Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September 11th- A Date We Shall Always Remember

As we approach the 9th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks on our country, another more distant date comes to mind - September 11th, 1777 - the Battle of the Brandywine in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The scenic countryside of bucolic Chadds Ford was interrupted 233 years ago on September 11th, 1777 by the clashing of two armies - George Washington's, including the young Marquis de Lafayette, and commander William Howe, then the most experienced and revered General in the British Army.

The largest land battle in North America up until the Civil War ended with a loss for the Colonials, but Washington and Lafayette survived to fight again and finally win at the Battle of Yorktown in October 1781, securing our independence and our liberty for generations to come.

I live just down the Old Baltimore Pike (Route 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania) from the Brandywine Battlefield and was inspired to write my second book, an historical novel "Lafayette's Gold -The Lost Brandywine Treasure", after taking a tour of Brandywine Battlefiled Park last Summer and finding out that it was about to close due to lack of funding. Please - if you cherish your nations' roots... our history... the Soul of America... support your local historic sites! Go to for more information about the book.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Salute to the Marquis de Lafayette- A "Founding Son" of the American Revolution

On Friday July 30th, 2010 I had the good fortune to be invited up to Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. to tour their Special Collections unit, which is dedicated to the Marquis de Lafayette. The unit houses thousands of documents, busts and other collectibles about the great man, including original letters signed by Lafayette to famous statesmen of the late 1700's and early 1800's. I was invited to the College as I had donated a copy of my new historical novel "Lafayette's Gold- The Lost Brandywine Treasure" to the collection. Although the space given to the artifacts is relatively small- the gems in the collection are priceless.

The Curator Diane Shaw showed me several wonderful items, including a letter written by Lafayette to General George Washington on December 31, 1777 as the two men were at Valley Forge during that terrible and trying Winter. Just seeing- and briefly touching the page gave me a wonderful feeling- as if I had touched his hand as he was writing this important document. I also viewed three other letters from Lafayette to Washington, including one written on February 5, 1783 in which Lafayette recommends an "experiment" to set up a colony of freed slaves, an early effort at the abolition of this dreaded practice which unfortunately would cause almost 600,000 casualties 80 years later. Also remarkable was a letter he sent after the storming of the Bastille on March 17, 1790 written in disbelief of the chaos and anarchy that had gripped Paris and most of France.

Lafayette was a wealthy landowner in France before he chose to risk his life and fortune in coming to the aid of the Colonials in their fight for independence from Great Britain. He was wounded on September 11, 1777 at the Battle of the Brandywine (which I describe in "Lafayette's Gold"), yet remained to help with the cause until the final battle at Yorktown in 1781. Lafayette is and always will be a true patriot- a "Founding Son" of the American Revolution.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Rare Gem in Chadds Ford, Pa.

Many art lovers have heard the name Chadds Ford due to the Wyeth family of artists (N.C, Andrew and Jamie) who lived there for decades and made the place famous, starting with N.C. Wyeth around the turn of the 20th century. Most people don't know the name Christian Sanderson, another local resident who was a friend of the great N. C. Wyeth and a major historian, collector of Americana and a dedicated patriot who was always available to tell the story of our great heritage.

Starting with the Battle of the Brandywine, which occurred on September 11th, 1777 and involved George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette in the largest land battle on North American soil up until the Civil War, Sanderson shared his thoughts and memorabilia about this and other major turning points in American history with school children and anyone else who would listen. Chris actually lived in the house which was Washington's headquarters during the Battle of the Brandywine until 1922. He passed away in 1966, but his extensive archives of American history, the chronicles of great statesmen and historic events remains a testimony to his dedication to keep our heritage alive. You can visit the Sanderson Museum on Rte. 100 in Chadds Ford, Pa. and take a walk through history (from the Revolutionary War up until the 1960's). It is an "unpoloished gem", waiting to be discovered....and you will enjoy it!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Save our Historic Sites

As you may know, the economic situation has taken a toll on America's historic sites - perhaps one of the best means to keep our history alive and inform generations to come of our heritage. Recently Governor Rendell described for the National Trust "As important as the state's historical sites are, they are not part of the state's core mission." This attitude and position has led to the closing of many important Pennsylvania historic sites such as Washington's Crossing and the Brandywine Battlefield. An article in Preservation magazine also highlighted the problem of preserving America's heritage:
After visiting the Brandywine Battlefield last year and learning of its dire situation, I was inspired to write the historic mystery novel “Lafayette’s Gold – The Lost Brandywine Treasure” about my area and the Battle of the Brandywine. Set in the beautiful Brandywine Valley, Lafayette's Gold is a mystery thriller linking lost treasure, shady antique dealers, the mob and heroes from the Battle of the Brandywine.

The Battle of the Brandywine was fought on September 11, 1777 and was the largest land battle in North America up until the Civil War. The Marquis de Lafayette- a rich nobleman- volunteered to fight there and was wounded, suviving to help Washington again at Valley Forge and many later battles, including the final victory over Cornwallis at Yorktown. Due to his bravery and undying commitment, Lafayette truly is a "Founding Son" of the American Revolution. This historical novel about Washington, Lafayette and the Battle of the Brandywine highlights the need to save Brandywine Battlefield Park and other important sites honoring our heritage. Currently Brandywine Battlefield is still open due to the generosity of volunteers and donations from the public- but this may not last. Government actions- and citizen support- are needed to preserve this national treasure.