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"

Background to the Campaign: The Americans

George Washington
by Charles Wilson Peale, 1776

George Washington had spent the winter of 1776 in Morristown, New Jersey, keeping an eye on Howe in New York.

In Upstate New York, General Gates and the Northern Army prepared for an invasion by General Burgoyne, who was coming from Canada.

Washington didn't know if Howe was planning to move north into New York State to support Burgoyne or south to invade Philadelphia.

In June 1777, Washington learned about a massive flotilla that was boarding in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, across from Staten Island, destination unknown.

By late in July, Washington knew it was heading down the Atlantic coast.

Washington moved his army of approximately 11,000 troops by land to Wilmington, Delaware, about 20 miles north of where Howe would ultimately land and 20 miles south of Philadelphia.

General Washington, well placed for Howe's arrival, but wary nonetheless, needed an estimation of Howe's troop strength for this campaign and what to expect in planning this new phase of engagement.

Washington's previous appearances on the battlefield resulted in morale-boosting victories at Princeton and Trenton, but that was eight months past.

Whispers within Congress and even among some serving with him questioned the Commander's capabilities.