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George Washington's Great Gamble: And the Sea Battle That Won the American Revolution

George Washington's Great Gamble: And the Sea Battle That Won the American Revolution

by James Nelson


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One shining yet overlooked moment that changed the course of the Revolutionary War

In the opening months of 1781, General George Washington feared his army would fail to survive another campaign season. The spring and summer only served to reinforce his despair, but in late summer the changing circumstances of war presented a once-in-a-war opportunity for a French armada to hold off the mighty British navy while his own troops with French reinforcements drove Lord Cornwallis's forces to the Chesapeake. The Battle of the Capes would prove the only time the French ever fought the Royal Navy to a draw, and for the British army it was a catastrophe. Cornwallis confidently retreated to Yorktown, expecting to be evacuated by a British fleet that never arrived. In the end he had no choice but to surrender. Although the war sputtered on another two years, its outcome was never in doubt after Yorktown.

General Washington's Great Gamble is the story of the greatest naval engagement of the American Revolution. It is also a study in leadership, good and bad, political machinations and the wild, unpredictable circumstances that led to the extraordinary confluence of military and naval resources at that time and place.

Topics include:
Looking South; Sea Power for the General; Arnold; Copper Bottoms; Head of Elk; The Battle of Cape Henry; An Attempt to Conquer Virginia; Greene and Cornwallis: Looking North; The American Command; The Battle of Guilford Courthouse; Pyrrhic Victory; Reinforcing the Chesapeake; "[T]he enemy have turned so much of their attention to the Southern States..."; The Battle of Blandford; The British War at Sea; Juncture; "I am inclined to think well of York..."; The Promise of a Fleet; The Battle of Green Springs; The March on New York; An Operation to the Southward; The Arrival of De Grasse; The Battle of the Capes;Cornwallis Surrenders

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780071626798
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date: 04/19/2010
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.46(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.26(d)

About the Author

James L. Nelson is the author of 15 works of fiction and nonfiction. His novels include the five books of his "Revolution at Sea" saga and three in his "Brethren of the Coast" series. His novel Glory in the Name won the American Library Association's W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Best Military Fiction. Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads, 2003, was his first work of nonfiction, and he has since authored two other histories of naval warfare in the American Revolution: Benedict Arnold's Navy and George Washington's Secret Navy, which earned the Samuel Eliot Morison Award from the Naval Order of the United States. The Morison Award is one of the top honors accorded maritime historians in the U.S., and past winners include David McCullough and Patrick O'Brian.

Table of Contents

Prologue 0

Part 1 An Opportunity in Virginia

1 Washington and Rochambeau 3

2 Sea Power for the General 17

3 "The parricide Arnold" 26

4 Copper Bottoms 37

5 Head of Elk 48

6 The Battle of Cape Henry 58

7 "An attempt to conquer Virginia" 72

Part 2 Greene and Cornwallis: Looking North

8 The Beginning of the End 83

9 The American Command 89

10 The Battle of Guilford Courthouse 100

11 A Pyrrhic Victory 110

12 Reinforcing the Chesapeake 121

13 "[T]he Enemy have turned so much of their attention to the Southern States" 130

14 The Battle of Blandford 144

Part 3 The Fight on Land and Sea

15 The British War at Sea 169

16 Juncture 184

17 "I am inclined to think well of York" 195

18 The Promise of a Fleet 210

19 The Battle of Green Springs 224

20 The March on New York 236

21 An Operation to the Southward 251

22 The Arrival of de Grasse 263

23 The Battle of the Capes 275

24 "The signal was not understood" 290

25 The Siege of Yorktown 305

Epilogue: "A most glorious day" 323

Time Line 334

Acknowledgments 337

Endnotes 339

Bibliography 365

Index 370

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