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

Howe's Voyage

The largest armada ever assembled in America set sail off of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. It was carrying 17,000 British soldiers and sailors in over 260 ships. The armada was headed for an attack on the capital city of Philadelphia. They underwent a distressful 34-day sea-trek. The voyage took its toll in lost time, seasick soldiers, and scores of dead horses.

Howe's voyage from Sandy Hook to Head of Elk
©1997 Independence Hall Association

Washington's troops started in northern New Jersey and shadowed the movement of the British fleet.

Washington lost sight of the fleet for an agonizing three-week period, starting when the armada moved further offshore as it passed the Delaware Capes. He feared that the fleet may have doubled back to New York to help General Burgoyne in his attempt to capture upstate New York against the Americans headed by General Gates.

Until he could determine the destination of the fleet, Washington needed to maintain a position where he could move north or south. When their destination was clear, Washington moved south to a position between Head of Elk and Philadelphia.