Summary of the Battle of Brandywine
The Battle of Brandywine took place on September 11, 1777, outside of Philadephia, Pennsylvania, near Chadd’s Ford. It was part of the Philadelphia Campaign. British forces were led by General William Howe, whose goal was to capture Philadelphia. General George Washington led the American forces in the battle, which lasted for roughly 11 hours and ended in a British victory. Washington and the Continental Army were forced to retreat, which allowed them to capture Philadelphia and take control of the city on September 26. However, the Continental Army was able to escape thanks to forces under the command of Nathanael Greene, who held the British off while the main body of the army retreated to Chester.
This illustration by Frederick Coffay Yohn depicts American troops firing on the advancing British at the Battle of Brandywine. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.
- Also Known As: The Battle of Brandywine is also known as the Battle of Brandywine Creek.
- Date Started: The battle started early in the morning of September 11, 1777.
- Date Ended: The fighting ended early in the evening of September 11, 1777.
- Location: The battle took place near Chadd’s Ford, which is west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Who Won: The British won the Battle of Brandywine.
- The British forces were made of up British regulars and Hessian troops.
- The movements of the British forces were covered by a heavy fog.
- The Hessians attacked the center of the American lines while the British, led by Howe, marched around the right flank and attacked.
- Washington sent John Sullivan and William Alexander, Lord Stirling, to help defend the right flank, but they were overwhelmed.
- The Hessians attacked the Americans that were near the Quaker meeting house at Chadd’s Ford.
- The American lines fell apart and retreated.
- Washington ordered Nathanael Greene to cover the retreat.
- Greene and his men launched an attack on the British at Birmingham Hill and held them off.
- The main army retreated to Chester.
- The rest of the army made its way to Chester that night.
- On September 12, Washington marched the army to Germantown.
This illustration by Thomas Doughty depicts the area where the Battle of Brandywine took place. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.
Important Leaders and Casualties
Prominent American Military Leaders
- George Washington
- Marquis de Lafayette
- Nathanael Greene
- John Sullivan
- William Alexander, Lord Stirling
- Adam Stephen
- Anthony Wayne
- Casimir Pulaski
- Francis Nash
- Peter Muhlenberg
Prominent British Military Leaders
- William Howe
- Charles Cornwallis
- Wilhelm Knyphausen
- James Agnew
- William Medows
- The total estimated casualties were around 1,890 killed, wounded, or missing.
- The Americans suffered around 1,300 casualties.
- The British suffered around 590 casualties.
The Battle of Brandywine was important because it helped pave the way for the British to capture Philadelphia where the Continental Congress held its meetings. The members of Congress were forced to leave the city and relocate to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and then to York, Pennsylvania. After the French entered the war on the side of the Americans, the British decided to evacuate Philadelphia and return to New York. Benedict Arnold was put in command of American forces in Philadelphia, where he met and married Peggy Shippen. During the British occupation, she had become friends with British officers, including John André. Eventually, her influence may have led Arnold to commit his treason when he struck a deal with the British to turn West Point over to them.
Timeline of the Battle of Brandywine
This timeline shows how the Battle of Brandywine fits into the chronology of the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777–1778.
This painting by William B.T. Trego depicts Washington leading his men to Valley Forge. Image Source: Wikipedia.
- August 22, 1777 — Battle of Staten Island
- September 3, 1777 — Battle of Cooch’s Bridge (Iron Hill)
- September 11, 1777 — Battle of Brandywine (Brandywine Creek)
- September 16, 1777 — Battle of the Clouds
- September 20–21, 1777 — Paoli Massacre (Battle of Paoli Tavern)
- September 26, 1777 — British Occupy Philadelphia
- September 26, 1777 — Siege of Fort Mifflin Begins
- October 4, 1777 — Battle of Germantown
- October 22, 1777 — Battle of Fort Mercer (Red Bank)
- November 16, 1777 — Siege of Fort Mifflin Ends
- December 5–8, 1777 — Battle of White Marsh (Edge Hill)
- December 11, 1777 — Battle of Matson’s Ford
- December 19, 1777 — Winter at Valley Forge Begins
- March 18, 1778 — Battle of Quinton’s Bridge
- March 21, 1778 — Battle of Hancock’s Bridge
- May 1, 1778 — Battle of Crooked Billet
- May 20, 1778 — Battle of Barren Hill
- June 19, 1778 — Winter at Valley Forge Ends
- June 28, 1778 — Battle of Monmouth