Robert Magaw, one of Carlisle's principal lawyers prior to the Revolution, lived here. Magaw joined Col. William Thompson's regiment in June 1775 as a Major. After service in Boston in 1776 he was promoted to Colonel in the 5th PA Battalion.
In 1776 George Washington's army retreated from New York City, leaving Fort Washington as the sole remaining American outpost on the island of Manhattan. Congress demanded that the fort be held, and Col. Magaw was put in command of the fort's 2800 men. On Nov. 15, 1776, after Col. Magaw refused General Howe's demand to surrender saying "I am determined to defend the post to the very last extremity," Howe's forces charged the fort. Overwhelmed, Magaw was forced to surrender resulting in a serious loss of trained soldiers as well as damaged American morale.
Col. Magaw was held prisoner of war in the home of Rutgert Van Brunt at Gravesend, Long Island until October, 1780. He married Van Brunt's daughter Marrieta and returned with her to Carlisle.
Col. Magaw served as a Member of the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1781-2 and in 1783 became a Charter Member of the Board of Trustees of Dickinson College. He died in Carlisle in 1790.
At the 1901 dedication of the monument at the site of Fort Washington, an historian called Magaw the "most gallant figure of the Revolution," and his most "sublime personal hero."