Historical Markers
Trimble's Ford Historical Marker
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Trimble's Ford

Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
SR 3023 (Camp Linden Road) .2 miles E of SR 3058, SE of Marshalltown

Dedication Date:
September 11, 1915

Behind the Marker

Battle of Brandywine Map
In a letter to markerGeneral John Sullivan dated October 24, 1777, more than a month after the markerBattle of Brandywine, Washington noted, “We were led to believe, by those whom we had reason to think well acquainted with the Country, that no ford above our picquets could be passed, without making a very circuitous march.” By the time Washington wrote these words, however, the British had occupied Philadelphia, thanks to the poor intelligence that Washington had received during the Battle of Brandywine.

 A key to the battle was the question of exactly where British forces would cross the Brandywine River. The day before the British attack, the American commanders believed that they had fortified all of the significant fords of the small river along the route to Philadelphia. They had concentrated their main defensive position around the best crossing place, a location known as markerChad's Ford and also defended six smaller fords along the Brandywine.  They were somehow unaware, however, of Trimble's Ford, a shallow crossing on the western branch of the creek only a few miles above Chad's Ford.
Image of Brandywine River near where the British crossed during the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777.
Trimble's Ford, Chester County, PA, 2011.

In September 1777, when Washington marched into Chester County, Pennsylvania, he entered an area where Quakers, also known as Friends, made up 40 percent of the population. Known for their strict pacifists’ beliefs, Friends had their religious beliefs tested when the war interrupted their lives. Throughout the war, the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania Quakers remained neutral, refusing to support either side because of their religious opposition to armed-conflict. Some Friends, however, put aside their pacifism to fight for American independence.  In a letter to his brother on September 4, General Nathaniel Greene, a Quaker from Rhode Island, wrote disapprovingly of these orthodox Pennsylvania Quakers. “The state of Pennsylvania is in great confusion. The Quakers are poisoning everybody; foolish people!” After the battle, when Greene and the Continental Army realized that the local population had failed to provide them crucial intelligence, he wrote to his wife Catherine, “The villainous Quakers are employd upon every quarter to serve the enemy. Some of them are confined and more deserve it.”
General Nathaniel Greene, from life, by Charles Willson Peale, 1783.

On September 10, the morning before the battle, the advancing British arrived in modern-day Kennett Square, a notorious loyalist village. On that day, too, General Howe learned about the two undefended fords and devised his strategy to split the British army markerBattle of Brandywine and outflank Washington.

During the morning of September 11, 1777, local farmers loyal to the Crown led British troops up the Great Valley (or North) Road to Trimble’s Ford. From there, the British Army marched the three miles to the eastern branch of the creek and crossed again at Jefferis's Ford. 

That afternoon, a local youth named Joseph Townsend witnessed the Redcoats emerging from "the fields belonging to Emmor Jefferis,” as he and some of his friends stood discussing rumors of the impending confrontation. "In a few minutes the fields were literally covered over with them," he later wrote, "and they were marker hastening towards us."

 After crossing Jefferis's Ford, the British Army reorganized near markerSconnelltown, then turned south towards markerBirmingham Friends Meetinghouse to face the American troops still expecting the main assault to come at the center of their lines near Chad’s Ford.
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