Battle of Paoli

Thomas J. McGuire, Author Stackpole Books $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8117-0198-3
Engaged on September 21, 1777, Paoli was a night attack on a division of George Washington's army, the Pennsylvania Continentals under Anthony Wayne. The senior officer of the British strike force, Gen. Charles Grey, ordered his men to go in with the bayonet, either unloading their muskets or removing the flints. The Americans were overrun and forced to retreat, with losses surprisingly low--no more than 60 killed in the kind of close-quarter fighting that frequently produced much heavier casualties. Nevertheless, the British use of the bayonet generated a massacre myth that still endures. McGuire, a preparatory school teacher, argues that while some atrocities did occur during the fighting, the Americans were surprised only in a general sense; they were not caught in their blankets. In the aftermath of Paoli, Washington was constrained to abandon Philadelphia. On October 4, when he attacked the British occupiers at Germantown, it was Wayne's division that achieved surprise, taking no prisoners as it charged through the fog, defending a fortified house to the end and finally seizing victory from apparent defeat. If there is a moral here regarding the laws of war, McGuire does not develop it. But his well-written, well-researched case study is a model of local military history. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
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Paperback - 270 pages - 978-0-8117-3337-3
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