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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
The three English armies expected to get control of all New York and the Hudson River, and so cut off New England -- "the head of the rebellion" -- from the other colonies. (Map, p. 140.)
The enemy coming from Oswego might have taken Fort Stanwix, later named Fort Schuyler, had not General Herkimer met them at Oriskany. In the battle Herkimer received his death wound; but the brave old man propped himself against a tree and kept up the fight until the British, Indians, and Tories fled.
All went well with Burgoyne until he struck into the wilderness south of Lake Champlain. There General Schuyler of Albany broke down all the bridges, felled trees across the only road there was through the woods, and made Burgoyne's life miserable. Next the British generals horses a provisions gave out. He sent a thousand men to Bennington, Vermont, to get more. Colonel John Stark, one of the heroes of Bunker Hill (§ 38), started with a small force to meet the enemy. Pointing to the "redcoats," he said, "There they are, boys; we beat them to-day or Mollie Stark's a widow." Mrs. Stark had no occasion to put on mourning; for her husband, with his men, whipped the British (August 16, 1777) so badly that less than a hundred out of the thousand ever got back to Burgoyne. Washington called the victory a "great stroke." It was, indeed; for it prepared the way for Burgoyne's downfall.
178. Howe's Expedition to Pennsylvania; Battle of Brandywine; Philadelphia taken; Battle of Germantown. While these events were happening Howe started from New York (§ 170) to
TURNING POINT IN THE REVOLUTION
march to Philadelphia. Washington had not men enough to meet the British general in open fight, but he so worried him and wasted his time that General Howe finally went back with his army to New York in disgust.
Howe then started to go to Philadelphia by sea. Finding the Delaware River fortified against him, he landed at the head of Chesapeake Bay and marched against the "Quaker City."
Washington met him at Brandywine Creek, and tried to check his advance; but Howe had a much stronger force, and the battle (September 11, 1777) delayed but did not stop the British. (Map, p. 140.) Two weeks later the enemy entered the city which was then the capital of the United States. Leaving a small force at Germantown, now a part of Philadelphia, Howe went down the Delaware to capture the forts and get possession of that river. While he was gone Washington attacked the British at Germantown, but was repulsed. He then fell back to the hills on the Schuylkill at Valley Forge, about twenty miles northwest of Philadelphia. (Map, p. 140.)
179. The Turning Point in the Revolution; Battle of Saratoga, 1777; the Stars and Stripes; Help from France. Meanwhile, great events had happened in the North. Burgoyne had fought two battles in the neighborhood of Saratoga, September 19 and October 7, 1777; he had been utterly defeated, and his entire army, numbering about 6000 men, captured. (Map, p. 140.) If to this number we add that of the prisoners taken by us before the surrender, and the loss of the enemy at Bennington (§ 177), it will give a total of nearly 10,000 -- or about one third the entire British force then in America. The captured army was marched off by the American officers triumphantly bearing the Stars and Stripes,1 which had just been adopted as our national
1 The first United States flag (adopted by Congress, June 14, 1777) having the stars and stripes was made, it is said, out of a soldier's white shirt, an old blue army overcoat, and a red flannel petticoat. It was hoisted by our army at Fort Stanwix (near Rome), New York, during Burgoyne's campaign in 1777. Paul Jones appears to have first raised this flag at sea (§ 183). The flag raised by Washington at Cambridge when he took command of the army was the English flag with thirteen red and white stripes added. In the flag adopted by Congress the stars represent all the states; the stripes, the first thirteen states. The stars and stripes on Washington's coat of arms may have suggested the flag.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
flag. General Gates1 got the credit of the victory; but Benedict Arnold (§ 164) and Daniel Morgan2 with his sharpshooters were the men who really won it, partly by gallant fighting, partly by cutting off all supplies from the enemy, and at last by literally starving them into a surrender.
In the wars of over twenty centuries an eminent English writer finds only fifteen battles that have had a lasting influence on the world's history. The American victory at Saratoga, he says, was one of them.3 It had two immense results:
1. It completely broke up the English plans for the war.
2. It secured for us the aid of England's old and powerful enemy, France.
Some time after the victory Lafayette (§ 176) received letters from Paris. He was then at Valley Forge (§ 178). When he had read the letters he ran to Washington and cried out with tears of) joy, "The King, my master, has acknowledged the independence of America, and will sign a treaty to help you establish it." It was true. Men like to help those who show that they are trying their best to help themselves. We had shown it, and now the King of France held out his hand to us.
The next year (February 6, 1778) Benjamin Franklin, our minister at Paris, obtained the treaty or agreement by which the
1 General Gates, like General Charles Lee (§ 172), was born in Great Britain and had served in the English army. He appears to have taken no direct part in these battles; in fact, he was not actually on the field in either.
2 Daniel Morgan of Virginia. He commanded a force of five hundred picked riflemen -- "sharpshooters" -- with aim so accurate that it was humorously said that any one of them could toss up an apple and shoot all the seeds out of it as it fell. The enemy who had to face these riflemen never disputed the story.
3 "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World," by Sir Edward S. Creasy.
WASHINGTON AT VALLEY FORGE
French King pledged himself to send us men, ships, and money for the war. Franklin and Washington were the two great men who carried the war to final success: Washington by destroying enemies, Franklin by gaining friends; Washington by the sword, Franklin, like Morris (§ 175), with the purse.1
180. Summary. The War of Independence began with the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. In the first battle, that of Long Island, the Americans were defeated. Washington retreated across the Delaware, but returned and gained the brilliant victory of Trenton. Howe took Philadelphia; but shortly after, the Americans captured Burgoyne and his whole army at Saratoga; in consequence of that success France recognized the independence of America, and pledged herself to help us fight our battles by land and sea.
III. THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, FROM THE TREATY WITH FRANCE
TO THE END OF THE WAR (1778-1783)
181. Washington at Valley Forge (1777-1778); Peace offered; Howe leaves Philadelphia. But though the great victory of Saratoga in the autumn of 1777 (§ 179) filled the land with joy, yet the winter which followed was a terrible one. While Howe and his officers were living luxuriously in Philadelphia (§ 178), Washington's men, "naked and starving," were dying of putrid fever on the frozen hillsides of Valley Forge (§ 178). They were dying, too, before the good news could reach them that the King of France had pledged his word to aid America in her great struggle (§ 179)
England was greatly alarmed at the action of France in taking our part. The next spring (1778) the British government offered peace, representation in Parliament -- everything, in fact, but independence. But it was independence that we were
1 Franklin lent all his ready money -- about fifteen thousand dollars -- to the country, to fight the battles of the Revolution, and lent it when everything looked against us. His influence got us a gift from France of nearly two million dollars and a loan of over three million more. Thus he used his own purse and the purse of the French King to help us.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
fighting for, and we rejected the offer. Fear of the approaching French fleet now compelled the British1 to abandon Philadelphia and start for New York.
182. Battle of Monmouth; Lee's Disgrace; Indian Massacres; Clark's Victories in the West. About 15,000 of the English forces started to go across New Jersey. Now was Washington's opportunity. With about the same number he followed them up sharply. A battle was fought at Monmouth (Map, p. 140) (June 28, 1778), which we barely won. It was the last battle of note fought on northern soil. It would have ended in a brilliant victory for our side, if General Charles Lee (§ 173), who unfortunately had come back to us, had done his duty. He acted like a lunatic or a traitor. Washington sternly rebuked him, and shortly after ordered him to withdraw from the battle and go to the rear. Lee was tried by court-martial for disobedience and misbehavior, and suspended from the army; later, Congress dismissed him in disgrace, and in disgrace he died.
The British forces now returned to New York and vicinity. Washington, with his army stretched out from Morristown, New Jersey, to West Point on the Hudson, watched them day and night. (Map, p. 140.)
1 General Howe resigned in the winter of 1777-1778. His brother, Lord Howe, resigned the next summer (1778). Sir Henry Clinton succeeded General Howe in command of the army (May, 1779), and Admiral Byron succeeded Lord Howe in command of the British fleet.