IN Great Valley Spring 2020 - Page 34

INTHEKNOW ‘Remember Paoli!’ The Battle of Paoli site remains a lasting testament to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. BY RYAN J. CONROY W hen General Anthony Wayne arrived at the General Paoli Inn on the morning of Sept. 19, 1777, he was only about 2 miles behind the British. The inn, also known as the Paoli Tavern, was named in 1769 after a famous Corsican patriot, Pasquale Paoli. Paoli was the President of the Republic of Corsica and author of its Constitution. He represented liberty and independence, which drew admiration throughout the colonies. After arriving, General Wayne wrote several notes to General George Washington with his exact location and plan of attack. Unfortunately, Wayne didn’t know that the dispatcher who carried the messages was likely captured, and the British knew exactly where he was. He ordered his troops to set up camp near the Warren Tavern on the evening of Sept. 19, in a field that was surrounded by a small forest. Unbeknownst to them as they waited for reinforcements, this location would become the spot of the Battle of Paoli, also known as the Paoli Massacre. As the Americans were on campaign, they carried very minimal supplies, so their camp would have consisted of makeshift shelters and anything that could be moved quickly. At 4 p.m. on Sept. 20, just hours before the British attack, American Colonel 32 724.942.0940 TO ADVERTISE  icmags.com Daniel Brodhead wrote, “We received orders to prepare for a march. Accordingly, the Division formed but the weather was cloudy and threatening to rain, so we were ordered to build booths to secure our arms and ammunition and go to rest.” The weather not only prevented Wayne’s troops from marching but also prevented the arrival of reinforcements. At midnight, Wayne went to the camp and rallied his troops— he ordered them to form up and march toward Sugartown Road. During the march, a wheel broke on one of the American cannons. This mishap would prove to be fatal, as it resulted in the British attack on the American troops. The sheer brutality of the British against the American soldiers earned the battle the name “Paoli Massacre.” The actions of the British soldiers had such a profound impact on the American soldiers that two weeks later, at the Battle of Germantown, the Pennsylvania troops charged the British, yelling, “Avenge Wayne’s Affair!” and “Remember Paoli!” The latter would become a battle cry used by the Continental Army, and is possibly the first of its kind used by an American Army. The Battle of Paoli site remains a lasting testament to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and throughout the generations has been the gathering place to commemorate American veterans, drawing thousands to Remembrance Day anniversaries (the precursor to Memorial Day). To learn more about the Battle of Paoli, visit the Paoli Battlefield Preservation Fund site at www. pbpfinc.org. The PBPF is a local nonprofit dedicated to protecting, preserving and promoting the historical significance of the Paoli Battlefield. 