U. s history 4-3 Struggling Toward Saratoga


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U.S History 4-3 Struggling Toward Saratoga

  • The colonists suffered an initial loss to the British in the battle for New York, which along with the other middle states served as the Revolutionary War’s early battle ground.

Defeat in New York

  • The British retreated from Boston in March 1776, moving the theater of the war to the middle states. As part of a grand plan to stop the rebellion by isolating New England, the British decided to seize New York City.
  • General Howe of the British was not intent on a destructive confrontation in New York. He preferred to intimidate the ragtag colonial army into surrender.
  • Washington rallied 23000 men to New York’s defense, but he was outnumbered and had untrained troops.
  • Defeat

Defeat in New York…

  • The battle ended in late August with heavy losses and an American retreat.
  • By late fall the British had pushed the troops across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. Fewer than 8000 men remained under Washington’s command.

The Battle of Trenton

  • Washington desperately wanted some sort of victory to inspire his men.
  • Washington resolved to risk everything on one bold stroke set for Christmas night, 1776. In the face of a fierce storm, he led 2,400 men across the Delaware river in small rowboats.
  • How it Really Looked

The Battle of Trenton…

  • By 8 o’clock the next morning, the men had marched nine miles through sleet and snow to the objective-Trenton, New Jersey, held by a garrison of Hessians. Lulled into confidence by the storm, most of the men were still sleeping it off. In a surprise attack, the Americans killed 30 of the enemy and 918 captives and six Hessian cannons.
  • The victory was so stunning that many of the men had reenlisted. Those who returned were cheered by another astonishing victory six days later against 1200 British soldiers stationed at Princeton. With these successes Washington marched the army into winter camp near Morristown, in northern New Jersey.

The Fight of Philadelphia

  • As the muddy fields dried out in the spring of 1777, the British, anticipating victory, looked forward to the year’s campaign. General Howe had a plan to seize Philadelphia. His troops left New York by sea, sailed up the Chesapeake Bay, and landed near the capital in late August. The Continental Congress fled the city while Washington’s men tried to block the British at nearby Brandywine Creek. The Americans lost the pitched battle, and the pleasure loving General Howe settled in to enjoy the hospitality of Philadelphia’s grateful loyalists.
  • Later, Washington launched a attack on the British encampment at nearby Germantown. Early on things went good for the Americans but so to dense fog and smoke the Americans fired upon each other. Once again, Howe won.

Military strengths and weaknesses

  • U.S.
  • Britain
  • Strengths:
  • Strengths:
  • Familiarity of home ground
  • Strong well trained army and navy
  • Inspiring cause-independence
  • Strong central government
  • Weaknesses:
  • Weaknesses:
  • Shortages
  • Weak military leaders
  • Untrained Soldiers
  • Large distance separating the 2 countries

Victory at Saratoga

  • In the meantime, one of Howe’s fellow British generals was marching straight into the jaws of disaster. General “Gentlemen Johnny” Burgoyne had a complex scheme and persuaded the London high command to let him follow through with it. According to Burgoyne’s plan, he would lead an army down a route of lakes from Canada to Albany, where he would meet Howe’s troops as they arrived from New York City. The 2 Generals would then join forces to isolate New England from the rest of the colonies.

Victory at Saratoga…

  • However, Burgoyne first had to travel through forested wilderness. He had 4000 red coats, 3000 mercenaries, and 1000 Mohawk under his command. His army had to move 30 wagons containing 138 pieces of artillery and his extra personal items, such as fine clothing and champagne. The farther south Burgoyne’s forces traveled into the woods, the more resistance they encountered.

Strengths of U.S. army

  • Good leaders
  • Inspiring cause
  • independence
  • Familiar with
  • home ground
  • Strengths

Victory at Saratoga…

  • Beyond Lake Champlain swamps and gullies as well as thick under bush bogged down the army. Food supplies ran low. At the same time militiamen and soldiers from the Continental army gathered from all over New York and New England. Burgoyne lost several hundred men every time the 2 sides clashed. Even worse Burgoyne didn’t realize that Howe was preoccupied with conquering and occupying Philadelphia and wasn’t coming to meet him.
  • Massed American troops finally surrounded Burgoyne at Saratoga, where he surrendered his battered army.
  • The surrender at Saratoga dramatically changed Britain’s war strategy. From that time on the British were reluctant to send troops into the countryside. Instead, they generally kept their men along the coast, close to big guns and supply bases of the British fleet.

A Turning point

  • Saratoga was an important psychologically as well as military. Americans now had proof that they could defeat the British regulars, even though American forces were still outnumbered. At the same time, British confidence took a heavy blow. The full impact of Saratoga was felt when the news reached Paris and London.
  • The American victory aroused the interest of the French, who saw an opportunity to avenge their defeat at the hands of the British in the French and Indian war. Since early 1776, the French supplied Americans with weapons. The Saratoga victory bolstered French trust in the American army and France agreed to help in the Revolution.

Winter at Valley Forge

  • While this hopeful turn of events took place in Paris, Washington and his Continental Army were fighting to stay alive at winter camp in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, a wooded hillside 20 miles west of Philadelphia. Unfortunately Congress had little money for supplies. Even worse the French alliance was established, Congress was so optimistic about victory that it paid little attention to Washington’s plea for supplies. Throughout the winter food was low and 2000 out of 10000 died.
  • It would take months for French aid to arrive. In the meantime, the British controlled New York and parts of New England.

Colonial Life During the Revolution

  • The Revolutionary War touched the life of every American, not just the men in the battlefield. The war upset the economy and forced people into new ways of living and thinking.

Financing the War

  • One problem they faced was paying the troops. The government sold bonds so they could get money. It also printed paper money. As Congress printed more and more money its value plunged. In New York the prices of beef doubled. With few munitions factories and the British blockading the coast we had to smuggle arms from foreign countries. Morris and Salomon begged and borrowed on their personal credit.
  • They raised funds from Philadelphia’s Quakers and Jews. They also set up a supply system for the army.

Civilians at War

  • The demands of war also affected civilians. When men marched off to fight women stepped into their shoes. Women also joined the war effort. Many made ammunition from silver. Hundreds of women marched into war with their husbands to cook for them. A few women risked their life in war. Mary Ludwig took her husbands spot at a cannon when he was injured. This change attitudes, but did not win major freedoms for women, it shaped a new ideal for them-to rear the next generation to be Patriots. Thousands of slaves escaped during the war. African Americans served in the army and whites were impressed with their talents.


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