This month I'm going to write about the White Plains "campaign" of 1776, which was part of the broader contest between George Washington and William Howe for control of the New York City area. In brief, at the beginning of October, 1776, George Washington's army had its headquarters in upper Manhattan. William Howe wanted to force Washington to retreat or surrender by cutting his supply lines. To this end, Howe moved into New York's Westchester County and tried to circle around Washington’s army.
My plan is to have a post online for each day of the campaign; furthermore, the posts will appear on the anniversary of the historical occurrences. The first post is scheduled for tomorrow (October 8th) and will cover the events of October 8th, 1776. I will continue in this manner through November 1st, on which date the British gave up their pursuit of Washington’s army. Although some days in this campaign were not terribly eventful, I've decided to write about all of them so as to explore how a campaign gradually unfolded over time.
The posts are intended to be brisk and readable and will focus on the battles and skirmishes during this period, the plans of the commanders, and camp life in the two armies.
To improve readability, I will alter capitalization and spelling in the passages I quote to bring the text in line with modern conventions (an example appears below). I will also be omitting passages in the quoted material (leaving ellipses in their place) that bog down the reader with unnecessary detail.
The writing will be geared primarily to folks who are already familiar with the Revolutionary War. In other words, I'm not going to summarize earlier events during the war, provide background information on the major figures, or define terms like "light dragoon" or "howitzer". A set of links to wikipedia articles appears below for those that would like to learn more about the events preceding this campaign and the historical persons that figured prominently during this campaign.
For most of the days in this campaign, I will have the blog post online a little after midnight, U.S. Central Standard Time. If I'm busy certain evenings, then the posts will be online even earlier. I anticipate having four posts online for October 28th, when the battle of White Plains was fought (these will correspond with the events of the morning, mid-day, afternoon, and evening).
Below is an alphabetical listing of accounts of the White Plains campaign that I anticipate quoting or referring to in the posts in this series. I'm listing all of the sources up front because it's more convenient than having a separate listing at the end of every upcoming post.
Most of the accounts are from works in the public domain that were accessed via Google Books or archive.org. I also greatly relied on several collections of transcribed primary sources: Peter Force’s American Archives (electronic database hosted by Northern Illinois University), the George Washington Papers (Volumes 6 and 7), the Naval Documents of the Revolutionary War (Volumes 6 and 7), and Henry Phelps Johnston (1878). The campaign of 1776 around New York and Brooklyn. Bamford’s diary and Stirke’s journal were accessed through the website of the Maryland Historical Society.
- Anderson, Enoch. Henry Hobart Bellas (1896). Personal recollections of Captain Enoch Anderson, an officer of the Delaware regiments in the Revolutionary War. Papers of the Historical Society of Delaware, Issue 16.
- Anonymous Loyalist. Cited in Henry Phelps Johnston (1878). The campaign of 1776 around New York and Brooklyn.
- Anonymous American officer in New Jersey. Letter in Peter Force’s American Archives.
- Baldwin, Loammi. As cited in William Abbatt (1901). The Battle of Pell’s Point.
- Bamford, William. Maryland Historical Society (1932-33). Bamford’s Diary: The Revolutionary diary of a British officer. Maryland Historical Magazine.
- Baurmeister, Carl Leopold. Bernhard A. Uhlendorf (1957). Revolution in America: Confidential letters and journals 1776-1784 of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian forces.
- Bedford, Gunning. William Thompson Read (1870). Life and correspondence of George Read.
- Bogardus, Benjamin. New York State Historical Association (1926). Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, Vol. 24.
- Bostwick, Elisha. William S. Powell (1949). A Connecticut soldier under Washington: Elisha Bostwick’s memoirs of the first years of the Revolution. William and Mary Quarterly.
- Brooks, John. Maria Campbell and James Freeman Clarke (1848). Revolutionary services and civil life of General William Hull.
- Clinton, George. John Hastings (1899). Public Papers of George Clinton, first governor of New York, 1777-1795—1801-1804. Military—Vol. 1.
- Clinton, Henry. William B. Willcox (1954). The American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton's narrative of his campaigns; 1775-1782.
- Craige, Thomas. John C. Dann (1980). The Revolution remembered: Eyewitness accounts of the War for Independence.
- Dewey, John. Journal appears in Louis M. Dewey (1898). Life of George Dewey, Rear Admiral, U. S. N., and Dewey family history.
- Douglas, William. Excerpts of letters in Henry Phelps Johnston (1878). The campaign of 1776 around New York and Brooklyn.
- Duncan, Henry. John Knox Laughton (1902). Journals of Henry Duncan, Captain, Royal Navy. In The Naval Miscellany, Vol. 1; Also excerpted in Naval Documents of the American Revolution.
- Ewald, Johann von. Joseph P. Tustin (1979). Diary of the American War: A Hessian journal.
- Francis, Jacob. John C. Dann (1980). The Revolution remembered: Eyewitness accounts of the War for Independence.
- Glover, John. William Upham (1863). A memoir of Gen. John Glover of Marblehead. Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, Vol. 5; Peter Force’s American Archives; William Gordon (1788). The history of the rise, progress, and establishment of the independence of the United States of America, Vol. 2.
- Greene, Nathanael. Peter Force’s American Archives; the George Washington Papers.
- Hallowell, Henry. Howard Kendall Sanderson (1909). Lynn in the Revolution.
- Hamond, Andrew Snape. Naval Documents of the American Revolution.
- Harris, George. Stephen Rumbold Lushington (1840). The life and services of General Lord Harris.
- Harrison, Robert. Peter Force’s American Archives; George Washington Papers.
- Harrison, William. William Hand Browne (1893). Journal and correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety: July 7-December 31, 1776. Archives of Maryland, Vol. 12.
- Haslet, John. Peter Force’s American Archives.
- Heath, William. William Abbatt (1901). Memoirs of Major-General William Heath; Peter Forces’ American Archives; George Washington Papers.
- Henshaw, William. Emory Washburn, Charles C. Smith, and Harriet E. Henshaw (1881). The orderly book of Colonel William Henshaw of the American Army.
- How, David. Henry B. Dawson (1865). Diary of David How, a private in Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent’s regiment of the Massachusetts line, in the army of the American Revolution.
- Howe, William. Reports in Peter Force’s American Archives and in K. G. Davies (1980). Documents of the American Revolution, Vol. 12. Transcripts, 1776; A copy of general orders issued by Howe is in New York Historical Society (1883). The Kemble Papers, Vol. 1. 1773-1789; Howe’s interview by Parliament is in The Parliamentary Register (1779). Vol. 12.
- Hull, William. Maria Campbell and James Freeman Clarke (1848). Revolutionary services and civil life of General William Hull.
- Kemble, Stephen. New York Historical Society (1883). The Kemble Papers, Vol. 1. 1773-1789.
- Kimball, Peter. Charles Carleton Coffin (1881). Diary of Capt. Peter Kimball in 1776. The Granite Monthly, Vol. 4.
- Lasher, John. Peter Force’s American Archives.
- Leggett, Abraham. Charles I. Bushnell (1865). The narrative of Major Abraham Leggett, of the army of the Revolution.
- Lee, Charles. New York Historical Society (1872). The Lee Papers, Vol. 2. 1776-1778.
- Mackenzie, Frederick. Journal excerpts are in Naval Documents of the American Revolution.
- Markham, Enoch. Clements Robert Markham (1883). A naval career during the old war: Being a narrative of the life of Admiral John Markham.
- Martin, Joseph Plumb. George F. Scheer (1962). Private Yankee Doodle: Being a narrative of some of the adventures, dangers, and sufferings of a Revolutionary soldier.
- Mercer, Hugh. Peter Force’s American Archives; George Washington Papers; Naval Documents of the American Revolution.
- McDougall, Alexander. Peter Force’s American Archives.
- McMichael, James. William Henry Engle (1893). Journals and diaries of the War of the Revolution.
- Morgan, John. Francis Randolph Packard (1901). The history of medicine in the United States. [Appendix B]
- Nash, Solomon. Charles Bushnell (1861). Journal of Solomon Nash.
- New York Committee of Safety. Peter Force’s American Archives.
- New York Gazette. Frank Moore (1860). Diary of the American Revolution from Newspapers and original documents, Vol. 1.
- Ommanney, Cornthwaite. Naval Documents of the American Revolution.
- Osborn, George. K. G. Davies (1980). Documents of the American Revolution, Vol. 12. Transcripts, 1776.
- Parker, Hyde. Naval Documents of the American Revolution.
- Patterson, Samuel. William Thompson Read (1870). Life and correspondence of George Read.
- Percy, Hugh. Charles Knowles Bolton (1902). Letters of Hugh Earl Percy from Boston and New York 1774-1776.
- Pine, John. William Hand Browne (1893). Journal and correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety: July 7-December 31, 1776. Archives of Maryland, Vol. 12.
- Putnam, Rufus. Rowena Buell (1903). The memoirs of Rufus Putnam.
- Rawdon, Francis. Paul David Nelson (2005). Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Marquess of Hastings: Soldier, Peer of the Realm, Governor-General of India.
- Reed, Joseph. William B. Reed (1847). Life and correspondence of Joseph Reed, Vol. 1; also in Peter Force’s American Archives.
- Richards, Samuel. Samuel Richards (1909). Diary of Samuel Richards: Captain of Connecticut Line War of the Revolution.
- Ries, Johann Caspar. As cited in Rodney Atwood (2002). The Hessians.
- Robertson, Archibald. Harry Miller Lydenberg (1930). Archibald Robertson: His diaries and sketches in America, 1762-1780.
- Serle, Ambrose. Edward H. Tatum (1969). The American journal of Ambrose Serle, secretary to Lord Howe 1776-1778.
- Shaw, Samuel. Josiah Quincy (1847). The journals of Major Samuel Shaw, the first American Consul at Canton.
- Silliman, Gold. Excerpts of his letters are in Henry Phelps Johnston (1878). The campaign of 1776 around New York and Brooklyn.
- Smallwood, William. Peter Force’s American Archives.
- Smith, John. Louise Rau (1933). Sergeant John Smith’s diary of 1776. Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 20.
- Stedman, Charles. Charles Stedman (1794). The history of the origin, progress, and termination of the American War, Vol. 1.
- Stiles, Ezra. Franklin Bowditch Dexter (1901). The literary diary of Ezra Stiles, Vol. 2.
- Stirke, Henry. S. Sydney Bradford (1961). A British officer’s Revolutionary War journal, 1776-1778. Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. 56.
- Sullivan, Thomas. As cited in Matthew H. Spring (2008). With zeal and with bayonets only: The British army on campaign in North America, 1775-1783.
- Tallmadge, Benjamin. Benjamin Tallmadge (1858). Memoir of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge.
- Tilghman, Tench. Peter Force’s American Archives.
- Trumbull, Benjamin. Connecticut Historical Society (1899). Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, Vol. 7. Journal of the Campaign at New York 1776-7. Ezra Stiles believed that Trumbull authored an anonymous account of the campaign that was published in newspapers of the time and that appears in his journal (see above) and in Peter Force’s American Archives.
- Van Cortlandt, Philip. Jacob Judd. (1976). The Revolutionary War memoir and selected correspondence of Philip van Cortlandt.
- Washington, George. Peter Force’s American Archives; George Washington Papers.
- Weedon, George. Letter summarized in John R. Sellers (1968). The Virginia Continental Line, 1775-1780; letters also excerpted in Naval Documents of the American Revolution.
- Wiederholdt, Andreas. As cited in Rodney Atwood (2002). The Hessians.
- Wood, Sylvanus. John C. Dann (1980). The Revolution remembered: Eyewitness accounts of the War for Independence.
As mentioned above, the text is altered to bring spelling and capitalization in line with modern standards. As an example, here is an excerpt from the journal of Private David How:
"This morning the Enimy Landed at Frogg’s point We ware all a larmed and Marchd Down Almost there And Staid all Day the Enimy Did not offer to March any Distance from there Ships."
"This morning the enemy landed at Frog's Point[.] We were all alarmed and marched down almost [to] there and stayed all day[.] The enemy did not offer to march any distance from their ships."
Background Reading (Wikipedia Articles)
- New York Campaign
- Battle of Long Island
- Landing at Kip's Bay
- Battle of Harlem Heights
- Battle of Pell's Point
- Battle of White Plains
Some American officers who feature prominently in this series:
Some British and Hessian officers who feature prominently in this series: