Battle of Germantown
Painted by Xavier della Gatta, 1782
Richard Mansergh St. George worked with Italian artist Xavier della Gatta to create the painting of the Battle of Germantown reproduced here. The painting merges different actions into one scene, including the moment Richard Mansergh St. George was carried off the battlefield after he was wounded.
Museum of the American Revolution
Regiments from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware led the attack at Germantown. Washington’s total assault force included about 8,000 Continental Army troops and 3,000 militiamen from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey.
Corporal George Peacock is rescuing the wounded Richard Mansergh St. George from the battlefield. For his heroic effort, St. George presented Peacock with 50 guineas (gold coins), the equivalent of three years’ pay for a corporal.
This officer on horseback is believed to be General Sir William Howe. According to Martin Hunter, when General Howe saw the British light infantry retreating from Washington’s army, he exclaimed “For shame, Light Infantry! I never saw you retreat before!”41 Howe eventually rallied his 8,000 troops, called up reinforcements from Philadelphia, and forced the American Army to retreat.
Northwest of Germantown is the village of Beggarstown (now the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia). Washington’s army attacked the British on October 4th on the main road that connected Beggarstown and Germantown, now called Germantown Avenue.
This light infantry trumpeter may be a man who ran away from slavery to follow the British Army. Many enslaved men and women saw the British Army as a path to freedom. Those who followed the army worked in various positions, including officers’ servants, laundresses, and wagon drivers. A few men served as musicians, such as this trumpeter, to help the British Army communicate its orders in camp and on the battlefield.
This wagon driver of African descent is evacuating British light infantrymen to Philadelphia for medical treatment. After being rescued from the battlefield at Germantown, Richard Mansergh St. George was also carted into the city. Eyewitnesses reported that it took 200 wagonloads to bring the casualties from Germantown to the makeshift hospitals in Philadelphia.
This brick building is Xavier della Gatta’s representation of Cliveden, the home of Philadelphia lawyer Benjamin Chew. In reality, Cliveden is made of stone and is much larger. Della Gatta’s painting shows the 40th Regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Musgrave entering the mansion and preparing to defend it. The 40th Regiment defended the house from intense artillery fire and 10 infantry assaults over a span of about two hours. One observer said the “Englishmen fought like lions.”