Victory at Yorktown: The Campaign That Won the Revolution
Richard M. Ketchum
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In 1780, George Washington's army lay idle for want of supplies, food, and money. All hope seemed lost until a powerful French force landed at Newport in July. Then, under Washington's directives, Nathanael Greene began a series of hit-and-run operations against the British. The damage the guerrilla fighters inflicted would help drive the enemy to Yorktown, where Greene and Lafayette would trap them before Washington and Rochambeau, supported by the French fleet, arrived to deliver the coup de grâce.
Richard M. Ketchum illuminates, for the first time, the strategies and heroic personalities-American and French-that led to the surprise victory, only the second major battle the Americans would win in almost seven horrific years. Relying on good fortune, daring, and sheer determination never to give up, American and French fighters-many of whom walked from Newport and New York to Virginia-brought about that rarest of military operations: a race against time and distance, on land and at sea. Ketchum brings to life the gripping and inspirational story of how the rebels defeated the world's finest army against all odds.
Louis XVI (1754–1793). King of France at the age of twenty, he was finally persuaded by Vergennes to give secret aid to the colonies through Hortalez et Cie, and then approved the French alliance. He and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were sent to the guillotine in 1793. Chevalier Anne-Cesar de La Luzerne (1741–1791). He became France’s minister to the United States in 1779 and, though he spoke little English, exerted a great influence. He oversaw the purchase of supplies for the French army and
sixty-five miles or so, but the name remained. * The military’s way of celebrating good news: the troops lined up and fired their muskets into the air in sequence, from one end of the line to the other. * Despite the hazardous mission he had undertaken so courageously, Champe never did get the promotion he had been promised. In 1837 his needy widow was granted $120 a year as the relict of a Revolutionary veteran; by then the former sergeant major was long dead. * Washington had set aside a
price. The mutineers agreed to lay down their arms and deliver the British agents to Continental officers, but in return they had been given a number of financial concessions, while half of the men were discharged and the others furloughed until April. That meant the departure of many experienced veterans the army could not afford to lose, and, for the present at least, the Pennsylvania line was no more. The beleaguered General could hardly help wondering if other units would not follow suit, and
Pennsylvanians 24 killed, 107 wounded, and the loss of two six-pounders. During this period they visited Richmond, where they found much of the city destroyed by Arnold and great numbers of slaves with smallpox who were dead or dying. They also encountered Baron Steuben, who gave them a lesson in maneuvers to be employed in a siege. During the ninety-eight-day period between May 26 and September 1, they had spent sixty-seven days marching, traveling at least 735 miles (an average of nearly 11
the French war department, had been working for years on a series of depictions of battles fought during the reign of Louis XV. When he was commissioned to do two paintings of the recent victory in America for Louis XVI’s collection in the royal palace at Versailles, he set aside his other project and began work on the Siege, showing allied troops marching toward Yorktown, and another painting of The Surrender. Later, Rochambeau requested that the artist make copies for him, and they were hung at