When George Washington Ordered A Ceasefire To Return A Dog

By | January 8, 2020

The Battle of Germantown wasn’t Washington’s greatest moment

Cherry tree chopper, general in the colonial army, first President of the United States: George Washington has a pedigree unlike any other figure in American history, but for some reason, "dog lover" is usually left off of his CV. Aside from owning dogs with names like Tipsy and Drunkard, he was one of those people who dropped everything to help a dog in need. If social media existed in the 1700s, Washington would have spent hours of his day scrolling in search of cute dog content.

His appreciation for man's best friend is most evident in the aftermath of the Battle of Germantown, when he returned a stray dog belonging to a British general during a ceasefire. He didn't have to; in fact, it was seemingly a strategically poor move. After a disastrous fight that saw Washington's soldiers fire at their own army, his men wanted to use the dog as a bargaining tool, but Washington proved himself a gentleman by making sure it made it back to its master safely.

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Source: Business Insider

On October 4, 1777, Washington led his troops into the Philadelphia suburb of Germantown, hoping to deal a surprise blow to the British troops stationed in the area. Marching into battle under the darkness of night, the colonial troops found themselves in a dense fog that hid them not only from their enemy but from themselves. When the American troops started firing, they mostly shot at each other, and General William Howe rode away believing that the the attack was nothing more than stray rebels getting trigger-happy.

As he left the scene, mass confusion broke out. British soldiers turned a home into a fortress and easily fought off Washington's men until October 6, when the colonial troops finally retreated. In the quagmire of the battle, Howe's terrier somehow found itself with the American troops. Most likely, it wandered into the fray with Howe, and in the fog, it found itself across enemy lines.

Washington took care of the dog until he could return it

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Source: Wikimedia

After bringing Howe's dog back to the American campsite, Washington's men immediately suggested keeping the animal as a form of retribution against the British army. They felt the dog would be a fine trophy from their losing battle and bring down the morale of the general. However, Washington refused to do anything of the sort. Instead, he decided he was not only going to return the animal, he was going to pamper it while it was in his care.

While working out their next move, Washington brushed the dog and fed it as if it were his own. To the surprise of everyone involved—the British, the Americans, probably even the dog—Washington declared a ceasefire, sending out one of his aides with the dog and a note under a flag of truce. The note, written by future hip-hop star Alexander Hamilton, read:

General Washington's compliments to General Howe, does himself the pleasure to return [to] him a Dog, which accidentally fell into his hands, and by the inscription on the Collar appears to belong to General Howe.