EVENTS IN THE WEST INDIES AFTER THE SURRENDER OF YORKTOWN. -- ENCOUNTERS OF DE GRASSE WITH HOOD. -- THE SEA BATTLE OF THE SAINTS. -- 1781, 1782.
T HE surrender of Cornwallis marked the end of the active war upon the American continent. The issue of the struggle was indeed assured upon the day when France devoted her sea power to the support of the colonists; but, as not uncommonly happens, the determining characteristics of a period were summed up in one striking event. From the beginning, the military question, owing to the physical characteristics of the country, a long seaboard with estuaries penetrating deep into the interior, and the consequent greater ease of movement by water than by land, had hinged upon the control of the sea and the use made of that control. Its misdirection by Sir William Howe in 1777, when he moved his army to the Chesapeake instead of supporting Burgoyne's advance, opened the way to the startling success at Saratoga, when amazed Europe saw six thousand regular troops surrendering to a body of provincials. During the four years that followed, until the surrender of Yorktown, the scales rose and fell according as the one navy or the other appeared on the scene, or as English commanders kept touch with the sea or pushed their operations far from its support. Finally, at the great crisis, all is found depending upon the question whether the French or the English fleet should first appear, and upon their relative force.
The maritime struggle was at once transferred to the West Indies. The events which followed there were antecedent in time both to Suffren's battles and to the final relief of Gibraltar; but they stand so much by themselves as
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Publication information: Book title: The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783. Edition: 12th. Contributors: A. T. Mahan - Author. Publisher: Little, Brown. Place of publication: Boston. Publication year: 1918. Page number: 468.
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