The Patriot Resource - American Revolution

British General Sir Henry Clinton
Sir Henry Clinton Born: April 16, 1732?; Newfoundland, (Canada)
Died: December 23, 1795; Cornwall, England

Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in America: 1778-1782

Battles: Bunker Hill, Fort Sullivan, Siege of Charleston

Revolutionary War: 1777-1778
Lt. General Henry Clinton returned to New York City on July 5, 1777 and found that the army was still in winter quarters. On July 23, Maj. General William Howe left him in command of New York City with 4,000 regulars and 3,000 Tories, while Howe sailed south to capture Philadelphia. Clinton worried that he would not have a chance of the glory of the battlefield and that General George Washington might launch an attack while Howe was away. In September 1777, Maj. General John Burgoyne began to request support from Clinton. Burgoyne had moved out of Quebec, but he had gotten bogged down in between Lake Champlain and Albany. He was running low on supplies and Maj. General Horatio Gates had gathered a large Continental force. On September 12, Clinton said that he would set out on September 22. On September 19, at the Battle of Freeman's Farm, the First Battle of Saratoga, the Americans nearly overran the British until the German troops stepped in.

Two days later, General Burgoyne finally got word of General Clinton's plans, which resulted in Burgoyne delaying another assault. Meanwhile, Clinton did not receive clear communications from Burgoyne and he moved north from New York on October 3. His plan was to provide a diversion to draw from the American forces arrayed against Burgoyne.However, Burgoyne had run out of time. On October 7, at the Battle of Bemis Heights, the Second Battle of Saratoga, the Americans overran Burgoyne's fortifications and forced him to retreat. On the same day, General Clinton captured the garrison at Fort Constitution. Clinton sent an expedition force under General John Vaughan to aid Burgoyne, but by October 22, he ordered Vaughan to withdraw because he had not heard from Burgoyne and Maj. General Israel Putnam had taken up position on Clinton's right.

On March 21, 1778, Clinton replaced General Howe as Commander-In-Chief of the British Army in America after Howe resigned in protest of Parliament's policy of war. In May, Clinton assumed command from Howe in Philadelphia. Clinton was to hold onto Canada and Newport. He was ordered by the King to abandon Philadelphia and even New York City, if necessary. When Lt. General Henry Clinton took command of American operations in the Spring of 1778, Lt. General Charles Cornwallis, who also had been a candidate for the command, was named his second-in-command. Cornwallis had played a part in the tensions between Howe and Clinton. Following the Battle of White Plains, Clinton had made a comment about serving under Howe. Cornwallis told Howe of the outburst. In a letter leaving Clinton in command of New York when he departed for Philadelphia, Howe had made a remark that indicated that he knew of Clinton's comment and Clinton no longer trusted Cornwallis afterward.

On May 20, 1778, General Clinton failed to trap the Marquis de Lafayette at Barren Hill, Pennsylavania. and began a retreat across New Jersey back to New York City. Two of his orders had been to retreat by sea and to send reinforcements to the West Indies and he did neither. During the retreat, General George Washington manueved and attacked Clinton's rearguard at the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey on June 28. What would have been a defeat for Clinton was averted when Continental forces under Maj. General Charles Lee retreated instead of attacked and the battle became a draw.When Clinton arrived back in New York City, he found a French fleet that looked to be ready to occupy the harbor, but they sailed away. He then reinforced Newport ending American and French operations against the British garrison there. Clinton then prepared a campaign for 1779 that was contingent on receiving reinforcements. In December 1778, Clinton sent General Cornwallis to England to urgently request reinforcements.

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