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September 11th
“I shall begin by telling you that I am well, because I must end by telling you that we fought in earnest yesterday, and we were not the victors,” the Marquis de ...

September 11th

“I shall begin by telling you that I am well, because I must end by telling you that we fought in earnest yesterday, and we were not the victors,” the Marquis de Lafayette wrote to his wife from a makeshift infirmary on September 12, 1777.

When Washington learned that General Howe had landed his army in Maryland and was marching to Philadelphia, he moved his army south. Because the main road from Maryland crossed the Brandywine River at Chad’s Ford, the site was an ideal location for stopping the British.

On the morning of September 11th, the British began firing cannons from the river, leading Washington to move the bulk of his forces on the left toward the river.

The British river maneuvers, however, proved to be nothing more than a hunter’s ruse. By 2 p.m., it was clear Howe had divided his army. The smoke coming from the river was a decoy from his first division. A second larger division had marched seventeen miles up the river, where they crossed it, came back down, and attacked the Americans from the right. The British huntsmen had trapped their ducks.

The deception left the Americans scrambling across the hills faster than frantic fowl. Although forced to adjust their lines, they did not give up without a fight. The right wing fought the attacking British and Hessians for more than an hour, which gave the rest of the army time to regroup behind the Birmingham Meeting House.

The dismal situation stirred Lafayette’s patriotic soul. Then this honorary general who longed for a command asked Washington if he could join the ranks and fight. Washington agreed. Lafayette rode over to a hill behind the meetinghouse and found a group of men who were struggling to get into formation. Lafayette dismounted, helped them to adjust their lines, and fought alongside them as if he had always been part of their flock. The flurry came to a swift end when a huntsman struck this most exotic French bird.

“The English honored me with a musket shot, which wounded me slightly in the leg,” Lafayette told his wife. He didn’t notice his injury until blood began oozing from his boot. “But the wound is nothing, dear heart; the ball hit neither bone nor nerve, and all I have to do for it to heal is to lie on my back for a while which puts me in very bad humor,” Lafayette wrote from his sickbed.

“This battle will, I fear have unpleasant consequences for America; we must try to repair the damage, if we can,” he concluded.

As he contemplated the future of the war, this French star, the Marquis de Lafayette, had fired a flare of friendship at Brandywine that would not go unnoticed.


Thank you for the gift of friendship. Show me how to be a better friend, one who shows love with sacrifice.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”

(John 15:13).

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