It’s What’s For Dinner

First US cattle drive crossed the Delaware on the way to Valley Forge


from Harry K’s Philadelphia Encyclopedia

During the harsh winter of 1777-1778, General Washington sent a group of soldiers into Southern New Jersey to round up livestock for the starving troops at Valley Forge. This was the first cattle drive in America. Led by General “Mad” Anthony Wayne and Captain John Barry (the “Father of the American Navy”), the operation began in mid-February of 1778 and concluded on March 4th. The soldier-“cowboys” commandeered and herded about a hundred and fifty cows along the old “King’s” Highway through Salem, Gloucester, Camden and Burlington Counties, crossing the Delaware River near Trenton, and proceeding into Pennsylvania to Valley Forge. British forces were following all the while, as they too needed to secure a large supply of food. The pioneering cattle drive was successful and enabled the fledgling Continental Army to survive the winter.

About the author

Harry Kyriakodis, author of Philadelphia's Lost Waterfront (2011), Northern Liberties: The Story of a Philadelphia River Ward (2012), and The Benjamin Franklin Parkway (2014), regularly gives walking tours and presentations on unique yet unappreciated parts of the city. A founding/certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides, he is a graduate of La Salle University and Temple University School of Law, and was once an officer in the U.S. Army Field Artillery. He has collected what is likely the largest private collection of books about the City of Brotherly Love: over 2700 titles new and old.

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