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Washington Strikes Back!
October 4th, 1777. More than 100 British soldiers have barricaded themselves inside Cliveden, the elegant summer home of Pennsylvania Chief Justice Benjamin Chew. Six-pound cannonballs and American volley fire slam against the home's 2-foot-thick walls with little effect.
Meanwhile, American and British troops, blindfolded by thick fog, are fighting their second pitched battle in a month on Pennsylvania soil. This time General Washington, who has long played a defensive game, is the attacker. He has devised an ambitious four-pronged attack to envelop and smash General Sir William Howe's British army, camped at Germantown. Washington knows that Howe has divided his force and that only 9,000 Redcoats occupy the village about six miles from Philadelphia. Washington's force of 8,000 Continentals and 3,000 militia, for once, outnumbers the enemy.
Washington's plan looks good on paper, but for the partially trained army it will be difficult to execute. The plan calls for four converging columns to attack at the same time after an all-night march of at least 14 miles. General Nathanael Green's column, the largest, is late because, "the guide of the left wing mistook the way." The delay at Cliveden slows elements of the American centre column accompanied by Washington himself. Worst of all, troops under Generals Anthony Wayne and Adam Stephen (who is found to be drunk and is later dismissed from the army) collide in the fog and mistake one another for the enemy. Stephen's men fire on Wayne's troops.
Panic breaks out among the Americans. Men run. A promising enterprise quickly turns into an inexplicable retreat. The battle, which began at 5:20am, ends by mid morning with the British pursuit. Washington and his lieutenants are stunned. General John Armstrong of the Pennsylvania militia later laments, "a glorious victory fought for and eight tenths won, was shamefully but mysteriously lost."
The cost of the battle is high for both sides with combined casualties nearing 2,000, including General Francis Nash for whom Nashville, Tennessee will later be named. For those who were there, the terrible memories last a lifetime.
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Mark S Miklos
Spirit Games (Est. 1984, Lefglow Ltd) - Supplying role playing games (RPG), wargames rules, miniatures and scenery, new and traditional board and card games for the last 35 years
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