On the morning after the battle, Colonel Adam Hubley of the 10th Pennsylvania wrote, "I sent my Major [Caleb North] with 4 of our Horsemen on the field who counted our Dead bodys, the enemy's were taken off?" The two or three British dead are believed to be buried at the Church of St. Peter-in-the-Great Valley. Two days later, Hubley stated, "We bury'd our Dead next day in the field of Battle, (52 brave fellows) All kill'd by the sword and Bayonet." Local civilians buried the fallen at the fence line in two rows of 26. Tradition holds that another soldier was found two weeks later in nearby woods and was buried where he lay. Thus, the monument commemorates the burial of 53 American soldiers.
The Pearce family was neighbors with Ezekiel Bowen, and the battle raged mostly on these two farms. Forty-four-year-old Major Cromwell Pearce of the Chester County militia was out of his house on September 20, but his 37-year-old wife Margaret was home with at least two of their six children, five-year-old Cromwell, Jr., and thirteen-month-old Marmaduke.
Forty years later, forty-five-year-old Colonel Cromwell Pearce, Jr., hero of the War of 1812 and High Sheriff of Chester County, helped to spearhead the movement to preserve the grave of the Paoli dead, a mound that was marked only by a few stones and which was slowly disappearing into the land.
Sidebar: On July 4, 1817, a committee of patriotic citizens and veterans was formed to raise funds to mark the grave and protect it with a wall. A white marble monument was purchased in Philadelphia and finished under the direction of architect William Strickland. Dr. William Darlington of Chester County provided the text of the inscription.
In early September, 1817, the committee, including Anthony Wayne's son Isaac, placed the monument and built a stone wall with their own hands. On September 20, the 40th anniversary of the battle, the 1817 Monument was dedicated. Among those Revolutionary War veterans present was 82 year old Reverend David Jones, chaplain of Wayne's brigade and survivor of Paoli. The 1817 Monument is one of the three oldest known Revolutionary War monuments in the United States, having marked the Paoli grave for more than 185 years.
The large cannons flanking the Paoli grave are two of the oldest surviving examples of American made artillery. The guns were cast by Order of Congress in 1777 at Warwick Furnace in northern Chester County. It is believed that they were heaved into French Creek during the British invasion of 1777, and were discovered in the creek in the late 19th century. The guns were meant for use in fortifications or on ships.