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January 19, 2010


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Josh Blackman

Professor Brophy,
Thanks for the link. If anyone has any photographs they would like to submit, please send them to me at [email protected]

Matthew Reid Krell

Dr. Brophy,

Would you believe that I have pictures of that same tree in full leaf from August? The Brandywine is right down the 202 from a place I used to frequent.


That's awesome, Matthew -- great tree, isn't it?

Arthur Cleveland

Dear Doctor Brophy,

Wonder where you got the bit on Lafayette's use of the Gilpin House, located on the Brandywine Battlefield park. Since 2008, the longstanding myth of Lafayette spending a night (or THE night) before the battle of Brandywine has been finally removed from the Park's signage and website. The house that you see was given the title of "Lafayette's Headquarters" first in 1846, following a stop by Lafayette in 1825 in which one of the three local newspapers happened to say he had spent a night prior to the battle there. This attribution was never confirmed by any other source. A few weeks following the 1825 visit, the inhabitant, Gideon Gilpin, died, and in an article in Niles' Register of Baltimore, the stop by Lafayette is attributed to where Lafayette went to have his wound bandaged. Both myths make no sense militarily if you study the battle and Lafayette's letters.
The Gilpin house was not on the actual battlefield, as the Pennsylvania Line retreated from Chadds Ford at dusk past the house. The only section standing in 1777 was the front stone section, the rear kitchen being 1782 and the frame section 1835.

The view of the tree is seen in Andrew Wyeth's Pennsylvania Landscape, in N. C. Wyeth's Buttonwood Farm and as well in paintings by Howard Pyle and his students. Hopefully before too long we'll get a web page up to explain the myth and the remarkable use of the property by these most distinguished American artists.


Arthur Cleveland -- thanks for this information. I'm not sure where I first heard the story that the Gilpin house was LaFayette's headquarters, but here's one recent source:

The story is widespread on the net. I look forward to learning more about this, particularly about how confidently we can debunk (or authenticate) accounts from the 1820s. Has anything been published on the debunking of the LaFayette headquater's story? I'm not surprised that the account is of flimsy authenticity; that's true of so much of American history. As you know better than I, the records of much of what happened at Brandywine are sketchy, partly because we were scrambling to save the remnants of our forces, not recording what was happening.

When you get the web page up, let me know; I'd like to link to it.

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