The Battle of Brandywine, 1777

A Victory that Lost a War

Contents

The background

Early Stage of the Campaign

Chadds Ford

Plans

Sizes of the armies

The Action

Frontal feint

The mid morning lull

Flanking movement

West of the Brandywine

East of the Brandywine

Contact on the right flank

Battle at the Birmingham Meeting House

American left routed

Resistance at the Meeting House

Washington manages the escape

Chadds Ford

Greene’s Rearguard Action

The American Retreat

Night falls

No pursuit

Casualties

Five Days near Dilworth

The Battle of the Clouds

The Paoli Massacre

Loss of Philadelphia

Strategic Significance

Bibliographical Notes

Appendix ONE: a Might-Have-Been Account

Bibliography

Appendix TWO FRESCIPLACT

Illustrations

Figure 1: The area today

Figure 2 Howe

Figure 3 Washington

Figure 4 The Birmingham Meeting House

Figure 5 Lafayette Wounded

Figure 6 Battle of Brandywine 11 September 1777

Figure 7: Chadds Ford


Figure 1: The area today

The background

Figure 2 Howe

The Battle of Brandywine, (1,2) is also known as the Battle of (1,8) Brandywine Creek (1,2) [OR] River (3,11) The British plan for 1777 was that Major-General Burgoyne would bring his army, comprising British, Hessian, Brunswick and Canadian troops with a strong contingent of Native Americans and Loyalist Americans, south by Lake Champlain and the Hudson River, while Major- (17) General (1,3) Sir (1,5) William Howe (1,2) made his way north up the Hudson River to meet him. (17) Howe and his senior officers decided that it would be a more effective use of the British New York based army to move it by sea to the Chesapeake Bay: (17) they were lured to (5,8) the American seat of government (9,10) Philadelphia (5,8) in the belief that if they captured it (17) its large Tory element would rise up and thus virtually remove Pennsylvania from the war. (5) Howe wrote to Burgoyne informing him of this change of plan. (17) On July 8th, Howe began embarking his 16,500 (15) [OR] 17,000 (12) men on board the British naval transports (15) at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. (9,15) On July 23rd, (9,15) his army (9,12) departed from Sandy Hook (9) in a fleet of more than 260 ships. (12) His intention was to sail via the Delaware Bay to the Delaware River, threatening Philadelphia and preventing Washington from reinforcing Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates’s northern army against Lieutenant General John Burgoyne. (15) In the process, Howe might force a battle against Washington. (15) The British fleet reached the Delaware Bay on July 30th. (15) Howe received misleading intelligence of American obstructions in the Delaware River that seemed to make an approach from that direction impracticable. (15) He therefore decided to enter the Chesapeake Bay, landing at the northernmost point possible and approaching Philadelphia by land. (15) The Americans were meanwhile kept guessing about Howe’s destination. (15) After a very bad (4) 31 days (13) at sea, (4,13) passing along the coast, (4) the British fleet was sighted on August 22nd in the northeast Chesapeake Bay. (15) The British landed near Elkton, Maryland, (9,10) on the 25th August, (4,13) at Turkey Point, 8 miles below (15)[OR] at ‘Head of Elk’ (10,13) by the Elk River (10) [OR] at Elk Head (15) in northern (9,10) Chesapeake Bay. (4,8) This was at the southern mouth of the Susquehanna River, (10) approximately 45 miles southwest of Philadelphia. (12) Meanwhile Washington, after his victory at the Battle of Princeton, had moved his army into quarters near Morristown, New Jersey. (15) He had spent the summer encamped in Watchung Mountains. (15) When he learned of Howe’s movement southward, he marched his army from positions along the Neshaminy Creek in Pennsylvania, passed through Philadelphia to Darby, and reached Wilmington, Delaware, on August 25th, the same day as the British landed in Chesapeake Bay. (15) Washington’s forces were able to reconnoitre the British landing from Iron Hill, which was nine miles northeast of the Chesapeake. (12) It proved to Washington what the British intended. (15) Although Howe’s landing was unopposed, his soldiers were seasick and exhausted. (15) The local Tory inhabitants and deserters from the American dragoons helped to re-equip the British. (15) A concentrated American attack, given the disorganized state of the militia and the distance of the main army, was clearly impossible, and Howe was left to rest and reorganize his army. (15) [OR] Delays in disembarking from their ships led Howe to quickly move his force forward rather than establish a typical camp ashore. (12)

Early Stage of the Campaign

Figure 3 Washington

The first engagement between British and American forces occurred on September 3rd (13,15) near modern-day Glasgow, Delaware, (13) known as the Battle of Coochʼs Bridge. (13,15) After this the majority of Howe’s army started (15) marching toward Philadelphia, (10,15) moving forward in two divisions, one commanded by Knyphausen and the other by Major General Charles Cornwallis. (15) Washington was unable to gauge the strength of the British force due to their swift move inland. (12) Marching north, (9,13) the British Army brushed aside American light forces in a few skirmishes. (9) General George Washington, (1,2) was attempting to defend Pennsylvania, (2) and positioned his Continental soldiers between the Chesapeake and Philadelphia. (12) He was determined to prevent the British from capturing Philadelphia, (7,11) and was confident that the British could be stopped. (11) The opposing armies positioned themselves along the White Clay Creek, west of Newport and Wilmington. (15) Washington expected Howe to march towards him in Wilmington. (15) Howe preferred to meet the American force elsewhere, thus preventing Washington from making use of the advantageous ground he occupied there. (15)

Chadds Ford

Because of this, Howe was able to draw him into battle (1,2) at last. (4) Howe made a feint north towards Pennsylvania, forcing Washington to change his defensive ground, abandoning a defensive encampment along the Red Clay Creek near Newport, Delaware, and moving to the Brandywine River. (15) There was a Patriot outpost (6) at (3,6) [OR] near (9,10) Chadds Ford on the Brandywine (3,6) in Delaware County (6) near Philadelphia, (2) Pennsylvania, (2,3) on the most direct passage (15) on the road linking Baltimore and Philadelphia. (6,11) It was at the point where the Nottingham Road crossed the Brandywine Creek on the route from Kennett Square to Philadelphia. (15) It was the last natural line of defence before the Schuylkill River. (15) The creek was a shallow but fast-flowing creek, fordable at a comparatively small number of places that could be covered fairly easily. (15) At Chadd’s Ford, made up of two fords about 450 feet apart, the creek was 150 feet wide and commanded by heights on either side. (15) The surrounding area had thick forests and low hills, surrounded by farms, meadows, and orchards. (15) On the morning of (11) September 9th, Washington placed his (11,12) 20,000 (12) troops along the Brandywine River (11) [OR] Creek, (7,8) at six other river crossings to the north and the south of Chaddʼs Ford, (13) to guard the main fords. (11,12) It was the most direct crossing of the creek towards Philadelphia, (13) and Washington chose the high ground in the area of Chadds Ford, (11,15) as an advantageous position. (11,12) where he believed he could put up a strong defense. (13) He positioned brigades and regiments at the main fords, including Buffington’s Ford, (15) Chadd’s Ford, Pyle’s Ford (11,15) (the southernmost possible crossing of the river) and Wistar’s Ford — the northernmost crossing of the river before it forked)(11) Pyle’s Ford was covered by two brigades of Pennsylvania militia, commanded Brigadier General John Armstrong. (15) Greene’s 1st Division was assigned the primary defense of Chadd’s Ford. (15) Greene’s troops straddled the Nottingham Road leading east from the Brandywine Creek. (15) To Greene’s right was Brigadier General ‘Mad’ Anthony1 (15,16) Wayne’s 4th Division. (15,16) Colonel Thomas Procter’s Continental Artillery Regiment was placed to Wayne’s right, on the heights at Chadd’s Ford. (15) Washington was now confident that the area was secure against British attack. (11,12) He hoped to force a fight at Chadds Ford, mistakenly believing that his army had blocked all fords across the Brandywine (7,11) and that the closest unguarded ford was twelve miles up-river. (11) Washington had been assured by local informants that Jefferis’ Ford, the next ford above Buffington’s, was difficult to cross, because it was very deep, more than half the height of a man, and that the road southward was poor. (15) [OR] They were unknown to Washington (6,7) Washington was told by an advisor that Howe would try to outflank them by sending his main force northward while a decoy force attacked at Chadds Ford (15) and indeed the fords had been made known to Howe by loyalists. (14)

Figure 6 Mad Anthony Wayne

Plans

The ford itself was covered by the divisions of Generals (12) Wayne (12,15) and Nathanael Greene2, with the banks covered by Generals John Sullivan, Adam Stephen, and Lord Stirling. (12) The British (11,12) manoeuvred to the west of Brandywine Creek and camped at (13) nearby Kennett Square and formulated a plan. (11,12) The armies were poised for battle. (13) As General Washington and the American Army prepared for and fully expected a frontal assault at Chaddʼs Ford, British General (13) Howe intended to perform a flanking manoeuvre (12,13) similar to what had been successfully employed in the Battle of Long Island. (13) A portion of their army, (11,12) 5000 men under the command of Hessian General Wilhelm von Knyphausen, (12) was to march from Kennett Square (11,12) and make a frontal attack on Washington’s force at Chadds Ford (12) [OR] as if they intended to meet Washington on the banks of the river at Chadds Ford. (11) Meanwhile, the majority of the army under (11,12) Lord Charles Cornwallis (12) [OR] Howe (11) would undertaking a flanking movement via the fords to the north. (11,12)

Sizes of the armies

More troops fought at Brandywine than any other battle of the Revolutionary War. (9) Howe’s army consisted of 15,500 (7,9) [OR] 18,000 (6) [OR] around 6,000 (17) British Regulars and Hessian troops. (7,17) Washington commanded (6,17) 8,000 (17)[OR] 11,000 (6) [OR] 14,500 (9) [OR] 20,000 (12) Continentals. (6,9) Both sides were armed with muskets. (17) The British and German infantry carried bayonets, which were in short supply among the American troops. (17) The Highland Scots troops carried broadswords. (17) Many men in the Pennsylvania regiments carried rifled weapons, as did other backwoodsmen. (17) Both sides were supported by artillery. (17)

The Action

The battle was truly a larger-than-life conflict, (13) fought on the 11th of September 1777 (1,2) betweenthe doggedly determined General George (13) Washington, (1,2) andthe military genius of (13) British Generals William Howe & Charles Cornwallis. (6,13) It was part of the American Revolutionary War. (1) [OR] the United States War of Independence. (2) It is thought to be one of the first battles in which the Ferguson rifle was used and in which the Betsy Ross flag was flown. (15)

Frontal feint

Lieutenant (9) General Wilhelm von Knyphausen (7,8) was ordered to (7) demonstrate (7,8) with nearly 7,000 men (13) of Howe’s army (9) against (7,8) [OR] Howe and General Charles Cornwallis launched a full-scale attack on (6) the Americans’ front at Chadds Ford, (6,7) [OR] split their troops into two separate divisions, with Howe (6) [OR] von Knyphausen (7) leading an attack from the front (6,7) The morning of September 11th was foggy and exceptionally warm. (18) Between 5-8 a.m., (13)

[OR] At 5:30 a.m., (14,15) hidden by heavy fog, (6,7) Knyphausen’s forces, who were camped on the eastern heights of Kennett Square, began to form up into their column to make their way towards Washington’s main defenses on the Brandywine. (18) The vanguard (14,18) composed of British and Hessian troops (7,14) [OR] primarily the Queen’s Rangers – a battalion of loyalists (14) then moved into position, (7,14) marching east towards Brandywine Creek (13,14) along the ‘Great Road’ (14,15) [OR] Great Nottingham Road (18) (now Route 1). (14) The first shots of the battle were fired when (15) shortly after departing, (18) they came under fire from (13,18) a contingent of American Light Infantry under (13,14) William (13,18) Maxwell. (13,14) These were camped (18) around Welch’s Tavern (15,18) located around modern Longwood Gardens, (18) about 4 miles west of Chadds Ford. (15)This was where the opening shots of the battle took place, but it was short-lived as Maxwell and his approximately 300 soldiers were just the tip of a series of strategic positions positioned along the Great Nottingham Road in order to harass the oncoming British forces (18) falling back strategically, and firing upon, and harassing the oncoming enemy whenever and however they could. (13) After firing a minimal number of volleys, (18) the Americans quickly fell back (13,18) to a second area on an elevated position approximately 700 yards east of their initial one around the small village of Hamerton. (18) Flanking either side of the single lane road and concealed by dense trees, fences, and other obstacles, the Americans waited for the British to approach before firing another small series of volleys and falling back again where they continued to join additional light infantry forces. (18) This convinced the British that a cautious approach had to be taken because they were formed in a vulnerable marching column. (18) The American harassment also slowed them down because the maneuver of taking the advanced guard of the column from column to line of battle to engage the skirmishers took time. (18) Essentially, the British would be engaged, deploy, realize the Americans had fallen back, reform, and continue marching until they were engaged again. (18) This was repeated several times that morning as (18) the Americans fell back to positions in the Old Kennett Meetinghouse grounds (13,14) and others to the east. (18) The British met there a greater force of continentals behind the stone walls. (14) A battle was fought at mid-morning around the meeting house while the pacifist Quakers continued to hold their midweek service. (14) One of the Quakers later wrote, ‘While there was much noise and confusion without, all was quiet and peaceful within.’ (14 From the Meetinghouse grounds, the battle continued for three miles to the Brandywine Creek, at Chadds Ford. (14) Eventually (13,14) after nearly two-three hours of harassment (18) the British pushed the Americans back (13,14) across the creek to the eastern shore with the remainder of the American Army, (13,18) and deployed their men to distract Washington, (18) but not before suffering heavy losses. (14)

The mid morning lull

Knyphausen’s column fanned itself out in order to make it seem like Washington had the entire British army in front of him. (18) Following the deployment, a massive cannonade ensued that would make up most of the action throughout the morning hours and into the afternoon. (18) No significant troop movements took place, but both armies on either side of the Brandywine River around Chadds Ford gave everything they had in terms of Artillery to each other. (18) This portion of the battle has often been deemed the ‘Mid-Morning/Afternoon Lull’. (18) When Washington had the first report of a flanking movement he began to devise a plan to send a small force across the river in order to probe. (18) At Brinton’s Ford, just north of Chadds, men began to cross, but it was short-lived. (18)

Flanking movement

West of the Brandywine

As Knyphausenʼs men moved east, (13) [OR]around 4-5 a.m.,3 (13) Howe (7,9) [OR] and (13,14) Cornwallis (6,13) set out from Kennett Square (13,14) at 5:00 a.m., (14) taking the bulk (9,10) [OR]élite (18) of his troops on a long (9,10) around 7 (12) [OR]10 mile (13) march (9,13) along the Great Valley Road (13,18) [OR]Lancaster Road (Map 2) north of Wistar’s Ford, (11) to cross the river further upstream (7,9) at (11,12) above the forks of the Brandywine (14) at the unguarded (11,13) Jefferis’ (12,13) and Trimbleʼs Fords, on the eastern fork of the Brandywine Creek. (13) Due to (6,8) poor scouting, (9) [OR] the fog, (6,7) Washington was at first unaware the British had split into two divisions. (6) When the fog cleared, the sun blazed and the heat was sweltering. (11) Washington received conflicting reports of British movement, (11,12) He had posted scouts and forward pickets on roads the ran east to west that were north of the Great Nottingham Road in order to report of any British movements in that sector. (18) One group was under the command of Lt. Col Ross who had roughly 100 riflemen under his command and was positioned along the Street Road at the modern intersection of Doe Run Road today. (18) This high point offered him a vantage point of the Great Nottingham Road, but also allowed him to look west and north. (18) It was from this point that he witnessed the British marching column under Howe and Cornwallis and began to pursue. (18) He wrote (18) a report to Washington telling him of his findings, (11,18) which Washington received at around 11:00 a.m. (18) Subsequent reports (11,18) both confirmed and (18) denied this report. (11,12) At roughly 11:20am, another report arrived in Washington’s hands. (18) This report mentioned that a Major Joseph Spear of the Chester County Militia had witnessed no British force in the northern sector, which directly contradicted Ross’s report. (18) How could there be confusion surrounding the sighting of an 10,000+ man marching column moving north along one of the only major roads at that time? It was simply a timing issue. (18) Spear had been reporting from nearly 8 miles away and correspondence in the 18th century took time and effort to get from one point to another. (18) Spear’s report, written before Ross’s report, had to travel a greater distance. (18) With that, Ross’s report arrived in Washington’s hands before Spear’s did. (18) Essentially, what should have got to Washington first, arrived second. (18) In the confusion Washington persisted in the mistaken belief that the British were sending their entire force against his line at Chadds Ford. (11,12) He was obliged to pull his probing force back and not risk them moving into the jaws of Howe’s entire force. (18) Because of this blunder, Howe and Cornwallis had the opportunity to cross the two unguarded fords unopposed. (18)

East of the Brandywine

Figure 7 Birmingham Meeting House

After fording the river (6,7) between 1 and 2 p.m., (13) the British began to march south (6,7) down the Birmingham Road towards the unaware (13) flank of the American forces. (6,7) During this long march, (13) the British Army briefly paused (13,15) in Sconnelltown (likely for tea) (13) and then at Osborne (13) [OR]Osbourne’s (15) [OR]Osbourne (18) Hill, (13,15) north of the American positions, (13,15) where the heights offered General Howe a perfect spot to direct the movements of his troops. (13) Meanwhile Washington, in utter confusion, had sent Col. Theodorick Bland and the 1st Continental Dragoons to the north in order to get a precise report of what was taking place and The British forces, now having the ability to cross unopposed at the northern fords, began to move south along Birmingham Road behind Washington’s lines. (18) They stopped for a mid-afternoon meal on Hill in order to refresh themselves and prepare for a large engagement. (18) They gained a strategic position near Birmingham Friends Meeting House. (11)

Contact on the right flank

The battle had been raging for hours by the time, (7) in mid-afternoon (11) [OR] around 2 pm, (12,13) the Continental Army was alarmed to see (13) the main British force appearing on their right flank. (7,12) They had marched a total of 17 miles in 9 hours to attack the American right flank. (13,14) Bland, riding north, arrived on a high eminence across from the British position and was shocked to find the British forces beginning to form up. (18) He immediately hastened to get the report to Washington and in his report, he informed the American Commander in Chief that a large body of the enemy was forming up on the heights across from his position, but there was an elevated position in front of the British that could be used to repel an attack. (18) This was the high ground (13,15) [OR] several hills (9,11) called Birmingham Hill, (13,18) just south of (13) [OR]surrounding (18) the (13) nearby Birmingham Meetinghouse, (13,15) about a mile north of Chadds Ford. (15) The Quaker meetinghouse was being used as a field hospital by the American forces at the time and unbeknownst to Washington, it ended up being caught directly in the middle of the heaviest combat. (18) Washington was caught off guard. (6) He realized that he had been outmanoeuvred, (11) and quickly (13) but belatedly, (6,8) ordered (9,11) two (13) [OR] three (9,18) divisions of (9,13) his army to take the high ground around the Meeting House as a last defence, (9,11) against the British flanking force. (7,8) Washington immediately dispatched (18) Generals William Alexander, (7,18) ‘Lord’ (7) Stirling (7,12) and Adam (18) Stephen (12,13) to move north with their divisions and form up on the hill. (18) Stirling and Stephen moved as one body along existing roads and formed up adjacent to one another in good order. (18) Washington then added an additional division under (18) General John (7,18) Sullivan4 (7,12) to reinforce them. (18) Sullivan’s division was spread thinly around Brinton’s Ford, stretched over a great distance guarding the fords north of Brinton’s Ford. (18) These forces had to be consolidated and then moved to reach Stirling and Stephen. (18) In addition to the time it took to consolidate, Sullivan’s men were forced to move overland fighting hilly and rocky terrain. (18) They did not have the luxury of taking existing roads, but only had make shift cart paths and farm trails to follow if anything. (18) By the time (18) Sullivan (15,18) who was in overall command of the right-wing of the army, (18) reached the vicinity of Stephen and Stirling, he realized that his division was entirely out of position as he was too far forward and left of the other two. (18) He left his division (15,18) and quickly rode to Stirling’s position (18) in order to grasp a better understanding on what to do. (15,18) His second in command (18) Colonel (15) [OR]General Prunhomme (18) [OR]Preudhomme (15) de Borre, (15)[OR]Deborre (18) was left in command (15,18) with orders to shift to the right in order to link up with Stirling and Stephen’s divisions. (15) Sullivan went to confer with (15) Stephen (12,13) (with 3rd and 4th Virginia (13)) and (12,13) Stirling (7,12) (with 1st New Jersey & 3rd Pennsylvania). (13)

Battle at the Birmingham Meeting House

Howe was slow to attack, which bought time for the Americans to (15) advance north up the Birmingham Road and hastily form a defensive line (13) on high ground (13,15) called Birmingham Hill, just south of the (13) nearby Birmingham Meetinghouse, (13,15) about a mile north of Chadds Ford. (15) Four 3-pound cannons were also brought up. (13) The majority of the Americans established themselves near the artillery. (13) All the while, Washington still believed that the main British Army faced him across Chaddʼs Ford and that the flanking movement was an intentional distraction – he placed his bets and prepared for a frontal assault at the Brandywine. (13) As the Americans were forming their lines north of Dilworth, (15) at around 4:00 p.m., (13,15) the British attack was about to commence. (18) They began to form up [OR]Bland had seen them forming up shortly after (18) 2 p.m. (12,13) Howe launched his attack. (13,15) marching forward with an organized and powerful frontal assault. (13) On the British right were the Brigade of Guards, the cream of the British military. (18) In the centre were (18) The British Grenadiers (13,18) another elite group comprising the tallest and most formidable soldiers in the British army. (18) To their left were the light infantry (13,15) and Hessian Jaegers, (15,18) highly mobile units typically used as flank companies. (18) Supporting the main line of British infantry were the Hessian Grenadiers and 3rd/4th Brigades. (18) They moved down Birmingham Road and the surrounding fields (13) and launched their main attack at Birmingham. (18) The American artillery opened up and the British artillery immediately responded. (13) As the British lines advanced, the Hessian Jaegers threatened to flank the American right, forcing Stephen and Stirling to shift right. (15) Stirling’s and Stephen’s divisions sent against the flank attack put up a stiff resistance, (7,8) which slowed the advancing British. (6)

American left routed

American troops under General Sullivan (1st and 2nd Maryland) fell back from the Brandywine Creek (13) [OR]from the exposed position too far forward on the left (18) towards the newly-formed American defensive line established by Stirling and Stephen. (13) As they moved they came under fire from (13) the British Brigade of Guards (13,15) and artillery, (13) who bore down on them quickly. (18) This caught de Borre by surprise on the American left (15) before he had had time to fully form. (15,18) His men now had the elite Brigade of Guards directly across from their lines. (18) With mixed levels of experience, and veteran soldiers fighting with untrained soldiers, (18) and a French commander who was not respected and who no one could understand because he barely spoke English, (18) Deborre’s men did not stand a chance and (18) within a short time, they were completely routed from the field. (15,18)

Resistance at the Meeting House

In spite of the confusion caused by the surprise of being outwitted on the rolling hills along the Brandywine, however, (11) Marshallʼs men from the 3rd Virginia Regiment (13) [OR] Stephen’s and Stirling’s divisions (15,18) held firm (13,15) in a formidable position (18) at the Birmingham Meeting House, using the stone wall as a natural defensive barrier. (13) They were aided by a battery of artillery on a knoll between their divisions. (15) The British (13,15) light infantry battalions, aided by the Jaegers, (15) bayonet charged the American troops (13,15) on the left (13) [OR]centre. (15) Storming up Birmingham Hill, (13,18) they were repelled several times by the two divisions, (18) which fought valiantly against the British onslaught, using the butts of their muskets. (13) Over the course of approximately an hour and a half, the two divisions continued to withstand the British attack, engaged in fighting so fierce that some British officers later wrote that it was the heaviest they had ever seen in their long military careers. (18) It took five British assaults on the American left (13) [OR] right (7,8) flank before the exhausted (13) American troops finally gave way (11,13) just before 6 p.m., (13) [OR] Howe’s wing broke through the newly formed American right wing. (7,8) The Continentals were overrun (7) and Stirling had to retreat. (14,15) As the battle unfolded, the Marquis de Lafayette (13,15) and a group of French officers rode down the Birmingham Road and onto the field. (13) Lafayette joined General Conwayʼs Pennsylvania Brigade, (13) [OR]Stirling’s division (15) and immediately involved himself in the fight, (13) He tried to rally the American troops. (13,15) Amidst the chaos of battle Lafayette was hit in the leg (13,15) by a British musket ball; his first wound in his first battle for the American cause. (13) The American troops under Generals Sullivan, Sterling, and Stephen (13) were fleeing (12,13) towards Dilworthtown (13) under fire from their own artillery, (12) which had been captured by the British at Meeting House Hill (12,14) after almost all of (14) the artillery horses were killed. (12,14)

Washington manages the escape

Figure 5 Lafayette Wounded

Surprised and outnumbered, Washington faced the possibility of being surrounded. (6) He took reinforcements to try to hold off the British, (14,15) Spurring his horse north towards the musket and artillery fire (13) Washington arrived with (13,14) General Nathanial (18) Greene (13,14) and other officers in the area of the attack (18) at about 6:00 p.m., (15) to review the situation. (18) Greene had been acting as a reserve force for the three generals at Chadds Ford, but Washington began to realize that he could not overcome an attack on two fronts and had other plans for Greene. (18) The British now occupied Meeting House Hill. (12,14) Washington conferred with Greene (15) and Knox, the latter of whom was head of artillery, (13,14) in the yard of the William Brinton house. (15) It was determined that Knox would deploy artillery to slow the British advance. (15) The 2nd Battalion of Grenadiers was nearing their position, and was joined by a fresh reserve brigade (the 4th British Brigade). (14,15) Washington ordered his men to abandon their posts and retreat. (6) To prevent the defeat turning into disaster (7) he ordered Nathanael Greene’s division to act as a rear-guard so that the Continental Army could escape to the northeast. (7,18)

Chadds Ford

Around the same time, Washingtonʼs troops (13) in the weakened American center (12,14) along the Brandywine (13) near the Quaker meeting house (7,12) at Chadds Ford experienced (7,8) light (13) resistance from troops under General Knyphausen, (7,8) but this was simply a ruse. (13) It soon became clear to Washington that Knyphausenʼs reticence to attack and the heavy fighting to the north meant the real battle had already begun. (13) Upon hearing the attack of Cornwallis’s column, (14,18) Ruse or not, Knyphausen (9) Knyphausen launched an attack across Chadds Ford. (12,14) Washington had only Generals Anthony Wayne, Maxwell, and Armstrong with the militia there to try and repel the assault. (18) which crumpled the American left wing, (9) broke through the divisions commanded by Wayne (12,14) and William Maxwell (14) and forced them to retreat, (12,14) leaving behind most of their cannons. (14) Armstrong’s militia, never engaged in the fighting, also decided to retreat from their positions. (14) Washington’s line collapsed. (7,8)

Greene’s Rearguard Action

Greene’s unit moved at lightning pace to support the retreating American troops, (13,18) making a daring 3-mile march in a miraculous thirty-five minutes, to a position located adjacent to modern day Painter’s Crossing shopping center (18) to form a rearguard for the retreating American forces. (13,18) Knox would also deploy artillery to slow the British advance. (14) Greene positioned his men in a crescent formation in a grove of trees. (18) He was joined by men from Birmingham Hill that were falling back in a strategic way as the British slowly pursued them. (18) British grenadiers and the reserve force of the 3rd Brigade slowly marched across an open field towards the position of Greene’s men. (18) With the sun going down and impeding their ability to see clearly, Greene’s men opened fired, engulfed the British forces, and inflicted an enormous number of casualties. (18) Howe, trying to reconcile this defensive stance, ordered the light infantry and jaegers to attempt to flank the right side of Greene’s rearguard, but that was also short-lived. (18) A Polish cavalry officer, Casimir Pulaski, saw this and formed up what ever cavalry units he could in order to launch a cavalry charge at the British light infantry. (18) Between Greene and Pulaski, Washington’s forces were able to retreat out of the area and down the road to Chester, Pa in an orderly fashion with Wayne, Armstrong, and Maxwell following closely behind the forces retreating from Birmingham. (18) Polish Brigadier General Casimir (9) Pulaksiʼs (9,13) cavalry (13) and Greene’s reinforcements, combined with the remnants of Sullivan’s, Stephen’s, and Stirling’s divisions (14) acted as a rearguard. (13,14 They held a line (14) going toe-to-toe with the British (7) south of Dilworth, (14) [OR] along the crest of Birmingham Hill. (7) It stopped the pursuing British for nearly an hour, letting the rest of the army retreat (14) Further north, Greene sent Brigadier General George Weedon’s troops to cover the road just outside the town of Dilworth. (14)

The American Retreat

This held off the British long enough (14) to allow an organized withdrawal. (6,7) The charismatic young Frenchman (7) Gilbert du Motier (14) the Marquis de Lafayette, (7,14) who had arrived in North America less than 3 months before and been wounded for his troubles (13) remained on the field to (7) create a rally point, (14) ensuring (7) [OR] helping to ensure (14) the orderly retreat (7,11) before being treated for his wound. (14) The American Army marched (13,14) down the Concord Road (13) to the east, (6) to Chester, (11,14) Pennsylvania. (13) As the sun began to get low in the sky, scattered fighting erupted near Dilworthtown, elevated in its deadliness by a pair of Henry Knoxʼs artillery pieces. (13) It was here near Dilworthtown that (13) nightfall finally brought an end to the (11) the grand Battle of Brandywine at around 7pm. (13)

Night falls

When darkness fell, Greene’s division (15) and Weedon’s force were able to retreat, (14) finally beginning the march to Chester along with the rest of the army. (15) It had been the longest (9) single-day battle (6,8) of the war, with continuous fighting for 11 hours. (9) It had involved over 30,000 troops between the two armies, resulted in the most casualties of any battle in the war, and covered 35,000 acres. (13) The bulk of the army arrived (11) in Germantown, (6) [OR] Chester, (11,14) where most of them arrived at midnight, (14) with stragglers arriving until morning. (11,14) Superior tactics and better knowledge of the area had allowed the British to outwit Washington and his army. (11)

Figure 6 Battle of Brandywine 11 September, 1777

No pursuit

The British army had won the battle, (2,3) but was not able to pursue due to the onset of night. (11,14) With the success of Greene’s rearguard, (18) and the fatigue of the British soldiers, (11,18) Howe decided to not pursue Washington, but to stop all action for the day. (6,18) His forces camped, exhausted, on the battlefield (11,15) around the small village of Dilworth and the Birmingham Meetinghouse (18) and in the farmyards of Benjamin Ring and Gideon Gilpin. (11) Knyphausen’s men camped in and around our park grounds. (18) They treated the wounded and buried the dead. (15) As a result the bulk of the Continental army survived to fight another day. (7) British Captain John Andre wrote in his journal, ‘Night and the fatigue the soldiers had undergone prevented any pursuit.’ (11)

Casualties

The British lost (6) 587 (9) [OR] approximately 600 men killed or injured. (6) (93 killed, 488 wounded, and 6 missing. (9)) [OR] 748 casualties; 114 killed and 634 wounded. (12) American General Stephen estimated British losses at 2000 based on distant observation and sketchy reports from surviving officers. (12) The American loss was overwhelming. (12) It cost them (6,9) more than 1,100 (6) 1300 (9) (300 (9) [OR] 861 (12) killed, 600 wounded, and 400 missing/captured. (9) [OR] 14,800 captured, many of whom were wounded. (12)Washington responded cautiously after the battle. (11) To make matters worse, the Patriots were also forced to abandon most of their cannon to the British victors after their artillery horses fell in battle. (12,14) Washington’s force had dropped from a high of nearly 15,000 prior to the battle to only 6,000. (11) but the crushing (7,10) defeat (4,6) had not demoralized the men. (11) They believed the defeat was not the result of poor fighting ability but rather because of unfamiliarity with the landscape and poor reconnaissance information. (11) In his report to the Continental Congress detailing the battle, Washington stated: ‘despite the day’s misfortune, I am pleased to announce that most of my men are in good spirits and still have the courage to fight the enemy another day’. (15)

Five Days near Dilworth

As Washington retreated and regrouped in Chester, PA, the British forces stayed in the region for nearly five days. (18) In order to replenish the supplies, they lost on the long voyage from New York they took full advantage of the rich agricultural landscape. (18) To accomplish this, they looted and plundered the local mills and farms of the peaceful Quaker inhabitants for their benefit. (18) ‘They wist not what war not battle meant’. (HN) According to damage claims and other sources, the British took livestock, crops, personal belongings, and other valuables from the inhabitants. (18) British soldiers camping on and around farms destroyed farmland that was ready to be harvested. (18) Gideon Gilpin and his young Quaker family suffered damages in the amount of nearly $86,000 in modern monetary value. (18) Gilpin was a prime example of how a neutral Quaker family, who wanted nothing to do with the war before the battle, was coerced in choosing sides. (18) In 1778, he swore and oath of allegiance with the Continental cause and abandoned his peaceful Quaker faith. (18) As a result, he was expelled from his local meeting and did not regain admittance until 1789 when he renounced his wrong doings and made a formal apology. (18) Another young Quaker, Joseph Townsend, wrote a manuscript of his experience during and after the battle. (18) In 1839, he described the aftermath by writing: ‘We had the full opportunity of beholding the destruction and wanton waste committed on the property of the peaceful inhabitants of the neighborhood, and on the ground of encampment. (18) Those who were obliged to remain had their stock of cattle destroyed for the use of the army—their houses taken away, and their household furniture, bedding, etc, wantonly wasted and burned.’ All in all, some inhabitants took decades to recover from the occupation and most were not reimbursed for their hardship. (18)

The Battle of the Clouds

The British left the area on September 16, 1777 (18) and moved closer to Philadelphia with little opposition from Washington. (11) During the next several days, (11) the two armies manoeuvered (11,15) in hopes of finding the other at a disadvantage, but no decisive military actions were taken during the next two weeks, (11) The British went to West Chester, PA (Turk’s Head in 1777) to try and intercept Washington and his forces. (18) They found him in Goshen township where another battle that could have been as large as the Battle of Brandywine unfolded. (18) As both armies fell into position, a large storm swept through the area and caused a torrential downpour of rain and wind. (18) This occurrence, known today as the Battle of the Clouds, did not result in an actual fight and both armies retired from the field. (18)

The Paoli Massacre

Anthony Wayne and a detachment of the Pennsylvania regulars were surprised in a night time attack at Paoli on the evening of September 19, which is known as the Paoli Massacre. (18) [OR] the Battle of Paoli. (15)

Loss of Philadelphia

The impending loss of Philadelphia hurt the patriot cause. (11) Local leaders did what they could to supply the army with food and clothing. (11) Reinforcements sent by Congress began to arrive, and Washington felt the army was sufficiently ready to mount an attack. (11) [OR!!] Washington wrote to Alexander Hamilton on the 22nd, ‘The distressed situation of the army, for want of blankets and many necessary articles of clothing, is truly deplorable, and inevitably must bring destruction to it, unless a speedy remedy is applied.’ (11) However, it was too late to save Philadelphia: (9,11) Congress abandoned it and moved first to Lancaster (6,11) for one day (14) and then to York to escape before the British takeover. (6,11) Important military supplies were moved out of the Philadelphia area to Reading, Pennsylvania, (11,15) where they could be defended. (11) and the British took it (4,6) when General Cornwallis marched in with a large British force (18) without Patriot opposition, (6,15) on September 26th, (9,11) beginning an occupation that would last until June 1778. (9) [OR] the spring. (18) With the larger British force in Philadelphia, Howe set up a line of defensive positions that stretched north to the small town of Germantown, PA. (18) Washington attempted one last assault on the British to capture Howe’s forces at Germantown and work his way down to capture Philadelphia. (18) Not many people realize that the British, even having captured Philadelphia, were still suffering in terms of logistics. (18) Although the army had made its way into the city, the Americans still held the Delaware River, which prevented any supplies or British shipping from accessing the port of the city to resupply the desperate Crown forces. (18) The British navy battled their way up the river, dodging obstacles and bombarding Forts Mercer and Mifflin on either side of the river and engaging with small parties of Continental forces. (18) After a long-fought bombardment, the two forts finally fell, and supplies were able to access the city. (18)

Strategic Significance

The battle of Brandywine was part of the Philadelphia Campaign 1777-78. (9) It was the only battle in which Washington and Howe fought head-to-head. (15) The victory was a great morale booster for the American army (15) [OR] a disastrous result for the American patriotic cause. (3) [OR] The British had captured Philadelphia, but at a major cost: (18) Howe had left the Revolutionary army intact. (4,5) He had not captured or destroyed the American fighting spirit. (13) Even worse, Howe could not now return to the Hudson area to help Burgoyne (4,17) who was left to fight his way south on its own, with disastrous consequences for the British cause. (5,17) The American Army spent the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge (13,18) and would emerge in the spring of 1778 more prepared than ever to continue the war. (13) As a result the British suffered disaster at the Battles of Saratoga on September 19th and October 11th. (5) These American victories convinced France to join the American war effort, marking a major turning point in the war. (5)

Bibliographical Notes

(8) appears to be a copy of (9) so orange (9) and Green (9) are the same. ((10) was also very similar) 12 (‘AltHist’ looks as if it might be part of some simulation game. It sticks to the facts until the later stages of the battle, when it describes Washington’s capiture and subsequent execution! (See Appendix ONE) 14 and 15 almost identical.

Figure 2: Chadds Ford

Figure 7 Chadd’s Ford

Appendix ONE: a Might-Have-Been Account

I found this on a website and read it with increasing disbelief until I realised that it must be from a site which does historical simulations!

“By four o’clock (12)Stephen and Stirling’s units were routed. (12), all three divisions were out of action with Stephen and Stirling in mass retreat and General Sullivan’s division captured by the British. (12) while a secondary Hessian flanking force trapped them against the river, impeding their retreat. (12) Sullivan was killed during the capture of his division. (12) In the midst of the chaotic retreat, Greene deployed Colonel Weedon’s troops to provide cover on the road outside of Dilworth to allow the Continental Army to move out before the British could regroup. (12) However, Weedon never made it to Dilworth; he was killed by British fire on his way there and his troops swept into the retreat. (12) General Stephen was the only American general to escape capture at Brandywine, reaching Chester, (12) Pennsylvania shortly after midnight. (12) with the remnants of the Continental Army. (12) Of the six generals leading the American forces, four were captured, including Washington, and one killed. (12) On September 12, 1777, General Stephen reported that he had 3,792 soldiers under arms in Chester preparing to move back toward Philadelphia. (12) News of the major loss and Washington’s capture preceded them, and Stephen arrived on the 18th to find Philadelphia evacuated. (12) He stayed in the city only briefly before leading his troops to Lancaster for further orders from the Congress. (12) The highest ranking prisoners of war, Generals Washington, Wayne, Greene, and Stirling were moved to Philadelphia in October 1777 and kept under heavy guard until October 27, 1777. (12) On that date, Howe ordered the execution of the four for ‘treason against the crown.’ (12) At 3 pm on October 27, Washington was hung in the street in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, followed by Wayne, Greene, then Stirling. (12) By the end of 1777, most of the members of the Continental Congress had been captured, with few notable exceptions such as Benjamin Harrison, Samuel Chase, and Joseph Wood. (12) With the Continental Army in splinters in the north and the Continental Congress captured, the newly established American republic failed. (12) The north lacked a unifying figure or body to replace the Congress or Washington. (12) By the summer of 1778, New England and the middle colonies were firmly back in British control with royal governors in residence in each colony. (12) However, the southern colonies were still occupied by the patriots under the leadership of General William Moultrie and the Marquis de Lafayette, who had avoided capture at Brandywine and travelled south, realizing that the northern campaign was over. (12) The last campaigns of the war took place in the southern colonies.

Bibliography

Appendix TWO FRESCIPLACT

F: Loyalists; Intelligence; Feint; Flank attack; Escape no pursuit; Revenge of Fr; Saratoga

R: Both sides Christian; Quakers pacifist.

E: Size of armies. Washington losses

S: Loyalist informers.

C: Republic v Monarchists;

I: ruse; W not dismayed.

P: French; casualty figures

L: LIFERS

A: –

C: Intelligence; Hook; Saratoga and French

T: long march exhaustion

.

1 Later famous as the victor of the Battle of Fallen Timbers against the Indians in 1794

2 Langer’s World History says that Greene was the American Commander.

3 But 13 itself says that Howe and Cornwallis set off an hour before Knyphausen.

4 (13) does not include Sullivan in this.

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