George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 21 September 1777

From Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

Red Lion [Pa.]1 21 Septr 1777: 12 oClock

Dear General

About 11 OClock last Evening we were alarmed by a firing from One of our Out guards—The Division was immediately formed, which was no sooner done than a firing began on our Right flank—I thought proper to order the Division to file off by the left, except the Infantry and two or three Regiments nearest to where the Attack began in order to favour our Retreat—by this time the Enemy and we were not more than Ten Yards distant—a well directed fire mutually took place, followed by charge of Bayonet—Numbers fell on each side—we then drew off a little distance and formed a Front to oppose to theirs—they did not think prudent to push matters further.

Part of the Division were a little scattered but are collecting fast—We have saved all our Artillery, Ammunition & Stores—except one or two Waggons belonging to the Commissaries Department.

Genl Smallwood was on his march, but not within supporting distance—he ordered his people to file off towards this place where his Division and my own now lay.

As soon as we have refreshed our Troops for an Hour or Two, we shall follow the Enemy, who I this moment learn from Major North are marching for Schuylkill—I can’t as yet ascertain our Loss—but will make out a Return as soon as possible, our Dead will be collected & buried this Afternoon.

I must in justice to Cols. Hartley, Humpton, Broadhead, Grier, Butler, Hubley & indeed every Feild & Other Officer, inform your Excellency, that I derived every assistance possible from those Gentn on this Occasion.2

Whilst I am writing I received yours of the 20th per Messrs Dunlap & Leamings, with the intelligence you wished to communicate3—It will not be in our power to render you such service, as I could wish, but all that can you may depend on being done by Your Excellencys Most Obedt Hble servt

Anty Wayne

N.B. The Two Letters you mention I never received—I have reason to think they fell into the Enemy’s hands, last Nights Affair fully evinces it.

Copy, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, PHi: Wayne Papers; copy, PHi: Wayne Papers.

1The Red Lion Tavern was at the site of present-day Lionville, Pa., about eight miles west of Paoli.

2Wayne’s division was camped about two miles southwest of Paoli on the night of 20–21 Sept. when it was surprised by a large British detachment commanded by Maj. Gen. Charles Grey. General Howe wrote George Germain on 10 Oct. that “upon intelligence that General Wayne was lying in the woods with a corps of fifteen hundred men and four pieces of cannon about three miles distant and in the rear of the left wing of the army, Major-General Grey was detached on the 20th [Sept.] late at night with the 2nd light infantry, the 42nd and 44th regiments, to surprise this corps. The most effectual precaution being taken by the general to prevent his detachment from firing, he gained the enemy’s left about one o’clock, and having by the bayonet only forced their out-sentries and pickets, he rushed in upon their encampment directed by the light of their fires, killed and wounded not less than three hundred on the spot, taking between seventy and eighty prisoners including several officers, the greater part of their arms, and eight wagons loaded with baggage and stores. Upon the first alarm the cannon were carried off and the darkness of night only saved the remainder of the corps. One captain of [British] light infantry and three men were killed in the attack and four men wounded” (Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 14:202–9).

John André, who was Grey’s aide-de-camp, says in his journal entry for 20 Sept. that “General Grey’s Detachment marched by the road leading to White Horse, and took every inhabitant with them as they passed along. About three miles from Camp they turned to the left and proceeded to the Admiral Warren, where, having forced intelligence from a Blacksmith, they came in upon the out sentries, piquet and Camp of the Rebels. The sentries fired and ran off to the number of four at different intervals. The piquet was surprised and most of them killed in endeavoring to retreat. On approaching the right of the Camp we perceived the line of fires, and the Light Infantry being ordered to form to the front, rushed along the line putting to the bayonet all they came up with, and, overtaking the main herd of the fugitives, stabbed great numbers and pressed on their rear till it was thought prudent to order them to desist. Near 200 must have been killed, and a great number wounded. Seventy-one Prisoners were brought off; forty of them badly wounded were left at different houses on the road. A Major, a Captain, and two Lieutenants were amongst the prisoners. We lost Captain [Williams] Wolfe killed and one or two private men; four or five were wounded, one an Officer, Lieut. [Martin] Hunter of the 52d Light Company” (André, Journal description begins John André. Major André’s Journal: Operations of the British Army under Lieutenant Generals Sir William Howe and Sir Henry Clinton, June 1777 to November 1778. 1930. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 49–51; see also Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side description begins Friedrich von Muenchhausen. At General Howe’s Side, 1776–1778: The Diary of General William Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernst Kipping. Annotated by Samuel Smith. Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1974. description ends , 34–35; Scull, Montresor Journals description begins G. D. Scull, ed. The Montresor Journals. New York, 1882. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vol. 14. description ends , 455–56; Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 149; and Baurmeister, Revolution in America description begins Carl Leopold Baurmeister. Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals, 1776–1784, of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces. Translated and annotated by Bernhard A. Uhlendorf. New Brunswick, N.J., 1957. description ends , 115). For Wayne’s defense of his conduct on this occasion, see his letter to GW of 22 October.

3This letter has not been found.

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