“The General, mounted upon a white horse, tall and commanding in his figure, was very conspicuous at the head of his men…many of the [enemy] soldiers (German enlistments being for life,) remembered their former comrade, and the cry ran along their astonished ranks, ‘Heir kommt teufel Piet!’”
This tale about Gen. Peter Muhlenberg at Brandywine appears in the 1849 biography written by his great nephew (and congressman) Henry Augustus Muhlenberg. “Here comes Devil Pete!” was shouted by members of a German dragoon company to which the writer says Muhlenberg had belonged as a young man. The story is nonsense, and just one example of why Michael Cecere’s new biography of the general is desperately needed.
Peter Muhlenberg was a Pennsylvania-born German who was the son of the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America. He is best-known as the rector of a Shenandoah Valley (Anglican) parish and colonel of the 8th Virginia Regiment, which was raised on the frontier and initially intended to be a “German” regiment. The famous but poorly-documented farewell sermon he delivered in Woodstock, Virginia, in the spring of 1776 has been the subject of epic poetry and modern political debate. After a tour of the southern theater under Maj. Gen. Charles Lee, he was made a brigadier general. His brigade of Virginians was in Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene’s division at Brandywine and Germantown. He was at Monmouth and remained in the army to the end of the war. He played an important role in the Virginia campaign leading up to Yorktown.
...continue to The Journal of the American Revolution
More from The 8th Virginia Regiment
is researching the history of the Revolutionary War's 8th Virginia Regiment. Its ten companies formed on the frontier, from the Cumberland Gap to Pittsburgh.
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