Revolutionary soldiers passing
through Delaware

Yorktown Campaign 1780-1783

Abstract: Delaware Selig Report

Who was here:

Some names from Selig’s report include Moses Hazen,Hawkins’s Unit,Sappers & Miners, inc Joseph Plumb Martin,Col. Lamb’s 2nd Regt of Artillery 2nd New York Colonel Philip Van Cortlandt. Samuel Tallmadge, Timothy Pickering, Henry Dearborn,Lt Reeves,Lauberdiere.

Hundreds of horses & draft oxen, each regiment of infantry was allowed 22 horses & 32 oxen; an artillery regiment had 20 horses & 40 oxen.
Lt Caleb Prew Bennett

Setting the scene: Caesar Rodney was President of Delaware
while these troops were passing through to Yorktown. Continental dollars were now worthless. Specie money meant Pieces of Eight or Spanish Milled Dollars.

September, 1777
British General Cornwallis occupies Cooch home
11 September 1777 Americans defeated at Battle of Brandywine, Chadds Ford
12 September, Wilmingtonians wake up in the morning to discover they live in an occupied city.

Presidents of Delaware were elected for three year terms. When Caesar Rodney’s term expired, John Dickinson replaced him on 6 November, 1781. He was sworn in on 13 November, 1781. The following year Dickinson was elected Chief Executive of Pennsylvania, He was replaced as President of Delaware by Nicholas Van Dyke of New Castle on 1 Feb.,1783.

Description of Wilmington receiving the news of defeat of British at Yorktown:
21 October, 1781 The news arrived about 9:00 p.m. “When the news arrived here of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, the citizens to manifest their joy, erected a flag pole near the State House, on which were hoisted the American Continental Colors a little above those of the British. After 13 platoons of musquetry were discharged, all the respectable citizens repaired to an entertainment provided for them, where 13 patriotic drinks were drank: in the evening the town was illuminated, and everything was conducted with greatest decorum. One circumstance was remarkable: while the two flags were flying a westerly storm arose, and blew down that of the British while the other held its station—a happy presage of its permanent stability.” ( Delaware’s Celebration as reported in the Pennsylvania Packet, 1 November, 1781.)

Philadelphia Pike,Wilmington, Newport Pike, and Old Baltimore Pike were a Revolutionary War military transport Corridor for all troops and dignitaries moving from north to south during the Revolutionary decade. These 26 miles are part of the 620 mile Washington-Rochambeau route that connects Newport, Rhode Island to Yorktown, Virginia.

List of expenditures showing detailed list of State of Delaware’s Expenses for Forage, and Provisions for the Army Under General Washington on their March to & From Virginia (Auditor of Accounts , Journal A, final statement Summer 1783)

Brandywine Village was one of the most important 18th century milling centers in the Mid-Atlantic colonies. Dr. James Thatcher, an eyewitness, wrote that Brandywine Village had” 8 very large and valuable stone mills where an immense quantity of wheat is ground & bolted. The wheat is brought in vessels to the very door, and the flour taken off in return.”

Fall 1777, when it was occupied by the British after Battle of Brandywine, Wilmington was said to have 335 houses and 1,229 inhabitants.

1781 The population of Delaware is estimated to have been 42,500 whites and 7-8,000 African Americans by the time of the Yorktown Campaign.
(Selig notes, Wilmington had 200 less inhabitants than the number of allied soldiers arriving on one French ship).

March 1781 Lafayette & 1,500 Continental soldiers passed through Delaware

9 June 1781 Supplies donated to Continental Army are listed in a note from William Millan, receiver of New Castle County, to William McClay, “Continental storekeeper in Christiana,, lists 6 tons 7 cwts of hay, 125 bushels of rye, 92 ½ bushels of corn, 9 ½ bushels of oats.
William Wright was Deputy Quartermaster of the Continental Army at Christiana.

August, 1781 In preparation for Yorktown Campaign, Sup’t of Finance Robert Morris wrote: “The State of Delaware is required to furnish 800 barrels of pork, none of which I am informed has yet been delivered.” (A hogshead held 63 gallons)

24 August, 1781 French supply officers begin to enter Delaware. 7 French guinea us show up for the first time in James Lea ‘s Mill account books in Brandywine Village.

29 August 1781 Washington informed General Lincoln that Rochambeau was “inclined to have the French troops march by land from Trenton to Head of Elk which will give a larger portion of Craft for American baggage and troops…after allotting a sufficiency for the French baggage, etc. first put on board such heavy stores and baggage, clothing, tools, garrison carriages, etc as Colonel Lamb and you think proper , and then embark the troops on board the water craft and let them fall down the River to Christiana Bridge as soon as possible.

3 September, 1781 First Brigade of French Army were in Philadelphia & paraded before Congress and it’s President, Delawarean Thomas McKean.

5 September, 1781, somewhere three miles south of Chester, along the road to the Robinson House, Claymont Washington received exciting news. His secretary, Jonathan Trumbull wrote: “About three miles below Chester meets an Express from Admiral deGrasse. The fleet arrived in the Chesapeake the 26th ult. News welcome though strangely delayed. The General returns to Chester to meet and rejoice with Count Rochambeau, who was coming down by water, and to communicate the joy to Congress.”

Rochambeau, simultaneously, had embarked on a ship to sail to Mud Island, Red Bank & Billingsport. As Rochambeau & his officers approach the shore, Baron Closen “discerned in the distance General Washington, standing on the shore and waving his hat and a white handkerchief joyfully. There was good reason for this; for he informed us as we disembarked that M. deGrasse had arrived in the Chesapeake Bay with 28 ships of the line and 3,000 troops.”

Lauberdiere recorded how “le temoignage de la joie des deux Genereaux dans cette occasion n’est pas facile a render.” September 4-6, 1781: The allied soldiers & baggage train begin passing through New Castle County following Philadelphia Pike from Claymont into Wilmington; Newport Pike through Newport & Stanton; Stanton to Historic Christiana. Old Baltimore Pike to Elkton.

5 September

French Units passing through Delaware More than 2,000 soldiers of the Bourbonnais, Royal Deux-Ponts, Lauzun’s Legion and its artillery & wagon train begin the trek down Philadelphia Pike into Wilmington. They marched down Philadelphia Pike, veered right to march down West Street. At Fifth Street they turned right again onto Washington Street (then called Pasture Street). Facing Front Street they set up camp on a line with Second Street on fields that are now between Justison & Adams Streets, on the edge of Ship’s Tavern District & Wilmington Riverfront. The group included 5 women & children with Bourbonnais & six women & 3 children with Royal Deux-Ponts.

A large number of animals accompanied the French troops. The wagon train had 855 horses, the artillery had another 500, Lauzun’s Legion had 300 mounted Hussars plus horses for the officers. Up to 800 oxen were also pulling the loads.

American Units passing through Delaware

The troops encamped along Newport Pike (Route 4), a few miles west of Wilmington.
Continental troops had encamped at Canby Park in 1777.

A primary document exists stating: Camp Near Wilmington Sept 5th 1781. This is to certify that 80 horses and oxen have pastured 6 hours on the farm of Robert Robinson for which he is entitled to pay from the public.”

5 September, Continental Army passed through Newport, DE.

Reuben Sanderson of Scammel’s Light Infantry recorded that he marched 14 miles from his camp near Canby Park and camped 6 miles beyond Christiana. This would be on the east side of Iron Hill, 2 ½ miles from Delaware-Maryland state line

6 September, 1781

Rochambeau rode with his first division into Wilmington

George Washington, his aides and a guard of about 70 officers & men plus two or three women rode into Delaware from Chester, Pa. They proceeded into Wilmington, and are known to have breakfasted in Christiana. A letter was written to Robert Morris from Christiana on 6 September, 1781.

First entry for a sale directly to the French in Lea Mills account book: This seems to be for corn meal belonging to a William Brown. “44 bushels left. I am to sell to French Army. The cash to be paid to Samuel Baker in Second Street.”

The roads between Stanton, Christiana & New Castle formed a triangle. In Jan 1781 a petition by Delaware resident, John Lowden, complained about the bad state of those roads. The road from New Castle was “subject to great wash in heavy rain that endanger the eastern-most end or wing of the Bridge over the creek.”

Envision the then route to Christiana from Stanton described as “you pass the Red Clay Creek on a wooden bridge onto the Christiana-Stanton Road to Christiana. where you pass on the left a bridge and a road going to Dover.”

Past Christiana on Old Baltimore Pike, “There are then no side roads and only a few dwellings, on the right and left, as far as the bridge called “Cooch’s Bridge.”

Reuben Sanderson of Scammel’s Light infantry marched 10 miles from the previous night’s campsite to Head of Elk.”

6,7,8,9 September, 1781 The allied troops continue marching through New Castle County to Head of Elk. The total number was “near to seven thousand, with an amazing train of ordnance & military stores” ready for their last leg of their march to Yorktown.

8 September, 1781 Major William Popham wrote: “This day will be famous in the annals of History for being the First in which the troops of the United States received one month’s pay in Specie, all the civil and military staff are excluded.”

Joseph Plum Martin wrote,” We each of us received a MONTH’S PAY, in specie, borrowed from, as I was informed by our French officers, from the officers in the French army. This was the first that could be called money, which we had received as wages since the year ’76, or that we ever did receive till the close of the year, or indeed, ever after, as wages.”

24 September 1781 William Black & Evan Rice submitted their account of supplies for use of troops under general George Washington on their march south: 9 full-grown heads of cattle raised for meat, each supplying about 400 pounds of meat; 36 bushels of Indian corn; 50 ½ bushels of oats; 144 ½ bushels of shorts (coarse parts of meal); 192 ¼ bushels of bran; 38 2/9 “ship stuff” (lowest grade flour in danger of going bad was baked into biscuits; 9/0/3 buck wheat meal; 4/1/16 rye meal; 9,482 sheaves of oats;.26/2/16 hay. This cost State of Delaware 295/13/7 ponds in specie money.

Early October 1781 Some soldiers were still passing through to Yorktown as Wilmington was described by Lt Enos Reeves of the Pennsylvania Line who marched through Wilmington on his way to Virginia in early October 1781 . He wrote:. A fine borough, has a number of regular streets, a Court House, Market House, and contains about 5 or 600 houses, with a fine Academy on the hill.

19 October, 1781 about 2:00 p.m. British troops with their American & German allies march out of Yorktown to lay down their arms.

27 October 1781, Resolution passed in Delaware General Assembly,”Whereas it is expected that General Washington, with a oart of his army under his command, will shortly pass through this State…therefore, for the immediate supply of that post with such provisions and forage as may be wanting on that occasion, it is Resolved that Brigadier-General Patterson, Lt-Colonel Henry Darby, Major James Black, and Captain William McClay, be authorized to procure and purchase, upon the credit of the State of Delaware, such provisions and forage as they, upon consulting with Deputy Quartermaster Yeates, shall think necessary for the supplying of the army, not exceeding the sum of one thousand pounds, specie, in its value…”

30 November, 1781 Returning soldiers encamp at Christiana

1 December, 1781 Last units of Continental Army nearly finish retracing their steps through Delaware to their winter quarters.

3 December, 1781 George Washington asks John Dickinson to establish a hospital for the Continental Army in Wilmington. The Wilmington Academy (site of today’s Grand Opera House) was selected.

21 October 1782 the First Brigade of Rochambeau’s Troops left Yorktown, Virginia.
They were to retrace their steps, wintering over in Wilmington, Delaware

“As to the quartering of the troops there was not one building in town calculated to receive them. The College had been destroyed by the English and by the militia in such a manner as to make it quite uninhabitable without repairing it at considerable expense. This was however the only measure to be taken to prompt the quartering of the troops in a season already advanced. In consequence of which I proposed to the Trustees to let me that building to lodge the said troops during the winter.

The horses also needed stables: These were erected between 8th & King Street near French Street, kitty-corner from Peter Spencer Plaza.

Stables to hold 281 horses. were built at the expense of the King of France. By 1795 that land belonged to Joshua Gilpin who wrote, “This lot remains vacant with some wood on it—perhaps fenced from the time of purchase until the French troops were quartered at Wilmington when temporary stables were erected on it for the accommodation of deLauzun’s Legion. This was done, I believe with the consent of Doc Way, who undertook the care of the lots in common with is own adjoining. The whole being called “Grove Lots.” The French Commander left and I believe gave the stables as rent for the Lots when the troops quitted Wilmington, which I think was in the Spring of 1781 (sic) and the occupation the previous winter. From that time they (the Grove Lots) remained under Doc Way’s care.”

9 November, 1782. Lauzun wrote to Rochambeau “The inhabitants of Wilmington appear willing to deliver us by being disposed to do everything that suits us. But it will be necessary to completely build our quarters and this expense, we know from the reconnaissance of M. Collot, will cost around 800 dollars.”

26 November 1782 Trustees of Wilmington Academy minutes show: “Duc de Lauzun, commanding officer of the King of France’s troops in the service of America has fixed upon our school house as a barrack for those troops the ensuing winter. (A committee was appointed to) draw up and present to the Duc de Lauzun a memorial inn the name of the Trustees requesting him to give directions to the workmen to glaze the windows, and obey the orders of the Trustees in the manner of setting up the partitions…..”

24 December 1782 First review of Lauzun’s Legion in their Wilmington winter quarters, First Squadron of Hussars consisted of seven officers, 10 NCO’s, the fourrier-ecrivain, two trumpets, a medic, a farrier, and 118 hussars, five of whom were in the hospital. The Grenadier Company had six officers, 18 NCOs, two drummers, and 76 chasseurs (two of whom were listed as absent). The Second Squadron of Hussars numbered 7 officers, 13 NCOs, 2 trumpets, and 120 hussars, 9 of whom were in the hospital. The staff consisted of 11 officers, and 3 enlisted men. On Christmas Day, 1782 Lauzun’s Legion in Wilmington numbered 39 officers, 559 rank & file and 281 horses.

The following Wilmington families were paid to house the officers of Lauzun’s Legion: Adams ,Allison, Babb, Bentley, Bonsall, Brinton, Broom, Bush, Canby, Chandler, Cheney, Cloud, Crampton, Crow, Ferris, Gruble,, Hayes, Johnston, Jones, Kean, Lawson, McLean, May, Minshall, Moore, O’Flynn, Reynolds, Rice, J. Richardson ,S. Richardson, , F. Robinson, N. Robinson, Shallcross, Shipley, Stroud, Taylor, Thilwell, Walker, Warner, Woodcock, and Zane.

Dr. Phillippe Cappelle was housed with Samuel Canby who wrote: “We have a doctor quartered with us, a Low-Dutch man. His name is Joseph Eugene Philip Cappelle (sic)”.

The ordonnance establishing Lauzun’s Legion had set up seven medical positions: the chief surgeon, his assistant, and one frater in in each of the companies or squadrons. The Chief Chirugien for the Legion in Wilmington was Anatole Joseph Girard, who had come with Lauzun’s Legion in 1780. Girard’s assistant was Dr. Joseph Cappelle who received an annual salary of 800 livres and a supplement of 600 livres. Born in Flanders in 1757, Cappelle decided to remain in Delaware when Lauzun’s Legion sailed out of Philadelpha in May. 1782. On November 8, 1783 he married Mary Isabella Pearce at Old Swedes Church. Dr. Cappelle was one of the incorporators of the Delaware Medical Society. He died at age 39 on 5 November 1796. Dr. Cappelle is buried in Plot 1038, Old Swedes Graveyard.

13 February 1783 The Duc de Lauzun is requested by Congressional delegation composed of Mr. Rutledge, Ghorum and Lee to give assistance in recapturing stolen goods that had been sent by George Washington for prisoners of war in Pennsylvania. The other Congressmen felt this was intemperate and Congress hotly debated the issue. In the end, Lauzun’s Legion did not participate.

11 May 1783 Lauzun, the 528 men left in his Legion, and most of the remnants of the Expedition Particuliere sailed home from Philadelphia. Total numbers leaving were 62 officers, 636 enlisted men, five “femmes de soldats,” and 51 doestics. They arrived in Brest on or about June 11, 1783. The five frigates that took them home were la Gloire, la Danae, l’Astree, l’Active, le St. James.

The following soldiers of Lauzun’s Legion died in Wilmington, Delaware
ADAM, Jean Frederic Saargemünden Lorraine 1783-02-15 Feb
HERIOCK, Christophe Schwape Hesse 1783-04-12 Apr
NEISSE, Conrad Saarbrücken Nassau 1783-03-09 Mar
REINEVILLE, François Guibling/Lorraine Sarregemuin 1783-05-01 May
REMY, Nicholas Berthelemy Lorraine 1783-04-24 Apr