Germantown Diary of Hunter
Diary of Lieutenant Sir Martin Hunter.
General Wayne commanded the advance, and fully expected to be revenged for the surprise we had given him. When the first shots were fired at our pickets, so much had we all Wayne's affair in remembrance that the battalion was out and under arms in a minute. At this time the day had just broke; but it was a very foggy morning and so dark we could not see a hundred yarrds before us. Just as the battalion had formed, the pickets came in and said the enemy were advancing in force.
They had hardly joined the battalion, when we heard a loud cry of "Have at the bloodhounds! Revenge Wayne's affair!" and they immediately fired a volley. We gave them one in return, cheered, and charged. As it was near the end of the campaign, it was very weak; it did not consist of more than three hundred men, and we had no support nearer than Germantown, a mile in our rear. On our charging, they gave way on all sides, but again and again renewed the attack with fresh troops and greater force. We charged them twice, till the battalion was so reduced by killed and wounded thar the bugle was sounded to retreat; indeed had we not retreated at the very time we did, we should all have been taken or killed, as two columns of the enemy had nearly got round our flank. But this was the first time we had retreated from the Americans, and it was with great difficulty we could get our men to obey our orders.
The enemy were kept so long in check that the two brigades had advanced to the entrance of Biggenstown when they met our battalion retreating. By this time General Howe had come up, and seeing the battalion retreating, all broken' he got into a passion and exclaimed: "For shame, Light Infantry!
I never saw you retreat before. Form! form! it's only a scouting party." However, he was soon convinced it was more than a scouting party, as the heads of the enemy's columns soon appeared. One coming through Biggens" town, with three pieces of cannon in their front, immediately fired with grape at the crowd that was standing with General Howe under a large chesnut-tree. I think I never saw people enjoy a discharge of grape before; but we really all felt pleased to see the enemy make such an appearance, and to hear the grape rattle about the commander-in-chief's ears, after he had accused the battalion of having run away from a scouting party. He rode off immediately, full speed, and we joined the two brigades that were now formed a little way in our rear; but it was not possible for them to make any stand against Washington's whole army, and they all retreated to Germantown, except Colonel Musgrave, who, with the 40th Regiment, nobly defended Howe's house till we were reinforced from Philadelphia.