New Garden Township was not greatly involved in the Revolutionary War. Its participation was slight when compared to other areas, but since it takes many parts to make a whole, that participation should not be overlooked. Since most of our residents were members of the Society of Friends who maintained strong convictions against all wars and preparations for war, it was they who were the most involved. They were denounced as Quaker Tories and traitors to their country since they chose to obey their belief in the brotherhood of men, and were opposed to forcibly pulling down or setting up of governments. They steadfastly held to their faith in the sacredness of human life and the sinfulness of taking it away, and paid the penalty.
A standing committee was appointed to attend to cases of those who suffered under the war. Its duty was to (1) advise, encourage and assist their members when under trial and suffering; (2) to prepare accounts of suffering cases and report them to the Monthly Meetings; (3) to visit authorities, explain the Society's principles, and try to convince them of their consistency with the teachings of Christ; and (4) to meet with Quarterly Meeting's committee in general consultation for united action. Those on the Committee from New Garden Monthly Meeting in 1779 were: Joseph Moore, Joshua Pusey, Joseph Richardson, Daniel Thompson, William Miller, Jacob Lindley, Thomas Milhouse, David Hoopes, Thomas Wood, Thomas Woodward, Henry Chalfant, Isaac Jackson, Jr., Joel Bailey, Joseph Pyle, Jacob Halliday, Isaac Pyle, and Francis Lamborn.
Despite their strong convictions, there is every indication that sentiment prevailed for independence among the Friends, and many violated the discipline in respect to war and thereby ceased to be Friends. Some were disowned or reprimanded for joining "with the people in learning the military exercise and other misconduct; for paying a tax, part of which was applied for warlike purposes; for enlisting as soldiers; for accompanying military officers who went about taking blankets for use of soldiers; for joining with an army for war and engaging therein as a pioneer; for assisting in driving away from Friends' cattle that were taken from them for fines."
The testimony against one who joined the army as a pioneer stated that he had
"given way to a rambling mind so as to travel into distant provinces contrary to the advice of Friends, and afterwards when the tryals ensured, instead of having his trust alone in the Almighty for preservation and support under sufferings for Christ's sake, gave way to a spirit of fear and went to the English army for protection and enlisted with them as a Pioneer."
He was disowned. Another "did go out as a soldier in the Militia, and has lately married a woman not in membership with Friends by the assistance of a Priest" and was disowned. Several were disowned for taking a test inconsistent with their beliefs that tended to spread discord and disunity in the Society, and for paying or collecting muster fines. One acknowledged through weakness that he had paid a tax that encouraged war and his acknowledgement was accepted.
The records of enlistments available at this time do not show from which Township men came and it has proved impossible to pick out only those names that would belong to our area.
On September 9, 1777 two divisions of the British army entered Chester County, having marched from the Elk Creek in Maryland. British ships had travelled as far up the Creek as possible to near Turkey Point. From that point soldiers began their march up through Iron Hill near Newark, Delaware, and into New Garden. They entered where present Southwood Road meets Limestone Road (Route 7) .One division under Lord Cornwallis moved on to camp near Hockessin Meeting House. Another, under Hessian General Wilhelm Von Knyphausen encamped at New Garden and Kennett Square. The New Garden encampment was along the toll road from Lancaster to New port in the Kaolin area. The divisions united the next day and moved on to meet with American forces at the Battle of the Brandywine.
A West Chester resident, Joseph Townsend, in a narrative written in 1846 said that the next news of the troops after they left Iron Hill was that they were at Allen's tavern in the settlement of New Garden, "a person having arrived who had been in sight of them so near as to discover the buttons on their coats." This was probably the regiment of German troops that had been kept in front of the army to cover the English troops from any skirmishing which might take place with the Americans, or rebels, as they were called. Townsend described the English officers after viewing them further along the march as rather stout, portly men, well dressed and of genteel appearance who did not appear to have been exposed to any hardship. "Their skins were as white and delicate as is customary for females brought up in large cities or towns." The Hessians wore "beards on their upper lips, a novelty in that part of the country." Another unit, the Queen's Rangers, was comprised of American-born men. Some have said it was this unit that encamped here.
The British Army in only one short night caused damage and loss to New Garden residents in the amount of 951 pounds, 2 shillings, and 8 pence. There is every reason to believe that they demanded food, livestock and horses, and feed for the animals, and perhaps wantonly destroyed furniture and bedding. This had been their policy along the march to this point and beyond. Since they camped near Allen's Tavern, they probably demanded food and drink there. In some instances, negro slaves escaped and went to the enemy, and their market value was set down as a loss. The following list was submitted to the authorities covering damages sustained:
Name Pounds Shillings Pence
Isaac Allen 170 0 0
James Allen 8 7 6
William Martin 65 5 0
Isaac Miller 363 17 6
Andrew McIntire 41 0 0
David Frame 5 0 0
William Whiteside 212 5 0
James Miller 85 7 6
On September 25, 1777, seven days after the Battle of Brandywine, New Garden Monthly Meeting reported:
"The Committee to extend relief to the sufferers from the army, which recently passed through this neighborhood, reported that the sufferings of many had been great, but that none appear to be in want of the necessaries of life, except one in the verge of New Garden Preparative Meeting, which is referred to the care thereof; and that they generally appear to bear the sufferings with a good degree of cheerfulness."
In one case horses that were being used in the fields were unhitched and taken away. Thomas Lamborn had property destroyed and confiscated. It isn't known for certain that New Garden residents suffered under the depredations of the Continental Army as well, but necessities for the army at Valley Forge were in such short supply that Congress authorized the Commander-in-Chief to seize provisions for its use in any place within seventy miles of his headquarters. Certificates were given for property taken, payable in Continental money but this currency was never redeemable.
It is known that property was seized from many in New Garden and may have represented such confiscations, or covered payment of militia fines. The "Pennsylvania Militia" was organized March 1777, and provided for compulsory enrollment by constables of all able-bodied and white males between the ages of 18 and 53. Exemptions were extremely limited. They had to drill regularly but often never saw a single day of active duty. A man who did not report for drill paid an "Exercise Fine" and one called for active duty could hire a substitute or pay a "Substitute Fine." Militia fines were an important source of revenue.
Constable William Whiteside, New Garden, from the Eleventh Month, 1780 to the Fifth Month, 1781, submitted the following list of property distrained:
From: Pounds Shillings Pence
Thompson Parker 27
a mare, a coverlet, and blanket
Wm. McConnell 16
a cow and heifer, 1 ton of hay,
20 b. of corn, 2½ of wheat
Hannah Miller 20
a cow, 4 y. cattle, 38 b. oats,
15 of corn, 9 of rye, 9 of wheat
Isaac Richards 27
a horse, 4 y. cattle, 10 b. oats
William Dixon 25
Thomas Lamborn 17
2 cows, 6 sheep, 4 lambs
Thomas Hut ton 15
11 sheep, 5 lambs 3½ tons hay
Moses Rowen 12
a cow, a steer & a bull, 2 b. wheat,
4 of oats & a blind bridle, and a steer
James Pyle 5
a bull, 9 b. of oats & 8 of rye
Benjamin Hutton 22
a horse & a cow
Joseph Hutton 33
a mare, 5 sheep & 2 lambs
David Hoopes 3
17 lbs. upper leather & 3 of harness
Benjamin Allen 23
2 cows, 80 b. oats & 20 of corn
Joseph Hurford 1
a collar, hames, & ox chain
Nicholas Hurford 2
9 b. wheat
Nathaniel Scarlet 18
Wm. Allen 1 8 0
2 Pr. chains, a Collar & Hames
(for his son) 5 5 0
In 1781 an additional list was submitted by Constable Joseph Buffington and confiscations included pewter dishes, blanketing, Cloverseed, farm animals and hay from thirteen people, including some on the first list. There were other scattered reports listing nine others from whom grindstones, spools, table cloths, animals and dishes were taken.
Equally long lists were submitted by London Grove residents. It was summarized thus by the Friends:
"Within one of our monthly meetings, hath been taken since the year 1777, from about 120 families, property to the amount of 6108 pounds, 19 shillings, 11 pence - rated at such prices as such articles would generally have sold for."
It totaled, on an average per family, 25 pounds, 8 shillings, and 8 pence, against people who in some cases were already in straitened circumstances.
For some time after the Revolutionary War, strangers travelling throughout the countryside were viewed suspiciously. There were then people at large for whom rewards were offered upon apprehension, and people were unable to travel safely and without danger of arrest. To avoid such problems Chester County citizens obtained passes from magistrates certifying to their good character, thus permitting them to travel without detention from one area to another.