Like the Continental Army 232 years ago, the Brandywine Battlefield Historic Site has suffered a major setback.

This time, it is Harrisburg that has been cast in the role of redcoat.

With budget cuts looming, five employees will be laid off, and the site's museum, two farmhouses, and visitor center will be shut indefinitely when the park closes tomorrow, officials said yesterday.

"The grass will be available for picnics, but there will be no history available," Linda Kaat, president of Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates, said yesterday.

The budget ax also will affect four other historic sites, including the Conrad Weiser Homestead in Womelsdorf, Berks County, said Steven Miller, bureau director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

"Everybody is packing up," Kaat said. "I think everyone is just shocked."

The agency has been negotiating with Chadds Ford Township and Kaat's group to keep the Brandywine facilities operating, but no agreement has been reached.

It would take about $350,000 annually to operate the site "properly," said George Thorpe, township supervisors chairman and past president of Brandywine Associates.

While Chadds Ford would not fund the park, Thorpe said, under any agreement with the state it would take responsibility for soliciting and collecting needed money from various sources. He said Delaware County and several neighboring townships have indicated they would contribute to the park.

It was unclear when the budget impasse finally will end, but Miller said that with the ax poised, the agency was forced to take "prudent" action now.

"This is based on the mildest version of cuts that we believe is realistic," he said.

The Brandywine site covers 52 acres and was the scene of the bloodiest battle of the Revolution. The Continental Army lost the battle, but eventually won the war.