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Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Crooked Billet

     The Battle of Crooked Billet on May 1, 1778 (now in present-day Hatboro, Pennsylvania), was one of the more extended skirmishes arising out of the competition for forage and supplies between British and American forces.  A monument on the grounds of a school commemorates the battle.

     Washington's preferred commander of Pennsylvania militia, General James Potter, was on leave, so General John Lacy was charged with patrol and prevention of British seizure of American supplies, in command of about 400 men.  Major John Simcoe, in command of the Queen's Rangers, and Colonel Robert Abercromby, led about 850 men in a dawn attack on May 1, overwhelmed the initial force, chased them for miles and emerged victorious.  Allegations of British brutality against prisoners led Washington to appoint General William Maxwell to investigate.

     Something else worth nothing about Crooked Billet is the fact that while the soldiers of the Continental Army were starving and freezing, and these foraging raids and skirmishes were occurring, Congress was setting the rates for wagons and supplies.  The American commissary and quartermaster functions were in complete disarray.  Americans were selling to the British because that was what the market would bear.  It wasn't all patriotic fervor in America.

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