The Battle of Brandywine, 1777


The USA of America declared its independence from Nice Britain on July 4, 1776, and selected Philadelphia as its capital. Recent from their main victory in New York Metropolis, the British regarded to crush the fledgling nation in 1777 with a two-pronged offensive—Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne would advance from Canada to achieve management of the Hudson River valley and isolate New England, whereas Maj. Gen. Sir William Howe, the British commander in North America, would sail from New York to seize Philadelphia.

Howe’s 260-ship fleet approached the U.S. capital from the Chesapeake Bay, touchdown at present-day Elkton, Md., about 45 miles southwest of Philadelphia, on August 25. Because the 17,000-man British military moved north, Gen. George Washington and the residents of Philadelphia have been assured they might resist the assault. Scouting the British advance have been American gentle infantry, a mixture of Continentals and militia. On September 3 they ambushed the Hessian mercenaries within the British van at Cooch’s Bridge, simply south of Newark, Del. Calling up reinforcements, the British drove again the People. Days later when Howe pushed north towards the primary street between Baltimore and Philadelphia, Washington redeployed his 14,600-man military alongside the intervening Brandywine River.

On the morning of September 9 Washington positioned his forces to protect probably the most direct crossing at Chadd’s Ford, in addition to Pyle’s Ford to the south, and Buffington’s Ford and Wistar’s Ford to the north. The American commander believed he had all crossings lined and that the closest unguarded ford was a dozen miles distant—too far to do the British any good. However Howe had higher intelligence concerning the terrain, and his tactical experience proved decisive. Two days later, on reaching Kennet Sq., Pa., he despatched a 7,000-man pressure of largely Hessian troops underneath Lt. Gen. Wilhelm von Knyphausen immediately east to show towards the ready People at Chadd’s Ford, whereas he and Maj. Gen. Charles Cornwallis took their 10,000 British troops on a roundabout march north of Wistar’s Ford to cross the river at fords unknown to Washington.

Not for the final time, September 11 could be a disastrous day in American historical past.


The current-day park encompasses 50 acres, a fraction of the 35,000-acre 1777 battlefield.

On that day in 1777 fog screened the British march, and Washington nonetheless believed Howe’s whole military was en path to Chadd’s Ford. In the meantime, Howe and Cornwallis took place north of the People. Solely when the British appeared on his proper flank did Washington understand he’d been outmaneuvered. Although stunned, the People rallied on close by excessive floor. They fought bravely, however at dusk they retreated north to Chester, forsaking most of their fieldpieces. Howe’s exhausted males camped on the sector and plundered surrounding farms. The People suffered an estimated 300 killed, 600 wounded and 400 captured to British losses of 93 killed, 488 wounded and 6 lacking.

Although defeated, the People weren’t demoralized and dismissed the loss largely to poor intelligence. After the battle the opposing armies maneuvered in quest of benefits, however over the subsequent two weeks little navy motion occurred other than an abortive September 16 skirmish north of Chester generally known as the Battle of the Clouds and the horrific ambush of an American detachment underneath Brig. Gen. “Mad Anthony” Wayne at close by Paoli 4 days later.

Regardless, it was too late to save lots of Philadelphia. Congress fled west, finally to York, whereas navy provides have been moved northeast to Studying. Patriots within the countryside did what they might to produce Washington’s military with meals, clothes and reinforcements despatched by Congress, however on September 26 Howe marched into the capital unopposed. Philadelphia’s loss was a extreme blow to the American trigger, to not point out Washington’s status. Thankfully for the Patriots, Burgoyne’s defeat at Saratoga, N.Y., a month later, adopted by the Franco-American alliance early the subsequent yr, pressured the British to evacuate Philadelphia in June 1778. Howe was recalled to Britain, and Cornwallis ultimately misplaced the struggle at Yorktown, Va., in October 1781.

Brandywine Battlefield Park is owned by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Fee and operated in partnership with the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates. Established in 1949, the park encompasses 50 acres, a fraction of the 35,000-acre 1777 battlefield. Due to a 2021 Nationwide Park Service grant, a land acquisition and preservation plan is within the works. MH

This text appeared within the March 2022 situation of Navy Historical past journal. For extra tales, subscribe and go to us on Fb.

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