Battle of Yorktown

This content was compiled/created by Eoin O’ Connor.

The Battle of Yorktown

In Brief:

After French forces combined with the Continental army in 1778 to assist them in their War of Independence, the colonists started to get the upper hand on the British. During 1781, 7,000 British troops led by General Cornwallis found themselves surrounded at Yorktown by 9000 American troops and 5000 Frenchmen. Meanwhile the French Navy at Chesapeake Bay stopped them from escaping by sea. The British struggled against the onslaught and by October a section of the Continental Army led by Marquis Lafayette broke through the British lines leaving Cornwallis with no option but to surrender. This marked the beginning of the end of The American War of Independence.

Battle: YORKTOWN

War: American Revolutionary War (also known as American War of Independence.)

Date: 28th September to 19th October 1781

Place: Virginia, United States of America

Combatants: Americans and French against the British

Generals: General Washington commanded the Americans, Lieutenant General de Rochambeau commanded the French and Major General Lord Cornwallis commanded the British.

Size of the armies: 8,800 Americans, 7,800 French and 6,000 British

Uniforms, arms and equipment: The British wore red coats and headgear of bearskin caps, leather caps or tricorne hats depending on whether the troops were grenadiers, light infantry or battalion company men. The German infantry wore blue coats and retained the Prussian style grenadier mitre with brass front plate.

The Americans dressed as best they could. Increasingly as the war progressed regular infantry regiments of the Continental Army wore blue uniform coats but the militia continued in rough clothing.

The French royal regiments of foot wore white coats.

Both sides were armed with muskets and guns. The back country riflemen carried long, small calibre rifles, weapons of considerably greater accuracy than the ordinary musket and which their owners used with proficiency.

British Regiments:

1 troop of 17th Light Dragoons (in Tarleton’s Legion)

Royal Artillery

A composite brigade of Foot Guards (comprising 1st, 2nd and 3rd Foot Guards)

17th Foot later the Royal Leicestershire Regiment and now the Royal Anglian Regiment

23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers

33rd Foot now the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment

43rd later the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and now the Royal Green Jackets

71st Fraser’s Highlanders (disbanded at the end of the war)

76th Foot (disbanded at the end of the war)

80th Foot (disbanded at the end of the war)

Regiment of de Voit (Anspach)

Regiment of de Seybothen (Anspach)

Regiment of Prince Hereditary (Hesse)

Regiment of von Bose (Hesse)

Tarleton’s Legion

Simcoe’s Legion

North Carolina Loyalists

French Regiments:

Artillery

Lauzun’s Legion

Bourbonnois Regiment of Foot

Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment of Foot

Soissonois Regiment of Foot

Agenois Regiment of Foot

Americans Regiments:

4th Dragoons (Moylan)

Armand’s Horse

Lafayette’s Light Infantry

Muhlenburg’s Brigade

Hazen’s Canadian Regiment

1st New York Regiment

2nd New York Regiment

1st New Jersey Regiment

2nd New Jersey Regiment

Rhode Island Regiment

1st Pennsylvania Regiment

2nd Pennsylvania Regiment

Virginia Regiment

3rd Maryland Regiment

4th Maryland Regiment

3 brigades of Virginia Militia

Sappers and Miners

Account:

Losing his grip on the Carolinas, Cornwallis marched his army into Virginia and seized Yorktown and Gloucester, towns on each side of the York River.

With the arrival of the French fleet of Admiral De Grasse, General Washington was able to march south from New York with the joint American and French army to attack Cornwallis.

The Americans and French marched out of Williamsburg and arrived before Yorktown on 28th September 1781, forming a semi-circle around the entrenchments and putting the British under siege. Cornwallis expecting Major General Clinton to sail from New York with a relieving force had decided to remain in Yorktown rather than march south to the Carolinas or attempt to reach New York. His first move was the inexplicable one of abandoning a line of four redoubts that dominated the British positions. The Americans immediately occupied the empty redoubts.

The Americans began formal siege operations on the eastern side of Yorktown on 30th September and on 9th October were sufficiently close to began an artillery bombardment.

On 14th October the Americans and French stormed two redoubts in front of their trenches and the position of the British in Yorktown became untenable.

The British carried out a sortie on the 16th in which several guns in the two redoubts were spiked. On the same day Cornwallis attempted to pass the Guards, the 23rd and the Light Infantry across the York River to Gloucester but was thwarted by a storm.

With no sign of Clinton’s relief and with inadequate supplies of artillery ammunition and food, on 19th October 1781 Cornwallis’ army marched out of Yorktown and surrendered.

Casualties:

6,000 British surrendered to the Americans and French with 10 stands of German and British colours,

240 pieces of artillery, small arms, ammunition and equipment.

The casualties during the siege had been 500 British, 80 Americans and 200 French.

Follow-up:

The capitulation of the British to the Americans and French ended the fighting in the war and led to the Peace Treaty that acknowledged the independence of the American states. Clinton’s relieving force arrived in the Chesapeake on 24th October.

Anecdotes and traditions:

• The British bands are reputed to have played “The world turned upside down” as the troops marched out to surrender.

• After the surrender the American and French officers entertained the British officers to dinner, other than Tarleton with whom the Americans refused to eat, due to the atrocities committed by his troops in North and South Carolina.

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Yorktown period of the American War of Independence

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dfGmvokW3Y&feature=related[/youtube]

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History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna.

Published in: on May 3, 2010 at 1:17 pm Comments (2)
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George Washington

This content was created/compiled by Sorcha Dolan.


In Brief:

George Washington was a wealthy plantation owner from the British colony of Virginia. He fought in the French and Indian War before representing Virginia at the first Continental Congress. He was later chosen as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army that defeated the British in the American War of Independence. He then went on to become the first American president.

Key Dates:

  • 1732 – Born in Virginia.
  • 1752 His brother Lawrence dies, leaving him the Mount Vernon plantation.
  • 1754 – Fights in the French and Indian war.
  • 1759 – Marries Martha Dandridge.
  • 1774 – Represents Virginia at first Continental Congress
  • 1775  – American War of Independence begins with Washington as Commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary army.
  • 1781 – Leads the Americans to an important victory at the Battle of Yorktown.
  • 1783  – Treaty of Paris is signed bringing the war to an end and accepting American independence.
  • 1787 – Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, during which the US Constitution was written.
  • 1789 – Elected first president of the United States.
  • 1793  Re-elected for a second term
  • 1799 George Washington dies at his Mount Vernon estate.

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George Washington

(part one)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHxKPPkpXSM&NR=1[/youtube]

(part two)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdmuh5uEVTU&feature=related[/youtube]

(part three)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNVBlIn4jso&feature=related[/youtube]

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More information:



Early life

  • George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, to Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
  • His father died in 1743, and soon after George went to live with his half brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon, He trained to be a surveyor. This is a person who marks off people’s property and makes maps.
  • Lawrence died in 1752 of tuberculosis. George inherited the large Mount Vernon estate. He got married to Martha Dandridge in 1759

Leader of the continental army

  • George Washington was chosen to be the leader of the American army against the British because he knew the land so well.
  • The second continental congress formed the Continental Army and made George Washington a general.
  • On April 19, 1775, war broke out between the colonies and Great Britain.
  • Washington’s men really trusted him; they were Patriots who would never give up, as was he.
  • They used guerrilla warfare against the British.
  • General George Washington led the American revolutionary troops across the Delaware River in order to surprise the English and Hessian troops in the Battle of Trenton the day after Christmas in 1776.
  • By October 1781, the colonists were ready to trap the Redcoats. They attacked them and won the Battle of Yorktown. This ended the major Revolutionary War fighting. The Peace Treaty of Paris was signed on Sept. 3, 1783.

Involvement in politics.

  • Washington is the only American president not to have been a member of one of the nation’s two main parties.
  • He was A member of the Virginia house of burgess from 1759-1774
  • He was a member of Continental Congress from 1774-1775
  • He was the chairman of the Constitutional Convention from 1787-1788

George as president

  • He was elected president for the first time in early 1789 and again in 1792.
  • Both votes were unanimous.

    inauguration of Washington

  • John Adams was his vice-president.
  • His first inauguration took place in New York City, which was the first capital of the United States.
  • His second was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which was the capital from 1790 to 1800.

Later life.

  • Washington decided to return to Mount Vernon when his second term as President ended in 1797.
  • Washington enjoyed less than three years of retirement at Mount Vernon.
  • On December 14, 1799 he woke his wife and told her he was having trouble breathing.
  • Washington’s last words were, “Tis well.”

The death of George Washington

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Useful links:


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History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna.

Thomas Paine

This content was compiled/created by Kelley Delaney.

In Brief:

Thomas Paine was born in England but emigrated to the new world in 1774 just before the revolution. He became famous across the colonies in 1776 when his widely-read pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ argued that America should break free from Britain. This and some of his later writings had the effect of providing great encouragement to the American Revolution. His writings also inspired the later French Revolution.

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“These are the times that try men’s souls.” This simple quotation from Founding Father Thomas Paine’s The Crisis not only describes the beginnings of the American Revolution, but also the life of Paine himself. Throughout most of his life, his writings inspired passion, but also brought him great criticism. He communicated the ideas of the Revolution to common farmers as easily as to intellectuals, creating prose that stirred the hearts of the fledgling United States. He had a grand vision for society: he was staunchly anti-slavery, and he was one of the first to advocate a world peace organization and social security for the poor and elderly. But his radical views on religion would destroy his success, and by the end of his life, only a handful of people attended his funeral.

Brief Biography

On January 29, 1737, Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, England. His father, a corseter, had grand visions for his son, but by the age of 12, Thomas had failed out of school. The young Paine began apprenticing for his father, but again, he failed. So, now age 19, Paine went to sea. This adventure didn’t last too long, and by 1768 he found himself as an excise (tax) officer in England. Thomas didn’t exactly excel at the role, getting discharged from his post twice in four years, but as an inkling of what was to come, he published The Case of the Officers of Excise (1772), arguing for a pay raise for officers. In 1774, by happenstance, he met Benjamin Franklin in London, who helped him emigrate to Philadelphia.

Contribution to the American Revolution

His career turned to journalism while in Philadelphia, and suddenly, Thomas Paine became very important. In 1776, he published Common Sense, a strong defense of American Independence from England. He traveled with the Continental Army and wasn’t a success as a soldier, but he produced The Crisis (1776-83), which helped inspire the Army. This pamphlet was so popular that as a percentage of the population, it was read by more people than today watch America’s biggest sporting occasion, the ‘Superbowl.’

But, instead of continuing to help the Revolutionary cause, he returned to Europe and pursued other ventures, including working on a smokeless candle and an iron bridge. In 1791-92, he wrote The Rights of Man in response to criticism of the French Revolution. This work caused Paine to be labeled an outlaw in England for his anti-monarchist views. He would have been arrested, but he fled for France to join the National Convention.

Contribution to the French Revolution

By 1793, he was imprisoned in France for not endorsing the execution of Louis XVI. During his imprisonment, he wrote and distributed the first part of what was to become his most famous work at the time, the anti-church text, The Age of Reason (1794-96). He was freed in 1794 (narrowly escaping execution) thanks to the efforts of James Monroe, then U.S. Minister to France. Paine remained in France until 1802 when he returned to America on an invitation from Thomas Jefferson. Paine discovered that his contributions to the American Revolution had been all but eradicated due to his religious views. Derided by the public and abandoned by his friends, he died on June 8, 1809 at the age of 72 in New York City.

History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna, Co. Offaly.

Frederick Von Steuben

This content was created/compiled by Daniel Poland.

In Brief:

Born – September 17, 1730

Died – November 28 1794

Friedrich Wilhelm Augustin Ludolf Gerhard (Frederick William Augustus Henry Ferdinand) von Steuben also referred to as the Baron von Steuben was born September 17, 1730 and died November 28, 1794.He was a Prussian (region of Germany) aristocrat and military officer who served as inspector general and Major general of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence. He is credited with teaching the Continental Army the essentials of military drill and discipline, helping to guide it to victory after the difficulties during the winter at Valley Forge. He wrote the Revolutionary War Drill Manual, the book that became the standard United States drill manual until the War of 1812, and served as General George Washington’s chief of staff in the final years of the war.

Main Points

  • He was born on September 17 1730 in Magdeburg, duchy of Magdeburg, in Germany.
  • Steuben was schooled in Breslau by Jesuits and by the age of 16 he was an officer in the Prussian military.
  • He travelled to Paris in the summer of 1777 and was introduced to Claude Louis who further introduced him to Benjamin Franklin.
  • He was introduced to George Washington by means of a letter from Franklin saying Von Steuben was a ‘Lieutenant General in the King of Prussia’s service.
  • He reached Boston on September 26thof 1777. By February 5th, 1778 he had offered to volunteer without pay but by the 23rd Steuben reported for duty to George Washington at Valley Forge.
  • His training technique was the model company which meant he trained 120 soldiers who then trained other soldiers.
  • He developed camp sanitation.
  • One of his biggest contributions to the American Revolution was training in the use of the Bayonet which was a cooking skewer used as a weapon.
  • They won the battle of Barron Hill on 20th of May 1778 and again at the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778.
  • Washington recommended appointment of Von Steuben as Inspector General on April 30th and Congress approved it on May 5th.
  • After they won the war Steuben resigned from service.
  • He died on November 28th 1794.
  • He is buried at what is now the Steuben memorial state historic site.

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General Von Steuben

Early Life

Friedrich von Steuben was born in Magdeburg, Duchy of Magdeburg, in Germany.His father Wilhelm  Augustin  von  Steuben (1699-1783),was a lieutenant of engineers. His mother was Elizabeth von Jagvodin. Steuben accompanied his father to the Russian Empire when Friedrich Wilhelm I, King of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg, ordered Wilhelm into the service of Czarina Anna. The family returned to Prussia after the accession of Frederick the Great to the throne in 1740.

Steuben was schooled in Breslau by Jesuits and, by the age of 16, was an officer in the Prussian military. During the Seven Years’ War he was a member of an infantry unit but served primarily as a staff officer. By 1761 he had risen to the rank of captain and was serving in the Prussian general headquarters as aid-de-camp of the king. In 1762 he was selected as one of thirteen members of the “special class for the art of war” (Spezialklasse der Kriegskunst). Headmaster of this class was the king himself. The army was greatly reduced in size at the end of the war, and Steuben was one of many Prussian officers suddenly without work. His Prussian military career would later be exaggerated—he was not one of Frederick the Great’s generals—but his experience on a professional general staff, an agency then practically unknown outside of Prussia, would prove to be valuable in his American career.

Steuben traveled to Paris in the summer of 1777. As luck would have it, he had formerly been introduced to the French Minister of War, Claude Louis, Comte de Saint-Germain. The Count, fully realizing the potential of an officer with Prussian general staff training, further introduced him to Benjamin Franklin. Upon the Count’s recommendation, Steuben was introduced to George Washington by means of a letter from Franklin as a “Lieutenant General in the King of Prussia’s service,” an exaggeration of his actual credentials that appears to be based on a mistranslation of his service record. He was advanced travel funds and left Europe from Marseilles.[3]

In America

On September 26, 1777,Von Steuben his Italian greyhound, Azor (which he took with him everywhere), his young aide de camp Louis de Pontiere, his military secretary Pierre Etienne Duponceau, and two other companions, reached Portsmouth, New Hampshire and by December 1, was extravagantly entertained in Boston. Congress was in York, Pennsylvania, after being ousted from Philadelphia by the British advance. By February 5, 1778, Steuben had offered to volunteer without pay (for the time), and by the 23rd, Steuben reported for duty to Washington at Valley Forge. Steuben spoke little English and he often yelled to his translator, “Here! Come swear for me!” Colonel Alexander Hamilton and General Nathanael Greene were of great help in assisting Steuben in drafting a training program for the Army, which found approval with Washington.

Painting of Von Steuben at Valley Forge

Training the Continental Army

Steuben’s training technique was to create a “model company”, a group of 120 chosen men who in turn successively trained other personnel at Regimental and Brigade levels. Steuben’s eclectic personality greatly enhanced his mystique. He trained the soldiers, who at this point were greatly lacking in proper clothing themselves, in full military dress uniform, swearing and yelling at them up and down in German and French. When that was no longer successful, he recruited Captain Benjamin Walker, his French-speaking aide, to curse at them for him in English. Steuben introduced a system of progressive training, beginning with the school of the soldier, with and without arms, and going through the school of the regiment. This corrected the previous policy of simply assigning personnel to regiments. Each company commander was made responsible for the training of new men, but actual instruction was done by selected sergeants, the best obtainable. Another program developed by Steuben was camp sanitation. He established standards of sanitation and camp layouts that would still be standard a century and a half later. There had previously been no set arrangement of tents and huts. Men relieved themselves where they wished and when an animal died, it was stripped of its meat and the rest was left to rot where it lay. Steuben laid out a plan to have rows for command, officers and enlisted men. Kitchens and latrines were on opposite sides of the camp, with latrines on the downhill side. There was the familiar arrangement of company and regimental streets.

One of Steuben’s biggest contribution to the American Revolution was training in the use of the bayonet. Since the Battle of Bunker Hill, Americans had been mainly dependent upon using their ammunition to win battles. Throughout the early course of the war, Americans used the bayonet mostly as a cooking skewer or tool rather than as a fighting instrument. Steuben’s introduction of effective bayonet charges became crucial. In the Battle of Stony Point, American soldiers attacked with unloaded rifles and won the battle solely on Steuben’s bayonet training.

Winter at Valley Forge

The first results of Steuben’s training were in evidence at the Battle of Barren Hill, 20 May 1778 and then again at the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778.  Steuben, by then serving in Washington’s Headquarters, was the first to determine the enemy was heading for Monmouth. Washington recommended appointment of Steuben as Inspector General on April 30; Congress approved it on May 5. During the winter of 1778-1779, Steuben prepared Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, commonly known as the “Blue Book.”[2][3] Its basis was the training plan he had devised at Valley Forge[4].

The Southern Campaign

In 1780 Steuben sat on the court-martial of the British Army officer Major John André, captured and charged with espionage in conjunction with the defection of General Benedict Arnold. He later traveled with Nathanael Greene, the new commander of the Southern campaign. He quartered in Virginia since the American supplies and soldiers would be provided to the army from there. During the spring of 1781, he aided Greene in the campaign in the south, culminating in the delivery of 450 Virginia Continentals to Lafayette in June.

He was forced to take sick leave, rejoining the army for the final campaign at Yorktown, where his role was as commander of one of the three divisions of Washington’s troops. Steuben gave assistance to Washington in demobilizing the army in 1783 as well as aiding in the defense plan of the new nation. He was discharged from the military with honor on March 24, 1783.

Later Years

With the war over, Steuben resigned from service and first settled on Manhattan Island, where he became a prominent figure and elder in the German Reformed Church. However, even with Congress giving him large sums of money, he still managed to become largely indebted. Thus, Congress gave him a pension of $2,500 a year which he had to keep until his death. Steuben eventually settled on a small estate in the vicinity of Utica, New York, on land granted to him for his military service

Steuben’s log cabin residence at Utica[6] He later assisted in the founding of the Society of the Cincinnati and was appointed a Regent for what evolved into the State University of New York. He never married and had no children. He left his estate to General Benjamin Walker and Captain William North, who had served as his aides-de-camp during the war, and with whom he had had an “extraordinarily intense emotional relationship … treating them as surrogate sons. He died on 28th of November 1794. He is buried at what is now the Steuben Memorial State Historic Site.

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What Von Steuben brought to the Continental Army

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGfVEqCEHVo[/youtube]

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History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna, Co. Offaly

Valley Forge

In Brief:

Having taken two major defeats (at White Plains, New York and Brandywine, Philadelphia ) in the American War of Independence, General George Washington decided to regroup his Continental Army forces at a secure remote location at a place called Valley Forge, north of Philadelphia. The army suffering from poor morale and with questions about George Washington‘s ability to lead, arrived hungry and weary to the camp just before Christmas, 1777. They immediately set about building shelter that would protect them form the damp and cold Pennsylvanian winter. However, despite their efforts the harsh conditions combined with the men’s unhealthy state meant the winter a low point in the war.

Undernourished and poorly clothed, living in crowded, damp quarters, the army was ravaged by sickness and disease. Typhoid, jaundice, dysentery, and pneumonia were among the killers that felled as many as 2,000 men that winter.

Despite this, the aim of the camp was to make better trained and organised and this task was improved massively by the arrival from Europe of Baron Frederick Von Steuben. This skilled Prussian drill master  tirelessly drilled the soldiers. He reorganised the Continental Army into a disciplined, focused group – similar in style to the great European armies.

Von Steuben at Valley Forge

On June 19, 1778, six months after its arrival, the army marched away from Valley Forge in pursuit of the British, who were moving toward New York. The ordeal had ended. The war would last for another five years, but for Washington, his men, and the nation to which they sought to give birth, a decisive victory had been won — a victory not of weapons but of will.

George Washington at Valley Forge

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The Continental Army at Valley Forge (winter 1777-1778)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs4ZFkZdNXY&feature=fvsr[/youtube]

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History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna

History Blog

Welcome to the Junior Cert History blog for Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna, Banagher, Co. Offaly. Follow the links to find more information on some of the areas on the Junior Cert course. Our first post deals with the Revolutionary period in America, France and Ireland. Near the top of each page you will find information (labelled ‘In Brief‘) that is important to those studying the Junior Cert course. For those interested in going beyond the syllabus requirements, many of the pages have extra information further down on the blog page. You will also find previous Junior Cert questions on this area in the Revolutions: Exam Centre section. We hope to add more posts and pages in the coming months. This is an interactive blog so any comments or suggestions will be welcome – just use the box at the bottom of each page.

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History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna.

Published in: on March 19, 2010 at 10:14 pm Comments (1)
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