Sepr. Ye 11th 1777
The American Army drawn up as above opposite to Chad’s Ford; & General Maxwell posted on the Enemy’s Side in a wood with 800 light Infantry – at ½ past 8, The Enemy appeared & formed on the high Grounds in Front, they soon engaged Maxwell & he with great Firmness repulsed them twice with much Loss; they were reinforced & he retreated in good Order about 10, crossed & formed on the Banks of the River – the rest of the Army were Spectators of the Gallantry of this little Corps, who frequently crossed & skirmished with the Enemy in the Course of the Day – Our Battery was on an Eminence which commanded the Ford, & in the Cannonading made the Enemy retire several Times, it was better served than theirs – About 11 O’Clock, the General received Intelligence that a considerable Part of the Enemy’s Army had filed off to our right & supposing that they meant to cross Jones’s Ford; Gen. Sterling’s & Stephens’s Divisions were ordered to march to Birmingham meeting House (4 Miles) by Different Routs – they had gone about 1 ½ Mile when the General had Intelligence that the Enemy had not gone up, & ordered the advanced Divisions to halt, which they did for two Hours, & then received Orders to march as quickly as possibly – Intelligence from the Front, repeated the Account of the rapid Progress of the Enemy said to be about 1500 or 2000 & our Troops went on in a Trott to gain the Meeting House Hills before them, which they did, but then discovered The Enemy’s Main Body there amounting to about 6000 – However they formed in an agreeable Manner. General Woodford’s being to the right, he
Detached Col. Marshall with his Regiment (only 170 Men) to a fine wood on the right to cover his Field Pieces & right Flank – Thus prepared they discovered General Sullivan’s Division marching up, & the Brigidiers rode to him to receive Orders, when he directed them to move all to the right to make room for his Division on the left – In making this Alteration, unfavorable Ground, made it necessary for Woodford to move his Brigade 200 Paces back of the Line & threw Marshall’s Wood in his front – The Enemy came on rapidly, Scott, who was next to Woodford, was removed to bad Ground, & from his Brigade to the left of the whole Line appeared in some Confusion – Woodford’s Brigade stood firm & in good Order. Marshall had orders to hold the Wood as long as it was tenable, & then retreat to the right of the Brigade – he received the Enemy with a Firmness which will do Honor to him & his little Corps, as long as the 11th of Sepr. Is remembered – He continued there ¾ of one Hour, & must have done amazing Execution – he was called off for fear of being surrounded & retreated in good Order – The Action became general – Woodford was wounded & more than half of his Men killed, but his two field Pieces would have been saved by the Extraordinary Exertions of the remaining Lieuts. with Lieut. Col. Febiger, Majr. Day, & Sergeant Majr. Broughton, but that the Horses were shot down, & they obliged to quit them – About 6 General Green’s Division arrived to cover the Retreat, one of his Brigades (Weedon’s) gave the Enemy such a check as produced the desired effect – Nash’s Brigade also marched but too late to be of any Service – Lincoln’s Division under the command of Brigadr. Genl. Wayne, & Maxwell’s Corps, remained at Chad’s Ford, where the Enemy made several violent Attacks, & were gallantly repulsed, & great Numbers of them killed, but at last they got Possession of the Battery, & these Troops joined in the general Retreat in the Evening to Chester, where they arrived at 12 At Night – they crossed the Schuylkill & encamped at the Falls & German Town, recruited from the Hospitals a Number equal to their Loss & on the 14th recrossed the Schuylkill in high Spirits – Our Loss in the Battle not more than 600 killed & missing. The Enemys Even more! Such another Victory would establish the Rights of America, & I wish them the Honor of the Field again tomorrow on the same terms
Source: Original manuscript letter within the collections
of the Chicago Historical Society.