In the lead-up to the Battle of Brandywine, a relatively small action took place in Delaware at Cooch’s Bridge. So far as I know, it was the only battle to ever take place in Delaware. So when I had to run some errands in nearby Elkton, MD a few years ago, I felt like this site was worth a stop. It’s certainly easy enough as the field is not far from the first exit in Delaware along Interstate 95.
There is a small park here on the American side, with lots of reallygreat wayside markers describing historical topics beyond just the battle that happened here. Recently, the State of Delaware purchased the Cooch family home, with an intent to make a historical park out of it. I’m excited to see what happens there. You can also find some roadsidemarkers in the area that describe the various phases and positions of the battle. For a small field, it is very well-marked!
There is a large stone monument to the battle located along Old Baltimore Pike, but there is nowhere to safely park to examine it closely. Sadly, I could get close enough to notice that the base of the monument is surrounded by 4 Civil War-era Naval Parrott Rifles, so that is a bit of a head-scratcher.
All-in-all, it’s a very nice, well-monumented field given it’s small size and relative obscurity. I heartily recommend a visit if you’re ever in northern Delaware.
I had heard about a special program for kids happening at Brandywine Battlefield Park, the site of the largest battle of the American Revolution, so I decided to take the boys up for the afternoon. It was a really great hands-on experience. My dad tagged along, too, since he had never visited the site.
We took a tour of both historic houses there, and the boys were engaged enough to ask questions and participate. After the tours, we formed up with some other kids in the field outside the visitors center to learn how new recruits during the American Revolution were trained. One of the museum guides in period dress taught the kids how to line up, and then walked them through the procedure for loading a mock wooden musket, and finally led them in an attack that ended with a charge! The boys had a great time getting to connect with the history in a very tangible way.
The British didn’t know what they were in for that day.
One of my favorite things to do is have adventures with my boys. A few summers ago, we took a day trip to Valley Forge National Historical Park so that the boys could see some Revolutionary history (they both seem to have some interest there) and to give them a chance to complete yet another Junior Ranger program.
At the time we visited back in June of 2019, the Visitors Center was closed for renovations, and a series of temporary trailers were in place to allow folks to pick up maps, watch a short introductory movie, and purchase souvenirs. We especially enjoyed getting to pretend that we were General George Washington for a brief moment.
Once we’d oriented ourselves and got our Junior Ranger activity books, we set out on the standard auto tour route of the park. While not actually a battlefield, the encampment at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778 was a turning point for the Continental Army. Baron von Steuben developed a training program that brought the Colonials much closer to being a professional fighting force. And I really think there is something to the idea that the shared hardships forged bonds among the men that would carry them through the rest of the struggle.
Both boys were interested in exploring the reproduction huts along Muhlenberg’s brigade line. These show something of what the living quarters were like for the men that wintered here.
Nearby, at Redoubt #2, we took our turn manning the outer defenses of the camp. With the British Army spending the winter in Philadelphia, this position had a great view of the likely approaches that would have been used if the red coats had decided to attack.
Continuing along the tour route, we came to an equestrian statue of Maj. General “Mad” Anthony Wayne – one of my favorite figures from the Continental Army. He played a prominent role at both the Battle of Paoli, and the Battle of Stony Point – both fields that I have visited and will need to write up one of these days. The Battle of Stony Point is especially cool and worth a visit for its views of the Hudson River alone.
Our next stop was at Washington’s Headquarters. The house was open on the day we visited, and it was really cool to have the ranger there explain how the house was used by General Washington and his staff. The building is in great shape and getting to see and use the original handrails that were still on the steps was a pretty awesome experience. Tangible connections to the past are always much more impactful.
The visit ended with a return trip to the Visitors Center to have a ranger check our work on the Junior Ranger activities, swear in, and get our badges! We’ll definitely be going back to see the renovated Visitors Center and learn more about our country’s history together.