Home : Quarterly Archives : Volume 8
Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
Source: April 1954 Volume 8 Number 2, Pages 49–50
Quarters of British officers
The American encampment at Valley Forge, beginning on December 19, 1777, followed by only three months the encampment of Lord Howe's army in the adjacent region. The camp of the British army, however, was closer to New Centerville and mainly to the south of Swedesford Road, and its duration was short, September 18 to 21, 1777. The farmers in the region suffered greatly from theft, depredations and vandalism by the British and Hessian troops.
The British generals, like Washington's, were quartered in neighboring farmhouses, and, in two cases, farmers who had entertained British generals were later hosts to American ones.
General Sir William Howe, Viscount, the British Commander-in- Chief, had his headquarters in the house of Samuel Jones which a few months later became the quarters of the American General Charles Scott, and is described elsewhere herein. Samuel Jones owned two contiguous farms, each with its house; General Wilhelm Knyphausen stayed at his other house.
An interesting tradition concerning General Howe is that, riding up to the house one day, he gave the reins to a slave boy named Hector Mullen, together with a tip which, while playing with it the boy lost. A century later, about 1875, John S. Latch, son of Abraham, then the owner of the property, found at the back of the house an English coin which may very well have been the one lost.
Lieutenant General Wilhelm Baron Innhausen and Knyphausen, commanding the Hessian troops, occupied the house that was later the quarters of the American General Woodford and is more fully described elsewhere herein. At that time it was the home of Samuel Richards (other reports say James Jones), and is now owned by William McCullum.
Knyphausen lost an eye and gained no laurels in the service. There is a tradition that his host was very much surprised to see the general spread butter on bread with his thumb.
The house of Christian Workheiser served as quarters for Brigadier General James Agnew. This is on Howellville Road, the first house on the right going north after crossing the
Trenton Cutoff bridge; it was formerly the home of Joseph Williams, Jr., and is now owned by the Conowingo Power Company. General Agnew was killed in the Battle of Germantown.
It is believed that Major General Sir Charles Grey stayed at the Howell Tavern. This was at Howellville, in the triangle formed by Swedesford Road and Route 202. It was demolished in 1935.
Major General James Grant had his quarters in the home of Valentine Shewalter, recently the home of the late Captain Rennyson. The house was demolished in 1927.
The quarters of Major General Lord Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, were at "Tory Hollow", the present residence of Mr. and Mrs. William J. Baird. The land was included in the original Crown grant to Thomas Wynne and was owned by Abel Reese at the time of the encampment. A plaque on the west wall of the house bears the date 1735. The huge fireplaces in the hall and living room are most attractive, and the window inside of one is a very unusual feature. The original ceiling beams are still to be seen in the hall.
The end walls of the barn and the orchard were badly damaged or destroyed during the occupation, and the journal of Captain John Andre notes damages to the amount of 303 pounds, 3 shillings.
It was Cornwallis' troops that attacked Wayne's in the early morning of September 21 in the famous affray known as the "Paoli Massacre."
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