Colonial militiamen and British Redcoats skirmished near Cooch’s Bridge on Saturday, just as they did 242 years ago.
Saturday’s skirmish was merely a re-enactment, of course. However, the event was intended to provide attendees a glimpse of what the scene might have looked like during Delaware’s only Revolutionary War battle.
The Battle of Cooch’s Bridge took place Sept. 3, 1777. Nearly 17,000 British and Hessian troops landed at the Head of Elk — now Elkton, Md. — and marched toward Philadelphia in an ultimately successful attempt to capture the colonial capital. Gen. George Washington sent 800 soldiers to Cooch’s Bridge to scout out and delay the enemy, ordering them to “provide every possible annoyance.”
Hiding in the woods west of the bridge, the Continental Army and militiamen ambushed the approaching British troops. The fighting lasted for a few hours before a British charge forced the Americans to retreat. The British occupied the area, including the Cooch house, for five days before marching through Newark and onto the Battle of Brandywine.
Approximately two-dozen continental soldiers died during the battle and are believed to be buried somewhere on the battlefield, though their graves have never been located.
Saturday’s event was held at the Pencader Heritage Museum, which is located on part of the battlefield at the corner of Old Baltimore Pike and Route 72. This is the 13th year Pencader has commemorated the anniversary of the battle, but the re-enactment was a new addition.
Chris Mlynarczyk, president of the 1st Delaware Regiment re-enactment group, said he hopes the event continues to grow, with the goal of having a large-scale re-enactment for the 245th anniversary.
Approximately 60 re-enactors from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey participated Saturday.