Triumph of Freedom, 1775-1783

By John C. Miller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
The Turning Point

Meanwhile in England, before the black news of Trenton had cross the Atlantic, Sir William Howe was being acclaimed as the conqueror of America. He was made a Knight of the Bath, and it was said that before the campaign was over, the King would exhaust all the honors of the peerage in rewarding Howe for his victories. The King's policy of laying on the rod seemed to be triumphantly vindicated. The friends of colonial liberty were downcast. "Reason and liberty are ill received in this world," mourned Voltaire.

Therefore, the news of Trenton and the war of movement it touched off in New Jersey struck England like a thunderclap. Still, crestfallen as they were, Englishmen could look forward to the glorious triumphs promised them by the government in the coming campaign. Sir William's plans for 1777 were exceedingly ambitious, having been drawn up in the flush of victory in November 1776, and in the expectation that heavy reinforcements would soon be pouring across the Atlantic. He proposed to attack Boston, to effect a junction on the Hudson River with an army invading the United States from Canada, to attack Philadelphia, and to overrun South Carolina and Georgia. A very large order, perhaps -- but Howe intended no further temporizing with the rebellion.

Lord George Germain was overjoyed to see Howe displaying so much vigor, even if only on paper. Nonetheless, the Colonial Secretary was staggered by Howe's demands for reinforcements and supplies. Germain habitually acted ipon the assumption that he knew better than did the generals in the field the wants of British army. He pruned ruthlessly Howe's estimates of men, horses, and supplies required for the campaign: where the general asked for ten thousand men, he was fortunate to get three thousand; where he asked for five hundred horses,

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