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When we remember the many battles fought in Chester County during the American Revolution, we often think of the Battle of the Brandywine and the Paoli Massacre. Most of us have learned about these two horrific battles fought among the hills and valleys of Chester County, but we often forget about another important encounter known as the Battle of the Clouds. This lesser-known battle occurred around present-day West Goshen, East Goshen, and West Whiteland Townships. This September marks 244 years since the British and American soldiers converged on some of the same roads that we still travel today.
After the Americans were defeated at the Battle of Brandywine, the British Army remained stationed near Chadds Ford. A few days later, British General William Howe was informed that a small band of 10,000 American soldiers were stationed less than ten miles north. General George Washington initially planned to cross the Schuylkill River to protect Philadelphia and then replenish his supplies in Reading. Instead, Washington suddenly changed his plans and decided to stand guard against Howe and his 16,000 soldiers. On September 15, 1777, General Washington marched his troops by the White Horse Tavern ready to fight off the British. As the sun rose on September 16, General Howe gathered his troops and marched north prepared to engage in another battle.
General Washington led his troops through the Great Valley and directly south toward the British. The American soldiers formed a three-mile long defensive. Along the way, several small skirmishes occurred with Hessian soldiers. Around 3:00 PM, just as General Washington was finalizing his line of battle, dark clouds moved into the area and a heavy thunderstorm ensued. The British halted their advances as the rain destroyed the gunpowder on both fronts. Although their guns were inoperable, the Hessians moved forward with their swords drawn. In the end, the Americans and British both lost about 100 soldiers as the rain conquered the afternoon. Several days later, the British Army was engaged in the Battle of Paoli, later known as the Paoli Massacre and eventually occupied Philadelphia.
During this September, take a moment to remember that we are always surrounded by history. The roads we travel are some of the same paths General Washington marched during that momentous autumn 244 years ago. The sacrifices that were made by thousands of American soldiers helped us to hold on to our freedom and independence. Although the landscape has dramatically changed over the years, the soil still holds the memories that took place during the Battle of the Clouds and the American Revolution.