Brandywine Dairy of Joseph Clark
Diary of Joseph Clark.
Sept. 11', . The cannonading began in the morning. At the upper ford the enemy sent a great part of their force about noon. Three divisions of our army were sent immediately to oppose them, viz: Sterling's, Sullivan's and Stephens'; but as there were no heights at this ford, on our side, to prevent their landing by cannon from batteries, we were obliged to oppose them after they had crossed; but as their number was larger than was expected, they stretched their line beyond ours and flanked our right wing shortly after the action began. ~
This occasioned the line to break, to prevent being surrounded, though the firing, while the action lasted, was the warmest, I believe, that has been in America since the war began; and, as our men on the left of the line were
pretty well stationed, they swept off great numbers of the enemy before they I retreated, and from the best accounts I could collect from the officers in the action, the enemy must have suffered very much from our people before they broke, though, indeed, our people suffered much in this action, and would have suffered more if Gen'l Green had not been detached to their assistance, by whose timely aid they made a safe retreat of the men, though we lost some pieces of artillery; he, however, got up too late to form in a proper line and give our party that was broken time to recover. Notwithstanding this repulse, which was the most severe upon the 3d Virginia Regiment, who, through mistake, was fired upon by our own men, our whole body got off with but an inconsiderable loss in men, though something considerable in artillery.
When the action began at the upper ford, the batteries at the middle ford opened upon each other with such fury as if the elements had been in convulsions; the valley was filled with smoke, and now I grew seriously anxious for the event. For an hour and a half this horrid sport continued, and about sunset I saw a column of the enemy advance to one of our batteries and take it. Under cover of their cannon they had crossed at the ford, and were advancing in a large body. What we lost at our batteries I have not yet heard. As all our militia were at the lower ford, where was no action, and Gentl Green sent to reinforce at the upper ford, we had not a very large party to oppose the enemy at the middle ford. The body stationed across the valley drew off to the right, and formed farther back on an eminence, when an engagement began with musketry, and the enemy gave way; but, as night was spreading its dusky shade through the gloomy valley, and our army was something broke, it was necessary to leave the field of action and take care of the troops.
Accordingly, after sunset, the party at the middle ford drew off and marched down to Chester, where the whole army, by appointment, met. The sun was set when I left the hill from whence I saw the fate of the day. His Excellency I saw within 200 yards of the enemy, with but a small party about him, and they drawing off from their station, our army broke at the right, and night coming on, adding a gloom to our misfortunes, amidst the noise of cannon, the hurry of people, and wagons driving in confusion from the field, I came off with a heart full of distress. In painful anxiety I took with hasty step the gloomy path from the field, and travelled 15 miles to Chester, where I slept two hours upon a couple of chairs....