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This post is intended to complement the recent one that outlined the fate of various Continental Army officers after the War of Independence ended. The focus here is on several key British and German (Hessian) army officers who played roles of varying importance in the conflict. As was the case in Part I, this list is quite arbitrary with regard to the selection of specific individuals.
Henry Clinton: Generally regarded as the most cerebral of His Majesty’s generals during her war against the American Rebellion (as the colonies’ quest for independence was known in England), Clinton, as the successor army commander-in-chief to William Howe from 1778 until relieved in 1782, was blamed for the loss of the American colonies. After the Revolution, he published a narrative account of the conflict in an effort to clear his name. Clinton become a full general in 1793 and was named Governor of Gibraltar the following year. However, he died in London at age 65 in 1795, before he could assume the post as governor.
Charles Cornwallis: The most aristocratic and aggressive of Great Britain’s generals serving in North America was unsuccessful in his efforts to destroy Washington’s army at Assunpink Creek in 1777 and to do the same to Nathanael Greene’s southern army in 1781. He recovered from his signal defeat against the combined American and French forces at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781 to become governor-general of India in 1786. Cornwallis was created a marquess (a rank of nobility above an earl and below a duke) for his services and later served as viceroy of Ireland. He was reappointed governor-general of India in 1805 and died in Ghazipur, India, at age 66 in 1805.
Carl von Donop: The Hessian colonel of aristocratic lineage had overall command of the German troops stationed in the Trenton-Bordentown-Burlington area of New Jersey in December 1776, prior to the “Ten Crucial Days” winter campaign. He was mortally wounded during an attack on Fort Mercer on the Delaware River below Philadelphia, known as the Battle of Red Bank, in October 1777. At the time of his death, he was age 45.
William Erskine: The British quartermaster general to General Cornwallis, who unsuccessfully urged the latter to attack Washington’s army at Assunpink Creek without delay on the night of January 2, 1777, had been knighted for his military exploits prior to the American Rebellion. Known as “Woolly” by his fellow officers, he was promoted to brigadier general and then major general during the course of the war and saw action in the Philadelphia campaign in 1777 and at the Battle of Monmouth the following year. Erskine returned to England in 1779 and later commanded troops in Britain’s war against revolutionary France. He died at age 67 in 1795.
Johann Ewald: The Hessian captain, who came to America in 1776 and served under Colonel Carl von Donop during the “Ten Crucial Days,” participated in many of the war’s significant battles and was with Cornwallis’s army when it surrendered at Yorktown in 1781. He kept a diary that contained a comprehensive account of his experiences throughout the war and created numerous maps of the areas in which he fought, which included the placement of troops and fortifications. Ewald later served in the Danish army, rising to the rank of lieutenant general. He died in Kiel, in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, at age 69 in 1813.
James Grant: The Scottish-born major general served as the British commander in New Jersey during the “Ten Crucial Days” until General Cornwallis assumed command in the wake of the American victory at Trenton on December 26, 1776. Grant was probably the most contemptuous of all British generals in his attitude toward the rebels. He saw action in the Philadelphia campaign in 1777 and later commanded a small British force in the West Indies. A member of the British House of Commons before the war, Grant re-entered politics in England afterward but remained in the army until 1805. He died a year later at age 86.
William Howe: The British army’s commander in North America from 1775 to 1777 returned to England in 1778. In response to criticism of his military leadership, he demanded a parliamentary committee of inquiry in order to vindicate his conduct in America, but the committee of inquiry adjourned without reaching a conclusion. Howe assumed a significant role in supervising the defenses of England against Napoleon Bonaparte’s France and served in various governmental positions, including as a member of the Privy Council and as governor of Berwick-upon-Tweed and then Plymouth. He died in Plymouth, England, at age 85 in 1814.
Alexander Leslie: The brigadier general who commanded the British brigade that occupied Princeton when the “Ten Crucial Days” campaign began was stationed in Maidenhead with a reserve force on January 2, 1777, while the main body of Cornwallis’s army advanced on Trenton. His nephew, Captain William Leslie, was mortally wounded at the Battle of Princeton the next day. Leslie was promoted to major general in 1782 and continued to serve in the military after the war. He died in Edinburgh, Scotland, at age 63 in 1794.
Charles Mawhood: The colonel led a spirited resistance by outnumbered British troops against Washington’s army at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777 and was highly regarded in England afterwards. He served in the Philadelphia campaign of 1777 and subsequently raised a new regiment that fought against the Spanish siege of British-held Gibraltar, where he died at age 50 in 1780 after suffering from a gallstone.