Talk:Battle of Germantown

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Mount Airy?[edit]

The intro to the "Battle" section mentions Mount Airy. Was this a toponym in use at the time? JesseRafe 02:50, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

William Allen's country estate ("Mount Airy") was built there in the 1750s, and it does appear as though it was in use by the time to reference the area. Alphageekpa 12:26, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

Where is the evidence for this designation at the time of the battle? The main action of the battle took place in what is now considered Mount Airy, but I have never heard it referred to as the Battle of Mount Airy. If you look on the Mount Airy site, there are two footnoted references to the origination of the place name. The first indicates that the area was referred to as Beggarstown, a corruption of Bebberstown, a named derived from one of the early settlers. The first reference to Mount Airy referenced on its Wikipedia site dates to 1843. Even then the area would only have been an unofficial place name in the German Township. I am going to update the reference to Mount Airy to include the phrase "now known as," since its general use in the 18th century has not been established. Bryanstreet 14:45, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Reason for attaching Cliveden house[edit]

At the reenactment of the Battle of Germantown, a Cliveden house representative said that the Continental troops attacked the house because the British Troops in the house were those responsible for the "Massacre at Paoli" and the Continentals wanted "payback".

Could someone familiar with the details add this bit of history?

209.36.79.10 14:16, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

I can't say that I've ever seen indication of such in any publications. Christopher Ward, in War of the Revolution (page 366) states that Washington held a council of war regarding how to handle the Chew house, and General Knox argued that a tenant of classical military science is that "While penetrating an enemy country, you must not leave an occupied castle in your rear." Washington agreed, "always respectful of Knox's larger store of military science." Alphageekpa (talk) 12:30, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
No, I do not think that was the case. The troops that occupied the Chew House (or Cliveden House) were from the 40th Regiment of Foot. While the 40th Foot was present at Paoli, it was largely the light infantry of the 49th and 46th Regiments of Foot - as part of the 2nd Battalion Light Infantry, a conglomerate unit - that were responsible. The light infantry of those regiments dyed their feathers in their hats red in defiance of the American's vows for vengeance. As Alphageekpa said, it was largely due to the fact Washington did not want to leave a fortified enemy position in the rear of his advance to harass him with impunity as the battle went on. (86.8.38.134 (talk) 19:15, 11 August 2013 (UTC))

Draw?[edit]

The text says "Decisive British victory," but somebody changed the box from DBV to "Draw." I'm no expert, so I've changed the box to "British victory" and will let the experts decide this one. Smallbones (talk) 16:11, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Not simply a "British victory"[edit]

I don't see why this battle keeps being altered to just "British victory" with a highly unreliable source (Evident that Washington is not listed as an American commander, and Mawhood is listed as the British commander, when he in fact commanded at Princeton). Whether people want to change things using highly unreliable sources is up to them, but it obviously doesn't gain much credence. This battle was a decisive victory on the grounds that if the battle succeeded, a large portion of the British army would have been destroyed there and then, perhaps ending the war there and then before Yorktown had a chance to even happen. On top of that, it prevented the Colonial re-capture of both Germantown and perhaps even Philadelphia. So, how about some discussion before altering with unreliable sources? (Trip Johnson (talk) 22:04, 28 April 2008 (UTC))

Your're the one who originally altered this. (Red4tribe (talk) 22:11, 28 April 2008 (UTC))

If you guys put the amount of effort into cleaning up this article (and there is PLENTY of room for improvement), instead of bickering about "Decisive British victory" vs. "British victory", this article would be FA!!! Alphageekpa (talk) 00:31, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
And, oh, the sources! We're just sliding backwards! This article gets worse by the day. With all the publications out there about Germantown, why must the list of sources be what it is? These websites certainly leave much to be desired. Alphageekpa (talk) 00:35, 29 April 2008 (UTC) (sitting by the wayside while these two finish-out their edit war)
There is one source in the article that could be used to claim decisive victory. Fiske, p. 323. states that coupled with Burgoyne's disastrous defeat at Saratoga, the defeat of Howe at Germantown; "would probably have been too much for Lord North's ministry". Even if not decisive, it is at the very least a strategic success. Like most British strategic victories in the war, they were only temporary, the only exceptions being the battles fought for control of New York, which remained in British hands till the end of the war. But in this case, the British forces under Howe did fight off a surprise assault which could have crippled British military capabilities on land had it succeeded. At the very least it is a strategic success in this light. (RockDrummerQ (talk) 14:56, 10 August 2013 (UTC))
Addendum: Germantown couldn't really be claimed to be particularly decisive, despite the claim that a defeat may have been too much for Lord North's ministry to handle. Like all battles where Howe was in command, after Bunker Hill he failed to follow up on his successes, fearing the kinds of heavy losses his rash and ill-disciplined attack had incurred there. Despite avoiding a second Saratoga, he failed to follow up on the disarray the Americans were in following the battle, in which he could have destroyed the American army. When he faced Washington's army next, it was well drilled and more confident after the training at Valley Forge. That, and coupled with the fact that Clinton, who had taken over after Howe had resigned, and the British forces under his command withdrew back to New York, totally abandoning Philadelphia within the following 8 months after the battle. Hardly lasting strategic gains. Definitely not a decisive victory as it did little to alter the strategic situation as a whole, as the bulk of Washington's army escaped, however it could be taken as a strategic success in averting a second Saratoga, and making lasting strategic gains - if only for the next 8 months or so. (86.8.38.134 (talk) 19:34, 11 August 2013 (UTC))

Administrators Noticeboard[edit]

This article has mentioned there. It does seem that some edit waring is erupting. Perhaps User:Trip Johnson and User:Red4tribe could simply agree here that "decisive" may be a bit POV without a source to say so? -JodyB talk 23:02, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

I have asked him probably 4 times on the histroy page. (Red4tribe (talk))

The problem you have landed yourself with Red, is I could go through every battle on wikipedia, take "Decisive" off, and demand a source to claim it is decisive. I could go to Camden, Cowpens, Yorktown, Saratoga and take decisive off of all of them, and demand a source to say it is decisive. It is just stupid Red, you are being childish now, so just leave it alone. (Trip Johnson (talk) 16:28, 30 April 2008 (UTC))


If you wish to do that, go ahead. I bet I could come up with one for each of them. In your eyes Trenton is not decisive, but yet how is this? (Red4tribe (talk) 20:42, 30 April 2008 (UTC))

User:Trip Johnson was blocked for edit waring. I have reverted this to the previous version for the following reasons;

  1. The present term "British victory" is sourced and cited with a footnote. "Decisive is not."
  2. "Decisive" is a POV edit if not backed up by a source.
  3. The above comment is irrelevant to this discussion.

All users are reminded to avoid waring and to seek dispute resolution early. --JodyB talk 23:14, 30 April 2008 (UTC)

Washington overconfident section[edit]

Can this be looked at and sourced? This reads like original research but I have little expertise. Thank you. --70.109.223.188 (talk) 17:35, 30 April 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. I've deleted section. Alphageekpa (talk) 10:49, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Philadelphia was what kind of capital[edit]

Very recently, somebody called Philadelphia the "provincial capital". This is misleading. Although the city *was* the capital of the Province of Pennsylvania, during the war it was the capital for the united rebellious 13 colonies. Hurmata (talk) 06:23, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

Yes, that factual error was indeed corrected in a recent edit. Alphageekpa (talk) 09:43, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

Market Square versus Wayne Junction[edit]

It is false that the southern end of Germantown was at present day Wayne Junction, because Wayne Junction is a full mile south of Market Square. Besides the main source for this article (an article on the Web by the Penn. Hist. and Museum Commission), check out the clickable map here: http://www.ushistory.org/germantown/lower/market.htm. Market Square is at the top and Stenton -- the HQ of British commander Gen. Howe -- is at the bottom. *Stenton* mansion is at present day Wayne Junction (which I know because I'm personally familiar with the Wayne Junction railyard). Hurmata (talk) 06:23, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

Second Graphic of battlefield[edit]

This graphic should be deleted. Although it is a correct depiction of the distribution of forces, the label on the graphic is GERMANTOWN, MARYLAND. Although there is a Germantown in Maryland, the battle in question was in Germantown Pennsylvania. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.13.200.161 (talk) 13:10, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

Map of the Battle of Germantown says "Maryland"[edit]

I couldn't help but notice that one of the two maps of the battle is entitled "Maryland, 1777" which is certainly incorrect. The map itself is obviously Germantown, Pennsylvania, as it also depicts the countryside in what is now Philadelphia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 130.91.10.129 (talk) 13:14, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

Case for Germantown being a limited Strategic victory for the British[edit]

I'll try to argue this case as well as I can. A source within the article, Fiske, p. 323, claims that coupled with Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga, a Trenton-like defeat (Washington's plan) of Howe at Germantown "would probably have been too much for Lord North's ministry", and would have maybe brought about a very early Yorktown and ended British operations on land in America. I propose that at Germantown, Howe's army did win a strategic success of sorts. Like most British victories in the war that were of strategic value, they were only short-term. The only exceptions to this were the battles fought for control of Canada, and those of New York (which the British held for the remainder of the war). Otherwise, the British would win strategic successes of limited value, only to retreat later in the year as the situation either changed, or entire wings of the armies were annihilated, as at Trenton, King's Mountain, Bennington and so forth. Washington had hoped to surprise Howe's army in a multi-pronged attack in the same way the Hessians had been surprised at Trenton. An American victory on that scale would have crippled the British ability to wage war on land. At a first glance, this seems to be the case for a decisive success, but let me explain why it is not so.

Following the battle, Howe, a cautious leader ever since the Battle of Bunker Hill, refused to pursue the retreating American forces and follow up on his victory by annihilating Washington's army. Instead, Washington was allowed to retreat and take refuge in Valley Forge. Not only was the bulk of the American army preserved - very reminiscent of the battles fought for control of New York - but when Washington emerged from Valley Forge the following year, it was with a completely reformed army, trained in Prussian tactics and drill - the best of their day. Howe's reluctance (or incompetence) to pursue the Americans was decisive in enabling the Americans to withdraw and recuperate. Clinton replaced Howe after the latter resigned, who then promptly ordered the British withdrawal from Pennsylvania, back to New York. 8 months after the battle, both armies were exactly where they were following the New York & New Jersey campaign, years earlier. Hardly lasting strategic gains. Nevertheless, the British fighting force was also preserved, and enabled them to launch the Southern campaign. While not a decisive success by any means, it still enabled the British to carry on fighting the war. What do you people think? (86.8.38.134 (talk) 19:05, 21 August 2013 (UTC))