On the March to Brandywine: — Part 2 of 10
Scavenging and RansackingWhile at Elkton, scavenging parties went in search of provisions. Although the punishment in the British army for theft of property was hanging or whipping, this didn't seem to deter this untoward behavior.
Lodging and DislodgingBritish and Hessian officers were quartered in town, while soldiers built a camp northeast of town, dislodging the overmatched Delaware militia. Small boats carrying camping equipment, baggage, and food were sent up the Little Elk Creek. Some exchanges with the militia were recorded, but overall the British were uninterrupted in their camp-raising and provision-stealing.
Divide and ForageBy Saturday, August 29, Howe came to the decision to temporarily divide his command into two divisions in order to facilitate foraging. There was now very little food remaining in the ships' stores. Of particular concern was a lack of fodder for the horses who had already suffered greatly during the journey.
With Howe at Elkton was General Cornwallis. Still at the landing site was General Knyphausen with the 3rd British Brigade and the dragoons under the command of Major General Grey. Instead of bringing them up to Elkton, he ordered them to go east.
Cornwallis Takes Iron WorksMeanwhile back at Elkton, Cornwallis responded to a skirmish with the Delaware militia. He ordered an advance corps of 400 infantrymen to secure a position on Iron Hill, thus keeping the ever-pestering militia at a safe distance from his main division.
Shortly after that skirmish, Cornwallis himself led a raid which captured Iron Works, a village located four miles north of Iron Hill. A British soldier noted that the militia impressively defended with "smart fire." Upon hearing the American shooting, "the whole (British) party marched immediately towards it, but the rebels kept firing and retreated, and at last dispersed in the woods." Casualties on both sides were light.
Back at Head of Elk
Howe Moves Things AlongBack at the Elkton, Howe suffered from not knowing the area's topography. His maps gave him "very inaccurate accounts" and his spies "very little intelligence." Yet Howe knew he would have to make tracks during the hot days of September to make up for lost time. He ordered Knyphausen to get going and rendezvous with Cornwallis at Aikin's Tavern.
Soon after the orders were given, it started to rain again. Despite the swampy roads, Knyphausen's division advanced north from their previous night at Carson's Tavern and attached itself to the rear of Cornwallis's division at Aikin's Tavern on the morning of September 3rd. Meanwhile Grey's column moved ahead to Lum's Pond.
On the morning of September 3, the British troops set out toward Cooch's Bridge. A surprise awaited them there.