The Battle of Germantown during the War for Independence is crucial to this neighborhood’s importance to American history.
General George Washington’s daring campaign to liberate the occupied capital city, Philadelphia, came to an abrupt end on the Germantown Road on October 4, 1777. Washington planned a pre-dawn attack on Germantown, where thousands of British soldiers were camped in the fields, living off the crops and livestock of the local residents. Homes were commandeered as headquarters for the British officers, including General William Howe at Stenton.
Nearly 12,000 Continental troops were marshaled for the attack, yet 120 British infantrymen proved unbeatable as they barricaded themselves inside the thick stone walls of Cliveden, the summer house of the wealthy Loyalist Benjamin Chew.
Fierce fighting raged for several hours throughout the area, but Washington’s troops were eventually forced to retreat back into Montgomery County and the British tightened their hold on the town. After the Battle, local teenagers helped to bury the dead in mass graves. More than 150 American soldiers were killed — about half of them on the grounds of Cliveden — and 70 British. Hundreds more on both sides were wounded. The Battle left indelible scars on the community.