George Washington Biography
Victory in the American Revolution
While George Washington and the Continental Army was struggling to survive the winter at Valley Forge, things were looking up for the American Revolution on other fronts. Congress had finally realized that the army needed financial support. Also, Prussian General Friedrich von Steuben had drilled the inexperienced American militia into properly trained soldiers. However, the most important event of the winter didn't occur in the Americas, but in France.
The French Enter the War
On February 6, 1778 the French officially entered the war on the side of the Americans. Washington now had the help of a considerable foreign power. The French helped Washington's army by providing supplies, financing, ships, and troops. With the entrance of France into the war, the British began to consolidate their forces. British General Henry Clinton was ordered to move his troops from Philadelphia to New York City.
Battle of Monmouth
As the British troops began their 100 mile long march from Philadelphia to New York City, George Washington saw an opportunity to attack. The British army would be strung out along the road and vulnerable. Washington sent his troops under General Charles Lee to attack the rear guard of the British army. Although Lee failed miserably in his attack (he was later court-martialed for his actions), Washington's forces soon advanced and engaged with the British near Monmouth Court House. The ensuing battle is called the Battle of Monmouth today. Although the battle itself was inconclusive and the British managed to retreat to New York City, Washington's troops clearly displayed the new training they had received over the winter at Valley Forge. They were now a force to be reckoned with.
As the war dragged on Washington looked for new ways to get an edge on the British. He appointed Benjamin Tallmadge as the Union spymaster to gather information on the British at their headquarters in New York City. This spy network, dubbed the Culper Spy Ring, brought invaluable information to General Washington including details on the British war strategy, troop movements, and warnings about surprise attacks.
Perhaps the most important piece of information gathered by Washington's spies regarded the impending betrayal of American officer Benedict Arnold. Arnold planned on turning the fort at West Point over to the British. The Culper Ring discovered Arnold's plans and sent word to Washington. Although Arnold managed to escape, his plans for West Point were thwarted.
By 1780, the French had fully joined the war against the British bringing both troops and warships to the battlefield in the United States. Washington met with French leader General Rochambeau in White Plains, New York to discuss war strategies. Washington wanted to attack the British at their headquarters in New York City, but Rochambeau had a better idea. He thought Washington should march south and attack the British army in Virginia. Eventually, Washington was convinced and began moving his troops south in August.
In order to keep the British guessing, Washington did his best to keep his army's destination a secret. He sent fake dispatches making it appear that the army would attack New York City. Meanwhile the British army in the south, led by General Cornwallis, had retreated from the American southern army, led by Nathaniel Greene, to Yorktown, Virginia. When Washington's army arrived in September of 1781, along with the French Navy, the British were surrounded. Washington's troops bombarded the British for eleven days before the British finally surrendered. This battle would prove to be the final blow to the British and brought an end to the war.
The Culper Ring used coded messages and invisible ink to maintain secrecy. Washington was one of the few people who had a copy of the code book
General Cornwallis claimed he was sick and refused to appear at the surrender of Yorktown. As a result Washington refused to accept the British surrender and had General Benjamin Lincoln accept the surrender instead.
Benedict Arnold was awarded the position of Brigadier General in the British Army after his betrayal. He commanded British troops against the United States for the remainder of the war. However, his lack of character followed him to Britain after the war and he wasn't allowed to command British troops again.
Malaria had a major impact on the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. He estimated that around half of his soldiers suffered from the disease and were unable to fight.
Washington's step-son, John Parke Custis, served as an aide to Washington and died of "camp disease" during the Siege of Yorktown.
George Washington Biography Contents
- Overview and Interesting Facts
- Growing Up George Washington
- French and Indian War
- Fort Duquesne
- Married Life and Mount Vernon
- The American Revolution Begins
- Commander in Chief
- Crossing the Delaware
- 1777 and Valley Forge
- Victory in the American Revolution
- End of the War, King Washington, and the Constitutional Convention
- First President of the United States
- The Presidency
- Leaving the Presidency, Retirement, and Death
- George Washington Quotes and Bibliography