The British Mistake
Spring 1778. King George III ordered the evacuation of the city his forces captured just months earlier at a great price. Alongside the evacuation, the monarch offered peace negotiations to discuss ending the war and co-existing in relative harmony. But there was one glaring omission: The colonies’ independence. What would you do if you were in their situation? Accept the terms? Or keep fighting?
How did we get here, you might ask, especially given the string of losses the Continental Army suffered in 1777? Step back in time with Independence Seaport Museum and The Friends of Fort Mifflin as they present The British Mistake. The British Mistake, opening Feb. 15, 2019, explores an overlooked but vivid chapter of the British poor handling of the early years of the Revolutionary War.
Against all odds, Pennsylvania Navy, Fort Mercer, and Fort Mifflin sustained by Continental and Militia forces held back the British Navy from taking control of the Delaware River for an astonishing 90 days. Their unexpected success led to the destruction of the British ship-of-the-line HMS Augusta, and confounded the delivery of much needed winter supplies, threatening the occupation of the early United States capital, Philadelphia. The Battle of Fort Mifflin set in motion a series of events that turned the tides of war in America’s favor.
On display in the exhibit, visitors will see a rare fragment of an actual chevaux-de-frise, which was discovered in 2007 in the Delaware River, close to Fort Mifflin. This type of underwater defense blockade was designed to puncture British Navy hull as they attempted to reach Philadelphia. Also included will be an interactive fort experience, eyewitness accounts, and seldom seen artifacts from the Museum’s collections, Philadelphia History Museum and the Arader Galleries.