Virtual Marching Tour of the American Revolutionary War

The Philadelphia Campaign: 1777

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

Paoli Massacre: Part 7 of 7

Charges Filed

Colonel Humpton filed charges against Wayne claiming that Wayne had received word of the coming attack, but failed to make "a Disposition till it was too late." A court of inquiry brought in a verdict of "Not Proven" which left Wayne's reputation on the line. Wayne demanded a court-martial to clear his name.

At the court-martial which lasted four days, Wayne testified that:

A Mr. Jones, an old gentleman living near where we were encamped, came to my quarters between nine and ten o'clock at night, and informed me before Colonels Hartley, Broadhead and Temple, that a servant boy belonging to Mr. Clayton had been taken by the enemy and liberated again, who said that he had heard some of their soldiers say that they intended to attack me that night. I immediately ordered out a number of videttes in addition to those already planted, with direction to patrol all the road leading to the enemy's camp. I also planted to new picquets, the one in front of a blind path leading from the Warren to my camp, and the other to the right, and in the rear which made on that night not less than six different picquets.

I had, exclusive of these, a horse picquet under Captain Stoddard, well advanced on the Swedes' Ford Road, being the very way the enemy marched that night. But the very first intelligence which I received of their advancing was from one of the videttes which I sent out in consequence of the timely notice from Mr. Jones, had only time to go about a mile before he met the enemy. Immediately on his return the troops were all ordered to from, having been warned to lay on their arms in the evening. At this time it was raining and in order to save the cartridges from wet, I ordered the soldiers to put their cartouch-boxes under their coats. This, gentlemen, does not look like a surprise [since] we were prepared either to move off or to act as the case might require.

The tribunal declared that Wayne had done "everything that could be expected from an active, brave and vigilant officer." He was acquitted with the "highest honor."