The campaign for Philadelphia

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On July 23, 1777 the British fleet left from Sandy Hook carrying more than 15,000 soldiers and headed into the Atlantic before turning south to enter Chesapeake Bay in August. Once inside the bay they sailed up the Chesapeake to its northern extremity and set the troops ashore at the head of the Elk River on August 25. During this time the British recruited a good many enslaved Virginians, especially from the Eastern Shore, but also Princess Anne County, Norfolk and Hampton. There were probably hundreds of black loyalists attached to the British army in support capacity. The Black Pioneers were part of Howe's army and there were black recruits in soldiers in the Loyalist and Hessian regiments.


After the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777 General Howe was able to enter and occupy Philadelphia. General Howe resigned during the occupation of Philadelphia and was replaced by his second-in-command, General Sir Henry Clinton. The following year, 1778, Clinton evacuated the troops from Philadelphia back to New York City in order to increase that city's defenses and their retreat the British took with them many more black recuits who had defected across Pennsylvania and New Jesey.