The Battle of Brandywine
encountered here. Charge after charge did they make, but were repeatedly driven back. Gen. Howe states, "Just at dark the infantry, Second Grenadiers, and fourth brigade had a brief action beyond Dilworth, between the two roads which run from Dilworth to Chester." Capt. Montressor tells us that here the heaviest fire during the battle for the time was poured on the British soldiers. Indeed, he records, "Late in the evening, when the action was near concluded, a very heavy fire was received by our grenadiers from six thousand rebels, Washington's rear-guard, when Col. Monckton requested me to ride through it to Brig.-Gen. Agnew's brigade and his (4) twelve-pounders, which I did in time enough to support them; and by my firing the (4) twelve-pounders routed the enemy."1 The latter statement is not accurate, for Weedon, after holding his position until the demoralized troops had retreated down the Wilmington road to the Concord road, fell back in good order on Greene; and gradually the whole division drew off, showing their fangs to their enemy, who did not pursue the retiring Continentals. It is even stated that many of the American ofcers were so enraged at the result of the conflict that they demanded to be led immediately against the enemy, but Washington shook his head, replying, "Our only recourse is to retreat." Greene, whose blood was up from the conflict and defeat, asked how far they must retreat? "Over every hill and across every river in America if I order you," was the stern reply.2
The American troops, considering the circumstances fought well. Particularly was this true of the Twelfth Pennsylvania, commanded by Col. Walter Stewart - said to have been the handsomest man in the Continental service - of Conway's brigade; of the Fifth Virginians, Woodford's brigade, commanded by Col. John Marshall, afterwards the great chief justice of the United States; and the Tenth Virginia, under Col. Stevens, in Weedon's brigade. The First, Third, and Sixth Maryland Regiments, and the First Delaware, under Gen. Smallwood, acquitted themselves with marked bravery, while the Second, Fourth, and Seventh Delaware and German Regiments, four companies recruited in Pennsylvania, and the like number in Maryland, were the first to give way, and retired in disorder from the field. This was largely due to the fact that Gen. DeBorre did not possess the confidence of his troops. The Eighth Pennsylvania, Col. Bayard, suffered greatly, and in the action Bayard was struck down by a cannon-ball, which broke the barrel of a rifle on the shoulder of Sergt. Wyatt, as well as the sergeant's shoulder, and then struck Bayard on the head and shoulder, "turning him over on the ground for nearly two rods," when Lieut. Patterson helped the colonel to his feet, who, the latter states, "was frantic" at his unceremonious treatment. The Eleventh Pennsylvania lost so heavily that it was subsequently consolidated with the Tenth. Capt. Thomas Butler, of the Third Pennsylvania, for rallying a detachment of retreating troops, was on the field publicly thanked by Washington. Capt. Louis de Fleury conducted himself with such gallantry that Congress presented him with a horse to substitute his own, which was killed in the battle, and Gen. Sullivan's horse, "the best in America," was shot under him in the engagement. Count Casimir Pulaski, the Polish nobleman, highly distinguished himself that day, when, as a volunteer in the American Light-Horse, he rode within pistol-shot of the British lines to reconnoitre. This action and his conspicuous bravery won him troops of friends, so that when he was appointed brigadier-general, with a command of cavalry, it met fully the approval of public opinion.
The actual loss of the American forces can only be approximated, since Gen. Washington never made a detailed report of this battle. The British claimed the loss was about a thousand killed and wounded and five hundred prisoners, together with nine "Branfield pieces, one more of a composition,3 and one brass Howitzer, with several ammunition wagons."4 Howe reported his own loss as only five hundred and seventy-eight killed and wounded, including officers, a statement that is not probably correct,5 while Capt. Mon-
1 "Evelyns in America," by Gideon D. Scull, Oxford, England, 1881 (privately printed), p. 266.|
2Headley's "Life of Washington," p. 256.
3"We took ten pieces of cannon and a howitzer; eight were brass, the other two of iron of a new construction." Materials for History, by Frank Moore, quoted in Penna. Mag. of History, vol. i. page 294, note, "In the war of the Revolution a singular cannon was made by a person who afterwards lived in the village (Mount Holly, N. J.). It was constructed of wrought-iron staves, hooped like a barrel, with bands of the same material, excepting there were four layers of staves breaking joint, all of which were firmly bound together, and then bored and breached like other cannon... William Denning (he died in the ninety-fourth year of his age) was an officer in the army of the Revolution. He it was who, in the day of his country's need, made the only successful attempt ever made in the world to manufacture wrought-iron cannon, one of which he completed in Middlesex, Pa., and commenced another and larger one at Mount Holly, but could get no one to assist him who could stand the heat, which is said to have been so severe as to melt the lead buttons on his coat. The unfinished piece is now (1844) in the Philadelphia Arsenal. The one completed was taken by the British at the battle of Brandywine, and is now in the tower of London. The British offered a stated annuity and a large sum to the person who would instruct them in the manufacture of that article, but the patriotic blacksmith preferred obscurity and poverty in his own beloved country, though the country for which he had done so much kept her purse closed from the veteran soldier until near the period of his decease." Barber and Howe's Historical Collections of New Jersey, pp. 113-114.
4Penna. Mag. of History, vol. vi. p.297.
5In the Penna. Mag. of Hist., vol. iv. page 121, is given what purports to be a memorandum of the British forces at the battle of Brandywine, and the loss sustained by the several divisions. The document was, it is stated, found in one of the British officers' marquet, at Germantown, Oct. 4, 1777, which, after being in possession of Col. Thomas Forrest, subsequently came to John F. Watson, the annalist. The total loss as given in the memorandum is nineteen hundred and seventy-six. In Headley's Life of Washington, page 258, is published a paper found among those belonging to Gen. James Clinton, and in his handwriting, indorsed, "Taken from the enemy's Ledgers, which fell into the hands of General Washington's army at the action of Germantown." An examination of the two statements shows that the one is a copy of the other, although there in a difference of ten in the grand total, the latter being nineteen hundred and eighty-six. This occurs in the loss of the First Hessians at the Upper Ford, under Cornwallis, - the Forrest memorandum making it sixty, while that of Clinton's places it at seventy. The two papers differ somewhat in designating the numerals of the British regiments. The Clinton paper is probably the most accurate.