Orders, Decorations and Medals (11 June 1996)

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Date of Auction: 11th June 1996

Sold for £1,700

Estimate: £1,200 - £1,500

Defence of German Town 1777, silver-gilt, by J. Milton, 44 mm, the reverse additionally engraved 40th Regt’, pierced for suspension, very fine and of the highest rarity in this metal


Ex Hamilton-Smith 1927 and Lord Cheylesmore 1930.

During the American War of Independence, the Royal Army was, in October 1777, encamped at German Town, a large village a few miles from Philadelphia. The enemy, under the direction of Washington, was at Skippach Creek, about six miles from german Town. They had received some reinforcements, and were aware that the Royal Army was weakened by having detachments at Chester and Philadelphia. These circumstances induced the Americans to attempt a night surprise, and on the evening of the 3rd October they marched in silence towards German Town. Their approach was discovered at 3 a.m., by the outlying pickets. A battalion of Light Infantry and the 40th Regiment were the first to oppose them, but these being overpowered by numbers, were obliged to fall back upon the village. In this emergency Lieut.-Colonel Musgrave, who commanded the 40th, threw himself with six companies of the regiment into a strong storehouse in the possession of Mr. Chews, which lay in front of the approaching Americans. This measure checked the enemy in their forward movement, and gave the Royal Army time to recover from the effects of their first discomfiture. Musgrave and his brave 40th, attacked on every side, defended the house with determined resolution. Cannon were brought to bear on it, but the gunners were picked off by an unceasing fire from the windows of the building. At length the house became perforated like a colander, and the iron bar that barricaded the front door having been struck by a round shot, the enemy got access for a moment into the house, to be, however, as speedily driven out by the bayonets of the 40th. Colonel Musgrave determined to defend his position to the last. But soon the tide of fortune turned. A force detached from the main army came up opportunely to his relief, and the enemy were driven from the village with considerable loss.