Victory at Yorktown

Overview

From "the finest historian of the American Revolution" comes the definitive account of the battle and unlikely triumph that led to American independence (Douglas Brinkley)

In 1780, George Washington's army lay idle for want of supplies, food, and money. All hope seemed lost until a powerful French force landed at Newport in July. Then, under Washington's directives, Nathanael Greene began a series of hit-and-run operations against the British....
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Overview

From "the finest historian of the American Revolution" comes the definitive account of the battle and unlikely triumph that led to American independence (Douglas Brinkley)

In 1780, George Washington's army lay idle for want of supplies, food, and money. All hope seemed lost until a powerful French force landed at Newport in July. Then, under Washington's directives, Nathanael Greene began a series of hit-and-run operations against the British. The damage the guerrilla fighters inflicted would help drive the enemy to Yorktown, where Greene and Lafayette would trap them before Washington and Rochambeau, supported by the French fleet, arrived to deliver the coup de grĂ¢ce.

Richard M. Ketchum illuminates, for the first time, the strategies and heroic personalities-American and French-that led to the surprise victory, only the second major battle the Americans would win in almost seven horrific years. Relying on good fortune, daring, and sheer determination never to give up, American and French fighters-many of whom walked from Newport and New York to Virginia-brought about that rarest of military operations: a race against time and distance, on land and at sea. Ketchum brings to life the gripping and inspirational story of how the rebels defeated the world's finest army against all odds.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Historian Ketchum's latest book focuses on the latter half of the Revolutionary War, culminating in Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown. Ketchum (Decisive Day: The Battle for Bunker Hill) shows the importance of the year 1780 in turning the tide of the war. Washington's situation was hampered by the lack of food and supplies, mutinies within the ranks, and the defection of Benedict Arnold. Then, after years of negotiation, the long-hoped-for French assistance arrived in the form of troops and naval support. This intervention, combined with luck and, on the part of the British, numerous strategic errors, an astonishing lack of communication, and the personal animosity between Clinton and Cornwallis, led to the colonists' victory at Yorktown. Ketchum examines the challenges faced by the Franco-American alliance, including communication, cultural differences, and differing military strategies. In typical Ketchum style, he brings the characters and events to life with quotations, interesting anecdotes, choice vignettes, and vivid descriptions of battles. Recommended for most libraries.-Robert Flatley, Kutztown Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A nicely paced and richly detailed account of the final months of the American Revolution. In 1780, writes noted historian Ketchum (Divided Loyalties, 2002, etc.), victory was very far from certain for the insurgent Americans. The revolutionary army had gone unpaid for months and years, food and supplies and arms were in constantly short supply, and a brutal winter had taken a vicious toll on the men in the field. France had been promising intervention since signing a treaty of alliance in 1777, but so battered was his force, George Washington feared, that "when the French finally did arrive, they would immediately see the desperate condition of the Continental Army and the helplessness of America, and sail away." He had good cause to worry, for certain French officials had been putting in the word to Louis XVI that the best course of action was to let the English and Americans "exhaust themselves reciprocally" and then take the continent for France. But French troops and fleets finally did come, providing the citizens of Philadelphia with a splendid parade before taking to the field. Washington's tiny army-a French officer estimated its strength at only 3,000-rallied, thwarted Benedict Arnold's plan to turn West Point over to the British, and began a long campaign of harrying Lord Cornwallis's army in the south, gathering reinforcements as they pummeled the enemy. Ketchum capably reconstructs these dramatic events, giving equal weight to large historical currents and the small accidents of personality alike; on the latter, for instance, he reveals that Cornwallis would forever hold a grudge against his superior officer, Sir Henry Clinton, for failing to break the siege of Yorktown,inasmuch as "nothing but the hopes of relief would have induced me to attempt its defense." Ketchum delivers a few surprises as well, revealing, for one thing, that the desperate British once seeded the plantations of Tidewater Virginia with smallpox-infected slaves "as instruments of germ warfare." Solid Revolutionary War scholarship. Agent: Carl Brandt/Brandt & Hochman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786272884
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 3/14/2005
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 535
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard M. Ketchum is the author of the Revolutionary War classics Decisive Day: The Battle of Bunker Hill; The Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton; the award-winning New York Times Notable Book Saratoga: Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War; and, most recently, Divided Loyalties: How the American Revolution Came to New York. He lives in Vermont.
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