The Battle of Brandywine

September 11, 1777

“The (Continental troops) were extremely well armed, pretty well clothed, and tolerably disciplined.”

-John Adams

The Battle of Brandywine, which resulted in the loss of Philadelphia and the movement of the Continental Congress to York, was the culmination of a long period of frustration for the British. Lieutenant-General Sir William Howe, commander of the British forces in North America, had not encountered Washington’s army since the battle of Long Island in August 1776. This battle resulted in the loss of New York City to the United States for the remainder of the war. General Howe had decided to sail to the northern end of Chesapeake Bay and unload his troops during the end of August.  This proved logistically difficult because the area was narrow and muddy. Once the British landed, although the soldiers were seasick and the horses exhausted, there were many Tory sympathizers in the area, including some of the Quaker establishments, who assisted the British with their regrouping.

Washington had situated the American forces between Head of Elk and Philadelphia, near Chadds Ford, in the expectation that the British forces would follow them to this area, which would have been advantageous of them to defend, as it was higher than the surrounding areas.  On September 3, the British and their Hessian counterparts moved in two divisions north towards the American army.  The most vulnerable position for the Americans was on the right, and Washington kept receiving conflicting intelligence stating that the enemy was coming from different directions. As dawn broke on the day of the battle, the British divided their army. This ended up being simple to do, as the day dawned extremely foggy and masked many of the British army’s movement. The battle was fought at mid-morning around the meeting house while the pacifist Quakers continued to hold their midweek service. One of the Quakers later wrote, “While there was much noise and confusion without, all was quiet and peaceful within.”

Knyphausen, one of the Hessian commanders who was on the east bank of the Brandywine, launched an attack against the weakened American center through Chadds Ford. The defeated Americans were forced to retreat to Chester where most of them arrived at midnight, with stragglers arriving until morning. The American retreat was well-organized largely due to the efforts of Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, who, although wounded, created a rally point that allowed for a more orderly retreat before being treated for his wound. Both sides reported heavy casualties, with the Americans listing 300 killed, 600 wounded and 400 captured. The British reported 93 killed and 488 wounded. The Continental Congress abandoned Philadelphia, first to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for one day and then to York, Pennsylvania. Military supplies were moved out of the city to Reading, Pennsylvania. On September 26, 1777, the British forces marched into Philadelphia unopposed.

–Joan Schaefer Poach

About the Author:  Religious, spiritual and liberty-loving Joan Schaefer-Poach has been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Connecticut since she was three weeks old. Both her mother and her grandmother were Past Department Presidents of the organization for the state of Connecticut, and, in 1997, Joan followed in their footsteps. This made history within the organization, as Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only two states in the country who have had three generations of members serve as Department President.

Joan currently works as a Technical Support Group supervisor for Cablevision in Shelton CT, in a 500- person-plus facility with a group that consists primarily of entry-level individuals fresh out of college. As a result, she experiences first-hand the entitlement attitude that is taught in the public school system and fights diligently to eliminate it in the workplace.

Fed up with the “hate America first” attitude that has taken over the schools from kindergarten all the way through college, Joan believes that the only way to fix this country is by exposing youngsters to our history in a way that brings it to vibrant life — as opposed to the dull recitation of dates and facts. There’s an old saying that states, “what’s past is prologue”, and if we want this country to once again be free of the onerous links to socialism and fascism, our children need our guidance. Joan fervently hopes to assist with this effort.

Editor’s Note: Joan is dedicating all of her contributions to the memory of Andrew Breitbart. RIP.


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