11 September – On this day

The Battle of Brandywine was fought between the American army of General George Washington and the British army of General Sir William Howe on this day in 1777. The British defeated the Americans and forced them to withdraw toward the American capital of Philadelphia. The engagement occurred near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania during Howe’s campaign to take Philadelphia, part of the American Revolutionary War.

Hessian map of the campaign
Hessian map of the campaign

Howe’s army sailed from New York City and landed near Elkton, Maryland in northern Chesapeake Bay. Marching north, the British Army brushed aside American light forces in a few skirmishes. Washington offered battle with his army posted behind Brandywine Creek. While part of his army demonstrated in front of Chadds Ford, Howe took the bulk of his troops on a long march that crossed the Brandywine beyond Washington’s right flank. Due to poor scouting, the Americans did not detect Howe’s column until it reached a position in rear of their right flank. Belatedly, three divisions were shifted to block the British flanking force near a Quaker meeting-house.

Map of the battle
Map of the battle

After a stiff fight, Howe’s wing broke through the newly formed American right-wing which was deployed on several hills. At this point Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen attacked Chadds Ford and crumpled the American left-wing. As Washington’s army streamed away in retreat, he brought up elements of Nathanael Greene’s division which held off Howe’s column long enough for his army to escape to the northeast. The defeat and subsequent maneuvers left Philadelphia vulnerable. The British captured the city on September 26, beginning an occupation that would last until June 1778.