Historical Markers
Dilworthtown Historical Marker
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Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
SR 2001 (Birmingham Rd.) and Old Wilmington Pike, Dilworthtown

Dedication Date:
September 11, 1915

Behind the Marker

General Nathaniel Greene, from life, by Charles Willson Peale, 1783.
By 5pm on September 11, 1777, General Washington had received reports that his right flank, under generals Sullivan, Stirling, and Stephens were buckling under British and German troops fierce assaults on Birmingham Hill during markerBattle of Brandywine. In response, Washington ordered his most trusted general, Nathaniel Greene, north to reinforce the three generals. Following Washington’s orders, Greene left General Anthony Wayne at markerChad’s Ford just moments before General markerKnyphausen launched his successful attack across the Brandywine River. Greene forced marched his 2,500 men two miles northeast near the small village of Dilworth.
“When I came upon the ground I found the whole of the troops routed and retreating precipitately, and in the most broken and confused manner,” Greene recalled. “I was ordered to cover the retreat, which I effected in such a manner as to save hundred[s] of our people from falling into the hands of the enemy."
At 6pm, as Greene positioned his men to stop the British advance, Washington granted Polish cavalry officer markerCasimir Pulaski a body of about thirty horsemen to lead a cavalry charge. “My blood rushes now, like a flash of fire through my forehead, when I recall the devastation that we then made” one participant wrote, “almost to the very heart of the enemy’s column.”
Pulaski’s charge provided Greene the time he needed to assemble a quick defensive. He positioned his men in a curved tree line near the Wilmington Road-Harvey Road intersection facing northwest, Greene correctly anticipated the advancing British and German troops would march directly in their direction. As fleeing men from Sullivan, Stirling, and Stephen’s divisions retreated past the tree line, some joined Greene for a final stand.
Dilworth Fields of Fire
As the sun set and darkness covered the battlefield, the tree line made Greene’s men almost invisible. The British and German troops continued to push south after the retreating Americans when they got hit with sudden grapeshot cannon fire. They stopped momentarily and waited until their cannons responded with return fire. Not realizing what awaited them, they entered the curved tree line and were suddenly surrounded by determined Americans. Once the enemy reached an effective range, Greene’s men unleashed a ferocious fire. “At this point there was a terrible firing,” German Captain Johann Ewald remembered, “half of the Englishmen and nearly all the officers of these two regiments [46th and 64th] were slain.”
By 7pm, the British and Germans realized the strong defensive position the Americans held. After more than fourteen hours of marching and fighting, they had had enough. All exhausted, and some wounded, they stopped the attack and General Howe reluctantly ended the markerBattle of Brandywine . If Howe had not lost so many horses on his month-long voyage from northern New Jersey to the Chesapeake Bay, perhaps he could have continued the attack, but his men were too exhausted to march another foot.
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