Battle of the Brandywine

The Battle of Brandywine was the largest land battle of the Revolutionary War. With George Washington’s Continental Army poised at Chads Ford, defending the approaches to Philadelphia, the British General Sir William Howe was camped at Kennett Square, planning a flanking attack against Washington.

Howe sent almost half of his 12,500 troops under General Knyphausen east down what is now roughly US 1 directly toward Chads Ford. He split the major part of his force under Lord Cornwallis to march north and then east. If you were to sketch out his route on a map of present day Chester County, you would note that he left Kennett Square on Route 82, crossing Route 1 and Route 926. As Route 82 bends to the right, he took a right turn on Doe Run Road. About two miles down that road, he turned left on Northbrook (also referred to as Red Lion Road).  He proceeded up Northbrook to beyond where the Northbrook Canoe and Beverage stands, and then crossed the West Branch of the Brandywine at Trimble’s Ford, continuing on Northbrook and Camp Linden Road. The next road that Cornwallis marched has disappeared over time, but he wound up on what is now Allerton Road, and forded the East Branch of the Brandywine at Jefferis’ Ford. Form there, he marched a short distance to Birmingham Road, and attacked the unprotected left flank of Washington’s army.

The British troops did pass through the countryside, but they also took part of the countryside with them. James Marshall lived at Marshall’s Ford (now Northbrook) when the plundering troops passed by; after the war, he petitioned the King of England for restitution for the loss of five horses: “one young brown mare, one bay mare, one bay horse, one roane, and one gray mare, all fit for service immediately…(plus) two saddles.”

It is easy to understand that troops would seize horses on their march to battle, but it is difficult to understand the seizure of 200 pounds of cheese and barrels of flour taken from Francis Trimble, at Trimble’s Mill. They also took more supplies at Carter’s Mill, now known as Strode’s Mill near Lenape.