Conclusion Of The Revolutionary War
Gen. Washington, it was apprehended by Richard Peters, would order Gen. Potter to co-operate with the officers appointed for that purpose by Council.1 On the 21st, which was possibly the day Council received the dispatch just mentioned, for it had been sent from York to Lancaster, Col. Evan Evans, Col. William Evans, Col. Thomas, Col. Gibbons, Col. Thomas Levis, Capt. William Brooks, and Capt. Jacob Rudolph were appointed to collect the articles enumerated from persons who had not publicly given in their adherence to the State of Pennsylvania, and were instructed to give certificates to owners whose goods were taken, allowing them three pounds for new single blankets. The articles thus taken were to be delivered to the clothier-general. Dr. Smith tells us that this order bore with unusual harshness on the Quakers, who were indeed a class peculiarly situated, their religious principles prevented them from taking the oath of allegiance and abjuration, for not only did they suffer from the inconvenience of parting with the necessaries for their family, but in addition, "their conscientious scruples would not permit them to receive the proffered compensation."2
1 Penna. Archives, 1st series, vol. v. p. 686.|
2 Smith's "History of Delaware County," p. 319.
At this time the British were making every effort to forward the siege they had begun of Fort Mifflin, where, under the supervision of Capt. Montressor, batteries had been erected on Providence Island in the rear of the fort and communication had also been established with the fleet by way of Bow Creek. On the 23d of October an unsuccessful attack was made on the fort, twenty vessels taking part therein, but in the action the frigate "Augustas," a new sixty-four gun ship, got aground, was set on fire, her magazine exploded and she was a total wreck, as was the "Merlin" sloop-of-war, which ran on the chevaux-de-frise and sunk. The day before the attempt to carry Red Bank by assault had resulted disastrously for the British arms. On the 25th, Col. Joseph Reed, then at Darby, wrote to Council that a deserter from the Hessian Losberg regiment stated that the British army "must retreat in a few Days to Wilmington if they cannot get up their Provisions. Great Distress for Provisions in Town." Hence, when the news of Burgoyne's surrender was received in Philadelphia on October 31st well night Capt. Montressor record:|
"We are just now an army without provision, a Rum artillery for Beseiging, scarce any amunition, no clothing, nor any money. Somewhat dejected by Burgoyne's capitulation, and not elated with our late maneuvres as Dunop's repulse, and the 'Augustas' and 'Merlin' being burnt and to complete all, Blockaded."
Gen. Potter was active in his efforts to harass the enemy and cut off their means of supply, for we learn from a letter to President Wharton, written on October 27th, that when he first went to Chester County with his command the country people carried to the city all kinds of marketing, but that he had put an end to that trade, no one being suffered to go to Philadelphia without a pass. At the time he wrote, sixty ships of the enemy were lying at and below Chester. From the best information he could get he learned that provisions "is very scarce and deer in the city," and he also stated that he had moved all the beef cattle and the flour from that part of the county, - the territory now included within the present limits of Delaware County.
Two days after the date of this letter Gen. Washington (Oct. 31, 1777) wrote to Gen. Potter:
"As soon as the Schuylkill is fordable, I will send over a large body of militia to you, for the purpose of executing some particular matters. The principal one is to endeavor to break up the road by which the enemy have a communication with their shipping over the islands (by Bow Creek) if practicable; and to remove the running-stones from the mills in the neighborhood of Chester and Wilmington."
The commander-in-chief was very explicit in the orders to Gen. Potter, and the latter was instructed to execute them at once, and, if he had no teams or insufficient means of transporting the stones, he was directed to impress wagons. The grist-mills from which the stones were to be taken he designated thus:
"Lloyd's, about two miles on this side of Chester (afterward Lapadie, Leiper's Snuff-mills); Robinson's, on Naaman's Creek; Shaw's, about one mile back of Chester (now Upland), and the Brandywiue mills . . . . The stones should be marked with tar and grease, or in some other manner, that it may be known to what mill they belong, that they may be returned and made use of in the future, and they should be moved to such distance that the enemy cannot easily recover them. If there is any flour in the mills it should be removed, if possible, after the stones are secured. I am informed that there is a considerable quantity in Shaw's mill, particularly, which there is reason to believe is intended for the enemy. It is very convenient to the navigation of Chester Creek, and should be first taken care of. I beg you may instantly set about this work for the reason above mentioned. That no previous alarm may he given, let a certain hour be fixed upon for the execution of the whole at one time, and even the officers who are to do the business should not know their destination till just before they set out, lest it should take wind."
In a postscript, Washington says, "I have desired Capt. Lee, of the Light-Horse, to give any assistance that you may want."3
That this order was carried into effect we learn from a letter dated Nov. 4, 1777, written by Maj. John Clark, Jr., to Washington, in which he informed the general that, "Near Hook fell in with Capt. Lee with a few dragoons and about sixty of foot, among whom were a few riflemen . . . . The mills are dismantled, and we drove off some fat cattle from the shore at Chester, which I believe were intended for the enemy."4 I have been unable to find where the mill-stones were taken, or how long their owners were deprived of them. Certain is it that after the British evacuated Philadelphia, the mills mentioned were in full operation.
3 Annals of Buffalo Valley, by John Blair Linn, p. 144.|
4 Bulletin of Penna. Hist. Society, vol. i. No. 10, March 1847, p. 34.
|The service of light cavalry was indispensable in moving rapidly from place to place in order to intercept the enemy in their raids in the neighborhood of|