It Was A Great Year


Revolutionary War Image

In May of 1776,  George Mason authored the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the first authoritative formulation of the doctrine of inalienable rights, which was to become the basis for the American Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States. The Second Continental Congress met on May 10, 1776, in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence was written and members of the Second Continental Congress decided to officially put the colonies in a state of defense. On June 7, 1776, Virginian Richard Henry Lee made his famous proposal to congress: “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” On July 4th, the Declaration of Independence was signed in Congress. On July 8th, the Liberty Bell rang out to call the people of Philadelphia to hear the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. The next day, on official orders of General George Washington, the Declaration of Independence was read to his army in New York. Nathan Hale was hanged as traitor on September 22, 1776. On Christmas Day of 1776, Washington led his army across the Delaware River and launched a successful attack against Hessian troops in Trenton, New Jersey. At the Battle of Trenton which took place on December 26, 1776, Washington chased the British out of New Jersey 

Learn More: The American Revolution

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The image, Flag Banner, is subject to copyright by jonesdlwa. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, administrator of “The Revolution flickred” pool.

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2 Responses to It Was A Great Year

  1. Jerome J. Levans says:

    1776 was a year inspired by the ideas of Liberty and the defense of the unalienable rights of freeborn English subjects. On almost all fronts the taste of victory was still sweet, well into July. Congress had ordered that New York be held and throughout late spring and into summer, breastworks went up almost every where. In such an air so many imbued with overconfidence, believed in the invincible citizen soldier. The fledgling American Army had orders to defend all of New York. It was an impossible task. Congress never the less, ordered that it be done.

    Over the past year Great Britain was unprepared militarily for the events that had unfolded in N. America. The winter was spent amassing troops, hiring mercenaries, assembling ships and supplies to put down the American rebellion. At the end of August she was fully committed and began systematically removing the American Army from New York. Albeit at a snails pace for reasons only known to British General Howe.

    Long Island was lost with disastrous losses, the Army saved by the ultimate sacrifice of the brave Marylanders and abilities of the Marbleheaders of Massachusetts. Many surrendered but were bayoneted in the Gowanus swamps by German mercenaries. This was followed by the citizen soldiers running away at Kips Bay. Harlem Heights and Pell’s Point proved courage, fortitude and inexperience. Manhattan was evacuated and set alight by unknowns. Two thirds of the City was lost. Fort Washington became another disaster worse than even Long Island. A decision to defend it attributed to Nathaniel Greene. Despite all valiant attempts, the citizen soldier was out flanked, out gunned and overwhelmed in New York by a professional army.

    At Chatterton Hill in White Plains the Army stood again until melting away this time retreating to New Castle, NY and into New Jersey. In New Jersey, Fort Lee was surrendered by the lingering drunks who stayed behind against orders. The Garrison beat such a hasty retreat almost all its equipment was left behind. The American Army began to melt away. Desertions, loyalty oaths and expiring enlistments all had their ill effect. General Lee would not move his command at New Castle and join Washington. Insubordination. About 3,000 souls managed to retreat across all of New Jersey to the Delaware and into Pennsylvania. The sunshine patriots were gone and most of those remaining would see their enlistments expire shortly. It was a very dark time for Liberty. The cause depended upon the Army’s ability to stay in the field. It appeared there would be no Army in the field for 1777. Moral was very low

    General Lee was captured December 13 and this was perceived by some as the final blow. In reality, it was an unknown blessing. Troops began arriving in camp. Cadwalader’s Pennsylvania Associators, 500 soldiers from the Northern Department. They say the Rhode Islanders looked like skeletons when they arrived. Washington and Mercer pled with the troops to stay and most did.

    The British Army went into winter quarters in December instead of attacking Philadelphia. The British were confident that the coming spring would see the cause for Liberty, extinguished. They retired to balls and grand dinner events in New York.

    As bright as the first seven months had been, fortune reversed itself completely over the next four months. Hitting an all time low in moral, numbers, supply and everything necessary to keep the Army in the field, Washington gambled in attacking Trenton and won. This victory was short lived but spread a renewed vigor amongst the hopeful.

    The Marbleheaders of Massachusetts went home and Washington and the Army were again at Trenton. This time, the Army was caught with their backs to the Delaware. The actions at 2nd Trenton are largely forgotten now but it was here that the cause of Liberty was truly almost extinguished. It was here also that General St. Clair’s idea of attacking Princeton proved so fortunate. The victories, Tory attacks and German atrocities brought back the New Jersey militia in force the next spring and summer.

    Yes it was a good year and a very lucky one at that, but the expected short war would last another seven years before the cause of Liberty would be won.

  2. Molly says:

    Jerry what an awesome job you did on our family tree !!!! Guess thats where all the brains went in the family !!
    Love
    Molly

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