Occasionally something that you looked at many times, but have never seen, suddenly jumps out and changes your whole perspective. For example, I had always thought that as far as the Revolutionary War went, Delaware’s only claim to fame was that the new flag was first flown in battle on Delaware’s soil…….
Not so! Two hundred thirty-six years ago today, things were really jumping in these parts. It may seem like a long time ago to most of us, but in reality it is only a string of three ten year olds who each knew someone who was ninety. In the vernacular, that means that most of us know someone, who themselves knew someone who actually had spoken to someone, who was alive during the Revolutionary War!…… Whoa…….
August 25, 1777 close to 300 ships sailed up the Chesapeake Bay, anchored off off Elk Neck, Maryland, and began disembarking. That has been called the largest fleet ever assembled off either of the America’s coasts. To put that number into perspective, the famous Spanish Armada, consisted of a meager 130 Spanish ships. The most-oft talked about Battle of Trafalger, consisted of a combined total of some 60 ships. Modern historians can get a perspective by comparing those 300 ships to the 700 off of Dunkirk or the 900 off of Normandy…….
It must have been quite a sight to stand on the top Iron Hill and see over 300 tall masts sailing to defeat you. And on board those ships, were 15,000 solders disembarking to begin marching towards your capital city….That’s close to the total number of women living across Greater Newark in 2010.
Were we living 236 years ago, we would all be on edge! Anticipating a major battle on Delaware soil, 11,000 continental troops were moved into Delaware and bivouacked at what used to be known as Red Mill Neck, and now is near the Marshalltown bridge over top of Red Clay Creek.
The British moved in steps, out of Elkton to Gray’s hill, then up the road to Newark. One account said their line stretched from Glasgow to the bridge across the Christiana, where the I 95 and 896 interchange is today. They marched through the village of Newark, and then advanced parallel to today’s Kirkwood highway and camped at Milltown, just two miles from the American Camp in Newport. For one day, they stared each other down. The potential existed for a pitched battle to have occurred on Delaware soil. When no attempt was made by the British, Washington got scared that he was to be flanked to the north. Had General Howe chosen to do so, Washington and the Continental Army would have suffered a catastrophic defeat. At 2 am, the Continentals forced marched north to Chadd’s Ford, thereby occupying the high ground, and then on the following day, occurred the Battle of the Brandywine, the second to last major battle to be fought by Washington until Yorktown, four years latter.
Just a small footnote: it was in Delaware where General Pulaski, from Poland, met Washington while in Wilmington and was placed in charge of developing the calvary.
Although only a small skirmish actually occurred in this small state, with just a few things happening differently, a major conflagration could have happened that could have ended the war for the Americans.
Needless to say, it was relatively scary “in these parts” just 11 score and sixteen years ago.