The British Invasion of 1778

Gloucester Town

"Jäger Post" at the Point House 

across from Gloucester Town.

1778 - Fortress Philadelphia

As the British occupied Philadelphia starting in the fall of 1777 until June 1778, they began to build redoubts and outpost around the City of Philadelphia.

The Gloucester Point Ferry location on the eastern side of the Delaware would not have been a location for an attack by the American Rebels; but nonetheless, would require an outpost.

The British would assign this task to their allied Hessian Jägerkorps.

This 1778 map of Philadelphia shows "Jäger Post" at the Point House across from Gloucester Town.

Notice too the notation "the Rebel Fleet Burnt" and the symbols which indicate the mast of sunken ships.

Link the Library of Congress map:

"Philadelphia and neighborhood"

Large Force of British Land at Gloucester Town on

April 5th 1778

In the early morning hours of April 5th 1778.  British Lieutenant Colonel Abercrombie leads 500 British grenadiers across the Delaware River to Gloucester Town, NJ in an attempt to capture American troops at Haddonfield.

An American cavalry sentry rode through Newton Creek alerting the American's at Haddonfield as to the approaching British Troops. The American's moved out of Haddonfield avoiding capture.

The British troops returned to Philadelphia through Cooper’s Ferry and capture a small number of American’s at Coopers Ferry unaware of the British presence at Haddonfield.

Later known as Sir Robert Abercrombie, he would be promoted to full General of the Army, Knight of the Order of the Bath, Governor of Bombay, Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army and Commander-in-Chief, India and serve as a member of Parliament.

Evacuation of Philadelphia

June 18th 1778

Gloucester Town saw the last of the British Rule as the British Army evacuated Philadelphia through Gloucester and Cooper's Ferry.

As reported by American scouts from the Pennsylvania shore, British Troops with supporting Cavalry could still be seen at Gloucester Town as late as 1:30 PM

Before leaving Gloucester Town, the British would burn their scows ( flat-bottomed boats) they used to cross the Delaware.

Days before the British had passed much of their baggage over in wagons to Camden's Cooper Point.

Also attached map and journal entry are from the "Journal of John André, 1777, June 11 - 1778, Nov. 15."

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department.

British General Henry Clinton

In a letter dated July 5, 1778, British General Henry Clinton who was then Commander-in-Chief for North America writes a letter to England that he has evacuated Philadelphia as ordered.

In the letter he states that the army was moved to Gloucester Point (PA) starting at 3 AM and crossed under the protection of the Royal Navy on June 18, 1778. The British Army then in Gloucester (NJ) marched at 10 AM and reached Haddonfield later in the day.

Elias Boudinot inform

George Washington

that the British are at Gloucester Town.

Elias Boudinot was Commissary General for Prisoners.

Founders Online:

"German Town [Pa.]

June 18 1778 8 oClock P.M.

Dr Sir

I am this Moment returned from the Point opposite to Gloucester—As soon as the City was a little reconnoitered, and prudent precautions taken, I went down with two or three chosen Persons to the Point from whence the Enemy had just gone over—We plainly discovered their rear & indeed the direction of the whole Party from the Dust—Two Deserters came over to us while we were there, one swam the River the other came in a Canoe—From the whole, I think your Excellency may depend on the following facts—That the main Body passed over at Coopers ferry—The flying Army as it is called passed to Gloucester to serve as a Covering Party—This last Body halted about two or three Hours at Gloucester, buried (burned) their Scows dressed two Days Provision and marched towards Haddonfield about three or four oClock, where it is said they are to join the Main Body this Evening—One thing only puzzeled me, it was clearly discernible that the last of the main Body, who were in sight when we entered the City, marched down from Coopers ferry along the River, to Gloucester—The only way I can Account for this, is to suppose them part of the flying Army—I asked the Deserter how it came that this flanks division marched to the right of the main Body instead of the left—He answered me that it was reported that Genl wayne with his Division had crossed from Wilmington—we have sent off two or three proper Persons in their rear.

a light Horseman comes in with your Excellency⟨’s⟩ Letter of this date,1 but the Contents are as fully answered by the above, as I am now capable of; every possible measure shall be taken by me to endeavour to watch the Enemy’s movements.

Notwithstanding every endeavour used to the Contrary, they have embarked all our Prisoners except a very few—They persist in taking the Officers with them, but say they will disembark the Privates in the River when their Prisoners arrive—I have given for Answer, that under so notorious a Violation of a solemn Agreemt for the purpose, I could not say whether your Excellency would suffer another of their Prisoners to be sent in at any rate. I am Your Excellency’s Most Obedt & Most Hble Servt

Elias Boudinot"

The American troops at the Ferry House opposite Gloucester can still see the British troops at Gloucester Town at 1:30 PM on June 18, 1778

“On Capt. Heard’s communicating the Contents of your letter to him I was importund by Colo. Boudinot to Join partys & make what discoverys we coud. Colo. Boudinot was also desirous to endeavour to discover the Enemy’s rout before any report might be made in consequence of which we went to the ferry house opposite to Glocester where we discoverd a very considerable body of horse & foot of the Enemy marching towards Haddon feild their rear is still in Sight & we are pretty certain from their Course that Haddon field they will pass thro

Capt. Alexander S. Dandridge to Clough, written from Ferry house opposite Glocester [N.J.] half after one o’clock"

George Washington Papers [ Library of Congress ]

The French lampoon the British evacuation of Philadelphia through Gloucester Town New Jersey.

Nearly 11,000 British forces landed at Gloucester Town on June 18th, 1778.

The British Army evacuated Philadelphia in June 1778. The evacuation took place through Gloucester Town and Cooper Point at Camden.

The British made the decision to evacuate Philadelphia based on the French entry into the War.

Images include: "American people celebrating; American flag; France as an avenging angel; liberty cap; British soldiers routed; City of Philadelphia."

[ The John Carter Brown Library Brown University ]