Virtual Marching Tour of the American Revolutionary War

The Philadelphia Campaign: 1777

American colonies represented as pieces of a snake with the caption "join or die"

Paoli Massacre: Part 3 of 7

No-Flint Grey

By now General Grey had started his stealthy mission. Before marching, the general took the remarkable step of ordering his troops to unload their weapons or remove the flints from their guns. Only bayonets and swords would be used in the attack. Major Andre later explained Grey's rationale:

General Charles 'No-Flint' Grey

General Charles "No-Flint" Grey
Engraving by Robert Pollard
Book illustration for Murray's History of the American War, 1780
LOC image id: cph 3a45435

No soldier was suffered to load; those who would not draw their pieces took out their flints. It was represented to the men that firing discovered us to the Enemy, hid them from us, killed our friends and produced a confusion favorable to the escape of the Rebels and perhaps productive of disgrace to ourselves. On the other hand, by not firing we knew the foe to be wherever fire appeared and a charge ensured his destruction; that amongst the Enemy those in the rear would direct their fire against whoever fired in front, and they would destroy each other.

Thus did the British General earn his nickname: No Flint Grey.

"Here we are and there they go."

The British were guided toward Wayne's camp by Tory farmers who had also given them the American password for that night: "Here we are and there they go." Use of the password allowed the British to approach American pickets without suspicion. And when the Americans then let their guard down the British would slide up to the pickets and slice them up with their bayonets.

To further heighten secrecy, the British detained any citizen who happened to be out that night. They didn't want word of their advance leaked to Wayne.

Again Captain Andre takes up the story:

About three miles from [our] camp they turned to the left and proceeded to the Admiral Warren [a tavern], where, having forced intelligence from a blacksmith, they came in upon the out sentries, piquet and Camp of the Rebels.