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Commemorating our 250th anniversary with inclusive programs that inspire Americans to renew and strengthen our daring experiment in democracy.

The Philadelphia Campaign

The Philadelphia Campaign

Countdown to July 4 2026

Chester County is the site of one of the most important military episodes of the Revolutionary War: the complex Philadelphia Campaign led by General Sir William Howe that defeated George Washington’s colonial army and led to the British capture of the capital city of Philadelphia. 

Occurring in the early years of the war in the heart of the colonies, this key but often overlooked campaign stood out in terms of numbers of combatants involved, battles fought, and casualties sustained. For the first time, British and colonial armies engaged out in the open on relatively equal terms. Although the British won all the major battles, they were unable to crush the rebellion. This demonstrated the fortitude of the colonial army in our fight for freedom, and illuminated weaknesses that caused us to strengthen our military training and tactics, as well as reach out to establish alliances. These are extremely important lessons in the ongoing fight for freedoms.

From the landing of Howe's army at the head of the Elk River in Maryland in August 1777, the Philadelphia Campaign included a series of noteworthy battles: the September 11, 1777 engagement at Brandywine, the inconclusive battle of the Clouds, the controversial Paoli Massacre (“Remember Paoli” became the first battle cry of the Revolution and our Country), the missed opportunity at Germantown, and the maturing of the colonial army at Valley Forge during the winter and spring of 1778, which turned the tide of the war. These Revolutionary beginnings set the stage for the creation of our nation, our Constitution, and our continuing reevaluation of our founding principles. 

Theme Topics/Storylines
 Why Here? Strategy, Context, Circumstance       Battle of Brandywine
 The Colonial Landscape & Its People  Battle of the Clouds
 The Civilian Experience-soldiers forging through our countryside  Withdraw to Iron Country
 The Route to Philadelphia  Battle of Paoli
 Washington’s Defense  Capture of Philadelphia
   Valley Forge Encampment

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