Friday, September 11, 2015

Gone for Soldiers: Abraham Heath (About 1740 - 1807), Soldier (Part III)

On this, the 238th anniversary of the Battle of Brandywine, I'm paying tribute to my ancestor Abraham Heath.

Although I believe that Abraham Heath joined the 6th Virginia Regiment at the time of its formation in February of 1776, the earliest army records that still exist for him date from April of 1777, which means that we don't have supporting documentation for his presence at the first three engagements in the list below* and as his term of service ended in February, 1778, he didn't participate in the Battle of Monmouth. In light of this, I've decided to focus on the Philadelphia Campaign. The two maps below are from Hessian and British sources.

["PhiladelCampaignHessianMap". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -]

[Progress of the army from their landing till taking possession of Philadelphia.Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C.]
The first meeting between General Howe's forces and those of General Washington was on September 11th at Chadd's Ford on the Brandywine River (or Creek, take your pick) where the Continental Army attempted to block the British advance on Philadelphia. The videos below explain what happened on the day that saw the largest battle of the war.

[Overall Battle of Brandywine Map]

[2nd Virginia Brigade]

Private Heath's regiment was assigned to the 2nd Virginia Brigade under General George Weedon in May of 1777, and the Brigade, whose initial position in the line of battle facing is shown above, was part of Major General Nathanael Greene's division. At the end of the day Greene's forces were the last to leave the field, having delayed the British assault long enough to enable the rest of the Continental Army to retreat after their defeat. Although Washington's army had lost the battle, the British had not managed to destroy it.

My question is: Was my ancestor present at the Battle of the Brandywine? From the payroll of the 6th Virginia Regiment for September of 1777, we can see that Abraham Heath (#29) received his pay for the month and wasn't listed as a casualty. Although he was listed as sick in earlier reports, it's my understanding that a sick soldier typically remained with his company (unless he was hospitalized) so I think there's a good chance that Abraham stood beside his fellows facing the oncoming enemy troops at the end of that long, hot day.

The British Army hadn't succeeded in its efforts to crush the rebellion at the Brandywine and would face the Continental Army again. I'm going to try to sort out where my paternal fifth great grandfather Abraham Heath might have been in future posts.

Note: More on the Philadelphia Campaign here, and for an over-view of the entire Revolutionary War, the National Park Service has a day-by-day calendar. If you ever find yourself in the area, here are driving tours of the battleground.

*6th Virginia Regiment information taken from The Continental Army by Robert K. Wright, Jr. available as a PDF at the U.S. Army Center of Military History here.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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