Battle of the Clouds

Battle of the Clouds

Infobox Military Conflict
|conflict = Battle of the Clouds
|partof = the American Revolutionary War

|caption =
|date = September 16, 1777
|place = Near present-day Malvern, Pennsylvania
|result = Inconclusive
| combatant1 =
| combatant2 =
| commander1 =
| commander2 =
|strength1 = 10,000
|strength2 = 18,000
|casualties1 = Unknown
|casualties2 = Unknown|

The Battle of the Clouds (also known as the Battle of Warren, Battle of Whitehorse Tavern, or the Battle of Goshen) was an engagement of the Philadelphia campaign of the American Revolutionary War almost fought on September 16, 1777, in the area surrounding present day Malvern, Pennsylvania). After the American defeat at the Battle of Brandywine, the British Army remained encamped near Chadds Ford. When British commander William Howe was informed that the weakened American force was less than ten miles (16 km) away, he decided to press for another decisive victory. Washington learned of Howe's plans, and prepared for battle. Moments before the attack, a torrential downpour ensued. Significantly outnumbered, and with tens of thousands of cartridges ruined by the rain, Washington opted for a tactical retreat. Bogged down by rain and mud, the British allowed Washington and his army to escape.


After George Washington’s defeat at the Battle of Brandywine, he was intent on accomplishing two tasks. He wanted to protect Philadelphia from British forces under the command of Sir William Howe, and he needed to replenish the rapidly dwindling supplies and munitions which were stored in Reading, Pennsylvania. Washington withdrew behind the Schuylkill River, marched through Philadelphia, and headed northwest. Since the Schuylkill was fordable only far upstream starting at Matson's Ford (present-day Conshohocken), Washington could protect both the capital and the vital supply areas to the west from behind the river barrier. Yet he reconsidered, and re-crossed the river to face the British, who had moved little since Brandywine, probably for logistical reasons.


On September 16th, Washington's 10,000 man army was moving west through the Great Valley, bound by the North and South Valley Hills on either side. He learned from his cavalry that the British were advancing on him from the south just a few short miles away. Although moving to the North Valley Hills would have given Washington more time to deploy and possibly fortify, he ordered the army south directly toward the enemy to take up a defensive position on the South Valley Hills. The position was three miles (5 km) long and was strong, especially in the center. Combating began and British forces initiated flanking movements around the American lines. Before the armies were fully engaged, however, rain began and quickly turned into a steady downpour. Powder became wet, making firearms useless. This “battle” in the clouds of rain and fog never developed.


Washington once again withdrew behind the Schuylkill on September 19th to cover both the capital and his supply area, but he left behind Anthony Wayne's Pennsylvania division of 1,500 men and four guns with orders to harass the British rear. Howe’s army found it nearly impossible to follow Washington over the rutted, muddy roads. The decision was made to wait out the storm, then move toward their objective.

Wayne was to be joined by militia, and together they would strike the enemy baggage train as the British advanced on Washington's main army. However his force was surprised at the Battle of Paoli, and the British were free to occupy Philadelphia.


*Rickard, J (28 May 2003), Battle of the Clouds, 16 September 1777,

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