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Humpday History Highlight

By Wyatt Earp | May 20, 2009

lafayette-hillThere are two specific periods of American history which interest me more than any others. First is World War II, because there are so many great stories of heroism and sacrifice. Second is the American Revolution, because I am lucky enough to live in the birthplace of the nation.

Today’s Highlight was an easy choice because it occurred just outside my hometown. Enjoy!

May 20, 1778 - The Battle Of Barren Hill, Pennsylvania

On this day in 1778, British forces from Philadelphia attempt to trap 2,200 Continentals defending Valley Forge led by Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette, through skillful maneuvering, avoids the entrapment and the destruction of his forces. The encounter takes place at Barren Hill, now known as Lafayette Hill, just northwest of Philadelphia.

Washington had dispatched Lafayette and his men two days before to spy on the British in Philadelphia. The British learned of Lafayette’s mission and intended to surprise, surround and capture the encampment with a force of 7,000 to 8,000 men. Lafayette, in turn, learned of the British plan late on May 19.

Lafayette assigned 500 men and approximately 50 Oneida Indians armed with cannon to face the British onslaught and stand their ground by the local church, while the rest of Lafayette’s forces fled west over the Schuylkill River to safety. Before the Oneida warriors followed the Continental Army across the Schuylkill, they are believed to have bravely given chase to the British as they marched back to Philadelphia.

The Indians’ actions during the successful retreat at Barren Hill prevented disaster and allowed the Continental Army to emerge from Valley Forge as a disciplined military in June. (H/T -

And Lafayette does all this during his first command. Amazing.

Topics: HHH |

6 Responses to “Humpday History Highlight”

  1. Old NFO Says:
    May 20th, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Nice post and interesting history! Thanks!

  2. Wyatt Earp Says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Old NFO - Thank you, sir!

  3. Jon Brooks Says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 12:32 am

    My grandmother on my fathers side was a member of the D.A.R. and she told us a story when we were kids about an ancestor of ours. He was in a unit from Vermont and they were to attack a British fort along the St. lawerence on the Canadian side. The Brits had cleared the trees etc. in front of the fort which was on a promintory, for a deadly beating zone and suicidal frontal attack. So our boys decided to climb up the cliffs behind the fort and attack that way utilizing suprise. Well getting liquored up prior to fighting was an old custom back then too, so true to the hard drinking American custom they broke out the rum. The following morning
    suffering probably massive hangovers from building up their courage the evening before, they started their slow climb up the cliffs. The British sentries spotted them about halfway up (probably while wretching LOL) and shot the holy hell out of them. Attack ended and they hobbled back across the river. History is definitely cool.
    At least i can proudly say there were Brooks’s there the last time we invaded Canada:) LOL

  4. Wyatt Earp Says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 12:59 am

    Jon - That is unbelievably cool. A that time, the Earps were somewhere in Czechoslovakia - probably fighting crime.

  5. Jon Brooks Says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Or Nosfaratu:)

  6. Rick Says:
    May 21st, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks for the history lesson. It would be cool to be in the middle of all of that history.