Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mike Harris military historian visits the Ephrata Cloister for our Sunday Afternoon Series!

For our 2nd Sunday Afternoon conversation, a small, but enthusiastic crowd welcomed author,  Michael Harris who lectured and did a presentation and book signing for his new book,  Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777.
Mr. Harris, former educator at the Brandywine Battlefield, is a specialist on this subject.  It is a common misconception that many of the wounded soldiers from the battle were sent to the hospital at Ephrata, but that is probably not the case.  Most of the soldiers that convalesced at Ephrata probably came from temporary field hospitals in Germantown and others surrounding areas and were mostly suffering from various sicknesses, more than battle wounds.  According to Harris, the Battle of Brandywine was the largest battle of the Revolutionary War, one that encompassed more troops over more land than any combat fought on American soil until the Civil War. Our next Sunday Afternoon Conversation on November, 22nd, and will feature or own Nick Siegert.  He will do a presentation on how the Amish deal with technology.   

-Nick Siegert

Saturday, October 11, 2014

What do the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge, the Battle of Brandywine, the Battle of the Clouds, the Paoli Massacre, the Battle of Germantown, the Siege of Fort Mifflin and the Battle of White Marsh all have in common

Ephrata and the Revolutionary War
Period accounts talk of being able to hear cannon fire from the Battle of Brandywine in Philadelphia.  If the cannon could be heard in Philadelphia, I’ll bet they could be heard in Lancaster too!

What do the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge, the Battle of Brandywine, the Battle of the Clouds, the Paoli Massacre, the Battle of Germantown, the Siege of Fort Mifflin and the Battle of White Marsh all have in common? They are the Revolutionary War battles that make up what is called the Philadelphia Campaign. To learn more about these battles visit

When General George Washington entered Valley Forge for the winter encampment in December 1777 he had soldiers who were recovering from battle injuries as well as those suffering from the diseases that were rampant in 18th century army camps.  What to do, what to do?  The solution, as he saw it, was to send some of those men to the Brothers and Sisters at Ephrata to care for, as well as to the Moravians in Lititz and Bethlehem.  And maybe, too, this was Washington’s way of keeping tabs on the local German population.  After all, the Hessians were fighting for the British – but that’s a subject for another BLOG. 
Reenactment at the Historic Ephrata Cloister

These poor soldiers arrived at Ephrata in mid-December with little in the way of clothing, blankets or food supplies.  One of the reasons for choosing the Lancaster County locations was the access to food supplies in this agrarian community, and the Brothers and Sisters at Ephrata were well known for their charitable works.   According to the Chronicon Ephratense the “Prayer-House” on Mt. Zion was “converted into a hospital during the war of the Americans.”  Archeological excavations conducted during the summers of 1999, 2000, and 2001 located a building that yielded medicine vials and military artifacts, leading us to conclude that this building likely was one of the “hospital” buildings. 

In 1845 a movement was begun to build a monument to those Revolutionary Soldiers who died at Ephrata, but not until 1902 would this project culminate in the gray obelisk that is located in the Mt. Zion Cemetery.

In piecing together various military reports it is believed that approximately 260 soldiers were sent to Ephrata.  Of these men, 55/60 never left.  Because of the contagious nature of the soldiers’ diseases, the Brothers and Sister and the Ephrata Community also experienced losses as a result of nursing these men.    

Join us on October 19th at 3:00 pm to learn more about the Battle of Brandywine as we welcome Michael Harris, author of the newly released book Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that lost Philadelphia but saved America, September 11, 1777. Books will be available to purchase & sign.

-Elizabeth Bertheaud, Site Administrator

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