I have been contacted about the possibility that the 3rd Virginia was not the regiment that fought in the cemetery at Birmingham Meetinghouse. While I am still doing some digging on this issue, the research has led to two new sources on the Battle of Brandywine regarding the 3rd Virginia so I thought I would share them with you.
” I was engaged on the 11th day of September 1777 which was the last battle I was ever in of any consequence. In this battle I received a flesh wound in the thigh which bled considerable but did not prevent me from walking off the ground and as it is well known that our (the 3rd Virginia Regiment) was in an advance position on the right of the whole Army, I was soon removed from the danger of the advancing army & taken care of by spectators who took me to a respectable house who removed me…”
David Griffith (regimental chaplain):
“14 September 1777 letter written from Philadelphia
Fame will have informed you by this Time that we have had a Battle—Tho unfortunate, it will, by no means, be so ruinous as Report & the Tongues of Tories will make it. We were repulsed & lost the Ground but our Enemy purchased it dearly. Their loss is very considerable by all accts. Ours not so great as might be expected. In my next I shall be able to inform you more particularly. Our Regt. suffered more than any in the Line & acquired greater Glory. We lost upwards of 40 men Killed & wounded. Three officers are killed & 4 wounded, one, I fear, mortally. The Officers of ours killed are Capt. [John] Chilton, Lieuts. Apollos Cooper, Bob [Robert] Peyton. Lieut. [William] White shot thro the Belly. Capt. [Rueben] Briscoe, Lieut. [John] Mercer & Capt. [Philip] Lee are slightly wounded.
The Loss of this action is not so bad in its Consequences as might be expected. [unclear] our were broke yet the Spirits of the Army is not—They rallied the same night & retired the next day in good order & in as good spirits as they were before the action, & are now as desirous of fighting as ever. Our Misfortune is princapally owing to a Blunder of which Genl. Sullivan is said to be the author. This you may Depend on, that the Enemy are do disabled that they have not been able to move since the Battle. As soon as they advance you may expect to hear of another action—we are determined to fight them as often as we can. May God send us better luck. We have this one thing to Comfort under this Affair, that loss of one Battle will not determine the fate of our Country, & that a few More such Victorys will not leave the Enemy any Men. In a few Days now we shall have a Vast Army. The Militia are Coming from all Quarters & I am in hopes we shall be able to fly to destroy this Army which did not before the Action expect 10000 men.”
February 18: 12:30: I will be speaking to the NJ Society of the Sons of the American Revolution in Trenton, NJ.
May 14: 7:15pm. I will be speaking for the American Revolution Roundtable of South Jersey somewhere at the Burlington County Lyceum for History and Natural Sciences in Mt. Holly, NJ.
Well, my school year is finally over and I have finally had some time to decompress and work on my Germantown manuscript. My family and I just returned from a trip to New England. Believe it or not, we tried to steer clear of any heavy Colonial history stops with the exception of visiting John Adams’s house. We focused on other things on this trip including several days out on Cape Cod. That said, we took a day trip to New Bedford to see the whaling museum.
Now for those of you that don’t know, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the evolution (architecturally) of the coastal defense fortifications in the Delaware River Valley. I grew up about a mile from the Red Bank battlefield and Fort Mercer and I have always had a love for forts of any type. My grandfather even spent time serving on the Nike missile bases around Philadelphia in the 1960s. So, whenever I have a chance to visit a fort, I usually take the opportunity. While at the whaling museum, I found a brochure for Fort Talbot which was located at the mouth of the New Haven harbor. So we took a drive over there. Unfortunately, the fort was closed and deemed unsafe for visitors by the city. It was a brick casemated fort similar to a Fort Sumter or Fort Delaware but smaller. There is a small museum near the fort that we went in. Most of the artifacts (and there were many) had to do with local veterans and their service to the country from WWI through the conflict in Iraq. There was a Civil War section with some history about the fort as well.
However, the reason I bring all this up has to do with Brandywine. No matter how much I try to steer clear of thinking about the battle, there was a very small Revolutionary War section in the museum. Included in the area was a small photo someone took inside Washington’s headquarters at Brandywine many years ago showing one of the infamous mannequins that were once on display.
I had to take a snap of it with my phone and share it with you all.
I had another Brandywine run-in towards the end of our trip. We decided to break up the drive home by spending a day at Hyde Park on the Hudson River and visit the Roosevelt sites. My wife and I had been there way back when we were first dating, but this was our first time back since then. A new feature they offer at FDR’s house is a shuttle ride to “Top Cottage,” the small stone building he had built on the far end of his property to escape his daily stresses. We took the ride up there with another family and had a very nice tour and discussion with the tour guide on the porch. On the way back to the visitor center in the shuttle, we got to talking to other family. To make a long story short, it came up that my wife I have experience working in the museum field and that I had once worked at Brandywine. The family (from Bucks County, Pennsylvania), asked me if I had wrote the book on Brandywine. When I said yes, the husband said he read it and enjoyed it. Small world. Even when I try to avoid Brandywine, it just keeps on finding me.
September 22: 12:00 I will be speaking at the Cloud Family Reunion at the Mendenhall Inn in Mendenhall, PA.
November 10: 11am I will be speaking to the DAR in Philadelphia, PA.
May 14: Time and location TBD. I will be speaking for the American Revolution Roundtable of South Jersey somewhere in Camden County, NJ.
Due to a lack of interest, my scheduled tour for next Saturday is cancelled. I will likely not be scheduling any more of this publicly available tours. In the future, if you would like a tour of the Brandywine Battlefield, please contact me to discuss arranging a private tour.
Good morning everyone,
Last night, I did a presentation for the Lehigh Valley Revolutionary War Roundtable in Easton, PA. I had the opportunity to meet someone there who was very interested in militia and the role of Joseph Spear at Brandywine. As many of you know, Spear is one of several officers that provided intelligence (in this case bad intelligence) about the British flanking column to Washington the day of the battle.
Spear is a bit of mystery because no known writings by him are known to exist. However, my new acquaintance dug into the militia files and did find some additional information about Spear’s military record. Below is what he sent me:
“As you already know, he was voted in as a Major of the Eighth Battalion District in 1777; he served in this capacity under General Irvine’s command during the Philadelphia Campaign. Interestingly, after Brandywine he finished out his term as a Major and then at some point in 1780 was voted in as Lt. Colonel of that Battalion district or at least shared this position with Col. Bartholomew who had been the previous Lt. Colonel; his main task during this period was collecting supplies from disaffected persons in Chester (specifically I found a request by the Supreme Executive Council to gather horses). He was voted in again as a Lt. Colonel, same battalion district, in 1783-1786. He also furnished some supplies to the militia (blankets, a barrel of whiskey, and a wagon) for which he was paid by the county (these I found in the Pennsylvania Archives; specifically the Chester County County Lieutenant accounts).”
“I found no pension for him nationally; he may have filed a state pension prior to 1832; I did find a pension of someone who served under him but it was after the Battle of Brandywine; specifically at White Marsh, where Spear is serving with the militia there.”
This is not much, but does help with our understanding of Spear and perhaps sheds some light on the trust Washington placed in his report at Brandywine.
Hello everyone. I had 12 folks join me yesterday for another successful battlefield tour. Most of the snow had melted and despite a bit of cold wind, we had a great time wit lost of great questions.
My next battlefield tour will take place on Saturday, May 19th at 9am. This will be a 4 hour carpool driving tour of the 10 square mile Brandywine battlefield led by me. The cost will be $35 (which would include a signed paperback copy of my book) or $25 without a book. A minimum of four people will need to sign up for the tour to happen. Please register by May 19th. Contact me direct to register or if you have any questions. email@example.com