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John Chad's House - PLAQUE Historical Marker
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Name:
John Chad's House - PLAQUE

County:
Delaware

Marker Location:
Lawn of Chadd homestead on Creek Rd. just N of US 1, Chadds Ford

Dedication Date:
September 1915

Behind the Marker

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John Chad House, Chadds Ford, Pa, 2015.
September 9, 1777. As Washington's men destroyed her fences for firewood, old “Aunt Betty Chad” refused to evacuate her home. She had lived there alone since the death of her husband, John Chad in 1760, and since then had run their 500-acre property and the ferry that carried travelers across the Brandywine River. Elizabeth Chad was unwilling to leave her deceased husband’s home undefended. Two days later, Chad’s Ford became the focal point of the markerBattle of Brandywine where 12,000 Continental soldiers gathered to protect Philadelphia from the approaching British and German troops.
 
Believing that markerGeneral Howe would use Chad’s Ford to cross the Brandywine on his march into Philadelphia, Washington had ordered Henry Knox, commander of the Continental Army’s artillery, to place Thomas Proctor's artillery on high ground to the east of the river just behind the Chad House and overlooking the ford. There, Proctor’s 250 men dug redoubts to hold in place their four guns: two long range French 4-pounders, a Hessian 6-pounder captured from Trenton, and an 8-inch howitzer. “The army encamped on the Brandewine on the right of Shads ford on the high ground,” wrote sixteen-year-old-artilleryman Jacob Nagle. “Our artillery was ranged in front of an orchard. The night before the British arrived the infantry hove up a breast work, so that the muzels of the guns would run over it.”
 
Chad’s Ford, in fact, consisted of two crossings. One, about 650 yards southwest of the Chad House, could be crossed by foot, and the second, a couple hundred yards further south, had a ferryman and flatboat. Here, passengers paid a toll to load their cargo on the flatboat, that the ferryman used a rope stretched between the banks to pull across the river.
A black and white etching of Chadds Ford, a crossing point of the Brandywine Creek.
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A black and white etching of Chadds Ford, a crossing point of the Brandywine...

 
Thomas Proctor’s artillery had a clear shot of the northern ford and protected markerGeneral Anthony Wayne’s right flank. A few hundred yards to the south General Nathaniel Greene’s division defended the ferry crossing. In reserve, Washington positioned Alexander Stirling and Adam Stephens’ divisions.
 
At about 10am on the morning of September 11, British and Hessian troops under the command of General Wilhelm Knyphausen advanced from the west along the Nottingham Road towards the ford. As they attacked, Proctor’s artillery fired their guns on the advancing troops. As the earth trembled, “The valley was filled with smoke,” wrote Joseph Clark of Adam Stephen’s Division, “[T]here was nothing for the men on either side to do but to find as much cover as possible until the heavy cannonade ceased.” Pushing closer to the river, Knyphausen positioned his artillery on the high ground across the river from Proctor’s position (near present-day Chadds Ford Elementary School). Not ordered to cross the river, Knyphausen halted his advance by 11am, waiting for the main British attack to the northeast to break the American defenses.
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Wilhelm von Knyphausen

 
Sometime after high noon, in response to conflicting reports about a possible flanking maneuver by Howe, Washington ordered generals Stirling, Stephens, and Sullivan to move their troops from the river to defend his right flank near the markerBirmingham Friends Meeting House. This left only Greene’s and Wayne’s divisions thinly stretched in the vicinity of Chad’s Ford. Soon after 4pm, Elizabeth Chad watched from her attic window as Knyphausen’s men crossed the river and drove back the Americans.
 
At 5pm, as the fighting intensified around Birmingham Hill, Washington ordered Greene to reinforce Stirling, Stephens, and Sullivan. This left Proctor’s artillery still behind the Chad House unsupported. Unable to quiet Proctor's guns with his own artillery, Knyphausen ordered an infantry attack on the hill. “Come on my Brittons, the day is our own!” yelled a British soldier as he charged the American battery. “[O]ur artillery made a lane through them as they mounted the works,” Jacob Nagle later wrote, “but they filled up the ranks again.” Unable stop the advancing enemy, Proctor ordered his men to retreat. Leaving behind their four guns, they rallied a mile to the east, near the Benjamin Ring House, then serving as Washington’s Headquarters.
 
One act of valor occurred when a Black artilleryman markerEdward “Ned” Hector calmly gathered weapons and ammunition from his fleeing comrades as the British approached. Like the entire Continental Army, Proctor and his men remained in high spirits after the battle. They believed that they performed exceptionally well, and eagerly prepared for their next encounter with the British.
 
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