The cannon fire could be heard from Brandywine Hundred. It was louder in Concord. It was deafening in Chadd’s Ford. The Battle of the Brandywine was in full swing, and the result was a defeat of the American Forces leaving Philadelphia wide open to the British invasion.

Sadly for us this marks the end of Delaware’s direct involvement in the Revolutionary War. After this battle, the war in the North became a sitting game, and Cornwallis felt compelled to shift to the South to try and gain some momentum. He misread the South’s resilience, and the war of course ended when he got boxed at Yorktown.

As for Delaware, the British had previously marched up from Glasgow through Newark then up Kirkwood Highway and camped at Marshalltown. One can still see the embankments they threw up. The Americans realized that they had only a narrow route north before did the British. Had the British chosen to fight through the night, the war would have been over with Washington’s defeat. He was trapped by water on three sides. General Howe was a person adverse to exertion, and chose to investigate the following morning. When the British awoke, they saw the Americans had disappeared in the night, leaving their camp fires burning to fool the British watchmen.

The British marched north to Kennett Square, probably along what is now Route 82… On the morning of 9/11 the British marched towards Philadelphia. Washington assumed the lazy Howe would march the easiest route and set up defenses in Chadd’s Ford covering the road to Baltimore, which is Route 1 today. What Washington miscalculated is that the British had better intelligence than he. Here is how.

Washington was employing those in Philadelphia to give him advice. Howe was approaching on the outside, and chose those locals to tell him the layout. The difference in intelligence was a simple as one looking out, and one looking in. Perhaps you may remember the meme last decade of showing a city as the makeup of their entire World? For instance one of Rehoboth, would show Rehoboth and Dewey and Ocean City in Great detail, and Washington and Baltimore as tiny patches on the last edge of the map? Well that myopia actually affects our judgment. As one approaches the unknown, one is apt to know only his one way. But to use that same analogy backwards, as one approaches the known, from the area of the unknown, one is far more perceptive of all other options leading towards that goal or destination.

So it was with Howe, who found out there were two ford to the north, both overlooked by Washington, and the access to the battle field was relative easily. Howe committed 5000 of his 18,000 troups to attacking Washington’s front lines, and sent 13,000 north to cross both the west and east branches of the Brandywine, then head south. imagine the surprise of the American army who had been confident that they were holding their own, to find they’d been fighting a measly 5000 men in the fog, and now had 13,000 marching behind them on their right side….

We retreated. Some said it was a disciplined retreat, and Lafayette is given a lot of credit for that. He was wounded this day in history by the way, yet he established a rallying point, communicated it to all the troops, and an orderly retreat was managed. But the surprise to our right cost us dearly. We lost 11 of our 14 artillery guns. The British listed 587 as killed, missing or wounded, but no records of the Americans lost is known.. General Nathaniel Greene is later quoted as guessing 1200 to 1400 Continentals were lost… Commander Howe wrote to the British Foreign Secretary that 300 dead, 600 wounded, 400 prisoners were the total of America’s casualties.

One cannot imagine how dark things seemed for the prospects of an American nation after this day.

  • Americans had been tricked and easily routed.
  • They’d lost 79% of their artillary, having only 3 cannons left.
  • The Continental Congress fled in the night to Lancaster for one day, then to York.
  • Military supplies were moved to Reading.
  • Philadelphia, the cradle of democracy, was wide open to the British Army.
  • It was 52 years before the founding of Yeungling’s brewery, so none was available to drown one’s sorrows.

They suffered fully sober.  If we can remember the tragedy of our 9/11, try to imagine something ten times worse. There was no hope, period.

A makeshift hospital was scrambled together in Wilmington Delaware, and 350 causalities were sent.

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