For those who resided in Chester County over two centuries ago, they must have witnessed the significant flashes of the American Revolution, Battle of Paoli. The Paoli Battle happened on 20th September 1777. It occurred at Near Malvern, Pa, which is a few minutes’ drives from the famous West Chester University. The residents then referred to it as Paoli Massacre as the British overcame the Americans in the battle. The Revolution was primarily spearheaded by Anthony Wayne, General “Mad” as he was popularly known.
It is the British General, William Howe, who initiated the war. They trooped from Elk Neck to Maryland Chester County with an ill motive of capturing the capital city of Philadelphia. Previously, Washington and Howe had clashed at the Battle of Brandywine resulting in the defeat for the American generals. On the eve of the Battle, Wayne’s troops received a warning of an impending attack. However, Wayne made a critical mistake, and he missed the myriad threats of the intended British attacks. He also overlooked other threatening and warning signs as he was swayed that the British soldiers would soon vacate the region. He was sure that General Smallwood would add extra American reinforcements.
The consequences were dreadful. On that fateful day, late 20th and early 21st September, in three frightening waves, over 1200 British elite troop ran over Wayne’s camp base near the present Malvern. The British Army mercilessly slaughtered the American forces. As Wayne tried to organize his army, his British counterparts spiked them, hunted those in flight, and also torched their huts. From the battle, fifty-three America soldiers were killed, a hundred and twelve injured and a further seventy-one soldiers held captives. On the British side, they only lost four soldiers and had seven other soldiers injured.
According to the president of the Paoli Battlefield Preservation Fund, Bruce Knapp, several American forces were shown no mercy by the British soldiers. The army committed immeasurable slaughters in the heart of the battle against the vulnerable American army. It is the reason the Battle was named the Paoli Massacre.
For Wayne, the revolution was personal to him in various ways. After the battle, several British soldiers came looking for him in his house but he was he was nowhere to be found. General Howe was able to capture Philadelphia six days after the battle, and he overpowered the Americans. Nonetheless, the legacy of Wayne has always been tarnished by his faults at Paoli. To clear his name, Wayne was prosecuted at his demand for his carelessness in reacting to the British warning, despite the many warnings. The court found him not guilty and acquitted of all the accusations.
For the historians, the Battle of Paoli helps the Americans know their history. Americans need to learn who they are and where they come from. It is undoubtedly one of the significant preserved battlefields in the US. Military force can learn few things about the techniques used during the war.