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The FReeper Foxhole Remembers The Battle of Germantown - 1777 - Jan. 14th, 2003 ^ | Albert Carlson

Posted on 01/14/2003 5:35:29 AM PST by SAMWolf

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The Battle of Germantown

Germantown is located about five miles northwest of Philadelphia. At the time, Philadelphia was the capital of the Rebel Colonies. This was very important, as occupation of the enemies' capitol most often meant the end of a conflict was due in short order, if not immediately. The capture of the capital was a great source of concern for the leaders of the Revolution, since it directly effected the morale of the confederation of Colonies.

General Howe

After the Battle of Brandywine, Washington and his British counterpart, General Howe, maneuvered around the capital for about two weeks. Washington had hoped to catch Howe's troops while crossing the Schuylkill River, but Washington followed a British feint, missing the river crossing. Howe marched unopposed into Philadelphia on September 26. Most of the citizens of the city, and all of the Continental Congress had left the city about a week previous to the occupation. Howe kept 3,000 of his men in Philadelphia, proper, and stationed the remaining 8,000 at Germantown. Another 3,000 of Howe's forces were deployed along the Delaware River to assist the British Fleet in their blockade of the forts held by the Americans along that river.

Wahsington was in command of approximately 11,000 men, including 3,000 militamen. Seeing that Howe had not prepared defenses and that the British forces were split, General Washington decided to attempt to strike a decisive blow.

Washington and his staff planned a very complicated plan of attack that involved splitting the American command into four distinct colums that were to move into position for the attack under cover of darkness.

On the right flank, BG John Armstron's PA militia was to turn the British left flank and hold them agains the Schuylkill River. On the left of Armstron, along the main north-south rouad in the area, General Sullivan, along with Anthony Wayne's brigade, was to join the attack. General Washington was to accompany this column.

Left of Sullivan and Washington, the main attack was to be spearheaded by Generals Greene, Stephen, and McDougall. This column was to turn the British right and complete enveloping Howe's troops against the Schuylkill River.

On the extreme left, BGs William Smallwood and David Foreman, along with their Maryland and New Jersey militias, were to attempt to facilitate the envelopment by harassing the British rear. They were to move along the old York Road. General Sterling was to hold his troops in reserve on Chestnut Hill and be prepared to support either General Greene's or Sterling's columns.

General Washington

All troops were to gbe in place by 0400, with a two hour period of rest prior to the planned attack at 0600. Stealth was imparative, as troops were to silently strike, bayonets attached, just one hour before dawn on October 4. Unfortunately, all troops were late getting into position. General Greene's column got lost and was even later than the rest of the troops in staging. He was a full hour behind Genral Sullivan's column. The morning found mist coming on, further complicating the battlefield. British forces were familiar with the area, while the American troops were not. And, British outposts had detected the Americans deploying at around 0300. But, the British mistakenly though that it was only a small raid taking place.

Sullivan approached Mt. Airy around 0600 and was met with a volley fired from advanced British outposts. The British then staged an orderly withdrawl, falling back to the position held by a British Light Infantry unit. At the conclusion of the consolidation of the British units, one final volley was fired and the British counter-attacked. At the s;ame time, the 40th Foot was added to the British line to shore it up.

Although surprised, the attackers made use of their superior numbers and pushed through to the northern edge of Germantown. Howe attempted to rally his troops, castigating them for fleeing from "a few rebels," when American grapeshot dropped parts of trees on him. This convinced Howe that this was a full fledged attack, and he hastily withdrew to prepare to meet the American forces.

Mist had turned into fog, confusing both sides. Wahsington was concerned that he didn't hear any firing where General Greene's column should have been. In fact, Greene had not yet made the field of battle, as his guide got lost on the dark roads. Whashing decided to commit his reserves whree Greene should have been, and moved some of General Sullivan's troops to help fill the hole. This blunted Sullivan's attack and slowed progress along that line.

General Sullivan continued to drive back the British in considerable disorder until they reached the home of Judge Chew, located in the middle of Germantown. Lt. Col. Musgrave, commanding the British 40th Foot, put 120 of his troops into the house, making it a small fortress. He laid sniper fire from the house and halted the advance of the American column.

Washington was faced with the choice of going around Judge Chew's house and mopping it up later, or concentrating the attack on the house to remove it totally. General Henry Knox persuaded Washington to attempt to remove the house, but the artillery sent against the house merely bounced off the thick stone walls. Aiming at the doorways and windows was impossible, due to the heavy fog. After half an hour, Washington decided that the time he was being delayed was too costly, and he elected to move on.

As Washington was making this move, Green began to engage the first outposts of the British main encampment and sounded to those around him that he may have, indeed, already be in possession of the camp. Thinking that victory was at hand, Washington rode forward. However, the source of the noise was from a British counterattack, as well as renewed fighting around the Chew house. Anthony Wayne had sent some of his men back to investigate the sounds of firing at his rear, and the men in the column mistakenly thought that they were being attacked from the rear. Around 9 am, Wayne's men began to panic as the fog on the battlefield began to lift. Due to the delays at the Chew house, the British had organized and were fully engaged in a counterattack. Brithish General Grant had found the hole in the lines caused by the Chew house and were expoiting it. Wayne's men, who had spent much of the morning firing at trees and fence posts, ran out of ammunition and began to break. This panic spread through the ranks of Generals Greene and Sullivan, who also experienced their men breaking and running.

With panic spreading, General Cornwallis brought up British reinforcements and committed them against General Greene's column. With this movement, and General Grant threatening his right flank, Green reluctantly ordered a withdrawl to reorganize the troops. He was able, however, to save his guns. Washington saw that Greene was in retreat and had no option other than to order Sullivan and Wayne to do the same. Armstrong, Foreman, and Smallwood also failed in their encircling attacks, primarily due to delay and excessive caution. Washington also ordered them to withdraw.

This ended the Battle of Germantown. The complicated plan had failed with the British losses at 70 killed, 450 wounded, and 14 missing. The Americans lost 152 killed, 521 wounded, and almost 400 missing. American morale was largely unaffected by the loss in that they mistakenly believed that more British were lost than American forces. Howe was impressed that the skill of the Americans had increased so much since the defeat at Brandywine. So, rather than risk a pursuit, Howe retreated to Philadelphia and fortified the city.

KEYWORDS: americanrevolution; freeperfoxhole; germantown; revolutionarywar; veterans
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To: MistyCA
I suppose some of them might have deserted, or fell into the water or something.

Very possible, desertion was not uncommon back then, my understanding is Washington finally had someone shot for doing it to set an example to the other men.

61 posted on 01/14/2003 9:19:24 AM PST by Reaganwuzthebest
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To: Reaganwuzthebest
...and don't forget The Garden State (Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth and MORE!)
62 posted on 01/14/2003 9:21:10 AM PST by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to)
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To: Pharmboy
A little more on New Jersey's role in the Revolutionary War.
63 posted on 01/14/2003 9:26:22 AM PST by Reaganwuzthebest
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To: SAMWolf
It was the beginning of the end of the British empire too, because like most actual empires that segregate economicaly through taxes and disarmed selectively the segregated ghettos - thus adding incentive for the creation of ghetto havens and gangs because of insecurity, there is little incentive for the individual to support the empire but very much motivation to become nationalist and fragmented. The genius of the Founding Fathers was in doing what the British could not do, regroup the fragments into an effective force to be reckoned with through an emphasis on the inalienable and sacred statuses and statutes of men - as opposed to whether such and such state or people were trustworty in social engineering fashion, and to discuss the status, statutes and courses of actions in through genuine thinking processes, thesis (British taxes and dispatching of troops), antithesis (refuse unrepresentative export taxes and shootback the British) and synthesis (make a new nation), IMO.
64 posted on 01/14/2003 9:28:59 AM PST by lavaroise
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To: MistyCA
The General would not not recognize the Republic he put his fortune, honour and life on the line for beginning in 1775, and be quite taken aback, no question. However, as an advanced thinker (he is often portrayed as slow-witted but he was decidedly ahead of his time in many ways) he undoubtedly would have been fascinated at certain advances in technology and society.

Thanks for your kind words re my tagline.

65 posted on 01/14/2003 9:55:37 AM PST by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to)
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To: Reaganwuzthebest
Thanks for sharing that link. Great site.
66 posted on 01/14/2003 9:57:16 AM PST by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to)
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To: SAMWolf
67 posted on 01/14/2003 10:12:30 AM PST by manna
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To: SAMWolf
The Chew House today...

68 posted on 01/14/2003 11:01:16 AM PST by Antoninus
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To: SAMWolf; All
Thanks for the ping SamWolf

hope everyone's having a good day (-:
69 posted on 01/14/2003 11:07:14 AM PST by firewalk
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To: MistyCA
You have mail! :^)
70 posted on 01/14/2003 11:39:34 AM PST by Pippin (The world's tallest hobbit)
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To: SAMWolf
Thanks for the history lesson. Very timely, considering the splash A & E is making this week with their bio docu-drama of Benedict Arnold. Seeing the picture of the younger Gen. George Washington in your post, Kelsey Grammer does not look quite as out of place in the role as he seemed to at first glance.
71 posted on 01/14/2003 12:15:31 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: SAMWolf
Colonel Greene was soon afterward murdered at his quarters in Westchester county, N.Y., by a band of Tories, and the sword was presented to his family.
72 posted on 01/14/2003 12:16:27 PM PST by f.Christian (Orcs of the world: Take note and beware.)
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To: SAMWolf
Although surprised, the attackers made use of their superior numbers and pushed through to the northern edge of Germantown. Howe attempted to rally his troops, castigating them for fleeing from "a few rebels," when American grapeshot dropped parts of trees on him. This convinced Howe that this was a full fledged attack, and he hastily withdrew to prepare to meet the American forces.

73 posted on 01/14/2003 12:41:58 PM PST by f.Christian (Orcs of the world: Take note and beware.)
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To: SAMWolf

Yes, a rather sad thing at that, since Gates was probably more of a "public relations" man than a general. And, certainly a Patriot at heart.

Gates talked Burgoye into a deal he couldn't refuse and even made it sound rather respectable. Everyone got something, though no one intended to honor the agreement.

74 posted on 01/14/2003 1:46:13 PM PST by Bogie
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To: SAMWolf; AntiJen; MistyCA
Sam, You answered my request for this and caught me by surprise late in the day. I thought I would have to wait till October. Now I hope to look and see if I can contribute.
75 posted on 01/14/2003 1:50:26 PM PST by larryjohnson (FReepersonaltrainer)
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To: Bogie
I believe Gates and the battle of Camden are mentioned in "The Patriot"
76 posted on 01/14/2003 1:52:41 PM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: larryjohnson
My pleasure, I try and do posts on battles that Freepers request. I don't really have a scheudule, I just add them to the end of my list.
77 posted on 01/14/2003 1:54:46 PM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: SAMWolf
Thank you sir....You made my day! I can't help but wonder what Wayne did to the men under him that panicked.
78 posted on 01/14/2003 2:01:03 PM PST by ruoflaw
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To: SAMWolf; coteblanche

Germantown Academy: The Beginnings
On December 6, 1759, a group of citizens, concerned about the education of their children, met with Daniel Mackinett, at the Green Tree Inn on Germantown Road. At this meeting The Germantown Union School (now known as Germantown Academy) was founded.
Subscriptions were solicited and land was purchased near Market Square on Bensell's Lane, later to be renamed School House Lane. On August 11, 1761, school opened in a spacious new building. The wish of the founders that these buildings ". . . be continued for that use, and no other, forever . . ." is still honored today.
Germantown Academy had its beginning in the midst of the struggle that surrounded the birth and growth of a new nation. The bell tower and the bell that announces the beginning of each school day have become the symbols of the continuance of the school.
The bell was cast in England and brought over on the tea ship "Polly" in 1774. Because of the unrest in Philadelphia at that time, the "Polly" turned around and, with cargo intact, headed back to England. It was not until 1784 that the bell was returned and placed in the bell tower. The weather vane, with its crown of England and copper ball, attests to its presence during the War for Independence by the scars it bears from musket balls fired by British soldiers who occupied the area and used the school building as a hospital for a brief time during the Battle of Germantown. The troops of General Howe's Third Brigade used the playing fields for the first cricket match played in America.
The second English Master in the school's history, Peletiah Webster, devoted much of his energy to improving the quality of education offered; at the same time he encouraged the board of managers to seek a charter from the state. The charter was granted in 1784 to the "Public School of Germantown," which remains the Academy's corporate title to the present day.

© Copyright 2000 Germantown Academy

79 posted on 01/14/2003 2:15:03 PM PST by larryjohnson (Germantown Academy,Class of 1955)
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To: SAMWolf; AntiJen

The George Washington Connection by Edwin Probert
Archivist Edwin Probert pulls it all together...
The Washington Telescope and the Battle of Germantown
During the Battle of Germantown George Washington used a telescope. This encounter occurred after the British had defeated the colonials at both the Battle of the Brandywine and the Massacre of Paoli. The Americans were anxious for a victory that would end the British occupation of Philadelphia.
The battle strategy, though brilliantly conceived, was a consummate failure. Washington envisioned an early morning surprise attack using flanking maneuvers that would pin the enemy against the palisades of the Schuylkill River. Added to this, the British commissioned officers were billeted in Philadelphia, and their troops were camped in Germantown. Washington thought that he had a foolproof plan.
His scheme was flummoxed: the morning gave rise to fog; his northeastern flank arrived late; and his forward, central force was detailed to overthrow some British soldiers posted outside the main encampment. As Washington was attempting to dislodge this small group, some of his own troops mistook the yelling and gunfire as a sign of an American retreat. They, themselves, started to flee the British officers arrived from Philadelphia to take command their troops. What started as hoped for victory turned into an ignominious defeat.
A Short History of the Washington Telescope
This telescope never saw the service for which it was intended. In point of fact, this telescope is a celestial telescope. It was the property of Anthony Morris, the owner of the Highlands, a large estate in Whitemarsh. He lent Washington this telescope because the brass one, which Congress had given Washington, had been carried off with other baggage, to Reading, after the Battle of the Brandywine. By removing one of the lenses, this telescope was adapted to terrestrial use. Here, we need to note that when Washington had it in his possession, the instrument was already 100 years old
Washington returned this telescope to Anthony Morris, who, after the American Revolution, found himself bankrupt. In his efforts to recoup his finances, he sold his real estate and most of his possessions, including the telescope. Eventually it became the property of Dr. William Leibert of Germantown who was enthusiastic supporter of Germantown Academy.
In the second third of the nineteenth century, Germantown Academy began to offer formal science courses one of which was astronomy. Dr. Leibert presented the telescope to the school to be used in that class. Within a few years, the school bought a modern Bordeaux telescope, and the older instrument became a part of the school's collection of memorabilia, representing the its connection with George Washington.
For much of the twentieth century, it was kept in the vault of the Germantown Savings Bank. When the school moved to Fort Washington, and closed its connection with GSB, the telescope was re-discovered.
Since then, it has been lent to an exhibit mounted by the Antique Telescope Society and to Mount Vernon. The telescope, now over three-hundred years old, recently underwent conservation / preservation and now is on exhibit.
One of the school buildings, Washington-Kershaw Hall, had been a private dwelling where Washington had met his cabinet when the government was temporarily located in Germantown to avoid the Yellow Fever epidemic that swept Philadelphia in 1793.
George Washington Parke Custis A GA Alumnus
When George Washington was living in Germantown, he knew many of its inhabitants particularly Thomas Dungan, the English Master at the Union School of Germantown, as Germantown Academy was then known. Dungan had been an officer in the Continental Army. Washington's adopted son (who was also his step-grandson) George Washington Parke Custis, was a youthful member of the Presidential household. Young Washington was not given to academics. Knowing of Dungan's fine teaching reputation, George and Martha Washington sent the boy to be tutored under Dungan. Sadly, the hoped for results did not occur. Until his early twenties, George Washington Parke Custis, seemed no more than a spoiled person. However, in the fullness of time, he became a playwright who collaborated with Francis Scott Key, and he wrote the first popular biography of his grandfather, the first President of the United States.
The Washington Chestnut Tree
With other government officials, Washington and his family lived in Germantown when they were seeking refuge from the Yellow Fever that was raging in the capitol, Philadelphia. Here in the outskirts of the largest English-speaking city outside of London, life moved at a slower, more relaxed paced. Washington had time to do focus on familial matters such as helping to plant a chestnut tree on the campus.
80 posted on 01/14/2003 2:35:11 PM PST by larryjohnson (Germantown Academy,Class of '55)
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