Washington Rochambeau, Henry Clinton, New York discussed on John Batchelor


The grim days of the winter and spring of seventeen eighty one, but I like the payoff when Rochambeau meets Washington at his headquarters. Good evening to you. Bob. Good evening. John Rochambeau lands with fifty five hundred regulars beautifully turned out French veterans wearing their white uniforms. The picture you paint is spectacular. Russia. Mbo is there to meet with Washington? What? What does Washington one from Russia Mbo, and what does Russia Mbo one from Washington? Well, what they want from each other is to work out a joint strategy that they can both agree to to defeat the British defeat the British now Washington's idea I learned from you is to attack New York where he was driven out many years before he spent all these years sort of wondering the landscape between Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Always being chased losing most of the battles he fights. In fact, he might have lost everyone, but not eventually being brought to bear by the British who's at New York that he wants to attack. Bob. Well, New York is the headquarters of the British commander in chief for North America. Henry Clinton General Henry Clinton, he has his headquarters fair, and they are about seven thousand British troops. That are arrayed around New York in a defensive posture in northern New Jersey on Long Island and along Long Island Sound so Clinton has an overwhelming force. Washington doesn't have near enough troops to attack that Rochambeau brings him fifty five hundred and he proposes to attack superior force dug in in a major city. What is Rochambeau say in response? Well, Rochambeau is under orders to. Comply with Washington's. Orders body hopes it can work out a joint strategy one thing that you didn't mention John was that the Royal Navy really dominated the waters around New York, and they were in Long Island sign they were in the Hudson, and they ran the East River, so any pack. On New York itself on Manhattan would have to cross a waterway. And that's why Russia Mbo is correct. In saying, a general, I respect you. But New York is well is well provided for by the navy and the army I have a squadron in the West Indies under an Admiral of French Admiral degrasse who will come north only as far as the Chesapeake. And that's what persuades Washington Rochambeau have in mind. Rochambeau favors marching from New York to the Yorktown peninsula were. General Cornwallis has established in the navy base. And this movement of it will have to be over land. And some of it will be by water down the Chesapeake Bay. Now. That's a spectacular proposal. They're five hundred miles from the peninsula, Yorktown peninsula from Williamsburg and Washington has a ragtag army that hasn't been paid in about five hundred years. Many of them wear homespun. They don't have uniforms. Many of them are barefoot and Rochambeau who has these brilliantly turned out troops who are all well paid. He's proposing to Washington they March five hundred miles across the British lines to to Virginia. And what is Washington thing? Washington is an Italy reluctant. But when he learns to that Admiral de Grasse will on each sale as far north as the Chesapeake. He goes along with Rochambeau plan. All right. So there reluctantly so this is the American long March five hundred miles through territory. You can't say is quite a friendly because the British any point could interrupt so they start they crossed the Hudson. And they marched through New Jersey. Now, there is one faints at Washington agrees to across from Staten Island. What is it Bob? That's correct. Once he reaches northern New Jersey. He faints slightly tore in the direction of the northern jersey shore across from Staten Island to give the impression that he is preparing to cross. Onto Staten Island as a prelude to an attack on Manhattan itself and Clinton buys it. And actually, we need we need to characterize Clinton. Was he considered to be a good commander in chief for North America? Clinton was a very experienced general. In fact. He had participated in the seven years war in Germany. He was at Bunker Hill in Boston. He led to attacks on Charleston one in seventeen seventy six it was we're falls, but then he sailed south again in seventeen eighty and actually manage to lay siege and capture Charleston after which he returned back to New York and left general Cornwallis in charge at Charleston. Yes, he was very experienced general. I was fifty one years old and had been in the service quite a while. But I learned from you that the relationship between Cornwallis and Clinton is critical, and it was not positive in fact, Cornwallis resented Clinton's vague orders that kept changing. So now, we need to turn to work on Wallace says Lafayette with inferior force has been shadowing Cornwallis who was left the Carolinas March into Virginia just Cornwall. Why does Cornwallis back into a peninsula? What's he what's he think is going to happen to him? Well, first of all his army was pretty worn down in the Carolinas. And he had original orders from general Clinton that he was to pacify both south and North Carolina. And then he was the March diverge Inya. Well, in fact, he did not pacify either, South Carolina or North Carolina. General green was still there with the southern American army and the partisans were still quite quite active. But. Disregarding Geno Clinton's original waters to him. He marched north into Virginia where he hoped to disrupt the recruitment effort of the patriots. They were recruiting men in Virginia at the March South in the Carolinas. Lafayette. However, a young Lafayette shadows that army and at one point he gets into an ambush. Well, actually, he meets overwhelming force. But that fr it seems to frighten Cornwallis he doesn't know how many are out there. And he doesn't know whether whether Lafayette is capable of defeating him in the field. So on Wallace seems to flinch back from Lafayette is that correct? Yes. That is correct. And another reason that he whipped through back. Well, originally, the Portsmouth and eventually moved to Yorktown was that he was receiving instructions from general Clinton in New York that he was to return a portion of his army to New York. And so Wallace is getting mixed orders from Clinton he backs himself into peninsula is expecting to get relieved. Does he does? He have the promise of British feet a fleet showing up off of Yorktown. Yes. In different correspondents that he was receiving from Clinton general Clinton Clinton assured him that he would be provided with reinforcements be required. But it wasn't true. I mean, that's what's striking to me Cornwallis puts himself into a trap with no guarantee that he can get off of that peninsula. Correct. That's true. And there was only one way to break out, and that was to cross the York river over Glaus, Chester point. And then try to March north up into Virginia. All right now, the detail here about Robert Morris, it doesn't sound very romantic to talk about a a paymaster, but Robert Morris's in Philadelphia and Washington's armies not been paid for a long time. Robert Morris has to provide not only money, but all of the all of the planning a we today would make a big deal about this all the roads that are to be taken for those five hundred miles. So Morris the way I read your book. Bob Morris is the the undecorated hero of of this campaign. I would definitely say so he was the newly appointed secretary of financing with appointed by the continental congress, and he had no military experience whatsoever. He was a merchant. In fact, he was born right here about six miles from where I'm sitting right now in eastern Maryland at Oxford, but he volunteered his services to the country and one-seat took on that job. He did a superb job in planning. He borrowed money. There was no money in the in the treasury at that time. So he his contacts a borrowed money from different bankers. Even put up some of his own fortune to aid the continental army the other thing that he did he appointed contracting officers that would move ahead of the army and provide contracts for food stops for shipping and so forth. But make sure the army was properly supplied as it was moving south and Russia Mbo offers the French half half. Crowns, silver, half crowns to pay for the army when the army after it. Philadelphia. Proceeds to head of Maryland where the major portion of the army is to embark on ships and sailed on the Chesapeake to time. There's only one problem the troops had not yet been paid and Robert Morris at expanded all of his funds that he had. So he goes to Rochambeau and asked if Rochambeau will pay the troops out of his own war chest with the promise that the United States would make good on that loan and general Rochambeau agrees to do that the men are paid, and they agree to board the ships and sailed down the Chesapeake. Yes, let us all remember that when we disdain the French that Rochambeau offers all the money he has and the French crown has been supplying the Americans for many years. This could lead to a shortage that will lead to the French revolution. But Rochambeau in addition to this is superior military officer. I'm speaking to rob ten sack. The book is seventeen Eighty-one the decisive year, the revolutionary war. They set sail down the Chesapeake to land your. Town to Leonard Williamsburg, and thus.

Coming up next