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Chester County Press

Occupation Day commemorates the Battle of the Brandywine

09/17/2020 01:16PM ● By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

Reenactors 'take over' Kennett Square

For a few hours last Thursday afternoon and evening, the normally calm and serene Borough of Kennett Square was temporarily under the occupation Gen. Sir William Howe and several members of his army.

The British came. They marched. They posed for photographs. They had a few beers with the townspeople.

The Kennett Heritage Center, in partnership with the Chadds Ford Historical Society, commemorated the 243rd anniversary of The Battle of Brandywine, which was fought between the American Continental Army of General George Washington and the British Army on Sept. 11, 1777.

The battle, which occupied what are now 15 townships in southeastern Pennsylvania, became the largest single-day engagement of the American Revolution, where nearly 30,000 soldiers squared off on a ten-square-mile area of 35,000 acres. Considered the biggest defeat of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, the British forces routed Gen. Washington’s troops as part of Gen. Howe’s advance to occupy the City of Philadelphia.

For more than two hours, historical reenactors dressed in British Army regalia, led by a fife and drum team, marched through the borough, posing for photographs with curious onlookers and pledging their loyalty to King George.

Later, a liaison of Howe delivered a message to the citizens of Kennett Square, forewarning local townspeople that they were now the King’s Loyal Subjects and that a large battle was to take place the next day.

The commemoration was topped off at Apple Alley, where Howe and his troops used the nearby Kennett Brewing Company as the headquarters to plan the next day’s battle. Replenished by the brewery’s Old Speckled George beer (made from George Washington’s own recipe), the regiment joined the local citizenry at the brewery.

Currently under construction, the Kennett Heritage Center on North Union Street was once the home of Dr. Isaac D. Johnson, an inventor, author, doctor and local abolitionist who provided medical care to slaves who were going through Kennett Square as part of the Underground Railroad movement. 

Once opened, the mission of the center will be to serve as a central hub for the research, documentation and celebration of Kennett Square’s unique history, and to become the home of the Kennett Underground RailroadResearch & Education Center. In addition, it will also feature lectures and presentations, provide bus tours to individuals, communities and schools, and arrange pop-up museum exhibits at events throughout Chester County.

The Kennett Heritage Center is located at 120 N. Union Street in Kennett Square. To learn more, visit “Kennett Heritage Center” on Facebook, www.facebook/KennettHeritage, or email [email protected].

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].