Battle of Brandywine
Preparation of defense for the Battle George Washington
The focus of British General Howe during the campaign of 1777 was Philadelphia. The British approached the capital from Chesapeake lading at Head of Elk, Maryland. As they began marching towards the city George Washington and residents of Philadelphia were more than confident that the British army would be stopped.
Washington settled for the high ground in Chadds Ford to defend against the British. Chadds allowed for safe passage across Brandywine River on the road, from Baltimore to the city of Philadelphia. On 9th September 1777, George placed his troops along the river to guard main fords. The troops placed detachments a Pyle’s Ford and Wistar’s southernmost crossing and northernmost crossing of the river respectively. Before it forked, George hoped to start a fight at Chadds Ford and it was an advantageous position.
Washington strongly believed that all the Fords were guarded by his troops along Brandywine and that the unguarded Fords were only twelve miles away, up the river. Therefore, he was very confident that the entire area was secure.
The troops from Britain assembled at Kenneth Square and developed a plan. Part of the British Army marched from the square and purposed to meet Washington on Brandywine river banks at Chadds Ford. At the same time, majority of the military marched towards north of Wistar’s Ford under instructions from General Howe. Hey crossed the river at a ford without the knowledge of Washington and marched south into the flank of US forces. The British military had better knowledge of the area and they used superior tactics enabling them to outdo Washington and his military.
The Day of the Battle of Brandywine
Heavy fog characterized the day of the fight and it blanketed the entire area. It offered cover for the approaching British military and afterwards, the sun blazed with sweltering heat. Reports of British troops or military movements notified Washington that Howe had divided his army. Other reports also denied this plan creating confusion.
With the confusion, Washington mistakenly believed that the British military were going against his line at the Chadds Ford. Howe and majority of his men kept going and my midafternoon, the British crossed the river to the north of Washington’s force which was unguarded and took a strategic position near Birmingham Friends Meeting House.
However, Washington realized that he had been surrounded when the British army appeared on right American flank. He ordered his men to take the high ground as a last defense but unfortunately, even that side of Birmingham Friends Meeting house had been outmaneuvered. The Americans could not defend themselves and their position successfully. They fought tirelessly and valiantly but the British outwitted them along Brandywine, rolling hills.
At the nightfall, the battle came to an end. The Americans, defeated headed to Chester and a bulk of the military arrived by midnight and remained trickled in until morning hours. Exhausted British military camped on the battlefield and the surrounding area including Gideon Gilpin and Benjamin Ring farmyards. British Captain John Andre write a journal and said ‘’Night and the fatigue, the soldiers had undergone prevented any pursuit’’.
The Battle of Brandywine aftermath
The defeat of the American army in the battle of Brandywine did not demoralize them. They believed that the defeat was not as a result of poor fighting but due to lack of better knowledge of the area and poor reconnaissance details. For several days after the war, General Howe and his men moved closer to the city of Philadelphia with little opposition from Washington.
The two armies maneuvered hoping to find the other group at a disadvantage but without taking any decisive military action for the next two weeks. Congress abandoned the city and moved to Lancaster, then to York before the British took over. Essential and important military supplies were moved out of Philadelphia to Reading in Pennsylvania where they could be defended,
In the fight that Washington cautiously responded to, he lost many men from 15,000 troops to only 6,000. On 22nd George Washington wrote to Alexander Hamilton stating the distressed situation, lack of blankets and other essentials. Local leaders tried their best to help the army with food and clothing. Reinforcements were also sent and Washington felt that his army was ready for an attack.
However, it was quite too late to save the city of Philadelphia because on September 29th, British men marched unopposed into the patriot capital.
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