have speculated that smallpox may have rendered Washington unable to have children.  Infertility is sometimes the result of a smallpox infection.

By the way, Washington was not traveling to Barbados for spring break.  He went with his older brother Lawrence, who had contracted tuberculosis.  It was thought that the climate there would help Lawrence to recover.  It did not.  As I said, Washington contracted smallpox. The two brothers spent a few miserable months on the island before returning home.  Lawrence died from tuberculosis the following year at age 33.  Upon his death, George inherited the home that his brother named after the man he had served under while a marine with the British Navy, Admiral Edward Vernon.


Smallpox was the most deadly disease of the era.  Typically, among Europeans, the death rate was around 30%.  Without any real prevention or cure, it would spread through regions until enough people had died off and the rest had socially distanced themselves that it went away.  It would usually come back again in a few years when people had gone back to normal living and another infected person introduced it into the community.

Smallpox Patient
(from Wikimedia)
A smallpox infection initially presented itself by causing headache, chills, backache, high fever, vomiting, and anxiety. These occurred about twelve days after exposure, giving the infected person time to spread it to others before falling ill.  About four days after feeling symptoms, the victim would suffer a rash on the face, chest, arms, back, and legs.  The rash would turn into sores around the mouth, throat, and nasal passages. After that, pustules or “pox” would pop up all over the skin of the person.  The density of the pox usually an indicated the chance of death.  If the patient survived, the pox would turn into scabs and eventually fall off, leaving a scar on the skin.  If the patient survived this for about a month, he or she would likely recover.  The patient would no longer be infectious only once all the scabs had fallen off.

A smallpox epidemic broke out in Boston during the siege in 1775.  The British Commander, General Thomas Gage had to quarantine infected patients to limit its spread among the British regulars as well as the civilian population.  In November, he forced several hundred sick civilians to leave the city, where they passed through the American lines.  This, of course, spread the disease to the Continental Army as well.

There, General Washington had to order quarantines, or what they called "isolation" to help prevent its spread.  It was one of his first orders of business.  The day before he formally took command of the Continental Army on July 3, 1775, the army received orders that called for the appointment of a "suitable person" to make daily inspections of the men of each company for illness, and any soldier showing symptoms of smallpox to be isolated immediately. Two days later, Washington issued orders cautioning against soldiers traveling to infected areas "as there may be danger of introducing smallpox into the army."

A few weeks later, Washington wrote to Congress, saying that  he had "been particularly attentive to the least Symptoms of the Small Pox, hitherto we have been so fortunate, as to have every Person removed so soon, as not only to prevent any Communication, but any Apprehension or Alarm it might give in the camp. We shall continue the utmost Vigilance against this most dangerous Enemy."

Although smallpox is very deadly, it is not as contagious as some diseases. You have to have direct contact with someone who is sick in order to catch it. Therefore, quarantines could be relatively effective if strictly enforced.  Even so, hundreds of soldiers died of the disease at the siege of Boston.

When General Gage expelled the sick from Boston, Washington had to issue orders to "prevent any of your officers from any intercourse with the people who ... came out of Boston." As Washington explained "there is great reason to suspect that the smallpox is amongst them, which every precaution must be used to prevent its spreading." In January 1776, the Continentals established a hospital at Dorchester, Massachusetts, to isolate American officers and soldiers who contracted the disease.

General John Thomas,
Smallpox victim
(from Mass. Hist. Soc.)
Smallpox proved to be an even worse scourge for the northern army that invaded Quebec.  Almost as soon as Benedict Arnold’s forces arrived in December 1775, word of smallpox outbreaks began to circulate.  One reason General Richard Montgomery opted to attack Quebec on December 31 was that he was concerned that the disease would only continue to ravage his army (see Episode 79).  Those who were not sick wanted to leave before they caught it.  Few recruits wanted to join the army that appeared to be a breeding ground for smallpox.

During the siege of Quebec, Continentals reported at times more than three-fourths of their soldiers unfit for duty.  The inability to implement strict quarantines as had happened in Boston meant that the disease ran rampant.  When Major General John Thomas was sent to command the army in Canada, he fell ill with smallpox within days of his arrival and quickly died.

Smallpox continued to plague the army over the course of the entire war.  It was almost certainly the single largest killer of soldiers.


One reason smallpox became less of a problem in the later part of the war was inoculations.  There had been an inoculation for smallpox available for decades.  In fact, there is evidence that the Chinese understood how to perform inoculations for centuries.  Inoculation seems to have reached the western world in the late seventeenth century.  It was used in Boston as early as the 1720’s.

Cotton Mather (from Art)
There were, however, some problems with inoculation.  Many ministers opposed inoculation as “playing God”.  Many believed that disease was a curse from God and that trying to prevent it through actions other than prayer and obedience to God’s law was wrong.  That said, one of the earliest proponents of inoculation was a minister, Cotton Mather, who greatly encouraged its use in Boston in the early 18th century. Inoculations also first became common as ways of protecting Native Americans and negro slaves.  For many colonists the practice took on a “heathen” connotation, or something that was necessary only for the lower classes.

Religious and racist concerns aside, there were also some good arguments in the age of reason for not inoculating.  One of the big ones was that inoculation gave you a mild version of smallpox.   Some small percentage of those inoculated, in some cases as many as 2%, died from the inoculation.  Another famous New England minister, Jonathan Edwards received the inoculation and died as a result.

Some argued that dangerous inoculations violated the hippocratic oath of doctors to “do no harm.” Inoculation also made you a carrier, even if you did not get as sick as others.  For a period of time, an inoculated person could pass the disease to others, who would in turn get the full deadly version of the disease.  Thus, inoculation made you a danger to others.

Many colonies had laws against inoculation as a result.  People did not routinely get inoculated and instead simply hoped they would not get sick.

Jonathan Edwards
(from Wikimedia)
The British Army did, as a matter of routine, inoculate its soldiers.  Unlike civilians, soldiers were likely to come into contact with many different people in their travels, and had a much higher likelihood of catching the disease at some point.  Inoculations also meant that they could get sick at a convenient time when they could get proper treatment and be contained, as opposed to getting sick in the field where they could spread the disease and at a time when they might be needed for battle.  However, even though soldiers did often receive inoculation, many did not.  This is why it was still a problem for General Gage during the Siege of Boston.

The Americans had no inoculation plan.  As I said, inoculations were illegal in many parts of America.  Beyond that, commanders could not afford to have their entire army sick for several weeks while they were in the field and in the face of the enemy.  Therefore, they largely relied on isolation measures to keep it under control.  As I said, in many places this was not strict enough to be effective and had devastating results.

In some cases, soldiers inoculated themselves against orders and were court martialed.  Now you may think, how can you punish a soldier for protecting himself?  Consider that making yourself sick made you unavailable for duty at a possibly critical time.  Also, by infecting yourself, you put all of your fellow soldiers at risk since you could spread the disease to them.

At the same time, inoculation under the right conditions became the sensible action for most.  As I mentioned in an earlier episode, Martha Washington received an inoculation in May 1776 before joining her husband at his command of the army.

Members of Congress had advised General John Thomas to get inoculated before he took command of the northern army in Canada. Thomas demurred.  He wanted to be an example to his men, who were not allowed to be inoculated.  As a result, his death became an example of what happens when you enter a smallpox infected area without protection.

By early 1777, General Washington was convinced of the necessity of inoculation.  In a letter to William Shippen in January, he wrote:
Finding the smallpox to be spreading much and fearing that no precaution can prevent it from running thro' the whole of our Army, I have determined that the Troops shall be inoculated. This Expedient may be attended with some inconveniences and some disadvantages, but yet I trust, in its consequences will have the most happy effects. Necessity not only authorizes but seems to require the measure, for should the disorder infect the Army, in the natural way, and rage with its usual Virulence, we should have more to dread from it, than from the sword of the enemy. ... If the business is immediately begun and favored with the common success, I would fain hope [the soldiers] will be soon fit for duty, and that in a short space of time we shall have an Army not subject to this, the greatest of all calamities that can befall it, when taken in the natural way.
Even after some officers became convinced of the importance of inoculation, they continued to face opposition.  When Major General William Heath announced a plan to inoculate his army, local officials in Massachusetts voted to stop it for fear his inoculated soldiers would spread the disease to local civilians.  At times, more than one third of the Continental Army was unfit for duty, largely due to smallpox.

Edward Jenner
(from Wikimedia)
Despite opposition, by 1777, Washington ordered that his soldiers be inoculated and that new recruits be inoculated and isolated for several weeks before joining the army in the field.  Even so, it took time to implement these orders.  Washington was still reporting small outbreaks in 1778.  Despite some lapses, the inoculations had the intended effect.  In 1778 and 1779, rates of soldiers unfit for duty due to illness dropped from heights of over one-third to less than ten percent.

It was not until after the war ended, that a better inoculation came into being.  In 1796 a British scientist named Edward Jenner figured out that a similar, but less deadly disease, known as cowpox, was similar enough to smallpox that victims of cowpox were immune to smallpox.  He developed an inoculation that did not subject recipients to even a small risk of death and which would not transmit smallpox to others.  Jenner named his cure after the Latin name for cowpox, which is vaccinia.  And that, boys and girls, is where we get the name vaccine.

It would take nearly 200 years of the use of Jenner’s vaccine to eradicate smallpox.  The last known naturally occurring infection ended in 1977.

Disease Prevention

Smallpox was the worst but was far from the only disease that ravaged the continent during the Revolution.  Measles, mumps, typhus, typhoid, malaria, influenza, dysentery, and others all struck the army at various times leading to illness and sometimes death, although the death rates were much lower than for smallpox.

When the British army invaded the south in the later part of the war, it suffered greatly from malaria and other tropical diseases.  Local patriots who had contracted malaria at earlier times, had developed some immunity, giving them a real advantage.

Early 19th Cent. cartoon an overcrowded room, captioned
wonderful effects of cowpox (from Army Heritage)
Many diseases were caused simply by poor conditions.  Soldiers would urinate and defecate in camps rather than digging latrine pits.  Although science did not understand germs, there was an understanding that such conditions, in addition to creating a horrible stench, did somehow lead to disease.

In 1776 a German manual called “The Diseases Incident to Armies With the Method of Cure" was published in Philadelphia.  It gave advice such as providing fresh foods when possible, and not cramming soldiers together in small spaces for prolonged periods of time.  It also recommended good clothing and selecting dry areas for setting up camps.

General Washington put a particular emphasis on cleanliness and ordered punishments for soldiers who did not comply.  Dr. Benjamin Rush, who served in the Continental Congress, published a pamphlet called “Directions for preserving the health of soldiers” where he divided his advice into five sections: Dress, Diet, Cleanliness, Encampments, and Exercise.

General Friedrich von Steuben, a veteran of the Prussian army who is probably best remembered for bringing organized drill to the Continental Army at Valley Forge, was also a big proponent of maintaining clean conditions in order to prevent disease. He wrote that:
The preservation of the soldiers health should be [a regimental commander’s] first and greatest care; and as that depends in great measure on their cleanliness and manner of living, he must have a watchful eye over the officers of companies, that they pay the necessary attention to their men in those respects.
Von Steuben went on to instruct that officers must remove anyone with an infectious disease to a hospital immediately, or if no hospital available, isolate the solder to prevent the spread of infection.  He also noted the shared responsibility to keep camps clean for health purposes.  Important rules included keeping latrines at least three hundred feet from tents, and that latrine pits, which he called “sinks” be filled and redug at least every four days, more often in warm weather.

Despite the good advice, and efforts to enforce better conditions, I’ve seen estimates that death rates from disease in the Continental Army were nearly twice that of the British and Hessian Armies.  Part of that can probably be attributed to the more strict implementation of rules among the professional European armies and built up immunity among soldiers who had been exposed to disease over many past campaigns.  Part of it could also be attributed to the Continental army having less money to feed, clothe, and provide shelter for soldiers in the field.

Although this disparity in deaths from disease seemed to narrow over the course of the war, it remained the leading cause of death by far for both sides.  Experienced soldiers knew that the real threat did not come from the enemy.  It came from an invisible attacker that was far more lethal.

Next week: Burgoyne's Northern Army in Canada prepares to invade upstate New York.

- - -

Next Episode 143 Burgoyne's Northern Army

Previous Episode 141 Congress Returns to Philadelphia

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Further Reading


Museum of the American Revolution “Fighting Infection”

A Deadly Scourge: Smallpox During the Revolutionary War:

Becker, Ann M. “Smallpox in Washington's Army: Strategic Implications of the Disease during the American Revolutionary War.” The Journal of Military History, vol. 68, no. 2, 2004, pp. 381–430.

Bayne-Jones, Stanhope The Evolution of Preventive Medicine in the United States Army, 1607-1939, Part III The American Revolutionary War and First Years of the Republic:

Kantrow, Louise. “Life Expectancy of the Gentry in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 133, no. 2, 1989, pp. 312–327:

Blanco, Richard L. “Military Medicine in Northern New York, 1776–1777.” New York History, vol. 63, no. 1, 1982, pp. 39–58. JSTOR,

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Rush, Benjamin, Directions for preserving the health of soldiers : addressed to the officers of the Army of the United States, Philadelphia : Printed for Thomas Dobson, Fry and Kammerer, printers, 1808 (originally published 1777).

Swieten, Gerard, Freiherr van The diseases incident to armies: With the method of cure, Philadelphia: R. Bell, 1776.

Gillett, Mary C. The Army Medical Department 1775-1818, Center of Military History, 1981 (

Thacher, James The American Revolution: from the commencement to the disbanding of the American army; given in the form of a daily journal, with the exact dates of all the important events; also, a biographical sketch of all the most prominent generals, American Subscription Pub. House, 1860 (originally published 1823) (or buy a printed copy, see below).

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Abrams, Jeanne E. Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health, NYU Press, 2013.

Coss, Stephen The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics, Simon & Schuster, 2016.

Fenn, Elizabeth A. Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82, Hill and Wang, 2001.

Petriello, David Bacteria and Bayonets: The Impact of Disease in American Military History, Casemate, 2016.

Reiss, Oscar Medicine and the American Revolution: How Diseases and Their Treatments Affected the Colonial Army, McFarland & Company, 1998 (book recommendation of the week).

Thacher, James An Army Doctor's American Revolution Journal, 1775–1783, Dover Publications, 2019 (reprint of free ebook, see above).

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Episode 141 Congress Returns to Philadelphia

When we last left Congress in the winter of 1776-77, they had fled Philadelphia for Baltimore.  The British in New Jersey had threatened to take Philadelphia and the politicians did not want to be there if that happened.

General Washington, of course, eliminated that threat when he crossed the Delaware, captured the enemy at Trenton and Princeton, then forced the British and Hessians to pull back their front lines to the area of North Jersey around New York City.  With the threat removed, Congress returned to Philadelphia in March 1777.  Not everyone else returned though.  John Adams, in a letter to his wife, noted that “more than one half of the inhabitants removed themselves into the country.  Most of those who remained were Quakers" who Adams called “as dull as beetles.

Debate on the Articles of Confederation

Although everyone expected that British would make another attempt on Philadelphia in the summer of 1777, for the moment there was no emergency.  Congress once again turned its attention to Articles of Confederation, a document that would authorize and define Congress’ authority to do anything.  They did not actually agree on much of anything, but did agree to devote at least two days each week to working out an agreeable plan.  By the end of April, they had agreed to three articles.  One which contained the name of the document, a second which affirmed that each of the separate states retained their sovereignty, and a third, to mutual defense of all states against any outside enemy.  In other words, fighting together in the war that they had already been fighting for two years.

The second article was the only one that proved contentious.  Congress had begun its debates using draft articles submitted by John Dickinson.  The Dickinson draft envisioned a more powerful national government that would handle most matters, leaving states only control over their internal affairs.  The delegates rejected this approach.  Instead, the majority viewed Congress as an international assembly of separate states.  They would work together for mutual defense.  They might unanimously agree to do some other things in cooperation, but there was no way a state could be forced by the others to do anything it did not want to do.

Over the next few months, the delegates debated what additional powers the states should give to the Congress, but could not agree on much of anything.  Once again the most contentious issues were over voting and representation, whether states should be represented by population or with equal representation for each state.  These debates pushed on for months, when in July, Congress once again voted to table debates on the Articles since they could not reach any consensus.  Congress would just continue to operate without any guiding document.

Flag Day

Congress took up other various matters on other issues during this same time.  On June 14, 1777, it passed a resolution saying “That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”  That is why we celebrate Flag Day on June 14.

Hopkinson Flag (from Wikipedia)
Back in Episode 89, I talked about the story of Betsy Ross creating the first flag in May 1776.  I mentioned at the time that there was no good contemporary evidence of the Betsy Ross story being true.  The story comes from Ross family lore and was not written down until decades after all the contemporaries were dead.  It is still quite possible that the story is true.  The flag’s creation was not a momentous event that would necessarily be recorded at the time.  There was no record of it being flown at that time, and congress did not authorize as the official flag until 1777.

Congress’ main purpose for the resolution in 1777 was to create a standard ensign for naval ships.  It did not specify that the stars on the flag be put in a circle.  There are some flags from that time that have different star designs.  The first mention of the sight of the new flag came a few months later, in August 1777.  Making Flag Day a day of celebration did not become a thing until more than a century later, after the Civil War.

First Independence Day Celebration

Congress was ready for one celebration.  At the end of the day on July 2, Congress adjourned for two days to celebrate the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.  On July 4, 1777 Congress and all of Philadelphia celebrated.  Warships and gallies gathered at Philadelphia decorated in red, white and blue, and with streamers.  Each of the ships fired a thirteen gun volley in honor of the thirteen independent states.  A newspaper article reported that
The evening was closed with the ringing of bells, and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks, which began and concluded with thirteen rockets on the commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated. Every thing was conducted with the greatest order and decorum, and the face of joy and gladness was universal. Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more.
According to another report, a band made up of Hessian POWs from Trenton played for crowds in Philadelphia that day as well.

New Generals

Another contentious issue for Congress was the promotion of generals.  That spring, Congress commissioned a few more brigadier generals: George Clinton of New York, Edward Hand of Pennsylvania, Charles Scott of Virginia, Ebenezer Learned of Massachusetts, and Jedediah Huntington of Connecticut.

Gen. Edward Hand
(from Rock Ford Plantation)
During the Baltimore session, Congress had agreed to give primary consideration to three factors when promoting generals.  One was merit.  The second was seniority. The third was the numbers of troops supplied by each state.  In other words, a state that provided more soldiers to the army should get more general officers.  Of course, each of these were general factors, with no firm rule on how they should be applied or even how much weight each would be given.  So it really did not solve anything.

But whatever little value the resolution had got thrown out the window when French officers began to arrive with notes from the American Commissioners in Paris promising them commissions and officers in the Continental Army.  These men had no seniority, were not from any state that supplied troops, and whose merit was a matter of debate.  Most did not even speak English.  In March, after receiving word of dozens of French officers making their way to America, Congress passed a resolution saying that unless the officer had mastered English and had top recommendations, he would not be accepted.  The problem was, Congress could not simply anger French officers who had taken the trouble to come across the ocean to America with promises already made. Turning them away would possible ruin chances of forming a military alliance with France. In the spring of 1777 many of the French officers promised commissions as general or other high ranking officers arrived in America.

Up until this time the only French general in the Continental army was Mattias de Fermoy.  He was the soldier of fortune who somehow sailed to America from the French West Indies in late 1776.  To this day, we know nothing about his real background before coming to America.  He claimed to be a colonel of engineers in the French army, although there are no records of his service.  I mentioned him in Episode 125 when he commanded a small force near Trenton, and at the first sight of the enemy, ran away, abandoning his soldiers.  People were beginning to suspect he was a fraud, but for now was still serving.  Many by 1777 were ready to consider any Frenchmen claiming titles and experience to be imposters.

Conway and de Borre

Silas Deane, however, had already approved dozens of French officers to serve in America.  Many of them attempted to sail in December 1776 aboard the three ships that Deane and his French partner Beaumarchais had packed full of supplies and planned to sail out of La Havre.  I mentioned this back in Episode 115, when the British Ambassador Lord Stormont caught wind of the venture and forced foreign minister Vergennes to shut the whole thing down.  Only one ship got out, but it turned around and got blocked as well.

Most of the officers looked for another option.  The first one to make it successfully was Lieutenant Colonel Philippe Hubert Preudhomme de Borre.  He arrived in Portsmouth, NH on March 17, 1777 aboard the Mercure, one of Deane’s supply ships that was able to make its way to America.  In April, Congress approved de Borre’s commission, and backdated de Borre’s date of commision as brigadier to December 1, 1776.  This retroactively put him ahead of sixteen other brigadiers who had received commissions since then.

De Borre was almost 50 years old.  He had fought as a cavalry officer in the War of Austrian Succession, where he was badly wounded and lost the use of one hand.  Although still an active officer in the Seven Years War, there is no record of his active participation in any battles.  Before leaving for America, he was serving as an artillery brigadier, an area the Continentals needed experienced officers.  He took command of a brigade of mostly Maryland regiments, along with one from Quebec, which was made up of many French-speaking soldiers.

A month later, another of Deane’s supply ships, the Amphritrite, arrived in Portsmouth, this time carrying to men holding commissions as generals Thomas Conway as brigadier and Philippe Charles Tronson du Coudray as a major general. The Amphritrite was the ship that had gotten away in December, but then returned back to France a few days later.  It finally slipped out of France at the end of January, and made a difficult three month voyage to New Hampshire. The officers then made their way overland to Philadelphia to present their credentials.

Gen. Thomas Conway
(from Wikimedia)
I mentioned Conway last week when he commanded troops at the battle of Short Hills, but did not give any background on him at that time.  Conway was born an Irish Catholic.  His family moved to France when he was a child to escape the restrictions put on Catholics in Ireland.  Conway joined the French Army at age 14 in France’s Irish Brigade, a special group for Irish expats serving in France.  Through his service, he rose to the rank of colonel.  Because Conway was not only an experienced officer, but also spoke English, Congress approved his commission as brigadier in May, just a few weeks after his arrival.  Conway entered service as an infantry commander.

Coudray was another matter. Deane had offered him command of artillery and engineering for the Continental Army.  The current commander, General Henry Knox, made clear he that would resign from the army if Congress put him under the command of Coudray.  Congress spent most of the summer debating what to do with him.  Coudray busied himself by advising on the Delaware River defenses protecting Philadelphia from a naval invasion.

Finally in August, nearly four months after he arrived in America, Congress offered Coudray a commission as a major general, but with the understanding that he would not be part of the command structure.  Instead Congress created a new position of "Inspector General of Ordnance and Military Manufactories" where he could advise on matters, but not issue orders.  Coudray reluctantly accepted the position, figuring he could make his way into command after proving his worth in the field.

There were a bunch of other French officers I neglected to mention because even just limiting myself to naming the generals is throwing a bunch of names out that no one will remember.  I’ll make one exception to that rule and also note that Louis Duportail received a commission in July as a Continental colonel and commander of engineers.  I made an exception for him since he would be promoted to brigadier in a few months and has one of the longest and most successful roles of all the French officers in the Continental Army.  But Congress was also receiving dozens of French officers who had been promised commissions as colonels, majors and captains.

The French Keep Coming

While Congress was still deciding what to do, more than a dozen other French officers made it to Philadelphia holding promises of commissions granted by Silas Deane in Paris.  Three of the officers had been promised commissions as major generals.  Initially, Congress just said no.  They did not want more general officers who could not speak English.  That just created too many problems.

Gen. Johann de Kalb
(from Wikimedia)
The French officers persisted in making their case. One of the most persistent was the least experienced officer, the nineteen year old French captain named Gilbert du Motier.  Although the boy had no combat experience, he had been an officer since the age of thirteen when his family obtained a lieutenant’s commission.  Since his family was very well connected to the French King, Congress did not want to insult him.  Probably most importantly, he offered to serve without pay.  By the end of July, Congress opted to make this young man a major general in the Continental Army.  So du Motier, better known by his aristocratic title, the Marquis de Lafayette, received his commission on July 31, 1777.

With Lafayette were two more senior officers and would be major generals. General Johann De Kalb, a German-born officer in the French army, was the most senior officer to travel to America. He and Colonel Charles-Louis, vicomte de Mauroy both expected to be made major generals. Unlike Lafayette, both very much expected to get paid.  Instead, Congress dithered and left these men cooling their heels in Philadelphia for the rest of the summer.

I want to devote an entire episode to Lafayette’s backstory in a few weeks.  So I’ll get more into the story of these other men at that time.

Arnold Comes to Philadelphia

Congress took care of one other important piece of business regarding generals.  After receiving word of Benedict Arnold’s brave leadership during the Danbury Raid (see Episode 135), Congress finally promoted him to major general on May 2.  For Arnold, this was too little, too late.  We went from being the most senior brigadier general to the most junior major general, meaning the promotion did nothing to change his place in the command structure.

Gen. Benedict Arnold
(from Lake Champlain)
After receiving word of his promotion, Arnold traveled to Philadelphia to meet directly with Congress.  He brought with him a pamphlet published by one of his enemies, Colonel John Brown which ended famously with an accusation levied against Arnold: “Money is this man’s god, and to get enough of it he would sacrifice his country.”  Arnold thought such scurrilous attacks were the reason Congress had been reluctant to promote him and wanted a hearing to challenge such accusations.

The Board of War, headed by John Adams, allowed Arnold to give testimony at a committee meeting on May 21, that ran well into the night.  It was not the full hearing Arnold wanted, but did give him the chance to tell his side of things directly to members of Congress.  Two days later, the Board of War presented a report to Congress exonerating Arnold of the charges against him.  Congress, however, refused to act on restoring Arnold’s seniority.  After nearly two months of waiting, Arnold had enough and submitted his resignation to Congress.

Before Congress could act, it also received a letter from General Washington informing Congress that the British had begun their invasion of upstate New York.  Washington recommended that Arnold be sent immediately to help defend against this invasion.  Arnold asked that his resignation request be put on hold and rushed off to fight another battle in defense of his country.

On August 8, after Arnold had left for New York, Congress finally took up the resolution to adjust Arnold’s seniority, and voted against it, overwhelmingly.  Even John Adams, who seemed to have a good impression of Arnold voted no.  The main reason seemed to be that Arnold was pressuring them to do it.  Congress thought such pressure was inappropriate.  As Arnold fought the battles of Saratoga, Congress denied his request for seniority.

Leaving Philadelphia, Again 

Shortly after its independence day celebrations, Congress received word of the British capture of Fort Ticonderoga and that British General Johnny Burgoyne was marching south through New York’s Mohawk Valley.  A few weeks later, Congress learned that British General Howe had left New York and then landed in Maryland where he would assault Philadelphia from the south.

General Washington marched his army from New Jersey toward the British.  On August 24, 1777, just days after confirmation that Howe’s fleet was in the Chesapeake Bay, the Continental Army marched through the streets of Philadelphia on their way south.  This was a bit of theater by General Washington.  He wanted to impress the city and Congress with his army of around 12,000 men.

Washington gave orders the night before to make sure the officers and men were ready to march smartly through the city street carrying their arms smartly.  The army marched down Front Street to Chestnut, then across the city, marching right past Independence Hall toward the Schuylkill River.

Wagons with baggage and extra ammunition, as well female camp followers were redirected around the city and would not march through Philadelphia along with the soldiers.  Orders also prohibited officers and men from stepping out of line for any reason during the march through the city, on punishment of 39 lashes to be carried out at camp the next night if they did.

John Adams was not overly impressed by the sight of the army.  In a letter to Abigail later that day, he wrote:
The Army, upon an accurate Inspection of it, I find to be extreamly well armed, pretty well cloathed, and tolerably disciplined….—Much remains yet to be done. Our soldiers have not yet, quite the Air of Soldiers. They dont step exactly in Time. They dont hold up their Heads, quite erect, nor turn out their Toes, so exactly as they ought. They dont all of them cock their Hats—and such as do, dont all wear them the same Way.
Adams when on to say that with the army now between the enemy and Philadelphia, he felt as safe there as he would in Braintree.  That sense of safety did not last long.  General Howe fought a series of battles that fall, which will all be topics of future episodes.  By September, Philadelphia was about to fall to the British army.  Congress once again had to flee the city.  This time they went first to York, Pennsylvania which is about 65 miles west of Philadelphia, then to Lancaster, which is another 20 miles further west, and across the Susquehanna River.  Congress would remain there for the course of the British occupation of Philadelphia.

- - -

Next Episode 142 Disease and the Revolution

Previous Episode 140 The Battle of Short Hills

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American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account.
Mike Troy

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You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option for people who want to make monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.  Thanks again!

Further Reading 


First Fourth of July Celebration:

John Brown warns about Arnold:

Procknow, Gene "Personal Honor and Promotion among Revolutionary Generals and Congress" Journal of the American Revolution, January 23, 2018

Continental Generals by Date of Commission:

Kite, Elizabeth S. “LaFayette and his Companions on the Victoire” Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, vol. 45, no. 1, 1934, pp. 1–32. JSTOR,

Kite, Elizabeth S. “LaFayette and his Companions on the Victoire(Continued).” Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, vol. 45, no. 2, 1934, pp. 144–178. JSTOR,

Kite, Elizabeth S. “LaFayette and his Companions on the Victoire (Continued).” Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, vol. 45, no. 3, 1934, pp. 212–245. JSTOR,

Kite, Elizabeth S. “LaFayette and his Companions on the Victoire (Continued)” Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, vol. 45, no. 4, 1934, pp. 275–311. JSTOR,

Letter, John Adams to Abigail Adams, August 24, 1777, Founders Online, National Archives,

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Journals of Congress,Vol. 3 January 1, 1777 - January 1, 1778.

Adams, John Quincy Life of General Lafayette, Napis & Cornish 1847.

Crow, Martha Foote Lafayette, The MacMillan Company, 1918.

Headley, P. C. The Life of the General Lafayette, Marquis of France, General in the United States Army, etc., C. M. Saxton, 1860.

Howe, Archibald Murray Colonel John Brown, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the Brave Accuser of Benedict Arnold, Geo. H. Ellis Co. 1908.

Kapp, Friedrich The Life of John Kalb, Major-General in the Revolutionary Army, H. Holt & Co. 1884.

Lowery, Robert A Complete History of the Marquis de Lafayette, self-published, 1826

Smith, John Spear Memoir of the Baron de Kalb, Maryland Historical Society, 1858.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Leepson, Marc Lafayette, Lessons in Leadership from the Idealist General, Palgrave-MacMillion, 2011.

Montross, Lynn The Reluctant Rebels, Harper & Brothers, 1950.

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Episode 140 Battle of Short Hills

A few weeks ago, in Episode 134, I discussed the British raid on Bound Brook on April 13, 1777. General Cornwallis led 4000 British and Hessians against an American outpost of 500 Continentals along the Raritan River, hoping to net some prisoners.  The British raided the town and took some prisoners, but the bulk of the Continental outpost escaped capture.

The Americans retook the post that day, but after a few weeks determined that the isolated outpost was prone to another attack.  Washington moved them back a few miles to Middlebrook, in the Watchung Mountains where defensive lines would be easier to hold.

No one on the Continental side was quite sure what British General William Howe planned to do next. To be fair, most of the officers in the British army were equally left in the dark as to their commander’s plans. Howe still might move northward to link up with the planned British thrust from Canada under General Johnny Burgoyne.  He might also attempt to move on Philadelphia.

Everyone sat around waiting for a spring offensive to begin.  But spring turned into summer while the British army sat in New York City and its defensive outposts around the city, without any clear indication of any movement.

On June 9, Howe finally moved most of his army out of New York City and Staten Island to Amboy in New Jersey.  A couple of days later, the army marched along the banks of the Raritan River. They marched past Bound Brook, the area abandoned by the Continentals a few weeks earlier.  The British encamped at Brunswick. After camping for three days, on June 14th, the British once again packed up and marched to Somerset Courthouse, within easy sight of the Americans.

Memorial for Battle of Short Hills
(from Rev War NJ)
This was more than a large raid.  Howe put about 20,000 British and Hessians on the march, leaving a smaller force to protect New York City. The column marched south of Washington’s defensive position, apparently moving toward Philadelphia.  If Washington wanted to confront Howe, he would have to leave his defensive position in the mountains and attack the regulars on the same land where Howe’s army had chased the Continentals the year before.

It truth though, Howe had no plans to march his army to Philadelphia.  The whole movement had been a feint to see if the British could draw the Americans out of their defenses and into an open fight.  It would not work.  Washington had received intelligence that Howe had left behind his heavy baggage and equipment needed to cross the Delaware River.  He deduced that the British were not headed to Philadelphia, but were looking for a fight on their own terms against a smaller Continental force.  Therefore the Americans stayed in the hills where the British dared not attack.

After camping at Somerset Courthouse for five days and daring the Americans to attack, Howe packed up and returned to Amboy.  As the British pulled back, the Continentals finally came down out of the mountains to shadow the retreating regulars.  Washington was convinced that the British withdrawal meant the immediate danger had passed.  He allowed some of his local militia to return home and began to deploy his Continentals across the plains to show that the Americans once again controlled New Jersey.

British General Howe had already ferried much of his army back to Staten Island.  As he was in the process of moving over the rest, an American deserter informed him that the Continentals had finally moved down out of the mountains. Upon being alerted to this, Howe turned around his column and rushed back to engage the Americans.  He began moving his soldiers back to New Jersey after dark on June 25th, beginning around 10:00 PM.

By about 1:00 AM on June 26, the army was in formation and ready to march.  Howe moved his army north in two columns, in a night raid.  Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis led one column.  Major General John Vaughan commanded the other.  Howe personally went with the column commanded by Vaughan.  By moving north, the British hoped to circle around Washington’s left flank and get between the Continentals and the mountains.  This would force the Americans to fight on an open field, or retreat back toward Philadelphia.

John Vaughan

Of course I’ve talked about Howe and Cornwallis before.  General John Vaughan was also a veteran of the war.  He just hasn’t had a prominent enough role for me to mention yet.

Gen. John Vaughan (from Wikimedia)
As with most British generals, Vaughn came from aristocracy.  He was the son the Third Viscount Lisburne.  He was not the first born though, so he would not inherit his father’s land or titles.  Instead Dad purchased him an officer’s commission and sent him off on a career in the military beginning in 1746.  It’s not clear exactly how old he was since his date of birth is unknown, but he was probably a young teenager at the time.  He joined while the British were still fighting the War of Austrian Succession, but there is no record of him serving in combat.

Following the war’s end Vaughan received several peacetime promotions, almost certainly with the assistance of his family’s money.  When the Seven Years War began, Vaughan served with distinction, leading grenadiers in both Germany and Martinique.  By the end of the war, he had risen to lieutenant colonel.  In 1772 he received another peacetime commission to full colonel, and two years later got elected to Parliament.  He generally backed the policies of the Prime Minister but did not speak much.  In 1776, while retaining his seat in the British Parliament, he also won a seat in the Irish Parliament.

Vaughan political service and military experience did not go unnoticed.  When the ministry needed willing officers to go to America, it promoted Vaughan to major general and sent him with the forces dispatched under General Cornwallis to recapture the southern colonies.  Vaughn was present at the Battle of Fort Sullivan, but I’m not sure that he did anything of note there.  Eventually his forces, then under the command of General Clinton, sailed up to New York.

There, everyone came under General Howe’s command as he launched the campaign to capture New York.  Vaughan led his grenadiers at the Battle of Long Island.  He also landed a force at Kips Bay and fought at White Plains, where he was wounded in the thigh.  He quickly recovered though and was ready to lead men into battle once again in spring 1777.  General Howe selected him to lead his army in the field, along with General Cornwallis.  Like Cornwallis, Vaughan was a general on the rise, someone upon whom General Howe would rely.

Lord Stirling

The two British columns marched to cut off the Continentals, Washington had prepared for this.  He sent General Lord Stirling to protect the Continental left flank and prevent just such a maneuver as Howe had planned.

Lord Stirling is also an interesting character I should probably introduce.  William Alexander was born in New York in 1726.  His father was a prominent lawyer who served on the Governor’s Council and held several other government positions.  His father had come to New York a decade before William was born, after his participation in the Jacobite Rising of 1715.  More worried about losing his head for treason, William’s father never tried to claim his father’s title of Earl of Stirling after the death of William’s grandfather.

Wm Alexander "Lord Stirling" (from Thoughtco)
Upon his father’s death, William tried to reclaim this title.  He retained lawyers in Scotland and got a Scottish court to recognize his claim in 1759.  The Scottish ruling, however, was not enough for Alexander.  He petitioned the House of Lords to recognize his claim.  The House of Lords looked into it, decided that the claim was dubious and rejected it.  William Alexander would not be Lord Stirling.

Alexander though, would not let the House of Lords deny who he was.  He told himself Don't hide yourself in regret, Just love yourself and you're set, I'm on the right track, baby, I was born this way (apologies to Lady Gaga).  Alexander knew he was born a lord.  So whatever the House of Lords said in London, Alexander called himself Lord Stirling, and expected others to address him as such.

Despite the controversy over his title, Lord Stirling had inherited a fair amount of wealth and property from his father.  He built a large estate in New Jersey and lived a rather lavish lifestyle.  He was also an early proponent of the patriot cause.  Several months after Lexington and Concord, Stirling formed a New Jersey militia regiment which he led as its colonel.  He used his personal money to outfit the new regiment.

Shortly thereafter, he gained attention when his regiment captured a small British transport ship in New York Harbor.  In March 1776, as the war began to pivot to New York, Congress appointed Stirling a brigadier general.  He performed with conspicuous bravery at the Battle of Long Island, standing against an overwhelming British assault to buy time for the rest of the Continental Army to retreat back to the defenses along the Hudson River.  The British captured Stirling during this defense, but rather quickly exchanged him from Montfort Browne, the Governor of the Bahamas.  Recall that the Continental Navy had taken Browne prisoner during its raid in the spring of 1776.  Stirling returned in time to join Washington in crossing the Delaware River and attacking Trenton.  His leadership during the Forage War only improved his reputation as a fierce fighter and daring leader.

Based on Stirling’s experience in battle, Congress promoted him to major general in February 1777.  Washington at this point relied on him to protect the army’s flank against a British attack.

Stirling’s officers

General Stirling commanded a force of about 2500 men.  Serving under General Stirling were a few other notable officers.  General William Maxwell served under Stirling.  Maxwell was the only other Continental general from New Jersey until the end of the war.  I gave some background to Maxwell back in Episode 124, so I won’t repeat myself. He only had been a general for a few months by this time and was looking to be tested in battle.

Thomas Conway
(from Wikimedia)
Also serving under Stirling was Colonel Daniel Morgan.  You may recall Morgan had been serving under General Richard Montgomery at Quebec.  When Montgomery died in the first volley, Morgan took command and invaded the city, only to be taken prisoner.  Morgan rotted in a Quebec jail for about nine months when he was finally paroled in September 1776. But his parole required that he not resume command until traded for an officer of equal rank.  So Morgan had to sit in time out during the whole retreat from New Jersey as well as the crossing of the Delaware and the battles at Trenton and Princeton.  Finally, in January 1777, the Americans had captured some more British officers and traded for Morgan.  They also then told Morgan he was promoted to full colonel and put him in charge of a regiment that included his riflemen.  Morgan had just assumed his new command in April, less than two months earlier.

General Thomas Conway also served under Stirling.  Conway was born in Ireland but grew up in France.  He had served in the French Army since the age of 14, rising to the rank of colonel.  Conway was one of the first French officers who received a promise of a generalship from American agents in Paris and who sailed over to America.  I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago as part of the effort to involve France in the war.  Conway presented himself to the Continental Congress and received a rank of brigadier general in the Continental Army on May 13.  Washington, apparently was not happy about getting foreign officers who he had to promote over his own increasingly experienced officer corps.  That said, Washington’s recognition of civilian authority obligated him to accede to the will of Congress.  Less than a week later, Washington appointed this stranger to the command of a Pennsylvania brigade.  Within a month, Washington deployed Conway under Lord Stirling against the British.

Battle of Short Hills

Lord Stirling deployed his Continentals over a wide area.  His purpose was to detect any enemy movements in order to give the main army under Washington time to react.

As both Cornwallis’ column and Vaughn’s column moved north, they encountered Continental skirmishers around dawn.  Night marching was difficult and slow.  The columns had only moved about three miles inland by dawn.  Around 6:00 AM, they encountered some of Colonel Morgan’s riflemen.  About 150 American riflemen engaged in a running battle against 250 British riflemen who were using some new experimental breech loading Ferguson rifles.

The Americans fell back in good order, linking up with about 700 Pennsylvania German speaking militia under the command of General Maxwell.  The force put up a credible defense until the main British column of about 12,000 men began to descend on their position.  The Americans again began to pull back.

Troop Movements (from Wikimedia)
The withdrawal was part of Stirling’s larger plan to draw the British to the position where he wanted to fight, an area near Scotch Plains.  There, Stirling had set up defensive positions making use of his riflemen and several artillery pieces to hold against the advancing British forces.  This is what became known as the Battle of Short Hills.

The early morning battle between these forces saw some of the most intense fighting of the day.  Bearing the brunt of the fighting were Germans.  Hessian units serving under Cornwallis attacked a large force of German speaking Pennsylvania militia.  General Maxwell was nearly captured and Lord Stirling himself had a horse shot out from under him.

Although the Continentals fought well and had a good position, they could not hold it for long.  Stirling’s 2500 men faced off against about 16,000 British and Hessians who were also backed up by artillery.  The columns descended on the Continental positions leading to a heavy firefight.  After a short time though, the Continental forces had to retreat.  They did so while maintaining good order and keeping a rate of fire against the advancing British.  The attack became a running battle over several miles.

As the British advanced, they destroyed a great many homes and property.  Among the officers that day was Banastre Tarleton, who had captured General Lee months earlier.  Tarleton had a reputation for being especially ruthless in destroying civilian property and killing enemy soldiers who were trying to surrender.  Also fighting that day was John Andre.  As you may recall, Lieutenant Andre had been captured at Fort. St. Jean in 1775.  He spent over a year as a prisoner living in Pennsylvania, before finally being exchanged in December 1776.  Now promoted to Captain, Andre was back in combat and eager to prove himself.

Frazee House (from
There is a popular local story about a woman named named Elizabeth Frazee, whose husband was fighting with the New Jersey militia.  Elizabeth had been baking bread all morning at her farm in Scotch Plains to help feed the American soldiers.  Around noon, General Cornwallis’ soldiers captured the farm and Cornwallis requested the bread for his soldiers.  Frazee told the General she would only give the bread out of fear and that she supported the patriot cause.  Cornwallis ordered that the army would not take her bread and that she would not be harmed.

Stirling’s defense did its job.  General Washington was alerted to the battle as early as 7:00 AM.  As Stirling engaged the British columns, Washington moved his main force back up into the mountains where the British dared not attack.  Stirling kept the British occupied as he pulled back to Middlebrook, also in the mountains.  There, a defensive position stopped the British advance.

Late in the day, General Howe arrived at the front lines to inspect the battle.  He judged the American defenses too strong in the mountains.  Remember, the British had begun their march as a night raid the day before.  Most of them had been awake for two days straight.  They had marched through a brutal summer heat wave and fought a pitched running battle with the Continentals. They could not continue at this pace.  The British spent the night in the field, marching back to Amboy the following morning.


The British reported that they killed or wounded about one hundred Americans and also captured another seventy.  They also captured three American brass field canon.  In exchange they reported only five killed and thirty wounded.  These lopsided numbers, though, may not be accurate.  As I’ve said before, British reports often exaggerate enemy casualties and minimize their own. For example, they often only report British casualties and ignore Hessian casualties. Another unofficial report indicates at least seventy British and Hessians killed.  This seems a more realistic outcome for a multi-hour battle where soldiers were charging cannons and being harassed all day by expert riflemen. Lord Stirling’s battle and casualty report to Washington has been lost.  However, a later report to the Continental Congress reported only twenty Americans killed and forty wounded.

The Americans did not pursue the retreating British again but allowed them to pull back to Amboy.  By early July, the British pulled out of New Jersey completely, pulling all their forces back into a defensive posture along the New York side of the Hudson River.  Washington and the Continentals once again settled into a defensive posture and waited to see what General Howe and his army would do next.

The battle was a tactical victory for the British. They took the field and forced the Americans to withdraw.  However, it was a strategic victory for the Americans.  Howe was unable to engage with the Continental Army and take it out of commission.  Without doing that, he was unwilling to attempt another occupation of New Jersey. Following this conflict, General Howe would put the conquest of New Jersey on the back burner and focus on getting to Philadelphia another way.

Next Week we head back to the Continental Congress, as they approve the American flag and take care of other business.

- - -

Next Episode 141 Congress Returns to Philadelphia

Previous Episode 139 Meigs Raid on Sag Harbor

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American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account.
Mike Troy

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You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option for people who want to make monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.  Thanks again!

Further Reading


Howe Report to Lord Germain on Battle of Short Hills

Mayers, Robert The Battle of the Short Hills Sept. 2011:

Various letters from General Washington regarding Short Hills:

Free eBooks

Lundin, Leonard Cockpit Of The Revolution The War For Independence In New Jersey, Princeton Univ. Press, 1940.

The Case of Alexander, Earl and Viscount of Stirling, Viscount Canada, Lord Alexander of Tullibodie, Premier Baronet of Nova-Scotia, &c. &c. &c, 1825.

Schumacher, Ludwig Major-General the Earl of Stirling; an Essay in Biography, New Amsterdam Book Company, 1897.

Willcox, Cornélis De Witt (ed) Major André's journal, New York Times, 1968 (original 1904) (available for borrow only).

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Harris, Michael C. Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777, Savas Beatie, 2014.

McGuire, Thomas J. The Philadelphia Campaign Vol. 1, Stackpole Books, 2006.

Taaffe, Stephen R. The Philadelphia Campaign 1777-1778, Univ. Press of Kansas, 2003.

Ward, Christopher The War of the Revolution, Macmillan, 1952.

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.