The James McMichael Journal, June 11, 1777–September 11, 1777

The War Years (1775-1783)

February 27, 2018
by Joseph Lee Boyle Also by this Author


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Editor’s Note: This is part three of a five-part series. Part one. Part two.

The portion of James McMichael’s journal covering June 11 through September 11, 1777,[1] finds our hero with his bride Susanna whom he had left to see on May 31. McMichael did not return to duty until June 13. While the army was in New Jersey he snuck away for several nights to be with her. When ordered to search for deserters on July 11, he delayed the search to dally with his “dear Creature.”

While on his apparently unsuccessful search for deserters, he encountered the German-speaking people of Berks and Northampton Counties whom he described as “like so many human beings scarcely endowed with the Qualifications Equal to that of the brutal Species.” Here too, he delayed to spend another week with his wife instead of returning to duty.

He then detailed the events leading up to and including the Battle of Brandywine where Capt. John Marshall was wounded. Although he doesn’t explicitly say so, McMichael does refer to “my Division” after the loss of Marshall, so we can assume that McMichael probably took command of the men after Marshall was incapacitated.

June 11th Having now Remained as Long as time wou’d admit I was necessitated to take leave of my Susanna at 9 oClock A.M. I Crossed Delaware at Noon and proceeding through Bristol and Over Shammeny I lodged within 12 miles of Philada—But being then denied my Desired Compy. I past the night restless—

12 When Phoebus had Guilded the Horizon I left my Quarters, and arived at Philada. at Noon—where I had the happiness of Meeting with my worthy friends Viz Colo. Farmer and Captn. Marshall and so passed the Afternoon in Jolitry—

13 I Embarked for Fort Mercer at 9 oClock A. M—and reached the Desired place at noon—Where I had the happiness of associating with my old Friends—

June 14th We were much alarmed with a heavy Cannonade in the night and recd. intelligence in the Evening that the Enemy were advancing for this place, we recd. Orders to march next Day which was to me very pleasing as I hoped to be somewhat nearer to Susanna, by Our movement.—

15th. We marched from Fort Mercer at 2 oClock P.M. at 4 oClock we Crossed the ferry the Gloucester Point and at 7 we reached Philada where we recd. orders to be ready to march next Day for Camp in order to meet the Enemy who, we were informed Lay at Somerset Courthou[se].

June 16th. The time having now Commenced that we were to receive a positive Answer to our late Memorial against Colo. Bull we at Noon had a meeting of all the Officers of the Regt. when Captn. Moore Captn. Robb Lt. Finly and I were chosen as a Committee to treat with the Executive Council of the matter But we got but small satisfaction, in Consequence of which we returned fully Determined to resign rather than be Commanded by Colo. Bull—[2]

17th. At 10 oClock A.M. we appointed a rendezvous of the Officers at Elbow Lane when we set to write our resignations I was one of the writers and wrote my own Resignation with 16 more and we then marched for the State hous to deliver them when we were stopped by Colo. Farmer who gave us the pleasing news that Colo. Bull was not to Command us, and that Colo. Steuart was appointed Colo. Farmer farther informed us that Colo. Steuart requested all the Officers of the Regt. to meet him at 4 oClock P.M. at the City Tavern—we immediately repaired to our Quarters where we Dressed ourselves and at the time appointed we waited on Colo. Steuart to our great satisfaction Reciprocally when having Drank some Gallons of Madeira we returned to our Lodging much Satisfied—[3]

June 18th. We paraded at 4 oClock P.M. and after passing Muster we recd. Marching orders to be in readiness at any warning.

20th. At 10 oClock A.M. we paraded and marchd to the State house, thence to Genl. Gates’s Quarters, thence to Genl. Mifflin’s and then returned to the Barracks where Colo. Walter Stewart returned us his thanks in a very polite manner for our behaviour during our march through Town

June 22nd at 6 oClock A.M. we marched from the City of Philada. and Steering our Course for Corryells ferry we arived at the Crooked Billet in Philada. County at 3 oClock P.M. where we got to Quarters—But thro’ the Inclemency of the weather we were detaind there next Day—

24th. At 5 oClock A.M. we marched from the Crooked Billet and Crossed Corryells ferry at 3 oClock P.M. where we Encamped on the Jersey Shore—

25. We marched from Corryells ferry Just when the Inhabitants in the Latd. of 40º South has Evening—we proceeded past Ringo’s Tavern thence to Cox Town where I left the Regt. and Steered for Stony brook and at 2 oClock P.M. I had the happiness of meeting with Susanna where I remained that night—

June 26th. at 2 oClock A.M. I was necessitated to take leave of my Dear Creature and proceeding by Rocky-Hill I Joined the Regt. at Somerset Courthouse at 6 oClock A.M. we then proceeded for Bound Brook upon our march to which we heared a Cannonade which allared us, all the intelligence agreed that the Enemy was advancing the Drums beat to Arms when we man’d the Redoubt at Bound Brook—however the Enemy did not reach us. at 8 oClock P.M. we Evacuated Bound Brook and proceeding a few Miles North Easterly we encamped on a hill called Mount Prospect—Bound Brook is Situate on the North Bank of Rariton on a Valley Bounded on the N. S. & E. by a Chain of hills and By Rariton on the West—[4]

June 27th. at 7 oClock P.M. we recd. marching orders when the Tents and Baggage were sent to Head Quarters after the Regt. was divided into Plateons we marched from mount Prospect at Dark, but our orders were Countermanded when we returned to Our Encampment, we had Orders to lye under Arms with each officer at the right of his platoon, and thus was passed the night.

28th. at 10 oClock A.M. we marched from Mount Prospect on a Scout, the party Consisting of 1200 under the Command of Major Genl. Sullivan, we marched near Quibletown, and turning South-Easterly we proceeded near Bonham Town, thence through Matuchen near to which we Encamped in an open field having Orders to lye on our Arms as we apprehended the Enemy was near us—

June 29th at 4 oClock A.M. we marched from our Encampment we proceeded near Bonham Town thence we returned through Matuchen when we heared the Enemy’s Drums beat to arms, and we formed in battle array but the Enemy Did not Come out; we afterwards returned to Samptown but finding that the Enemy had all gone to Amboy we recd. Orders to return to Camp; we proceeded on our Journey with Expedition and at 8 oClock P.M. we arived at Head Quarters Middle Brook, where we Encamped being Extremely tired after a fatiguing March—

This Encampment is Situate three miles from Bound Brook, on a beautiful Valley between two hills Very advantageous for a Commodious Encampment—

July 3rd. Having now recd. intelligence that the Enemy had Evacuated Amboy and gone to Staten-Island, we recd. marching Orders and at 7 oClock A.M. we marched from Head Quarters Middle Brook and proceeding past Baskinridge we arived at Morris Town Just when our Antipodes have the Dawn of Aurora where we we [sic] Encamped—

5th. At the beating of Reveille we all paraded when being divided into Platoons each commanded by an Officer we were ordered to march to the Grand Parade with Drawn Swords and fixed Bayonets, where in this manner we performed the manoeuvers and Evolutions used on field Days, to the Great applause of all Spectators at 9 oClock we returned to our encampment

July 9th I have now sat upon the Court for near a week now past And must tomorrow sit again, unless we march in hast[e.]

This has my patience almost tired, and fill’d me wt. regret
Because for to go see my Friends, I now no time can get
Farewell Dear Creature I must go, away to the Wars
And for somtime quit Venus fair, and Join myself to Mars
Whose thundring noise does fill the ears of those which do be [bold]
Any undergo his difficulties which scarcely can be told.

11th. At the beating of Reveille all tents were struck after which we paraded and marched to Head Quarters when I recd. orders to return to Pennsylvania in search of Deserters—at 9 oClock A.M. I proceeded past Baskinridge thence to Steels Tavern, thence to Somerset Courthouse thence to Rocky hill and at 9 oClock P.M. I arived at Stonybrook where I remained for some days enjoying the sweets of Conjugal affection—

July 14th I took my Departure from Stonybrook accompanied with my Susanna, and Steering for Corryells ferry we passed thro’ Amwell thence to Corryells then Turning my head N. B. E. I proceed past Robison’s ferry and at 8 oClock P.M. I arived at Sharrods Ferry in Alexandria Township Hunterdon County, where I took Quarters

15th I Departed from Sharrods ferry at 6 oClock A.M—I proceed thro’ Hell Town, past Hughes’s Furnace thence to Philipsburgh where I crossed Delaware to Easton at 10 oClock—This is a prety Little Town Situate in an obtuse Angle made by the Rivers Delaware and Lehi on the West bank of the former and the N. of the Latter—

I then proceeded to bethlehem which is 12 miles to the Westward of Easton. this town is very beautiful in its plan—Situate on the North bank of Lehi in it there is a Cloister—

From thence I proceeded to Allan Town which is 6 miles West of bethlehem 18 from Easton and 33 from Pots Grove and then steering W.B.S: I arived at the King of Prussia where being indisposed I took Quarters—

16th. The Tranquil hours had Just given to aurora the Tint of the rose and dispelled the vapours of night, when Phoebus beginning to dart his golden rays behind the Cedars—and tinged with radient purple the half inligtened clouds when I departed from my Lodging I proceeded past Featherulfs Tavern Mayberry’s furnace and arived at Coalbrook Dale at 6 oClock P.M. where took Quarters—I this day past the distance of 35 miles in which I Only found one person who cou’d talk English which was a Young Lady at Mayberry’s furnace The inhabitants not endowed with any Desirable Qualifications—

17th. At 6 oClock A.M. I marched from Coal-Brook Dale and proceeded to Potsgrove in Philada. County which is a pretty little Town Situate on the Eastern Bank of Schuylkill the inhabitants totally Tories. I put two of them to silence but being informed that an insurrection might take place I thought it advisable to Cross Schuylkill which was very Dangerous it being excessive high The road from Corryells to Easton very hilley the inhabitants Quakers from thence to Potsgrove the Country is very Mountaneous the inhabitants high Germans. I afterwards proceeded W. B. S. past the Swan Until I arived at Brownbanks Tavern I then Steered S. B. E. when Phoebus reached the meridian I arived at the Powder-Mills on French Creek when delivering my Orders to Ensign Lincoln, I proceeded S.E.B.S. and passing the Valley Forge I arived at the Spread Eagle on the Great road leading from Lancaster to Philada: (50 from the former and 16 from the latter) Just when the Hottentots enjoys the Dawn of Aurora—

here I betook myself to rest being Considerably indisposed however the thoughts of being returned to a Country in which my Language was understood filled me with some degree of tranquillity—I this Evening reflected on the uncomfortable situation of those who enjoy no more pleasure in Cohabitation than living Continually Diametrically opposite in principles with regard to matters Civil or Ecclesiastical—

All along the road from Easton to Potsgrove I seemed as a barbarian to the inhabitants and they appeared to me like so many human beings scarcely endowed with the Qualifications Equal to that of the brutal Species—repeatedly I talked Latin to them where I found that this was worse than English for them to understand—I therefore concluded that they were Devoid of any Qualification calculated to Complete happiness unless when blended with others Equally ignorant with themselves—but at this time Morphus Demanded his Dues and Condescending to his Insinuations I took to rest—

July 18th. at 6 oClock A.M. I Departed from the spread Eagle and proceeding over Schuylkill I arived at Colo. Farmers in Second Street Philada. where I was gladly recd. & kindly entertained and there remained till the 21st—

21st. At 7 oClock A.M—I departed from Philada and proceeding thro’ frankford, Bristol and Trenton arived at Stonybrook at 5 oClock P.M. Where I remained with my Susanna till the 28th.—

28th. At 9 oClock A. M. I departed from Stonybrook and proceeding past Rocky Hill, Somerset Courthouse Steels Tavern and Baskinridge I reached the house of Jonathan Stile Esq; where leaving my Hackney I returned two miles and took Quarters—

July 29th. At 6 oClock I marched from near Morris Town and proceeding thro Veal Town, past the Cross Roads-the White house, and Ringo’s Tavern I reached the house of Mr. Large in Amwell at 8 oClock P.M—being much fatigued after a march of 47 miles that day—Yet before I gave way to the Solicitations of Morphus I wrote to my Susanna—

30th. at 5 oClock A.M. I proceeded from Amwell and at 6 I Joind the Regt. at Corryells Ferrey

31st. At 10 oClock A.M. we marched from Corryells and proceeding past Bogarts tavern we arived at the Cross Roads in Warwick Township Bucks County at 7 oClock P.M—

Aug. 1. At 3 oClock A.M—the Genl. Beat when all Tents were immediately Struck—at 6 we march[ed] from the Cross Roads and proceeding past the Crooked Billet we arived at German-Town at 4 oClock P.M—on the plains of which we Encamped—

Our Encampment was very beautiful

3rd. The largest Rendezvous of Young Ladies I almost ever beheld Came to Camp they marched in three Columns. The field Officers paraded the rest of the officers and detached scouting parties to prevent being surrounded by them—

For my part being sent on Scout I steered W: B. S. and having descryed the ladies I gave them to know that the must repair to Head Quarters upon which they came with me as prisoners

But upon parading them at the Colo. Marquee they were dismissed after we treated them with a Double Bowl of Sangaree—

Augt. 8 We recd. Orders to hold ourselves in readiness to pass a Genl. Review at 10 oClock A.M. upon which we all got in Uniform with our hair dressed and Powderd at Noon his Excellency Genl. Washington with a number of Genl. Officers past us; we recd. them with a Genl. Salute both Officers and Soldiers—when we were afterwards ordered to our Encampment at 4 oClock P.M—we marched from the plains of German Town we proceeded thro’ German Town, and Steering N. B. E we arived at Whitemarsh Just when Our Antipodes enjoys the first oblique Rays of Phoebus—where we encamped.

Augt. 9 At the beating of Reveille we marched from Whitemarsh and steering N. N. E. we proceeded to Upper Dublin Township Philade. County where we Encamped—our Encampment very indifferent and I considerably indisposed—

We were Situate 15 miles from Philada. on the Road Leading to Easton—

I am now nearly sick of marching
But for the Enemy must be searching
When we do meet we’ll surely fight
And try which party is must right
This must decided be, by Arms
By thundring Mar’s most loud alarms.
I’ll take my post amongst the rest
And act the manner which I think best—

Augt 10th At Dawn of Aurora the Genl. Beat when all Tents were immediately struck. We steered N. N. E. past Wells’s Tavern then turning S. S. E. we passed the Crooked Billet. then steering N. B. W. we reached the Cross roads in Warick Bucks County at 6 oClock P.M. where we encamped.

I felt myself now very tired
For these three Days which last expired
I often thought upon my mate
Who wou’d be sorry to hear my state
But Morphus told me she was well
Likewise more News he had to tell
Which was if I shou’d go to rest
And Sleep a while it wou’d be best
Which I soon did go to my Bed
And then did Morphus seize my head,

Augt 16.

Since we came here, for to Encamp
Our mornings were all very damp
But at Noon day Excessive warm
And like to do us a great harm
I pittied those which always are
In warmer weather very far—
Those that live in the Torrid Zone
have hotter weather for their own
even when it is the Coldest there
It far exceeds what ever were
Endured in the Latitude
of 40 Degrees very good
But yet we do unthankful live
And don’t for happiness thanks give
That we our lots have in a place
Where Weather is temperate to the face
But it is natural unto man
To be ungrateful and never can
Be fully satisfied at all
Shou’d the best lot unto him fall
But an immortal Soul’s desires
Will not ease when it admires
The Riches treasured up in heaven
Which is to true believers given—
But will aspire for Consumation
Enjoying a Compleat Salvation.

Augt. 18th. At 9 oClock A.M. I departed for Corryells ferry and being fired with anxiety for a sight of my Susanna I arived at the house of Mr. Saml. Large in Amwell Just when Phoebus had reached the Meridian where I got a sight of the desired object with whom I spent the Evening with a happiness by words inexpressible—

19th. Just when the inhabitants in 40º South Latd. gets to their Midnight Slumbers I took leave of My Susanna and proceeding over Corryell’s ferry past Shammeny I returned to Camp near Cross-Roads at 3 oClock P.M.—where I Joind the Regt, when having wrote the following Verse I returned to Head Qrs. for the Orders of the Day.—

I have now lately seen my Dear
Tho’ she is now behind and I am hear
She has my heart let me go where I will
Ardently by me to be loved Still—

Augt. 23d. At 3 oClock A.M. we marched from Camp Cross Roads and steering W. B. S. we past the Crooked Billet—then turning S. W. B. W. we proceeded to Stanton near German Town, when receiving orders to March thro’ Philada. next day we Encamp’d, the evening excessive wet, our encampment disadvantageous when being sorry that our march was not this morning Diametrically opposite I dissatisfied betook me to rest—

24th. At 3 oClock A.M. the Genl. beat, when all tents were Struck, at 4 we marched for Philada. at 6 we entered Front Street we proceeded down the Same in Sub-Divisions to Chesnut street when turning to the Northward we proceeded to the Common, thence over Middle Ferry on Schuylkill; then Steering W. B. S. we arived at the hights of Derby at 8 oClock P.M—where we Encamped This is a Small and irregular Town, Situate in the Center between Philada. & Chester [7]½ miles from each the adjacent inhabitants, chiefly Tories, tho’ scarcely any of them possess’d of valuable Estates—

We now are unto chester County Came
In which some people lives that are of fame
But some are Tories to their great disgrace
Numbers of them resides near to this place.

Augt. 25th. At 3 oClock A.M. the Genl. Beat when we struck Tents at 4 we marched from the hights of Derby and Steering W. S. W. we proceeded past Marcus Hook and at 2 oClock P.M. we Encamp’d in Brandwine Hundd. New-Castle County within 5 miles of Wilmington—

26th At 4 oClock we marched from our Encampment to Brandywine Bridge near Wilmington when Turning N. N. W. we proceeded a few miles and Encamped near the Eastern Bank of the Brandywine, when being Ordered on a Courtmartial I served as a member, here we had the intelligence of the Enemy being Landed and Encamp’d at Iron-Hill near Brandywine, here we recd. Orders to have our arms in good Order Expecting an attack next day: being the Aniversary of the battle on Long-Island—

The thoughts of fighting did my spirits raise,
Because we had been idle for some months & days
Hoping that we will Conquer all our cruel Foes
I wou’d with Satisfaction fight some heavy blows—

Augt. 27th This being the aniversary of the Battle on Long Island, we looked for an attack but it turnd out otherwise, and is pass’d without any thing worthy of observation till Evening when we recd. Orders to march next Day to White Clay Creek—

28th. We marched from our encampment at 4 oClock A.M. and Proceeding thro’ Wilmington, Newport and past the rising Sun we Encamped in White-Clay Creek Hundred New-Castle County, where we recd. intelligence that the Enemy were near New-ark that they were furiously advancing and had Drove the Militia, here we lay under Arms without either Tents or Blankets, as the Wagons were left in the rear—150 Men properly Officerd were Detached from Genl. Weedon’s Brigade to Descry the movement of the Enemy We all fully expected a Genl. attack next Day.

When I lay down I thought & said
Perhaps to morrow I may be Dead
Yet I shall stand with all my might
And for Sweet Liberty will fight

Augt 29th. At 3 oClock P.M. we march’d from White Clay Creek And Steering N. B. E. we proceeded a few miles up Lancaster Road then turning E. B. S. we marched to the heights of New-port at Red Clay Creek and there took Post, where our scouting party Returned to us with 14 Prisoners all regulars, they gave us to know that the Enemy were not advancing but that they intended shortly to attempt the Conquest of Philada.—Our Encampment here was excessive beautiful, being chiefly surrounded by Whig Inhabitants and Consequently to us very Agreeable—

Here we remained for some time
Whilst nothing happend to make rhyme
But daily we did go a Scouting
And put the Enemy’s Guards a routing
Here we expected an attack
Hoping the Enemy to drive back
We waited for them to come out
Thinking to put them to the rout—

Septr. 2nd At 6 oClock A.M. express arived at Camp near Red Clay Creek that the Enemy were furiously advancing and driving our Scouting party, we immediately Struck Tents and marched to an advantageous hight at the intersection of the Roads leading to New-Port & Wilmington, where we took post, and there remain’d under Arms till 3 oClock P:M—when intelligence arived that the Enemy had advanced as far as the heights near Christiana Bridge, and there halted when we returned to our Encampment. when the Soldiers receiving Orders to Cook their Provision and be ready to march at a moments warning expecting an attack next Day—

Here I began to meditate
And think upon a future state
Tho’ Wars allarms did not seem strange
Either in fighting or to range
After our Enemy thro’ the wood
Defending of a cause thats good
But what to me seem’d worst of all
The grief of my Susanna wou’d have at my fall
This did me not at all Intimidate
But left to Providence the result of fate

Septr. 6th. I this morning went a reconnoitering I proceeded thro’ New-Port thence to the Artillery park, and afterwards reach’d to our advanc’d Detachment who, inform’d me that in the late skirmish 3 of our Regt. was killed and 1 wounded, I at evening return’d to Camp—

Our Army now was close collected,
For Liberty the whole effected
Intending for to fight our foes
In order to repell all those
Who comes against us in the field,
With all their force to make us yield
But still we hoped to Succeed
To victory and that with speed
Because the battle will soon be
When Liberty and Tyranny
Will have an Equilibrium
The matter much disputed by some
Which of the two shall gain the Day
And Come Victorious away—
But be the matter as it may
I will my utmost skill display—

Septr. 7th. Agreeable to the Genl. Orders of the Day, the Officers Chests and Heavy Baggage were sent over Brandywine and every thing put in readiness, next Day expecting an attack—

8th. At 8 oClock A.M. the Genl. was beat and all Tents immediately struck and Each Regt. Paraded and were properly told off with an officer posted at the head of every Platoon and after wheeling to the right we remain’d under arms till 9, when Intelligence arrived that the Enemy were advancing. The allarm Guns were fired, and the whole army immediately Drawn up in Battle Array, on the East side of Red-Clay Creek with Genl. Greens Division to the right here we remain’d for some time when Genl. Weedons Brigade (of which our Regt. was a part) were Detach’d in front to bring on the attack we cross’d Red-Clay Creek and steering W. B. S. about a league we took post on an Emminence near Mr. Mc.Cannon’s Meetinghouse, and there waited the approach of the Enemy which were within ½ mile of us, but they Encamp’d which occasioned us to remain all night under arms with the Centeries keeping up a Continual firing which occasioned one of our Pusillanimous officers, to abandon his post (he being on Picquet) by which he was immediately arrested.—[5]

9th. At 4 oClock A. M. we recd. orders and proceeding E. N. E. we came to the Crooked Billet on the great road from Wilmington to Lancaster, then turning N. E. B. N. we marched thro’ Kennet Township Chester County and Crossd Brandywine, then turning S. E. B. S. we proceeded a small distance And encamp’d in Brimmigem Township Chester County, being Extremely fatigued for want of rest, and severe marching—

Septr. 10th. at Noon the allarm Guns were fired, and the Army drawn up in the Usual manner, and march’d to a height near Brandywine where we took post and remaind under arms till Evening but the Enemy not comming on we posted large Picquets and remained all night in the woods, for my part my rest was very unquiet

Thursday 11th. At 7 oClock A.M. an attack commenced with Our Scouting party and the Enemy in which Captn. Marshal was wounded, we all paraded near Chids’s ford and had a heavy Cannonade follow’d with small arms on both sides, but not much execution done the distance being too large, however this prov’d to be but a faint, whilst the Enemy’s Grand Army marchd up the West side of Brandywine and Cross’d it at Brimmigem Meetinghouse. Genl. Sullivan’s Division were detach’d in front to bring on the attack, both parties met at 4 oClock P.M. when a heavy Engagement immediately Commenced which continued about an hour, when our troops being overpower’d in number were obliged to give way, at which time we were marched to their aid—We took the front and attacked the Enemy at 1/2 after 5 and being Engag’d with their Grand Army we at first was oblig’d to retreat a few Yards, and form’d in an open field, where we fought without giving way on either sides till Phoebus had Descended below the Horrizon, it then growing Dark and our ammunition almost all expired, we Ceased firing on both sides, we then recd. marching Orders and proceeding for Chester we marched all night until we arived near it, when we halted but not admitted to Sleep tho’ in the night we had march’d near 20 miles This Day for a severe and Successive Engagement exceeded all I ever seen. our Regt. fought at one stand about an hour with an incessant fire; and Yet the loss much less than that of Long-Island neither was we so nigh as at Princeton, our Common Distance being about 50 Yards tho’ I loss’d 3 of my Division yet Providence preserved me from being wounded—

And thus happen’d the Battle of Brandywine in Chester County the loss on either sides not properly authenticated.


[1] See The James Mcmichael Journal, May 27, 1776–October 29, 1776, Journal of the American Revolution, February 5, 2018, and The James Mcmichael Journal, November 1, 1776–June 3, 1777, Journal of the American Revolution, February 12, 2018.

[2] James Francis Moore, John Robb, and Joseph L. Finley.

[3] John Bull had been commissioned colonel of the Pennsylvania State Regiment on May 2, 1777, and resigned on June 17, 1777. He had originally been appointed colonel of the 1st Pennsylvania Battalion by the Continental Congress in 1775, but his officers petitioned Congress “complaining of the conduct of Colonel Bull” and he resigned in 1776. The complaint on the part of McMichael and his fellows was in part due to the fact that Bull was an outsider and they “consider themselves very much aggrieved as thereby what little Rank they hold in the service of the State is Entirely Destroyed.” Bull became adjutant general of the Pennsylvania Militia and his finest moment came on December 25, 1777 when he cannonaded British held Philadelphia for Christmas. Anita Newcomb McGee, Colonel John Bull (1731-1824): A Preliminary Study Privately Printed, 1919. Lewis Farmer was lieutenant colonel of McMichael’s regiment; Walter Stewart was appointed Colonel of the regiment on June 17.

[4] This was the “Battle of Short Hills,” which included several skirmishes between Americans and British troops. There were relatively few casualties, though the Americans lost three cannon.

[5] I could find no records about this arrest.

One thought on “The James McMichael Journal, June 11, 1777–September 11, 1777

  • Very interesting account of the lead up to the Battle of Brandywine. One of the best takeaways from soldiers’ diaries is their “on the ground” views of battlefield actions. Clearly, in McMichael’s case, there is palpable confidence in “going toe to toe” with the British Army in open field combat. Pridefully, he is pleased with his unit’s overall performance and does not regard the Brandywine Battle as a disastrous defeat. While it may have been a strategic Patriot loss, it did not seem to dampen McMichael’s spirits or will to fight.

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