American History War in the South and West
While Washington and his troops froze in Valley Forge, General Howe enjoyed the comforts of Philadelphia. However, taking the city gave no military advantage to the British, and General Howe was soon to be replaced. General Howe turned over his command to Sir Henry Clinton in 1778. Clinton, who had never approved of the Philadelphia venture, resolved to leave the city and to return the army to New York. Battle of Monmouth. Washington followed the strung-out British forces and pounced on them at Monmouth courthouse in New Jersey. In a daylong battle on an extremely hot day in June, the two armies fought to a draw.
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The next morning the British resumed their march to New York, leaving Washington with the field of battle and a technical victory. War Continues. After Monmouth, the war in the north died down, and the scene of action shifted to the South. Except for an unsuccessful British attack on Charleston, South Carolina at the beginning of the war, the South had so far escaped the fighting. This fact in itself was strange, for the southern colonies were the most valuable of all. The British may have avoided war with the South because the South grew tobacco, rice, indigo, and other staples that Britain could not produce.
The surplus from these crops brought a handsome profit in England and in Europe. The southern colonies imported most of their manufactured foods and depended on Britain for banking services. Until this time, the Loyalists had maintained their allegiance to the king of England. At the prospect of losing their homes and property to invading British forces, they became convinced that they really were in favor of independence after all. The British hopes that loyal colonists would aid their cause in the South were largely unrealized. In December of 1778, a British army under the nomad of Lord Cornwallis landed at Savannah and overcame Georgia.
Congress hastily organized a southern army and placed Benjamin Lincoln in command. Lincoln and the British maneuvered through the tidal swamps of South Carolina for a year, until General Clinton bottled up Lincoln in Charleston and forced his surrender in May of 1780. The loss of Lincoln army was the biggest American defeat of the war. Confident that South Carolina was under control, Clinton left for New York. Defeat of Gates. Congress designated the hero of Saratoga, Horopito Gates, as the new commander in the South. Gates encountered Cornwallis at Camden n South Carolina.
At the sight of British bayonets, Gates’ militia panicked and fled, sweeping their commander along with them. Congress fired Gates and asked Washington to name a new commander in the South. Washington selected Nathaniel Greene, who had been a Rhode Island bookseller before the war. Green’s Command. By the time Greene arrived in the South, the situation had changed considerably. Two victories had eliminated Cornwallis’ western flank, which enabled Greene to concentrate on the main army of the British. Greene shrewdly let Cornwallis roam the woods of North Carolina without asking his own force in battle.
Cornwallis soon made the same discovery Burgeoned had. He had marched “triumphantly” for hundreds of miles and found himself in possession of nothing but the soil under his feet. In March of 1781, Greene at last gave battle at Guilford, North Carolina, and the two armies fought to a draw. Frantic for a victory, Cornwallis pursued him, but Greene slipped nimbly into Virginia. WAR IN THE WEST On the frontier, mostly the Indians carried on the fighting. The British told the Indians that if the colonists won, the Indians would be pushed out of their uniting grounds and colonists would build their farms there.
The English are reported to have given gifts to the Indian braves who brought human scalps to them. A bold young frontiersman named George Rogers Clark decided to put an end to the Indian attacks in the West. He led a force of men down the Ohio River, surprising and capturing the British frontier forts in the present states of Illinois and Indiana. He left a small force at Viennese in what is now Indiana. Colonel Hamilton, the British commander, recaptured the fort. He anticipated that the Americans would try to take the fort again, but he lived that they would wait until spring.
However, Clark led a small group of men through ice and snow to recapture the fort. Clack’s victories gave the Americans a hold on the vast area of land between the Great Lakes, the Ohio River, and the Mississippi River. After Clack’s campaign, the Indians were less of a menace on the frontier. AMERICAN NAVY From the harbors of New England, fishing vessels and merchant ships that had been equipped with guns and crews sailed forth to seize enemy shipping. These privateers, as they were called, captured many a British merchant vessel and brought it to port.
The cargo of the captured ship was then sold and the money divided among the crew of the privateer. As the war continued, fewer American ships ventured out as British man-of-wars kept close watch along the coast for privateers. When they were colonists of Britain, the Americans had no navy. They had always depended on the British fleet for protection. Now, this fleet was fighting against them, not for them. Early in the war, Congress had begun to build a navy. John Paul Jones, a Scottish seaman who had settled in Virginia, advised Congress to build small, speedy ships. During the whole of the Revolutionary War, however, the
United States Navy had only about forty ships. Before the end of the war, thirty-six ships were captured or sunk by their crews to prevent the enemy from taking them. Although small, the American navy gave a good account of itself. The most famous sea battle of the Revolution took place between a British man-of-war and a ship built in France and commanded by John Paul Jones. Jones had been cruising along the British coast with his vessel, the Bonhomie Richard, and three other ships. Coming upon a fleet of merchant ships guarded by ;o British warships, he attacked the larger enemy warship, allied the Serapes.
During the bloody three-hour battle, the Bonhomie Richard suffered great damage and was leaking badly. Jones ran his ship so close to the Serapes that their cannons almost touched. The British commander called out, “Have you lowered your flag? ” In words that have become famous, Jones replied, “l have not yet begun to fight,” and went on shooting. Soon the decks of the Bonhomie Richard were littered with dead and wounded men, but the Serapes Was also badly damaged. When its mainmast fell, the British commander surrendered to Jones. John Paul Jones ad shown that Americans could fight on sea as well as on land.
Although Jones spent most of his later life in Europe, his body was brought back to the United States after his death. He now lies in an honored grave at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. HEROES AND TRAITORS In any war, there are heroes and traitors, people who add tremendously to the cause and those who seek to destroy it. The two men best known for such acts were Nathan Hale and Benedict Arnold. Nathan Hale. Soon after the British had taken control of New York City, Washington was interested in finding out the plans of the British. He called for volunteers to go into New York City to spy.
One of the volunteers was twenty-one-year-old Captain Nathan Hale. In disguise, Hale made his way into New York City, but was captured by the British and hanged as a spy. As Nathan Hale faced death, his heroic last words were: ‘IL only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country. ” Benedict Arnold. An event of another sort occurred in 1780. Among the Patriot leaders who fought brilliantly early in the war was Benedict Arnold. He had attacked Quebec at the start of the war and had taken part in the Battle f Saratoga, which led to Burnoose’s surrender.
Arnold was an ambitious man who felt that he deserved more credit than he had received for his services to the Patriot cause. As military governor of Philadelphia, Arnold was criticized and court-martially for misusing his powers. Moreover, Arnold had fallen deeply into debt. His need for money and his wounded pride tempted him to enter the pay of the British. He not only furnished the British with military’ secrets but also influenced Washington to place him in command of the fort at West Point, New York. Arnold planned to turn over the fort to the British.
The plot to surrender West Point was discovered in 1780 by the capture of Major Andre, the English officer with whom Arnold was dealing. Andre was executed as a spy, but Arnold managed to reach the British lines in safety. During the remainder of the war, he fought under the British flag. Years later, he died in England, an unhappy man. His name came to mean traitor in his native land, and he was looked upon with contempt even in England. BATTLE OF YORKTOWN Cornwallis was convinced that to hold the Carolinas, he would have to take Virginia. He decided to act. In April of 1781, he started north, expecting
Greene to follow. Instead, Greene slipped around the British forces and headed for South Carolina. While Cornwallis rampaged across Virginia, Greene captured, one by one, the British outposts holding South Carolina. Unfortunately, Green’s action left Virginia at the mercy of Cornwallis. Washington sent Lafayette south to keep an eye on Cornwallis, giving him command of a few regiments of Virginian and Maryland Continentals. After von Stouten and another officer, Anthony Wayne, joined forces with Lafayette, Cornwallis retired to Yorktown near Chesapeake Bay to await relief ores from New York.
Lafayette set up camp at Williamsburg and sent a letter to General Washington. If Washington could bring the main army south before the relief ships arrived, wrote Lafayette, Cornwallis might be trapped. Fortunately, Lafayette letter arrived at Washington’s New York headquarters along with word from French Admiral De Grasses that the French fleet would be in American waters that summer. Washington then ordered De Grasses to Chesapeake Bay to blockade Cornwallis and quickly headed south. De Grasses ferried him down Chesapeake Bay, and the combined French-American force owned Lafayette outside Yorktown.
When the British relief force arrived, the two fleets fought a battle that neither side won, although it was enough to send the British ships back to New York for repairs. Cornwallis was trapped! On October 19, 1 781, Cornwallis surrendered his army. The fighting was over, for Greene was in possession of South Carolina, and the British were back where they started.