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Stewart, Walter (1756-1796) to Horatio Gates

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.00657 Author/Creator: Stewart, Walter (1756-1796) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Letter Date: 12 October 1777 Pagination: 3 p. ; 24.6 x 20 cm.

Later copy. Copied 23 May 1860 for Joseph Willard, Esq., by George [H.?] Moore. Stewart, aide-de-camp to General Gates, offers an account of the Battle of Germantown. Mentions Generals Anthony Wayne, John Sullivan, Nathanael Greene, Edward Stevens, and Alexander McDougall. Writes, "...everything appeared in our favour when the unfortunate retreat took place, which cannot yet be accounted for; it is left on General Stevens, who certainly gave the Orders to the left wing." Reports that Stevens has been suspended, and a court of inquiry, with Lord Stirling (William Alexander) presiding, is investigating the case. Has heard a report from Miss Lucy Lenard that British General James Grant was mortally wounded and General James Agnew was killed in the Battle of Germantown. Notes that Lenard heard British officers say Germantown was "... the severest blow they had yet met with, 'twas plann'd with judgment, executed with spirit, and they can't tell why we left it unless for want of ammunition." Notes that Continental troops plan on advancing toward Philadelphia the same day or 13 October.

[draft]
Camps 26 Miles from Philada Oct. 12th 1777.
My Dear Sir,
The last time I had the pleasure of writing you was about the 2nd. Or 3d. when I gave you a small sketch of what had pass'd after the Battle of Brandy Wine untill we cross'd the Schuylkill, On the 4th in the afternoon we had orders to march at 6 o'clock, & march'd all that night towards the enemy, the distance about 12 miles; on account of the darkness of the night, and badness of come Roads, we did not arrive at our appointed place untill past 6 oclock (the Disposition for attack you have Inclos'd) at which time the attack was begun by Sullivan & Wayne, we however join'd in about 15 minutes when the action became very general, at the distance sometimes of twenty & sometimes forty yards. We however began to gain ground on them, and in an hour from the beginning, their army was on the treat in all Quarters, the right of our Army got into Germantown, where they were a good deal annoy'd from the Houses, particularly Chews, in which they had four field peices & 500 Men, this stop'd the whole right and kept them engaged for a long time, untill the Enemy had time to rally & return to the charge, when I believe the right stagger'd a good deal & shortly gave way. On the left of our Army where Green & Stevens were, our success was great: when I first engag'd we were a mile and a half from Germantown, & before we ended I got to the Market House at Germantown. General McDougale whow as to have attack'd the[m] on their right Flank, never got to this Ground, which Expos'd our flank much, and I happen'd to be detach'd, & fell on the left of the whole [2] where I engag'd the 5th & 38th. - they both run lustily, & took a little flush redoubt with three peices of Cannon from. I had cursed hot work for it, before they left them; but everything appear'd in our favour when the unfortunate retreat took place, which cannot yet be accounted for it is left on General Stevens, who certainly gave the Orders to the left wing. He is suspended, and to-day a Court of Enquiry sits of which Lord Stirling is President. Our loss that day is between six and seven hundred; the Accounts from Philada. are great. Miss Lucy Lenard is come out, and says Genl. Agnew was kill'd on the spot, Genl. Grant mortally wounded, & two Hessian Genls. kill'd, that 52 officers were buried in one day, & that they had kill'd, on the sport 780 privates. Indeed every account that has come out since makes it a great deal more, but this will do pretty well. They are much alarm'd, forming abatties all round Philda. She heard the officers say at Dinner, 'twas the severest blow they had yet met with, 'twas plann'd with judgment, executed with spirit, and they can't tell why we left it unless for want of ammunition. They inform'd her I lay day on the field - am very happy they are so much mistaken. This afternoon, or tomorrow, believe, we again advance - the next action think will be decisive; a heavy firing has been these two days at the Fort - hope in god, they will stand it. We are very impatient to hear from you.
[3] I am Dear General, Yr. Oblig'd
Sincere Friend
Walter Stewart
I hope one day or other to pay you a visit in Canada, when you have the Government.
To
The Honorable
Major General Gates,
Commanding
the Northern Army
[copied for Joseph Williad, Esq.
By Geo: H: Moore:
May 23, 1860.]

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