The American Revolution: 1776: The Continental Army in the Year of Independence
Overview: The United States declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776, becoming the first Euro-American community to attempt to break away from Old World control. In this chapter we meet a group of men and women who have cast their fortunes with revolution. But the dream of American independence would become a reality only if the United States could create an effective military force. The Revolutionaries in this chapter -- George Washington, Joseph Hodgkins, Joseph Plumb Martin, and Lydia Minturn Post, among others -- found that independence was hard to achieve. The essay presents the military history of a largely disastrous year, while showing the evolution of a sense of American righteousness as expressed most clearly by Nathan Hale and Thomas Paine. The chapter concludes by describing a small but victorious campaign, where George Washington crossed the Delaware River and struck an important blow for independence.
1. Introducing George Washington: Gen. George Washington, Lt. Col James Patterson, Lord Howe, Gen. Sir William Howe, Hessian soldiers, "George Washington Esq.," Gen. Henry Knox, six feet two inches tall, "Your Excellency," "a very great man indeed," Lexington, Concord, Saratoga, Yorktown, July 4, Continental army, equal station, his dignified presence, he was an "obvious choice" as commander, "an easy soldierlike air," Martha Washington, Mount Vernon.
2. Building a Continental Army: Patriots, Cambridge Massachusetts, Battle of Bunker Hill, "colorful denizens of a county fair," militia units, Continentals, "mixed multitude of people," Israel Putnam, Artemas Ward, Charles Lee, Nathanael Greene, John Glover, the Nancy, "Congress," Daniel Morgan's frontiersmen, well disciplined army, catching cannonballs, exhibitionists, "Eight Month Army," Continentals, Joseph Hodgkins, Boston, live in a wigwam, "slaughter house of America," Tories, Old South Church, Henry Knox, Dorchester Heights, British leaving Boston, Americans occupying Boston, Richard Montgomery, Benedict Arnold, "engaged in this glorious cause."
3. Fighting (and defeats) around New York: Holy Ground, Manhattan, American fortifications, Thomas Hickey, Adm. Richard Howe, British fleet, Phoenix, Rose, Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine, Common Sense, statue of George III, enlistees, daily rations, Pvt. Joseph Plumb Martin, Sir Henry Clinton, Lord Charles Cornwallis, Lord George Germain, Lord North, Battle of Long Island, Gen. John Sullivan, Gen. William Alexander, evacuation of Brooklyn Heights, Lydia Minturn Post, "wonderful retreat," parley, Kip's Bay, Martin on the retreat, "Good God! Have I got such troops as these?," Murray Hill, Harlem Heights, "an unhappy divided state," short-term militiamen, great fire, Martin on exposure to the elements, Nathan Hale, "I only regret...," Throgs Neck, White Plains, Fort Washington, through a telescope, tenderness of a child, Fort Lee.
4. Defeat and Victories: Fort Ticonderoga, Lydia Minturn Post on the British occupation of Long Island, General Lee, Joseph Reed, quartering, hammock, stuffed parrots, "She is over-taxed, oppressed, insulted," "The year has closed disastrous, gloomy," "The American Crisis," crossing the Delaware, Marbleheaders, Trenton, Assumpink Creek, "It's a fine fox chase, my boys," Princeton, Morristown, “all liberty mad again," small triumphs salvaged from great disasters.