Bayswater's Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor Blog

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Before Valley Forge

     Wedged into the pages of a 1950 copy of author John Hersey’s “The Wall” was where we found our most recent discovery on the used book floor - a 1970 church program from St. Thomas Church in Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania.  The program, itself, is interesting, as it is now 47 years old, printed on fragile paper and clearly typed on an old fashioned typewriter.  The church, however, holds bigger historical interest.  Read on, friends, read on.

     Though many of us have heard of the battle of Germantown that took place in October of 1777 during the Revolutionary War and the infamous winter that Washington’s troops spent at Valley Forge shortly after, few are familiar with the Battle of Whitemarsh that took place between the two events.  This three day battle was where our find of the week, the church program from St. Thomas Church in Whitemarsh, comes into play.  

     Reeling from the defeat in Germantown and the British takeover of Philadelphia, Washington’s Contintental Army retreated to the township of Whitemarsh in wait for more reinforcements (that would never come).  General Howe, Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces, attempted to put a more decisive dagger in the hearts of Washington’s 12,000 troops by marching to Whitemarsh and attacking at night in December of 1777.  Howe and his 10,000 men captured the St. Thomas Church and immediately began to use the bell tower as their lookout post.  From the top of the church, Howe observed Washington’s army and made his plans for attack.  This time, however, the Continental Army prevailed, holding the line and forcing Howe to retreat.  Washington and his men then hunkered down for the winter in nearby Valley Forge and, as we know, suffered the loss of thousands of his troops due to massive disease and starvation.

     So, what happened to St. Thomas Church, the captured lookout post for the British?  The building’s structure, already badly damaged from the effects of the battle of Germantown, suffered further destruction during its three day occupation.  It is now rebuilt and on its grounds, you will find a cemetery that is the burial ground for many Revolutionary War soldiers.  

     Didn’t know about this battle and the role that the St. Thomas Church played?  We didn’t either.  You gotta love where the finds in our used books lead us!  We are learning a lot, here, and we hope you are, too.

     The “The Wall” (with St. Thomas Church program included) it is for sale here at Bayswater for the price of $25.00.  To catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor, you can always check us out at and on facebook, or stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself! 

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