George Rogers Clark: His Life and Public Services

By Temple Bodley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE REVOLUTION BEGINS: KENTUCKY MADE A COUNTY

A GLANCE at a map of the United States will show that the British had three main ways of attacking the Americans. The first was by landing their troops at Atlantic seaports. The second was to cut off New England from the other states, as Burgoyne tried to do, by seizing the routes from Canada to New York City, along the line of Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. The third way was for the British to lead their western Indian allies to destroy the settlements along the frontiers from Pennsylvania to Georgia. How vulnerable the confederated states were in that direction, British military leaders saw better, perhaps, than many of ours, and certainly much more clearly than the many historians of the war who have seemed to think there was no war worth mentioning save along the Atlantic seaboard and the northern frontiers of New England and New York.

In truth the western frontiers played a vitally important part in the general struggle for independence. As Professor Frederick Turner first clearly pointed out,1 they furnished Washington with many of his best fighting men. The invaluable services of the frontier riflemen in three of the most decisive battles in the eastern war -- Saratoga, King's Mountain, and Cowpens -- are well known. Nor were the western frontiers only the breeding ground of fighting men. With their virgin soil and abundant mast and grasses, they made a great stock range during the Revolutionary era. Their droves of cattle, sheep, and swine, and their pack-horse trains of grain sometimes largely fed the eastern armies; for, when roads were few and indescribably bad, those animals could be driven great distances and could find forage on the way. Had the half-starved eastern armies depended on wagon trains for their food supply, they would probably have been forced to disband, as Washington constantly feared, long be-

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1
Proceedings Wisconsin Historical Society, Dec. 14, 1893; The Frontier in American History. ( Holt, 1920.)

-25-

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