Sunday, October 20, 2019

Episode 119: Fort Cumberland (Nova Scotia) & Newport RI




In late 1776, British war plans seemed to be going reasonably well for the British.  In Canada, General Carleton had destroyed General Arnold’s fleet on Lake Champlain, and opened up the path for a spring invasion from the north.  General Howe had pushed General Washington out of New York and New Jersey and into Pennsylvania.  The patriot cause seemed to be in trouble.

Fort Cumberland

Despite being on the ropes, many Patriots were still looking to take the fight to the British.  Some still wanted to go on the offensive.  A revolution is not controlled by a single authority.  In many places, locals will take the initiative.

Back in March 1776, General Howe had evacuated Boston and moved his forces up to Halifax Nova Scotia before beginning the summer campaign in New York.  After Howe’s army left Halifax for New York, there were few British soldiers left in the area.  Recall that back at the beginning of the French and Indian war, Britain had removed most of the local French Acadians from the region and forced them to return to France.  See, Episode 007.  Thousands of colonists from New England moved into the area to take the farmland that the French Canadians had been forced to abandon.  During the French and Indian war, it seemed like a good idea for Britain to populate the area with British colonists. But by 1776, those same New Englanders were at war with Britain.  The New Englanders who had settled in Halifax shared the same political views as their friends and family in Massachusetts.

Model of Ft Cumberland, Nova Scotia (from Johnwood1946)
Among those settlers was Jonathan Eddy.  He had served as a New England militia officer fighting in Halifax during the French and Indian War.  When hostilities ended in 1760, Eddy took advantage of the cheap land, and moved his family to Halifax.  There, he settled into life as a farmer and an elected member of the local assembly.  In 1775, the Assembly expelled Eddy for non-attendance, though the real reason was probably more for his involvement in revolutionary activities.

In February 1776, Eddy traveled to Cambridge to convince General Washington to send a contingent to Halifax to take control of the region.  At the time, Washington was still besieging Boston and preparing his own offensive there. He did not want to deploy resources to begin another campaign.  Eddy then traveled to Philadelphia to get the support of the Continental Congress for a campaign to take Halifax.  Congress also rejected his proposals.  Finally, he returned to Massachusetts to get the Provincial Congress to assist with his plans.  Massachusetts refused to provide him with troops, but promised to provide arms and ammunition if he could raise enough men to attempt a takeover of Nova Scotia.

As I said,by the end of March, General Howe had moved the bulk of his army from Boston to Halifax.  But everyone expected it would be leaving soon.  Eddy spent most of the summer, attempting to raise a regiment.  Despite aggressive recruiting among small villages in northern New England, Eddy could not raise even 100 men.  Most men who wanted to fight for the patriot cause, had already left for Boston where they were fighting in the Continental Army.

Undeterred, Eddy took his small force back to Nova Scotia, where he was able to recruit more locals and a few Indians, bringing his force to around 180.

After Howe had departed for New York, there were few British soldiers in the region.  Eddy’s force targeted Fort Cumberland, which fell under the Command of British Lt. Col. Joseph Gorham.  Like Eddy, Gorham had served as an officer during the French and Indian war, and had settled in Halifax.  He received an appointment as Deputy Agent for Indian Affairs.  At the same time Eddy tried to recruit a patriot corps, Gorham attempted to recruit a loyalist corps.  He also toured much of New England, mostly before the fighting at Lexington and Concord, to put together a fighting force to support the King.  Gorham did not have much luck with recruitment either.  He ended up with a total command of about 190 men.

Jonathan Eddy
In the summer of 1776, after Howe’s forces left, Gorham took command of Fort Cumberland.  This was former French Fort Beauséjour, which sat on the isthmus between Nova Scotia and mainland Canada.  The fort was far from a priority for British, leaving Gorham’s militia with little supplies or anything else to build up the fort’s defenses.  Still Gorham and his men used equipment leftover from the French and Indian War, repaired the walls, and made the fort relatively defensible.

In early November, Eddy’s forces moved into the area. He recruited more locals, including several members of local tribes as well as some French speaking Acadians who remained in the area.  The force captured a small contingent of Loyalist militia under Captain Walker.  The patriots also captured a small sloop under Gorham’s command, the Polly along with its crew.  Eddy’s forces then began to lay siege to Fort Cumberland.  By some accounts, Eddy’s forces had grown to over 500 men, though this seems exaggerated.  Gorham had less than 200 in his garrison.  Eddy had already taken about 60 men prisoner.  However, Eddy had no cannons to use against the fort, while Gorham had three mounted cannons to put into use against the attackers.

On November 10, Eddy sent a letter to Gorham, calling for his surrender.  In response, Gorham suggested that Eddy surrender.  Two days later, Eddy attempted a night attack against the fort, hoping that surprise and confusion would allow his men to get inside the fort and take the garrison.  Gorham’s men, however, repulsed the attack.

Joseph Gorham at Fort Cumberland (from Wikimedia)
Following that failure, the soldiers serving under Eddy began to question his leadership.  A council of officers voted to remove Eddy from leadership.  Remember these were all local civilians acting as militia, with no professional officers or men around.  A little over a week later, the new leadership council ordered another attack on November 22 and again on November 23.  They burned a few outbuildings but failed to capture the fort itself.

On November 27, a British relief force arrived aboard the ship Vulture.  The ship carried 200 reinforcements, mostly Royal Marines under the command of Major Thomas Batt.  Two days later, Batt led a counterattack on the patriot lines outside the fort.  The British killed or wounded an unknown number of patriots while taking five casualties, two dead and three wounded, themselves.

The patriot forces scattered. Most of the men simply left the fight and went home. The British spent the next few days trying to chase down patriots, but with little luck.  They scoured the countryside and captured a few suspected rebels.  They also burned farms of those suspected of participating in the attack on the fort or other supporters of the rebellion.

The locals protested the destruction of property. Colonel Gorham offered a full pardon to anyone who surrendered and agreed to take an oath of allegiance, with the exception of Eddy and a few other leaders.  This upset Major Batt, who charged Gorham with neglect of duty.  Gorham later received exoneration of the charges.  The pardon seemed to return the area to loyal obedience and ended the patriot movement there.  Eddy, and a few others unwilling to submit, left for Massachusetts.

The battle at Fort Cumberland, also sometimes called Eddy’s Rebellion, ended up being a relatively minor affair involving mostly militia.  While some historians argue that a patriot victory there might have brought Nova Scotia over to the patriot side and made it the 14th State, it seems unlikely that the patriots would have been able to hold the territory against an almost certain British counterattack from Halifax.  In any event, the British, despite a victory, did not consider it terribly significant.

Occupation of Newport

All of this fighting in Halifax was happening while the British under General William Howe were pushing the Continental Army out of New York and across New Jersey, still moving slowly toward Philadelphia.  As I said, General Howe had joined General Cornwallis in New Jersey, slowly pushing Washington’s army into Pennsylvania.

Newport Map, 1777 (from Boston Rare Maps)
Howe had left General Clinton back in New York.  Clinton spent most of his days, I imagine, banging his head on his desk out of frustration.  Since the first British troops landed in New York earlier that summer, Clinton had proposed one plan after another to encircle, entrap, and destroy the Continental Army.  His commander, General Howe, continually rejected his advice, preferring to push the Americans back slowly, and always offering them an avenue of retreat.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, during the New York campaign, Howe and Clinton’s relationship, which had never been particularly good, grew even more strained.  Clinton attempted to push beyond Howe’s orders on several occasions only to receive a reprimand from the commander.  During the battle of White Plains, a frustrated Clinton spoke openly of his frustration about serving under Howe to Cornwallis.  When Cornwallis passed along these comments to Howe, the commander decided to leave Clinton completely out of any combat plans under his command.

As the British and Hessians pushed the Continental Army across New Jersey, Clinton once again proposed taking a fleet up the Delaware while another army pushed Washington back to the river.  Washington’s army would be trapped and forced to surrender.  But Howe once again said no, and allowed Clinton’s subordinate, Cornwallis, to lead the British Army attacking Washington in New Jersey.

Still, Howe needed to give Clinton something to do other than sitting in New York writing letters to London about how badly Howe was performing.  Howe deployed Clinton to capture Rhode Island, or in particular the island and harbor areas around Newport.  General Howe’s brother, Admiral Howe needed a winter port for the Royal Navy.  The fresh water areas around New York might freeze up for the winter, thus trapping the navy and possibly damaging the ships.  The salt water port at Newport, Rhode Island would be a much safer nearby location to host the Royal Navy for the winter.  Newport would also once again give the British a toe hold in New England and would also serve as a good post to block New England privateers from coming and going.  Newport was thought to have one of the largest percentages of loyalist populations in New England, thus minimizing the dangers from local militia.

Clinton received a force of about six or seven thousand regulars and Hessians and took General Lord Percy as his second in command.  Some sources say the force was larger, but that may have been counting the thousands of sailors aboard ships carrying the army to Rhode Island.   Howe had originally promised Clinton a force of 10,000 soldiers, but reduced that number shortly before Clinton set sail.

A fleet of 83 ships under the command of Commodore Peter Parker carried Clinton and his forces troops from New York to Rhode Island.  You may recall that Parker had carried Clinton to the Carolinas where they faced the embarrassing loss at Fort Sullivan in Charleston Harbor.  See, Episode 96.  Clinton certainly had not forgotten about it.  He took this opportunity to bicker with Parker again over the incident.  He demanded that Parker take the blame for the failure at Charleston and clear the cloud over Clinton’s good name.  Parker was pretty conciliatory and wanted to put the issue behind them.  But making a fuss about it now only made the situation between the two commanders worse.

Even so, the landing at Newport on December 8, 1776 turned out to be a nonevent.  There were no Continental soldiers prepared to oppose the landing.  Washington’s army was in New Jersey, fleeing toward Philadelphia.  Charles Lee’s army was in southern New York, but seemed more interested in what was happening in New Jersey than attempting to oppose the British in Rhode Island.  Before the British fleet arrived, the local patriot militia had abandoned the defensive works along the shore and had already removed their cannons.

Sir Henry Clinton, 1777
(from Wikimedia)
Most patriot civilians in the area simply left town before the British arrived.  A prewar population of about 9000 had fallen to under 5000.  Clinton found the much reduced population remaining behind to be loyalists or Quakers who were willing to submit to British rule.  The British force landed unopposed.  There were a few patriot militia in the area, who the British easily captured or dispersed.

For the last year, Clinton had constantly recommended to General Howe that he should use forces to envelope the enemy and surround them so that the British could capture the enemy.  Instead, Howe just pushed the enemy further back, allowing them an avenue of retreat.  Now, Clinton in his first independent command, did exactly the same as Howe.  He landed his forces at Newport and simply allowed the enemy militia to flee.  Clinton was not interested in taking prisoners.  He simply wanted to take Newport as ordered and move on to other things.

The Continental Navy was still hanging around Rhode Island at this time.  Most of it remained bottled up near Providence. It did not confront the British or attempt to oppose the landing.  In fact, after a British ship, the HMS Diamond, ran aground in January 1777, the Continentals were still unable to capture or destroy it.  After the better part of a day, the tide came in and the British sailed on their way.  Shortly after that incident, Congress suspended Commodore Esek Hopkins from command of the Continental Navy.  The navy remained a nonentity of little concern to the British.

General Clinton was wary about spreading his forces to thinly.  He did not attempt to occupy the whole colony but kept his forces in and around Newport.  Clinton’s goal was not to occupy large portions of New England.  It was to secure a good salt water port for the navy to use over the winter.  From there, the Navy could protect its occupation of New York as well as harass patriot shipping all along the New England coast.  It also proved once again that the British could take control of any town they wished.  The Continental army or militia was not going to stop them.  Receiving word of Washington’s attack on Trenton, reinforced Clinton's view that he should not spread his troops too thinly, where small outposts would be vulnerable to a similar attack.

New England militia mobilized about 6000 soldiers in the area around Rhode Island to oppose any attempts to move inland.  General Howe, instead of providing reinforcements for an offensive, recalled many of the soldiers under Clinton’s command, for use in New Jersey.  As a result the British occupation would remain strictly on the defensive.

Clinton Goes Home

In January, 1777, Clinton turned over command to Lord Percy and returned home to Britain.  Clinton was frustrated at not getting any real command opportunity and still felt the need to clear his name over the failure to take Charleston.  He also wanted to express his frustration over Howe’s go-slow strategy and refusal to take any advice that might result in the capture and destruction of the Continental Army. Further, Clinton felt slighted by the fact that General John Burgoyne, a more junior general, had been given an independent command in Canada.

Clinton had planned to resign his commission once he returned.  As we’ll see in future episodes, the King would not accept his resignation and still had other plans for him.  But for the winter of 1777, once Newport was secure, Clinton hopped on a ship and went home to England, expecting that would be the end of his military career.

Percy Goes Home

After Clinton’s departure, General Lord Percy took command for a few months.  Then, he too decided to return to London.  Percy, who had saved the British during the retreat from Concord, and had led divisions in the Battle of Long Island and the assault on Fort Washington, had also regularly clashed with General Howe.  He had proven himself a highly capable officer on the battlefield, and also had the respect of the officers and men who had served under him.

Lord Percy (from Wikimedia)
Like Clinton, Percy felt he was being banished to Rhode Island where nothing interesting was likely to happen.  Adding to his frustration at being removed from the main action, Percy felt Howe was questioning his abilities as a general.  Howe, who was not exactly known for his aggressive strategy, wrote several letters to Percy over the winter, criticizing him for being too cautious in capturing territory in Rhode Island.

Since Percy had followed orders, and since Howe’s attempts in New Jersey to occupy more territory that winter had ended in disaster, it’s hard to say or certain why Howe was so critical.  It appears that Howe saw Percy as a Clinton ally and therefore a political threat to Howe’s leadership.  By putting Percy in a theater where he would not see much action, and then generally criticizing his failure to impress, Howe seemed to be trying to diminish Percy’s reputation among leaders back in London.

Officials in London seemed perfectly happy with Percy.  They even promoted him to Lieutenant General.  Despite the promotion, Percy decided to return home in the spring of 1777 and resign his commission.  Unlike Clinton, the King accepted Percy’s resignation, ending his military career.  General Richard Prescott assumed command of the British forces in Rhode Island.  I’ll have more to say about Prescott in a future episode.

Percy seemed content to retire and live out his life in wealth and comfort.  He divorced his wife, who had been cheating on him while he was away.  He then remarried.  He had nine children with his new wife.  In 1786 his father died.  Percy inherited the family estates and the title of Duke of Northumberland.

Ironically, Americans probably remember Percy’s illegitimate half brother, James Smithson, better than Percy.  Many years after Percy’s death, Smithson, who never visited America, left a large bequest in his will which formed the foundation of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.

Next week: Thomas Paine will attempt to reinvigorate the Army with his publication of The American Crisis.

- - -

Next Episode 120: The American Crisis (Available Oct. 27, 2019)

Previous Episode 118 British Capture Stockton and Lee



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Further Reading

Websites

Jonathan Eddy: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/eddy_jonathan_5E.html

Joseph Gorham: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/goreham_joseph_4E.html

Eddy Rebellion at Cumberland: http://www.blupete.com/Hist/NovaScotiaBk2/Part2/Ch12.htm

The Eddy Rebellion: https://www.albertcountymuseum.com/the-eddy-rebellion

Jonathan Eddy's Account of the Attack on Fort Cumberland:
https://johnwood1946.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/jonathan-eddys-account-of-the-attack-on-fort-cumberland-november-1776

Cumberland Planters and the Aftermath of the Attack on Fort Cumberland, by Earnest Clark:
https://journals.lib.unb.ca/static_content/ACAD/acadpress/theyplantedwell/042-060Clarke.pdf

British and Hessian Forces Occupy Newport and Aquidneck Island in 1776, by Fred Zilian: http://smallstatebighistory.com/british-hessian-forces-occupy-newport-aquidneck-island-1776

Lord Percy: http://www.oshermaps.org/special-map-exhibits/percy-map/percy-biography

Free eBooks
(from archive.org unless noted)

The Detail and Conduct of the American War, under Generals Gage, Howe, Burgoyne, and Vice Admiral Lord Howe, (original reports and letters) The Royal Exchange, 1780.

Field, Edward Revolutionary Defences in Rhode Island, Preston & Rounds, 1896.

Force, Peter American Archives, Series 5, Vol 3, Washington: St. Claire Clarke, 1837.

Kidder, Frederick Military Operations in Eastern Maine and Nova Scotia During the Revolution, Joel Munrell, 1867.

Porter, Joseph Memoir of Col. Jonathan Eddy of Eddington, Me, Sprague, Owen & Nase, 1877.

Books Worth Buying
(links to Amazon.com unless otherwise noted)*

Clarke, Ernest The Siege of Fort Cumberland, 1776: An Episode in the American Revolution, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1995.

McCullough, David 1776, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.

Willcox, William Portrait of a General: Sir Henry Clinton in the War of Independence,  Knopf, 1964.

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link above and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.



Sunday, October 13, 2019

Episode 118: British Capture Stockton and Lee




Last week, we followed the race across New Jersey as the British pushed Washington’s Continentals across the State in a matter of weeks.  The Continental Army could not mount a stand against the advancing British and Hessian force, bu at least avoided capture.  As the British swept across New Jersey, they swept up many soldiers and civilians who were considered traitors.  Today, I want to take a look at two of those prisoners, Richard Stockton and Charles Lee.

Richard Stockton

Richard Stockton was a New Jersey native.  His Quaker family had lived in Princeton for generations.  Richard attended the local College of New Jersey (later known as Princeton University) and later became a trustee of the school.  He took a break from practicing law in New Jersey, to travel to Britain, where among other things, he had an audience with King George III to thank him on behalf of the College of New Jersey for his role in repealing the Stamp Tax.

Richard Stockton
(from Princeton Art Museum)
After his return to New Jersey, Stockton served on the Provincial Council for the colony and as a judge.  Most people label Stockton a political moderate.  Like most colonists, he was not crazy about Parliament’s taxes, but at the same time was not leading the charge toward revolution.  New Jersey appointed him to serve at the Second Continental Congress.  There, he voted against independence.  After it passed, he signed the document anyway.

Stockton then ran for the Presidency of the new independent state of New Jersey.  He lost to William Livingston by one vote and kept his position as a delegate to the Continental Congress.  When the British invaded New Jersey, like most leading Patriots, he packed up what valuables he could and abandoned his family home.  As a signer of the Declaration, he was a target.  He already knew the story of fellow signer Francis Lewis of Long Island.  British regulars had burned Lewis’ house and imprisoned his wife.

Instead of heading to Pennsylvania though, Stockton moved to a friend’s home in Monmouth county.  This was behind enemy lines, but it was an out of the way country estate.  I guess Stockton thought no one would come looking for him there.  If so, he was wrong.  The British had hoped that a show of strength in the area would encourage many locals who still wanted to be loyal to the King, to join the cause.

Although the numbers were not as large as Howe had hoped, a great many colonists did volunteer to support the regulars.  Once such regiment of Tory New Jersey volunteers got a tip about Stockton’s location.  They sent a force to arrest him.  Most accounts of the arrest indicate they treated him very harshly, forcing him to walk all the way to the British camp at Amboy (modern day Perth Amboy) through rivers and without proper winter clothing.  Stockton arrived in Amboy in terrible condition.  There, officials put him in chains and threw him in jail.  He spent about a month there enduring hardships similar to captured soldiers.

Stockton’s Release

Given Stockton’s position as a gentleman, many patriot leaders were aghast at his treatment.  The Continental Congress demanded investigations and wanted to protest the treatment if found to be true.  But by the time these complaints reach the British, Stockton was already on his way home.

Gen. Howe's Amnesty Proclamation
(from National Park Service)
The terms of his release are controversial to this day without clear and convincing evidence on either side.  According to one story, Stockton accepted General Howe’s offer of amnesty, swore allegiance to the King and went home.  Other accounts say that Howe simply pardoned him and he returned home.  The distinction is a big one for Stockton’s reputation.  If he really accepted amnesty and swore loyalty to King George, he would be considered a traitor to the patriot cause.  If Howe simply paroled him, he would be like a great many other officers who were honor bound to remain neutral until exchanged for a prisoner of equal rank.

The strongest piece of evidence that I have seen that Stockton did not take amnesty is that General Howe submitted a list of neary 5000 names to London of those who had accepted amnesty.  Stockton’s name was not on the list, and Howe noted that no important people had accepted amnesty.  Howe certainly would have included and indeed highlighted Stockton’s name had he been on that list.  Stockton also was investigated by a New Jersey Committee of Safety about a year later on suspicion of being a Tory.  At that time, he affirmed his loyalty to the Patriot cause.  If he had received a note of amnesty, he would have had to give it to the committee, though he gave them nothing.

There is also a case that Stockton did accept amnesty. It begins with a note from a British officer on December 29, 1776 in Amboy where Stockton had been a prisoner.  It says that Howe had granted Stockton a full pardon and that he was entitled to the return of property, including a horse and saddle that the Tories had taken from him.  The British also never made any attempt to exchange Stockton for a British prisoner of equal value, something they almost certainly would have done if he was on parole.

Stockton returned to his home in Princeton where he left all public office.  He resigned as a delegate to the Continental Congress.  After his health returned, he took up the private practice of law. He died four years later from cancer without revealing fully what he may have done to obtain release from capture.

Charles Lee in New Jersey

Probably an even more famous prisoner resulting from the British invasion of New Jersey was General Charles Lee.  At the time, Lee was the third ranking commander in the Continental Army, behind only Washington and Artemas Ward.  Since Ward was in Boston and months away from resigning due to poor health, many were looking at Lee to replace Washington as commander.  Washington had just lost New York and New Jersey.  Many felt he just wasn’t up to the job.  Lee, had far more military experience.  Leaders on both sides considered him far and away the best military mind the Continental Army had.

Gen. Charles Lee
(from Wikimedia)
As I discussed last week, ever since the fall of Forts Washington and Lee in November, and the capture of thousands of prisoners of war, Washington had been requesting, but not ordering, General Lee to bring his army down to join with Washington so they could face the British force led by General Cornwallis.

Lee kept finding one excuse after another to stay in New York.  His correspondence to Washington indicated that his men were unfit to travel, and that he would be better off being in a position to attack the British rear once Cornwallis moved south in pursuit of Washington.

Finally, in early December, General Lee crossed into northern New Jersey.  Even so, he showed little inclination to join Washington near Philadelphia.  Washington continued to send a stream of ever increasingly desperate and more insistent letters to Lee, hoping that the combined armies could mount a defense of Philadelphia, an attack that Washington thought was imminent.  Instead, Lee kept insisting it would be better for him to retain his independent command in North Jersey.  His army remained camped for a week, with no apparent inclination to join Washington.

In truth, Lee seemed to be waiting for Washington’s army to be captured, or for Washington himself to make some sort of reckless stand and be killed.  At that point, Lee expected to become Commander and would rescue America from defeat. He had spent the last few weeks writing letters to undermine Washington to other generals, Continental Congress delegates, and other influential leaders.  Given circumstances, many seemed inclined to follow him.

White's Tavern, where Lee was captured
On December 12, an overconfident Lee left his army camped in a frozen field while he tried to get a good night’s rest at a nearby tavern.  He did not take any of his regular aides with him.  Instead, he had only a handful of officers, including two French officers.  One of them, Virnejoux, had received a commission as captain in the Continental army a couple of months earlier.  The other, French. Lt. Col. Boisbertrand, had just gotten a two year leave from the French Army and had travelled to America in search of a commission.  American privateers had seized his ship off the Massachusetts coast.  After Boston patriots learned of his wish to join the army, they gave him some travel money and told him to go to Philadelphia for a commission.  Along the way, Boisbertrand met up with Lee.  He decided to stay with Lee for now and worry about the paperwork of getting a commission later.  Aside from those officers, Lee had only a small guard of about thirty soldiers.

That evening, General Horatio Gates, sent Major James Wilkinson with a letter to General Washington asking for clarification on how to reach Washington’s army.  Washington had reached out to both Gates and Lee, trying to get reinforcements to defend Philadelphia.

For reasons I still do not entirely understand, Major Wilkinson instead went to see General Lee that night and gave the letter meant for Washington to Lee.  According to Wilkinson’s Memoirs, when he found out Washington had crossed into Pennsylvania, and learned that Lee was nearby, he went to Lee instead, to get instructions on where Gates’ troops should go next.  I’m not clear on whether Wilkinson was simply so naive that he didn’t realize that Washington and Lee were pursuing different strategies, or whether he just decided that Washington was done for and he wanted to get in good with Lee.

One reason to suspect Wilkinson’s motives was that he would prove to be a quite the weasel later in life.  Decades later, he would command the US army, and would be an active participant in the conspiracy that resulted in the trial of Aaron Burr for treason in 1807.  Wilkinson saw the conspiracy was going to get exposed, and turned on Burr to save himself.

But that is a whole different story that is decades away.  At this time, Major Wilkinson was standing in for his boss, General Gates in contact with General Lee.  The two generals, both former officers in the British regulars, seemed to be highly critical of Washington’s leadership and both thought the cause was probably lost.  Since Wilkinson arrived in the middle of the night, Lee told him to get some rest and they would talk more in the morning.  Lee spent most of the next morning, still not dressed, and trying to enjoy a leisurely breakfast while drafting a response for Gates.  That draft was highly critical of Washington.  Lee stated that Washington had forced him to move into territory overrun with Tories and the cause was probably lost.

It is telling that Lee noted that the area was thick with Tories, since it made his decision to leave his army miles away and stay at an isolated tavern, especially foolhardy.  Lee received multiple visitors overnight, so it became public knowledge where he was staying.  I don’t think it requires the benefit of hindsight to realize that local Tories would discover Lee’s position, away from the protection of his army, and that they would relay that information to the regulars.

Charles Lee Captured

That is what happened.  A few days earlier, British Lt. Col. William Harcourt volunteered to ride out with the cavalry to gain intelligence on Lee’s army.  The twenty-four British dragoons on this mission were rightfully feared.  They had a habit of killing people on sight if they suspected them of being rebels.  One of the Cornets in this force was Banastre Tarleton who would gain infamy later in the war for his practice of murdering the wounded on the battlefield and other harsh tactics against the local citizenry.  Both Harcourt and Tarleton had boasted that they would kill or capture the traitor Lee.  Aside from being considered the best officer in the Continental Army, many British soldiers took offense at Lee’s betrayal of his comrades by joining the rebels.  Harcourt’s dragoons had actually served under Lee at a battle in Spain during the Seven Years War.

Capture of Charles Lee (from British Battles)
Several conflicting accounts describe how the British tracked down Lee, but it appears to be combination of tips from Tories, as well as intelligence from captured patriots who were threatened with death if they did not reveal Lee’s position.

Harcourt’s dragoons reached the White Tavern around 10:30 AM.  They surprised the sentries, who they either killed or chased away. Lee found himself in the tavern with only Wilkinson, Lee's aide Major William Bradford, and the two French officers.  A brief firefight ensued, during which the French Col. Boisbertrand fled out the back door.  The British saw him run. Tarleton rode him down down and forced his surrender.

Harcourt threatened to burn down the tavern with everyone in it unless Lee surrendered.  After a few minutes, Lee and Bradford, who was wounded, walked out the front door.  They surrendered and asked to be treated like gentlemen.  Virnejoux and Wilkinson remained in the house, hidden from view.

The British dragoons were in a hurry, they knew that Continental reinforcements from the main army could arrive any minute and capture all of them.  Their target was Lee, who they had in custody.  Lee requested his hat and cloak. Bradford agreed to go back into the house and get them.  After going into the house, he put on a servant’s hat and cloak, took Lee’s hat and cloak to the front door, put them down and then scurried back inside.

The British, however, did not bother to search the house nor do anything else that might lengthen their stay at the tavern.  They had Lee and Boisbertrand as prisoners on horseback and decided to race back to the British lines rather than waste more time scouring the tavern for a few lesser prisoners.  The entire incident at the tavern lasted only about 15 minutes.

As soon as the British left, Wilkinson, Bradford, and Virnejoux rushed back to the Continental camp with the news of Lee’s capture.

Lee Captured at White's Tavern
(from Revolution Trilogy)
Harcourt’s dragoons, along with their prisoners sped back to Hillsborough where several companies of regulars would support against any rescue party.  The troop had to fight its way through a few sentry points but made it to safety back to British lines with their prisoners.

The British initially held Lee under close guard.  Lee demanded to write to General Howe. When he did, Howe returned his letter unopened and addressed to Lt. Col. Lee.  By using Lee’s British rank, Howe was implying that we was a deserter and that he could be hanged as such.  Howe wrote to London to confirm whether or not Lee had properly resigned his commission and whether he should be treated as a deserter.  In the meantime, he held Lee under heavy guard and refused to offer him parole.

Harcourt the officer who captured Lee, returned to England where over the next few years, would become an Earl after his older brother died childless, become Aide-de-Camp to the King, and receive promotion to major general before the end of the war.  After the war, he would also receive a knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, and become one of the very few British officers ever to rise to the rank of Field Marshal.

The guy I feel sorriest for in this story is Colonel Boisbertrand.  Since the French officer had not received his Continental commission before being captured, the British did not recognize him as a prisoner of war.  They held him in a New York prison for a time, then shipped him to London.  He sat in prison for a couple of years before finally escaping in 1778 and returning to France.  There, he found that the French government had taken away his commission for overstaying his two year leave, never mind that he was a prisoner and could not return.  Neither the Americans nor the French offered him another commission.  He never served again, and I’m not sure what happened to him.

The big story though was Lee.  For many on both sides, Lee’s capture was considered more important than the capture of 3000 Continentals at Fort Washington.  Many thought Lee really was the only hope for the Continental Army.  With his capture, Washington would never be able to lead the army to victory.  Some top British officers predicted his capture would soon result in a complete surrender of the Continental army and an end to the rebellion.

Washington Braces for a Final Blow

Washington himself seemed devastated by the loss. Despite Lee’s insubordination, Washington shared the consensus view that Lee was one of the Army’s most valuable leaders.  In hindsight, of course, the capture was probably a miracle.  Lee’s capture ended any talk of him replacing Washington.  It also meant that General John Sullivan now took control of the army under Lee’s command and began moving them to Philadelphia as Washington had ordered.  Although it felt like a loss, Lee’s capture actually marked the beginning of a turnaround for Washington.

Washington continued to soldier on, still trying to consolidate his forces and make plans to confront the enemy.  He did not display any evidence of defeatism in his correspondence with officers or Congress, but on December 18, did confide in a letter to his brother Samuel that with enlistments coming to an end, he might not have an army to continue the war:
“I have no doubt but that General Howe will still make an attempt upon Philadelphia this Winter—I see nothing to oppose him in a fortnight from this time...  In a word my dear Sir, if every nerve is not straind to recruit the New Army with all possible Expedition I think the game is pretty near up”
Washington was also fortunate in that the British had no intention of attempting to take Philadelphia that winter.  It seems like it would have been relatively easy given the condition of the defenses.  The ever cautious Howe decided to consolidate his gains for the year.  He returned to New York with most of his army settling into comfortable winter quarters in and around New York.  Howe left a series of outposts throughout New Jersey to secure the colony and to continue taking oaths of allegiance from the local citizenry.  He still held out hope that Washington’s army might dissolve away over the winter and prevent any need for another bloody battle.

Whatever the justification, the Continentals seemed pleasantly shocked that the British would once again pull back rather than capture Philadelphia.  Many British officers were appalled at Howe’s orders.  Letters back to London indicate a flood of frustration that Howe never seemed to want to let his army finish off the Americans so they could go home.  As commander though, Howe had the final word and put his army into winter quarters, expecting an end to fighting for the year.

Next week: I’m going to step away from New Jersey to cover the patriot attempt to capture Fort Cumberland in Nova Scotia.  Also, the British capture Newport, Rhode Island to use as a winter port for the navy.

- - -

Next Episode 119: Fort Cumberland (Nova Scotia) and Newport, RI (Available Oct. 20, 2019)

Previous Episode 117 Retreat Across New Jersey



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Further Reading

Websites

Letter from Hortio Gates to George Washington Dec. 12, 1776 (carried by Wilkinson to Lee): https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-07-02-0244

Bell, J.L. “The Martyrdom of Richard Stockton” Boston 1775 Blog, Sept. 4, 2008: https://boston1775.blogspot.com/2008/09/martyrdom-of-richard-stockton.html

Wiener, Frederick “The Signer Who Recanted” American Heritage Mag., June 1975:  http://www.americanheritage.com/content/signer-who-recanted

Dacus, Jeff “Charles Lee: The Gift of Controversy” Journal of the Am. Rev. Dec. 2013: https://allthingsliberty.com/2013/12/charles-lee-gift-controversy

Free eBooks
(from archive.org unless noted)

The Detail and Conduct of the American War, under Generals Gage, Howe, Burgoyne, and Vice Admiral Lord Howe, (original reports and letters) The Royal Exchange, 1780.

Carrington, Henry Battles of the American Revolution, 1775-1781, A.S. Barnes & Co. 1876.

Collins, Varnum L. A Brief Narrative of the Ravages of the British and Hessians at Princeton in 1776-1777; a contemporary account of the battles of Trenton and Princeton, Princeton Univ. Library, 1906.

Drake, Samuel A. The Campaign of Trenton 1776-77, Lee and Shepard, 1899.

Force, Peter American Archives, Series 5, Vol 3, Washington: St. Claire Clarke, 1837.

Johnston, Henry The Campaign of 1776 Around New York and Brooklyn, Long Island Historical Society, 1878.

Martin, Joseph Plumb The Adventures of a Revolutionary Soldier, 1830 (This is a copy of the original print, but in poor quality.  You can borrow a better quality copy or listen to a free audio copy of the book) or see below in "books worth buying" section.

Stryker, William Battles Of Trenton And Princeton, Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1898.

Wilkinson, James Memoirs of My Own Times, Vol. 1, Philadelphia: Abraham Small, 1816.

Books Worth Buying
(links to Amazon.com unless otherwise noted)*

Atkinson, Richard The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, Henry Holt & Co. 2019

Dwyer, William The Day Is Ours: How a Ragged Rebel Army Stood the Storm and Saved the Revolution,  Viking, 1983.

Fischer, David Hackett Washington’s Crossing, Oxford Univ. Press, 2004.

Fleming, Thomas 1776: Year of Illusions, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1975.

Lefkowitz, Arthur S. The Long Retreat, The Calamitous American Defense of New Jersey 1776, Upland Press, 1998.

Mazzagetti, Dominick Charles Lee: Self Before Country, Rutgers Univ. Press, 2013 (book recommendation of the week).

McBurney, Christian M. Kidnapping the Enemy: The Special Operations to Capture Generals Charles Lee & Richard Prescott, Yardley: Westholme Publishing, 2014.

McCullough, David 1776, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.

Papas, Phillip Renegade Revolutionary: The Life of General Charles Lee, NYU Press, 2014.

Schecter, Barnet The Battle for New York, New York: Walker Publishing, 2002.

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link above and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Episode 117: Retreat Across New Jersey




The last couple of weeks, I stepped away from the main fighting in New York and New Jersey to discuss other events.  But before that, we left the Continental Army in late November, 1776, in full retreat from New York toward Philadelphia.  The Continentals decided to make a stand at Fort Washington and ended up losing over 3000 soldiers as prisoners of war.  They also had to abandon Fort Lee across the river in New Jersey.

Washington Retreats

The British invasion of New York in the summer and fall of 1776 had pushed the Americans out of the region.  General Howe and Admiral Howe had used slow but steady measures to take the city and the area surrounding it.  As he retreated, Washington had divided his army sending a little over half of his army further into upstate New York in case the British decided to move up the Hudson River and cut off New England from the rest of the colonies.  He put his most trusted General, Charles Lee, in charge of these forces.

Retreats through the Jerseys by Howard Pyle
(from that should be a movie)
After getting pushed out of New York after the Battle of White Plains Washington kept personal command of the remaining forces as they moved into New Jersey.  Washington had planned to combine these men with the more than 3000 men at Fort Washington, but after the British captured the fort and took all those men prisoner, Washington was left with a command of about 3500-4000 soldiers.  Even worse, since it looked like the Americans were beat, many soldiers began abandoning Washington’s army as soon as their enlistments were up, or simply deserting.  They were also unable to recruit much of any local militia to support them.

Clinton Gets Benched

Through late November and early December, Washington’s Army retreated across New Jersey.  Most would have thought that the obvious General to command the forces against Washington would have been General Howe’s second in command, Henry Clinton.  General Clinton had already made multiple suggestions to Howe on the way he could run the campaign and clearly would have wanted the job.  But Howe did not seem interested in any of Clinton’s suggestions.  Part of this may have been due to a desire not to let Clinton win any accolades for the final victory in crushing the Continental Army. It may also have been that Howe did not trust Clinton with an independent command.  Clinton would be much more aggressive in chasing down the Continentals than Howe may have wanted.

Sir Henry Clinton, 1777
(from Wikimedia)
The two men had been going at each other all year, with Clinton barely containing his disdain of Howe’s strategy.  At one point during the Battle of White Plains a frustrated Clinton told General Cornwallis that he would rather have an independent command of only three companies rather than continue to serve under Howe’s command.  Cornwallis passed along these comments to Howe, which only deepened the division between the commander and his second in command.

Clinton had proposed landing a force in northern New Jersey and trying to move around the Continental army’s flank while another force pursued them directly.  The two British forces would possibly surround the Continentals and force a surrender.  But, Howe wanted Clinton nowhere near New Jersey.  He assigned Clinton to the independent command to take and hold a couple of port cities in Rhode Island that the British navy would need for the winter.  This was clearly an insult to Clinton.  There was no serious opposition to this landing and could have been done by a much lower level officer.  I plan to discuss the invasion of Rhode Island in a few weeks, but this move was clearly meant simply to push Clinton aside.

Instead, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, General Howe had given the New Jersey command to General Cornwallis, who had taken Fort Lee without much of a fight and then began to march through New Jersey in pursuit of the remnant of the Continental Army still under Washington’s command.

Washington’s break with Reed

During the course of the retreat, Washington’s situation became more and more desperate.  His force continued to dwindle, primarily from desertion.  No one wanted to be with the army when it finally surrendered.  Washington sent repeated requests to General Charles Lee, encouraging him to move his army into New Jersey so the combined American forces could confront, and hopefully push back Cornwallis’ army.  With the loss of Fort Washington, General Washington had half the force he expected when he first divided his army.

General Lee, however, was in no hurry to give up his independent command and help Washington.  He came up with a series of excuses why he could not move his army.  At the same time, he was telling everyone who would listen just how horrible Washington had been in command of the army in New York and that they really needed a new commander of the army (guess who) if they wanted to win this thing.

Joseph Reed 
Washington was either ignorant of Lee’s machinations, or was simply ignoring them for the good of the army.  Washington respected Lee as one of his best generals.  The men had served together since the 1750’s when they both fought at the Battle of the Monongahela under General Edward Braddock.  Washington knew that officers of lower rank often criticized commanders.  No commander liked it, especially when things were going badly, but they knew it came with the job.  However, a commander did not expect his own assistant to be a part of such criticisms.

One of Lee’s correspondents was Joseph Reed.  Remember, Colonel Reed was the Philadelphia lawyer whom Washington had begged to serve as his aide-de-camp when he first arrived in Cambridge in 1775.  Washington needed a good writer to assist him with correspondence and to assist with the clerical duties of command.  Reed made a quick trip back to Philadelphia to tie up his affairs, then returned and remained by Washington’s side as his aide and secretary ever since.

Washington took very few men into his confidence and rarely discussed his personal thoughts, views, or feelings with much of anyone.  But there were those rare few who entered Washington’s inner sanctum, men he trusted like family to keep confidential anything he told them.  Reed was one of the few in that tight circle.  In short, Reed was one man who the guarded Washington thought he could trust.

When Washington needed to send written orders, it was usually Reed who actually wrote the letter and made sure it got delivered.  In one of Washington’s orders to General Lee, Reed included a personal note which said in part,
I do not mean to flatter, nor praise you at the expense of any other, but I confess I do think that it is entirely owing to you that this army and the liberties of America so far as they are dependant on it are not totally cut off.  You have decision, a quality often wanting in minds otherwise valuable, and I ascribe to this an escape from York Island -- Kingsbridge and the Plains -- I have no doubt that had you been here with the garrison at Mount Washington would now have composed part of the army.
Reed went on to say that Washington needed his experience and judgment to guide him.  There is some debate what Reed hoped to accomplish by this.  It could simply have been that he hoped appealing to Lee’s considerable ego, he might convince the General to do as Washington wanted and join the two armies in New Jersey.  Many historians interpret a more sinister motive.  Washington’s career looked over after the loss of New York.  They think Reed was looking to ingratiate himself with the man who would most likely become the new commander of the Continental Army.

Lee responded to Reed with a letter that put his ego on full display.  When the letter arrived in Washington’s camp, however, Reed was away.  Washington, desperate for news about Lee’s expected arrival, opened the letter and read it.  It began with Lee responding to Reed’s earlier note to him.
I receiv’d your most obliging flattering letter lament with you that fatal indecision of mind which in war is a much greater disqualification than stupidity or even want of personal courage accident may put a decisive Blunderer in the right but eternal defeat and miscarriage must attend the man of the best parts if curs’d with indecision.  
Charles Lee (from Wikimedia)
Washington knew that most of the country doubted his leadership ability following the loss of New York.  He knew that Lee was clearly attacking Washington’s indecision in evacuating New York City, White Plains, and Fort Washington in his comments.  Washington also already knew there was talk of replacing him with Lee as commander of the Continental Army.  But to see his most capable general corresponding with his most trusted aide to badmouth his abilities hit Washington hard.

Washington forwarded on the letter to Reed with a note apologizing for opening his personal correspondence and saying he thought it had been related to official business and without further comment.  Washington took no further action on the matter, but ended his confidential relationship with Reed.  From that point on, their work together became cold and formal.  Whatever his original intentions, Reed obviously saw that what he had done was seen as an act of betrayal.  He tried to repair the relationship.  The two continued to work together, but the bond of trust and confidence was gone forever.

If I had to identify a time when in Washington’s life when he probably felt the lowest, this would probably be it.  His army, his officers, even his most trusted aide, had lost confidence in him.  Congress was openly critical, and his failures as a military commander were only mounting.

Leaving New Jersey

Even worse, General Lee still refused to leave New York to come to Washington’s assistance.  Enlistment expirations and desertions now meant that his army had fallen below 3000.  As I said, Cornwallis had been pressing Washington rather hard as the two armies maintained a running battle across New Jersey.

Retreat from New Jersey (from Wikimedia)
On December 1, Cornwallis caught up with Washington’s army at the Raritan River and was ready to order the final death blow to the Continental Army.  As Cornwallis prepared his orders for the following day’s attack, a courier arrived from orders from General Howe. Those order told him to halt his advance immediately and await reinforcements.

For nearly a week, Cornwallis’ army sat obediently on the banks of the Raritan River as they watched the Continentals slip away once again.  Finally, Howe arrived a single brigade of reinforcements.  The army once again began its advance.  But now they were moving at Howe’s snail-like pace.  Washington’s battered and shrinking army reached Trenton and crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.  Washington attempted to collect every boat along the river to prevent the enemy from crossing.  This might have slowed up the British for a few days, but in truth, it seems that  Howe had no interest in pursuing the army any further that year.  It was already December and well past time to move into winter quarters.

Many Tories and British officers at the time, as well as later military historians, have criticized General Howe for slowing down the attack on the Continental Army fleeing across New Jersey.  The Raritan River, actually more of creek, was easily fordable, knee deep in many locations.  Washington could not have made a serious stand there if Cornwallis had stormed across the river backed by his artillery.

Washington’s rear guard would have been no match for the British.  Indeed, Washington by this time commanded less than 3000 men as desertions continued to decimate his ranks.  So why did General Howe order Cornwallis to stop?  There are several reasonable explanations that do not indict Howe as incompetent or secretly supporting the American cause as some have said.

As a matter of military strategy, it is important not to let they armies get strung out too far.  Howe would not want to give Washington a chance to ambush a large advance guard that had gotten too far ahead of the main force.  Washington had done that on a smaller scale at White Plains. Even a minor victory could provide hope that would slow down the disintegration of the Continental Army.  That appears to be Howe’s ultimate goal.  Everyone decides the British Army is invincible, just gives up, goes home, accepts a pardon, and the war is over.

Howe’s Proclamation

Even before the Continental Army had left New Jersey, the Howe brothers issued another Proclamation of Conciliation on November 30.  The proclamation called on the Continental army to disburse, for the Continental Congress to disband and offering amnesty to all rebels who signed an oath of allegiance to the King within 60 days.

Gen. William Howe
(from Wikimedia)
From the beginning, the Howes had made clear to the ministry back in London that they were much more interested in a political settlement in America than crushing the colonists in military defeat.  Howe could have taken Clinton’s advice and sailed the British Navy up the Delaware River before pushing Washington’s army across New Jersey.  This could have caught Washington between the British army and navy and forced a surrender.  But that did not seem to be Howe’s goal.  He wanted the Continental Army to run away and look powerless.  He did not want to appear himself as a ruthless military tyrant.  He wanted to be a liberator and peacemaker.  With the British victories in New York, it was clear that the Americans could not stand up to the British Army.  The time to convince people come back and obey the King and Parliament was when it looked like there was no better alternative.

Given the state of affairs, many took this offer seriously.  It did not appear that the Continental Army would survive the winter.  If Britain really was about to crush this rebellion, better to protect one’s personal property and even one’s life by taking advantage of the amnesty offer.  Thousands of people across New York and New Jersey flocked to British outposts to take the oath.  Allegedly among those taking the oath, Richard Stockton from New Jersey, who had signed the Declaration of Independence only a few months before.  Some, historians, however, argue that he simply signed a parole agreement after being captured agreeing to play no further role in the rebellion.  I want to discuss Stockton in more detail next week, but either way, it was not exactly a vote of confidence for an American victory.  Other patriot leaders also seemed to doubt for the future.  John Dickinson moved out of Philadelphia and advised his family members to stop accepting Continental dollars.

Washington’s Army 

The remnant of Washington’s Army, if it could still be called an army, had been through hell.  Over the course of the retreat, they had been forced to give up most of their tents and other supplies.  Many were without shoes and had been wearing the same clothes for months without washing.  Many of them were rags simply falling off their bodies.  The men were dirty, unshaven and in most cases looked like they could barely walk, let alone fight.

To give you some idea, Charles Wilson Peale, the famous artist, commanded a company of Philadelphia militia that came out to assist with the Continentals entering Pennsylvania.  He describes seeing, “the most hellish scene I have ever beheld.” As, lines of ragged men plodded past him, Peale noted, “a man staggered out of line and came toward me.  He had lost all his clothes.  He was in an old dirty blanket jacket, his beard long and his face full of scars, which so disfigured him that he was not known by me in first sight.”  It was only when the soldier spoke to him that he realized it was his own brother James.  Those who had not yet abandoned the army mostly looked like desperate beggars in rags, not like an army.

Congress Runs Away

The Continental Congress in Philadelphia was not exactly a profile in courage during this time.  Fearing the British might still try to capture Philadelphia, and without any faith in Washington to defend them, Congress chose to run away.  On December 12, Congress adjourned and voted to move to Baltimore until the threat passed.  One delegate, Robert Morris, opted to stay in Philadelphia where he lived and had his business.  Morris essentially acted as a one man Department of War and Department of Treasury, providing Washington what little assistance he could as the rest of Congress fled to the south.

Robert Morris
Congress reconvened in Baltimore, on December 20, 1776, and would remain there for a little over two months.  In 1776, Baltimore was not the shining model city that it is today.  Members complained about the garbage everywhere and the terrible smell.  There were no decent public buildings in which to meet. Congress had to rent a large home downtown, belonging to Henry Fite where they would convene until February.

Shortly after reconvening, Congress passed a resolution giving Washington full authority to do whatever he wanted regarding the operation of the war.  In other words, they handed him near dictatorial powers.  Congress did not plan to be available for consultation or much of anything else as it went on the run.  I’ll discuss the Continental Congress’ time in Baltimore in a future episode.  At least Congress did not try to change commanders at the time.  Whatever their concerns about Washington’s leadership, they knew enough not to try to change commanders in the middle of this retreat.

This also meant that Washington was on his own.  His army continued to shrink.  The Continental armies to the north led by Generals Lee and Gates seemed uninterested in coming to his assistance.  Congress showed no faith that he could protect Philadelphia. Only Howe’s reluctance to cross the Delaware River in December seemed to save the Continental army from complete annihilation.

Next week, I want to focus on two important prisoners captured during this retreat: Congressman Richard Stockton and General Charles Lee.

- - -

Next Episode 118: Capture of Stockton and Lee

Previous Episode 116: American Terrorist in Britain



Click here to donate
American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account. Also, see the very bottom of this page to see how you can support this podcast by making purchases you would make anyway on Amazon.  Thanks, Mike Troy


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You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option for people who want to make monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.  Thanks again!



Further Reading

Websites 

Lee Letter to Reed, Nov. 24, 1776: https://books.google.com/books?id=bxlJAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA305#v=onepage&q&f=false

Lee Letter to Washington, sent along with the Note to Reed, Nov. 24, 1776: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-07-02-0149

Washington, note to Reed, Nov. 30, 1776:
https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-07-02-0171

Lee Letter to Washington, Dec. 4, 1776: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-07-02-0194

Washington, letter to brother Samuel, Dec. 18, 1776: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-07-02-0299

Fleming, Thomas “The Enigma Of General Howe” American Heritage, Feb. 1964: http://www.americanheritage.com/content/enigma-general-howe

Free eBooks
(from archive.org unless noted)

The Detail and Conduct of the American War, under Generals Gage, Howe, Burgoyne, and Vice Admiral Lord Howe, (original reports and letters) The Royal Exchange, 1780.

Carrington, Henry Battles of the American Revolution, 1775-1781, A.S. Barnes & Co. 1876.

Collins, Varnum L. A Brief Narrative of the Ravages of the British and Hessians at Princeton in 1776-1777; a contemporary account of the battles of Trenton and Princeton, Princeton University Library, 1906.

Drake, Samuel A. The Campaign of Trenton 1776-77, Lee and Shepard, 1899.

Force, Peter American Archives, Series 5, Vol 3, Washington: St. Claire Clarke, 1837.

Johnston, Henry The Campaign of 1776 Around New York and Brooklyn, Long Island Historical Society, 1878.

Martin, Joseph Plumb The Adventures of a Revolutionary Soldier, 1830 (This is a copy of the original print, but in poor quality.  You can borrow a better quality copy or listen to a free audio copy of the book) or see below in "books worth buying" section.

Reed, William B. (ed) Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed, Vol. 1, Lindsay and Blakiston, 1847.

Ross, Charles Derek (ed) Correspondence of Charles, first Marquis Cornwallis, Vol. 1 J. Murray, 1859.

Stryker, William Battles Of Trenton And Princeton, Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1898.

Books Worth Buying
(links to Amazon.com unless otherwise noted)*

Atkinson, Richard The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, Henry Holt & Co. 2019

Dwyer, William The Day Is Ours: How a Ragged Rebel Army Stood the Storm and Saved the Revolution,  Viking, 1983.

Fischer, David Hackett Washington’s Crossing, Oxford Univ. Press, 2004.

Fleming, Thomas 1776: Year of Illusions, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1975.

Lefkowitz, Arthur S. The Long Retreat, The Calamitous American Defense of New Jersey 1776, Upland Press, 1998 (book recommendation of the week).

McCullough, David 1776, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.

Schecter, Barnet The Battle for New York, New York: Walker Publishing, 2002.

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link above and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.