Bird-in-Hand Raid ReenactmentSaturday, May 10, 2008
As part of the celebration of the 275th Anniversary of the Half-Moon Inn, the Newtown Historic Association hosted “The Bird in Hand Raid Reenactment” on Saturday, May 10, 2008 from 10:00 AM to Noon on the streets of Court and Mercer. This special reenactment featured The 5th PA Regiment (Continental Army) and The 1st Crossing Volunteers (British Army).
On the evening of February 18, 1778, a raiding party of forty Loyalists in the Light Dragoons and Bucks County Volunteers left Philadelphia and marched the twenty-six miles to Middletown in Bucks County, where they surprised and captured a guard and some cloth at Jenk’s Fulling Mill. They then continued to Newtown, where they over-powered sixteen Pennsylvania militia men, led by Francis Murray, in a house known as “Bird-in-Hand,” five of whom they killed. They then returned to Philadelphia, carrying with them 2,000 yards of material, two wagons filled with timber, and thirty-two prisoners.
The Bucks County raid, fifty-six miles traversed in only twenty-two hours, was a bold stroke. In addition to depriving poorly dressed soldiers of the 13th Pennsylvania Regiment of cloth they desperately needed for uniforms, it was the most daring and successful military venture undertaken during the British occupation of Philadelphia – and it was led and carried out by Pennsylvanians. A Tory newspaper in Philadelphia called the “Newtown Skirmish,” as it would later become known, a “gallant action” that “must certainly meet with the applause of the public, and do great credit to officers who conducted it, and the men who, under their direction, accomplished it.” It also showed the commitment of Americans loyal to the Crown to fight for their beliefs. (Source: www.explorepahistory.com)
The commemorative marker in front of the house reads, “Loyalist Raid of 1778 – The largest Loyalist raid during the British occupation of Philadelphia (1777-78) took place at the “Old Frame House,” an inn in Newtown where a group of tailors was making uniforms for the Revolutionary Army. On February 19, 1778, while the British occupied Philadelphia, some 40 armed Loyalists raided the tavern here. The fighting left 5 American soldiers dead, 4 wounded, 11 captured. Tailors here were making uniforms for use at Valley Forge, and 2000 yards of cloth were lost.”
There is also a stone marker in front of the structure that reads, “On February 9, 1778 – Sixteen American soldiers, guarding military uniforms being manufactured on these premises, were overpowered by a raiding party of 40 enemy calvary men and infantry men. In the heroic but hopeless defense of their post five guards were killed by gunfire, four more wounded, and the others taken prisoners of war, one of whom was Major Frances Murray. Bucks County Historical Society, October 22, 1938 – June 14, 1976.”