The year 1877 marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Brandywine, which occurred on September 11, 1777 near Chadds Ford and was part of British General Sir William Howe’s campaign to take Philadelphia during the American Revolution. The battle was a head-to-head clash between the forces of George Washington and Sir William Howe in which Washington was defeated and forced to retreat to Philadelphia.
The minutes for this year record that the Society modestly marked the anniversary with a paper devoted to the subject given by Caesar A. Rodney, one of its Directors. At this early point in the organization’s life, they probably could never even have imagined that the Society would eventually become the permanent home of the most important surviving Delaware relic of this battle: the Dansey Flag. Acquired by the Society in 1927, this flag was originally a battle trophy captured by the English Captain William Dansey from a Delaware militia unit a few days before the Battle of the Brandywine. Dansey took the flag back to England with him, where it remained until the Society was able to acquire it and a collection of Dansey’s personal letters written during the Revolution. Together, these items constitute a priceless historical package; one that would no doubt have made the membership of 1877 more than proud of our progress as a collecting institution.