American Revolution: Saratoga and Valley Forge

Saratoga and Valley Forge

In 1777 the British attempted to wipe out the flickering revolt by a concerted plan to split the colonies with converging expeditions concentrated upon the Hudson valley. Gen. William Howe, instead of taking part in it, moved into Pennsylvania, defeated Washington in the battle of Brandywine (Sept. 11), took Philadelphia, and beat off (Oct. 4) Washington's attack on Germantown. Meanwhile the British columns under Gen. John Burgoyne and Gen. Barry St. Leger had failed (see Saratoga campaign), and Burgoyne on Oct. 17, 1777, ended the battle of Saratoga by surrender to Gen. Horatio Gates. The victory is commonly regarded as the decisive battle of the war, but its good effects again were not immediate.

The Continental army still had to endure the hardships of the cruel winter at Valley Forge, when only loyalty to Washington and the cause of liberty held the half-frozen, half-starved men together. Among them were three of the foreign idealists who had come to aid the colonials in their struggle—Johann Kalb, Baron von Steuben, and the marquis de Lafayette. At Valley Forge, Steuben trained the still-raw troops, who came away a disciplined fighting force giving a good account of themselves in 1778. Sir Henry Clinton, who had succeeded Howe in command, decided to abandon Philadelphia for New York, and Washington's attack upon the British in the battle of Monmouth (see Monmouth, battle of) was cheated of success mainly by the equivocal actions of Gen. Charles Lee.

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