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Washington played an important role and his contributions are crucial to understanding German town's place in American history. Washington led his army against the British and their commander Sir William Howe. The "shot heard around the world" was fired at Lexington in 1774 and the War began. The Battle of Bunker Hill gave the Americans great confidence, soon challenged by the mighty British Army on Long Island, Harlem Heights, and White Plains, New York. Washington retreated to Manhattan and bought some time. He crossed the Delaware and found victory against the British in Trenton, New Jersey and later in Princeton. Washington chased the British back to New York and Washington went into winter quarters in Morristown, New Jersey. Howe's army landed at Head of Elk and moved toward Philadelphia. The British triumphed at Brandywine, and Washington moved his troops to protect Philadelphia. The British took Germantown and camped there, awaiting the Americans. Washington formulated his plan and his troops in for the attack...
The Battle of Germantown
On October 2nd, Washington conceived a bold plan of attack on Howe's 9,000 troop garrsion stationed in Germantown. It called for the simultaneous advance of four different units of troops — moving by night. At dawn, the four columns were to converge not far from General Howe's headquarters and catch the British by surprise. The morning started well for the Americans who had the British retreating. But Washington's plan went astray when one of his four columns lost its bearings in a dense fog and thick smoke. Others columns failed to coordinate effectively. The British defense was particularly strong at a Germantown mansion named Cliveden where dozens of soldiers had taken refuge. Valuable time was lost while the Americans under Henry Knox bombarded the house. Those inside did not surrender because they feared that Anthony Wayne's men, still furious over the Paoli Massacre, would kill them anyway. In the end, bad luck and poor timing forced Washington to retreat to Whitemarsh with the British in pursuit. The Battle was an American defeat but it served to boost morale and self-confidence. They believed the defeat was the result of bad luck, not poor tactics. The Americans suffered 152 losses, 521 wounded, and over 400 captured. The British casualties numbered 537 plus 14 captured.
End of the War
The British took Philadelphia and the Americans camped for the winter at Valley Forge. There they regrouped and received training by several skilled Europeans. They emerged from Valley Forge with new determination and a much improved army, militarily. Further, in 1778, France signed a treaty with the Americans, and began supplying supplies and naval assistance. The now strong Americans and the powerful French Navy clashed with the British at Yorktown. There the British surrendered and the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783. The War was over and the United States of America was born.
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