Continental General George Washington
||Born: February 22, 1732; Westmoreland County, Virginia
Died: December 14, 1799; Mount Vernon, Virginia
Battles: Trenton, Yorktown
Revolutionary War: 1778-1781
At Monmouth Courthouse, New Jersey, General George Washington had succeeded in surprising the rear guard of Lt. General Henry Clinton. However, he was prevented from routing the British force when Maj. General Charles Lee contradicted Washington's orders. He chose to withdraw rather than push forward as ordered. The two generals exchanged heated words on the battlefield. Washington then managed to save a draw for the Americans from the battle. Lee, who felt that he was a superior commander to Washington, was courtmartialed for his actions at Monmouth and never saw active duty again.
Meanwhile, General Washington followed General Clinton back to New York and began a vigil that would last two more years. In May 1780, his responsibility to select the new Southern Department Commander was superceded by Congress. Congress picked Maj. General Horatio Gates to replace Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln, who had surrendered Charleston, South Carolina. But the Hero of Saratoga was routed at the Battle of Camden on August 16, 1780, and his actions following the battle had been questionable. In October 1780, Washington selected Maj. General Nathanael Greene, who had served as his right hand man, as the new commander.
In May 1781, word arrived that Admiral Comte de Grasse was on his way to the West Indies with the long awaited French fleet. On May 22, 1781, General Washington met with Lt. General Comte de Rochambeau at Wethersfield, Connecticut where they made plans for combined operations. While awaiting de Grasse's arrival, they decided that Washington would continue to operate against New York City, while Rochambeau remained in Rhode Island.
On August 14, 1781, Washington finally received word that Admiral de Grasse wasnow sailing for the Chesapeake Bay area. The admiral had twenty-nine ships and over 3,000 troops, was expected to arrive in mid-September and would remain until October 15 for combined operations before returning to the West Indies before winter arrived. Washington and Rochambeau now had to quickly move forces from Rhode Island and the New York area to Virginia without alerting either the British fleet or General Clinton. Washington quickly abandoned his planned operations against General Clinton and New York City to form new operations following Admiral de Grasse's strategy. They were also successful in convincing Admiral de Barras to cooperate with de Grasse's operations.
On August 20, 1781, Washington and 2,500 Continental troops began crossing the Hudson River to Stony Point, New York. The French forces commanded by Lt. General Comte de Rochambeau completed the crossing on August 25. General Clinton observed the movement, but was confident that Admiral de Grasse's fleet would easily be taken care of by the British fleet already commanding the Atlantic coast. Washington left Maj. General William Heath with a detachment of forces to first cover his departure and then to withdraw and protect the Hudson Highlands. Washington next used his light infantry to feint toward Staten Island, while the entire army stopped at Chatham and Springfield on August 28, 1781 to continue to present like they are preparing to attack. On August 29, they appeared to be marching to Sandy Hook to meet the French fleet.
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