Monthly Archives: June 2022

The Battle of Monmouth

The Battle of Monmouth

 

On this day in history, June 28, 1778, the Battle of Monmouth is the last major battle of the American Revolution in the north. Philadelphia had been occupied in September of 1777, but the entry of France into the war on the American side made the British change their entire strategy. Philadelphia could no longer be safely defended and New York was at risk.

 

British General, Sir Henry Clinton was ordered to return to New York. He did not have enough ships to transport 15,000 soldiers and their equipment, plus thousands of Loyalists and their belongings, back to New York. Instead, he put most of the Loyalists on the ships and marched his troops overland.

           

George Washington and the Continental Army had spent the winter at Valley Forge. The down time gave them the advantage of training with the Polish Baron von Steuben, a military officer who helped train the inexperienced army in basic battle tactics and maneuvers.

 

Washington’s generals were split over what to do. Some wanted to attack the British, while others believed it was crazy to attack such a large army. It was eventually decided that a small force would attack Clinton’s rear while waiting for the main body of the army to arrive. General Charles Lee was offered the command, but he refused, until Washington gave the command to the Marquis de Lafayette at which point Lee demanded control of the operation.

 

Lee encountered the rear guard of Clinton’s army, under Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis, on the morning of June 28th near the Monmouth County, New Jersey, Courthouse. Lee gave inconsistent and unclear orders to his men and, after several hours of fighting, Lee ordered a retreat. Just then, Washington was coming up the road with the rest of the army. When he encountered Lee’s fleeing troops, he was incredulous. When he came across Lee, Washington flew into a tirade and dismissed Lee for his incompetence in one of the few times we know of that Washington lost his temper. Lee was later court-martialed for his role in the affair.

 

Washington rallied Lee’s fleeing troops and blended them in with his own troops. The British made repeated attacks, but they were repelled every time. The day was so hot, with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees, that many dropped or even died, of heat exhaustion. This battle is the source of the Molly Pitcher legend, where she allegedly took her husband’s place at the cannon when he fell from heat exhaustion.

 

The Battle of Monmouth was the largest single day battle of the war with nearly 25,000 men involved. By nightfall, both sides were exhausted and the battle stopped. Washington expected to resume the fight in the morning, but the British had withdrawn in the night. This was the first pitched battle success of Washington’s army in the war and it proved that the training at Valley Forge had worked. Up to 1100 British were killed or injured and around 500 Americans, making it one of the bloodiest battles of the entire war. The Battle of Monmouth was the last major battle of the Revolution in the north, as the British shifted their strategy to the southern colonies. The next time Washington’s army would face the British would be at Yorktown in the battle that would bring the war to an end.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

“Liberty must at all hazards be supposed. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their treasure, and their blood.”
John Adams

Virus-free. www.avg.com

Congress leave York, Pennsylvania for Philadelphia

Congress leave York, Pennsylvania for Philadelphia

 

On this day in history, June 27, 1778, Congress leaves York, Pennsylvania for Philadelphia. The Continental Congress had abandoned Philadelphia in haste in September of 1777 when a British invasion force neared. They reconvened in Lancaster, approximately 70 miles west, on the 27th, but stayed there  for only one day because the city was overcrowded with refugees and soldiers. The exiled Pennsylvania legislature was meeting there as well, in the courthouse, the only building suitable in which the Congress could meet.

 

On the 27th, Congress had a short session in Lancaster and decided to reconvene in York, another 20 miles to the west. York was a small town of 1,700 people, but it had a courthouse where Congress could meet. They began their session on September 30th and would stay in York for the next 9 months.

           

During its time in York, the Continental Congress completed one of its most important achievements, the Articles of Confederation. Congress had begun working on this document to unify the 13 colonies under one central government the year before at the same time it made its Declaration of Independence. War matters and disagreements had delayed its passage, however.

 

Once Congress arrived in York, the members worked hard to get the Articles finished, spending many hours in debate, finally passing it on November 15, 1777. This did not make the Articles the law of the land, but the process was begun. The Articles were then sent to all 13 colonies for ratification, a process that did not end until Maryland was the last state to ratify on March 1, 1781.

 

The second major event that happened while Congress was meeting at York was the surrender of British General John Burgoyne’s army at Saratoga, New York. News of this event sent elation through the colonies. It also made some of George Washington’s failures more apparent. A secretive conspiracy to have him ousted and replaced swept through the officers and members of Congress in York. This effort, known as the Conway Cabal, finally died out, however.

 

Burgoyne’s surrender led to the entrance of France into the American Revolution on the American side. France was finally convinced the Americans were able to fight and win against the British. After the news arrived in York on May 2, Congress was abuzz with speculation that France’s entry into the war would cause Britain to abandon Philadelphia. The French navy could easily trap General Clinton’s army in Philadelphia. New York, the British headquarters, was now vulnerable from the sea as well. The British did indeed decide to abandon Philadelphia and march back to New York, leaving the city on June 18, 1778.

 

Philadelphia was re-occupied the following day and Major General Benedict Arnold (who had not yet committed his act of treason) was placed as military commander over it by George Washington. Congress convened for the last time in York on June 27 and resolved to meet again at the State House in Philadelphia on July 2.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

That these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
Richard Henry Lee

Virus-free. www.avg.com

Declaration of Independence signer Caesar Rodney dies

Declaration of Independence signer Caesar Rodney dies

 

On this day in history, June 26, 1784, Declaration of Independence signer Caesar Rodney dies. Rodney is best known for making his own midnight ride to vote for a declaration of independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776.

 

Caesar Rodney was born near Dover, Delaware, to a moderately prosperous planter who died when Caesar was only 16. On the death of his father, Caesar was placed in the home of Nicholas Ridgely, a clerk of the peace in Kent County, by the Orphan’s Court. Ridgely’s influence may have been the origin of Caesar’s interest in politics, but he also had a grandfather who was once the Speaker of Delaware’s Colonial Assembly.

 

Starting at the age of 22, Rodney filled a number of local political positions in Kent County, including Sheriff, Register of Wills, justice of the peace, clerk of the orphan’s court and recorder of deeds. At the age of 30, Rodney was elected for the first time to the Delaware Assembly, a position he served in until 1776. He also became an associate justice of the Delaware Supreme Court from 1769 through 1777. He served as a Kent County militia captain during the French and Indian War, but his unit never saw active duty.

 

Caesar Rodney was a delegate to the 1765 Stamp Act Congress. He also served on Delaware’s Committee of Correspondence. In the House of Assembly, Rodney was Speaker of the House when Delaware declared its independence on June 15, 1775. He was subsequently made a Brigadier General of the Delaware militia, charged with the defense of the state and putting down Loyalist rebellions.

 

Rodney was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1774-1776. He was a member when the vote for independence was made, but was away in Delaware when the issue was being debated. The final vote, which was scheduled for July 2, would have passed without Rodney’s presence, but the other members wanted a unanimous decision from the colonies present. Delaware’s other two delegates, George Read and Thomas McKean, were split in their votes. McKean sent an urgent letter to Rodney to come to Philadelphia immediately to cast his vote. He made his own “midnight ride” through the night of July 1st and arrived just as the votes were being cast on the 2nd. His vote, along with McKean’s, meant Delaware voted in the affirmative for a declaration of independence. Rodney’s signature was later added with the other 55 signers to the formal Declaration of Independence.

 

Rodney was elected President of Delaware in 1778 under the new independent government. He served for three years in this position while simultaneously the general in charge of the state militia. Throughout the war, Rodney was instrumental in sending supplies and troops to aid George Washington in numerous battles. In 1783, Rodney was again elected to the Continental Congress, but he did not serve because of ill health.

 

Rodney suffered from cancer and had a cancerous growth that had disfigured his face. He was often known to wear a covering for it in public. Perhaps this was the reason that he never married. Caesar Rodney passed away at his plantation “Byfield” near Dover on June 26, 1784 at the age of 55.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

“The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are, first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision for its support; fourthly, competent powers. … The ingredients which constitute safety in the republican sense are, first, a due dependence on the people, secondly, a due responsibility.”
Alexander Hamilton (1788)

Virus-free. www.avg.com

French forces attempt to break the Siege of Cuddalore

French forces attempt to break the Siege of Cuddalore

 

On this day in history, June 25, 1783, French forces attempt to break the Siege of Cuddalore, India, the last battle of the American Revolution. You may wonder what a battle in India had to do with the American Revolution! Actions of the war that occurred in places other than the thirteen colonies receive very little attention in American history textbooks!

 

France’s entry into the American Revolution on the colonists’ side was truly the beginning of the end for Britain’s hope of reigning in her North American colonies. France’s entry, and later the entry of the Netherlands and Spain, against Great Britain, meant that the theater of war expanded beyond just the 13 colonies into the West Indies, the Mediterranean, Africa and the Far East – basically anywhere Britain or France had colonies. Britain was forced to stretch her military resources all over the globe.

           

Parts of Eastern India were controlled by the British East India Company from the city of Madras at this time. The Kingdom of Mysore ruled much of southern India and was in conflict with the British. Mysore was also a French ally. When France joined the war, she immediately began attacking and subduing British holdings in India, assisted by Mysore’s king, Hyder Ali. The city of Cuddalore on India’s eastern coast was one such city captured from Britain by France at this time.

 

On June 7, 1783, British Major General James Stuart  arrived and began to lay siege to Cuddalore with between 12,000 and 14,000 men, most of whom were Indian soldiers. Cuddalore was defended by Charles Joseph Patissier, the Marquis de Bussy-Castelnau, with around 10,000 French and Mysoreans. Stuart made a major assault on the city on the 13th which resulted in nearly 1,000 casualties to his own army and nearly 500 to the French. Both sides could ill afford such losses.

Siege of Cuddalore by Richard Simkin

 

On the 20th, a French fleet arrived under the Bailli de Sufren. This fleet confronted a British fleet under Admiral, Sir Edward Hughes and drove them off, allowing de Sufren to land an additional 2,400 troops in Cuddalore. This naval battle is known as the Battle of Cuddalore, while the fight for the city is known as the Siege of Cuddalore.

 

With troop numbers now equal to Stuart’s, de Bussy made a major attack from the city on June 25 to try to break the siege. Repeated attacks on the British lines made little progress with high casualties to the French. Several key French officers were captured, including a French marine named Jean Bernadotte who would later become the King of Sweden! The French finally gave up the attack and withdrew.

 

Major General Stuart now considered abandoning the siege. His troops were being decimated with disease and he felt abandoned by Madras after Admiral Hughes withdrew his navy. De Bussy began planning another assault on the British lines, but everything came to a stop on the 30th when a British ship arrived with the news that a peace treaty had been signed, ending the war between the Americans and French against the British. By July 2, the two sides agreed to a cessation of hostilities.

 

The Siege of Cuddalore was the last battle of the American Revolution, occurring even after the Treaty of Paris was signed. Cuddalore itself was given back to the British according to the terms of the treaty. Hostilities continued between Britain and the Kingdom of Mysore, however, until the signing of the Treaty of Mangalore brought that war to an end in March, 1784.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

“An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.” Thomas Jefferson (1813)

Virus-free. www.avg.com

Congress to Imprison Gov. William Franklin

Congress to Imprison Gov. William Franklin

 

On this day in history, June 24, 1776, Congress resolves to imprison Governor William Franklin of New Jersey in Connecticut. Franklin was the son of Benjamin Franklin. He had been the Royal Governor of New Jersey since 1763. William Franklin was an acknowledged, but illegitimate child of Ben Franklin, born in 1730. His mother has never been definitely determined. William may have been born from an illicit encounter with a prostitute, but others believe Franklin’s later common-law wife, Deborah, was William’s mother. William was raised by Ben and Deborah and he called her mother. Franklin may have taken all the blame to himself for the child since he and Deborah were not married.

 

William served in King George’s War in the 1740s and later traveled to England to study law. There he fathered an illegitimate child, William Temple Franklin, whose mother has never been determined. He also married Elizabeth Downes, the daughter of a Barbados planter. Franklin was admitted to the bar and became a partner with his father while he was serving in London as a colonial representative to the Crown. The elder Franklin used his influence to have William appointed New Jersey’s Royal governor in 1763, a position he held through the American Revolution.

 

When the American Revolution arrived, William Franklin remained loyal to King George. He was threatened with arrest for his activities in January, 1777, but was put under house arrest instead for the next 5 months. By mid-year, the Continental Congress was nearing its Declaration of Independence and becoming more powerful. Franklin feared the Royal government of New Jersey would be completely destroyed as it had been in most of the other colonies by this point. He called the General Assembly into session and the rebel Provincial Congress ordered his resignation or arrest.

 

Colonel Nathanael Heard delivered the terms of parole on June 17, which Franklin refused. On the 19th, Colonel Heard arrested Franklin and delivered him to the Provincial Congress at Burlington. Franklin’s wife, Elizabeth, stayed in the Royal mansion in Perth Amboy until the British evacuated the city in July of 1777. Elizabeth died in New York shortly afterwards.

 

The Continental Congress issued orders on June 24 to imprison Franklin in Connecticut. He arrived at Lebanon, ironically on July 4th, the day of Congress’ Declaration of Independence. Governor Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut, the only Royal governor to side with the patriots, allowed Franklin freedom of movement in the town where he was confined and to converse with whomever he chose due to his previous position and his relationship to Ben Franklin, as long as he did not try to further British aims.

 

In December of 1776, Franklin was caught collaborating with British General Howe in New York. Franklin was put in solitary confinement in Litchfield after this, where he remained until he was freed in December, 1778, in a prisoner exchange for the captured rebel President of Delaware, John McKinley. Franklin then went to New York City where he helped coordinate Loyalist efforts to retake New Jersey for the next 4 years.

 

After the Revolution ended, Franklin moved to London where he lived for the rest of his life. He lost all of his possessions to the war, his wife, his father (with whom he never reconciled) and his son, William Temple, who sided with his grandfather during the war, though they were later reconciled. He died in relative obscurity and poverty in 1813.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
Ben Franklin

Virus-free. www.avg.com

Patriots win the Battle of Springfield

Patriots win the Battle of Springfield

 

On this day in history, June 23, 1780, patriots win the Battle of Springfield, the last major battle of the American Revolution in the north. British Commander-in-Chief, General, Sir Henry Clinton had left New York to conquer Charleston, South Carolina in December of 1779 as part of the new British strategy to conquer the south, where, it was believed, the Loyalists would help them attain ascendancy.

 

Clinton left Hessian Lt. General Wilhelm von Knyphausen in charge at New York in his absence. While Clinton was away, refugee New Jersey Loyalists, who had filled up New York City, pressed von Knyphausen to launch an attack on George Washington’s Continental Army encamped at Morristown, New Jersey. The American army had struggled through the winter, suffered from desertion and inadequate supplies. One strong attack, they believed, would wipe out the rebels.

 

Von Knyphausen was finally talked into making the attempt. On June 7, he led thousands of soldiers across New Jersey in an attempt to get through Hobart Pass in the Watchung Mountains. The Morristown encampment lay through the pass on the other side of the mountains. The New Jersey militia had arisen in force, however, and stopped them at the Battle of Connecticut Farms. Von Knyphausen retreated from this battle after hearing General Clinton would soon return with reinforcements.

 

After Clinton’s return, George Washington became concerned not only that another attack would be made on Morristown, but also on West Point, above New York, the most important point for defending upstate New York from invasion from New York City. Washington decided to send supplies and reinforcements to West Point and took part of his army north to defend this supply line. He left Major General Nathanael Greene in charge of defending Morristown.

 

On June 23rd, Clinton ordered von Knyphausen to make another attempt at destroying the Morristown encampment. 6,000 British soldiers marched out of Elizabethtown on the morning of the 23rd. When Major General Greene heard the news, he quickly dispatched his army, consisting of about 1,500 Continentals and 500 militia.

 

Greene split his men into two main groups, half along Galloping Hill Road through Connecticut Farms and Springfield, and the other half along Vauxhall Road slightly to the north. On each road, he placed successive lines of defense at various bridges. When each line of defense was attacked, they could fight for as long as they could and then retreat to the line behind them. This same strategy was later used to great effect by Greene in the battle to win the south.

 

 

The strategy succeeded in slowing the British down, but they eventually drove the patriots all the way to Springfield in the south and to the foot of the Short Hills on Vauxhall Road. By this time, Continental reinforcements arrived and the New Jersey militia began to assemble in mass. Von Knyphausen, though outnumbering his enemies by nearly 3 to 1, became nervous of a massacre if he tried to move forward against the patriots who held the high ground. He ordered a retreat through Springfield. Loyalists burned the entire city to the ground as they went, with the exception of 4 buildings that belonged to Loyalists. Militia continued sniping at the British the entire way back to Elizabethtown, inflicting more casualties.

 

The Battle of Springfield was the last major battle in the north as the focus of the British shifted south. It is sometimes called the “forgotten victory,” as it was overshadowed by the victory at Yorktown 16 months later. Nonetheless, it was a decisive battle in the north, checking British ambitions and once again emphasizing to the British high command that they had severely underestimated the American militia.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

“We are soldiers who devote ourselves to arms not for the invasion of other countries, but for the defense of our own, not for the gratification of our private interests but for public security.”
Nathanael Greene

Virus-free. www.avg.com

Nathanael Greene becomes a general in the Continental Army

Nathanael Greene becomes a general in the Continental Army

 

On this day in history, June 22, 1775, Nathanael Greene becomes a general in the Continental Army. He would eventually become George Washington’s right hand man and be known as Washington’s most able general. Greene was from Rhode Island and ran his family’s foundry in Coventry. He became interested in military matters as a young man, taught himself about military strategy and became involved in the militia. He also served in the Rhode Island Assembly.

 

When the American Revolution broke out in April of 1775, Greene was appointed Major General of the Rhode Island Army. He was one of the chief commanders of Rhode Island forces that went to the Siege of Boston. Greene met George Washington in July when he took over the Continental Army and the two became lifelong friends. On June 22, Greene was appointed a Brigadier General of the Continental Army.

 

When the British abandoned Boston in March, 1776, Greene was left in command of Boston by Washington. He joined the main army at New York in August when the army was reorganized and he was made one of four major generals in command of the entire army. He organized the defenses of Long Island, but was not present at the Battle of Long Island due to illness.

 

Greene was involved in nearly every major battle in the north after this, including the Battles of Harlem Heights, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, Rhode Island and Springfield. In nearly all these battles, Greene was involved in the thick of things, often leading attacking wings of the army. Greene was largely responsible for saving the army from starvation at Valley Forge when he was put in charge of procuring supplies. When Benedict Arnold’s intrigue was discovered in 1780, Greene was given command of West Point and oversaw the trial of British spy John Andre who was hanged for his role in the affair.

 

By this time, the British had begun to conquer the southern colonies and had decimated the Continental Army in the south. Desperate to find a general to replace its failed choices, Congress yielded to George Washington’s recommendation that Nathanael Greene be given the position.

 

Things changed immediately upon Greene’s arrival in the south. He succeeded in wearing out British General Charles Cornwallis’ army by dragging them into long marches far away from their bases. After the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, which was a costly victory for the British, Cornwallis took time to regroup and then elected to go to Virginia, where he was ultimately defeated at Yorktown.

 

Meanwhile, Greene set about the reconquest of the Carolinas, which he accomplished in only a few months, driving the British out of the interior and forcing them into seclusion in Charleston and Savannah. With the end of the war, all three southernmost colonies gave Greene large sums of money or valuable tracts of land in reward for liberating them.

 

After the war, Greene settled near Savannah on his new plantation, Mulberry Grove. Unfortunately, his retirement was not to last long. Greene passed away from sunstroke on June 19, 1786. He was only 43 years old. Greene’s contribution to the founding of the United States cannot be understated. He was responsible for numerous victories in battle and largely responsible for the defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown, even though he wasn’t present at that battle. Greene was George Washington’s most trusted general and certainly deserves the nickname he received as a result of his victories, the “Savior of the South.”

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“It had been happy for me if I could have lived a private life in peace and plenty, enjoying all the happiness that results from a well-tempered society founded on mutual esteem. But the injury done my country, and the chains of slavery forging for all posterity, calls me forth to defend our common rights, and repel the bold invaders of the sons of freedom.”
Nathanael Greene

Virus-free. www.avg.com