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Philadelphia 1777, Taking the Capital.

Author. Justin Clement.

Illustrated by Stephen Walsh

Botley, Oxford:

Osprey Publishing Ltd. 2007.

96 pages, paperback


It may sound like a joke, but how do you tell a reenactor when that person is not in kit? Simple. He or she may be carrying an Osprey book. Osprey has published small but information-packed books on just about every time period and army you could think of, as well as titles of individual battles or campaigns and weaponry.

In short, the book covers Howe's 1777 campaign that culminated in the taking of the Rebel capital of Philadelphia. Along the way there were a number of engagements including the major battles of Brandywine and Germantown, both British victories. Loyalists are mentioned several times in the book, but don't expect a lot on Loyalist regiments, as the only one active in the campaign was the Queen's Rangers.

Clement covers the events leading up to the campaign and goes into considerable detail about the various engagements. Brandywine was covered in an earlier review, but you may recall that Howe managed to defeat, but not destroy, Washington's Army in a battle that covered a larger geographical area than any other in the Revolution. By the way, the locale around Chad's Ford was hometown to the famous 20th century artist, Andrew Wyeth.

Germantown represented an attempt by Washington to catch the British off guard, but it did not work out as he had hoped. Perhaps the most remarkable episode focused on in the book, was the successful defence of the Chew House by a detachment of the (British) 40th Regiment against significant Rebel odds. Have you heard about it before? It reminds me somewhat of the Loyalist defence of the blockhouse in Bergen County, New Jersey in 1780; again against a large Rebel force. Because the author tries very hard to take a neutral stance, we do get a full report of the action at the Chew House that might not have been examined in earlier books. The defence of the Chew House is captured in one of the illustrations.

The book also covers "Wayne's Affair' or the Battle of Paoli that was part of the same campaign. It involved the defeat of Rebel Brigadier-General Anthony Wayne.

As is the case with Osprey publications, there are plenty of maps, period images, photos of reenactors and of course, splendid illustrations. The cover shows members of the 1st Light Infantry Battalion in action against the Rebels at Brandywine.

It is certainly a worthy effort but, if you don't want to take my word on it, Gavin Watt also spoke highly of it in the June issue of the King's Royal Yorkers' newsletter.

Reviewed by Peter W. Johnson UE

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Author:Johnson, Peter W.
Publication:The Loyalist Gazette
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2008
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