THE BATTLE OF YORKTOWN by Thomas J. & Eds. of American Heritage Fleming


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The crucial entrapment of Cornwallis at Yorktown was no battle, as Mr. Fleming's adult study, Beat the Last Drum: The Siege of Yorktown, attests, and the sequence of marches, withdrawals, and steady bombardment -- punctuated by three brief collisions -- has limited interest for a generals. What signifies here is the situation of the colonies, bankrupt and threatened by mutiny, faced with producing a solid victory or foregoing their goal of independence for all; the proclivities of the commanders on both sides, especially Washington's reluctance to abandon the projected attack on New York and Clinton's lassitude in letting him escape, his jealous reining in of Cornwallis and procrastination in sending relief. Meanwhile the French made the difference: De Grasse secured the blockade of the Chesapeake, Rochambeau supplied expertise and seasoned troops, Lafayette exuded confidence in his American irregulars. And Washington, once committed, was at his decisive best. From journals (including that of Yankee Doodle Boy Joseph Plumb Martin) come glimpses of the General incognito in the trenches, of Hamilton recklessly exposing himself and his men (and later taking cover behind another officer), of the American negotiator damping British display in the surrender ceremonies. A vivid recreation overall, and illustrated with a similar flair for relevant particulars.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1968
Publisher: American Heritage-Harper & Row