Thanks to Mark Lender for the following announcement:
Revolution Round Table—Richmond is pleased to announce that the winner of its
annual Book Award for 2015 is Michael C. Harris’ Brandywine: A Military History
of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777, published by Savas Beatie of El Dorado Hills, California.
The book is
never closed on any historical subject, and there is always room for new
interpretations as new evidence comes to light—and this is especially true in
the case of subjects as complex as major military engagements. The Battle of Brandywine, fought on 11
September 1777, is a classic example in this regard. Brandywine is already the subject of several
studies, but Michael Harris has significantly enhanced our understanding of
this critical action by digging deeply into the original sources, finding new
ones, and combining his findings with fresh new thinking. In addition, Harris uses his thorough
knowledge of battlefield terrain—he worked for the Pennsylvania Historical and
Museum Commission at Brandywine Battlefield—to disentangle the various troop
movements and explain how and why the flow of the combat developed as it did. This is fine military history.
result of Harris’ effort is a well-written and deeply-sourced narrative, the
best yet on a battle with a profound impact on the course of the War for
Independence. Tactical developments and
strategic implications mesh nicely in the author’s telling, and the story line
clearly separates fact from accretions of myth and fiction that have attached themselves
to the Brandywine chronicle over two centuries.
The battle was the largest general action of the war, and while it
resulted in a British victory and the eventual loss of the de facto rebel
capital of Philadelphia, it also revealed a growing competence in the
Continental Army. As Harris carefully
explains, while the British flanking movement caught the rebels off guard,
patriot troops did not fall apart. They
fought well at Birmingham Hill, their leaders adjusted to changing conditions,
and their eventual retreat was not a rout.
The army that finally took up winter quarters at Valley Forge was
battle-hardened and anything but a rabble.
Von Steuben did not have to start from scratch with his retraining
doubt there will be other books on the Battle of Brandywine; but subsequent
authors will have to acknowledge the scholarship of Michael Harris’ fine
work. Our readers appreciated the
quality of the original maps, modern photographs, and well-chosen illustrations;
they vitally compliment the text and help make the action of 11 September 1777
explicable. And by the way, the
footnotes are actually at the bottom of the page! Thank you Savas Beatie!