Who was General Nash?


Chase Brody

General Nash Elementary School is one of the only buildings in the district named for a person. But who was General Nash?

Standing atop on Liberty Bell Drive, lies General Francis Nash elementary school. A school with a graduating class of around 65 children– one that seems to get ever so slightly larger as the years go by.

Growing up and attending Nash, my peers and I would frequently make jokes about General Nash’s spirit haunting the building. Whether a window slamming shut, the lights flickering, a projector failing, or even paper falling off the pinboard.

But no one in our age group even remotely considered the legacy of General Francis Nash. Alongside that, we never considered how the school that we attended stands down the street from where he had passed away after a cannonball had taken his left leg while his brigade covered an American retreat near Germantown, fighting for an independent United States.

Nash was born in Colonial Virginia in 1742 to immigrants from Wales.  Along with his birth came 7 siblings. He moved with his brother to North Carolina at age 21 and pursued a career in law. Francis Nash married Sarah Moore in 1770, who was the sister of future Supreme Court justice Alfred Moore. They had two children, Ann Moore who died in her infancy and Sarah Moore, who went on to marry a former colonial soldier, and down the line would become the grandmother of Confederate Naval captain James Iredell Waddell.

Nash’s military career is most well known for his brigade’s fearless (although failed) defense of Germantown. After a startling blow to George Washington’s army attempting to advance through British lines towards Philadelphia, American casualties began to mount.  Washington and Sullivan ordered a retreat from the front lines in Germantown. Nash’s brigade ignored this order in an attempt to cease the British army from approaching the battered American army only miles away. The move failed and during this encounter his left leg was taken by a British born cannonball and the injuries led to his death just a few days later. During his funeral in Towamencin, he was buried with military honors.

“We have a mural dedicated to the General painted in the main hallway, and our eagle mascot is named Francis,” explained General Nash Principal William Bowen.

General Nash now is buried outside of Towamencin Mennonite Church, overlooking Sumneytown Pike and the PA Turnpike. It is very hard to find his tombstone as it is not marked, only with a large stone out of the ground due to the amount of souls lost during the war back in 1777. There is however, a memorial to his name.  However even though you may not find his tombstone in the Mennonite cemetery, you will certainly be able to find his legacy enshrined right in the heart of the United States.

Our forefathers fought, bled and sweat until the very end to build everything around us.  But nowhere is that more truthful than the North Penn community.  And I think that is something to cherish.