Brandywine | Sep 11, 1777
On September 11, 1777, General Sir William Howe's 15,500 man British and Hessian army clashed with General George Washington’s force of 14,600 along the banks of Brandywine Creek. Going on the offensive, Howe launched a flank attack. The British commander directed Hessian Gen. Wilhelm von Knyphausen to demonstrate with his division against the American center. While British General Lord Charles Cornwallis marched around Washington's right.
Cornwallis's movement got underway early in the morning and lasted into the afternoon hours. Plagued by conflicting intelligence reports and harried by Knyphausen, Washington was slow to react to the threat.
Shortly before 4 p.m., three Continental divisions engaged Cornwallis near the Birmingham Meeting House. The Americans met some of the finest troops in the British army. Outnumbered, the American line broke beneath the weight of Cornwallis's onslaught. As the battle raged for Washington's right flank, von Knyphausen attacked at Chadd's Ford. The Americans gave way, but a stubborn rear guard action kept the Hessians at bay. General Nathanael Greene made a stand south of Dilworth which helped secure Washington's line of retreat.
Darkness brought an end to the fighting with Howe's army in command of the field. Despite the defeat, Washington was able to keep his army intact. Fifteen days later Philadelphia fell to the British. Although disaster once again befell Washington’s Army, the tide of war was changing in the north.