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Encyclopedia > Battle of Germantown
Battle of Germantown
Part of the American Revolutionary War

Date October 4, 1777
Location Germantown, Pennsylvania
Result Decisive British victory
Combatants
United States Kingdom of Great Britain
Commanders
George Washington William Howe
Strength
11,700 8,000
Casualties
152 killed,
521 wounded,
400 captured
71 killed,
450 wounded,
14 missing

The Battle of Germantown was a battle in the Philadelphia campaign of the American Revolutionary War fought on October 4, 1777 in the area surrounding Germantown, Pennsylvania. The battle was a decisive victory for the British, who prevented the Colonial re-capture of Germantown. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... This article is about military actions only. ... Image File history File links Germantown. ... is the 277th day of the year (278th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1777 (MDCCLXXVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Sunday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... Germantown was originally the Borough of Germantown, a town in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and is today a neighborhood in the Northwest Philadelphia section of the city of Philadelphia, about six miles northwest from the center of the city. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... Image File history File links US_flag_13_stars_–_Betsy_Ross. ... Image File history File links Union_flag_1606_(Kings_Colors). ... For an explanation of terms such as Scotland, Wales, England, (Great) Britain and United Kingdom, see British Isles (terminology). ... George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799)[1] led Americas Continental Army to victory over Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), and in 1789 was elected the first President of the United States of America. ... Sir William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe, KB, PC (August 10, 1729 – July 12, 1814) was an English General who was Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the American Revolutionary War, one of the three Howe brothers. ... Combatants United States Great Britain Commanders George Washington William Howe Henry Clinton The Philadelphia campaign (1777–1778) was a British initiative in the American Revolutionary War. ... Combatants United States Great Britain Commanders George Washington William Howe Strength 10,600 (8,000 present) 17,000 (6,000 present) Casualties 1,200-1,300 casualties 93 killed 488 wounded 6 missing The Battle of Brandywine was a battle of the Philadelphia campaign of the American Revolutionary War fought... Combatants United States Great Britain Commanders Anthony Wayne Charles Grey Strength 3,850 troops 1,300 troops Casualties 53 killed, 113 wounded, 17 captured 4 killed, 5 wounded The Battle of Paoli (also known as the Battle of Paoli Tavern or the Paoli Massacre) was a battle in the Philadelphia... Combatants Continental Army Colonial militia Great Britain German mercenaries Commanders George Washington William Howe Charles Cornwallis W. von Knyphausen Strength 11,000 14,000 Casualties 90 killed or wounded 32 captured 60 killed or wounded Map of the Battle of White Marsh The Battle of White Marsh was a battle... Combatants Pennsylvania militia Great Britain Commanders John Lacey Charles Cornwallis Strength Unknown Unknown Casualties Unknown Unknown The Battle of Matsons Ford was a battle of the American Revolutionary War fought December 11, 1777 in the area surrounding Matsons Ford (present-day Conshohocken and West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania). ... This article is about the American Revolutionary War winter encampment. ... Combatants Pennsylvania militia Great Britain, Commanders John Lacey Lt. ... This article should belong in one or more categories. ... Combatants United States of America Great Britain Commanders George Washington Sir Henry Clinton Strength 11,000 10,000 Casualties 69 killed, 37 died of heat-stroke 160 wounded 95 missing Total: 361 65 killed 59 died of heat-stroke 170 wounded 50 captured 14 missing Total: 358 The Battle of... Combatants United States Great Britain Commanders George Washington William Howe Henry Clinton The Philadelphia campaign (1777–1778) was a British initiative in the American Revolutionary War. ... This article is about military actions only. ... is the 277th day of the year (278th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1777 (MDCCLXXVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Sunday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... Germantown was originally the Borough of Germantown, a town in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and is today a neighborhood in the Northwest Philadelphia section of the city of Philadelphia, about six miles northwest from the center of the city. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ...

Contents

Background

After the September 26, 1777, occupation of Philadelphia by Charles Cornwallis, General George Washington attacked William Howe's 9,000-man garrison in Germantown, five miles (8 km) north of Philadelphia. is the 269th day of the year (270th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1777 (MDCCLXXVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Sunday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... For other uses, see Philadelphia (disambiguation) and Philly. ... Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis (December 31, 1738-October 5, British general and colonial governor. ... George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799)[1] led Americas Continental Army to victory over Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), and in 1789 was elected the first President of the United States of America. ... Sir William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe, KB, PC (August 10, 1729 – July 12, 1814) was an English General who was Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the American Revolutionary War, one of the three Howe brothers. ... Germantown was originally the Borough of Germantown, a town in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and is today a neighborhood in the Northwest Philadelphia section of the city of Philadelphia, about six miles northwest from the center of the city. ...


Washington's plan was to simultaneously attack the British with four columns from different directions during the night, with the goal of creating a double envelopment. Because of poor timing and few resources, Washington's plan failed, and he was forced to retreat to Whitemarsh with the British in pursuit. Whitemarsh Township is a township located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. ...


Battle

Germantown was a two-mile-long hamlet of stone houses from what is now known as Mount Airy on the north to an intersection called Market Square. Extending southwest from the Square was Schoolhouse Lane, running a mile and a half to the point where Wissahickon Creek emptied from a steep gorge into the Schuylkill River. General William Howe had established a base camp just south of Germantown along the high ground of Schoolhouse and Church lanes. The western wing of the camp, under the command of the Hessian general Wilhelm von Knyphausen had a picket of two Jäger battalions at its left flank on the high ground above the mouth of the Wissahickon. A Hessian brigade and two British brigades camped along Market Square and east were two British brigades under the command of General James Grant, as well as two squadrons of dragoons, and the 1st Battalion of the Light Infantry regiment. Covering the right flank was a New York loyalist unit called the Queen's Rangers. The total of British and Hessian troops in the camp totaled around 9,000, while a mere 3,000 troops were left to garrison Philadelphia. For other uses, see Mount Airy. ... Wissahickon Creek is a stream in southeastern Pennsylvania. ... The Schuylkill River, pronounced SKOO-kull (IPA: ), is a river in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. ... Sir William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe, KB, PC (August 10, 1729 – July 12, 1814) was an English General who was Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the American Revolutionary War, one of the three Howe brothers. ... The term Hessian refers to the inhabitants of the German state of Hesse. ... General Wilhelm von Knyphausen (1716 – 1800), Hessian mercenary officer during the American Revolutionary War. ... Jäger (plural also Jäger, both pronounced as the surname Yeager) is a German word for hunter. In English it is often written with the plural Jägers, or as jaeger (pl. ... There have been several people named James Grant. ... For other uses, see Philadelphia (disambiguation) and Philly. ...


Having learned about the British encampment, Washington decided to launch a surprise attack against the British despite the American army being underfed, ill-trained, and ill-equipped. Despite the recent defeats at the battles of Brandywine and Paoli and losses of more than a thousand men, Washington was quickly able to replace his losses, whereas Howe could not. With 11,000 men, Washington thought that the time was right to make an attack to destroy the British army. Instead of advancing in one massive surge against the British, Washington divided his army into four assault columns. Each column was to move through Germantown on various roads and engulf the British, attacking both flanks and the center in a pincer grip move to destroy the camp. The word Brandywine may refer to: Brandy (archaic) Brandywine River, Pennsylvania Brandywine or Baranduin River of Middle_earth, in the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien Brandywine, Maryland Brandywine, West Virginia Battle of Brandywine USS Brandywine, ship of the US Navy East Brandywine Township, Pennsylvania West Brandywine Township, Pennsylvania This is... Pasquale Paoli (1725 - 1807) () was a Corsican general and patriot, who headed the unsuccessful Corsican struggle for independence, first from Genoa, then from France. ...


The American army left camp just after dark on October 3, 1777. The first unit to become engaged was the Pennsylvania militia under General John Armstrong, which halted on the banks of the Wissahickon Creek, firing a few rounds from their cannon at Knyphausen's camp before withdrawing. Of the three remaining columns, one under the command of General John Sullivan, advanced along Germantown Road, another column of New Jersey militia under the command of General William Smallwood advanced down Skippack Road to Whitemarsh Church Road and from there to Old York Road to attack the British right flank. The other column, under the command of General Nathaniel Greene, which consisted of Greene's and General Adam Stephen's divisions and General Alexander McDougall's brigade, advanced along Limekiln Road to attack the British camp. is the 276th day of the year (277th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1777 (MDCCLXXVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Sunday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... John Armstrong (1717-1795) was an American civil engineer and soldier who served as a major general in the Revolutionary War. ... John Sullivan (b. ... William Smallwood portrait by Charles Willson Peale. ... Pennsylvania Route 73 is a 61 mile long east-west state highway located in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. ... Nathanael Greene Nathanael Greene (July 27, 1742 (O.S.)–June 19, 1786), was a major general of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. ... Alexander McDougall (1731-1786) was an American seaman, merchant, and leader from New York City during the Revolutionary War. ...


The leading elements of Sullivan's column struck the British pickets of the Light Infantry at Mount Airy just as the sun was rising at around five o'clock. The only British unit in Germantown was the 40th Regiment of Foot under the command of Colonel Thomas Musgrave. The outnumbered British troops fought until they were overwhelmed and forced to retreat. Cut off, Musgrave and his six companies, around 120 men, barricaded themselves in a large, unoccupied stone mansion called Cliveden, or the Chew House. The owner, Chief Justice Benjamin Chew, was under house arrest in New Jersey as a suspected loyalist. The American brigades, under Sullivan, Conway, and Anthony Wayne, bypassed Musgrave and continued advancing to get to the British camp less than a mile away. Thomas Musgrave was archbishop of York from 1847 to 1860. ... This article is about Cliveden in Pennsylvania, United States. ... Benjamin Chew (November 19, 1722 – January 20, 1810) was the Chief Justice of colonial Pennsylvania. ... Anthony Wayne (January 1, 1745 - December 15, 1796), was a United States Army general and statesman. ...


In the British camp, Howe tried to rally his men, having been taken by surprise by the American attack. He was trying to arrange a defense, but the American attack was beginning to falter. When Washington following the rear of the army noticed the Chew House where Musgrave was still holding out, his artillery commander, General Henry Knox, convinced Washington to storm the house. General William Maxwell's brigade, which was held in reserve, was brought forward to storm the house, while Knox established at least four 3-pound cannons on the other side of Germantown road, out of range of the British musket fire from the Chew House, to fire upon it. But the two-foot thick stone walls of the Chew House stood up against the American cannonade, and infantry assaults against the Chew House were cut down. The very few American colonials who reached the Chew House were shot or bayoneted as they tried to force their way through the boarded-up doors and windows. At least 70 American troops were killed and many more wounded in a futile attempt to take it. The British troops in the Chew House, told by Musgrave that the Americans would probably not take prisoners, were encouraged to fight to the last man.[citation needed] Henry Knox (July 25, 1750 – October 25, 1806) was an American bookseller from Boston who became the chief artillery officer of the Continental Army and later the nations first Secretary of War. ...


Meanwhile, Greene's column on Limekiln Road managed to make contact with British pickets at Luken's Mill and drove them off. But because the heavy fog during that morning, smoke from cannons and musket fire made it harder for visual contact, the attacking column was soon confused. One of Greene's brigades, under the command of General Stephen, veered off course and began following Meetinghouse Road instead of converging with the rest of Greene's force on Market Square, colliding with the rear of Wayne's brigade. Stephen's wary troops, mistaking Wayne's men for British because of the fog and smoke, fired upon them. Because of this, Wayne's troops, confused, became disorganized and were forced to retreat when they were just about to smash the undefended British line of the camp. Wayne's withdrawal left Conway's left flank unsupported. On the north, McDougall's brigade fell under attack by the Queen's Rangers and the Guards of the British reserve, forcing them to retreat. A last-ditch attack by the Colonial 9th Virginia brigade of Greene's column tried to save the day, but they were soon surrounded by two British brigades which counterattacked, being led by General Cornwallis, who had just arrived from Philadelphia with reinforcements. Cut off, the 9th Virginia was forced to surrender. Greene, learning that Sullivan's column was retreating and that he now stood alone against the whole counterattacking British camp, also began to retreat.


With the main columns in retreat, Washington ordered Armstrong and Smallwood's men to withdraw as well. Maxwell's brigade, failing to capture the Chew House, were forced to fall back as well. Taking up a pursuit, part of the British army moved north for about nine miles, but was cut off due to some bad roads. The rear-guard actions of Greene's infantry, Wayne's artillerymen, a detachment of cavalry under the command of a Polish volunteer, Count Casimir Pulaski, and the sunset halted the British pursuit. For things named to honor Kazimierz Pułaski, see: Pulaski (disambiguation). ...


Aftermath

152 of the Americans were killed, 521 wounded, and 400 captured. 70 Americans were killed attacking the Chew House. British casualties were 71 killed, 450 wounded, and 14 missing. The result was another American defeat because they failed to inflict any real damage on the British army. American morale was not altered and remained high because the men under Greene and Wayne forced the British to retreat and because the battle faltered only when Wayne's men were mistakenly attacked by Stephen's men. Stephen was later court-martialed and dismissed when it was discovered that he was drunk during his advance. Command of his division was given to a promising young Frenchman, the Marquis de Lafayette. Marie-Joseph-Paul-Roch-Yves-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette (September 6, 1757 – May 20, 1834), was a French aristocrat most famous for his participation in the American Revolutionary War and early French Revolution. ...


Washington's plan to attack the British camp failed because it was a complicated plan that required coordination between the four attacking groups, but the fact that it almost worked gave Washington's men and the rest of the American army more confidence in themselves.[citation needed]


Troops

Continental Army: 1st Maryland Regiment, 9th Virginia Regiment, 6th Pennsylvania Regiment Illustration depicting uniforms and weapons used during the 1779 to 1783 period of the American Revolution by showing four soldiers standing in an informal group General George Washington, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army on June 15, 1775. ... The 1st Maryland Regiment was raised on January 14, 1776 at Baltimore, Maryland under the command of Col. ... The 9th Virginia Regiment was raised on December 28, 1775 in eastern, Virginia for service with the Continental Army. ... The 6th Pennsylvania Regiment was raised December 9, 1775 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for service with the Continental Army. ...


Kingdom of Great Britain: Queen's Rangers, Hessian Brigade two Jäger battalions, 40th Regiment of Foot For an explanation of terms such as Scotland, Wales, England, (Great) Britain and United Kingdom, see British Isles (terminology). ... The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps (RCAC) is the armoured branch of service of the Canadian Forces Land Force Command (Canadian Army), including regular force and militia regiments. ... The term Hessian refers to the inhabitants of the German state of Hesse. ... Jäger (plural also Jäger, both pronounced as the surname Yeager) is a German word for hunter. In English it is often written with the plural Jägers, or as jaeger (pl. ... The 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army, formed in 1717 and amalgamated into The Prince of Waless Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment) in 1881. ...


Further reading

  • McGuire, Thomas J., "The Philadelphia Campaign, Vol. II: Germantown and the Roads to Valley Forge," Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006. ISBN 978-0-8117-0206-5, pages 43 to 124.

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Thrilling Incidents in American History - BATTLE OF GERMANTOWN. (911 words)
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.
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.
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.
Germantown - LoveToKnow 1911 (1075 words)
The well-preserved Morris House (1772) was the headquarters of General Howe at the close of the battle, and in 1793, when Germantown, owing to the yellow fever in Philadelphia, was the temporary capital of the United States, it was occupied by President Washington.
The Germantown Academy was built in 1760, and after the battle of Germantown was used by the British as a hospital.
Germantown was founded in October 1683 by thirteen families from Crefeld, Germany, under the leadership of Francis Daniel Pastorius.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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