Virtual Marching Tour of the American Revolutionary War

The Philadelphia Campaign: 1777

American colonies represented as pieces of a snake with the caption "join or die"

Head of Elk, Maryland

General William Howe
1872 engraving by Henry Bryan Hall

In late July 1777, a 265-ship armada under General Howe's command finally arrived at the Head of Maryland's Elk River. 17,000 soldiers aboard the ships had endured a debilitating six week journey originating at Sandy Hook, New Jersey, across from Staten Island, New York.

Howe had hoped to complete the trip much faster than he did. In Maryland, he hoped to find a legion of Loyalists ready to fight with the British. He didn't.

What he did have to do was to get all his ships unloaded of men, horses, weapons and supplies. Then he had to begin his march on Philadelphia to the north.

In between, stood George Washington and the Continental Army ready to stop him.