Sunday, October 4, 2015

Gone for Soldiers: Abraham Heath (About 1740 - 1807), Soldier (Part V)

After the Continental Army failed to stop General Howe's invading army, the British captured Philadelphia on September 26, 1777. To block an assault on the city by the Colonials, who were camped about 30 miles to the northwest, Howe divided his army, sending 9,000 of his troops to Germantown. Hoping to take advantage of the situation, General Washington, with his army of 11,000 men, decided on a coordinated simultaneous assault using four columns to engulf the British defenders.* General Nathaneal Greene** led the column attacking the British right on the morning of October 4, 1777.

The Colonial Army surprised the Howe's forces and at first victory seemed at hand but at the end of five hours the Rebels were forced to withdraw and after reinforcements arrived from Philadelphia, the British pursued them for nearly eight miles.

[A Sketch of the Battle of German. Tn., 4th October 1777, where the rebels were repulsed. 1777.
Source: Library of Congress, Maps Division]

[Battle of Germantown, Museum of the American Revolution. In 1782 Italian artist Xavier della Gatta painted this imagined scene of the Battle of Germantown, most likely for a British officer. On the right is his rendering of the Benjamin Chew House, where troops from the 40th British regiment held off the attacking Americans in some of the bloodiest fighting of the battle.]

But the American's near success at at Germantown together with the British Army's defeat at Saratoga by General Horatio Gates only two weeks later probably helped convince the French government to become our allies.

Next stop: Valley Forge.

*For a detailed description including maps as the battle progressed, look here. You can find a more general view of the battle including more information and pictures of the Chew House (Clivedon) in the painting above here. Here is a transcription of the Virginia Gazette article and a letter describing the battle.
**Whose division included Abraham Heath's 2nd Virginia Brigade. He is listed in a muster roll for September, October and November as "in Hospital" but we don't know if he was sick or wounded, or how long he was there.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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