Valley Forge: A Tragedy of the American Revolution

Valley Forge: A Tragedy of the American Revolution

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Facts to know:
• General Washington and his men seek shelter at Valley Forge after Battle of White Marsh
• Battle of White Marsh, last major battle of 1777
• Washington wanted to find permanent winter encampment
• He chose Valley Forge, 22 miles North West of Philadelphia
• Considered far enough from British to hinder Surprise Attacks
• The surrounding hills and river made Valley Forge easily defendable
• Twelve Thousand men in December of 1977
• The soldiers were struggling with supplies
• Soldiers were poorly fed
• Thousands of huts were built to house the soldiers
• These huts were rather primitive
• In the cold of winter, the huts barely retained heat
• Each hut required 80 logs
• These logs had to be brought from miles away
• Each hut required at least a week of construction
• Huts had difficulty keeping groundwater at bay
• The vicious cycle of snowfall and snow melt brought many diseases
• Food was very rare
• Many men relied solely on “firecake”
• Firecake ‡ a concoction of water and flour cooked primitively over fire
• Baker General Ludwig was able to provide each man with a pound of bread per day
• Many of the armies horses died due to malnutrition and exposure
• At its worst, 4000 men classified unfit for duty due to lack of garments, shoes, etc, etc
• Disease alone accounted for 2000 deaths that winter

Role in Overall War:
• Although no battle occurred, the British fled
• British fleeing occurred in June of 1778
• The Americans won by will-power
• This stand-off was similar to a staring contest
• The war continued on for many years after
• The Army was never again paralleled the lack of equipment
• Valley Forge was among the last of true hardships of humanity during the war

New York and New Jersey Campaigns

Facts to know:
• New York and New Jersey Campaign common name for a series of battles between the British and Americans in the American Revolution
• British led by General Sir William Howe
• Americans led by General George Washington
• British landed on Staten Island on July 3, 1776
• British seized New York City
• Americans pushed to New Jersey
• Ultimately pushed into Pennsylvania
• Washington staged a key counterattack in late 1776
• British withdraw from Boston
• Britain began gathering troops for the capture of NYC in July of 1776
• These British led by General Howe and brother Admiral Lord Howe
• General Washington led 19,000 troops
• Significantly smaller than that of Howe
• Washington committed sin against the fundamental rules of warfare

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• In the shadow of a larger opponent, Washington split his troops into equal halves
• Upon separation of these halves, Britain pounced
• One half was stationed on Long Island
• Other half on Manhattan Island
• Battle of Long Island, British flank the Americans
• Americans flee to Brooklyn Heights
• Washington redeems himself with a noteworthy retreat
• Under the dark of night, the Long Island troops retreat to Manhattan Island to reunite the two halves
• In the days following, Howe’s men are transported to Manhattan, they quickly take New York City
• After two more American retreats, the British halt their pursuit and return to their newly acquired New York City
• Fort Washington and Fort Lee are seized
• The British prepare for winter
• America does not fight for two months
• On December 26 Washington Counterstrikes
• Battle of Trenton, turning point in American Hisory
• Following battles secure New Jersey Colony under American control

Role in Overall War:
• Reminded British that their size can be outmaneuvered by smaller more agile troop sizes
• Rekindled anti-British passion
• Secured grants from Congress

General Cornwallis’ Surrender

Facts to know:
• Southern Theatre of the Revolutionary War
• Central area of operations in the second half of Revolution
• Most battles fought in the south were won tactically by Britain
• Most battles fought in the south were won statistically by America
• Sparked by “Gunpowder Incident”
• By the time Cornwallis had become the man in charge of south, most of the American troops had disbanded
• Most armies were supplied by single colonies
• Horatio Gates was sent to the South
• Although the British posed a major threat in the South, Americans fought a valiant fight
• Cornwallis’ troop levels highly damaged after Battle of King’s Mountain
• Greene replace Gates after a large defeat
• Yorktown referred to as the end of the war
• Cornwallis assumes all power over British after taking command from William Phillips
• Cornwallis initiates a northward march
• Marquis de Lafayette sent, by Washington, to defend Virginia
• American troop to British troop ratio: 3,200 to 7,200
• Skirmishes broke out
• No real decisive battle was fought
• Following Clinton’s orders, Cornwallis put himself in a position in which he would be easily trapped
• Eventually surrendered to Washington
Role in Overall War:
• Commonly referred to as the final battle of the Revolutionary War
• Put America in a position that finally showed their superiority over the rule of the British Empire

The Battle of Trenton (map on following page)
The Battle of Trenton started with George Washington crossing the Delaware River from Pennsylvania to New Jersey at 3 a.m. on the morning following Christmas, 1776. General Washington crossed the icy river North of Trenton. Upon reaching New Jersey, Washington carried inland with his small Army. The Army split into three parts in order to execute a proper flank. The first two battalions immediately headed southeast towards Trenton. The third headed further east across the farmland to achieve the greatest angle at which to attack.
Once in place, the three battalions, headed towards their ultimate goal of Trenton. About half way to the Trenton, the two original battalions split. One battalion continued on their current road; however, the other headed across the farmlands and traveled to Trenton nearly directly bisecting the two outer battalions.
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