Medal, Battle of Germantown Medal (1777)

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  • Maker: John Milton
  • London, England
  • ca. 1785
  • Copper
  • Gift of the Lasser family
  • 2008-46,137

Set in a picturesque Philadelphia park stands Cliveden, home of the Chew family and the centerpiece of the Battle of Germantown. This confused affair occurred on 4 October 1777, when Washington's army stumbled upon enemy sentinels, with the ensuing fight forcing about 120 officers and men of the British 40th Regiment to take refuge in the mansion. The astonishing defense of Cliveden by this small party resulted in the appearance of John Milton's Germantown medal, often viewed as the only mass-produced award for a Revolutionary War event. As such, it was issued to the officers and men of the 40th Regiment who were present at the action, afterwards taking on a life as a regimental "merit" prize for good behavior.

The first hard documentation for the medal dates from 1789. As a quality control measure, from time to time British regiments were officially inspected by a General, who would then submit a written report to the War Office. On 25 May of that year, the following was written about the 40th Regiment, then stationed at Liverpool;

"The Officers of this Regiment Wear also a silver Medal round their necks presented to them by the present Colonel in memory of the very gallant and noble stand the Regiment made at German Town"

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