Historical Markers
Osborne's Hill Historical Marker
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Osborne's Hill

Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
SR 2001 (Birmingham Road) at driveway to Osborne Hill, S of West Chester

Dedication Date:
September 11, 1915

Behind the Marker

On the morning of September 11, 1777, the advance of British and German troops under Wilhelm von Knyphausen east towards markerChad’s Ford had misled General George Washington into believing that the entire British army was just west of the river. Just before noon, Washington fired off a message to Colonel Theodorick Bland. "I earnestly entreat a continuance of your vigilant attention to the movements of the enemy," he wrote, "and the earliest report not only of their movements, but of their numbers and the course they are pursuing." Washington noted that he had received other "certain" reports of enemy sightings about seven or eight miles above his position at Chad's Ford and ordered Bland to send "an intelligent, sensible officer… [to] find out the truth." "Be particular," Washington warned nervously.
A View of Birmingham Hill from Osborne Hill, Chester County, PA, 2015.

A detail from the map of the Battle of Brandywine showing the location of Osborne's Hill.
A detail from the map of the Battle of Brandywine showing the location of Osborne's...
At 1pm, Bland spotted a British patrol near Osborne Hill, and reported back to General Washington, “I have discovered the Enemy on the heights just on the Right of two Widow Davis’s who live close together on the Road calld [sic] the forks road, about half a mile to the Right of the Meeting House. marker There is a higher Hill on their front.” Panicked by Bland’s report, Washington quickly ordered Alexander Stirling and Adam Stephen to Birmingham Hill three miles north in order to defend the vulnerable Continental right flank.

At the same time, 8,000 British and German exhausted soldiers finally completed a forced march to Osborne Hill arriving round 3:30pm. There, they could see the Continental soldiers’ quickly assembled defensive positions on Birmingham Hill two miles to their south. Watching in amazement as the German Jaegers marched to the top of the hill, Joseph Townsend, a local Quaker youth, noted with curiosity that most of them marker “wore their beard on their upper lips.”

As the highest point in the area, Osborne Hill provided the British a critical advantage over the Continental Army.  Here, General William Howe held his command post for the rest of the day. There Joseph Townsend observed the British commander "mounted on a large English horse” like many of the British horses, “much reduced in flesh," after its long voyage from New York and the long march from Maryland.   

At about 4pm, the German Jaegers descended down Osborne Hill, then swung to left into a wooded area along Cornwallis’s left flank. Behind them, The Queen’s Guard marched to the right to attack markerSullivan's division, and 1,400 British Grenadiers marched down the hill to man the center of the British line, as their drum and fife corps played “The British Grenadiers.”
Battle of Bunker Hill, by Percy Moran, circa 1915.

“Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules,
Of Conon, and Lysander, and some Miltiades;
But of all the world’s brave heroes,
there’s none that can compare,
With a tow, row, row, to the British Grenadiers.”
“Nothing could be more dreadfully pleasing than the line moving on to the attack,” a British Grenadier remembered, “the Grenadiers put on their Caps and struck up their march, believe me I would not exchange those three minutes of rapture to avoid ten thousand times the danger.”
Under the command of General Charles Cornwallis, some 8,000 British and German soldiers launched the major attack of the markerBattle of Brandywine into the right flank of the Continental lines. From the top of Osborne Hill, Howe watched as the battle unfolded before him.
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