Howe, the commander-in-chief of the British forces in America during the early years of the Revolution, had resigned his post and was about to return to England. The ball was thrown by his corps of officers, who put up a sum of 3,312 guineas to pay for it. The events, which were planned by Captain John André and John Montresor, included a regatta along the Delaware River, accompanied by three musical bands and a 17-gun salute by British warships, a procession, a tournament of jousting knights, and a ball and banquet with fireworks display. The site was Walnut Grove, the rural seat of Joseph Wharton of the well-known Philadelphia Whartons.
The crowd of over 400 guests included Admiral of the Fleet Richard Lord Howe, the general's brother; General Henry Clinton, commandant at New York and Howe's replacement; Peggy Shippen, future wife of Benedict Arnold; Peggy Chew, daughter of Benjamin Chew; Rebecca Franks, daughter of loyalist David Franks; Lord Cathcart; Banastre Tarleton; and Wilhelm von Knyphausen, Hessian general.
Andre, who was "social director" to the army in winter, was known as a poet, actor, etc. As stage director, he painted background scenes for plays produced by acting members of the English Army. As an irony, in the 1790s, New York dramatist William Dunlop produced his play "Andre" and presented it at the John Street Theater, formerly known as The Royal Theater, during Britain's occupation. On hand for Dunlop's presentation, were the same background scenes painted by Andre himself. Similar paintings were in Philadelphia, and were lost when, in the late 19th century, The Chinese Museum, where they were stored, burned to the ground.
- Elizabeth F. Ellet, The Women of the American Revolution, Third Edition. New York: Baker and Scribner, 1849.