Researching the American Revolution

Your source for information on the American War of Independence

The 1777 Philadelphia Campaign: Battles of Brandywine and Germantown

Secondary Sources

Gifford, Edward S. The American Revolution in the Delaware Valley. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution, 1976.

Harris, Michael C. Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle That Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777. First edition. El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2014.

McGuire, Thomas J. Battle of Paoli. 1st ed. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2000.

———. The Surprise of Germantown, Or, The Battle of Cliveden: October 4th, 1777. Philadelphia, PA : Gettysburg, PA: Cliveden of the National Trust for Historic Preservation ; Thomas Publications, 1994.

Gifford, Edward S. The American Revolution in the Delaware Valley. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution, 1976.

Harris, Michael C. Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle That Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777. First edition. El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2014.

McGuire, Thomas J. Battle of Paoli. 1st ed. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2000.

———. The Surprise of Germantown, Or, The Battle of Cliveden: October 4th, 1777. Philadelphia, PA : Gettysburg, PA: Cliveden of the National Trust for Historic Preservation ; Thomas Publications, 1994.

Philadelphia Revolutionary War Commemorations

 

Philadelphia Area Revolutionary War Sites

Fort Mifflin

Fort Mifflin guarded the Delaware River approaches to the City of Philadephia. It is located next to the current day Philadephia International Airport on a plot of land once called Mud Island.  The fort was in use until the 20th century.

 

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Battle of Brandywine – September 11, 1777

After the British landed their forces at Elk’s Head and marched on Philadelphia, General George Washington attempted to block the British advance at the Chadd’s Ford of the Brandywine River.  British General William Howe executed a sweeping left flanking march which crossed an unguarded river ford above Chadds Ford and attacked the unguarded Patriot left flank.  After a hotly contested battle, the Americans were forced to withdrawl towards the town of Chester.

Today, while several sections of the battlefield are preserved, houses and other development dot the battle scape. A visitor center provides driving maps that guide visitors to key locations on the battlefield.

One of the iconic images of the Revolution was inspired by the Brandywine Battle.  Howard Pyle drew a famous illustration depicting the battle to be included in a December 1903 special exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The picture depicts Lt. General William Maxwell’s counter-attack against the flanking British.  While Pyle sought to realistically show the soldiers in battle, unarmed dummers and fifers walked behind the infrantry and helping with signaling and battlefield control.  However, much of the rest of the picture is realistic including the tattered American flag.

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Howard Pyle (1853-1911)|The Nation Makers, 1903|Illustration published in Collier’s Weekly (June 2, 1906)|Oil on canvas|Brandywine River Museum, purchased through a grant from the Mabel Pew Myrin Trust, 1984|(Photography copyright Brandywine River Museum, 2009)

Battle of Germantown

After losing Philalephia to the British, Washington attempted a highly complex attack on the British forces outside of the city at Germantown (now within the city limits of Philadelphia).  Almost from the beginning, Washington’s four pronged attack came unraveled and the Americans were forced to retreat with heavy losses.

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The Chew House

One of the American attack columns ran into Redcoats holed up in the Chew House.  Washington had Henry Knox bring up the artillery to dislodge the British. However, the solid construction prevented the cannon balls from inflicting significant damage inside and the Rebel advanced stalled when they could not capture the British unit in this house.  Today, visitors can still see the cannon ball marks on the side of the house.

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First floor office in the Chew House

Returning to the home after the conflict, the Chew family refurbished the home and various descendents occupied the home for seven generations before turning over the house to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1972.  According to family lore, they preserved a bullet hole in the first floor office commemorating the house’s role in the Germantown battle.

 

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