The Battle of Brandywine
Wayne or Persie Frazer1 if I am a man to believed," and then, turning to the smiling officers, his indignation found utterance: "I would have you to know that I have this day's work as much at heart as e'er a Blood of you!"2
The delays that had attended Squire Cheyney's attempt to apprise the Americans of the danger that threatened them had consumed considerable time, and hardly had Washington acknowledged the accuracy of the intelligence brought to him, when an orderly galloped hastily to the group and delivered a dispatch. It read as follows:
1 Persifor Frazer was lieutenant-colonel of the Fifth Pennsylvania Line, recruited in Chester County. He was born in Newtown township, and was a partner in the noted Sarum Iron-Works, in Thornbury.|
2 Dr. William Darlington's sketch of Thomas Cheyney in Nota Cestriases. Newspaper clippings in Library of Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
"Two O'Clock p.m.
Inclosed in this note was one addressed to Gen. Sullivan, as follows:
"A Quarter-Past l O'Clock.
By this time Washington knew that Gen. Sullivan. a brave and patriotic officer, had permitted Howe once more to play with success the stratagem which had given him victory on Long Island, and for the like reason, Sullivan's neglect to make a proper reconnoissance. It was a brilliant but dangerous movement of the English commander, separating his army into two divisions, seventeen miles asunder; and had not the second dispatch been sent by Sullivan, declaring on Maj. Spear's assertion, that Cornwallis' division had not moved northward in the manner reported by Col. Ross, the attack determined on by Washington could have been made on Knyphausen's division in overwhelming numbers, and in all likelihood would have been wholly successful. Never in all his military career did Washington display greater capacity as a commander, than when he had decided to recross the Brandywine and engage the Hessian general. No wonder was it then that the American chieftain ever after disliked to discuss the stragetic movements of that day.
Gen. Washington, knowing that his presence was necessary at the point menaced, was anxious to reach that part of the field as soon as possible, and desired to go thither by the shortest way. To that end an elderly man of the neighborhood, Joseph Brown, who was well acquainted with the locality, was found and asked to act as guide. The latter was loath to undertake this duty, and only consented to do so when the request assumed such a form that it could not with safety be refused. One of the general's staff, who rode a fine horse, dismounted, Brown was lifted into the saddle, and the party started in the most direct route for Birmingham Meeting-House. The mettlesome beast the the guide rode cleared the fences as they dashed across the fields, the officers following at his heels. So great was Washington's anxiety that he constantly kept repeating the command, "Push along, old man; push along, old man." Brown subsequently, in relating the incidents of this wild scamper across the country, stated that when they were about half a mile west of Dilworthtown, the bullets were flying so thickly that, as the noise of battle was now a sufficient guide to the American officers, and no notice was taken of him, he, unobserved, dismounted and stole away.
Cornwallis, accompanied by the commander-in-chief, Sir William Howe, had marched his column from five o'clock in the morning through the woods that skirted almost his entire route on the west bank of the Brandywine. During the first four hours a heavy fog clung to the earth, and a trying march it was that sultry day, with the dust rising in clouds under the feet of a moving army and the wheels of the parks of artillery and trains of baggage-wagons. It was past the midday hour when the British column reached the west branch of the creek at Trimble's, and it was here, while making directly for Jefferies' Ford, that Cols. Cheyney and Hannum watched it on the march, as heretofore related.
On the west side of Jefferies' Ford Emmor Jefferies owned a fine farm, the home of his ancestors, and from his father's ownership of the real estate on both sides of the branch the crossing had received its name, - Jefferies' Ford. When the British army first landed at Elk and moved in the direction of Wilmington, a number of the storekeepers, as well as other residents of that town, sent their goods to Chester County, near the forks of the Brandywine, whose peaceful quiet at that time it was supposed the march of armies never would disturb. In the house of Emmor Jefferies, who leaned somewhat to the royal side, it was thought goods could be safely kept. But when the British soldiers learned that in his cellar a large quantity of liquors were stored, the thirsty, hungry men rolled out the barrels and casks, knocked in the heads, and drank freely, without asking the approval of the reputed owner. Nor was that all. Emmor Jefferies was himself pressed into service by Sir William Howe as a guide.
It was not one o'clock when the vanguard of the British army passed the ford and pressed onward towards Osborne's Hill, near Sullivan's right. Almost half a century ago Joseph Townsend (who, as a young man of twenty-one, was a witness of much appertaining to the battle) published his recollections of that day. He was attending that Thursday morning a mid-week meeting of Friends in the wheelwright-shop at Scon-