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Pennsylvania in the 1770s


State House in Philadelphia
State House in Philadelphia

Pennsylvania’s first military action during the American Revolution occurred in 1776, when General George Washington’s army, retreating from New Jersey, set up quarters on the western bank of the Delaware River. On December 25, 1776, Washington recrossed the Delaware and defeated the British at Trenton, New Jersey. In the late summer of 1777 the British, under General William Howe, invaded Pennsylvania via Chesapeake Bay and marched on Philadelphia, then the national capital. Washington’s army was defeated at the Battle of the Brandywine on September 11. The Continental Congress fled from Philadelphia, first to Lancaster and then to York, where it remained until June 27, 1778. As the British advanced on Philadelphia, General Anthony Wayne of Pennsylvania attacked the British supply lines but lost his small troop of raiders in a surprise attack known as the Paoli Massacre.

British forces entered the city on September 27. Washington sought to dislodge them, but he was defeated in the Battle of Germantown on October 4 and retired to winter quarters at Valley Forge in December. During the Valley Forge encampment in the bitter winter of 1777-1778, hardship and rigorous training forged a dependable army and created a new spirit of national patriotism among the troops. In the following summer the British evacuated Philadelphia, the congress returned to the city, and the war moved from Pennsylvania to the South. The only remaining fighting in Pennsylvania took place along its frontier, where the British gained the support of many Native American groups and raided settlements. The bloodiest episode occurred at Wyoming in July 1778, where British-led Loyalists and Native Americans defeated a military force of settlers. Prisoners were tortured and killed, the settlements were burned, and the civilian population fled. "Pennsylvania" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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