We need your help to preserve 95 acres at two Revolutionary War battlefields. Bennington in upstate New York, and Brandywine, outside of Philadelphia, were fought within just a few weeks of each other in the late summer of 1777. Now, 243 years after the fighting took place, we need your support to ensure that the heroic and inspirational stories live on in our nation’s memory.
Thankfully, it is not up to us alone to save this hallowed ground. We are working alongside local partners and significant matching grants are available from the American Battlefield Protection Program, state and local government sources, and private foundations.
The purchase price and related costs of these tracts combined is a shocking $3,877,085 – mostly due to the fact that the Brandywine battlefield is now a high-priced suburb of Philadelphia under constant threat from development, which also underscores why we need to save it before it’s too late. Luckily, with these matching funds, 98.7% of the total needed to purchase these crucial properties has been identified – we just need to raise the final $50,000. That works out to a $77-to-$1 multiplier of your donation dollar today.
In the early summer of 1777, British General John Burgoyne’s army was suffering from a shortage of crucial supplies. British raiding parties swept through the American countryside.
A large raiding party of 800 Hessians, British infantry, Native Americans, Tories, and Canadians was created under the command of German-speaking Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum, who could not converse with the local groups. On August 9, his forces swept through several communities, killing some civilians and confiscating anything the army required. Baum soon learned that what he believed to be 400 patriot militiamen were encamped at Bennington under the command of General John Stark, a hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill and a veteran of the Battle of Trenton. Baum decided to move against them.
After a brief skirmish, heavy rain delayed any additional fighting and the two forces kept a watchful eye on each other. But General Stark was the more active of the two leaders, and he divided his closer-to-1,400 troops into three units to strike the British position.
Baum saw the Americans leaving their camps, but believed they were retreating. When he saw them again in his rear, he believed they were Tory reinforcements. After they fell upon his forces, he realized that Stark’s nearly impossible plan had been achieved perfectly. The Hessians put up a fight but were cut down in droves, and the Native Americans, Tories, and Canadians fled after a few shots. Once Baum fell mortally wounded from a bullet to the stomach, about 700 survivors – now penned against the very river they believed would protect them – surrendered.
After the smoke had cleared, Burgoyne’s Native American allies (his best scouting forces) lost confidence in him and his mission, and left his army to fend for itself in the New York wilderness. The Battle of Bennington was the precursor to the defeat of Burgoyne’s army two months later at Saratoga, which turned the tide of war in New England, in favor of the Americans.
But even before Saratoga, there was another battle that, while an American defeat, was significant for the Patriot cause.
The Battle of Brandywine, fought on September 11, 1777, saw several of the Revolution’s key participants on the field. On the British side, Commander-in-Chief of British land forces General Sir William Howe and his subordinate Lord Charles Cornwallis squared off against General George Washington, Major General Nathanael Greene, and the Marquis de Lafayette on the American side.
This 11-hour slugfest — the longest single-day battle of the Revolutionary War — was fought over 10 square miles. At every point on the battlefield during that hot, late-summer day, the Americans were outnumbered nearly two to one. The battle also featured a flanking movement, led by Cornwallis that caught Washington by surprise, followed by bayonet charges, artillery duels and American countercharges. Eventually, the force of numbers was too much for Washington’s army to bear, and he and a wounded Lafayette had to retire from the field.
At the end of the day, Americans had been beaten, but it wasn’t a panic-stricken rout or a demoralizing loss for the Continentals. Ultimately, Washington’s army had shown they had the resolve to meet the British in the field, no matter the odds. And a few months later, Washington’s army established an encampment near Philadelphia, at now-iconic Valley Forge.
This land not only holds stories of great leaders like George Washington, but also heroic tales of the average American soldier. These ordinary citizens went into that battle with a handful of bullets, and who ultimately defeated the greatest military power of their age to win their liberty… and our freedom. Will you help ensure that these heroic and inspirational stories live on in our nation’s memory?
When you make a gift of $77 or more, we will send you a copy of Craig Symonds’ A Battlefield Atlas of the American Revolution. This compact, yet comprehensive work will add your knowledge of any Revolutionary War battle. But it is important to act quickly, as we only have 1,777 special edition copies available.
Please consider making your most generous gift now to help raise the $50,000 we need to save these 95 acres at these two Revolutionary War battlefields.