Knyphausen's Column


Knyphausen's Column

     Before the Howe/Cornwallis column came into contact, Knyphausen's diversionary column had advanced against American skirmishers to the heights overlooking the Brandywine Valley.  There, they prominently deployed and remained inactive except for a bombardment, giving a valuable clue as to their diversionary intent.  Washington planned to send his army across the creek to overwhelm Knyphausen, but the danger of the Howe/Cornwallis column was realized just in time. 

     As the day wore on, Knyphausen drew his troops back and formed them into a column.  As he heard the battle to the northeast, he sent the column forward, presumably through this hollow, to Chadds Ford, just downstream from Chadds Ferry.

Chadd's Ford

     To the left of the picture, and downstream from a modern-day art gallery which sadly draws more attention than the battlefield, Knyphausen's column crossed under enemy small arms and artillery fire, driving the American defenders back.  Just off the picture to the right is the site of Chadds Ferry, an obstructed and better defended crossing point, and current crossing point of the busy four laned US-1.

From Below Chadd House

     Knyphausen's column continued into the flat floodplain on the east side of the creek, spreading out and attacking the American defenders on the high ground.

     British artillery placed on the ridge on the far left of the picture, on the west side of the creek, had bombarded American gun emplacements along the hills in the center and right of the picture.  Proctor's Pennsylvania battery was positioned on a small hill near the Chadd House obscured behind the stone historical society building on the right of the picture.  The British column split into two with one portion advancing against the battery.

From Chadd House

     This is the view from the Chadd House, near Proctor's battery.  The hills on the center and right are across the creek where Knyphausen's men originally took up position.  After crossing in the distance on the left of the picture, they split up, with some advancing against Anthony Wayne's Pennsylvania division on the ridge on the left, with others advancing on Proctor's battery near here.  The column advancing against Proctor's guns split once again and moved around both the battery's flanks.  Fearing that they would be surrounded, Proctor ordered his men to abandon the guns.  Meanwhile, Wayne's division had been forced back and was threatened by the British Guards, the unit which was lost in Wistar's Woods.  Wayne withdrew along with the whole army to Chester, then Philadephia.

Important Note:  Ed Wimble, designer of  1777: The Year of the Hangman a wargame from Clash of Arms, e-mailed me the following interesting info on 6/16/04.

Regarding the location of Procter's battery - if you stand at the Post Office in Chadd's Ford and look across the street, behind the Chadds Ford Inn you'll see an old windmill marking a buried water tank.  I believe that is the hillock Procter was located on.  It is still roughly behind the John Chadd house but more to the left (south) of the house in your picture taken adjacent to it.  In other words, behind the Sanderson Museum.  I've paced this out and it is roughly 600 yards from the old ford.  This is important considering the range of the cannon in those days, especially considering the second hand guns Procter had.  I believe the old works were destroyed or permanently obscured when that water tank was buried. 

     As with most battles of the Revolution, exact casualty figures are unknown, but American losses are thought to have been around 1,200.  The British claimed they lost 543 men, but some historians estimate losses as high as 2,000.  In the days that followed, Howe outmaneuvered Washington and captured Philadelphia.  When Howe split his forces to open up a Delaware River supply route, Washington nearly crushed him at Germantown.  As Washington settled into winter quarters at Valley Forge, it was clear that the army was improving.  And with greatly improved training by Baron von Steuben and with the French intervention inspired both by Saratoga and the decent showing by Washington's army, victory looked a lot more likely than it did a year and a half before.

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