“It was clear at the outset that this area has been in large part neglected, but that it has a distinctive and important history which reflects major economic and social trends as manifest in Philadelphia….” — Anthony Garvan (1967)

September 29, 2008

Dr. Anthony Garvan from the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of American Civilization led the Philadelphia Historical Salvage Council from its inception in 1967, continued:

“In fact, it now seems evident that the Northern Liberties-Fishtown-Kensington community, like Southwark, is one of the earliest speculative planned communities in English-speaking America and one which, by design or accident, attracted a relatively homogeneous group of residents, thus creating a community similar in many of its aspects to the new urban developments of the twentieth century. The architectural residential style developed, while typical of Philadelphia building elsewhere, has distinctive variants in design which quite precisely suited the family needs and personal aspirations of the immigrants and successive generations of occupants.” (Philadelphia Archaeological Salvage Council, Summary Report, August 15, 1967, p. 1, from Garvan Papers, University of Pennsylvania. UPT 50/G244, Box 31, Folder 15).


“… in the quarter-century following the Revolution, Philadelphians witnessed the beginnings of an industrial revolution…” — Ronald Schultz (1993).

September 29, 2008

Ronald Schultz, The Republic of Labor: Philadelphia Artisans and the Politics of Class, 1720-1830 (Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 165-66:

“… in the quarter-century following the Revolution, Philadelphians witnessed the beginnings of an industrial revolution. It was an experimental period for everyone involved, as much for the merchants and master crafts-men who became industrial capitalists and created the city’s outwork and manufactory systems as for the journeymen and half-trained apprentices who labored under their control. The uncertainty of the era was underscored by those who styled themselves the “manufacturing interest” of the city when, in 1787, they formed the Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts in the hope that an emulation of English industrial machinery would provide a safe and easy way to transform Philadelphia into a cornucopia of industrial wealth… It was, then, the anti-British embargo of 1807-9 and the subsequent second Anglo-American War that propelled Philadelphia’s transformation into a manufacturing center. The lack of competition from British imported goods between 1807 and 1809, and again from 1812 to 1815, provided a natural protective tariff for domestic production at the same time that idle merchant capital sought new forms of investment.”


“here in addition to the pleasing spectacle which is exhibited, of shipbuilding, in all the various stages,…” Thomas Wilson (1828)

September 29, 2008

Thomas Wilson, Picture of Philadelphia, for 1824, containing the Picture of Philadelphia for 1811 by James Mease, M.D. with all its improvements since that period, (Town, Philadelphia, 1828), p. 338-49

“Passing up Front street as far as the hay scales, take the right hand road, and crossing the turnpike (leading the Frankfort, Bristol &c.) you stride on the bank of the Delaware through Kensington, called Shakamexunk by the natives; here in addition to the pleasing spectacle which is exhibited, of shipbuilding, in all the various stages,…”
 


“Chestnut, Walnut, Spruce and Pine; Market, Arch, Race and Vine”

September 29, 2008

Nathaniel Burt wrote in ‘The Perennial Philadelphians’ (Little, Brown), pp. 529-30:

“The only area of the city that ‘Old Philadelphians’ really consider Philadelphia is that narrow belt that extends from the Delaware to the Schuylkill, south of Market and north of Lombard. The rhyme ‘Chestnut, Walnut, Spruce and Pine; Market, Arch, Race and Vine’ expressed the ultimate limits, north and south, of an ‘Old Philadelphian’s’ personal knowledge of the city—and Race and Vine were only included because of the rhyme. 

“Except for the more liberated spirits, or those for some reason not totally assimilated, ‘Old Philadelphian’s’ when they say ‘Philadelphia’ mean automatically the ‘sacred zone,’ their somewhat limited Philadelphia, and not the sprawling jungles to the north, south, west and even east across the river in Camden, the ‘Greater Philadelphia’ of Frankford and Kensington, Manayunk and Passyunk, of Marian Anderson and Connie Mack and W.C. Fields. It is not that they don’t know this Greater Philadelphia exists; in fact, many of them, particularly historically-minded older gentlemen, have a sort of benevolent curiosity about it, the feeling a bird-watcher has for some particularly busy bog; they know about the people that live there, but they don’t and won’t actually know the odd specimens inhabiting this swamp that surrounds the walled bastion, the inner, the forbidden city, of real Philadelphia, their own narrow historical, hereditary turf.” 


“Their only road and gate of egress and ingress northward”

September 21, 2008

 John F. Watson, “Annals of Philadelphia” (1830):

“While the British army occupied Philadelphia, in the year 1777 and ’78, they damned in all the Cohocksinc meadows, so as to lay them all under water from the river, and thus produced to themselves a water barrier of defence in connection with their line of redoubts across the north end of the city. Their only road and gate of egress and ingress northward, was at the head of Front street where it parts to Germantown, and by Kensington to Frankford.” 

 


“Today the English staff officers held an entertainment for the general-in-chief, Sir William Howe. The entire retinue came together at Redoubt Number One at three o’clock in the afternoon. They embarked in flatboats and passed down the Delaware River with musical accompaniment….” — Sgt. Maj. Johann Ernst Prechtel, Bayreuth Reg’t., May 18, 1778.

May 8, 2008

…  When the retinue passed the fleet of warships and transports lying at anchor in the harbor, all of which had flags flying, a strong salute was fired from all the cannons.  In a garden outside Philadelphia a banquet and ball was held, and at night a magnificent fireworks display was presented.  

(Translated by Bruce Burgoyne)


“The Delaware grounded, at the falling of the tide, near the present Upper Ferry to Camden from Kensington, and, before she could be got off, the guns of the British batteries compelled her colors to be struck.” — Sept. 27, 1777

May 3, 2008

“As soon as the British had taken possession of Philadelphia, they erected three batteries near the river, to protect the city against the American shipping. Before the batteries were finished, Commodore Hazlewood ordered the Delaware and Montgomery frigates, each of twenty-four guns, and the sloop Fly, some galleys and gondolas, to move near and attack them. On the morning of the 27th of September, they opened a cannonade upon the works. The Delaware grounded, at the falling of the tide, near the present Upper Ferry to Camden from Kensington, and, before she could be got off, the guns of the British batteries compelled her colors to be struck. A schooner was driven ashore, and the remainder of the vessels escaped down the river. The affair was badly managed, and disaster followed.”

Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution;… (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1860), p. 104


“The Kensington Screw Dock & Spermaceti Works” — Kenneth W. Milano, (March 28, 2008)

March 28, 2008

A chain-of-title search for this property revealed Deed AM, Book 22, 209 (December 14,  1831):

“Buildings, Spermaceti Works, Oil Factory, Blacksmith Shop, Stable Coach House, Tool House, Carpenter’s Workshop, and Wharf, Screw Dock, & Lot…together with all machinery, fixtures, tools, utensils, implements of the said Spermaciti & Oil factory, and 40 Screws & Fixtures & apparatus to the Screw Dock, & other buildings, wharves, docks, landings, landing places, streets, & ways.”

According to Joseph Blunt, editor of the American Register, the Kensington Screw Dock Company was formally incorporated in 1832-33:

“That JAMES MOTT, WESTERN C. DONALDSON, SAMUEL C. BUNTING, THOMAS W. MORGAN, JACOB T. BUNTING, WILLIAM FENNELL JR., THOMAS S. RICHARDS, THOMAS M. COFFIN, and JONATHAN PALMER, are hereby appointed commissioners of the Kensington Screw Dock Company.”

James Mott and Thomas M. Coffin are the husband and brother of famed abolitionist and women’s rights advocate Lucretia Mott (buried nearby at the Friends Fairhill Burial Grounds, 9th & Cambria Streets). The Coffins (including Lucretia, Thomas and their father) moved from Nantucket, MA, to Philadelphia, originally as commission merchants. James Mott was a teacher at Nine Partners, New York, where he met Lucretia Coffin. James Mott joined the Coffins in Philadelphia and later, married Lucretia.

Soon after the erection of the Kensington Screw Dock, it was advertised for sale (Dec. 13, 1833):

“Valuable Real Estate. Kensington Screw Dock. Will be sold at the Merchants’ Coffee House, Philadelphia, on the 19th of December next, at 7 o’clock in the evening, 

“All that valuable property known as the “Kensington Screw Dock, situated on Penn-street, Kensington, containing in front on said Penn-st. 150 feet, and containing that width into the river Delaware; together with all the improvements, consisting of a new brick building, 50 feet square, with all the machinery therein contained, forming the most complete establishment in the country for the manufacture of sperm oil and candles; a frame building 75 feet by 20 feet, both fronting on Penn-street. Also, blacksmith’s shop, tool house, stable and coach-house, carpenters’ shed, &c.; together with the screw dock, in complete order, and which has been in successful operation for the last two years, having raised during this time one hundred and fifty sail, from canal boats to ships of 600 tons burthen. This plan has advantages over every other for the purpose, is simple, and not liable to get out of order; an appropriation of $200 from its earnings being sufficient to keep the whole property in repair. It is secured by patent; and by an act of the legislature passed at the last session. A company can be incorporated for conducting the business. With constant employment it is capable of earning $10,000. The receipts for the present year have been $4,000; and from the whole property exceeding $5,000; the expenses for labor, hire of horses, about $1,000. 

“Upon the lot there is sufficient room without interfering with the operations of the screw dock, for the erection of buildings of any description, particularly for any manufactory where steam power might be required.

“This property presents the greatest advantages for conducting the whale fishery of any manufactory where steam power might be required.

“To the capitalist it affords an opportunity of safe investment, being situated in an highly improving district; and in the vicinity of the termination of the Delaware and Schuylkill and Trenton Railways.

“A tenant can be procured who will take the property upon lease of seven or ten years, and give security for the rent.

“Any further information can be obtained upon application to Thomas M. Coffin, upon the premises, or to Shober and Bunting, Philadelphia.

“Lippincoott, Richards, & Co. Philadelphia, Nov. 25th, 1833.” [1]

This advertisement brought a buyer:

“The valuable property known by the name of the Kensington Screw Dock, was sold at the Merchants Coffee House on Thursday last for $40,400. It was purchased by Mr. Thomas W. Morgan for a New-Bedford House, whose intention is to erect on the premises an extensive Manufactory of Spermaceti Oil and Candles. It is intimated that the enterprising owner after seeing the manufactory in full operation intends establishing a line of whaling ships which are to bring the crude oil direct to his wharf at Kensington.” [2]

The purchaser, Thomas W. Morgan, was one of the initial commissioners of the Kensington Screw Dock, and also from a New Bedford whaling house. 

Deed AM 51, 570 (1834) shows William R. Rodman purchasing “all the machinery, engines, screws, fixtures, apparatus, tools, utensils, & implements, to the said oil factory, & screw dock, with other buildings and improvements.”

Rodman, was a merchant in New Bedford, MA.—then the whaling capital of America—and a member of a prominent New Bedford family with whaling interests. Rodman’s mansion survives in New Bedford.

Rodman had Kensington shipbuilder Samuel Bowers—an earlier owner of this site—convert the “Rebecca Sims,” a famed ship originally built by Bowers, into a whaling ship.

Deed GWC, 50, 160 (April 7, 1850) shows Rodman sold the property for $30,000 to Edward Rowley, Algernon Ashburner, and George B. Keen, trading as “Rowley, Ashburner, & Co.,” later “Rowley, Ashburner, & Co., Kensington Screw Dock.” 

Marble & Co. not only misidentifies Rowley, Ashburner, & Co. as shipbuilders, but also states they were the original owners and operators of the Screw Dock (page 54, 1BII Report), when in fact they were commission merchants, who had been supplied over the years by the products of the Spermaceti Works and then bought the place in 1850. The forming of their partnership and the fact that they are commission merchants is mentioned in a newspaper advertisement of 1843:

“Co-Partnership Notice. Edward H. Rowley and Algernon E. Ashburner have this day entered into a copartnership under the firm of Rowley & Ashburner, for the transaction of a general commission business, at No. 6 South Wharves. Edward H. Rowley, Algernon E. Ashburer, Phila. January 2, 1843.” [3]

Footnotes:

  1. The New Bedford Mercury, (Dec. 13, 1833)
  2. Baltimore [MD] Gazette and Daily Advertiser (Dec. 26th, 1833)
  3. The North American and Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, PA), January 6, 1843

“Samuel Bower’s shipyards at Point Pleasant, Kensington, 1789-1830” — Kenneth W. Milano, (March 28, 2008)

March 28, 2008

In 1858, Samuel D.S. Bower wrote the “Bower Family of Philadelphia” which describes the history of Samuel Bower’s two shipbuilding operations in Point Pleasant, Kensington, above and below Laurel Street, both on the Sugar House site.

The author, Samuel D.S. Bower (1796-1863), was the fourth child Kensington shipbuilder Samuel Bower (b. 22 May 1760 – d. 10 Dec 1834) and his wife Mary Sutter (b. 16 April 1774 – d.12 Jan 1850). He worked as a shipwright, presumably with his father. The manuscript includes information from the shipyard’s business ledgers and papers, including the names of ships and their owners. Building and repair costs for the ships is also listed, down to the dollars and cents.

Samuel Bower was originally from the Southwark section of Philadelphia County. During the American Revolution, while his older brother William served as a Captain (later Major) in the Pennsylvania Militia, the teenager Samuel assisted building transport boats for the Continental Army on the Susquehanna River at Wrights Ferry. After a brief stop in Baltimore in 1781, Samuel came back to Philadelphia and located in Kensington. 

At one point he was partners with his brother Joseph Bower and brother-in-law Morris Goff, but by 1789 he went to work for himself. He first resided on the western side of Penn Street, near the southern extremity of Point Pleasant. His first shipyard was on the Cheeseman property, a few feet south of what was then Maiden [Laurel] Street, at Point Pleasant, Kensington.

Bower was selected a member of the Master Ship Wrights’ Society in January 1789 securing himself a career as a master shipwright. About the year 1792, Bower moved to the actual Cheeseman House, at the corner of Maiden and Penn streets. In 1793, during the Yellow Fever panic, Samuel and his family briefly moved upriver to Bristol, PA. 

Around 1800, Bower was solicited by the Spanish Government to become its Chief Naval Constructor, however after talking with friends and family, he declined the position. In the summer of 1801, Samuel Bower moved from the Cheeseman’s House back to their first residence on south Penn street, which became the Homestead where the family would live for about fifty years. 

On a number of occasions, Bower became both merchant and shipper and he owned a part of one or more vessels. This same year (1801) Bower was appointed by the Secretary of the Navy of the United States to be one of the Committee of Survey,  to examine and report on the condition of the Frigate Constellation. 

In 1803, Bower was elected and commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel of the Eighty-Eighth Regiment of the Militia of Pennsylvania, Second Brigade of the First Division of the Militia of the City and County of Philadelphia.

In April of 1809, to start a second shipyard, Bower purchased land 190 feet north of Laurel Street, with a front on the east side of Penn Street of 150 feet and extending eastward into the Delaware River to low water mark. 

“I now come to speak of a new operation which my ancestor [father] commenced on the 29th of April, in the year 1809, in the purchase from Mr. Benj. R. Morgan, for the sum of $6,250 the ground, known in Revolutionary times and afterwards as ‘The Battery. This favorite spot was the result of many citizens on Sundays, during the Summer season, where they sat beneath the boughs of a large, spreading willow which cast its shade far and wide, while with anxious stare they gazed upon the unruffled waters of the Delaware, as they passed by, with its eastern boundary the Jersey shore.

“The gravelly plain beneath was often filled with anxious spectators as they watched the interesting ceremony, as in the days of John the Baptist, as seeing their fellow creatures plunged beneath the cooling element in confirmation of their faith….”

Adult baptisms aren’t a surprise. In 1803, Samuel Bowers was one of the founders of the Second Baptist Church. 

After purchasing the land, Bower applied for a license to build a wharf, receiving this note from the Warden’s Office, Philadelphia, on May 4, 1809:

“License is hereby granted by the Board Wardens to Samuel Bower to erect a wharf on his property in the Northern Liberties agreeably to his plan lodge in this office. If the said wharf is not erected in six months from date hereof, then this license to be null and of no effect. 

“John Ashmead, Master warden.”

Followed by this description:

“Permission having been thus granted, as soon after this rising eminence gave way to the action of the shovel, spade and pick, whose constant inroads brought to light many Indian implements which no doubt, to the rising race, be curious to behold, while its crumbled form was carried by the barrow and cast into the water below.”

Bower also built a building 120 feet long, two-stories high. The lower story was divided into two workshops. The upper story was the “mould loft, where vessels were laid down and the models were made for the framing of the vessel. During the first five years of this new shipyard (1809-1813) saw Bower built or repaired 55 vessels. 

In 1815, Bower was appointed “by Col. W.W. Irvine, Agent for the United States, to make the necessary arrangements for the purchase of materials and the erection of Chivand de Frizes [sic], to sink in the River Delaware, to prevent the enemy, the British, from coming with their shipping to the city and destroying it.” 

During his shipbuilding career, Samuel Bower constructed 56 new vessels (27 Ships, 18 Brigs, 5 Schooners, 2 Gunboats, 3 Steamboats, and 1 Sloop), while repairing 323 vessels (149 Ships, 101 Brigs, 62 Schooners, 4 Gunboats, 1 Steamboat, and 6 Sloops). A total of 379 vessels were built or repaired at both of Bower’s Point Pleasant shipyards.

By deed of 13 August 1830, Bower sold his shipyard on east Penn Street, 190 feet north of Laurel Street. Thomas M. Coffin, the purchaser of Bower’s shipyard, would go on to erect the Kensington Screw Dock and Spermaceti Works.

Samuel Bower died on 10 December 1834, and was buried at the old Hanover Street Burial Grounds in Kensington. His remains were later removed to Monument Cemetery. 

Samuel S.D. Bower was 34 years old when his father, Samuel Bower, sold his shipyard north of Laurel Street in 1830. He was 62 years old when he wrote the “Bower Family of Philadelphia,” in 1858. Five year later, on 22 February 1863, Samuel S.D. Bower died and was interned at Hanover Street Burial Ground, with his father.


“Genl. Howe has withdrawn himself close within his lines, which extend from the upper Ferry upon Schuylkill to Kensington upon Delaware. They consist of a Chain of strong Redoubts, connected by Abattis. We have reconnoitered them well, but find it impossible to attack them while defended by a force fully equal to our own in Continental Troops.” — General Washington to Horatio Gates, Dec. 2, 1777

March 5, 2008

The Redoubt (fort) at “Kensington upon Delaware” stood on the Sugar House site.


“The nearer you approach to Philadelphia, the more you discover the traces of the war. The ruins of houses destroyed, or burned, are the monuments the English have left behind them, but these ruins present only a picture of temporary misfortune, and not that of long adversity… (Marquis de Chastellux, 1780)

January 9, 2008

… By the side of these ruined edifices, those still standing indicate prosperity and plenty. You imagine you are in the country after a storm: some trees have been blown down, but the others are still clothed with flowers and verdure. Before entering Philadelphia, you cross the lines thrown up by the English in the winter of 1777-78; they are still discernible in many places. The part of the lines I now saw was that of the right, the flank of which is supported by a large redoubt, or square battery, which also com mands the river. Some parts of the parapet were constructed with much refinement, which however increases labor more than it strengthens fortifications: these works are in the form of a saw, that is to say, composed of a series of small redans, or teeth, each of which is capable of containing only three men. As soon as I had crossed these lines my eye was struck by several large buildings, the two principal ones were a range of barracks constructed by the English, and a large hospital previously built at the expense of the Quakers.  Imperceptibly I found myself in the town, and after following three or four very wide and perfectly straight streets, I arrived at the door of M. le Chevalier de La Luzerne.

Travels in North America in the years 1780, 1781 and 1782 by the Marquis de Chastellux, a revised translation with introduction and notes by Howard C. Rice, Jr. Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill), p 130.


“In this day’s hard fought action, the Queen’s Rangers’ loss in killed and wounded were seventy-five out of two hundred fifty rank and file which composed our strength in the morning…” Colonel Jarvis, Oct. 4, 1777

January 6, 2008

“Fighting at Germantown under the Colors of the King” from The Manuscript of Colonel Jarvis, An American’s Experience in the British Army — The Journal of American History, 1907, p. 450 

“… Why the army did not the next day pursue the enemy, and bring them to action, I must leave to wiser heads than mine, to give a reason, but so it was. We remained encamped the whole of the next day, and gave the enemy an opportunity to rally his forces, get re-inforcements and take tip a position to attack us, which they did, at Germantown, where our Army had encamped, sending our sick and wounded into Philadelphia. At this battle the enemy were again defeated, and left us in possession of the field. On the morning of this action, I was under a course of physic, and was ordered to remain in camp, and had not the honor of sharing in the victory of this day’s battle; I was so reduced from fatigue that I was returned, unfit for duty, and was ordered to the Hospital, and the next day took my quarters at the Hospital in Philadelphia. I was not so ill but that I could walk about, and the Doctors allowed me to take a walk about the City every day. Whether they had any orders from my officers on that behalf I know not, but so it was when others had not the same indulgence. I remained in the Hospital until I thought I was able to undergo the fatigue of duty and join my Regiment. 

A few days after joining the Regiment, made an excurtion into the Jerseys, as far as Hattenfield, but it was ordered that I should remain at the quarters of the Regiment, which was at Kingsonton. The next day Captain Dunlap returned to the quarters ordering every man that was able to march to join the Regiment, and myself among the rest. It was near dark when we got to the Regiment. I was most dreadfully fatigued, and lay down to rest. I had hardly time to take my refreshment before the Regiment was ordered under arms, where we remained for several hours in a storm of hail and snow, and at last ordered to retrace our steps towards Philadelphia. I had marched but a few miles before a pain attacked my limbs, to that degree, that I could with difficulty walk, and soon fell in the rear of the Regiment, expecting every minute to fall into the hands of the enemy. I had the good luck to get up with the Regiment, who had encamped at a plantation on the banks of the Delaware. More dead than alive, the ground covered with snow, I scrambled to the barn, got into a large mow of straw, covered myself up with straw, and fell asleep and did not wake until daylight in the morning. On awaking, I heard Major Simcoe (who had a short time before, and while I was in the Hospital) succeeded Major Wymes in the command of the Regiment, and some of the officers in another part of the barn, but hid from my sight. They soon left the barn, and left standing on a beam within my reach a bottle partly filled with good madeira. I soon demolished the contents and set the bottle up as before, left the barn also, and joined my Company. In the course of the day the Americans attacked us, and we had a smart brush with them, had a Sergeant (McPherson of the Grenadiers) and several men wounded. In the evening we crossed over to Kensington and took up our old quarters.


First-hand accounts of the activities surrounding the British Redoubts built just north of Philadelphia, Jan. 1 – June 17, 1778 — compiled by Denis Cooke.

January 6, 2008

~ January 1 – 4 , 1778:  Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe, A Journal of the Operations of the Queen’s Rangers. [New York: Bartlett & Welford 1844] Reprinted New York: The New York Times & Arno Press, 1968, pp. 33-34. 

“The general directions he received was to secure the country, and facilitate the inhabitants bringing in their produce to market. To prevent this intercourse, the enemy added, to the severe exertions of their civil powers, their militia. The roads, the creeks, and the general inclination of the inhabitants to the British government, and to their own profit, aided the endeavor of the Queen’s Rangers. The redoubt on the right had been garrisoned by the corps till, on Major Simcoe’s representation that the duty was too severe, it was given to the line: within this redoubt the corps fitted up their barracks.”

February 9, 1778:  Captain Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War, A Hessian Journal, Joseph P. Tustin, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1979,  p. 119. 

“Since the English supplies completely ruin the trade of the Americans, they were chiefly short of salt and clothing. For this reason, everyone who traveled across the line had to be searched carefully by the sentries, which compelled the inhabitants to resort to trickery. For example, two women who had the appearance of pregnancy passed through the outposts toward Germantown yesterday. The noncommissioned officer of the light infantry, who had charge of the picket, showed an interest in examining the pregnancy of these women. He found that it consisted of a quantity of salt on one woman and twenty-five calfskins on the other. Here again something is learned. One cannot be too careful at the outposts, for who knows whether or not these women might have supplied the leather for shoes for an entire regiment of the enemy?

March 19, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PHMB, Vol. 6 (1882), p. 197. 

“Fine weather. Began to repair the Parapets at the Redoubts.”

March 19-20, 1778:  Letters of Major Baurmeister, Bernard A. Uhlendorf & Edna Vosper, Editors. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography, Vol. 60 (1936), p. 163. 

“On the night of the 19-20th this post sent out a party of sixty men, who crept up close to the Schuylkill opposite the 10th redoubt, where they collected some cattle and set fires.”

March 29, 1778:  Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft [New York: The New York Historical Society, Collections XII, 1882] Reprinted New York: The New York Times & Arno Press, 1968, p. 32. 

“Sun. On the command in No. 9 on the Scul-Kiel with Capt. Shotz of the body-regiment [Leibregiment]; 1 Ensign, 3 Sub-officers, 1 drummer and 50 privates.”

April 16, 1778:  Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft [New York: The New York Historical Society, Collections XII, 1882] Reprinted New York: The New York Times & Arno Press, 1968, p. 34.

“In No. 9 on the Scul-Kiel.”

April 20, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB 6 (1882), p. 201 

“Engineers marked out two advanced works in the Lines.”

April 24, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB Vol. 6 (1882), p. 201. 

“Begun on our advanced works in Front of the lines consisting of 400 men for the working party. Two semi-circular Redoubts, one for 100 men to the left one for 50 in the right.”

April 24, 1778:  Captain Freidrich von Muenchhausen, p. 51. 

“Two redoubts are to be constructed about 600 paces in front of our lines on well selected, commanding heights toward Germantown. Work was started today, and working parties of 400, with 200 men to cover them, are to be sent daily.”

May 2, 1778:  Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB Vol. 60 (1936), p. 172.

“On the night of the 1-2nd of May there assembled between the 1st and 2nd redoubts fourteen companies of British grenadiers and light infantry, the Queen’s Rangers, and 120 dragoons under Major Crewe, the entire detachment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Abercromby. After a forced march along the Old York Road, they encountered at the Crooked Billet Tavern, twelve English miles from our lines, Brigadier Lacey’s militia brigade of 500 men, busily engaged in throwing up fortifications on the road in order to make Bristol and all of Bucks County secure.”

May 2, 1778:  Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft, p. 35.

“In No. 9 on sharp command.” 

May 14, 1778:  Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft, p. 35. 

“On sharp command in No. 9.”

May 24, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB Vol. 6 (1882), p. 286.

“Some of the Redoubts were dismantled without my knowledge, rather unmilitary.”

June 4, 1778:  Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft, pp. 38-39. 

“Today I was ordered to No. 10, but was taken along on this expedition. At the ruined inn called the Risin Sun, to which the command marched, I was detached with 15 men to a hill on the right side of the road where I place 5 sentinels.”

June 16, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB Vol. 6 (1882) 291-292.

“All the redoubts that form the Line of Defence of this City dismantled of their Field pieces & c. before daybreak, but without my knowledge.”

June 17, 1778:  Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB 60 (1936), pp. 181-182. 

“One enemy patrol which had come by way of Bush Hill passed between our 9th & 10th redoubts and advances to 7th St. in Philadelphia. At the corner of 3rd and 2nd Sts, it finally came upon our last patrol and exchanged some shots with them, after which we evacuated Philadelphia entirely, leaving the rebels positively nothing but empty redoubts and houses.”

June 18, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB, Vol. 6 (1882), p. 292.

“This morning early the Kings Troops evacuated the city of Philadelphia and the several Redoubts and works that form its Defences and retired by land to Gloucester point 4 miles below it on the Pennsylvania Shore…”

Approximately January 1 –4 , 1778:  Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe, pp. 33-34. 

“The general directions he received was to secure the country, and facilitate the inhabitants bringing in their produce to market. To prevent this intercourse, the enemy added, to the severe exertions of their civil powers, their militia. The roads, the creeks, and the general inclination of the inhabitants to the British government, and to their own profit, aided the endeavor of the Queen’s Rangers. The redoubt on the right had been garrisoned by the corps till, on Major Simcoe’s representation that the duty was too severe, it was given to the line: within this redoubt the corps fitted up their barracks.”

February 9, 1778:  Captain Johann Ewald, p. 119.

“Since the English supplies completely ruin the trade of the Americans, they were chiefly short of salt and clothing. For this reason, everyone who traveled across the line had to be searched carefully by the sentries, which compelled the inhabitants to resort to trickery. For example, two women who had the appearance of pregnancy passed through the outposts toward Germantown yesterday. The noncommissioned officer of the light infantry, who had charge of the picket, showed an interest in examining the pregnancy of these women. He found that it consisted of a quantity of salt on one woman and twenty-five calfskins on the other. Here again something is learned. One cannot be too careful at the outposts, for who knows whether or not these women might have supplied the leather for shoes for an entire regiment of the enemy?”

March 19, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PHMB, Vol. 6 (1882), p. 197.

“Fine weather. Began to repair the Parapets at the Redoubts.”

March 19-20, 1778:  Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB Vol. 60 (1936), p. 163. 

“On the night of the 19-20th this post sent out a party of sixty men, who crept up close to the Schuylkill opposite the 10th redoubt, where they collected some cattle and set fires.”

March 29, 1778:  Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft, p. 32. 

“Sun. On the command in No. 9 on the Scul-Kiel with Capt. Shotz of the body-regiment [Leibregiment]; 1 Ensign, 3 Sub-officers, 1 drummer and 50 privates.”

April 16, 1778:  Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft p. 34. 

“In No. 9 on the Scul-Kiel.”

April 20, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB Vol. 6 (1882), p. 201 

“Engineers marked out two advanced works in the Lines.”

April 24, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB Vol. 6 (1882), p. 201. 

“Begun on our advanced works in Front of the lines consisting of 400 men for the working party. Two semi-circular Redoubts, one for 100 men to the left one for 50 in the right.” 

April 24, 1778:  Captain Freidrich von Muenchhausen, p. 51. 

“Two redoubts are to be constructed about 600 paces in front of our lines on well selected, commanding heights toward Germantown. Work was started today, and working parties of 400, with 200 men to cover them, are to be sent daily.”

May 2, 1778Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB Vol. 60 (1936), p. 172.

“On the night of the 1-2nd of May there assembled between the 1st and 2nd redoubts fourteen companies of British grenadiers and light infantry, the Queen’s Rangers, and 120 dragoons under Major Crewe, the entire detachment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Abercromby. After a forced march along the Old York Road, they encountered at the Crooked Billet Tavern, twelve English miles from our lines, Brigadier Lacey’s militia brigade of 500 men, busily engaged in throwing up fortifications on the road in order to make Bristol and all of Bucks County secure.” 

May 2, 1778:  Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft, p. 35. 

“In No. 9 on sharp command.”

May 14, 1778:  Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft, p. 35. 

“On sharp command in No. 9.”

May 24, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB Vol. 6 (1882), p. 286.

“Some of the Redoubts were dismantled without my knowledge, rather unmilitary.” 

 June 4, 1778:  Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft, pp. 38-39. 

“Today I was ordered to No. 10, but was taken along on this expedition. At the ruined inn called the Risin Sun, to which the command marched, I was detached with 15 men to a hill on the right side of the road where I place 5 sentinels.”

June 16, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB 6 (1882) 291-292.

“All the redoubts that form the Line of Defence of this City dismantled of their Field pieces & c. before daybreak, but without my knowledge.”

June 17, 1778:  Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB Vol. 60 (1936), pp. 181-182.

“One enemy patrol which had come by way of Bush Hill passed between our 9th & 10th redoubts and advances to 7th St. in Philadelphia. At the corner of 3rd and 2nd Sts, it finally came upon our last patrol and exchanged some shots with them, after which we evacuated Philadelphia entirely, leaving the rebels positively nothing but empty redoubts and houses.”

June 18, 1778:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB, Vol 6 (1882), p. 292.

“This morning early the Kings Troops evacuated the city of Philadelphia and the several Redoubts and works that form its Defences and retired by land to Gloucester point 4 miles below it on the Pennsylvania Shore…”


First-hand accounts of the activities surrounding the British Redoubts built just north of Philadelphia, Sept. – Dec. 1777.

January 6, 2008

September 27, 1777:  Journal of Captain John Montrésor, July 1, 1777 to July 1, 1778, Chief Engineer of the British Army. GD Scull, Editor. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 6 (1882), pp. 42-43.

“This afternoon began to reconnoitre the heights near this city, for forming the defense of it, by Field Works, running from the Schuylkill to the Delaware rivers. This I was given to understand was our present grand object. Some party of the Enemy attacked the Queen’s rangers, killed one man and wounded three officers, but they were immediately drove back with some loss. The Commander-in-Chief entered the city and returned. I attended him and settled for the payment of the Inhabitants that could be procured to work. Allowance 8 Shillings a day to four and eight pence per day.”

October 2, 1777:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB Vol. 6 (1882), pp. 44-45. 

“A few of the Inhabitants made a kind of beginning at the Redoubt this afternoon. At 10 this morning signed the order for Provisions for 340 Inhabitants to work on the redoubts. Not yet attended the work.”

~ October 2, 1777:  Johann Conrad Dohla, A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution. Translated and Edited by Bruce E. Burgoyne, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990, 68-69. 

“The rebels often visited while we were in and near Philadelphia, but they were welcomed and handled in such a manner that their coming and going was more a special appearance than a warlike maneuver. Surrounding the city from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill, fourteen defensive positions were established, from which one could protect the other. Each was occupied by a captain, two lieutenants, and fifty men, who were relieved each day. On one side lay the English Grenadiers and Light Infantry, which was an exceptionally fine corps of troops taken from all the regiments, and on the other side the Hessian Grenadiers in barracks as a reserve. It must indeed make a fearful sight when the army is set in motion.”

October 13, 1777:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB Vol. 6 (1882), pp. 48-49. 

“The redoubts for the defence of Philadelphia continued on, though slowly, as none but Inhabitants are employed on it, and that at 8 shillings per day and Provisions.”

October 19, 1777:  Letters of Major Baurmeister, Bernard A. Uhlendorf & Edna Vosper, Editors. The Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography, 60 (1936), pp. 34-35. 

“On the same day, the army encamped behind the ten redoubts that had been thrown up between the Delaware and the Schuylkill. The Hessian Grenadiers covered the right of the camp. The Hessian Jager Corps, the left, and the English grenadiers and light infantry, the center.”

October 19, 1777:  Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers, His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762-1780. Harry Miller Lydenburg, Editor. New York: The New York Public Library, 1930, p. 153. 

“Quitted the Camp at German Town and Encamp’d within the Redoubts at Philadelphia.”

October 19, 1777:  At General Howe’s Side 1777-1778. The Diary of General William Howe’s aide de camp Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernest Kipping and Annotated by Samuel Stelle Smith. Monmouth Beach, NJ: Philip Freneau Press, 1974, p. 40. 

“We marched in two columns to Philadelphia, where we moved into a very strong camp on the side of Philadelphia facing Germantown. The ten newly erected but not completed redoubts, which lie scattered from the Delaware to the Schuylkill are in front of our camp.”

October 19, 1777:  Captain Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War, A Hessian Journal. Joseph P. Tustin, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1979, p. 96. 

“On the 19th, about nine o’clock in the morning, the army moved back in two columns a good hour closer to Philadelphia. The right wing was stationed at the Delaware behind Kensington, in which village the Queen’s Rangers were cantoned, and the left was placed behind the Morris country house on the Schuylkill. The jagers received their post behind the wood at this plantation, in front of the army’s left wing. Work began today on redoubts which were to be constructed around Philadelphia. “ 

October 19, 1777:  Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe, A Journal of the Operations of the Queen’s Rangers. [New York: Bartlett & Welford 1844] Reprinted New York: The New York Times & Arno Press, 1968, p. 17.

“On the 19th the army marched to Philadelphia, the Queen’s Rangers formed the rear guard of the left column, and in the encampment, their post was on the right side of the line, in front of the village of Kensington; the army extending from the Delaware to the Schuylkill.” 

October 19, 1777:  Major John Andre. Major Andre’s Journal, Operations of the British Army, June 1777 to November 1778. [Tarrytown, New York: William Abbatt, 1930] Reprinted New York: The New York Times & Arno Press, 1968, p. 59. 

“The Army marched in three Columns toward Philadelphia, and took a new position, extending from the Delaware to the Schuylkill.”

October 19, 1977:  Captain John Montrésor, PMHB, Vol. 6 (1882), p. 51. 

“A thick fog, weather very fine. The Commander in Chief with the army marched from Germantown to the heights North of Philadelphia extending from the river Delaware to the Schuylkill 2 ½ miles and encamped in the rear of the 10 redoubts.”

October 20, 1777:  The Diary of Robert Morton, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography, Vol. 1 (1877), p. 21.

“I went this afternoon to see the British encampment, which extends in nearly a line from Delaware to Schuylkill.”

October 25-29, 1777:  Major John Andre, p. 61. 

“The other works were ten redoubts, which were laid out at intervals from the Delaware to the Schuylkill and begun soon after we took possession of Philadelphia. They were afterwards completed.” 

November 19, 1777:  Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen, p. 44.

“These (Gates Northern Army Continentals) reinforcements amount to 5,000 men, but according to rebel reports 18,000 which probably accounts for the rumor they tend to attack us. This we doubt very much because of our well fortified camp, the right flank of which is anchored on the Delaware and the left on the Schuylkill. In the front we have 10 well placed redoubts, which are connected by parapets.” 

December 2, 1777:  The Diary of James Allen, Esq. Of Philadelphia Counsellor At Law, 1770-1778, Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography, 9 (1885), pp. 427-428. 

“The want of fuel obliged the army to burn all the Woods and fences about the City. Genl Howe’s outpost is at Mr. Dickensson’s & their lines, which are pretty strong extend from Frankford road bridge to Schuylkill.”

December 2, 1777:  Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB Vol. 60 (1936), p. 40.

“In each of the ten redoubts, guard houses are being built. They are fully supplied with artillery and ammunition.” 

~ December 30, 1777:  Major Carl Baurmeister, PMHB, Vol 60 (1936), pp. 49-50. 

“We have taken up our quarters in such a way that from the battalion alarm places each brigade can march into the city (as well as conditions and order will permit) and also behind the redoubts within the city. To explain the arrangements more fully, I shall describe how the several brigades daily move into the eleven redoubts along the line from their own quarters. The redoubts are numbered beginning on the Delaware. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd are occupied by the English Guards and the Queen’s Rangers, the 4th by the 1st English Brigade, the 5th by the 2nd, the 6th by the 4th, the 7th by the 3rd, the 8th, by the 5th and the 2nd Battalion of Anspachers, the 9th by Stirn’s brigade, the 10th by Woellwarth’s, and the 11th by the Hessian grenadiers. The Hessian dismounted jagers have their quarters on the Neck, which is the point of land where the Schuylkill flows into the Delaware. The main part of this corps is on Gloucester Point and faces Province Island. The English dragoons and the mounted jagers have their headquarters in the center of the city. The daily duty in the city is performed by two captains, ten subalterns, thirty-seven noncommissioned officers, ten drummers, and 362 soldiers, from which one captain and a hundred men are detached across the Schuylkill to cover the wood-cutters.” 


“The road bears right a bit but nevertheless comes closer to the (Delaware) river. On either side of the road you find woods, country houses, and ruins that are monuments to the wrath of the English. Half a mile from the city you see remains of General Howe’s lines. Soon you cross one of the works that the English had built for the defense of the town.” — General Charles Béville, Rochambeau’s quartermaster (Sept. 1781)

January 6, 2008

From The American Campaigns of Rochambeau’s Army 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783, translated and edited by Howard C. Rice, Jr., and Anne S. K. Brown, (Princeton University Press, 1972), Vol. 2, p. 75.

See also, Vol. 2 Itineraries and Maps and Views:

Map 57, March from Red-Lion Tavern to Philadelphia, Sept. 3-4, 1781

… The “ancienne ligne Angloise,” shown on the map beyond Kensington…

Map 137, Twenty-Seventh Camp at Philadelphia, 1782

… The camp ground was along the eatern side of the “Chemin de German Town,” indicated on the map as a continuation of Second Street. It was on high ground north of Cohocksink Creek, the larger of the two streams shown, with a dike (“Digue”) across its mouth… The French camp was thus in the general vicinity of present North Second Street and Germantown Avenue.