From "the finest historian of the American Revolution" comes the definitive account of the battle and unlikely triumph that led to American independence (Douglas Brinkley)
In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, 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.
This informative and entertaining chronicle of the American Revolution's final battles also concludes Ketchum's fine series of that war's campaign histories . The narrative begins in the fall of 1780. The Continental army is in low spirits, the nominally allied French having proven unreliable; Benedict Arnold's treason is uncovered; and shortages of rations, money and morale sweep the ranks. In his casual story-telling voice, Ketchum breathes life into historical characters as they come together in the war's largely familiar final moments to defeat the British. Relying heavily on anecdotes, the author relates Nathaniel Greene's brilliant win over a brewing war of attrition in the South, and the French officers' miraculous reorganization of land and sea forces that enabled the coordinated transport of Washington and Rochambeau's combined armies to besiege Yorktown. The real pleasure of this book, however, lies in its personal accounts, which reveal unusual details about colonial life. The Comte de Clermont-Crevecoeur, for example, unsparingly assesses the charms of American ladies in each region (Rhode Island women were frail, but had lovely complexions; Virginians were more hospitable, but aged faster). A nearly nude Peggy Arnold embarrassed George Washington into speechlessness by feigning hysterics to cover the tracks of her escaping husband, Benedict, and hide her own complicity. Washington's aide Tench Tilghman hurriedly rode from Yorktown to spread word of the American's triumph. A thoroughly satisfactory finale to the author's American Revolution magnum opus, this is an excellent volume for both new and seasoned students of colonial history.