The Battle of Monmouth

June 27, 1778

On February 6, 1778 the French decided to join the Continental Army in their fight for freedom from Britain. In May the French sent eleven French warships led by Comte d'Estaing and carrying about 4,000 French troops. This gave the Americans a big edge against the British and was a great motivation for the Patriots. Of course, the British weren't exactly happy about this.

King George III ordered General Sir Henry Clinton to send about 8,000 of his men to Florida and the West Indies. The other 2,000 were suppose to leave Philadelphia and go by sea to New York. General Clinton didn't have any way to move the 3,000 horses that belonged to his troops by sea. So on June 18, 1778, he went against orders and moved all 10,000 men to New York by land. They took all their equipment from Philadelphia and left nothing there that the Continental Army could use against them. When the British left Philadelphia, General Washington sent 12,000 men into the city. Once they were settled in Philadelphia, the Continentals set out towards New York following General Clinton's men.

General Washington met with the Council of War to decide what action should be taken against the British troops heading for New York. No one wanted any major action. Brigadier General Anthony Wayne and Major General Marquis de Lafayette wanted to attack the rear portion of the British troops as they marched toward New York. General Charles Lee rejoined the Army at Valley Forge and believed the Continentals should only engage in minor skirmishes with the British forces. In the end, on June 26, 1778, General Washington sent 6,000 men to attack the rear of the British troops.

Early on the morning of June 28th, when the British were leaving the village of Monmouth, New Jersey (today known as Freehold), these 6,000 men under General Lee attacked the British rear guard. General Clinton's men reacted quickly and forced the Patriots back.

General Lee did not have control over his men and there was much disorganization. The Continental Army was now in the defense for any counter-attack. General Washington and Baron von Steuben with another 6,000 men arrived. Baron von Steuben rallied the men, most of whom he had trained at Valley Forge, and took them back into battle against the British. The battle lasted the whole day. During the night, the British troops realized they could not win and escaped.

In the end both sides had their same positions. The Continentals now had the experience to prove their lessons from Valley Forge and were more positive about defeating the British and winning independence from England.

This would be the last major battle of the American Revolution to be fought in the north.

After the battle, General Lee was court-martialled for his lack of leadership. The legend of Molly Pitcher came from this battle.