“AMERICA IS OURS”:
VICTORY AT YORKTOWN, 1781
HIGH SUMMER bore down in the northern states as the French army began its trek from Rhode Island to New York to link up with Washington's Continentals. Moving along under a merciless sun, and in great swirling clouds of dust, the French soldiers found New England's climate so hot that Rochambeau for the most part terminated each day's march at noon, though some of the afternoon hours were spent in finding food. “The Americans supplied us with nothing,” said one disgusted soldier, and he added that the French “were obliged to purchase everything and to provide ourselves with the most trifling things.” Near White Plains on July 6—eighteen days after starting out, and eleven months after their arrival in America, the French army joined with the Continental army. The Americans spontaneously cheered and applauded the sight of their allies in their white uniforms. The next day, the French passed in review before Washington and Rochambeau, and the following day, under a pale blue sky, the Continentals reciprocated with a parade of their own. One French officer thought the rebels looked “rather good,” though another observed that many American soldiers were barefoot and an alarming number were either barely adolescents or somewhat old for the rigors of military service. He thought it hopeful that “a quarter of them were negroes, merry confident, and sturdy.”1
The allies' objective, agreed to at the Wethersfield Conference six weeks earlier, was to besiege or attack the British in New York. But on the eve of his departure from Rhode Island, Rochambeau had at last notified Washington that he knew de Grasse was to come north before summer's end, and he asked the American commander where he should be asked to sail. Washington's response
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Publication information: Book title: Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence. Contributors: John Ferling - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2007. Page number: 523.
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