Dear Friend and Fellow Battlefield Preservationist,
Even though the end of the year is upon us, I could not wait another moment to tell you about an exciting and historic opportunity to save crucial land at one of the most important American Revolutionary War battlefields in the country!
After months of work and negotiations, Campaign 1776 has the opportunity to help fund a conservation easement on 88 acres of battlefield land at the Brandywine Battlefield just outside Philadelphia . . .
. . . one of the largest and most significant tracts of open land remaining on that battlefield, and one of the most important battles for General George Washington and his army!
In an area of intense and very expensive residential development, Campaign 1776 is wading into the fight to save this historic land on the Brandywine Battlefield.
Brandywine is the major engagement of the 1777 campaign by the British to take Philadelphia, which they eventually did.
Let me quickly give you the specifics of this amazing opportunity.
First, the total cost for this easement is $1,886,238 which, while still very high, is actually reasonable for that part of the country. (Unfortunately, the land is so expensive because the Chadds Ford region is now a suburb of Philadelphia. Both historians and local real estate professionals confirm that this battlefield “is under constant threat from development.”)
However, the good news is that the land is currently very open ground, maintaining its wartime appearance.
If we had to pay the full price to protect this land, well, unfortunately, I would have to tell you that we just couldn’t do it, even as important as it is.
But as we nearly always do, Campaign 1776 will utilize grant funding from the American Battlefield Protection Program, along with a local government grant from Chester County, a grant from the Mt. Cuba Foundation, and a landowner donation, for a total of $1,790,238! That means we already have about 94.9 percent of the nearly $1.9 million total needed – when we raise the final $96,000, this land will be saved!
That works out to an $19.65-to-$1 multiplier of your donation dollar today! That’s some serious leverage, in my book.
As important as it is that we raise this money as soon as possible, to me it is just as important to remember what you and I are accomplishing, as we save threatened battlefield land from America’s founding first century
You and I are saving the crucial story of America’s founding era, one of the greatest stories ever told.
And the story of the Battle of Brandywine is one of the most important stories of the American War for Independence.
This battle, fought on September 11, 1777, saw several of the Revolution’s key participants on the field. On the British side, Major General Sir William Howe and his subordinate Lieutenant General Charles Lord Cornwallis squared off against General George Washington, Major General Nathanael Greene, and the marquis de Lafayette on the American side.
As historian Michael Harris says in his excellent battle study Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, “more troops fought along the Brandywine (nearly 30,000) than during any other battle of the entire American Revolution, its 11 hours of fighting make it the longest single-day battle of the war, and it covered more square miles (10) than any other engagement.”
At every point on the battlefield during that hot, late-summer day, the Americans were outnumbered nearly two to one. The battle featured a British flanking movement that caught Washington by surprise. The British advance was launched from Osborne Hill, the very land we are protecting today. Historians tell us that it is likely that Lord Cornwallis observed the battle from this spot.
The battle was a near-constant melee of bayonet charges, artillery duels and patriot countercharges. But eventually, the force of numbers was too much for Washington’s army to bear, and he had to retire from the field.
So yes, today I am asking you to help me save 88 acres of a battlefield that was an American tactical defeat. But Brandywine is significant more for what it wasn’t rather than for what it was.
It wasn’t a panic-stricken rout . . . it wasn’t a demoralizing loss for the Continentals . . . it wasn’t the end of Washington’s army or the end of the war. In fact, it was just the opposite.
Over the years, many historians have written about the tremendous significance of the Battle of Brandywine. Christopher Ward writes, “Though they had been as badly beaten as any army could be without being entirely destroyed, there had been no panic; there was no suggestion of despair.” Historian John Reed wrote that “Though Brandywine was militarily an American defeat, it had stunned Howe by its fierceness and gave the Americans spirit . . . American troops had proved that they could stand against British regulars in open fight.”
And yet another historian, Bruce Mowday, said “The most important reason the Battle of Brandywine was crucial to the American cause for freedom was the confidence the American army received from standing up to the British army, one of the most professional in the world.”
In September 1777, Howe and Cornwallis managed to defeat Washington and Lafayette at Brandywine, and soon occupied Philadelphia. (Then, as Howe dithered there, Benjamin Franklin wryly noted, “Instead of Howe taking Philadelphia, Philadelphia has taken Howe!”)
But as we all know, four years later, in October 1781, Washington and Lafayette would face Cornwallis on another battlefield at Yorktown, and the outcome of that battle would determine the outcome of the war.
For those of us who care deeply about this country and its exceptional, remarkable history, preserving land like these 88 acres at Brandywine is some of the most important work we will ever do in our lives. I truly believe that.
I’m sure you will agree that the memory of the American Revolution – indeed, all American history – has been fading for decades. The time devoted to teaching history is dwindling. The Revolution is often overlooked or dismissed as irrelevant
By supporting Campaign 1776 today, you are helping to reverse that terrible trend. By saving the actual ground where those conflicts were fought, you and I are preserving the outdoor classrooms that will be accessible to all future generations.
We are saving the stories not only of great leaders like George Washington . . .
. . . but we are also preserving the stories of the American citizen solider. They answered their country’s call, picked up their muskets, fought and won our freedom, then peacefully went back to their farms, their shops and their fields. They created the first government in the history of the world dedicated to the rights and freedom of ordinary people.
The Battle of Brandywine represents a key moment, then, not only of the history of our nation, but also in the history of the world.
Shouldn’t we preserve these 88 acres in memory of those ordinary men who went into that battle with little more than a handful of bullets, and who ultimately defeated the greatest military power of their age to win their liberty?
Isn’t it the highest and best use of these irreplaceable acres to preserve them so that future generations can learn of the momentous events that happened there, rather than to destroy forever the land’s ability to impart its heroic and inspirational stories?
The issue at stake is far larger than the construction of more houses on a battlefield. The issue is this: Are you and I to allow an irreplaceable part of our nation’s magnificent history to bedestroyed for all time to satisfy a short-term interest, merely out of convenience?
I have asked much of you lately; I know that. Your dedication is awe-inspiring, and even though I am asking you for your help and support once more, I hope you will help end 2017 with a boom by standing with me to preserve a true national treasure. Those hungry, rag-wrapped citizen soldiers who sacrificed all to give us the nation we have today deserve no less.
This book has been hailed as the definitive account of the Battle of Brandywine for this generation. And if you are anything like me, you appreciate great books like this to help you understand this crucial period of our history even better.
This is a great way to help save a crucial piece of the Brandywine battlefield while learning about this crucial turning point of the American Revolution. Of course, if you can possibly give more than $96, it will help us reach our goal of $96,000 even quicker, and save this land!
In closing, let me leave you with the inspiring words from a publication of one of our partner groups, the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati, the fraternal organization created by the officers in Washington’s army:
“We must never lose sight of the fact that our revolution was won by brave men on fields of battle – men who risked and in some cases lost their lives to secure the freedom we enjoy. Those battlefields are sacred places where the drama of our War for Independence can still be imagined and remembered. Population growth and the economic success of our country – success that is a consequence of the very free institutions established by the heroes of our revolution – put continuously mounting development pressure on these great historic places. We can save them, but we have to do it now.”
P.S. Please visit our website at Battlefields.org/learn/revolutionary-war/battles/brandywine for even more information about the battle and this effort to preserve 88 acres there. Thank you for helping to save even more of our nation’s history and heritage for future generations. That makes you a hero, as far as I am concerned.