Saint Peter's Church in the Great Valley

Kim Shollenberger and Laura Sherrod - 2019

The Battle of Paoli was a Revolutionary War encounter fought during the night of 20 and 21 September, 1777 in what is now Malvern, PA. British Major General Charles Gray, leading a special detachment of 1,200 elite light infantryman, surprised the Pennsylvania Line, two understrength infantry brigades totaling between 1,200 and 1,500 Americans led by Brig. General Anthony Wayne. The midnight assault by the British was a brutal affair, and routed the Pennsylvanians. At least 52 American soldiers were killed that night, and including killed, wounded or missing, Wayne's division suffered 272 casualties.  The British Army suffered relatively minor casualties, with three British soldiers killed, including the commander of their elite Light Company, Captain William Wolfe. Tradition holds that these three soldiers, plus as many as eight American dead, were hastily buried by the British early the next morning along the western stone wall within the churchyard of an Anglican parish, Saint Peter’s Church in the Great Valley, three miles from the battlefield. Captain Wolfe would have been buried wearing his uniform jacket with its distinctive pattern of pewter buttons, as well as his metal gorget worn around his neck to signify his rank and authority. It is also quite possible that this officer would have been buried with his sword. 


Memorial site of the fallen British and American soldiers.


Dr. Sherrod (left) and Kim Shollenberger (right) survey the area with the G-858 magnetometer. 


In the summer of 2019 the Geophysics Society of Kutztown University (GSKU) was invited to this old churchyard by Roger Thorne to perform geophysical investigations with the purpose of verifying the location of these burials of British and American soldiers. Preliminary geophysical surveying was performed with ground penetrating radar (GPR) on 11 June 2019. A potential mass burial site was interpreted from this reconnaissance geophysical survey, which prompted a return to the site on 15 July with two additional geophysical instruments: magnetometer and resistivity meter. Though the results of these two surveys were inconclusive, sufficient anomalies allow for the interpretation of possible locations of the burial of these British and American soldiers.

Results published in Journal of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics, December 2020
Archaeological Geophysics Ground Penetrating Radar
Sherrod Home Page GSKU Resistivity