Today is the 235th anniversary of the Battle of Germantown during the Philadelphia Campaign. The family and I will take part in a reenactment of one of its central actions, the fight around the Chew House or "Cliveden", in which the 1st and 3rd NJ regiments commanded by my ancestors Matthias Ogden and Elias Dayton suffered their heaviest casualties of the war (with Brandywine several weeks before a close second).
Col Elias Dayton of the 3rd NJ wrote about the battle of Germantown:
"The evening of the third we marched off with the whole army, with the design to attach the enemy, who lay near Germantown; about fifteen miles distant from us; unfortunately for us the night proved very dark, which so retarded our march that we did not reach the enemy's advanced post until sunrise, whereas our design was to attack them at first dawn of day. At sunrise the fire began: their advanced party soon gave way, our people pursued them closely to the main body, which they immediately attacked likewise, and they soon gave way, and were pursued from field to field with great loss on their side.
We suffered considerable in advancing, by a party of the enemy had thrown into a large stone house, said to belong to Benj. Chew. At this place fell Capt. McMyer and Ensign Hurley of Col. Ogden's regiment; Capt. Conway, Capt. Morrison, Capt. Baldwin and Lt. Robinson wounded, of the same regiment, together with about 20 men; Of my regiment Lt. Clark and Ensign Bloomfield were wounded and 18 men killed and wounded; my horse was shot under me at the same place, within about three yards of the corner of the house.
About this time came on perhaps the thickest fog known in the memory of man, which, together with the smoke, brought on almost midnight darkness, it was not possible at one time (I believe for the space of near half an hour) to distinguish friend from foe five yards distance. This obliged all our parties to give over the pursuit, as they were in danger of firing upon their friends, and probably did several times before the fire ceased. At this instant the enemy rallied their scattered forces and advanced upon us, when we retreated in turn, though with very little loss. I believe every man we had either killed or wounded met his fate full in front as he was advancing. We had one Brigadier General who was shot in the thigh with a cannon ball, of which wound he died three days afterwards. Our good Major Witherspoon was shot dead by a cannon shot in the head as we were advancing through the streets of Germantown."
A return of the 3rd NJ on October 6th, 1777 shows 26 officers, 16 NCOs, 9 musicians and 150 Rank and File present fit for duty, and lists casualties from Germantown as 1 NCO and 5 Rank and file killed, 2 officers, 1 NCO and 12 Rank and File wounded, and 1 NCO and 4 men missing.
The breakdown of casualties in the 1st NJ were likely as great or perhaps even higher given the high toll of officers killed and wounded. Ensign Martin Hurely was wounded but did not die in battle, but rather was captured and executed by the British afterward as a deserter from the 44th Regiment of foot back in 1775 in Boston. He later served in the 1st NJ beginning in its 1st establishment, rising from private to sergeant and then to Ensign.