If you like the sound the sound of fireworks and the pulse of a great historical story, I’ve got something for you to do near Norristown that you might enjoy.
Have you ever been to a battle reenactment? You know, where people dress up in historical uniforms and act out a famous battle complete with (almost) real gunfire, heroic charges, famous last stands and all that? If this sounds like something you’d like to do, each October there is one held in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, right on Germantown Avenue.
About The Battle of Germantown
The battle of Germantown is a cool piece of Revolutionary War history that I never heard of. I’ll give you the gist of it here. During the Revolutionary War Philadelphia was our nations capital. The British took it over and George Washington, if you ever heard of him was the General of the American army, decided he was going to take Philly back by mounting a huge assault.
As Washington marched his army toward Philadelphia he came upon a town called Germantown. There he skirmished with some small British forces. Washington only had limited ammunition and rations to conquer Philly so he decided, “Eh, let’s skip Germantown and continue on to Philly so we don’t run out of supplies.”
One of Washington’s subordinate Generals though, disagreed stating, “Sup George? Dude, if we leave this British force here, we’re just gonna have to fight these muthas on the way back from Philly when we are weak an tired.”
Or something like that the exchange went.
Taking his General’s advice, Washington decided to fight the Brits in Germantown first. It didn’t go well. About 100 British troops packed themselves into this small house called “Cliveden” You’d think that a bunch of guys throwing themselves into a house surrounded by thousands of troops that want to eat them for lunch is a bad idea. It wasn’t. Unbeknownst to anyone this house was strong enough to survive a comet hitting the Earth. Washington attacked this house with 9,000 men and many cannons. He tried shooting it down, burning it down and charging the house. The home was so indestructable and the British so resolved to fight that Washington could not capture the grounds. When the battle was over something like 2 British troops where killed and Washington lost hundreds of men. Even worse for George, he expelled so much ammunition and other resources that he was left unable to attack Philadelphia. That’s pretty much why he had to go back to Valley Forge, PA and lick his wounds for the winter.
Cool story right?
Tour The Cliveden House
Before watching the battle I highly suggest paying the couple dollars to tour the Cliveden House. This is the home the British packed into to make their stand against Washington’s overwhelming forces. The guides will tell you all about how it was built, the owners of the house, the attitudes of the time and how the home related to the battle. Some of the bullet holes in the walls still exist to this day. Be sure to look out for them.
Touring the house from the inside will help you to better appreciate the battle reenactment from the outside.
Checking Out The Reenactment
Prior to the battles there are tons of reenactors mulling around the Cliveden grounds. Actually, the reenactors almost outnumber the amount of visitors. Their uniforms look great. There are British redcoats, Continental blue coats as well as Hessian (Germans allied with British) forces, women dressed in period piece clothing etc. Most reenactors are generally accessible for conversation and ready to lend a history lesson of their own.
The Course of the Battle
The battle reenactment basically fights its way up Germantown Avenue, through the Cliveden Gates and up the Cliveden front lawn where the British then retreat into the house where they duke it out with Washington’s forces. I want to say the whole thing lasts 45 minutes but I can’t say for sure. I lost track of time.
Here’s a video of the Battle on the Front Lawn (Keep Scrolling Down after the Video for More on This Event)
The History Lesson
While the battle rages on, there is a really interesting history lesson that takes place. A history teacher stands between the spectators and the battle. He lectures the whole time and gives a very clear picture of the purpose of the battle, the strategies used, the conditions the soldiers faced, how it affected the surrounding areas and the aftermath of the battle.
Here’s Another Video of The Battle - The British Are In The House!!
Overall I Liked It
The reenactment was a lot of fun. If you like history and the sound of musket fire, you’ll like it. Even if this isn’t your favorite thing to do, if you haven’t checked it out before I recommend it. For someone who hasn’t seen history reenactors, this really is a great way to see folks who are passionate about a hobby that is so unique and engaging.
Cliveden’s Website is Here
Where is It
If you have a minute, please go back to the home page of this website and read some other great posts. If you live near Norristown, Blue Bell, Collegville, Conshohocken, etc there are plenty of fun and unique things to spend you day doing. This site will provide you recommendations of unique things to do that we have actually experienced and want to share.
Thanks again for checking out thingstodoinnorristown.com. Be sure to get out there and experience some really neat stuff in the community
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