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Battle of Germantown – British Account

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

October 4. –This morning, before daybreak, (the weather being foggy,) the rebels attempted, with all their force, in six columns, to penetrate on the outposts of our army; they began their attack with three of them on the second light infantry and the fortieth regiment at the end of Germantown, where they were so warmly received •that they did not make the least impression for the space of two hours; at length being overpowered with numbers, and risking to be surrounded if longer opposition was made, our two battalions thought it expedient to retire. These columns imagining victory was about to declare in their favor, two of them came into the village, while the third filed off obliquely to our left. Colonel Musgrave having judiciously thrown himself with six companies of the fortieth, into a square house of Mr. Chew’s, checked one of the two columns that had followed him, while the other pushed into Germantown. The one at the house immediately invested and riddled it with musketry, grape and cannon shot for a full hour, the colonel defending it most gallantly, killing them by dozens from the windows of every face; but, upon the forty-fourth regiment advancing into the village, supported by the seventeenth, and driving all before them as far Mr. Chew’s mansion, both these columns retired precipitately, and would have been totally demolished if the fog had not made it hazardous for so small a body to pursue so rapidly, as it might have done had the weather been clear; the other column, that had filed off towards our left, being drove shortly after by the thirty-third, forty-sixth, and sixty-fourth regiments. Two other columns, that had attacked and obliged the pickets of our right to fall back on their respective corps, were, in their turn, defeated, upon the first light infantry, fourth, fifth, fifteenth, thirty-seventh, forty-ninth, and fifty-fifth regiments attacking them; and the Hessian Yagers repulsed and beat back the column which attacked their post. It now began to clear up, and the commander-in-chief having perceived a large body (that had rallied) forming itself on Chestnut hill, (apparently to retard our pursuit,) his excellency ordered Major-General Gray to advance upon it with the seventeenth, thirty-third, forty-fourth, forty-sixth, and sixty-fourth regiments, directing the other corps to follow as fast as possible to sustain; but the rebels did not think proper to maintain that ground, retiring precipitately upon the approach of this small corps; and although we pursued for nine miles, till three in the afternoon, we were never able to come up with any considerable body. Thus Mr. Washington’s army, consisting of upwards of twelve thousand men, was totally dispersed by a few British battalions, and the Hessian Yagers, (the rest of our army having never had an opportunity of engaging,) and would not only have been cut up had the morning been bright, but all their artillery, &c., must unavoidably have fallen into our hands. 1


1 Gaine’s Mercury, November 10.