The Foundations of American Nationality

By Evarts Boutell Greene | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXI
EUROPE AND AMERICA, 1776 TO 1780

CONSIDERING the immense political importance of the American Revolution, the military operations of the war were on a surprisingly small scale. During a considerable part of the war, Washington's main army hardly reached the size of a modern brigade, and in the march to Yorktown in 1781 he took with him only about two thousand American regulars, or roughly the equivalent of a present-day regiment. Compared with the European and American armies of the World War, the forces on both sides seem infinitesimal.

Operations on a small scale.

Up to the end of June, 1776, the military results were fairly satisfactory from the American point of view. The expedition against Canada had failed, but the British had withdrawn from Boston and their attack on the Carolinas had broken down. For the moment no territory in any of the thirteen colonies was held by the British, though their navy enabled them to control New York harbor and keep in touch with the strong loyalist element in that state. Now, however, the Americans had to face two invading armies, striking at opposite ends of the Hudson-Champlain waterway and threatening to isolate New England from the southern colonies. One of these expeditions, commanded by Sir Guy Carleton, the efficient governor of Quebec, gradually pushed the Americans back from Canadian territory and organized a naval force for the control of Lake Champlain. Fortunately the Americans had in Benedict Arnold a resourceful leader who knew something about ships.

The military situation in 1776.

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