Wednesday, March 15

A little more (and final) research on the Revolutionary War

Keying off of the Wikipedia entry (of course).

Do you remember/realize that the war lasted from April 18th, 1775 to October 19th, 1791? That's about six and a half years!

No military history is complete for me without maps. West Point has some fine ones.

The phrase The Shot Heard 'Round The World comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson 's Concord Hymn . Of course, if you're like me, you know it from the Schoolhouse Rock song [lyrics].

Re: the song: It's hard to cover 6 and a half years in a 3-minute song. They go from crossing the Delaware (December 25th, 1776) to Valley Forge (winter 76-77) in one line! ;-)

In June 1776, when General Henry Clinton sailed south to attack Charleston, South Carolina . This ended in humiliating defeat for the British, and the Patriots remained in control of the southern states for the next three years.

Saratoga is often regarded as the turning point of the war. Revolutionary confidence and determination, suffering from Howe's successful occupation of Philadelphia, was renewed. Even more importantly, the victory encouraged France to enter the war against Great Britain. Spain and the Netherlands soon did the same. For the British, the war had now become much more complicated.

Baron von Steuben was essential to the improvement of the Continental Army, especially in sanitation discipline.

Do you know/remember that the British took and occupied Philadelphia?

On May 12, 1780, General Lincoln surrendered his 5,000 men—the largest surrender of U.S. troops until the American Civil War. With relatively few casualties, Clinton had seized the South's biggest city and seaport, winning perhaps the greatest British victory of the war, and paving the way for what seemed like certain conquest of the South.

We still remember Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, in these parts.

One wing of [Cornwallis'] army was utterly defeated at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780, delaying his move into North Carolina. Kings Mountain was noteworthy because it was not a battle between British redcoats and colonial troops: it was a battle between American Loyalist militia and American Patriot militia.

Yes, I have been to this battlefield.

General Nathanael Greene. Greene assigned about 1,000 men to General Daniel Morgan , a superb tactician who crushed Tarleton's troops at the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781. Greene proceeded to wear down his opponents in a series of battles ( Guilford Court House, Hobkirk's Hill, Ninety Six , and Eutaw Springs), each of them tactically a victory for the British, but giving no strategic advantage to the victors. Greene summed up his approach in a motto that would become famous: "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again."

I have also been to the Guilford Court House battlefield in Greensboro (Yo, Marsh!)

John Paul Jones was somewhat effective in the naval sphere. Like Marion and Washington, he couldn't hope to defeat the British in a stand up fight, so he employed guerrilla-like naval tactics against British shipping, logistics, etc. (The main article here refers to Washington's tactics as Fabian strategy.)

An interesting footnote to this war was the actual landing on Britain itself of a ship from the U.S. Navy. This occurred in 1778 when the port of Whitehaven in Cumberland was raided by John Paul Jones. The landing was a surprise attack, taken as an action of revenge by Jones, and was never intended as an invasion. Nevertheless, it caused hysteria in England, with the attack showing a weakness that could be exploited by other states such as France or Spain.

Jones was later able to capture the HMS Drake, which also proved the British Navy not invulnerable.

These local sites make me think I need to do a little visiting hereabouts...

Benedict Arnold was a brave commander turned traitor. (Remember the Brady Bunch episode where Peter plays him? ;-)

It's interesting that when I read Horatio Hornblower and Richard Sharpe, I pull against the French. But when I read about the American Revolution, the French don't seem so bad... ;-)

More Continental troops died from disease and non-combat causes (about 18,500) than died or were wounded (about 15,500).

And that, my friends, is all for this research project (unless I visit some of these SC sites in person...). You are welcome for the service ;-)
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