American Revolution: Major Events 1777

2 January: When Cornwallis approached Trenton, New Jersey, with much stronger force than Washington had, latter retreated across Assunpink Creek south of town and then repulsed British attempts to cross creek.

3 January: From south of Trenton Washington side-slipped British force under Cornwallis during night of 2-3 January, and next morning attacked and defeated British rear guard at Princeton, New Jersey (Princeton Campaign), British losing about 275 and patriots 40 in action. Victories at Trenton and Princeton did much to revive patriot cause from its lowest ebb.

6 January: Washington moved into winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey.

10 January: British withdrew all forces from New Jersey except for those at posts at (New) Brunswick and (Perth) Amboy, covering winter quarters in and around New York City.

17-25 January: Mixed Militia-Continental force under General William Heath attempted to take Fort Independence guarding approaches to New York. After several days of maneuvering and skirmishing, British sallied forth and scattered Heath’s force.

7-9 February: After patriots seized Georgia, many loyalists fled to St. Augustine in British East Florida. Expedition including Continental troops under General Robert Howe mounted against them in August 1776 failed, and remnants of patriots were overwhelmed on these dates at Fort McIntosh in present Camden County, Georgia, bordering Florida.

12 March: Congress having returned from Baltimore met in Philadelphia.

23-24 March: British raiding party sailing up Hudson River attacked American supply base at Peekskill, New York. Counterattack on following day drove British off but not before they had destroyed large quantity of Continental Army supplies.

13 April: British force of 2,000 under Cornwallis attacked patriot outpost at Bound Brook, New Jersey, manned by 500 Continentals under command of General Ben jam in Lincoln. Lincoln managed to extricate most of his force with loss of 35 or so.

14 April: Congress approved establishment of magazine and laboratory in Springfield, Massachusetts, genesis of Springfield Arsenal and Springfield Armory.

25-28 April: British raiding force of 2,000 from New York landed near Fairfield, Connecticut, and next day attacked and largely destroyed important patriot supply depot at Danbury, Connecticut, together with a number of dwellings. While unopposed at Danbury, raiding force was harried by militia on its return, at Ridgefield on 27th and at Compo Hill near its embarkation point on 28th. Patriots killed and wounded in these actions totaled 80, British, 154.

10 May: Continental force under General Adam Stephen attempted to surprise British Highland regiment stationed at Piscataway, New Jersey, east of Brunswick, but were repulsed, patriots losing 65 or more, Highlanders 28.

23-24 May: Patriot raiding force from Guilford, Connecticut, crossed Long Island Sound and surprised British foraging party at Sag Harbor, New York. After destroying 12 vessels and killing 6 and capturing 90 of British party, raiders got back to Guilford without losing a man.

29 May: Washington moved main Continental Army from winter quarters at Morristown into positions to oppose any movement of Howe toward Philadelphia; began month of maneuvering between two armies.

13 June: The Marquis de Lafayette and Johann Kalb, who were to distinguish themselves as military leaders in patriot cause, landed at Georgetown, South Carolina.

14 June: Congress “Resolved, that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

18 June: General John Burgoyne’s expedition to invade and split American states set out on this date from St. Johns, Canada, reaching Crown Point, New York, on 27 June and Ticonderoga on 1 July.

22 June: Pursuing British who were retiring to Staten Island to embark for Philadelphia, Washington’s leading forces attacked enemy rear guard at Brunswick, New Jersey, although only American riflemen inflicted any significant damage.

 26 June: As his final maneuver in New Jersey before embarking for Philadelphia campaign, General Howe attacked General Alexander’s (Lord Stirling’s) division at Metuchen, New Jersey, but Continentals withdrew with only modest loss.

6 July: Fort Ticonderoga, New York, occupied by British after Burgoyne’s invading force of about 10,000 outflanked the fortress on two sides and forced its 3,300 defenders to abandon it.

6 July: Pursuing patriot force withdrawing from Ticonderoga, British troops attacked it at Skenesboro (modern Whitehall), New York, at southern end of Lake Champlain, and while inflicting few casualties forced patriots to burn their shipping and supplies.

7 July: Part of patriot force retreating from Ticonderoga, numbering about 1,000 men, struck by surprise attack of 7 50 British and German troops at Hubbardton, Vermont. Americans were routed after heavy fighting, in which enemy lost 170 and patriots 400, including prisoners.

8 July: Patriot force at Fort Anne, New York, superior in numbers, after skirmish with British burned Fort Anne and fell back on Fort Edward.

9-10 July: Patriot raiding party led by Major William Barton captured British General Richard Prescott at Newport, Rhode Island; he was exchanged following year for General Charles Lee.

23 July: General Howe with 15,000 troops departed from Staten Island on 260 ships for operation against Philadelphia.

26 July: British Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger, with about 2,000 men, half of them Indians and including only about 350 British regulars, started his expedition from Oswego, New York, on Lake Ontario toward Mohawk Valley and projected link-up with Burgoyne near Albany.

27 July: Advance band of Indians from Burgoyne’s force seized two loyalist ladies at Fort Edward, New York, and on the way back to Burgoyne’s base at Fort Anne murdered and scalped the younger one, Jane McCrea. Propaganda spread by patriots about this incident had much to do with gathering of militia that helped lead to Burgoyne’s downfall.

30 ]uly-17 October: The officially designated Saratoga Campaign began day after Burgoyne reached Fort Edward, New York, and ended with his surrender.

31 July: Congress commissioned the Marquis de Lafayette major general in Army of the United States.

3-23 August: St. Leger’s force besieged Fort Stanwix, New York, American defense post at head of navigation on Mohawk River and key to advance down it to Hudson River. Siege was broken by approach of relief force led by General Benedict Arnold.

4 August: Congress, having received letter from Washington asking “to be excused from making the appointment of an officer to command the northern army,” appointed General Horatio Gates to succeed General Philip Schuyler as commander of army facing Burgoyne. This move helped to bring out large numbers of New England militia, who distrusted Schuyler, to reinforce Continental nucleus of northern army.

6 August: Militia force of 800 led by General Nicholas Herkimer in route to relieve Fort Stanwix was ambushed at Oriskany, New York, six miles from Stanwix, by 400 Indians and a few whites sent out by St. Leger. Fighting was bitter, but loss figures are uncertain-perhaps 200 from Herkimer’s force and 100 Indians. Since Herkimer was turned back this action was a tactical defeat for patriots.

15 August: General Howe’s army and fleet entered Chesapeake Bay in route to head of bay and march on Philadelphia. Patriot forts, ships, and obstructions appeared to bar more direct water approach to Philadelphia by way of Delaware Bay and Delaware River.

16 August: Burgoyne on 11 August sent out foraging party of 800 German and loyalist troops, and subsequently relief force of 640 Germans, that on this date were both decisively defeated in battle of Bennington, Vermont (actually fought in New York State), by 2,000 militia led by Colonel John Stark. Patriot losses were 70 or less, enemy losing 207 killed and 700 captured.

19 August: General Gates took over command of Northern Army from General Schuyler at Stillwater, New York.

22 August: General Sullivan’s division, left behind when Washington moved south to meet Howe, raided Staten Island, New York. Although it captured about 130 British troops while moving toward Richmond, division was stopped and then forced to withdraw with loss of at least 170.

23 August: Siege of Fort Stanwix abandoned by St. Leger after his Indians fled-partly a result of Arnold’s use of half-wit messenger to spread word that Continentals approaching were as thick as leaves on trees.

25 August: General Howe debarked his army at north end of Chesapeake Bay at Head of Elk (now Elkton), Maryland.

31 August-1 September: Fort Henry, Virginia (modern Wheeling, West Virginia), frontier outpost on Ohio River, attacked by 400 Indians. After substantial losses on both sides, Indians were driven off by arrival of reinforcements on second day.

3 September: Washington had sent forward recently formed light infantry corps to delay Howe’s advance from Head of Elk, and five miles northeast near Coach’s Bridge, Delaware, German troops attacked and after spirited action drove back this patriot force, with loss of 30-40 killed and wounded on each side. This action was only land combat in state of Delaware during Revolution.

11 September: Washington’s main effort to stop Howe’s advance on Philadelphia took place along Brandywine Creek (Brandywine Campaign), Pennsylvania, about 25 miles southwest of city. Howe outflanked Washington’s army and forced its retreat after heavy action; the patriots lost more than 1,200 including 400 prisoners out of 11,000 engaged, and the British forces nearly 600 out of 12,500 engaged.

12 September: Gates’ Northern army began to fortify position on Bemis Heights, below Saratoga, New York.

16 September: The British and American armies prepared for a major engagement in the vicinity of Warren or White Horse Tavern, Pennsylvania, but heavy rain wet cartridge boxes and Americans withdrew.

18 September: Congress at Washington’s urging left Philadelphia this date and, after meeting briefly at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on 27 September, met beginning 30 September at York, Pennsylvania.

18 September: American detachments raided vicinity of Fort Ticonderoga, New York, capturing 300 of enemy as well as recovering 100 patriot prisoners. While not complete success, this raid was ominous blow to Burgoyne’s line of communications.

19 September: With patriot forces strongly entrenched on Bemis Heights guarding line of advance, Burgoyne sent out strong reconnaissance to test American defenses. When General Arnold’s division advanced in response, British force engaged built up to 2,500. In bloody struggle enemy lost about 600, Americans about 320, and Burgoyne decided to hold his position rather than attempt further advance. This battle is variously called first Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights, Stillwater, or Saratoga.

21 September: Five British regiments launched surprise early morning attack on General Anthony Wayne’s division of 1,500 Continentals stationed near Paoli Tavern, Pennsylvania, 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Wayne lost about 150, British 30 or less, and because British attacked in stealth with bayonets the affair became known as the “Paoli Massacre.”

26 September: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, capital and largest city of new United States of America, occupied by British army of General Howe.

4 October: In battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania (Germantown Campaign), six miles northwest of Philadelphia, Washington with 11,000 troops attacked Howe’s main body of 9,000. Fog and confusion turned early patriot success into defeat, with patriot losses of 673 killed and wounded and over 400 captured and British losses of 537 killed and wounded and 14 captured.

6 October: In diversionary move to help Burgoyne, General Sir Henry Clinton with 3,000 British, German, and loyalist troops attacked and captured Forts Clinton and Montgomery (near Bear Mountain), New York, guarding entrance to Hudson River narrows through Highlands. British forces lost about 300, patriots 250 or nearly half of 600 defenders.

7 October: Burgoyne, with his dwindling army nearly surrounded, sent out another strong reconnaissance toward left of American defensive positions at Bemis Heights. Americans with Arnold in lead outflanked British and inflicted 600 casualties, four times their own loss. After this action Burgoyne withdrew his army to Saratoga. This battle is variously called second Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights, Stillwater, or Saratoga.

8 October: British force under General Sir Henry Clinton occupied then destroyed patriot fortifications on Constitution Island (opposite West Point.)

16 October: Part of Clinton’s force pushed northward and attacked and burned Esopus (modern Kingston), New York. Clinton’s expedition while not saving Burgoyne helped to persuade General Gates to grant him more liberal terms.

17 October: At Saratoga, New York, General Burgoyne, surrounded by 17,000 patriot troops and under intense artillery fire, surrendered his army of 5,728 officers and men to General Gates

17 October: Congress established new Board of War consisting of three persons not members of Congress (increased to five on 24 November), another step in the evolution of Army headquarters.

22 October: Hessian force of 2,000 attacked Fort Mercer, New Jersey, which with Fort Mifflin on Pennsylvania side of Delaware River blocked water route to British forces in Philadelphia. Hessians were repulsed, losing 371, while entrenched patriots lost only 37.

23 October: Guns of Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania, inflicted heavy damage on British warships attempting to break through Delaware River defenses and reach Philadelphia; two warships were destroyed.

10-15 November: Land and floating batteries and warships bombarded Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania, until patriots were forced to evacuate after every gun was silenced. Americans lost 250 in killed and wounded, British 12.

15 November: Congress approved Articles of Confederation, first constitution of new United States, but because of required ratification by all thirteen states Articles did not become effective until I March 1781.

20-21 November: Loss of Fort Mifflin made Fort Mercer, New Jersey, untenable, and as British prepared for assault, patriots pulled out, thus opening Delaware to British shipping.

25 November: At Gloucester, New Jersey, patriot force of 300 under Lafayette skirmished with and bested more numerous force of Hessians.

5 December: Vanguard of Howe’s army clashed with 600 patriot militia at Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, patriots retreating after heavy firing from both sides.

7 December: Howe moved to attack Washington’s main and well entrenched position at Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania, but after skirmishing decided it was too strong to risk full attack. Casualties were about 50 on each side.

10 December: Patriot raid from Connecticut to Long Island, New York, was broken up by British warships and Colonel Samuel B. Webb and his regiment were captured.

11 December: Washington’s army, beginning its move toward Valley Forge, at Mason’s Ford (modern West Conshohocken), Pennsylvania, crossing of Schuylkill River met 3,500-man British foraging party under Cornwallis and skirmished with it.

13 December: Action of Congress creating two inspector general positions in Continental Army and defining duties to be performed by their incumbents marks establishment of Office of The Inspector General.

17 December: After receiving news on 4 December of Burgoyne’s surrender French Foreign Minister promised American commissioners in Paris that France would recognize American independence and make treaty.

19 December: Washington’s army moved into winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.


SOURCE: War of American Revolution; BY Robert W. Coakley & Steton Conn
CONTRIBUTOR: Frances Thompson


American Revolution: Continental Marines: The States Navies

By 1775, the British Marines were already used by the Navy to provide a landing force., to keep order aboard warships and in sea battles to fire their muskets “from the tops” of the mast and often to man the “great guns.”

The Continental Marines were a different story. From time to time they performed the same duties, but it is difficult to conceive them as a crops during the Revolution. Continental Marines were usually recruited to serve in particular ships or squadrons. Various colonies had their own marines. Washington manned ships with sailors and marines to attack British shipping. Benedict Arnold commanded his own fleet. Oliver Pollock at New Orleans created a naval force. A number of officials could commission Continental Marines (those Marines authorized directly by the Continental Congress), including the committee of Congress running naval affairs, the Navy Boards, Continental agents, the Commissioners in Paris and commercial agents stationed outside the thirteen states.

Americans first served as marines in the navies of the individual states and on privateers, the privately owned armed ships commissioned by the Congress or the states. At one time or another during the Revolution, every state except New Jersey and Delaware had its own navy. The earlies was probably that created in June 1775, when the citizens of Machias, Massachusetts (now Maine), captured two British ships and killed British Marines in the process. These two ships, commanded by Jeremiah O’Brien, were the seed of the Massachusetts navy.

Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland also formed navies early in the war to defend their coasts. The largest Connecticut ship was the 20-gun Oliver Cromwell. On April 13, 1778, aided by Defence, she fought the 18-gun Admiral Keppel and the 16-gun Cygnus. Marine Captain James Day of Oliver Cromwell was mortally wounded, dying the next day. At Various times, 78 state marines served aboard Oliver Cromwell, including five negro privates.

The two most important southern state navies were those of Virginia and South Carolina. South Carolina’s nave was especially active. It was created in the fall of 1775 with one 10-gun schooner, Defence, to which were assigned 35 marines. The most crucial event in the history of the South Carolina’s navy was the sea battle between the Continental frigate Randolph, 32 guns, commanded by able, twenty-eight year old Captain Nicholas Biddle, and the British ship-of-the-line Yarmouth., 64-guns. Captain Biddle had taken aboard his flagship 52 South Carolina soldiers to serve with Captain Samuel Shaw and his detachment of Continental Marines. Randolph was accompanied by four ships of the South Carolina navy. On March 7, 1778, Biddle encountered Yarmouth east of Barbados. After a running night battle that lasted but 15 minutes, an enemy shot exploded Randolph’s powder magazine. Of the frigate’s crew of 305, only four seamen survived.

Although the first Continental Marines joined Hopkins’ fleet in the autumn of 1775, Congress did not organize the Marines fully because of the scarcity of ships and men. Finally, on June 25, 1776, Samuel Nicholas, the senior Marine Captain who had led the amphibious landing on New Providence, was appointed major of Marines, the highest Marine rank created during the war. He was ordered to organize four Marine companies for the Continental frigates being built. The Board of Admiralty later ruled that a major of Marines should serve at sea only on board a ship-of-the-line; and since the United States Navy never put to sea anything larger than a frigate during the Revolution, Major Nicholas was compelled to serve on land. Like many officers chained to a desk, he chafed; and on August 10, 1781, he asked congress to recompense him for the prize money and other advantages he might have had at sea.

This first leader of the Continental Marines, a round face Quaker of thirty-two, had studied at the academy that later became the University of Pennsylvania. He was a Masonic lodge brother of Benjamin Franklin and a member of the best hunting and fishing clubs in Philadelphia. He had made a voyage to Canton as a supercargo. It is said that one of his grandfathers was a mayor of Philadelphia; the other; a lawyer. Before and after the war, Samuel Nicholas was reputedly an innkeeper, running the Conestogoe Waggon on Market Street between 4th and 5th streets. He died on August 27, 1790, at the age of forty-six.

Nicholas had signed up early to fight in the cause of liberty. His original commission was signed by John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, and appointed Nicholas “to be Captain of Marines in the Service of the Thirteen United Colonies of North-America, fitted out for the defence of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile Invasion thereof.”

Although Nicholas never went to sea again as a Marine once he was promoted to major, he fought with Washington at Trenton and Princeton. And he helped safeguard the money that would pay the army at Yorktown. In 1781, Benjamin Franklin had arranged for a loan of more than two and a half million livres from France. The silver, so urgently needed to pay the army, was sent over on the French frigate LA Resolve, which was blown off course and finally made port in Boston. In September, Robert Morris organized a secret mission–with Tench Francis, a husky Philadelphia merchant, and Samuel Nicholas in command–to bring most of the silver down to Philadelphia. They safely conducted the money down to the capital in oxcarts.

At the same time that Nicholas was promoted to major in June 1776, six captains (Andrew Porter, Joseph Hardy, Samuel Shaw, Benjamin Dean, Robert Mullen and John Stewart) and a number of lieutenants were also designated. Late in the year, three more Marine captains and five lieutenants were commissioned. Four companies of Marines had been formed for the New Providence expedition, and now four more were organized. Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signed of the Declaration of Independence, took care of their health. Some payroll and muster records have survived from Captain Mullen’s company, one of his second group. They show that on November 24, 1776, Private Henry Hassan was sentenced by courts-martial to 50 lashes for desertion and 21 lashes for quitting his guard post–‘on his bare back well laid on at the head of his Company.

On September 5, Congress authorized a special Marine officer uniform: “a Green Coat faced white, Round Cuffs, Slash’d Sleeves and Pockets; with buttons round the Cuff, Silver Epaulette on the Right Shoulder–skirts turn’d back, Buttons to suit the Facing. White waistcoat and Breeches edged with Green, Black Gaiters & Garters.” Green was the special color for Marines. The enlisted men were to wear green shirts “if they can be procured.”

Recruiting was always highly competitive against both the Continental Army and the more profitable sea service aboard the privateers. Many times, Continental ships were unable to sail because of the shortage of seamen and Marines. Marines were promised prize money shares, enlistment bounties, rations and grog. The first pay-table gave an enlisted Marine a $6.67 a month, the same as that given an able-bodied seaman. A Corporal was to receive $7.33, the same as a drummer; sergeants would receive $8 a month. In December 1775, privates pay was raised to $8 monthly and other adjustments were made. By the end of 1776, the Continental Marines numbered more than 600.

Continental regulations made naval officers superior to Marine officers. “All sea officers of the same denomination shall take rank [over] the officers of Marines,” they stated. And this distinction was reflected on the pay table. A Marine captain was given $26.67 a month, between naval lieutenant’s $20 and a naval captain’s $32. A Marine lieutenant received $18 against a naval lieutenant’s $20. During the next year a Marine captains pay was raised to $30 and lieutenant’s to $20.

Throughout the revolution, the method of running the Continental Navy and Marines changed. In the beginning, under the democratic idealism of the Revolutionary movement, all decisions were made by committee; a Congressional committee (the Marine Committee) administered the Navy and Marines. Then, this responsibility was given to aboard that included some non-Congressmen who had more permanent tenure; The Board of Admiralty. Finally, under pressure for decisions while fighting a war, control was given to individual (though still responsible to the legislature directly).

No one knows exactly how many marines served in the Continental Navy during the revolution. Probably not more than 3, 000 seamen and Marines served at any one time. The best figures suggest that the Marines had, all told, one major, 30 captains, and approximately 100 lieutenants—a total of about 131 commissioned officers—and no more than 2, 000 enlisted men. By contrast, the British Navy in 1775 had 18,000 seamen and Marines and by 1783 had grown to 110,000 men.


SOURCE: U.S. Marine Corps Story; BY J. Robert Moskin
CONTRIBUTOR: Cade Pommeraan

European Headlines: 11-15-2018

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(DW) Turkish court sentences German-Kurdish singer to six years in prison; A German woman has been found guilty of being a member of a terrorist organization by the Turkish government. She is the third German citizen in as many months to be sentenced to prison in Turkey.

(DW) Dutch court blocks bid to ban blackface Black Pete character; Activists wanted the court to block broadcasters from showing the character’s “racist characteristics.” One broadcaster justified airing images of Black Pete because he goes “down the chimney a lot.”

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(DW) Massive Italian anti-mafia operation results in scores of arrests; Italy’s anti-mafia police have struck a major blow to the Italian mob in an international sting. Rival groups were said to have worked together to make billions through online gambling.

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France (France 24) France a ‘historic’ ally of US, not a vassal state, says Macron; French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview on Wednesday two long-time allies like France and America should treat each other with respect, after US President Donald Trump attacked him on Twitter.

(France24) EU lawmakers seek checks on arms exports fueling Yemen conflict; Tougher checks on European Union arms exports are needed and sanctions should be imposed on those countries that flout the bloc’s rules, the European Parliament said on Wednesday.

(France24)UN Security Council lifts arms embargo, targeted sanctions on Eritrea; The UN Security Council on Wednesday lifted sanctions on Eritrea following a landmark peace deal with Ethiopia and a thaw with Djibouti that have buoyed hopes for positive change in the Horn of Africa.

(France24) Italy refuses to back down in budget standoff with EU; Italy’s populist government defied the European Commission Tuesday by sticking to its big-spending budget plan, risking financial sanctions in a high-stakes standoff with Brussels.

(France24) ‘Paris Call’: 51 states vow support for global rules on cyberweapons; Fifty-one states, including all EU members, have pledged their support for a new international agreement to set standards on cyberweapons and the use of the internet, the French government said Monday.

(France24) Deadly clashes erupt in Cameroon’s restive English-speaking region; Twenty-five separatists were killed Tuesday in fighting in a restive English-speaking region of Cameroon, security officials said Wednesday.

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