Virtual Marching Tour of the American Revolutionary War

The Philadelphia Campaign: 1777

American colonies represented as pieces of a snake with the caption "join or die"

The Battle of the Clouds: — Part 3 of 5

Quakers and Locals

Quaker Meeting in London: A female Quaker preaches
Engraving by Bernard Picard (c.1723)

To the natives of the Brandywine Valley, September 12, 1777 marked the first day in a healing process, which for some, would take years.

A war which the pacifist Quakers had prayed to prevent was thrust into their midst. The repulsive reality of battle, which Quaker silence, opposition, and isolation could not forestall, was dumped literally on their doorstep. For on that morning of September 12, those locals who ventured to the Birmingham Meeting House yard found droves of dead soldiers staring silently into a still sunrise.

To one observer's eyes, Birmingham, locale of some of the heaviest fighting during the Battle of Brandywine, "exhibited a scene of destruction and waste."

Memorial honoring Revoutionary War soldiers in Philadelphia's Washington square
This image has been released to the public domain

Many residents in the Brandywine Valley were pressed into emergency burial service. Anonymous bodies of dead Americans were precipitously thrown in a trench that was dug in the Meeting House yard. The business of burying would continue over the next several days. Some recently interred bodies were flushed from the earth by torrential rains; the locals had the gruesome task of burying these unfortunate souls a second time.

The armies passing through the Brandywine Valley had not only destroyed crops, commandeered cattle, quartered in houses, but taken an innocence which could never be given back.