Fort Mifflin on the Delaware
Digital Photos by S. Fox, Chadds Ford, PA, November 17, 2001
A National Monument and Historic Landmark
Fort Mifflin on Mud Island in the Delaware River is just south of Philadelphia, adjacent to the Philadelphia International airport, less than 30 minutes from the Brandywine Valley.
If you're interested in Revolutionary battle sites, this one is nearby and worth the trip, especially if there is a re-enactment event scheduled. Click to the Fort Mifflin Web site to check their schedule of events.
What happened at the Fort
The fort was unsuccessfully defended against a a brutual artillery assault by British war ships and artillery, but held long enough to enable Washington and his troops to reach Valley Forge for the winter.
To set the scene... General Howe had captured and occupied Philadelphia in September, 1777. He was surrounded by American forces to the north, east and west and his troops were in sore need of food, gun powder, munitions and clothing.
To the south of Philadelphia, 240 British ships lay at anchor loaded with supplies. Howe ordered them to sail up the Delaware to Philadelphia. If they could resupply his troops before the river froze, he could pursue Washington and potentially end the war.
Anticipating his orders, American soldiers had placed obstructions in the channel and fortified the British built fort on Mud Island in the Delaware, now known as Fort Mifflin. Two hundred men were sent to hold the fort so that Washington and his army could set up camp and winter quarters at nearby Valley Forge.
The British knew of the Fort and began placing gun batteries on the island to its west in preparation for an attack. In early October, 12 war ships in the river began firing on the fort along with the batteries to the west. The barrage continued over several weeks.
As winter approached, the men at Fort Mifflin endured the British onslaught and refused to relinquish the fort. On November 10th, a massive attack was launched from the ships on the Delaware River. The fort held until the 17th delaying the British long enough for Washington to set up camp for the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge.
Season: May - November.
Hours: 10 am - 4 pm, Wed - Sun. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Last admission 3pm.
Admission: Fort Mifflin charges admission. Adults - $6, Children under 12 - $3, under 5 are free. They have group rates for tours and demonstrations that are scheduled throughout the year. Interpretive guides in Revolutionary or Civil War Uniforms give tours to the public Wednesday thru Sunday at 11 AM and 2 PM. For re-enactment schedule, check the fort's Website calendar.
DIRECTIONS from the Brandywine Valley: Take I-95 North to exit 13, (West 291). The exit leads you to a traffic light with a Hilton hotel on the corner. Turn left on to Island Avenue. There's a small sign to Fort Mifflin. Follow Island Avenue to Enterprise Avenue where you turn left. At the first traffic light, turn right on to Fort Mifflin Road. You will go thru a short tunnel. The first left after the tunnel is the entrance to Fort Mifflin. You should be able to see the Fort Mifflin flag flying over the fort from the road.
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