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Battle of Germantown

Battle of Germantown


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At the Battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777, during the American Revolution, British forces in Pennsylvania defeated the American Continental Army under General George Washington (1732-99). After capturing Philadelphia in September 1777, British General William Howe (1729-1814) camped a large contingent of his troops at nearby Germantown. Washington launched a surprise attack on the poorly defended British camp, but his army failed to pull off his complex battle plan. The British drove away the Americans, inflicting twice as many casualties as they suffered. The defeat at Germantown, which came soon after a similar loss at Brandywine, led some prominent Americans to question Washington’s leadership. However, despite the losses, many of his soldiers had performed well, and Germantown demonstrated that Washington’s once-unskilled army was on its way to becoming the well-trained force that would win the war.

READ MORE: Discover George Washington's life in our interactive timeline

The Philadelphia Campaign

Colonial resistance to the British Empire’s attempt to tighten its control over its North American colonies resulted in the American Revolution, which broke out in 1775 after years of conflict. In the first years of the war, most of the fighting took place in the North. Though driven from Boston in the spring of 1776, British forces had captured New York City later that same year and launched invasions from Canada in both 1776 and 1777.

Also in 1777, General William Howe, the commander of British forces at New York, led an expedition to capture Philadelphia, the de facto capital of the United States and the home of its national government, the Continental Congress. Howe’s expedition departed from New York in July 1777. It took a circuitous coastal route toward Philadelphia, avoiding the American-controlled Delaware River and instead sailing up the Chesapeake Bay to the tip of the Elk River in Maryland. From there, Howe and his soldiers intended to march to Philadelphia.

General George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, attempted to block Howe from taking the city. Washington situated his army between Howe and Philadelphia along the shore of the Brandywine Creek. However, in a battle fought on September 11, 1777, Howe drove the Continental Army from the field. Although Washington remained in Howe’s path, the British general outmaneuvered him and marched his forces into Philadelphia two weeks later, on September 26. Fortunately for the Patriot cause, the members of the Continental Congress had already fled the city before the British arrived.

The British did not control the Delaware River, an important supply line for Philadelphia, so Howe felt that he could not risk bringing his entire army into the city. He posted 9,000 soldiers in the nearby area of Germantown (now a section of present-day Philadelphia). When he learned that Howe had divided his forces, Washington determined to strike the Germantown contingent.

The Battle of Germantown Begins

Four roads led to Germantown. Washington decided to send a separate force along each route, hitting the British from four sides at once. Like many of the plans Washington drew up in the early years of the war, his plan for Germantown was better suited for a theoretical exercise than for an actual 18th-century army composed in part of raw troops and poorly trained militiamen. Coordinating separate assaults from far-removed positions was always tricky; an attempt to coordinate four separate assaults was likely doomed to fail.

Washington’s army divided into four columns on the night of October 3 and marched toward the four separate staging points from which they were to launch their simultaneous attacks at dawn on October 4. One column had trouble finding its way and failed to reach the battlefield. A second column fired at, but did not charge, the enemy camp. The column tasked with attacking the center of the British camp, led by General John Sullivan (1740-95), was the first to engage the British in spirited combat. Sullivan’s column caught the British pickets by surprise and succeeded in driving back the startled British army.

The tide of the battle turned, however, when the last column, commanded by General Nathanael Greene (1742-86), entered the fray. Greene’s column had had farther to travel than the center column and so had gotten a later start. By the time it reached the British camp, the field was obscured by a thick fog and gun smoke, and Sullivan’s column had already pushed well into the British camp, into Greene’s path.

The two American columns stumbled into each other and, unable to make visual contact, fired upon each other. (It did not help that the commander of one of Greene’s divisions, General Adam Stephen, was noticeably intoxicated when he brought his men into the battle.) By the time the two columns realized what had happened, they faced a punishing counterassault from the British that drove them from the field.

Aftermath of the Battle of Germantown

The Battle of Germantown was Washington’s second defeat in less than a month. As at Brandywine, his army suffered twice as many casualties as it inflicted–approximately 1,000 Continentals (including those injured, killed and missing) to 500 Redcoats–raising questions about Washington’s fitness for command.

While Washington was losing to Howe around Philadelphia, another Continental general, Horatio Gates (1728-1806), was repeatedly besting British forces under General John Burgoyne (1722-92) in central New York, culminating in the surrender of Burgoyne’s entire army at Saratoga on October 17, 1777. A vocal minority in Congress and in the military began to whisper that Washington should be relieved of overall command of the Continental Army and Gates appointed in his place.

However, despite the defeat at Germantown, Washington could take solace in the fact that the soldiers of his Continental Army conducted themselves well in the heat of battle. The professionalism and discipline displayed by the American army had improved noticeably since the American Revolution began. Shortly after the Battle of Germantown, Washington’s army retired to a winter camp at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where–with help from the Prussian General Von Steuben–it was able to further hone its skills and emerge the next year a superior force.

READ MORE: Valley Forge: George Washington's Most Dismal Christmas Ever


Battle of Germantown

In the early fall of 1777, events did not fare well for George Washington’s army in Pennsylvania. Defeats at Brandywine and Paoli enabled William Howe’s forces to occupy Philadelphia unopposed on September 26. To regain the initiative, Washington and his lieutenants plotted a bold strike against the primary British camp at Germantown, about five miles north of Philadelphia. In the early hours of October 4, the Americans moved toward their target in four columns with the intent to strike as one at 5 a.m. Not all columns were in place at the appointed hour and others were spotted by British sentries who fired warning shots to awaken the camp. American advancement was slowed for more than an hour on one front when several dozen British soldiers took refuge in a private mansion, Cliveden, owned by the Pennsylvania chief justice. The mansion's stout stone walls enabled the defenders to hold out against an artillery barrage delivered by Henry Knox's forces. The British were reluctant to surrender, fearing reprisals from the Americans for the recent “massacre” at Paoli. A heavy fog, combined with smoke on the battlefield, caused confusion among the American ranks, including incidents when soldiers fired on their own with deadly effect. Small numbers of Patriot troops managed to fight their way into Germantown, but the others' failure to join them necessitated a pullback. Once again, Nathanael Greene provided distinguished service by organizing the overall retreat. As the Americans pushed northward, they were harassed by British snipers who continued to take a heavy toll. Nevertheless, Howe once again failed to seek a knockout blow by pursuing his enemy in force. The Americans suffered more than 700 casualties at Germantown, in addition to 400 soldiers captured. The British lost more than 530 men.


Contents

Cliveden was built 1763–1767 by local German craftsmen as a summer home for prominent lawyer Benjamin Chew, Sr. (1722–1810) and his family as a respite from heat and yellow fever epidemics. During the American Revolutionary War, the property was at the center of the Battle of Germantown in 1777. The house was inhabited by seven generations of the Chew family and their household until 1972, with one exception when it was sold to Blair McClenachan (1734–1812) after the battle, but repurchased by the Chew family in 1797. It is important to note that though the Chew family and their households occupied Cliveden until 1970, architectural changes to the house always took into account the original Georgian facade and plan, which remain intact despite significant changes and adaptations seen from the rear. [3]

Born in Tidewater, Maryland, Benjamin Chew migrated to the Delaware Valley with the promise of land investments and an advantageous connection with the Penn family. Chew trained as a lawyer and became part of a Governor’s Council that advised and protected the interests of the Pennsylvania Colony, and was later made Chief Justice of the colony. This position came with all the privilege expected, including status, wealth and opportunity. The elite Chew family also owned a town house in the Dock Ward of Philadelphia, a large house in Dover, Delaware and several plantations in Maryland and Delaware, as well as many developed and undeveloped properties, rural and urban. The Chews’ diverse business interests included import/export shipping, agriculture, iron mining and refining and more. All of these pursuits were sustained and complicated by the use of enslaved and indentured labor. During the tumultuous time surrounding the Revolution and nation building, Chew reserved his political position, but regained prominence after the new government was established. [3] [4]

With a design largely derived from architectural patterns brought from the United Kingdom, Cliveden epitomizes the ideals of elite design in the American colonies while simultaneously incorporating regional building materials and practices of the Delaware Valley. The prospect of Cliveden from the south facade follows the symmetry of Georgian architecture with emphasis on the forms, patterns and ratios of the Classical world. There is no named architect of Cliveden, but the Chew Family Papers, held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, include nine original drawings associated with the design process, which are attributed to lawyer and draftsman William Peters (1702–1786), and reference Andrea Palladio (1508–1580) and British architect Abraham Swan (active 1745–68). Built during a second wave of population growth and construction in Germantown in the 1760s, when Anglicized styles were imposed onto the provincial German vernacular settlement, Cliveden is a Georgian country house made aware of its context by the craftsmanship of its German builders. The Chew Family Papers also document through detailed account books which identify master carpenter Jacob Knorr and master mason John Hesser, among others, as the Germantown builders responsible for its construction. [4] [5]

Although not built as a plantation house, the scale of Cliveden was new to Germantown in the 1760s and is larger than most colonial houses in Philadelphia. The house is composed of two full stories with a half-story garret. Five bays organize the symmetry and rhythm of the facade, with the center bay projecting and ornamented by a pedimented Doric frontispiece with full entablature. The pediment motif is repeated at the cornice line. Cliveden has a gabled roof, unusual for a Georgian house, again reflecting the Germantown context. The roof is pierced by two broad brick chimney stacks positioned at the roof ridge line. The roof is further adorned with five massive urns raised on brick plinths. [4] [5]

The walls are composed of Wissahickon schist, a less expensive option than brick and a choice that reflected the traditional building materials used in Germantown. The exterior of the house follows a hierarchy of design that includes a range of construction techniques finishes and from high style to vernacular. The stonework at the facade is laid in regular courses of ashlar blocks accentuated by a cut stone string course and quoins with tooled mortar joints. The public-facing west elevation is finished with scored stucco the north and east elevation were exposed random rubble construction, though the east was later finished with stucco. This hierarchy of finishes follows in the interior, where rooms on the east are finished with more elaborate millwork and paneling than those on the west. [4] [5]

The first floor plan of Cliveden is an unusual T-shaped center hall with small rooms on either side of a wide entrance hall and large chambers on either side of the perpendicular stair hall. The front and rear halls are divided by an impressive screen of Doric columns topped with entablature. On the second floor, a “gallery” is centered between to two large chambers on either side. The garret was finished with chambers for servants and children, and the cellar contains a cooking hearth and more evidence of kitchen-related service spaces. A service stair, accessing cellar to garret, is tucked into an enclosed area west of the rear hall.

Cliveden is flanked by two dependencies with temple-front facades that echo the classical features of the main house. The interior of the dependencies have more vernacular designs, with simple floor plans that reflect a typical small house of the Delaware Valley. During the period of construction, the original 18’ square plan of the west dependency was altered to extend the building by 9’ with a large chimney to accommodate a cooking hearth and bake oven and adjacent well shaft. Opposite the Kitchen, the west dependency was a Wash House, later served as the estate office. Both Dependencies can be considered quarters, with second floors and garrets containing sleeping chambers for service staff, enslaved and free. In 1776, Chew hired Hesser to construct a “Colonnade” or “piazza” a covered walkway that connected the second parlor to the kitchen. Together, the Main House, Kitchen, Colonnade and Wash House surround a work yard behind the house, an important outdoor service space. The Direct Tax of 1798, one year after the Chews repurchased Cliveden, itemized the one story stone pantry attached to the Kitchen, a smoke house adjacent to the Wash House, and frame milk house and poultry house. In 1814, the Wash House & office was doubled with a masonry addition to the north. In this period, there is also a record of filling an ice house which is no longer extant. [4] [5]

During the first half of the 19 th century, Benjamin Chew, Jr. (1758–1844) inherited Cliveden and developed it as a gentleman’s farm. There is a record of wheat fields, fencing and corn crib on the site. After a long family conflict to settle his estate, Cliveden was inherited by Anne Sophia Penn Chew (1805–1892). In 1868, she had the rubble-constructed Italianate North Addition built, containing two new chambers, along with technological upgrades including gas and indoor plumbing. A coal-fired central furnace and a kitchen range were also installed at this time. The North Addition enclosed the Colonnade and added a second service stair in the rear, adapting the space into a butler’s pantry. Niece-in-Law and early preservationist Mary Johnson Brown Chew (1839–1927) next inherited Cliveden. In 1921, two bathrooms were added with modern fixtures, the one seen at the rear of the north east chamber is raised to the second floor on Colonial Revival columns. The last generation of the Chew family and their household moved to Cliveden in 1959. Notable among repairs and changes is the beveling of floorboards throughout and the installation of a semi-custom Mid-Century Modern kitchen inside the Colonnade. [4] [5]

The Chew Family Papers, containing an extensive collection of correspondence, documents, financial records and other materials, are available for research use at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.


Battle of Germantown - HISTORY

After Howe had occupied Philadelphia, Washington attacked British troops at Germantown. The Americans planned a four pronged attack. The morning was foggy, and American coordination broke down. As a result, the attack failed, and the American troops were forced to withdraw.

On September 22nd 1777, British General Howe outflanked Washington, and made his way into Philadelphia. Washington hoped to turn the momentum, and repeating his victory in Trenton, by mounting a successful counterattack. Howe had divided his forces, half occupying Philadelphia, and the balance in the small town of Germantown. Washington wished to attack Germantown, since his forces outnumbered the 8,000 British soldiers bivouacked in the town.

Washington devised an intricate plan that had American forces converging simultaneously on the town from four sides. Starting at nightfall on October 3rd, four separate columns departed for Germantown, all scheduled to arrive at 6AM. Unfortunately, only one group, the one that included Washington, arrived on time. The initial assault went well, with the British being tactically surprised (even though they were aware that the Continentals were up to something).

Unfortunately, the town was covered by thick fog, making any coordination between forces very difficult. Furthermore, a brigade spent an hour trying to assault the Chew House, where a group of Hessian soldiers were barricaded inside. Before long, the tide of the battle began to turn against the Americans. Two of the four groups of assaulting soldiers failed to arrive on the battlefield. The lack of coordination along with the fog, resulted in one group of American soldiers firing on another. This lead to total confusion on the battlefield. The American attack petered out three hours after it began. The Americans lost 1,200 soldiers, while the British lost 500 men. This was a clear British victory.


This Day In History: The Battle of Germantown was Fought (1777)

On this day in 1777, the Battle of Germantown was fought in the American Revolutionary War. Washington had an army of 11,000 Patriots and he lined up near the British positions in Germantown, Pennsylvania. The battle was part of the Philadephia campaign. The British had slightly fewer men, approximately 9000 soldiers under General Howe. Washington decided to launch an early morning attack on the British at Germantown, who were guarding the approached to the British-occupied city of Philadelphia. Washington hoped that by defeating Howe at Germantown that he would be able to advance on Philadelphia.

Washington had a larger army but they were often only poorly trained militiamen, poorly fed and with no uniforms. However, the commander of the Continental army decided to organize the Patriots into four columns and they placed shreds of paper in their caps to identify themselves as Americans. The paper would also help the Patriots to see each other in the early morning darkness. However, bad luck thwarted Washington&rsquos daring plan, as an unexpected fog descended on the area and the columns lost contact with each other. Washington still ordered his men on to the attack, but two of the columns got lost. This meant that only two columns actually attacked the British lines. The two other columns did not even make contact with the British lines and instead got lost and eventually returned to the British lines. At first, the two columns surprised the British but the well-trained and experienced redcoats were quick to respond. They fired volleys of well-aimed shots into the ranks of the attacking Americans even though the battle was fought in the early morning&rsquos half-light. The Patriots were able to fight their way into the town of Germantown, however, their attack was eventually beaten back. Fortunately, because of the poor light, Howe, did not order a counter-attack, because if he had he might have inflicted an even bloodier defeat on Washington&rsquos army.

The battle was a decisive setback for the Continental Army. The Americans lost over 150 dead, 500 wounded and several hundred men are captured. The British suffered far fewer casualties and had no men taken prisoner. The Americans were forced to retreat but the battle showed the growing capabilities of the Continental Army and their commanders growing strategic abilities.

After this defeat, the Continental Army was led into North Philadelphia where they skirmished with Howe&rsquos forces. Washington&rsquos Philadelphia campaign was a failure and the British were in a strong position. The Americans then proceeded to winter quarters at Valley Forge. Here the morale of the Continental Army was to suffer greatly and many men sickened or deserted. However, they were joined by the Prussian officer Friedrich Freiherr von Steuben, who arrived at Valley Forge on February the 23rd, 1778. The Prussian military officer helped to retrain and to motivate the American Patriot army and turned it into a highly trained and disciplined force, that was able to match the British on the battlefield.


N the evening after the battle of Brandywine, General Howe sent a party to Wilmington, who seized in bed Mr. M'Kinlay, governor, of the state of Delaware, and took a shallop lying in the rivulet loaded with the rich effects of some of the inhabitants, together with the public records of the county, and other valuable and important property.

General Wayne, with a detachment of fifteen hundred men, had taken post in the woods on the left of the British army, with the intention of harassing it on its march. On the evening of the 20th of September, General Grey was despatched to surprise him, and successfuHy executed the enterprise killing or wounding, chiefly with the bayonet, about three hundred men, taking nearly one hundred prisoners, and making himself master of all their baggage. General Grey had only one captain and three privates killed, and four wounded.

On the evening of the 18th, Congress left Philadelphia for the second time, and proceeded first to Lancaster, and afterwards to York. On the afternoon of the 22d, and early on the 23d of September, Sir William Howe, contrary to the expectation of the American commander-in-chief crossed the Schuylkill at Fatland and Gordon's Ford. The main body of his army encamped at Germantown, a long village, seven miles from Philadelphia and, on the 26th, with a detachment of his troops, he took peaceable possession of the city, where he was cordially received by the Quakers and other royalists. During these movements, both armies were much incommoded by cold and heavy rains.

On receiving information of the success of the royal army under his brother at Brandywine, Admiral Lord Howe left the Chesapeake and steered for the Delaware, where he arrived on the 8th of October. As soon as General Howe had gained possession of Philadelphia, he began to clear the course of the river, in order to open a free communication with the fleet.

The Americans had laboured assiduously to obstruct the navigation of the Delaware and, for that purpose, had sunk three rows of chevaux-de-frise, formed of large beams of timber bolted together, with strong projecting iron spikes, across the channel, a little below the place where the Schuylkill falls into the Delaware. The upper and lower rows were commanded by fortifications on the banks and islands of the river, and by floating batteries.

While the detachments employed in assisting to clear the course of the river weakened the royal army at Germantown, General Washington, who lay encamped at Skippach Creek, on the north side of the Schuylkill, about seventeen miles from Germantown, meditated an attack upon it. Germantown consisted of one street about two miles long the line of the British encampment bisected the village almost at right angles, and had its left covered by the Schuylkill. General Washington having been reinforced by fifteen hundred troops from Peekskill, and one thousand Virginian militia, marched from Skippach Creek on the evening of the 3d of October, and at dawn of day next morning attacked the royal army. After a smart conflict he drove in the advanced guard, which was stationed at the head of the village, and, with his army divided into five columns, prosecuted the attack but Lieutenant-Colonel Musgrave of the 40th regiment, which had been driven in, and who had been able to keep five companies of the regiment together,


Battle of Germantown

threw himself into a large stone house in the village, which stood in front of the main column of the Americans, and there almost a half of General Washington's army was detained for a considerable time. Instead of masking the house with a sufficient force, and advancing rapidly with their main body, the Americans attacked the house, which was obstinately defended. This saved the British army for the critical moment was lost in fruitless attempts on the house the royal troops had time to get under arms, and be in readiness to resist or attack as circumstances required. General Grey came to the assistance of Colonel Musgrave the engagement for some time was general and warm at length the Americans began to give way, and effected a retreat with all their artillery. The morning was very foggy, a circumstance which had prevented the Americans from combining and conducting their operations as they otherwise might have done, but which now favoured their retreat by concealing their movements.

In this engagement the British had six hundred men killed or wounded among the slain were Brigadier-General Agnew and Colonel Bird, officers of distinguished reputation. The Americans lost an equal number in killed and wounded, besides four hundred who were taken prisoners. General Nash, of North Carolina, was among those who were killed. After the battle, General Washington returned to his encampment at Skippach Creek.


Battle of Germantown

The Battle of Brandywine, fought just outside of Philadelphia on September 11, 1777, resulted in an overarching British victory and the conquest of the rebel seat of government. However, the victory provided few strategic gains for the British and the valiant effort of the Continental Army proved that the rebels could take on the full brunt of the British Army and survive, bolstering their confidence to fight another day.

Following defeats at Brandywine, Paoli, and the British capture of Philadelphia on September 26, 1777, George Washington attempted to gain the initiative. He received that opportunity a week later when British General William Howe divided his army. Howe encamped at Germantown, Pennsylvania, seven miles northeast of Philadelphia, with 9,000 men, while other troops garrisoned the city and moved against American forts obstructing the Delaware River. Washington reinforced to 11,000 troops and decided to attack using a plan similar to the one that he employed at Trenton in December 1776.

On the night of October 3, four converging American columns began a sixteen-mile march towards Germantown. Generals John Sullivan and Nathanael Greene would strike Howe's left and right center, respectively, with Continental troops, while two militia detachments attacked both flanks. Although Howe received some intelligence of an impending attack, he did little to prepare in advance.

Around 5:30 in the morning, Sullivan's troops surprised Howe's advanced guard and forced it back towards Germantown in confusion as a dense fog blanketed the battlefield. Approximately 100 British soldiers took refuge in Cliveden, a large stone mansion, while the British withdrew. Sullivan wisely bypassed the structure and continued his advance over a mile, driving the British from a series of fenced yards in the town. Greene, delayed on the long march, opened his attack about an hour later and captured part of the British camp in heavy fighting. With victory seemingly in sight, however, the American attack unraveled.

Sullivan's troops were running low on ammunition and slowed their advance before coming under a volley of friendly fire from Greene's men, who had become disoriented in the fog. In addition, the militia columns failed to envelop Howe's flanks. On the far right flank, John Armstrong's Pennsylvanians held a Hessian detachment in place but did little more. On the opposite end of the field 1,500 New Jersey and Maryland militiamen arrived too late to participate in any major fighting.

The Americans' most serious challenge was at Cliveden. Washington, on the advice of artillery commander Henry Knox, decided to attack the sturdy building rather than isolate it with a small force. For two hours a Continental brigade supported by cannons unsuccessfully tried to storm the mansion, suffering heavy losses. This action diverted troops from Sullivan's main advance and also from Greene's, as some of his soldiers joined the assault.

Other American troops retreated when they heard the heavy firing towards the rear, fearing that they were encircled. Such distractions allowed Howe time to organize a counterattack with fresh troops. The British recaptured their camp and then drove the weary Americans back to their original positions, relieving the men holed up in Cliveden. Reinforced from Philadelphia, Howe pursued Washington for nearly eight miles before halting.

During the grinding five-hour battle, Washington's casualties numbered 152 killed, 521 wounded, and approximately 400 captured. Howe's losses included 70 killed and 451 wounded. Still, the British were greatly surprised that an opponent whom they believed was beaten could launch such a fierce attack.

Michael P. Gabriel, Ph.D.
Kutztown University

Bibliography:
McGuire, Thomas J. The Philadelphia Campaign: Germantown and the Roads to Valley Forge. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2007.

Niderost, Eric. "Victory Denied by the Fog of War." Military Heritage 6 (February 2005): 46-55.

Taffe, Stephen R. The Philadelphia Campaign, 1777-1778. Lawrence: The University Press of Kansas, 2003.

Ward, Christopher. The War of the Revolution, 2 Vols. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1952.


Germantown

Following the American defeat at the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777, the British Army captured Philadelphia, the seat of the Continental Congress. After taking the American capital, British General Sir William Howe positioned two brigades under General James Grant and a contingent of Hessians troops commanded by General Wilhelm von Kynphausen in Germantown. The British force in the village totaled 9,000 men.

George Washington, commanding an army of 8,000 Continentals and 3,000 militiamen, sensed an opportunity. He decided to attack and destroy the enemy detachment at Germantown using a double envelopment.

Washington set his plan into motion on the night of October 3. Much like at Trenton, he divided his army so as to attack the British from multiple directions at dawn. General John Sullivan would attack with the main force while General Nathanael Greene attacked on the flank. The militia, under General William Smallwood, would target the British extreme right and rear. Unfortunately for Washington, darkness and a heavy fog delayed the advance and cost him the element of surprise.

Sullivan’s column was the first to make contact, driving back the British pickets on Mount Airy. The British were so shocked to find a large force of American soldiers that some were cut off from the main body 120 men under British Colonel Musgrave took shelter in the large stone house of Chief Justice Benjamin Chew, known as Cliveden. This fortified position would prove a thorn in the Americans’ side for the remainder of the battle, with numerous assaults being repulsed with heavy casualties. While the fighting around Cliveden raged on, Sullivan pushed his men towards the British center.

On the left, one of Sullivan’s divisions, commanded by General Anthony Wayne, became separated in the fog. To make matters worse, Sullivan’s men were also beginning to run low on ammunition, causing their fire to slacken. The separation, combined with the lack of fire from their comrades and the commotion of the attack on Cliveden behind them, convinced Wayne’s men that they were cut off, causing them to withdraw.

Luckily, Greene’s column arrived in time to engage the British before they could rout Wayne. Unfortunately, one of Greene’s brigades, under General Adam Stephen, also became lost in the fog, mistook Wayne’s men for the British, and opened fire. Wayne’s men returned fire. The resulting firefight caused both units to break and flee the field.

Only the steadfastness of Greene’s and Wayne’s men and the American artillery prevented a disaster. The American retreat was also aided by the onset of darkness. Washington’s Army lost roughly 700 men killed and wounded. Another 400 Americans were captured. The British suffered more than 500 casualties of their own. Despite the British victory, many Europeans, especially the French, were impressed by the continued determination of the Continental Army.


Germantown: A Military History of the Battle for Philadelphia, October 4, 1777

Today, Germantown is a busy neighborhood in Philadelphia. On October 4, 1777, it was a small village on the outskirts of the colonial capital whose surrounding fields and streets witnessed one of the largest battles of the American Revolution. The bloody battle represented George Washington&rsquos attempt to recapture Philadelphia, but has long been overshadowed by better-known events like Brandywine, Saratoga, and Valley Forge. Award-winning author Michael C. Harris&rsquos impressive Germantown: A Military History of the Battle for the Control of Philadelphia, October 4, 1777, elevates this important action from obscurity in the first full-length study of this pivotal engagement.

General Sir William Howe launched his campaign to capture Philadelphia in late July 1777, with an army of 16,500 British and Hessian soldiers aboard a 265-ship armada sailing from New York. Six difficult weeks later, Howe&rsquos expedition landed near Elkton, Maryland, and moved north into Pennsylvania. Washington&rsquos rebel army did all it could to harass Howe and fought and lost a major battle at Brandywine on September 11. Philadelphia fell to the British.

On October 4, obscured by darkness and a heavy morning fog, Washington launched a surprise attack on the British garrison at Germantown. His early attack found initial success and drove the British legions before him. The recapture of the colonial capital seemed within Washington&rsquos grasp until poor decisions by the American high command brought about a reversal of fortune and a clear British victory. Like Brandywine, however, the bloody fight at Germantown proved that Continental soldiers could stand toe-to-toe with British Regulars. The Battle of Germantown began a protected quasi-siege of the British garrison in Germantown prior to the travails soon to come that winter at Valley Forge.

Harris&rsquos Germantown is the first complete study to merge the strategic, political, and tactical history of this complex operation and important set-piece battle into a single compelling account. Following up on his award-winning Brandywine, Harris&rsquos sweeping prose relies almost exclusively on original archival research and a deep personal knowledge of the terrain. Complete with original maps, numerous illustrations, and modern photos, and told largely through the words of those who fought there, Germantown: A Military History of the Battle for the Control of Philadelphia, October 4, 1777 is sure to please the most discriminating reader and assume its place as one of the finest military studies of its kind.

&ldquoGermantown&mdashone of the few major actions of the Revolution lacking an in-depth study. Until now. From the flashing bayonets at Paoli to the smoke and fog at Cliveden, Michael Harris&rsquos Germantown takes us through the second half of the Philadelphia Campaign. This follow-up to his award-winning Brandywine (2015 winner of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond Book Award), is deeply researched, heavily sourced, and compellingly written. Huzza!&rdquo &mdash Bill Welsch, President of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond and Co-Founder of the Congress of American Revolution Round Tables

&ldquoMichael Harris&rsquos new book picks up where his last book left off, with the troops marching off to fight the little-known Battle of the Clouds, the often overlooked Battle of Paoli, and the major engagement of Germantown. His new book sheds new light as to why some men who participated in the Paoli bloodshed may have turned Germantown into a massacre.&rdquo &mdash Jim Christ, President of the Paoli Battlefield Preservation Fund

&ldquoFirst, Michael Harris wrote an excellent study of the largest set-piece battle of the Revolutionary War at Brandywine. Now, he has delivered an equally outstanding study of the follow-on actions that made up the balance of the Philadelphia Campaign, including a major reinterpretation of the strategically significant Battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777. Washington&rsquos defeat (at what may have been the second largest set-piece battle of the war) ensured that Philadelphia would remain in British hands while his army suffered the brutal winter at Valley Forge, but also helped convince the French to recognize the nascent American Government and intervene on its behalf. Germantown: A Military History of the Battle for Philadelphia, October 4, 1777 deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the Revolutionary War&rsquos most important northern campaign.&rdquo &mdash Eric J. Wittenberg, award-winning author and historian

". the first complete study to merge the strategic, political, and tactical history of this complex operation and important set-piece battle into a single compelling account. Enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of original maps, numerous illustrations, and modern photos. draws largely through the words of those who fought there. The result is one of the most informative and 'reader friendly' military studies of its kind." - Midwest Book Review

Michael C. Harris is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and the American Military University. He has worked for the National Park Service in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at Brandywine Battlefield. He conducted tours and staff rides of many of the east coast battlefields. Michael is certified in secondary education and currently teaches in the Philadelphia region. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Michelle, and son, Nathanael. His first book, Brandywine, was awarded the The American Revolution Round Table of Richmond book award in 2014.


Watch the video: Battle of Bunker Hill The American Revolution (October 2022).

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