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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Thomas Burke, John Penn, and Cornelius Harnett to Richard Caswell
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783; Penn, John, 1740 or 1-1788; Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
September 17, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 625-626

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia, Sept. 17th, 1777.


On the 11th Instant there was a very severe engagement between the armies of Generals Washington & Howe's on the Brandywine twelve miles above Wilmington, the enemy made the attack at 8 o'clock, it lasted with little intermissions until dark. The officers say the fire from the Cannon and small arms was the hottest they ever heard of, they kept the ground, but paid dearly for it, having from the best accounts we have had, lost upwards of 2000 men, one General and several field officers killed and wounded, supposed to be their best men. Our loss is said to be 700 killed and wounded, tho' the greater part of the latter were brought off, only one field officer was killed a Major Bush. The enemy got several pieces of Cannon from us. General Washington retreated over the Schuylkill, but the next day marched towards the enemy, taking an upper road. He soon got near the place where the late action was, the enemy having been the whole time busily employed in burying their dead, and taking care of their wounded. The armies have been manœuvring for two days, we expect there will soon be another action, it is with pleasure we can inform you that our officers and soldiers are in good spirits anxious for an opportunity of obtaining revenge.

You will observe from General Washington's letter to Congress,

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that our losing the ground was owing to some mistake as to intel ligence relating to the movement of the Enemy. Our affairs to the Northward are in a promising situation, General Burgoine has met with such a check as will make him more attentive to effect a retreat to Ticonderoga, than any thing else, as Gen'l Gates has nearly the double of his force & a large body are getting into his rear.

General Howe is making his last effort, if he meets with a defeat, he is undone, as he is a considerable distance from his ships, his situation is truly critical, we hope soon to be able to give your Excellency the agreeable news of the success of the American Arms. The North Carolina Troops were not engaged in the late action. Enclosed are some papers for your amusement, and am with due respect,

Sir, your most obedt sert