THE MAIN CONTINENTAL ARMY AT THE ANTES PLANTATION
The Antes house served as Washington's Headquarters
from September 22 to 26, 1777
This site became known as the FAGLEYSVILLE ENCAMPMENT, sometimes referred to as the POTTSGROVE ENCAMPMENT. In most history books it gets little or no mention. Fagleysville was a good defensive site located on the Swamp Road between the Great Road (now Route 422) and the Big Road (present Rt. 73). Any attempt by the British to move towards the Continental supply depot at Reading, the iron foundries of Chester County, or York (where congress had recently fled from Philadelphia) could be quickly opposed.
HOW THE ARMY CAME TO BE AT ANTES PLANTATION
After the Battle of Brandywine (on September 11, 1777) the army, numbering between 8,000 & 10,000, had forded the Schuylkill at Parkersford on the 19th and encamped around Trappe. (Since Brandywine the army had marched over 100 miles and crossed the river three times!) At this point General Washington was not sure if British General Sir William Howe was planning to march WEST for the military supplies at Reading, or move EAST to capture Philadelphia. Howe made a feint west, then quickly reversed and marched into the capital unopposed. Having anticipated the loss of the city, the patriots had pretty well stripped it of everything of financial or military value
The Liberty Bell had been removed to Allentown with a baggage & munitions train of some 700 wagons. Congress had hurried off to reconvene at York. Meanwhile, on the night of September 20th General Anthony Wayne, operating well across the Schuylkill, was attacked and badly beaten at Paoli. He retreated, but remained on the other side of the river continuing to protect Washington's right flank. Wayne's troops didn't rejoin Washington's main force until the army had marched out of the New Hanover area.
On September 22nd the army marched to Fagleysville and General Washington made the Antes house his headquarters at the invitation of Col. Frederick Antes. He was a colonel in the 6th Battalion of Pennsylvania Militia and knew the area well. (His father, Henry Antes, had built the house in 1736.) General Sir William Howe had put a reward of 200 pounds out for Col. Antes, dead or alive, as he was involved with the making of cannons at Warwick Furnace.
The militia troops arrived first and were given a week's leave to go to their nearby homes to help with the harvest (When the militia were called up, there was not enough help left to completely harvest the crops at "home". This was a real future supply concern when considering when to activate the militia.). However, their absence also meant the army commissary did not have to feed them! The encampment stretched for several miles as the army took over all the houses and barns for shelter. The families were allowed to stay but had to live in one room.
The weather was dismal with constant rain, cold, and wind the entire time.
Being always short on food, the army confiscated any cattle, sheep, pigs, grain, preserves and any other provisions the local populace could not hide. Many families had to later borrow food from friends and relatives who lived "beyond the reach" of the hungry troops. Horses and wagons were taken as well. Often the owners or their sons were "pressed" as teamsters.
The army departed at 9 AM on the 26th. Originally, orders had been issued to move on the 25th, but a heavy rain caused the march to be rescheduled for the next day. The Pennsylvania Militia Commander, camped to the east, didn't get the cancellation orders and moved his men as far as Trappe before the word reached him. He stopped and waited there.
GENERALS PRESENT AT FAGLEYSVILLE
Washington, Greene, Sullivan, Lord Stirling (William Alexander), Pulaski (having just arrived in the army), Knox, Weeden, Armstrong and probably Maxwell, Muhlenburg, Stephen, & Nash (who was mortally wounded at Germantown).
ABSENT: Wayne and the 1st Pennsylvania Regt. (the renamed 1st Continental Regt.) who were camped across the Schuylkill River, just above Elverson.