the battle of Monmouth






The Battle of Monmouth
Few, when talking of the American Revolution, list the Battle of Monmouth among the significant battles. It was hardly a bloody battle, with only about seven-hundred total casualties. It was not a decisive battle, it was not a battle in which we gained or lost a key position, and it was not a battle in which we point to as an example of how to conduct an engagement. In fact, it was not a battle in which one can say that the Revolutionaries truly won. Yet, with all this, it was probably the battle that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War. “Beneath a blazing sun at Monmouth Courthouse, it was shown to the rest of the Continental Army that the training of Freidrich Von Stueben had, indeed, paid off. Here, Revolutionists stood toe to toe with the greatest Army in the world, and drove them off the field.” Heroes were made here, such as the famous Molly Hays McCauly , better known as Molly Pitcher. In truth, and in accordance with legend, she took up her husband’s place at his cannon on Comb’s Hill after he had fallen. Another legend that began here was the insanely courageous moves of General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. His hold against the Grenadiers earned him this nickname, which stuck until his death . Truly, this battle sent a rejuvenated spirit across the entire Continental Army. Contrary to popular belief, they could beat the British regulars. This would no longer be by some fluke, or by poor commanding on the British side, but by the excellent fighting that had been instilled on them during the harsh winter at Valley Forge.
To set the stage for this battle, we must first understand what the British were thinking at the time. The British had not succeeded in “breaking the back of the rebellion” by occupying Philadelphia. General Howe, who had prophesied this, was consequently fired and replaced by Sir Henry Clinton. Henry Clinton was widely regarded as both wiser and more energetic. He faced his first challenge when, in May of 1778, a French fleet, carrying 4,000 troops and consisting of 11 warships, set sail toward America. This force was far superior to any that the British could supply at the time. Fearing a new war with France, Clinton was ordered to detach about 8,000 of his 10,000 troops to the West Indies and Florida and send the rest to New York City. This was all supposed to be done by way of naval transport. However, Clinton had hardly the vessels needed to transport the 3,000 horses that came with the troops. He decided instead to march the whole of his force to New York City, and detach the needed troops there.
On June 17, 1778 Clinton began his march. His force consisted of 10,000 troops, which were accompanied, and hampered by, swarms of Tory refugees. The Tories turned out to be an incredible nuisance to Sir Clinton as he marched toward New York. The excessive amounts of baggage, and the poor wagons used to carry said baggage, slowed the progress of the British Regulars to, at times, nine miles a day. This being said, the baggage train exceeded twelve miles in length. It is possible that one could have sat in the same spot for an entire day and never seen the end of this incredibly slow, incredibly long, and incredibly vulnerable procession.
This is not to say that the Americans did not take great pride in hampering the progress of the British. As soon as the last Tory walked out of Philadelphia, the first American walked in. On June 18, 1778 Philadelphia became, once again, an American held city. As soon as the American flag was raised, they set out to be the “best nuisance possible to the British, ” as one skirmisher wrote. General Maxwell did an excellent job, slowing the British movement to almost a crawl, as stated above. There was one minor engagement that was the direct cause of an act to be a thorn in the British side. At Crosswicks, three regiments under Cols. Frelinghusen, Van Dike, and Webster remained as the remainder of General Dickinson’s force began to withdraw, for they knew the enemy was