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Boston. Lord Henry Percy's relief force of 1,200 troops probably saved Smith's column from annihilation. British losses, including those at Lexington, were 78 killed, 174 wounded, and 26 missing; American losses were 49 killed, 39 wounded, and 5 missing.
The Massachusetts militia, reinforced by militia from other New England colonies, promptly placed Boston under siege. By the end of May 1775 this besieging force, loosely organized under command of Col. Artemas Ward, numbered about 16,000. Gage's force in Boston, after receiving reinforcements in May, numbered about 8,000.
Meanwhile a New England force of about 80 men, led by Cols. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, seized the British fort of Ticonderoga, N. Y., on 10 May 1775 and occupied Crown Point two days later. Captain Delaplace, British commander at Ticonderoga, was taken by surprise and surrendered his garrison of about 40 men and large quantities of military stores, including more than 100 cannon, without a fight.
At Boston, on the night of 16-17 June 1775, about 1,200 militiamen fortified Breed's Hill on the Charleston isthmus overlooking Boston. The battle that followed has been incorrectly named after nearby Bunker Hill. On the afternoon of 17 June the British stormed the position on Breed's Hill with 2,400 troops under Gen. William Howe and drove the Americans from the isthmus on the third assault, suffering a loss of about 1,000 killed and wounded. The loosely organized Americans, led by Cols. William Prescott and John Stark, lost about 400 killed and wounded from the approximately 3,000 men who participated in the battle at one time or another.
Bunker Hill marked the official beginning of the Boston Campaign (17 June 1775-17 March 1776) and was the only major engagement of the long siege. Gen. George Washington, who took formal command of the besieging force on 3 July 1775, was beset with organizational and logistical difficulties, but his most serious problem was that of keeping an army in the field. By March 1776 the supply situation had improved, and his army, by dint of assiduous recruiting and a call for militia, numbered about 14,000. Early in March
Washington moved suddenly to Dorchester Heights and later to Nook's Hill where his artillery dominated Boston from the south. General Howe, who had replaced Gates, had no choice but to evacuate the city. On 17 March 1776 Howe embarked his less than 9,000 troops and sailed for Nova Scotia. This development only hastened implementation of British plans to use Halifax as a staging area for an invasion of New York. Suspecting this, Washington immediately moved his army, less the militia, to New York.
During the siege of Boston other American forces made a two-pronged attack on Quebec (31 December 1775), hoping thereby to gain Canada as an ally and to deny its use as a base for the British. In September 1775 Col. Benedict Arnold led one force of about 1,100 men up the wilderness route along the Kennebec and Chaudier Rivers, while Gen. Richard Montgomery led about 2,000 troops up the Lake Champlain-St. Lawrence River approach. Arnold arrived at Quebec on 8 November with only 650 men and had to wait for Montgomery to make an attack. Montgomery took the British fort at St. Johnson 3 November, entered Montreal ten days later, and joined Arnold at Point Aux Trembles on 3 December with only 300 men. With enlistments running out at the end of the year, the two commanders made a desperate night attack on Quebec on 30-31 December 1775. Gen. Guy Carleton's garrison of 1,800 regulars, militia, seamen, and marines repelled the Americans, who lost about 100 killed and wounded and over 400 prisoners. Montgomery was killed and Arnold seriously wounded. The small remaining force continued to besiege the city, but in June 1776 the British drove the Americans back to the head of Lake Champlain.
During the first year of the war the Americans had seized British military installations and had driven out the royal governors throughout the colonies. Hoping to gain a foothold in the South where Tory strength was greater, a British naval and military force (seven regiments) under Adm. Peter Parker and Gen. Henry Clinton attempted to seize Charleston, S. C., on 28 June 1776. A southern patriot force of about 6,000 men, led by Maj. Gen. Charles Lee and Col. William Moultrie, successfully defended Charleston, severely damaging the British fleet with artillery. The British did not turn their attention to the South again for about three years.
During July and August 1776, General Howe assembled a body of 32,000 British and Hessian regulars on Staten Island, supported by a powerful fleet under his brother, Adm. Lord Richard Howe. Washington had collected an army of 20,000 poorly-trained Continentals and militia and erected a system of defenses on and around the island of Manhattan. About half of the American force was placed on Long Island under the command of Gen. Israel Putnam. Howe landed on Long Island with more than 15,000 troops and completely defeated the Americans in the Battle of Long Island on 27 August 1776. The remnants of the American force fell back to fortifications on Brooklyn Heights and escaped to Manhattan two nights later. Estimates of their losses range from 300 to 400 killed and wounded and 700 to 1,200 prisoners. Howe reported his losses as 367, including a very few taken prisoner.
Howe's next move, on 15 September 1776, was to Kip's Bay on Manhattan (now 34th Street and East River) where militia posted to defend the landing site broke and ran. On the following day, however, the Americans won a small, sharp engagement at Harlem Heights which did much to restore sagging morale.
In mid-October the British landed at Pell's Point above Manhattan, threatening to trap American forces on the island. Washington moved his troops to White Plains, leaving 6,000 men under Gen. Nathanael Greene at Fort Washington in northern Manhattan and at Fort Lee just across the Hudson in New Jersey. At White Plains Howe made a short but costly attack on 28 October 1776, which forced Washington to retire further north. Fort Washington fell on 16 November with a loss of about 3,000 men, mostly as prisoners. Three days later, Maj. Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis landed 4,500 British above Fort Lee and forced immediate evacuation of that installation. Meanwhile Washington had left a force under Lee to
guard the passes through the highlands, and crossed the Hudson into New Jersey with about 5,000 troops. After the disasters at Forts Washington and Lee he retreated across New Jersey, with Howe in close pursuit. Early in December the rapidly dwindling force of about 3,000 Americans escaped across the Delaware into Pennsylvania. Howe decided at this point to go into winter quarters, garrisoning several towns in New Jersey and at Newport, R. I., and retiring the main body of his army to New York City.
The British campaign in upper New York during 1776 ended more favorably for the Americans. In June 1776 General Carleton with a force of about 10,000 men attempted to drive down Lake Champlain and the Hudson River to join forces with Howe. He was opposed by Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler's force of around 9,000 troops. Arnold's improvised fleet on Lake Champlain, manned by soldiers, was largely responsible for delaying British arrival at Crown Point until mid-October, upon which Carleton gave up his gains and retired to Canada for the winter.
In December 1776 Washington seized upon the idea of conducting a surprise attack on the garrison of 1,400 Hessians, commanded by Col. Johannes Rall, at Trenton, N. J., hoping that a spectacular success might raise American morale. By Christmas, with the arrival of 2,000 of Lee's troops from above New York and 2,000 Pennsylvania militiamen, his force numbered about 7,000 men. On the night of 25-26 December 1776, Washington ferried 2,400 men across the Delaware, and converged on Trenton at dawn with two columns led by Gens. Greene and Sullivan. The surprise was complete. About 30 Hessians were killed and 918 taken prisoner. Only 400 of the garrison escaped, largely because two smaller American forces were unable to make the river crossing at other points as planned. Washington lost 4 men, 2 from freezing.
The Americans promptly crossed back to Pennsylvania with their prisoners, but on the night of 30-31 December Washington returned to Trenton with 5,200 men. Cornwallis with about 6,000 British troops marched against Washington and on 2 January 1777 virtually
trapped the American force at Trenton. The overconfident British commander waited until the next day to spring his trap; and during that night, leaving campfires burning to deceive the British, Washington slipped his troops past the enemy ilank. At dawn of 3 January 1777, the Americans attacked two British regiments, led by Col. Charles Mawhood, on the march near Princeton. The British were defeated, with losses estimated at between 400 and 600 in killed. wounded, and prisoners to an American loss of only 30 killed and wounded. Washington then went into winter quarters at Morristown, N. J., and the outgeneraled Cornwallis withdrew to New Brunswick.
British operations in 1777 fell into two parts: first, Howe's successful campaign to take Philadelphia, and second, Burgoyne's unsuccessful attempt to split the United States by driving from Canada down the Hudson to join forces with Clinton in New York. Lord George Germaine, head of the British Colonial Office in London, approved both plans but issued no instructions to insure coordination between commanders, and the commanders failed to cooperate with one another.
After fruitless maneuvers in New Jersey against Washington early in 1777, Howe sailed in mid-August with some 15,000 troops from New York to Head of Elk (now Elkton), Maryland. Washington blocked Howe's approach to Philadelphia at Chad's Ford on Brandywine Creek with about 11,000 men. Here, on 11 September 1777 in the Battle of Brandywine, the British executed a turning movement on the American flank which almost succeeded in enveloping Washington's entire force; but troops under General Greene succeeded in staying off the flank attack, enabling Washington to withdraw his army in good order to Chester. American losses were about 1,000 killed, wounded, and prisoners. The British suffered less than 600 casualties.
After two weeks of maneuvering, the British entered Philadelphia unopposed on 26 September 1777, and Howe stationed about 9,000 of his troops in nearby Germantown. Washington promptly undertook a daring attack on this garrison, attempting to converge four
columns of troops on Germantown at dawn on 4 October 1777. Columns under Sullivan and Greene arrived a half-hour apart and began the attack, but two other columns, made up of militia, never appeared during the confused three-hour battle in an early morning fog. The British, with better cohesion and order, gained the day, but the Americans retreated in good order. American losses were 673 killed and wounded and a large number of prisoners. British losses were 533 killed and wounded.
After reducing American forts on the Delaware to secure his supply line, Howe retired to comfortable winter quarters in Philadelphia. Washington's less than 6,000 Continentals suffered out the winter at Valley Forge.
The British 1777 campaign in upper New York began in June when Burgoyne started down Lake Champlain with a force of about 7,500 men, mostly British and Hessian Regulars, accompanied by at least 400 Indians. At the same time a force of 700 Regulars and Tories under Col. Barry St. Leger, and 1,000 Indians, moved east from Fort Oswego to overrun American defenses in the Mohawk Valley and join Burgoyne at Albany. Opposing Burgoyne were 2,500 Continentals and militia under Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair at Ticonderoga and a force of 450 Continentals at Fort Stanwix in the upper Mohawk Valley. The northern army was under the overall command of Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler, whose appointment had been opposed by New Englanders. It was not until after 19 August, when Schuyler was replaced by Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, that the New England militia rallied in appreciable numbers.
Burgoyne's force arrived at Ticonderoga on 27 June 1777 and promptly forced the American garrison to evacuate the fort. The Americans retreated southward, harassing the British, who made slow progress with their large supply train in the rugged terrain. Washington sent a few troops north and local militia rallied to the cause. By the beginning of the Saratoga Campaign (30 July-17 October 1777) Schuyler had about 4,500 troops, but morale was low and desertion rife.
In western New York, St. Leger laid siege to Fort Stanwix on 2 August. A local militia force of 800 men led by Brig. Gen. Nicholas Herkimer, which set out to relieve the garrison, was ambushed by a large force of Indians and Tories at Oriskany village on 6 August 1777. The militia beat off the attack in a bloody encounter but had to abandon the relief attempt. Two weeks later Arnold arrived with a relief force of 950 Continentals sent by Schuyler. Arnold scattered the Indians without a fight by a clever ruse, and St. Leger was forced to abandon his campaign.
Burgoyne suffered another major setback in August, when he sent a foraging expedition of 650
under Colonel Baum into Vermont. Brig. Gen. John Stark, with a force of about 2,000 militia, virtually destroyed Baum's command near Bennington, Vt., on 17 August 1777, and then soundly defeated a relief force of 600 men led by Colonel Breymann. Burgoyne not only failed to get needed supplies but also lost about a tenth of his command.
After waiting for supplies, Burgoyne crossed the Hudson at Saratoga (now Schuylerville, N. Y.) on 13-14 September with his dwindling army, determined to reach Albany before winter. The American force, now numbering about 7,000 men and commanded by Gates, was entrenched in a strong position on Bemis Heights athwart his route of advance. Burgoyne attacked on 19 September and a major engagement was fought at Freeman's Farm, forward of the main position. The Americans, led by General Arnold and Colonels Morgan and Dearborn, fought with distinction but yielded the field to the Britsh at nightfall. The British loss of about 600 men was double that of the Americans, however, and the latter still held Bemis Heights intact. Burgoyne remained inactive for about three weeks while General Clinton made a weak, abortive attempt to send relief forces north from New York City. Meanwhile Gates' army increased to a strength of about 10,000 men. Burgoyne's situation was growing desperate. On 7 October he made a final attempt to breach the American position, but pulsed in a sharp fight known as the Battle of Bemis Heights. Two days later
he withdrew to a position near Saratoga. Militia soon worked around to the British rear and cut off escape routes to the north. Finally, on 17 October 1777, Burgoyne surrendered his army of about 5,000 men and valuable stores of military supplies. Gates' large army dissolved as the militiamen returned to their homes, and most of the Continentals returned to Washington.
Campaigns in the North After 1777. In the spring of 1778 Clinton relieved Howe. With France in the war and its powerful fleet posing a threat at sea, Clinton deemed it necessary to concentrate his troops on the coast where they would have easy communication with the British feet. Therefore, on 18 June 1778, Clinton evacuated Philadelphia, marching toward New York with about 10,000 men. Washington followed with his army, which new enlistments and a call for militia had brought to strength of about 13,500. It was a much improved army, the Continentals having profited at Valley Forge from a training program directed by Frederick W. von Steuben, a German volunteer who later became the Army's first Inspector General
On 28 June 1778, an extremely hot day, the American force attacked Clinton's column as it moved out of Monmouth Courthouse (now Freehold, N. J.). Maj. Gen. Charles Lee, who led the initial attack in this Battle of Monmouth, directed his forces very ineptly and eventually, for no apparent good reason, ordered a retreat. At that point Washington relieved Lee and assumed direction of the battle, which raged until nightfall without either side giving up the field. Clinton slipped away during the night and successfully completed his movement to New York a few days later. The British reported losses of 65 killed, 155 wounded, and 64 missing at Monmouth, but the Ameri
claimed that they buried 249 British dead on the battlefield, American losses were 69 killed, 161 wounded, and 130 missing. Additionally, at least 59 British and 37 Americans died from fatigue and heat prostration.
Washington next planned a combined land and sea attack on New York in cooperation with Admiral D'Estaing's squadron, which arrived off the coast
on 8 July 1778 with 4,000 French Regulars aboard. Navigational difficulties caused the commanders to change the plan in favor of an attack on the British base at Newport, and General Sullivan's Rhode Island command was hastily reinforced. As the attack was being launched in mid-August, a British fleet interrupted French landing operations; and a great gale that severely damaged both fleets caused the French to abandon the operation altogether, leaving Sullivan to extricate himself from a difficult position. Washington had much difficulty in soothing the ruffled French and American feelings which resulted from the incident.
The Battle of Monmouth was the last general engagement in the North. After the fiasco at Newport, Washington set up a defense system around New York centering on West Point. Clinton captured unfinished installations at Verplanck's Point and Stony Point in the late spring of 1779 in an unsuccessful effort to draw Washington's troops into the open. General Wayne, in an exploit that earned him his sobriquet “Mad Anthony,” made a successful night attack with a corps of light infantry on the British at Stony Point on 15 July 1779, but withdrew after failing to retake Verplanck's Point. The only other serious threat to Washington's defenses was in 1780, when Benedict Arnold, then commander at West Point, plotted to deliver this key post to the British. The treason was discovered in time to foil the plot, but Arnold escaped to become a British brigadier.
The only other continuing military activity in the North was against the Indians. General Sullivan, with a force of 2,500 Continentals, campaigned against the tribes in western Pennsylvania and New York in 1779, defeating a force of Tories and Indians at Newton (now Elmira), N. Y., on 26 August, but supply difficulties prevented him from reaching his objective at Niagara. The State of Virginia sponsored an expedition of 175 men led by Lt. Col. George Rogers Clark in the fall and winter of 1778-79, which overran all British posts in what is now Illinois and Indiana and administered a severe setback to marauding Indians in the Old Northwest.
Campaigns in the South After 1778. From 1778 until the end of the war, the main theater of the war was in the South. Tory strength was greater in that area, and the South was nearer the West Indies where the major portion of the British fleet had to stand guard against the French. The general strategy adopted by the King's ministers was to conquer the southern States one by one, and from bases there and in New York to strangle the northern ones.
The thinly populated State of Georgia was quickly overrun by the British in the winter of 1778-79. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln collected a force of about 3,500 Continentals and militia, but had to abandon an attempt to retake Georgia and hasten back to his main base at Charleston when a British force, led by Maj. Gen. Augustine Provost, laid siege to that city in May 1779.
In the fall of 1779 Admiral D'Estaing's fleet, carrying 6,000 French Regulars, arrived off the Georgia coast. On 12 September he debarked about 3,500 of the troops near Savannah. They were joined by Lincoln with 1,350 Americans, and the joint force laid siege to the well-fortified city with its garrison of about 2,500 British. Before the siege operations could be completed, Admiral D'Estaing decided to move his fleet to avoid autumn storms. Therefore, on 9 October 1779, the allies attempted to take the city by direct assault, but were vigorously repelled. The allies lost 244 killed and 584 wounded, the British only 40 killed and 63 wounded. The French then sailed away and the Americans returned to Charleston. Again a Franco-American attempt at cooperation ended with much bitterness on both sides.
With the withdrawal of the French fleet the British regained control of the sea along the coast, giving Clinton a mobility that Washington lacked. This enabled Clinton to push the campaign in the South with vigor in the spring of 1780, at which time he placed Charleston under siege with a force of about 14,000 men. Lincoln was cut off from escape either by land or by sea, and on 12 May 1780 was forced to surrender his force of 5,466 menthe greatest disaster suffered by the Ameri