By Chuck Lyons On the morning of September 11, 1777, 19-year-old Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, calmly sat on his horse next to George Washington, commander in chief of America’s revolutionary forces. The two men could see the dust as parts of a 15,000-man force under Viscount General William Howe, commander of British forces in North America, formed in the distance across Brandywine Creek and a small American force moved into position on the other side of the water. Lafayette and Washington were on the high ground north of the creek west and a little south of Philadelphia. The youthful Lafayette had never been in combat. The previous December, he had met in Paris with American agent Silas Deane and volunteered to fight with the American rebels. Lafayette had recently become a Freemason and talk of the rebellion with descriptions of a brave American people fighting for liberty had fired his youthful idealism. “My heart is dedicated [to the Americans],” he said at the time. Negotiations between American agents and French officials had been continuing since early in the conflict. The Americans sought French supplies, manpower, and naval support. As for the French, they hoped that by aiding the Americans they could restore French influence in North America and revenge their loss to Great Britain in the French and Indian War. The French already


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