Virtual Marching Tour of the American Revolutionary War

Report from Spear

At about 1:00 P.M., Major Spear, a member of the 8th Chester County Militia and a native of the area, reported that he had been reconnoitering the area above the upper banks of the Brandywine all morning and had seen no sign of the British. The Pennsylvania officer sent a messenger to Sullivan, who in turn sent a messenger to Washington, with the following report:

Since I sent you the message by Major Morris I saw some of the militia who came in this morning from a tavern called Martins on the forks of the Brandywine. He came thence to Welches Tavern and heard nothing of the Enemy above the Fords of the Brandywine and is Confident that [they] are not in that Quarters. So that [then] Colonel Hazen's information must be wrong.

After sending the above message to Washington, Sullivan ordered Spear to personally follow to confirm the report.

After interrogating Spear and due to Spear's honorable service and rank, Washington was convinced that there was no flanking movement.

Was Spear a Traitor?

The question remains, "How could Spear have missed a marching column containing 8,000 men?" Over time, suspicion grew that Spear was a Tory sympathizer who deliberately lied about his scouting mission that morning. But Spear spent the rest of the war helping the American cause, hardly the behavior of a traitor. Historians has successfully been able to plot many a course over the crude roadways whereby, especially with the foggy conditions, that Spear would simply not have encountered the marching column.