Virtual Marching Tour of the American Revolutionary War

The Philadelphia Campaign: 1777

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

On the March to Brandywine: — Part 9 of 9

Howe Finally Presses On

Howe finally moved. Knyphausen leaves at 2, but Cornwallis and Grant never move until after sunset. Howe either intended to camouflage his movements or make progress at night when it was cooler and less muggy.

Knyphausen arrived at Kennett Square at 11p.m. and camped to the east of the town. Cornwallis joined him some time after midnight. He had been delayed due to a late start and because he was hauling artillery over exceedingly muddy roads. Cornwallis was still hindered by weak horses who hadn't recuperated from the dreadful sea trek and by a lack of knowledge of the territory.

Grant took an alternative road and ended up at Hockessin Meeting, a few miles from Kennett and encamped there.

On the 10th, Washington set up his headquarters at Benjamin Ring's House, a half mile from Chadd's Ford and near the Baltimore Road. The American alarm guns were sounded that very morning announcing the arrival of the British, but it proved a false alarm. Though the British army had indeed arrived they were not making threatening movements as was believed — nor was it Howe's style to press an attack so quickly after arriving at a new locale. Rather the British were just repositioning the head of their column, moving to the Anvil Tavern on the Baltimore Road.

After the alarm passed, Washington went about setting about his defenses along the fords. Manpower shortages precluded Washington from protecting all the fords. Fortunately, some fords were to deep to so as to make them impassable anyway.

Howe Gets Help

Joseph Galloway, the leader of the Pennsylvania Assembly and most prominent Loyalist in America provided intimate information that would help shape Howe's tactics in the upcoming battle. He provided Howe with information regarding the terrain, roads, and possible cross fording points along the Brandywine.

Chester County, where the armies were facing each other, lay in Quaker territory. A majority of these Quakers were pacifists. Yet some of the residents offered their services to the British in other ways. A quaker named Parks for instance divulged very specific route information.

Howe set up his headquarters at at a tavern. Here the general diagrammed the battle and rested his troops. Grant's corps was brought up so that three divisions were grouped for battle. Howe strengthened Knyphausen who would was given the 1st and 2nd British Brigades. It was Knyphausen's move to the east that had frightened the Americans it no sounding an alarm.

On the eve of the battle, the British spent the night pumping up the economy of Kennett Square,, the first major stop the British had made since Elk.

Might and Wrong

Meanwhile, the American spent an anxious night about their campfires. Chaplains gave solace to the soldiers. Reverend Joab Trout gathered a number of troops together and prayed:

Soldiers and countrymen, we have met this evening perhaps for the last time. We have shared the toil of the march, the peril of the fight, and the dismay of the retreat alike; we have endured the cold and hunger, and the contumely of the infernal foe. And we have met in the peaceful valley. We have gathered together — God grant it may not be for the last time. It is a solemn moment. Under the shadow of a pretext, under the sanctity of the name of God, invoking the Redeemer to their aid, do these foreign hirelings lay our people. They may conquer us to-morrow. Might and wrong may prevail and we may be driven form the field — but the hour of God's own vengeance will come. How dread the punishment. The eternal God fights for you and will triumph. God rest the souls of the fallen. When we meet again, may the shadow of twilight be flung over a peaceful land. God in Heaven grant it.