Home : Quarterly Archives : Volume 28
Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
Source: January 1990 Volume 28 Number 1, Pages 3–22
Some Distinguished Neighbors
The residents of Tredyffrin Township had some pretty distinguished neighbors during the winter of 1777-1778, as a number of the leading generals of the Continental army made their quarters in local houses.
Following the British occupation of Philadelphia and the Battle of Germantown in the fall of 1777, General Washington and his army encamped northwest of the city at Whitemarsh in Montgomery County. By late November, however, General Washington and his staff had already decided that the Whitemarsh location was not "a proper place" for the winter encampment of the army. Other sites suggested by Washington's general officers included Reading, favored by seven; Wilmington, the choice of five; and even Bethlehem; but with no general agreement on any of them. Finally, Valley Forqe was selected -- close enough to Philadelphia to watch the movements of the British troops and harass their foraging parties, and a location from which the army could protect the iron forges to the west and prevent leaving "a vast extent of fertile country to be despoiled and ravaged by the enemy from which they would draw vast supplies and where many of our firm friends would be exposed to all the miseries of the most insulting and wanton depredation".
On December 11 the army left Whitemarsh for its new winter campsite. Upon arriving at Valley Forge (the forge itself had been burned by the British in September) on December 19, the troops immediately began construction of their huts, and quarters were found for the general and some of the senior officers in nearby farm houses.
At least fourteen of these farm houses in Tredyffrin are still standing, most of them still private homes. Last summer the club made a tour [see map] of these generals' quarters, with different club members commenting briefly on the officers who were our neighbors during the encampment at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778.Top
ITINERARY : Field Trip to Generals' Quarters in Tredyffrin Township
CHARLES SCOTT : Nelson Klose
Charles Scott had his quarters in the home of Samuel Jones during the hard winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge. (The house, incidentally, had also served as General Sir William Howe's headquarters during the British occupation of Tredyffrin prior to the capture of Philadelphia.)
General Scott was a frontier-type of leader. He is less well known than many of the other generals we associate with Valley Forge, but he served a long and creditable career in public life. He began his career at only 17 years of age when he became a non-commissioned officer under George Washington in the Braddock campaign. He ended his long career in public service as governor of Kentucky. He died at the age of 74.
Scott raised several companies of volunteers in Virginia and commanded them at Williamsburg, Virginia in July of 1775. In the next year he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of a Virginia regiment, and reached the rank of Colonel the following year. In 1777 he was commissioned Brigadier General in the Continental army, and spent the greater part of the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge serving under Baron von Steuben.
Scott is mentioned frequently but rather incidentally in my sources. This is especially true in connection with the Battle of Monmouth Court House in New Jersey. He served there under the English-born General Charles Lee, but was in no way associated with the questionable, and possibly traitorous, conduct of Lee, whose inactivity permitted the British and General Clinton to escape at Monmouth. Scott testified at Lee's court-martial as to Lee's exasperating conduct during the battle.
In 1780 Scott was captured at Charleston, South Carolina and parolled until being exchanged near the close of the war. In 1783 he received the rank of Major General.
In that same year, Scott was appointed to survey western lands for the soldiers of the Revolution. In 1785 he moved to Kentucky, and four years later represented Woodford County in the Virginia Assembly. (Kentucky had not yet become a separate state.)
From 1790 to 1794 Scott served in General "Mad" Anthony Wayne's campaign in the Northwest Territory against the Indians, and was at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
He continued his interest in public affairs after Fallen Timbers, and was four times chosen a presidential elector from Kentucky (by that time a separate state). In 1808 he won election as governor of Kentucky for a four-year term.
In summary, Scott was very much a rugged frontier type. He had only a rudimentary education, but on the frontier gained a practical knowledge. He was frank and unpretentious in personality. At the age of about 22, he married in Virginia and had several children. After his wife died, he remarried within three years. He died in Clark County, Kentucky in 1813.Top
WILLIAM WOODFORD : Lloyd Magill
The house in which Brigadier General William Woodford made his quarters during the Valley Forge encampment was built by Rowland Richards sometime between 1708 and 1722. The original structure, the east wing of the present building, had just two rooms, one above the other. A ladder led to the second floor, through a trap door that could be closed, and a bed put over it, in the event of attack by Indians.
In 1720 the property was inherited by his son Samuel Richards, who added to the house to provide room for his mother who lived with him. In 1764 it became the property of Samuel Richards' son, also Samuel Richards, the owner at the time of the encampment. (From September 18 to September 20, during the British occupation of the area, General Baron von Knyphausen had his quarters in the house; three months later the American general, William Woodford, moved in.)
General Woodford was born in Virginia in 1734. His father, a major in the British army, had emigrated to this country in the late 1600s.
During the French and Indian War, Woodford served as an officer. After the war he was a justice of the peace in Virginia. In 1762 he married Mary Thornton, a niece of George Washington.
Beginning in 1774 he served on several patriot committees, including the Virginia Committee of Safety, and in the following year was a member of the Virginia Convention and appointed a Colonel in the 3d Virginia Regiment. In October he repulsed an attempt by Governor Dunmore to burn Hampton, and in December his troops defeated a force of British regulars and loyalists at Great Bridge and at Norfolk.
He was commissioned a Brigadier General by the Continental Congress in February 1776, commanding the 1st Virginia Brigade. The brigade joined Washington's army in Boston, and after the evacuation of that city continued with the main army in New York and northern New Jersey.
On September 10, 1777 he was wounded at the Battle of Brandywine, but recovered in time to take part in the Battle of Germantown. He was also in the Battle of Monmouth after the Continental army left Valley Forge in June of 1778.
In December 1779 General Woodford, with 700 Virginia troops, was sent by Washington for the relief of Charleston, South Carolina. With his men he marched 500 miles in twenty-eight days to reach his new post! He was captured with the Charleston garrison in the following May by the British, and evacuated to a prison in New York where he died on November 13, 1780.Top
LOUIS LeBEGUE du PRESLE DuPORTAIL : Skip Eichner
A farm house built in 1740 by John Havard for his family served as the quarters for General DuPortail during the Valley Forge encampment.
Louis LeBegue de Presle DuPortail was born at Pithviere in France in 1743, the son of a French nobleman and lawyer. He was trained as an engineer, and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the French army. When Benjamin Franklin requested the services of trained military personnel for the young Continental army, DuPortail was one of five officers given a leave of absence and made available for duty.
He joined the American army in February 1777, and nine months later was made a Brigadier General and named chief of the engineers. Prior to the occupation of Valley Forge in December, he was sent to the site of the encampment to prepare defensive positions and prepare for the encampment. His map of Valley Forge, found many years later, provided much information on the location of the various units during that winter, as well as on the fortifications that were erected for its defense.
After the army left Valley Forge, General DuPortail directed the engineering operations at Monmouth and worked on the defenses around Philadelphia. In March of 1780 he was sent south to plan the defense of Charleston, but arrived too late to be a factor there. He was taken prisoner of war in May, but was exchanged the following November and participated in the Yorktown campaign.
In October 1783 he resigned from the American army, rejoining the French army with the rank of brigadier general. In November 1790 he was named Minister and Secretary of State for War in the French government, but held the position for only a little more than a year.
When he learned that political charges had been brought against him, he went into hiding for two years before escaping to America, settling on a 250-acre farm near Valley Forge (in what is now Bridgeport). Although the charges against him were later dropped in 1797, he continued to live in America and make it his home.
On a trip back to France in 1802 he died on ship board, at the age of 69, and was buried at sea.Top
CHARLES LEE : Bob Goshorn
The home of David Havard was used as the quarters of General Charles Lee and Colonel William Bradford at the time of the Valley Forge encampment.
While it is known as the Lee-Bradford quarters, General Lee in fact used the farm house as his quarters for a only a brief period, from April to June 1778. Before that he had been a prisoner of war by the British, having been Captured at Basking Ridge in New Jersey in November 1776.
Charles Lee was a professional soldier, and the second highest ranking officer in the Continental army. He was born in England in 1731, and educated in schools in England and Switzerland. At the age of 16 he joined his father's regiment as an ensign, and four years later became a lieutenant in the 44th Regiment of Foot. During the French and Indian War he was with General Braddock's ill-fated campaign, and later was wounded at Fort Ticonderoga, but recovered in time to take part in the capture of Niagara and Montreal.
Returning to England, he was appointed a major in the 103d Regiment, and served with distinction under General Burgoyne in Portugal. He then resigned from the British army at half-pay and became a soldier of fortune in the Polish army, advancing to the rank of major general in 1767.
Lee came to America in 1773, and immediately became interested in the revolutionary cause. In June 1775 he was appointed a Major General in the Continental army by the Continental Congress, which also agreed to compensate him for whatever losses he might suffer from the confiscation of his property in England.
After serving in the seige of Boston, he was sent to oppose the British in the south, supervising the defense of South Carolina and Georgia. Returning to the main body of the army in October 1776, he was overtly critical of his superior officers, and in disagreement with the overall American strategy. Captured at a tavern at Basking Ridge, NJ, while a prisoner of war he prepared a document showing how to defeat the American army by controlling the middle colonies and thus "unhinge the organization of the American resistance". In April 1778, his exchange for the British Major General Prescott was arranged by Colonel Elias Boudinot.
He rejoined the army at Valley Forge, but in the Monmouth campaign withdrew his troops without warning and for no apparent reason. In a court-martial that followed, he was found guilty of disobedience of orders, misbehavior before the enemy, and disrespect to the Commander-in-Chief, and was dismissed from the army for a year. He never returned to the army, and in January 1780 was formally dismissed.
He lived the remaining two years of his life at his Prado Verde estate in Virginia. He is buried at Christ Church in Philadelphia.
Before Charles Lee's arrival at Valley Forge, the David Havard house was the quarters of Colonel Boudinot and three members of the Bradford family.
Colonel Boudinot, a successful lawyer before the Revolution, was the commissary general of prisoners, responsible for the arrangements for the care of prisoners of war. (As noted earlier, he also negotiated the exchange of General Lee.)
The three members of the Bradford family were two brothers, William and Thomas Bradford, and their father, also William Bradford. Thomas Bradford was one of Colonel Boudinot's deputies, while the younger William Bradford, a brother-in-law of Colonel Boudinot, was deputy muster master general.
Their father, sometimes referred to as "the patriot printer of 1776", had been the editor and publisher of the Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser, one of the most widely circulated newspapers in colonial America, and a prominent voice in opposition to Britain; at the age of 56 he had given up his printing business and joined the 2d Battalion of the Pennsylvania militia as a major.Top
WILLIAM LORD STIRLING : Janet Malin
William Alexander, by birth William, Earl of Stirling, was born in New York City in 1726. He was a son of James Alexander, Lord Stirling, who fled from Scotland in 1716 after the War of the Pretender, and served as surveyor-general for New York and New Jersey. He supervised his son's education, and left him an ample fortune.
General Stirling, who signed all his papers "Lord Stirling" and was so addressed by General Washington, was a trained mathematician. Possessed of military spirit, he distinguished himself in the French and Indian War.
After the war he went to Europe and took the necessary steps to establish his claim to the Scottish earldom, as his father was direct heir to the title if not to the estate, in part to receive the legal rights to land grants which had been given some years before to his ancestors. He received support from influential people, and was recognized as the Earl of Stirling.
He returned to New York in 1761 and became interested in King's College [now Columbia University], of which he was a governor.
In 1764 he took an active part in opposing the Stamp Act. He had established homes in both New York and Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and was very much interested in the iron industry in New Jersey, where he was engaged as surveyor-general, and was a member of the Council of New Jersey. In 1770 he also opposed the Coercion Act, and in 1775 urged the people of New Jersey to defend their liberties as had the people of Massachusetts. Because of his military experience, he was placed in command of the 1st Military Regiment of New Jersey. (When Governor Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin, learned of this appointment, he dubbed Colonel Stirling as "rebellious".) Colonel Stirling was also commissioned a Colonel by the Continental Congress, in command of the first two regiments of Continental soldiers in New Jersey. He raised his quota of men and began drilling them into a military organization.
Shortly afterwards, General Washington asked Colonel Stirling for troops to support General Lee in New York. On March 1, 1776, Lord Stirling was promoted to Brigadier General. When General Lee departed for the south, General Stirling was placed in command of the New York district. Although he strengthened and enlarged the defenses of the New York area, the enemy forces far outnumbered the Americans and Stirling, with about 400 men, was compelled to evacuate New York. Stirling was captured, but was exchanged for Governor Montfort Brown of Florida, whom the Americans had captured.
Stirling was then ordered to guard the eastern shore of the Delaware River to prevent the British from crossing into Pennsylvania. On February 19, 1777 he was promoted to the rank of Major General, and ordered to report to Washington's winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. He was with the army at the Battle of Brandywine and did good service there.
When Washington went into winter quarters at Valley Forge in December 1777, Stirling was initially ordered to establish his quarters in Reading in order to protect and safeguard supplies for the army. While he was at Reading he was apprised of the Gates-Conway cabal, and immediately wrote to General Washington enclosing an account of the conspiracy.
Returning to Valley Forge, General Stirling's quarters were at the home of Rev. Currie on Yellow Springs road. Among his duties, he presided at the court-martial in which General Wayne was exonerated following the surprise attack at Paoli.
When the British evacuated Philadelphia on June 18, 1778 and marched into New Jersey, Washington ordered General Lee and General Wayne in pursuit. However, Lee disobeyed orders, and the entire army was endangered. Lee was placed under arrest, and Lord Stirling was made president of the ensuing court martial.
While the army was in White Plains, New York, General Lord Stirling was ordered back into New Jersey in conjunction with Major Henry (Lighthorse Harry) Lee to watch the movement of the enemy. In January 1780 he was ordered to make an attack on Staten Island, but the British learned of the proposed attack and after some skirmishing the Americans withdrew.
At this time the British were planning another invasion from Canada, and Stirling was sent to Albany to command the troops in that district. The British, under St. Leger, were again following Burgoyne's strategy of1777, so Lord Stirling began concentrating on Saratoga. He was much liked by officers and men alike because of his ability and spirit of cooperation. The British, however, became disorganized, and General Stirling received reports that Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown. Accordingly, Stirling dismissed the militia, but kept the Continental troops at Saratoga under General Starke.
After the surrender, Lord Stirling was engaged in military service in New Jersey. In 1782 he reported to Fishkill, New York to preside over a military board to adjust difficulties among the officers of the Connecticut Line, and then was sent to Albany again. His health, however, began to fail as a result of fatigue, exposure and overwork, and he died on January 15, 1783, aged 77 years. He was buried in a Dutch Reformed cemetery, but was later moved to an Episcopal cemetery as that was his faith.
General Washington wrote from Newburgh, New York to Lady Stirling, expressing his deep regrets, and extolling the many qualities of General Lord Stirling, whose death he regarded as a personal loss of a respected ally and friend.Top
THE MARQUIS DE LA FAYETTE : Eleanor Chworowsky
Marie Jean Paul Yves Gilbert Motier de Lafayette was born at the family estate in Auvergne, France on September 8, 1757, of a noble family. He was orphaned at 11, and at 16 married his cousin Anastasia.
As a very young man, he was inspired with a love of freedom and an aversion to any kind of restraint. Lafayette was very sympathetic to the cause of the American colonies in their fight against Great Britain, and offered his services to the colonies. Even though it was forbidden by the French government, he hired a vessel and sailed for Charleston in April 1777 and then came to Philadelphia. Because Congress had been beseiged with foreign applications for commissions in the Continental army, his offer was rejected. Lafayette then offered to serve as a volunteer at his own expense, and on July 31, 1777 Congress took him at his word and appointed him a Major General - with no pay and no command.
He then accepted an invitation from General Washington to live at his headquarters and serve on his staff.
He was badly wounded in the leg at the Battle of Brandywine, but recovered and was able to serve with Washington at Valley Forge. His quarters were in the home of Samuel Havard, near the banks of Valley Creek. He remained loyal to Washington through the intrigue and conspiracies of the Conwaycabal.
France declared war on England on May 2, 1778, and also agreed to an alliance with the American colonies. Lafayette returned to his homeland in January of the following year, and was lionized and given a hero's welcome. His high reputation enabled him to raise money and troops for the American cause.
In 1780 he returned to this country with troops, and in February 1781 was sent to Virginia, where he found himself opposing General Lord Cornwallis. After a long series of skirmishes, Lafayette succeeded in shutting him up in Yorktown. In September the French fleet appeared, and two weeks later Washington and Rochambeau arrived with the main allied army. On October 14 Lafayette successfully led the Americans in an assault on one of the redoubts, while another was taken by French troops. The surrender of Lord Cornwallis, with his 7,000 troops, took place on October 19, 1781, and marked the end of the war, even though the final treaty of peace was not signed until January 20, 1783.
Lafayette went home to France in 1782, but returned to this country again in 1784 and was treated with great affection and consideration by his former comrades in arms.
After the French Revolution, Lafayette revisited this country in 1824 at the invitation of President Monroe. He received the highest honors of Congress, which voted him $200,000 and a township of land for his services. He was also honored by various state legislatures, colleges, corporations of cities, societies of all kinds, by his surviving comrades of the Revolution, and by the whole nation. Appropriately, when he sailed for home that September, it was on the U.S. Frigate Brandywine, which had been put at his disposal by the government.Top
WILLIAM MAXWELL : Herb Fry
The quarters of Brigadier General William Maxwell during the encampment of the Continental army at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778 was a house only recently built by John Brown (or, some say, Samuel Brown) on the west side of Valley Creek, just south of Yellow Springs Road. Brown had purchased the property in 1774, and constructed the house for his son John Jr. It was separated by Valley Creek from the old farm house on the east, which, incidentally, was the quarters of General Knox.
The property remained in the Brown family until 1854, and subsequently, over the years, was divided and passed to a number of different owners. Senator Philander C. Knox purchased the old Maxwell quarters in 1903 and named the property "Valley Forge Farm". He had the house significantly altered in colonial style by the architect R. Brognard Okie in 1913. On Knox's death in 1921, the property was occupied by his family until the 1960s when it was transferred to Valley Forge Park. Currently Maxwell's quarters serves as the library for Valley Forge National Park.
William Maxwell was born in Ireland about 1733, the oldest of four children. When he was 14 he came to America with his Scotch-Irish parents, who settled in Sussex County, New Jersey. Maxwell grew up a farmer's son, with only ordinary educational advantages.
At age 21 he entered the military, serving with the British army in a number of campaigns of the French and Indian War, including expeditions to Fort Duquesne, Fort Ticonderoga, and Quebec. Later he was attached to the British commissary department at Mackinac, having risen to the rank of colonel.
Sensing the swelling tide of sentiment for revolution against Great Britain, Maxwell returned to his home in New Jersey in 1774. He played an active role in the revolutionary movement, and entered the service of New Jersey upon the first call for troops issued October 9, 1775. At that time, William Alexander (Lord Stirling) was made Colonel of the 1st, or Eastern Battalion; while Maxwell commanded the 2d, or Western Battalion; of the "First Establishment" of New Jersey continental troops.
The enlistment of the First Establishment in late 1775 served in the Hudson Valley, and in General Sullivan's unsucceesful invasion of Canada. Because of his bravery in the expedition against Canada, the Continental Congress made Maxwell a Brigadier General on October 23, 1776, and placed him in command of four New Jersey regiments. The men had enlisted for a year, and were paid little while enduring privations from hunger and lack of shoes and clothinq. Evidently this did not dampen the ardor of the men, however, for many re-enlisted, and they became the nucleus of the "Second Establishment" which encamped at Valley Forge.
Maxwell's troops gave a good account of themselves in the movements preceding the winter encampment. At Chadd's Ford and Birmingham Meeting House they made a gallant fight against overwhelming odds during the Battle of Brandywine, and they also saw combat in the Battle of Germantown. A handsome monument, located on the west side of Inner Line Drive just south of Gulph Road, marks the site where Maxwell's Brigade camped during the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge.
In May 1778, expecting that the British - now under General Clinton, replacing General Howe - would abandon Philadelphia shortly, Washington sent Maxwell and a detachment of troops across the Schuylkill River to harass the enemy and interfere with foraging parties. On May 25 he was ordered across the Delaware into New Jersey. His brigade took an active part when Washington's army clashed with Clinton at Monmouth in June.
Most of the remainder of Maxwell's army career was spent in New Jersey, except for a period in 1779 when his brigade was with General Sullivan's expedition against the Iroquois in western Pennsylvania and New York. His army service ended when he resigned his commission in July 1780. In forwarding the resignation, Washington spoke of Maxwell as "an honest man, a warm friend to his country, and firmly attached to her interests".
Maxwell never married. He is said to have been a "tall, stalwart man" with a "florid complexion". Because of his Scotch accent his soldiers, by whom he was greatly beloved, called him "Scotch Willie". The state of New Jersey has always considered him one of its foremost soldiers. He died in November 1796.Top
HENRY KNOX : Leighton Haney
General Henry Knox used the home of John Brown Sr., on the east side of Valley Creek, as his quarters during the encampment at Valley Forge. He was the Continental army's chief of artillery. Born in 1750, he was 27 years old at that time and weighed close to 300 pounds.
Prior to the war he had been the proprietor of "The London Book Shop" in Boston. One of his regular customers was Lucy Fletcher, a daughter of the royal secretary of the province. Despite her father's objections, in June 1774 they were married, and at the outbreak of the Revolution she accompanied her husband when he joined the patriot cause. (She was, incidentally, with him at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778.)
Knox's service at the Battle of Bunker Hill so impressed General Washington that in November 1775 he was made chief of the Continetal artillery, even though it was virtually non-existent at the time. His first task was to move 66 pieces of cannon from Fort Ticonderoga (and other places) hundreds of miles through forest, in the dead of winter, to Boston where they played a large part in the defense of that city.
He then laid out the defenses for various strategic points in Connecticut and Rhode Island before joining Washington again to be in the action at the battles of Long Island, Trenton, and Princeton. In December 1776 he was made Brigadier General.
While the army was in winter quarters at Morristown during the winter of 1776-1777, Knox returned to Connecticut to establish the Springfield Arsenal. In the summer of 1777 Washington wrote of him, "General Knox has deservedly acquired the character of one of the most valuable officers in the service, and ... combatting the almost innumerable difficulties in the department he fills, has placed the artillery upon a footing that does him the greatest honors."
General Knox continued as commander of the artillery until the end of the war, performing conspicuously at Monmouth and Yorktown, and was appointed Major General in March 1783. He also succeeded Washington, as commander-in-chief, for six months from December 1782 to June 1783.
In March 1785 he was named Secretary of War under the Articles of Confederation, and continued in that post under President Washington, and the new Constitution, in 1789.
He died in 1806 when a chicken bone lodged in his intestines.Top
CASIMIR PULASKI : Barbara Fry
Casimir Pulaski was both a Polish patriot and an American Revolutionary War hero. He was born in Podalia, Poland in 1748, and died in Savannah, Georgia in 1779.
When he was only 20 years old he joined with his father, Count Joseph Pulaski, in the organization of the Confederation of the Bar. The two Pulaskis led an active rebellion in Poland in an attempt to drive out foreign domination.
Casimir Pulaski was soon made commander-in-chief of the Polish patriot force. He was brave in battle, and at first was successful, but in 1772, after four years, his forces were crushed and young Pulaski fled to Turkey. All his estates were confiscated at that time.
In Turkey he tried to convince the Turks to attack Russia. Failing this, he arrived in Paris in 1775 penniless and unemployed. There he was introduced to Benjamin Franklin, who wrote a letter of introduction to General Washington. Another American lent Pulaski money for the ocean voyage, and he arrived in Boston in July 1777. In August he met General Washington.
Up to this point, during the first eighteen months of the war, there had been no cavalry, but a reorganization of the army in the summer of 1777 included four cavalry units. In late August Washington wrote to John Hancock, suggesting that Pulaski be given command of the cavalry units.
In September 1777, Pulaski joined Washington as a volunteer and participated in the Battle of Brandywine. He distinguished himself in the battle, and soon afterward was made Brigadier General and chief of cavalry by the Continental Congress. With Washington, he also fought at Germantown before the army went into winter quarters at Valley Forge.
General Pulaski was at Valley Forge only a short time, but had quarters there in the home of John Beaver. In December 1777 Washington sent him with his cavalry to Trenton, as food was becoming scarce at Valley Forge for both men and horses. He commanded the cavalry at Trenton most of the winter, and later was at Flemington. He was sent with General Wayne to scout for supplies for the troops at Valley Forge, but before long refused to serve under Wayne.
He also often aroused the hostility of his own troops. Pulaski usually had Washington's ear -- when subordinates did not prevent him from seeing the Commander-in-Chief -- but he did not move comfortably with the Americans. His English was poor, and he had made enemies of the American officers who had sought to lead the cavalry. (Washington had envisioned a dashing, plumed, European-type cavalry, and Pulaski's was a skilled and sweeping style. He would throw his hat onto the ground, ride out, and then ride in again, sweeping the hat into the air. Some Americans thought him more a comic or circus figure!) Since his appointment was not working out, he resigned his command after six months in March 1778.
Congress, with Washington's approval, then allowed him to organize an independent corps of cavalry, with headquarters in Baltimore. In September 1778 he appeared before Congress to plea for an end to the inactivity of his troops. He was then sent to Egg Harbor, where his unit was badly cut up. He was then sent to Minisink, on the Delaware River, where heagain became restless and complained that there was "nothing but bears to fight". Finally, in February 1779, he was ordered to Savannah to support Benjamin Lincoln in South Carolina.
Arriving at Charleston in May, he heard of a movement by the British army. He rushed to attack its advance guard, but was decisively defeated. He then joined General Lincoln.
In August he again wrote Congress a long letter, detailing the disappointment and ill-treatment he had encountered in the army, and expressing the hope that he could still be of service and prove his devotion to the American cause. At Savannah on October 4 he bravely, if impetuously, charged the British line at the head of his cavalry troops, and was mortally wounded. Surgeons could not remove the bullet, and he died two days later.
Not a lot appears to have been written about Pulaski, and what has been written usually ignores his mistakes and records his gallant death that served to enoble the young soldier who died in Savannah when he was only 31 years old.Top
ENOCH POOR : Richardson Onderdonk
Enoch Poor, born in Andover, Massachusetts, was the third generation of his family that had emigrated from England. His family were primarily farmers, but also soldiers, his father having fought at Louisburg against the French in 1765, and Enoch Poor also having participated in the expedition to Nova Scotia during the French and Indian War.
He had little education, and was apprenticed as a cabinet maker. In 1760 he moved to Exeter, New Hampshire, where he became a ship builder.
Protesting the Stamp Act, he served on a committee to restrict the consumption of English goods.
He also formed a regiment of militia, and joined Washington and his army during the siege of Boston in 1765. He was then sent to help Arnold at Saratoga, but in December 1776 left Fort Ticonderoga to come down and rejoin Washington's army at Trenton and Princeton.
Commissioned Brigadier General in February 1777, he was again assigned to the operations in northern New York. When he advocated relinquishing Fort Ticonderoga to the British, Congress ordered an investigation but Washington squelched the charges, describing Poor as "intrepid and an officer of distinguished merit".
General Poor shared the miseries of Valley Forge, with his quarters in the home of Benjamin Jones, a blacksmith, during the winter of 1777-1778. While at Valley Forge he participated with Lafayette in the action at Barren Hill.
After the army left Valley Forge, General Poor and his troops saw action at Monmouth, and then accompanied General Sullivan on his expedition to western New York against the Iroquois Indians. In 1780 his troops were made a part of a light infantry division under Lafayette.
General Poor died in Paramus, New Jersey in September 1780, either from fever or possibly from wounds received in a duel with a junior officer. His portrait hangs in the state capitol in Concord, New Hampshire.
[During the visit to Poor's quarters, the present owner of the property also reported that the house has a ghost -- but whether it is that of General Poor or of one of the owners of the house is not clear. It was also reported that it makes an appearance only after some change has been made in the house.]Top
JAMES POTTER : Elizabeth Goshorn
At the time of the Valley Forge encampment, the small stone house owned by Jacob Thomas, a son-in-law of the late Daniel Walker and his widow Lydia, was taken over as the quarters for General James Potter, though he was at his home in central Pennsylvania during much of the winter.
Unlike the other generals at Valley Forge, General Potter had not been commissioned a general in the Continental army by the Continental Congress, but was a general in the Pennsylvania militia, appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council.
He was born in County Tyrone in Ireland in 1729, and came to this country with his parents and their family when he was twelve years old, in 1741. The Potters settled on a farm in "western" Pennsylvania, and his father was the first sheriff of Cumberland County.
At the age of 25 James Potter was a lieutenant in the border militia, and in 1756 he served with his father in the Kitanning campaign in the French and Indian War under Lieutenant Colonel Armstrong. He remained active throughout the French and Indian War, and by 1764 had himself been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
After the war he and his family settled on a larger tract of land, located in Penn's Valley in central Pennsylvania, and he became a successful farmer and an early leader in the revolutionary movement. He was also a member of the 1776 Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention, but was active with the militia during most of its meetings.
After participating in the battles at Trenton and Princeton he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the militia in April 1777. His troops were also at Brandywine and Germantown, and their efforts to harass enemy foraging parties after the British occupation of Philadelphia earned for him the personal commendation of General Washington.
Shortly after the American army moved into Valley Forge, in early 1778 General Potter's wife became seriously ill, and he returned to his home in central Pennsylvania to care for her and to attend to other personal business. In March he rejoined the army at Valley Forge, at Washington's request, the Commander-in-Chief having written, "If the state of General Potter's affairs will admit of his returning to the army, I shall be exceedingly glad to see him, as his activity and vigilance have been much wanted during the winter."
When the army left Valley Forge General Potter was called to Fort Augusta on the Susquehanna to organize the militia to turn back the Indian raids and incursions into central and western Pennsylvania.
In 1780 he was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council, and was its vice-president the following year. He was also promoted to Major General in the militia in May of 1782.
From 1784 until his death in 1789 he was deputy surveyor for Pennsylvania in Northumberland County, and engaged successfully in land speculation, amassing for himself what is described in the Dictionary of American Biography as "a large and valuable estate consisting principally of choice lands in central Pennsylvania".
He died from injuries received while helping to raise a barn.
Potter County, established in north central Pennsylvania in 1804, was named in honor of James Potter. (It was originally called Sinnemahoning County, but was renamed for the general.)Top
JOHN SULLIVAN : Bob Ward and Bob Goshorn
John Sullivan was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1740. He was the son of John and Marjory Brown Sullivan, both of whom had come to this country from Ireland in about 1723 as redemptioners.
The future general studied law at Portsmouth under Samuel Livermore, and became what the Dictionary of American Biography described as an "able, if somewhat litigious lawyer". It would appear that he remained "somewhat litigious" throughout his life.
An early adherent to the patriot cause, he served in both the first and second sessions of the Continental Congress. He had also been made a major in the New Hampshire militia, and in April 1775 led a group that captured Fort William and Mary at the mouth of Portsmouth harbor and appropriated about 100 barrels of gunpowder from the British.
In June 1775 he was one of eight brigadier generals commissioned by the Continental Congress for the Continental army, and joined Washington in Boston. After the evacuation of Boston in March of 1776, he was assigned to the northern army in Canada, and was briefly its commander until superseded by General Horatio Gates. (When this happened he threatened to resign from the army, but apparently was talked out of it by John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress.)
Promoted to Major General, he returned to the main army, but was captured by the British at the Battle of Long Island. Soon afterwards, however, he was exchanged for Richard Prescott, a British general, and rejoined the American army at Westchester, New York, participating in the retreat across northern New Jersey and taking part in the battles at Trenton and Princeton.
In the summer of 1777 General Sullivan (along with both General Knox and General Greene) again threatened to resign from the army when it appeared that a newly-arrived French officer, DuCordray, was to be given a rank above theirs. While the issue resolved itself with the accidental drowning of DuCordray, the incident led to some ill-feeling on the part of some members of the Continental Congress towards General Sullivan, which was acerbated by Sullivan's failure in a subsequent attack on the British posts on Staten Island. In September 1777 a court of inquiry was held to investigate his conduct at Staten Island, but he was exonerated from any blame.
That fall he also participated in the Battle of Brandywine, where his actions were again criticized by one of the members of the Continental Congress, Thomas Burke of South Carolina. General Sullivan was also at the Battle of Germantown.
His quarters during the encampment at Valley Forge that winter were in a house owned by Thomas Waters, on Trout Run.
In the spring of 1778 General Sullivan left Valley Forge to take command of troops in Rhode Island defending Newport. When hoped-for help from the French navy did not materialize, he was forced to withdraw back to the mainland and the town of Providence. In March of 1779 he was sent to western Pennsylvania, where his unit completely routed a combined force of Indians and Loyalists, pushing them back into northern New York state.
Impaired health led him to resign from the army in 1779. Upon his return to New Hampshire, he was again elected to the Continental Congress, and later was three times elected president (or governor) of the state. He was also chairman of the New Hampshire convention that ratified the new federal Constitution in 1788, enabling it to go into effect. In 1789 he was appointed a United States District Judge, a position he held until his death in 1795.
In summary, in the DAB_ he was described as "reveal[ing] traits typical of his Irish ancestry; he was brave, hot-headed, oversensitive, fond of display, generous to a fault, usually out of money, and a born political leader".
JOHANN DE KALB : Betty Haney
Johann Kalb was born in Huttendorf in Bavaria in 1728, and came from a peasant background.
At the age of 16 he left home to become a waiter. Six years later he became a lieutenant in a regiment in the French infantry, changing his name to Jean DeKalb to make it sound more French and less Teutonic. After serving briefly in both the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War, he also assumed for himself the title of Baron despite his humble, peasant origins. By 1756 he held the rank of major in the French army.
In 1764 he married a wealthy heiress, and the following January retired from the army to continue his study of languages and mathematics.
DeKalb first came to America in 1768, as a secret agent for France, to determine the feelings and attitudes of the French colonies towards Great Britain, and also their military resources. After five months, however, he was recalled to France.
At the suggestion of Silas Deane, he returned to America in the summer of 1777 and, after some controversy, was commissioned Major General in the Continental army that fall. He was quite ill with a violent fever, perhaps malaria, during much of the winter of 1777-1778, but fortunately was quartered in the home of a self-taught physician, Abijah Stephens, who attended him with home-made remedies and salves.
General DeKalb later took part in the southern campaign. In 1780 he was ordered to Charleston, South Carolina, but the city fell to the British while he was marching south. He was wounded eleven times in the Battle of Camden in August 1780, and died three days later. When Lafayette made his triumphal return to America in 1824, he laid the cornerstone for a monument in honor of General DeKalb at Camden.
Also quartered in the home of Abijah Stephens during the encampment was General George Weedon of Virginia. He had known Washington before the outbreak of the revolution, having been an innkeeper in Fredericksburg. He was also active in the patriot cause before the war.
In February 1774 he was named a lieutenant in the Virginia militia, and was promoted to full colonel in September, joining Washington to take part in the New York and New Jersey campaigns. In February 1777 he was made Brigadier General in the Continental army by the Continental Congress, and was with the army at the Brandywine and Germantown before the winter encampment at Valley Forge.
The Orderly Book he kept at Valley Forge is a valuable source for information about the activities of the troops at the camp that winter.
General Weedon saw little service after Valley Forge, resigning from the army in August 1778 after controversy over promotions.Top
ANTHONY WAYNE : Bob Goshorn
Although General Anthony Wayne's home (and birthplace) was located only about four miles from the Valley Forge campsite, he felt it more prudent to use the home of his cousin Sarah Thomas Walker and her husband Joseph Walker, behind the picket line, as his quarters during the encampment. The house had been built about twenty years earlier by Walker.
The activities of General Wayne are familiar to most club members. He was born on New Year's Day 1745 at "Waynesborough" in Easttown Township,and started his schooling at his uncle Gilbert Wayne's school nearby before attending the Philadelphia Academy, the progenitor of the later University of Pennsylvania. Fond of mathematics, he became a surveyor, working in Canada for Benjamin Franklin and others.
Returning to Philadelphia, he married Mary Penrose and cultivated his Waynesborough estate, establishing a tannery there. He was also active in the Committee of Safety and other revolutionary groups. He first saw military action in the ill-fated expedition to Canada in the spring and summer of 1776, and in November was made commander of Fort Ticonderoga.
Three months later, in February 1777, he was commissioned Brigadier General and joined the main army at Morristown. During the British campaign to capture and occupy Philadelphia that fall his services at the Brandywine, Paoli, and Germantown were conspicuous. During the winter at Valley Forge he led several successful foraging expeditions, earning for himself the derogatory nickname of "Drover Wayne" by John Andre.
After the Battle of Monmouth following the evacuation of Valley Forge, General Washington wrote: "I cannot forbear mention of Brigadier General Wayne, whose conduct and bravery through the whole action deserves particular mention." But perhaps his most notable achievement was the taking of Stony Point in New York in June 1779, a bayonet assault at which "Remember Paoli!" was the rallying cry.
In 1781 he joined General Lafayette, and later General Nathanael Greene, in the southern campaign which culminated at Yorktown. For his part in the recapture of Savannah, he was given a large estate and plantation by the state of Georgia. He was made brevet Major General in October 1783.
General Wayne's military career continued after the Revolutionary War. In 1792 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the United States by President Washington, with the delicate mission of subduing the Indians in the west without rekindling war with Britain. With his victory over the Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, and the ensuing Treaty of Greenville, the mission was accomplished.
General Wayne died at Presqu'Isle [now Erie, PA] in December 1795. He was originally buried near the blockhouse at the fort, but was re-interred at St. David's Church in 1809.Top
Note on sources
Sources used by the club members in the preparation of these sketches include:
Boatner, Mark W. III : Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1964
Espenshade, A. Hoving : Pennsylvania Place Names. State College, Pa. : The Pennsylvania State College, 1925
Johnson, Allen [ed.] : Dictionary of American Biography. New York : David McKay Co., 1969
McNeill, Henry : Valley Forge Landmarks. Exton, Pa. : The Stephen Moylan Press, n.d.
Peck, William E. : Great Men and Famous Women. New York : Shelmar Press, 1894
Pinkowski, Edward : Washington's Officers Slept Here. Philadelphia : Sunshine Press, 1953
The quotation in the Introduction is from General Washington's General Order issued on December 17, 1777.
Page last updated: 2010-01-04 at 15:10 EDT