"...The most dreadful scene I have ever beheld."

"...The most dreadful scene I have ever beheld." (HM8TP)

Location: Malvern, PA 19355 Chester County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 1.805', W 75° 31.054'

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"The Shrieks, Groans, imprecations, deprecations, The Clashing of Swords and bayonets &c&c&c, was more expressive of Horror than the Thunder of the artillery &e on the Day of action."
Lieutenant Martin Hunter

You are now facing west toward the direction of Wayne's retreat. A disabled cannon blocked the American column's escape for several minutes as the British advanced to Picket #3, located about 300 yards behind you. Wayne placed the 1st Pennsylvania in a strip of woods behind you to support the picket, but in the dark, they mistakenly fired at Picket #3 and exposed their own position. As they reloaded, the British Light Infantry leveled their bayonets, let out a loud HAZZAH, "such a cheer as made the woods echo", and charged. The 1st Pennsylvania retreated into the camp with the British in pursuit, who saw the stalled column, facing west, silhouetted by campfires.

A British officer wrote, "We then saw their wigwams or Huts partly by almost extinguished light of their fires & partly by the glimmer of a few stars and the frightened Wretches endeavoring to form - We then charged."

Colonel Thomas Hartley, commanding the 1st Pennsylvania Brigade, wrote, "The Enemy last Night ... attacked our little Force ... with all the Noise and Yells of Hell." The British surrounded the rear of the column; some Continentals fired vollies, while others panicked and ran. In the chaos, "the Troops in the Rear pressed on those in Front & the Passage on the Left being narrow sacrificed Many ..." The gravesite, located on the fenced property line, was the area with the greatest concentration of casualties.

More panic ensued as British Dragoons thundered across the camp, followed by the 44th Regiment. Hartley observed, "The men were extremely intimedated with the Noise of the Enemys Horse, at the Fences considerable opposition was made by the best Men - but many of them suffered."

The third wave, 600 Scottish Highlanders, let out Highland war yells and swept across the field without breaking ranks, bayoneting everyone in their path and setting the booths on fire: "the 42nd set fire to them, as many of the Enemy would not come out, chusing rather to suffer in the Flames than to be killed by the Bayonet." Lieutenant Hunter recalled, " ... this, with the cries of the wounded, formed altogether the most dreadful scene I ever beheld."

Most of Wayne's force escaped and rendezvoused the following day at Red Lion Tavern [Lionville], nine miles west of here. Total American casualties numbered between 250 and 300, including nearly 80 prisoners, many of whom were wounded multiple times. Colonel Adam Hubley of the 10th Pennsylvania wrote, "The greatest Cruelty was shewn on the side of the Enemy[.] I with my own Eyes, see them, cut & hack some of our poor Men to pieces after they had fallen in their hands and scarcely shew the least Mercy to any, they got very few prisoners from us." Captain William Hale, a British officer commented, "As our Light Infantry gave no quarter very few prisoners were taken." British losses numbered one officer and two or three men killed, and one officer and 8-20 men wounded.
HM NumberHM8TP
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 25th, 2014 at 1:29pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 455839 N 4431224
Decimal Degrees40.03008333, -75.51756667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 1.805', W 75° 31.054'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 1' 48.30" N, 75° 31' 3.24" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)215, 484, 610
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 320 W 1st Ave, Malvern PA 19355, US
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