As evidence, this page is archived as it stood through January 7, 2008.
Can further archeology at the site of the proposed SugarHouse Casino help reveal the location of British Redoubt [fort] No.1, and/or provide physical evidence of the line of redoubts which forced Washington to retreat to Valley Forge for the harsh winter of 1777-1778? Many remember Christmas 1776, when Washington led his troops across the Delaware to defeat the Hessians in Trenton, NJ, but one year later, in 1777, just a few months after losses in Brandywine and Germantown:
"On Christmas day Washington prepared a plan for a surprise attack on the redoubts north of Philadelphia. ... The main force approached the line of [British] redoubts and exchanged a few cannon shot without inflicting any damage. After probing the line of redoubts, Washington considered the defenses too strong and retired to Valley Forge." —John W. Jackson, "With the British Army in Philadelphia 1777-1778" (Presidio, 1979), pp. 169-170
The Sugar House Archeology Report (Oct. 2007) by A.D. Marble & Company does not cite any maps prior to John Hills (1797)—yet scores of maps, drawings, surveys, manuscripts and journals survive, providing a wealth of clues for the Engineers, archeologists, historians and citizens. Local historians read that report in early December and immediately noticed the omission of any Revolutionary War information, or anything else from the documented history of this area dating to even before William Penn's arrival in 1682. On December 12, 2007, an email was sent to the archeologists raising this concern about Redoubt No. 1 and included a surviving map from 1777, drawn by John Montresor, Chief Engineer of the British Army in Philadelphia. The archeologists responded that same day stating "cannot comment."
—Detail showing Redoubt "No. 1" clearly sits on or adjacent to the SugarHouse property, near the edge of the Delaware River on a line with Laurel Street (shown as the bridge over the marsh. Collection: Library of Congress.
The subsequent SugarHouse Archeology Report (Dec. 28, 2007) states on page 4 "... it came to A.D. Marble & Company's attention that a Revolutionary War period fort was potentially located within the subject property..." Yet that report cites NO other documentary evidence about the fort or the Revolutionary War era—NONE. This webpage gathers over fifty historical resources revealed by local historians in just the past few weeks. More are being added every few days.
Page 5 of the Dec. 28 report states "We believe no other significant remains from the fort exist. If any remains could possibly exist, it would only be the filled in portion of the depression that likely surrounded the fort. It is our contention that any remains of any kind would be difficult to interpret without the existence of the overall resource. No further action is recommended within the area of the former Fort."
Archeologists aren't needed if the "overall resource"—i.e. the entire fort—survived. Proof exists that Redoubt No. 1 survived for fifty years after the Revolutionary War, until just before 1830. Built on a hill, the soils and artifacts were surely scattered nearby to fill to the bulkhead line or other depressions.
"The British redoubts remained til lately—one on the Delaware bank in a line with the stone-bridge street—then no houses were near it; now it is all built up, and streets are run where none were seen."
—John F. Watson, "Annals of Philadelphia" (1830), p. 418
As proof that even older items survive even today on the SugarHouse site, page 3 of the Dec. 28 report states: "A small area measuring 50 x 30 feet within the central portion of Historic Area H-1 was identified as containing Native American artifacts. This area was extensively investigated... yielded primarily artifacts identified as primary and secondary flakes of jasper, quartz and argillite, probably created during the manufacture or maintenance of stone tools. Of secondary frequency was a collection of fire-cracked rock that did not form any distribution patterns in any of the four excavation units that would suggest the presence of a hearth. A broad-bladed, stemmed point was also recovered within this area."
Finding Reboubt No. 1 would reveal 18th century British military engineering, so admired by Major General Charles Lee of the Continental Army in America, who had bitterly complained of the incompetence of American engineers, remarking that "we had not an officer who knew the difference between a chevaux-de-frise and a cabbage garden."
—"Up from the depths of history, a remnant of the Revolution is pulled from the Delaware" Phila. Inquirer, Nov. 15, 2007.
Skeptics say "nothing can be found" but in November 2007, a "cheval-de-frise" was found "in excellent condition" after more than two centuries in the Delaware River; "it was probably placed in the river in 1775, at a time when the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, under the direction of Benjamin Franklin, was overseeing the colony's defense." This example survived off Fort Mifflin, despite the best efforts of the Corps of Engineers to remove them all in 1946. Documents show that "chevaux-de-frize" and other items, large and small, were used by the thousand-plus British and Loyalist soldiers to defend the redoubts and abatis just north of Philadelphia. Stories of other archeological finds from disturbed sites in Philadelphia are on the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum.
Redoubt No. 1 was built in 1777, just east of the Cohocksink Creek, to protect the causeway and bridge linking Front Street from Philadelphia to the main 18th century route between Philadelphia and New York, known then as the "King's Highway" or the "Road to Frankfort and N. York" [Frankford Avenue]. Redoubt No. 1 served as the base and barracks of the Queen's Rangers under the command of Lieut. Col. John G. Simcoe, from which they protected both the crossing of the Cohocksink and that transportation route to bring food from the Loyalist farmers in Bucks County to the 60,000 occupants of Philadelphia.
20th century historians unfamiliar with the massive changes to the landscape around the long-buried Cohocksink Creek have mistaken and misplaced its location, adding to the confusion. In 1701 the Cohocksink was a navigable creek which powered William Penn's Governor's Mill but by 1898 it was buried as a sewer. The edge of the Delaware River has also changed through industrialization during the 19th century. Local historians have spent over a decade searching through surveys, deeds, maps, journals and extant structures to reveal the long-buried history of this area known as "Point Pleasant", which prior to the Revolution was also home to the famed Bachelor's Hall (burned 1776) and Master's Distillery & Tide Mill, and by 1809 included the Point Pleasant Iron and Brass Foundry started by Charles Parke to cast bells.
To clarify the inconsistencies of some early maps and views (especially those produced in England after the Revolution), relevant quotes are added from various historic sources including. John F. Watson interviewed folks who lived through the Revolution for his "Annals of Philadelphia" and "In early times, the 'North End' was the common name given to the Northern Liberties, when having its only road out Front street. In the present notice it will include the region of Cohocksinc creek over to Kensington, and westward over the former Campington. The object is to bring back to the mind's eye 'its face of nature, ere banished and estranged' by improvement."
Other captions associated with these various maps, images, photos and text reveal the contradictions and complexities—yet hopefully clarify the best of current research. By sharing these historic resources, we honor the founding motto of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—"Essayons" or "we will try."
After a brief introduction to the area around the SugarHouse site showing surviving landmarks, scores of maps, drawings, photos, and words describe the history of the Cohocksink and Point Pleasant. Where possible, links are provided to the original sources. A through list of resources is provided, with links where possible to the original sources. Further historic material information is being scanned and prepared. Contributions of relevant information are welcomed and will be added.
—Detail from "A survey of the city of Philadelphia and its environs shewing the several works constructed by His Majesty's troops, under the command of Sir William Howe, since their possession of that city 26th. September 1777, comprehending likewise the attacks against Fort Mifflin on Mud Island, and until it's reduction, 16th November 1777. Surveyed & drawn by P. Nicole. Anotated: John Montresor, chief engineer." Library of Congress
Detail showing the ten redoubts across the north of Philadelphia, from "No. 10" along the Schulkyll River atop Fairmount (now the Art Museum) to "No. 1" along the Delaware River near the foot of Frankford Road (possibly on the site of the proposed Sugar House Casino). Front Street is between Redoubts No. 1 & 2, splitting left to the "Road to Germantown" (now Germantown Avenue) and right to cross the marshes of the Cohocksink Creek by causeway and bridge, connecting to the "Road to Frankfort and to N. York" (now Frankford Avenue), and through "Kinsington" is the "Point-No-Point Road" (now Richmond Street) towards the mouth of the Frankford Creek, about five miles up the Delaware River.
The "Fall or Wissahiccon Road" (at left) is now Ridge Avenue. The C-shaped structure east of the "A" in Philadelphia is the British Barracks, or "Campington", which stood between Second and Third Streets, near Green (just above Spring Garden Street). Pegg's Run is the lower creek which ran along today's Willow Street, just north of Callowhill Street.
The northern defense line started by [Chief Engineer] Montresor in late September  had received very little attention from the army engineers until after the batteries on Carpenters' and Province islands were completed. Work had, however, continued on the redoubts with civilian laborers being supervised by army officers and an occasional engineer. ... While Howe was still in Germantown, it was not considered necessary to man the fortifications under construction. The five miles between Philadelphia and Germantown were under constant patrol, and few American soldiers were to be found in the area. Rarely, an American patrol came down the Frankford Road, but always withdrew without challenging the makeshift British defenses. When the British moved their main army from Germantown into the City on 19 October , immediate steps were taken to defend the unfinished redoubts. Various British and Hessian battalions and regiments were assigned positions in the rear of the redoubts. With the rails and straw transported from Germantown, huts were constructed to serve as temporary quarters. As materials were in short supply, every fence within reach was carted away, and most farmers in the Neck [South Philadelphia] and near the lines lost their straw. Howe proposed to quarter the troops in the huts until winter made it unlikely that Washington would attack and until he could ascertain where the American army would establish its winter encampment. Although Howe continued to abhor the thought of a winter campaign, he was not as certain of Washington's plans, especially after the surprise attack on Trenton the previous Christmas. Regardless, it was evident that the British soldiers could not live in their huts beyond mid-December—even though Washington's Continentals would live in similar huts in Valley Forge. —Jackson, John W., With the British Army in Philadelphia 1777-1778 (Presidio, 1979), pp. 95-96
Wonderful descriptions of the activities around Fort No. 1 in 1777 survive, see the:
"First hand accounts of the activities surrounding the British Redoubts built just north of Philadelphia, 1777-1778",
"Excerpts from the Journal of Lieut. Col. John G. Simcoe and the Queen's Rangers in Revolutionary Kensington" ,
Simcoe's Military Journal ,
The Journals of Capt. John Montresor,
or this excerpt from "The Manuscript of Colonel Jarvis, An American's Experience in the British Army"
Fighting at Germantown under the Colors of the King
In this day's hard fought action, the Queen's Rangers' loss in killed and wounded were seventy-five out of two hundred fifty rank and file which composed our strength in the morning. Why the army did not the next day pursue the enemy, and bring them to action, I must leave to wiser heads than mine, to give a reason, but so it was. We remained encamped the whole of the next day, and gave the enemy an opportunity to rally his forces, get re-inforcements and take tip a position to attack us, which they did, at Germantown, where our Army had encamped, sending our sick and wounded into Philadelphia. At this battle the enemy were again defeated, and left us in possession of the field. On the morning of this action, I was under a course of physic, and was ordered to remain in camp, and had not the honor of sharing in the victory of this day's battle; I was so reduced from fatigue that I was returned, unfit for duty, and was ordered to the Hospital, and the next day took my quarters at the Hospital in Philadelphia. I was not so ill but that I could walk about, and the Doctors allowed me to take a walk about the City every day. Whether they had any orders from my officers on that behalf I know not, but so it was when others had not the same indulgence. I remained in the Hospital until I thought I was able to undergo the fatigue of duty and join my Regiment.
A few days after joining the Regiment, made an excurtion into the Jerseys, as far as Hattenfield, but it was ordered that I should remain at the quarters of the Regiment, which was at Kingsonton. The next day Captain Dunlap returned to the quarters ordering every man that was able to march to join the Regiment, and myself among the rest. It was near dark when we got to the Regiment. I was most dreadfully fatigued, and lay down to rest. I had hardly time to take my refreshment before the Regiment was ordered under arms, where we remained for several hours in a storm of hail and snow, and at last ordered to retrace our steps towards Philadelphia. I had marched but a few miles before a pain attacked my limbs, to that degree, that I could with difficulty walk, and soon fell in the rear of the Regiment, expecting every minute to fall into the hands of the enemy. I had the good luck to get up with the Regiment, who had encamped at a plantation on the banks of the Delaware. More dead than alive, the ground covered with snow, I scrambled to the barn, got into a large mow of straw, covered myself up with straw, and fell asleep and did not wake until daylight in the morning. On awaking, I heard Major Simcoe (who had a short time before, and while I was in the Hospital) succeeded Major Wymes in the command of the Regiment, and some of the officers in another part of the barn, but hid from my sight. They soon left the barn, and left standing on a beam within my reach a bottle partly filled with good madeira. I soon demolished the contents and set the bottle up as before, left the barn also, and joined my Company. In the course of the day the Americans attacked us, and we had a smart brush with them, had a Sergeant (McPherson of the Grenadiers) and several men wounded. In the evening we crossed over to Kensington and took up our old quarters.
—The Journal of American History, 1907, p. 450
—Drawing from Philadelphia Inquirer
The ancient path of the Cohocksink Creek is shown under the "a" in "Casino", between "food" and "court" and then winds left under much of the text, then empties (not drawn) into the Delaware River at the "Site of proposed Trump Tower" where Penn Street and Delaware Avenue meet. Note how the 22-acre site of the SugarHouse site spreads from Shackamaxon Street to below Frankford Avenue.
—Map created on Google Map.
Despite being turned into a canal and then a sewer, the lower parts of the Cohocksink are clearly evident under parts of the streets we know today as Canal, Allen, Hancock, Laurel, Bodine, Cambridge and Orkney; and in the oddly-shaped buildings which straddle the creek. Point A is near Pier 35, Point B is where the creek crosses under Girard Avenue. The Governor's Mill stood northeast of the ninety degree bend from Cambridge to Bodine Street. The area below the Frankford Road but east of the Cohocksink Creek to the Delaware River was known in Colonial times as "Point Pleasant."
—Detail from "Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, 1895" George W. & Walter S. Bromley, Plate 13.
The "Sugar Refining Co." (see Pier 46) stood on the riverside of Delaware Avenue, between and below Shackamaxon Street (above Pier 48) and Frankford Ave (terminating at the "PUBLIC BATH HO[USE]." Note also the winding "Canal St."
Robertson draws the mouth of the Cohocksink in 1777.
—"View of Philadelphia." [Lieutenant General Royal Engineers] Archibald Robertson, November 28, 1777. Drawing in sepia. 38 x 54.3 cm. Source: Spencer Collection, New York Public Library
Martin P. Snyder in "City of Independence—Views of Philadelphia Before 1800" (Praeger, New York, 1975), pp. 115-6, reproduces this drawing and states: "Archibald Robertson was one of the British engineer officers participating in the occupation of the city. Two weeks after the battle of Fort Mifflin had ended with American withdrawal, he crossed to the New Jersey shore and rendered in sepia wash a beautiful view of Philadelphia—seemingly securely British—from the distance. Its size permitted considerable detail and its quality is apparent."
This seems incorrect. Robertson's title—"View of Philadelphia"—is accurate since the City's northern boundary was then at Vine Street. Robertson's original drawings and diary survive in the New York Public Library but were "being conserved" and therefore unavailable for inspection when I tried to find other substantiating notes a few years ago. In 1930, the NYPL published the drawings and diaries in "Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762-1780 (Harry M. Lydenberg, Editor).
A crucial clue—ignored by Snyder and others—is the causeway from the bluffs of Northern Liberties to Kensington, linking Front Street from Philadelphia to the beginning of the Frankford Road. Instead, it seems Robertson was along the northern bank of the Cohocksink Creek—one of the three characters drawn in the foreground—looking south to Philadelphia including the tall steeple of Christ Church (2nd & Market Streets) and the lower steeple of St. Peter's (3rd & Pine Streets), southwest to the houses of Northern Liberties (the bluff being near today's Second and Poplar Streets), and southeast to "Point Pleasant," or the beginning of Kensington.The buildings at the left are likely part of Thomas Masters Distillery and/or Tide Mill. Thomas Masters had yet another mill, the Governor's Mill, farther upstream but also powered by the Cohocksink, where the liquor store now stands at the southwest corner of Germantown & Girard Avenues]. The frame structure in the middle of the water might have been used for fishing.
In 1739, Mrs. Mary Smith with her horse were both drowned "near the long bridge in the Northern Liberties." "Twas supposed it occured by her horse attempting to drink at that place where water is very deep." At the same causeway was quicksand, in which a horse and chair and man all sunk!—John F. Watson, "Annals of Philadelphia" (1830), pp. 415-420.
Detail, mouth of the Cohocksink Creek between Redoubts No. 1 & 3 (1777). Front Street then terminated east of No. 2 with the "Road to Germantown" heading northwest. A causeway and bridge crossed east over the Cohocksink marshes towards No. 1, from which, heading north is the "Road to Frankfort and to N. York" (now Frankford Avenue), while heading east-north-east through "Kinsington" is the "Point-No-Point Road" (now Richmond Street) towards the mouth of the Frankford Creek, about five miles up the Delaware River.
While the British army occupied Philadelphia, in the year 1777 and '78, they damned in all the Cohocksinc meadows, so as to lay them all under water from the river, and thus produced to themselves a water barrier of defence in connection with their line of redoubts across the north end of the city. Their only road and gate of egress and ingress northward, was at the head of Front street where it parts to Germantown, and by Kensington to Frankford. —John F. Watson, "Annals of Philadelphia"
November 22  was an eventful day in Philadelphia, starting with a phenomenon of nature, followed by an act that was the "Shame the British Nation," and ending with the joyful news that ships were finally coming through the river obstructions. At about 7:00 A.M. "a pretty shock of an earthquake was felt earthquake, probably because they were distracted by the wanton destruction of many estates north of the redoubts, between the city and Germantown. The exact number of homes which were needlessly burned is not known. Deborah Logan said she saw seventeen fires from the roof of her mother's house on Chestnut Street; other eyewitness accounts give varying numbers, but all deplored the action. Robert Morton's observations best epitomize the reaction of Loyalists and Americans alike.
“The reason they assign for this destruction of their friends' property is on acco. [account] of the Americans firing from these houses and harassing their Picquets. The generality of mankind being governed by their interests, it is reasonable to conclude that men whose property is thus wantonly destroyed under a pretence of depriving their enemy of a means of annoying y’m [sic] on their march, will soon be converted and become their professed enemies. But what is most astonishing is their burning the furniture in some of those houses that belonged to friends of government, when it was in their power to burn them at their leisure. Here is an instance that Gen'l Washington's Army cannot be accused of There is not one instance to be produced where they have wantonly destroyed and burned their friends property.”
Joseph Reed wrote Thomas Wharton: "The enemy have made at destruction of the little villas in the neighborhood of their lines. The bare walls are left; the doors, windows, roofs and floors are all gone to make huts. Not the least trace of a fence or fruit tree is to be seen.”—Jackson, John W., With the British Army in Philadelphia 1777-1778 (Presidio, 1979), pp. 104-105
Plan of the English Lines, Philadelphia 1777.
—Scan of Plan of the English Lines Philadelphia 1777 . Original source "Narrative and Critical History of America," Justin Winsor (Editor), (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston, 1887), Vol VI, p. 440. [Note, this eight volume work was expanded to a sixteen volume work by 1889 and it has been reprinted subsequently.] The caption reads:
NOTE: This plan of the British works between the Delaware and Schuylkill is sketched from the main portion of a drawing preserved in the Penna. Hist. Society, which bears the following indorsement: 'The redoubts in the English lines are ten, besides two advanced ones. No. 1, which I took a plan of in the month of July, was then compleat, but the excessive heat of the weather and many avocations prevented our prosecuting the survey till October, by which time the wooden work of the other redoubts, as well as the abaties, were carried away, which rendered it uncertain how many platforms there were in each, but from what traces remained [I] believe I am right in nos. 2 & ten; the other seven [eight] varied so little from no. 2, that the plan of that may serve for the rest; I am equally uncertain whether the abatis ran in direct lines from the redoubt to redoubt or formed angles, but know that each part terminated at about 20 feet from the counter-scarps of contiguous redoubts, these intervals being occasionally stopped by chevaux-de-frize. All the 10 redoubts were well faced both within and without with strong planks, but the advanced redoubts and other small pieces were only faced with fascines. On the right of the line where small streams run through swampy ground an inundation was formed by sloping the arches of the bridges, and making dams were necessary, each furnished with a tumbling dam, well planked on the top and slopes of the main dam to carry off superfluous water. LEWIS NICOLA.
Enlarged plans and cross-sections of redoubts nos, 1, 2, and 10 are given in the margin, as well as the western advanced redoubt, and other small works, including the "Barriers across Kensington and Germantown roads with a cremaillered work between them cut out of the bank between the roads." The stars near the lines denote the places of "houses destroyed by the English." Cf. description in Penna. Mag. of Histo., iv. 181
Plan of British Defenses, north side of Philadelphia, 1778 shows close ups of the riverfront fort and construction details.
Faden redraws Montresor, confuses Pegg's Run & Cohocksink Creek.
—"A Plan of the City and Environs of Philadelphia with the Works and Encampment of His Majesty's Forces...", William Faden's engraving (1779) and "Atlas of Battles of the American Revolution" (London, 1793).
William Faden, engraving this map in London in 1779, confuses Pegg's Run with the Cohocksink Creek—a mistake clearly visible when comparing it to Montresor's original below (drawn in Philadelphia in 1777, now in the collection of the British Museum), which shows Pegg's Run just north of Philadelphia with the defenses along the Cohocksink Creek. —Both maps copied from Martin P. Snyder, "City of Independence—Views of Philadelphia Before 1800" (Praeger, New York, 1975), pp. 116-119.
—Detail, "A Survey of the City of Philadelphia & it's Environs ... & the several Batteries & Works constructed thereon," John Montresor Chief Engineer, 31-7/8" x 27-3/8", collection of the British Museum.
Rochambeau's march, 1781-1782
—Detail from "Read's Lion tavern à Philadelphie" [March from Red Lion Tavern to Philadelphia], MS, 22 x 33 cm, Princeton University Library, Bethier Papers, No. 16-4, reproduced in Howard C. Rice Jr., & Anne S. K. Brown (translators and editors), "The American Campaigns of Rochambeau's Army, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783", (Princeton University Press, 1972).
3-4 September 1781. "The road bears right a bit but nevertheless comes closer to the river. On either side of the road you find woods, county houses, and ruins that are monuments to the wrath of the English. Half a mile from the city you see remains of General Howe's lines. Soon you cross one of the works that the English had built for the defense of the town. The road turns left, you cross a brook called Cohocksink Creek, pass through the suburb of Kensington, and reach Philadelphia."—"The American Campaigns of Rochambeau's Army," Vol II, p. 75.
See the "ancienne ligne Anglaise" on the map, described above as "remains of General Howe's lines." Kensington is shown at the mouth of the next creek, the Aramingo Creek. As part of their 625-mile march, over 5,000 troops under Rochambeau, plus over a thousand animals on hoof and a similar number of wagons, marched along this route, just days after Washington and his troops. Rochambeau's troops camped on the banks of the Schuylkill River (shown by the yellow boxes), about where 23rd Street is today, between Race and Locust Streets.
—Detail from "Twenty-seventh Camp at Philadelphia", MS, 32 x 21 cm, Princeton University Library, Bethier Papers, No. 39-27, reproduced in Howard C. Rice Jr., & Anne S. K. Brown (translators and editors), "The American Campaigns of Rochambeau's Army, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783", (Princeton University Press, 1972).
After the victory at Yorktown, VA, and the surrender of Cornwallis, Rochambeau's troops marched north, returning to Philadelphia on August 31- September 4, 1782. Rochambeau's troops camped just north of the Cohocksink Creek, just east of where Second Street and Germantown Avenue—"Chemin de German Town"—meet (the site of the recently demolished Schmidt's Brewery). Berthier shows the main route—"Chemin de Read-Lyons Tavern" or Road to Red Lion Tavern (fifteen miles north up Frankford Avenue)— as being the second road after crossing the Cohocksink.
Note the "Digue" or dike (in red) across the mouth of the Cohocksink, below the causeway and bridge. Also note the small mark to the top right of the "e", shaped rather like a hot air balloon. This seems to be a distinctive mark, not a splotch or mistake, and might denote British Redoubt No. 1
—Detail "New York to Philadelphia (1789)", C. Colles.
The approach to Philadelphia from New York along Frankford Road, crossing over the "Cohocksinck Creek" to Front Street or bend to Second Street. Note the C-shaped [British] "Barrack" (between today's Second and Third Streets, Green Street and Fairmount Avenue), and the "Cho-que-no-quok" or Pegg's Run (today's Willow Street, just north of Callowhill Street).
"Philadelphia" by Charles P. Varle (1802). Two detailed views from the full map online, c/o David Rumsey.
Detail showing the "Entrenchment of the English in the Late War" (dotted line) and four fortifications (an open square with four dark squares at the corners) between the Schuylkill River at Fairmount [Fort No. 10 at the Art Museum] and where the Cohocksink Creek meets the Delaware River (Reboubt No. 1 in Kensington).
Detail around Cohocksink Creek, note the extant fortifications (surely British Reboubt No. 1), between Frankford Road and Shackamaxon Street, below "Hall" Street. ("Hall" stood for the infamous "Batchelor's Hall"). Note also the "Globe Mills" at top left, the former "Governor's Mill" which was powered by the Cohocksink.
When the long stone bridge was built, in 1790, (its date is marked thereon and done by Souders) they came, at the foot of the foundation, to several curiosities, described to me by those who saw them, to wit: —a hickory hand-cuff, perfectly sound—several leaden weights, for weighing—a quantity of copper farthings, and a stone hollowed out like a box, and having a lid of the same.—John F. Watson, "Annals of Philadelphia" (1830), pp. 415-420.
Formerly the Delaware made a great inroad upon the land at the mouth of the Cohocksinc, making there a large and shallow bay, extending from Point Pleasant down to Warder's long wharf, near Green Street. It is but about 30 years since the river came up daily close to the houses on Front and Coates' street, and at Coates' street the dock there, made by Budd's wharfed yard, came up to the line of Front Street. All the area of the bay (then without the present street east of Front street, and having none of the wharves now there) was an immense plane of spatterdocks, nearly out to the end of Warder's wharf, and on a line to Point Pleasant. The lower end of Coates' street was then lower then now; and in freshets the river laid across Front street. All the ten or twelve houses are north of Coates' street, on the east side, were built on made-ground, and their little yards were supported with wharf-logs, and bush-willows as trees. The then mouth of Cohocksinc was at a wooden drawbridge, then the only communication to Kensington, which crossed at Leib's house opposite to Poplar lane; from thence a raised causeway ran across to Kensington, was not then in existence. On the outside of this causeway the river covered, and spatterdocks grew, and on the inside there was a great extent of marshy ground alternately wet and dry, with the ebbing and flowing of the tide; the creek was embanked on the east side. The marsh was probably 200 feet wide where the causeway at the stone bridge now runs. The branch of this creek which run up to the Globe mill, [on the place now used as Craig's cotton manufactory] was formerly deeper than now. Where it crosses Second street, at the stone bridge north of Poplar lane, there was in my time a much lower road, and the river water, in time of freshets, used to overflow the low lots on each side of it. The houses near the causeway, and which were there 30 years ago, are now buried one story underground. The marsh grounds of Cohocksinc used to afford good shooting for woodcock and snipe &c. The road beyond, "being Front street continued," and the bridge thereon, is all made over this marsh within the last 16 years; also, the road leading from the stone bridge across Front to Second street—the hill, to form that road, has been cut down full 20-25 feet, and was used to fill up the Front street causeway to the York road, &c. The region of country to the north of this place and of Globe mill, over to Fourth street mill-dam, was formerly all in grass commons, without scarcely a single house or fence thereon, and was a very great resort for shooting kill-dear and snipe. It was said the British had burned up all the former fences, and for many years afterwards no attempt was made to try and renew them. On these commons bullbaiting sometimes occured, and many military trainings. None of the present ropewalks were then there; but one run where Poplar lane now lies, from Front to Second street—that not having been a street til within 25 years ago. The British redoubts remained til lately—one on the Delaware bank in a line with the stone-bridge street—then no houses were near it; now it is all built up, and streets are run where none were seen. The next redoubt, west, stood in an open grass lot of Captain Potts, on Second street and in front of where St. John's Methodist church now stands.—[John street was not then run there.] Another redoubt stood on Poplar lane and corner of Fifth street,—another back of Bush Hill house, and another was on Fair Mount,—another on the hill south of High street, where the waterworks were located. All the Cohocksinc marsh is now filled up and built upon, and an imense long wharf and a bridge from it is made to join a street to Kensington.—John F. Watson, "Annals of Philadelphia" (1830), pp. 415-420.
—Detail, "Philadelphia and the commencement of the road to New York", S.S. Moore & T.W.Jones (1802)
Painted in 1800, and supposedly true to life, could the wooden structure to the right of the famed Treaty Tree (flying the flag) be the surviving British Redoubt No.1?
—Detail "Camac Family Estate Papers,1802-1860" HSP, Call # A39, 4V, Collection 1420.
Starting in the early 1700s, the Masters Family purchased about 1,200 acres north of the Cohocksink Creek, including Point Pleasant. By the early 1800s, the heiresses were Sarah Masters (the wife of Turner Camac) and Mary Masters (the wife of Richard Penn, William's grandson). This watercolor map shows the division of property between them, with the lots shown as "S. Masters / S. M." and "R. M. Penn / R. M. P."
Since other maps suggest that British Redoubt No. 1 was located within the area enclosed by Beach / Hall Street, Maiden Lane and the Delaware River, a close examination of the deeds in that small area might reveal a description and location of British Redoubt No. 1. The first crossing over the Cohocksink Creek from Northern Liberties to Kensington was by the causeway and stone bridge (now Laurel Street). Later, perhaps atop the dike, a second crossing appeared with a wood draw-bridge.
—"Plan of the Estate of Thomas and William Masters as taken from the records in the office of the Recorder of Deeds, Philadelphia."
THE COHOCKSINK CREEK AND POINT PLEASANT BEFORE 1777.
Surveys and disputes over property boundaries provide many clues to the ancient paths of the winding Cohocksink Creek, the edge of the Delaware River, plus the newly laid-out roads and buildings around 1730. The Logan Papers at HSP are a superb resource with over forty surveys and descriptions. Early deeds and lawsuits provide additional evidence to help locate the exact sites of demolished Colonial-era structures.
—Partition of Lands among Fairman Heirs, c. 1714.
Front Street crosses Pegg's Run before terminating south of the Cohocksink, where the road to Germantown Road leads up to Stacy's field and the Mill. John Watson provides superb details in his "Annals of Philadelphia" (1830), pp. 415-420.
The whole region was originally patented to Jurian Hartsfelder, in 1676 by Governor Andros of New York government. In ten years afterwards he sold out to D. Pegg his whole 350 acres, extending from Cohocksinc creek, his northern line, to Pegg's run, his southern line. That part beyond Cohocksinc, northward, which came under Penn's patent, was bought, in 1718, by J. Dickinson—say 945 acres—at 26s. 8d. sterling, and extending from the present Fairhill estate over to Bush Hill. Part of the same estate has been known in more modern times as "Master' estate and farm," and some of it is now in possession of Turner Camac, Esq. who married Masters' daughter.
The primitive state of the North End near the Cohocksinc creek, is expressed in a petition, of the year 1701, of the country inhabitants (115 in number) of Germantown, Abington, & c. praying the Governor and Council for a settled road into the city, and alleging that "they have lately been obliged to go round new fences, from time to time set up in the road by Daniel Pegg and Thomas Sison,"* [* This name was spelt Tison in another place] for that as they cleared their land, they drove the travellers out into uneven roads and very dangerous for carts to pass upon. They therefore pray "a road may be laid out from the corner of Sison's fence straight over the creek [meaning the Cohocksinc, and also called Stacey's creek] to the corner of John Stacey's field, and afterwards to divide into two branches—one to Germantown and one to Frankford." They add also that Germantown road is most travelled—taking thereby much lime and meal from three mills, with much malt, and a great deal of wood, timber, &c. At the same time they notice the site of the present "long stone bridge and causeway over to Kensington, by saying "they had measured the road that is called the Frankford road, over the bridge from about the then part of the tobacco field, to a broad stone upon Thomas Sison's hill near his fence, and find it to be 380 perches, and thence to the lower corner of John Stacey's field to the aforesaid tobacco field 372 perches, beside (along) the meadow and creeek by John Stacey's field, and of the latter we had the disadvantage of the woods, having no line to go by, and finding a good road all the way and very good fast lands." I infer from this petition (now in the Logan collection) that they desired the discontinuance of the then road over the long bridge to Frankford,** [** It is possible, however, that the long bridge may have been one on piles, directly out Front street as it now runs - as such piles were there in my youth, and a narrow causeway. It was either the remains of old time, or it had been made by the British army as they flooded that land.] and that both Germantown and Frankford roads should diverge "by as near a road, having fast land all along."
—Survey 10th mo. 1729/30, "I suppose a small part of Frankford Road near the Bridge... This was my survey of Ye. Road..." [to Frankford]
—Survey March 10, 1729/30, "[?] to flat part of the Road by Masters Tide Mill to Palmer's Line including the Hall Land." [Masters Tide Mill is likely the square structure near the river]. Source: HSP, Logan's Papers, Vol 13:41
A letter of Robert Fairman's, of the 30th of 8 mo. 1711, to Jonathan Dickinson, speaks of his having a portion of the 13 acres of his land next the Coxon creek (Cohocksinc) and in Shackamaxo.*** [*** Thus determining, as I presume, that Shackamaxon began at Cohocksinc creek, and went up to Gunner's creek.] In another letter of the 12th of 3 mo. 1715, he says "the old road and the bridge to it being so decayed and dangerous for passengers, my brother Thomas, with Thomas Masters, and others thought it proper to move your court for a new road, which being granted, a new bridge was made and the road laid out, and timber for the bridge was cut from my planatation next the creek; but not being finished before my brother Thomas died, has since been laid aside and the old bridge and road are repaired and used—thus cutting through that land of mine and his, so as to leave it common and open to cattle, & c. notwithstanding the new road would have been a better route. This has proceeded from the malice of some who were piqued at my brother."
In the year 1713, the Grand Jury, upon an inspection of the state of the causeway and bridge over the Cohocksinc, on the road leading to the "Governor's mill"—where is now Craig's manufactory—recommend that a tax of one pence per pound be laid "to repair the road at the new bridge by the Governor's mill, and for other purposes." In 1739 the said mill took fire and was burnt down. It was thought it occured from the wadding of guns fired at wild pigeons.
This mill seems to have been all along an ill adventure; for James Logan, in 1702, speaking of the Governor's two mills, says, "those unhappy expensive mills have costs since his departure upwards of 200 in dry money. They both go these ten days. The "Town Mill," (now Craig's place) after throwing away 150£. upon her, does exceeding well, and of a small one is equal to any in the province."
Old Mr. Wager (the father of the present Wagers) and Major Kisell have both declared, that as much as 60-65 years ago they had seen small vessels with falling masts go up the Cohocksinc creek with grain, to the Globe mill—the same befoe called the Governor's mill. Old Captain Potts, who lived near there, told me the same thing when I was a boy. —John F. Watson, "Annals of Philadelphia" (1830), pp. 415-420.
—Detail of survey c. 1729 showing Fairhill. —Source: HSP, Logan's Papers, Vol 13:41
The Fairhill estate of Isaac Norris was over 800 acres, from the north bank of the Aramingo Creek towards the "mansion" [shown near the center of the image and below] which stood near today's 6th & York Streets. Philadelphia is the rectangle to the left with ten houses along the Delaware River. Pegg's Run is just north of the city line. Dotted lines signify Front Street, splitting at the Cohocksink Creek towards Germantown and Frankford [shown at right]. Ridge Avenue heads towards the mouth of the Wissahickon and the "Robinson" mill [at top].
A superb, extensive and illustrated description of "Isaac Norris's Fairhill" by Mark Reinberger and Elizabeth McLean was published in Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 32, No. 4, Winter 1997, pp. 243-274.
"1733, April 4th, I took severall courses from my Tur" [turret atop Fairhill].—Source: HSP, Logan's Papers, Vol 13:48½
From his roof, the learned Isaac Norris took directions to surrounding landmarks:
S 51½ E. Balls house - was Palmers [also known as Richmond Hall, between the Aramingo Creek and the Delaware River. Palmer sold this in 1729 and bought 191½ acres from the Fairman estate to found "Kensington"]
S 24 E. Palmers Chimney [?] the present dwelling or near as I can ...
S 15½ E. Batchelor's Hall [which stood near the foot of Shackamaxon Street near the Delaware River].
S 4½ E. Market House [likely Second and Market Streets, Philadelphia].
S 24 W. Wm. Masters Chimney
The Cohocksink Creek as canal and sewer.
—Detail from birds eye view, "Philadelphia in 1888", Burk & McFetridge (source: Library of Congress)
The beginning of the Cohocksink Canal can be seen as the winding red line. Sugar House sits on the riverside of the parallel red train tracks, under the red #19.
—Break In Cohocksink Sewer - Germantown Avenue Above 2nd Street [below Girard]. Construction Of Cohocksink Sewer. (May 29, 1894). Source: Philadelphia Archives / PhillyHistory.org
Inspectors from the Philadelphia Water Department say the Cohocksink Sewer below Girard Avenue approaches twelve feet in diameter, which seems close to accurate from this photo.
RESOURCES (books, manuscripts, maps, surveys, texts)
William Howe, "The Narrative of Lieut. Gen. Sir William Howe... (Baldwin, London, 1780), pp. 54-55.
John W. Jackson, "With the British Army in Philadelphia 1777-1778" (Presidio, 1979).
Philip Chadwick Foster Smith, "Philadelphia on the River" (Philadelphia Maritime Museum, 1986).
David Breckenridge Read, "The Life and Times of Gen. John Graves Simcoe, Commander of the 'Queen's Rangers' during the Revolutionary War, and first Governor of Upper Canada" (George Virtue, Toronto, 1890).
Harry M. Lydenberg, Editor, "Archibald Robertson, Lt. General, Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762-1780," (New York, 1930) [Robertson's original drawings and diary are in the Spencer Collection of the New York Public Library].
G.D. Scull, editor, The Journals of Capt. John Montresor from the original manuscript in the possession of the Montresor family (Collections of the New York Historical Society, 1881).
Lieutenant-Colonel John Graves Simcoe, "A Journal of the operations of the Queens Rangers, from the end of the Year 1777 to the Conclusion of the late American War" (Exeter, printed for the author, 1782?).
Lieutenant-Colonel John Graves Simcoe, "Military Journal—A History of the Partisan Corps called the Queens Rangers, Commanded b y Lieut. Col. J.G. Simcoe, during the War of the American Revolution", (New York, 1844).
"Excerpts from the Journal of Lieut. Col. John G. Simcoe and the Queen's Rangers in Revolutionary Kensington"
Frank E. Snyder & Brian H. Gus, "The District, A History of the Philadelphia District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1866-1971 (U.S. Army Engineer District, Philadelphia, 1971), pp. 106-115 & pp. 156-157.
Martin P. Snyder, "City of Independence—Views of Philadelphia Before 1800" (Praeger, New York, 1975).
Frank H. Taylor, "Valley Forge, A Chronicle of American Heroism" (Nagle, 1905, 1911, +), see items "The British Army in Philadelphia" & "Country Seats Destroyed."
Russell F. Weigley (Editor), "Philadelphia, A 300-Year History" (Norton, New York, 1982), especially pp. 138-139 with related footnotes. "The whole tedious business of gaining control of the Delaware left the British army feeling far less at ease in Philadelphia than they had anticipated. To ward off another attack by Washington, Howe erected a chain of ten redoubts, with connecting abatis, between the iwo rivers in a line running of and parallel to Callowhill Street. The construction of these works, begun while Howe was still in Germantown, was hampered by a labor shortage. Although Joseph Galloway was sure it would be a simple matter to get 500 civilians to do the digging, the most the British could obtain was about eighty. Few were interested in working all day for eight pence and a ration of salt provisions. Many summer mansions that might have sheltered snipers along
the defense line were burned to the ground, including John Dickinson's Fair Hill, formerly a residence of his father-in-law Isaac Norris II."
Edwin Wolf, 2nd, "Philadelphia, Portrait of an American City" (Stackpole, Harrisburg, PA, 1975).
MAPS showing the area around Point Pleasant, including the defenses built by the British in 1777 to defend Philadelphia.
— "A survey of the city of Philadelphia and its environs shewing the several works constructed by His Majesty's troops, under the command of Sir William Howe, since their possession of that city 26th. September 1777, comprehending likewise the attacks against Fort Mifflin on Mud Island, and until it's reduction, 16th November 1777. Surveyed & drawn by P. Nicole. Anotated: John Montresor, chief engineer." Collection: Library of Congress.
— A Survey of the City of Philadelphia & it's Environs comprehending the Neck formed by the Rivers of Delaware & Schuylkill; together with Province, Carpenters, & Mud Islands, & the several Batteries & Works constructed thereon. Philadelphia 15th Dec. 1777, John Montresor Chief Engineer, 31-7/8" x 27-3/8", at the British Museum. [Reproduced in Martin P. Snyder, "City of Independence—Views of Philadelphia Before 1800" (Praeger, New York, 1975), pp. 116-119.]
To His Excellency, Sir Henry Clinton K. B. General and Commander in Chief of his Majesty's Forces, within the Colonies laying on the Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to West Florida inclusive &c. &c. &c. John Montresor Chief Engineer, 26-1/4" x 38-3/4", at the University of Michigan William L. Clements Library, Clinton Papers, described in Randolph G. Adams, British Headquarters Maps and Sketches (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1928), pp. 77-78.
Untitled plan of Philadelphia, 35-1/4" x 27-3/4, at the William L. Clements Library, described in above, p. 77.
Untitled plan of roads leading out of the city, 12-1/2" x 15-3/4", at Library of Congress, described in P. Lee Phillips, A Descriptive List of Maps and Views of Philadelphia in the Library of Congress, no. 170.
Plans of British Army positions within present-day Philadelphia, by John Andre, at the Huntington Library, San Marino, California, reproduced in
Henry Cabot Lodge, ed., "Major Andre's Journal" (Boston, 1903), I:124, 128, 132, 134.
Untitled plan of a British camp on the Schuylkill River, by Sir Henry Clinton, at the William L. Clements Library, described in Randolph G. Adams, British Headquarters Maps and Sketches (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1928), p. 78.
— From New York To Philadelphia (1789), Christopher Colles
—Charles P. Varle, Philadelphia (1802). "To The Citizens Of Philadelphia This New Plan Of The City And Its Environs Is respectfully dedicated By the Editor. 1802. P.C. Varle Geographer & Enginr. "A beautiful, early map of Philadelphia in full period color. The scale is given at 75 Perches to 1 inch. The city is shown from the Delaware River to the Schuylkil River with the environs on the north and south. 24 lettered references and 28 numbered references to important places and buildings are below the title and 24 wards are keyed in Roman numbers above the title. Many of the country houses and farms around the city are named, including Penn, Dr. Wistar, and other notable early residents. Three inset views show City Hall, the State House, Court House, Library, and Bank of the United States. The tile is surrounded by a decorative cartouche. The quality of the engraving is superb. Ristow mentions an undated edition that was possibly issued in the year Varle made the surveys, 1796, but more likely in 1802. Wheat and Brun list a c.1794 State I that has one less numbered building reference, no Roman numbered ward references, and ""R. Scott Sculp. Philadelphia."" This was Varle's first map published in the United States. Until 1807, Varle was known as Peter C. Varle; after 1807 he is known as Charles P. Varle." —davidrumsey.com
— Philadelphia and the commencement of the road to New York (1802), S.S. Moore & T.W. Jones