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Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates present: "Destruction & Wanton Waste: The Impact of War in a Peaceful Valley"
After a month-long voyage from New York at the outset of the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777, Sir William Howe’s army found itself in desperate need of provisions for their large army. On September 11, 1777, several weeks after disembarking in Maryland, Howe’s army descended upon Chester County, Pennsylvania and engaged Washington at the Battle of Brandywine. Their battlefield, one of the richest agricultural and milling regions in the mid-Atlantic colonies, was dominated by a large and peaceful Quaker population. Of this dominant Quaker population, some chose sides, but the majority were neutral, trying to ignore the armed conflict raging around them. Following the defeat and retreat of Washington at Brandywine, the Crown Forces occupied the region for five days and launched a substantial “foraging” effort to replenish their depleted supplies and provisions. What resulted was what one inhabitant called “Destruction andWanton Waste.” Quakers who tried to remain neutral, suddenly chose sides and abandoned their Testimonies of Peace. One wealthy Quaker who had chosen a side before the battle, died poor and penniless decades later. Furthermore, one had such a traumatic experience that he sold the family farm and moved to Baltimore where he attempted to live the rest of his life in peace. Today, many are well versed in Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge following the fall Campaign, but in most cases, they are uninformed of the desperation and conflict endured by the population of Chester County those same months. Through a study of various primary source material including damage claims and personal accounts, these peaceful inhabitants and their struggles have been brought to the forefront of interpretive efforts surrounding the Battle of Brandywine. This new interpretive process fosters a new outlook and a better understanding of the social impact that the largest single-day land battle of the American Revolution had on the residents of Chester County.

Mar 11, 2021 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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