Malvern in Chester County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
“…The most dreadful scene I have ever beheld.”
“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.”
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 –
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.”
Location. 40° 1.805′ N, 75° 31.054′ W. Marker is in Malvern, Pennsylvania, in Chester County. Marker can be reached from Monument Avenue, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is on the Paoli Battlefield. Marker is in this post office area: Malvern PA 19355, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. General Wayne’s Encampment (here, next to this marker); “A Dreadful scene of havock” (within shouting distance of this marker); The Paoli Battlefield (within Camp Life (within shouting distance of this marker); Battlefield Site Map (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); This Wall (about 300 feet away); Paoli Massacre Monument (about 300 feet away); "We bury’d our Dead next day in the field of Battle, All kill’d by the sword and Bayonet." (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Malvern.
More about this marker. The center of the marker contains a map showing the movement of British and American troops on the night of the September 21, 1777 attack. Also shown on the map are the opening on the fence where a cannon blocked the retreat of American troops, the path of Wayne’s retreat and the place where the Maryland Militia under Col. Smallwood were attacked by the British.
To the left of the map is a picture of Colonel Thomas Hartley and a postcard for the early 1900’s, showing the 1877 Monument location on the site of the mass grave.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. This series of markers follow the walking trail of the Paoli Battlefield.
Also see . . .
1. Background to the Battle of Paoli. Paoli Battlefield website. (Submitted on November 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
2. The Battle of Paoli (Massacre) September 21, 1777 at Malvern, Pennsylvania. The American Revolutionary War website. (Submitted on November 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
3. The Battle of Paoli also known as the Paoli Massacre. A British perspective of the battle from BritishBattles.com (Submitted on November 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
Categories. • Notable Events • Notable Places • War, US Revolutionary •
More. Search the internet for “…The most dreadful scene I have ever beheld.”.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 24, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 988 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on November 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. 7. submitted on September 24, 2017, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.