Battle of Brandywine

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In the Battle of Brandywine, the British took over the American Capital of Philadelphia.


The British General Howe, with a force of 16,000 men, on the 15th of August landed at the head of Elk river. It being obvious that his design was the occupation of Philadelphia, General Washington immediately put the American army in motion towards that place, to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy. The two armies met at Brandywine, in Delaware.


At day break on the morning of the 11th, the royal army advanced in two columns; the one commanded by Lieutenant General Knypausen, and the other by Lord Cornwallis. While the first column took the' direct road to Chadd's Ford, and made a show of passing it in front of the main body of the Americans, the other moved up on the west side of the Brandywine, to its fork, crossed both its branches about two in the afternoon, and marched down on its eastern side, with the view of turning the right wing of their adversaries. General Washington, on receiving intelligence of their approach, made the proper disposition to receive them. The divisions commanded by Sullivan, Sterling, and Stephen, advanced a little farther up the Brandywine, and fronted the column of the approaching enemy; Wayne's division, with Maxwell's light infantry, remained at Chadd's Ford, to keep Knypausen in check; Green's division, accompanied by General Washington, formed a reserve, and took a central position between the right and left wings.

The divisions detached against Cornwallis, took possession of the heights above Birmingham church, their left reaching towards the Brandywine; the artillery was judiciously placed, and their flanks were covered by woods. About four o'clock, Lord Cornwallis formed the line of battle, and began the attack. The Americans sustained it for some time with intrepidity; but the right at length giving way, the remaining divisions, exposed to a galling fire on the flank, continued to break on the right, and the whole line was soon completely routed. As soon as Cornwallis had commenced the attack, Knypausen crossed the ford, and attacked the troops posted for its defence; which, after a severe conflict, were compelled to give way. The retreat of the Americans, which soon became general, was continued that night to Chester, and the next 'day to Philadelphia.


The loss sustained by the Americans in this action, is estimated at three hundred killed and six hundred wounded. Between three and four hundred, principally the wounded, were made prisoners. The loss of the British was stated to be rather less than one hundred killed, and four hundred wounded.

Among the wounded were two general officers; the Marquis de Lafayette, and General Woodford. The first of these was a French nobleman, who at the age of 19 years only, left France and offered his services to Congress, which gave him the rank of Major General in their army. Count Pulaski, a Polish nobleman, fought also with the Americans, in this battle.

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