Edward "Ned" Hector

In 1775 about 20% of the American colonial population was black, yet only about 5% of the Continental Army were African-Americans. Most of these black soldiers came from the Northern states where there were more Freedmen and where blacks were given their freedom for enlisting. Certain regiments, such as one from Rhode Island, were made up entirely of black men, although the officers were white. Many of these soldiers fought with valor and conviction. One of the lesser-known heroes of the Battle of Brandywine was a black soldier from Pennsylvania named Edward Hector.

Hector was a wagoneer in Captain Courtney's Company of Colonel Proctor's 3rd Pennsylvania Artillery Regiment. This unit was positioned near Chad's Ford, probably on the ridge behind the John Chads House. Late in the afternoon of September 11th, the British and Hessians began to overrun the American positions on the East side of the Brandywine and the order was given to abandon the guns, wagons, and horses and "save yourself". Edward Hector is reported to have said, "The enemy shall not have my team; I shall save my horses and myself." He then grabbed up a stack of abandoned arms (he probably was unarmed), threw them in his wagon, fended off his pursuers and escaped with his wagon-the only salvage from his company. Obviously, these items were most needed by the Army in the ensuing days.

We know little of Hector's later activities in the war or subsequently. However, we do know he was never granted a pension as were many Continental soldiers. Finally, years later, a "grateful" Pennsylvania Legislature granted him a donation of $40 for his heroics! Edward Hector lived in the Norristown area where he died in 1834 at the age of 90. He was truly an unsung and unrewarded hero of the Battle of Brandywine.

– Bob Goddu