The 240th Anniversary of the Battle of the Brandywine

Revolutionary war re-enactment

Most of the horse trails are now overgrown with trees and brush or converted into paved macadam roadways. Many of the fields where men lay wounded have been replaced with houses, businesses and small farms. Yet the story of America’s struggle for independence endures around Chester County and some of its silent witnesses remain today.

George Washington's headquarters

In the Fall of 1777, George Washington and his Continental Army faced an enormous challenge as they continued their fight against a larger, better trained and highly equipped British Army. It was on September 11th of that year when roughly 30,000 troops on both sides maneuvered around Chester County, fighting from Chadds Ford up to Dilworthtown. The day did not go well for the Americans, who retreated to Chester. After this embarrassment, Washington could have succumbed and given up in defeat. That he and the troops remained determined to fight on for years against long odds is part of the greatest story in American history.

The Battle of the Brandywine- although a defeat for Washington- is symbolic of the spirit that lived in revolutionary America. After many years of complaints regarding the edicts of King George III and the British Parliament, a movement, subtle at first, but inexorable, with growing intensity emerged as the defining force in the heritage of this country. Tens of thousands of men were willing to put their lives at risk for the idea that people could govern themselves. From a notion emerged… a new nation. That notion changed the trajectory of human relations as later generations in countries around the globe embraced representational government, republics that put the rights and best interests of common citizens on the same level as those guiding the wealthy aristocracy.

There are kids graduating from high school today who know very little about the Battle of the Brandywine, indeed about their own history in general. A few are hard

Revolutionary War re-enactment

pressed to state whether the Civil War occurred before or after the Revolutionary War. For many, the struggle for independence is a quaint idea, a chapter in a book they were forced to read in school many years ago.

It is by keeping important events in our history in focus, before the citizenry that historians, authors and scholars provide a vital service. When we think of the men and women who helped guide our nation through its many tumultuous periods, they come alive within us, helping us to understand what they lived through and endured. Their spirit breathes, their accomplishments take on new meaning and we gain fresh insights into what it means to be an American.

On September 16th and 17th , 2017 more than 800 soldiers will help us all to re-live this special moment in our history in and around Sandy Hollow Heritage Park in Birmingham Township. Washington will be there, as will a replica of his famous camp tent provided by the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. The young Marquis de Lafayette, who risked his life and considerable fortune at Brandywine, his very first battle, will also be there. This author will be in full Continental Army officer’s uniform as Colonel Alexander Hamilton, aide-de-camp to General Washington as part of the opening ceremonies and greeting visitors to talk about his role helping to guide our nation. There will be exhibits, food and beverages, guest speakers, authors showcasing their works on local history and much more. For additional information, visit www.Brandywine2017.org.

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About Gene Pisasale

Gene Pisasale is an historian, author and lecturer based in Kennett Square, Pa. His eight books and historic lecture series focus on the history of the mid-Atlantic region. Gene’s latest book is Alexander Hamilton: Architect of the American Financial System, which delves into the life and many accomplishments of this important Founding Father who almost single-handedly transformed our nation from a bankrupt entity into the most successful country in the history of mankind. Gene’s books are available on www.Amazon.com. His website is www.GenePisasale.com; he can be reached at Gene@GenePisasale.com.

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