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A Most Gallant Resistance

The Delaware River Campaign, September-November 1777

A key moment in the American Revolution comes to life

Most histories of the American War of Independence discuss what are usually regarded as the two major campaigns in 1777. Either they describe the invasion from Canada led by General John Burgoyne which resulted in his subsequent defeat and the surrender of his force at Saratoga, New York, or they focus on William Howe’s Philadelphia Campaign. Often left out of these discussions, or treated only in passing, is the reduction of the Delaware River defenses that engaged the bulk of the resources and attention of both George Washington and William Howe through October and November of 1777.

On the American side, maintaining the integrity of the river defenses involved an attritional campaign waged by an intrepid group of defenders which brought together the efforts of the Continental Army, as garrisons of the various forts, the Continental Navy and the Pennsylvania State Navy.  If the Americans could hold their positions until winter set in, they would prevent William Howe from capitalizing his capture of Philadelphia, and possibly force him to abandon the city for want of supplies.