Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

—compiled by Denis Cooke


First hand accounts of the activities surrounding the British Redoubts built just north of Philadelphia, 1777-1778.

September 27, 1777: “This afternoon began to reconnoitre the heights near this city, for forming the defense of it, by Field Works, running from the Schuylkill to the Delaware rivers. This I was given to understand was our present grand object. Some party of the Enemy attacked the Queen’s rangers, killed one man and wounded three officers, but they were immediately drove back with some loss. The Commander-in-Chief entered the city and returned. I attended him and settled for the payment of the Inhabitants that could be procured to work. Allowance 8 Shillings a day to four and eight pence per day.”
—Journal of Captain John Montresor, July 1, 1777 to July 1, 1778, Chief Engineer of the British Army. GD Scull, Editor. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 6( 1882), pp. 42-43.

October 2, 1777: “A few of the Inhabitants made a kind of beginning at the Redoubt this afternoon. At 10 this morning signed the order for Provisions for 340 Inhabitants to work on the redoubts. Not yet attended the work.”
—Captain John Montresor, PMHB 6 (1882), pp. 44-45.

Undated. Approx. October 2, 1777: “The rebels often visited while we were in and near Philadelphia, but they were welcomed and handled in such a manner that their coming and going was more a special appearance than a warlike maneuver. Surrounding the city from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill, fourteen defensive positions were established, from which one could protect the other. Each was occupied by a captain, two lieutenants, and fifty men, who were relieved each day. On one side lay the English Grenadiers and Light Infantry, which was an exceptionally fine corps of troops taken from all the regiments, and on the other side the Hessian Grenadiers in barracks as a reserve. It must indeed make a fearful sight when the army is set in motion."
—Johann Conrad Dohla, A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution. Translated and Edited by Bruce E. Burgoyne, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990, 68-69.

October 13, 1777: “The redoubts for the defence of Philadelphia continued on, though slowly, as none but Inhabitants are employed on it, and that at 8 shillings per day and Provisions.” Captain John Montresor, PMHB 6 (1882), pp. 48-49.

October 19, 1777: “On the same day, the army encamped behind the ten redoubts that had been thrown up between the Delaware and the Schuylkill. The Hessian Grenadiers covered the right of the camp. The Hessian Jager Corps, the left, and the English grenadiers and light infantry, the center.”
—Letters of Major Baurmeister, Bernard A. Uhlendorf & Edna Vosper, Editors. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography, 60(1936), pp. 34-35.

October 19, 1777: “ Quitted the Camp at German Town and Encamp’d within the Redoubts at Philadelphia.”
—Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers, His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762-1780. Harry Miller Lydenburg, Editor. New York: The New York Public Library, 1930, p. 153.

October 19, 1777: “ We marched in two columns to Philadelphia, where we moved into a very strong camp on the side of Philadelphia facing Germantown. The ten newly erected but not completed redoubts, which lie scattered from the Delaware to the Schuylkill are in front of our camp.”
—At General Howe’s Side 1777-1778. The Diary of General William Howe’s aide de camp Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernest Kipping and Annotated by Samuel Stelle Smith. Monmouth Beach, NJ: Philip Freneau Press, 1974, p. 40.

October 19, 1777: “ On the 19th, about nine o’clock in the morning, the army moved back in two columns a good hour closer to Philadelphia. The right wing was stationed at the Delaware behind Kensington, in which village the Queen’s Rangers were cantoned, and the left was placed behind the Morris country house on the Schuylkill. The jagers received their post behind the wood at this plantation, in front of the army’s left wing. Work began today on redoubts which were to be constructed around Philadelphia. “
—Captain Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War, A Hessian Journal. Joseph P. Tustin, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1979, p. 96.

October 19, 1777: “On the 19th the army marched to Philadelphia, the Queen’s Rangers formed the rear guard of the left column, and in the encampment, their post was on the right side of the line, in front of the village of Kensington; the army extending from the Delaware to the Schuylkill.”
—Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe, A Journal of the Operations of the Queen’s Rangers. [New York: Bartlett & Welford 1844] Reprinted New York: The New York Times & Arno Press, 1968, p. 17.

October 19, 1777: “The Army marched in three Columns toward Philadelphia, and took a new position, extending from the Delaware to the Schuylkill.”
—Major John Andre. Major Andre’s Journal, Operations of the British Army, June 1777 to November 1778. [Tarrytown, New York: William Abbatt, 1930] Reprinted New York: The New York Times & Arno Press, 1968, p. 59.

October 19, 1977: “A thick fog, weather very fine. The Commander in Chief with the army marched from Germantown to the heights North of Philadelphia extending from the river Delaware to the Schuylkill 2 miles and encamped in the rear of the 10 redoubts.”
—Captain John Montresor , PMHB, 6 (1882), p. 51.

October 20, 1777: “I went this afternoon to see the British encampment, which extends in nearly a line from Delaware to Schuylkill.”
—The Diary of Robert Morton, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography, 1 (1877), p. 21.

October 25-29, 1777: “The other works were ten redoubts, which were laid out at intervals from the Delaware to the Schuylkill and begun soon after we took possession of Philadelphia. They were afterwards completed.”
—Major John Andre, p. 61.

November 19, 1777. “These (Gates Northern Army Continentals) reinforcements amount to 5,000 men, but according to rebel reports 18,000 which probably accounts for the rumor they tend to attack us. This we doubt very much because of our well fortified camp, the right flank of which is anchored on the Delaware and the left on the Schuylkill. In the front we have 10 well placed redoubts, which are connected by parapets.”
—Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen 44.

December 2, 1777: “The want of fuel obliged the army to burn all the Woods and fences about the City. Genl Howe’s outpost is at Mr. Dickensson’s & their lines, which are pretty strong extend from Frankford road bridge to Schuylkill.”
—The Diary of James Allen, Esq. Of Philadelphia Counsellor At Law, 1770-1778. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography, 9 (1885), pp. 427-428.

December 2, 1777; “In each of the ten redoubts, guard houses are being built. They are fully supplied with artillery and ammunition.”
—Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB 60 (1936), p. 40.

Approx. December 30, 1777: “We have taken up our quarters in such a way that from the battalion alarm places each brigade can march into the city (as well as conditions and order will permit) and also behind the redoubts within the city. To explain the arrangements more fully, I shall describe how the several brigades daily move into the eleven redoubts along the line from their own quarters. The redoubts are numbered beginning on the Delaware. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd are occupied by the English Guards and the Queen’s Rangers, the 4th by the 1st English Brigade, the 5th by the 2nd, the 6th by the 4th, the 7th by the 3rd, the 8th, by the 5th and the 2nd Battalion of Anspachers, the 9th by Stirn’s brigade, the 10th by Woellwarth’s, and the 11th by the Hessian grenadiers. The Hessian dismounted jagers have their quarters on the Neck, which is the point of land where the Schuylkill flows into the Delaware. The main part of this corps is on Gloucester Point and faces Province Island. The English dragoons and the mounted jagers have their headquarters in the center of the city. The daily duty in the city is performed by two captains, ten subalterns, thirty-seven noncommissioned officers, ten drummers, and 362 soldiers, from which one captain and a hundred men are detached across the Schuylkill to cover the wood-cutters.”
—Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB, 60 (1936), pp. 49-50.

Approximately January 1 –4 , 1778: “The general directions he received was to secure the country, and facilitate the inhabitants bringing in their produce to market. To prevent this intercourse, the enemy added, to the severe exertions of their civil powers, their militia. The roads, the creeks, and the general inclination of the inhabitants to the British government, and to their own profit, aided the endeavor of the Queen’s Rangers. The redoubt on the right had been garrisoned by the corps till, on Major Simcoe’s representation that the duty was too severe, it was given to the line: within this redoubt the corps fitted up their barracks.”
—Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe, pp. 33-34.

February 9, 1778: “Since the English supplies completely ruin the trade of the Americans, they were chiefly short of salt and clothing. For this reason, everyone who traveled across the line had to be searched carefully by the sentries, which compelled the inhabitants to resort to trickery. For example, two women who had the appearance of pregnancy passed through the outposts toward Germantown yesterday. The noncommissioned officer of the light infantry, who had charge of the picket, showed an interest in examining the pregnancy of these women. He found that it consisted of a quantity of salt on one woman and twenty-five calfskins on the other. Here again something is learned. One cannot be too careful at the outposts, for who knows whether or not these women might have supplied the leather for shoes for an entire regiment of the enemy?
—Captain Johann Ewald , 119.

March 19, 1778: “Fine weather. Began to repair the Parapets at the Redoubts.”
—Captain John Montresor, 6 (1882), p. 197.

March 19-20,1778: “On the night of the 19-20th this post sent out a party of sixty men, who crept up close to the Schuylkill opposite the 10th redoubt, where they collected some cattle and set fires.”
—Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB 60 (1936), p. 163.

March 29, 1778: “Sun. On the command in No. 9 on the Scul-Kiel with Capt. Shotz of the body-regiment [Leibregiment]; 1 Ensign, 3 Sub-officers, 1 drummer and 50 privates.”
—Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft [New York: The New York Historical Society, Collections XII, 1882] Reprinted New York: The New York Times & Arno Press, 1968, p. 32.

April 16, 1778: “In No. 9 on the Scul-Kiel.”
—Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft p. 34.

April 20, 1778: “Engineers marked out two advanced works in the Lines.”
—Captain John Montresor, PMHB 6 (1882), p. 201

April 24, 1778: “Begun on our advanced works in Front of the lines consisting of 400 men for the working party. Two semi-circular Redoubts, one for 100 men to the left one for 50 in the right.”
—Captain John Montresor, PMHB 6 (1882), p. 201.

April 24, 1778: “Two redoubts are to be constructed about 600 paces in front of our lines on well selected, commanding heights toward Germantown. Work was started today, and working parties of 400, with 200 men to cover them, are to be sent daily.”
—Captain Freidrich von Muenchhausen, 51.

May 2, 1778: “On the night of the 1-2nd of May there assembled between the 1st and 2nd redoubts fourteen companies of British grenadiers and light infantry, the Queen’s Rangers, and 120 dragoons under Major Crewe, the entire detachment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Abercromby. After a forced march along the Old York Road, they encountered at the Crooked Billet Tavern, twelve English miles from our lines, Brigadier Lacey’s militia brigade of 500 men, busily engaged in throwing up fortifications on the road in order to make Bristol and all of Bucks County secure.”
—Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB 60 (1936), p. 172

May 2, 1778: “In No.9 on sharp command.”
—Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft, p. 35.

May 14, 1778: “On sharp command in No. 9.”
—Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft, p. 35.

May 24, 1778: “Some of the Redoubts were dismantled without my knowledge, rather unmilitary.”
—Captain John Montresor, PMHB 6 (1882), p. 286.

June 4, 1778: “Today I was ordered to No. 10, but was taken along on this expedition. At the ruined inn called the Risin Sun, to which the command marched, I was detached with 15 men to a hill on the right side of the road where I place 5 sentinels.”
—Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft, pp. 38-39.

June 16, 1778: “All the redoubts that form the Line of Defence of this City dismantled of their Field pieces & c. before daybreak, but without my knowledge.”
—Captain John Montresor, PMHB 6 (1882) 291-292.

June 17, 1778: “One enemy patrol which had come by way of Bush Hill passed between our 9th & 10th redoubts and advances to 7th St. in Philadelphia. At the corner of 3rd and 2nd Sts, it finally came upon our last patrol and exchanged some shots with them, after which we evacuated Philadelphia entirely, leaving the rebels positively nothing but empty redoubts and houses.”
—Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB 60 (1936), pp. 181-182.

June 18, 1778: "This morning early the Kings Troops evacuated the city of Philadelphia and the several Redoubts and works that form its Defences and retired by land to Gloucester point 4 miles below it on the Pennsylvania Shore…”
—Captain John Montresor, PMHB, 6 (1882), p. 292.