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"

The Second American Defense

The Americans rallied the scattered regiments into a second defensive line about 800 yards southwest of the initial encounter. Fierce fighting resumed.

What excessive fatigue. A rapid march from four o'clock in the morning till four in the eve, when we were engaged. Till dark we fought. Describe that battle. 'Twas not like those at Covent Garden or Drury Lane...There was the most infernal Fire of cannon and musquetry. Most incessant shouting, 'Incline to the right! Incline to the left! Halt! Charge!' etc. The balls ploughing up the ground. The trees cracking over one's head. The branches riven by the artillery. The leaves falling as in autumn by the grapeshot...A ball glanced about my ankle and contused it. For some days I was lifted on horseback in men's arms.
-British captain

General Howe rode to Birmingham Hill form Osborne Hill, and directed the battle from the newly-taken eminence. The British launched a new line of attack.

The fighting here was the fiercest of the entire battle. The American line gave way five times, ever re-forming pushed farther back.

The officers "exerted themselves beyond description to keep up" the troops morale," recalled Sullivan. "Five times did the enemy drive our troops from the hill, and as often was it regained, the summit often disputed muzzle to muzzle."

[Read in detail about Battle Hill]

Where's Washington?

Washington had been receiving frantic messages from Sullivan concerning this new attack. Yet, Washington was skeptical — he still believed that only a fragment of the overall British force was attacking to the north. In the second of his required daily dispatches to Congress Washington explained that a "severe cannonade" was taking place to his north. "I suppose we shall have a very hot evening," he continued. But he was curiously absent. He still believed the main British force was with Knyphausen.