Yesterday was the 242nd anniversary of the day the British and their Hessian mercenaries marched through Kennett Square, Pennsylvania on their way to meet General Washington's army ending up the next day on a farmer's field in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
Last night, September 10, residents of the area around Kennett Square (which was little more than a wide spot in the road in 1777 and home to the Unicorn Tavern, now the oldest building in town) donned British uniforms with Quaker ladies peacefully looking on.
They told stories of how the tavern was looted and the tavern keeper (far right in top photo) fretted the Philadelphia landlord would have his guts for garters for letting the looters in. General Knyphausen (dark blue uniform) proudly strutted around bragging about how his German soldiers would show the Continentals a thing or two the next day when they marched east for a confrontation.
I had a lengthy conversation with Scotsman Patrick Ferguson, who had commanded a rifle corps which used a weapon he had invented. He bragged that he would, the next day, have a chance to shoot General Washington, but since his back was turned and Ferguson was a gentleman, he held his fire. Later stories say it may have been another officer he saved but the story lives on. Actually it was Ferguson who ended up getting shot in the elbow the next day.
I also spoke to General Cornwallis, who would lead the main British column, accompanied by General Howe, and set out from Kennett Square at 5:00 a.m. the following morning. Local loyalist sources would provide Howe with knowledge of two unguarded fords above the forks of the Brandywine. The 17 mile flank march would take approximately 9 hours to complete.
One of the re-enactors, Randall Spackman, took quite a bit of time to tell me about his farm, which is actually the site of the battle which was to happen the next day. His uniform was of authentic British wool, accurate in detail down to the correct regimental buttons and totally hand stitched. He keeps busy portraying a British officer because most area re-enactors portray Continental soldiers. And it turned out that many years ago, I had known his late father, who was a Realtor ®! Many movies have been filmed at his Thornbury Farm, and they are still discovering artifacts in the ground which has not been plowed since 1777 as it is a horse pasture!