Ear It Is

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Hi All –

For anyone who may be interested, you can listen here to the interview I just had with historian Brady Crytzer, author of Hessians and the forthcoming The Whiskey Rebellion, on the Journal of the American Revolution podcast “Dispatches” (episode 216). The discussion focuses on the article that was the subject of my last post, “Eutaw Springs and the Ambiguity of Victory.”

Best regards,


60. Another JAR Article

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I’ve gone far afield with my latest contribution to the Journal of the American Revolution, delving into the Southern campaign that others have written about so expertly—and I do so with trepidation and a sense of intruding into an aspect of the American rebellion that should be left to others. Be that as it may, this article focuses on what may have been the most savage and was one of the longest contests in our struggle for independence, the Battle of Eutaw Springs (depicted above in a print based on Alonzo Chappel’s mid-eighteenth-century painting).

Why Eutaw Springs? Several reasons, I suppose:

— the unvarnished brutality of the event, which I think truly brings home William T. Sherman’s reminder that “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it”;

— the fact that this was the last major open-field battle of the Revolutionary War;

— focusing on it reinforces one’s perception of the conflict as a civil war, given the prominent role played by both Patriot and Loyalist militia in this engagement;

— its ambiguous outcome begs the question, which the article explores, of how one defines “victory” in a military context;

— the idea that this was the capstone engagement in General Nathanael Greene’s prolonged endeavor to fulfill his ambition of achieving a triumph that would earn him the acclaim of his and future generations;

— the irony of someone from New Jersey, known as the “Crossroads of the Revolution,” writing about a battle in South Carolina, which competes with the Garden State in claiming to have hosted more military encounters in the war than any other state—over two hundred battles, skirmishes, and raids; and

— finally, why not?

So if you’re interested, enter here, and I hope you find it worth your while.

59. A Few Thoughts on GW

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I’ve just had the pleasure of reading a chapter in a manuscript that the author asked me and others to review in connection with a book he’s crafting about what he considers to be the turning points of the war for independence, that is, the military events that altered the trajectory of the contest. This particular chapter covers the “Ten Crucial Days” (TCD) of the Revolution (December 25, 1776 – January 3, 1777), when George Washington’s army won its first three significant victories and profoundly reversed the momentum of the conflict. The draft cites to a quote by a noted military historian, the late Don Higginbotham, referring to the Continental Army’s legendary Christmas Night 1776 crossing of the Delaware River that began the TCD. Higginbotham asserted that this action was perhaps Washington’s “only really brilliant stroke of the war.”

Oh Yeah?

Having spent the last nine years immersed in the TCD, I certainly appreciate any recognition accorded any aspect of it by the historical community. That said, I would take issue with Professor Higginbotham’s assessment as being less than fair to GW, and that is the basis for what follows.

While perhaps not a brilliant strategist, Washington did have his moments . . .

(1) I don’t know if “brilliant” is the operative adjective for GW’s ordering Colonel Henry Knox to retrieve more than fifty cannon from Fort Ticonderoga in upper New York State in late 1775 and then placing them on Dorchester Heights outside British-occupied Boston, thereby forcing the British to evacuate the city in March 1776 or otherwise launch a suicidal attack, but I like to think it was an awfully shrewd piece of generalship. (And I’m not discounting that General William Howe, the British commander there, had been planning to leave Boston for months anyway or that GW’s generals had to dissuade him from launching imprudent attacks against the occupiers before then.)

(2) The evacuation of Washington’s army from Brooklyn Heights to Manhattan on the night of August 29-30, 1776 was one of the most skillful in military history, being executed at night in small craft on difficult water without detection by a larger and more powerful enemy army and fleet. (Yes, you could say it compensated—perhaps—for GW’s litany of errors in connection w/ the Battle of Long Island on Auguat 27, but still it saved his army from complete destruction. That moment was nothing if not pivotal.)

(3) The end run by GW’s army around General Charles Cornwallis’s left flank from Trenton to Princeton on the night of Jan. 2-3, 1777, which led to the final victory of the TCD at Princeton, was not exactly chopped liver.

(4) GW’s deployment of General Matthias Roche de Fermoy’s contingent along the route from Princeton to Trenton on New Year’s Eve 1777 proved to be absolutely brilliant thanks to the leadership of Colonel Edward Hand, whose delaying action on January 2, 1777 (in Fermoy’s absence) arguably forestalled the destruction of GW’s army at what I believe was the most pivotal military encounter of the war—the Battle of Assunpink Creek, which I define as including the skirmishing by Hand’s force and the fighting at the creek.

(5) If GW’s sending reinforcements from his own army (including Colonel Daniel Morgan’s riflemen) northward to support the resistance to General John Burgoyne’s Saratoga expedition in 1777 wasn’t brilliant, it sure as heck was very astute. Kevin Weddle makes a point of this in his recent book, The Compleat Victory: Saratoga and the American Revolution.

(6) To my way of thinking, GW’s naming General Nathanael Greene to command the Southern Department of the Continental Army in late 1780 was more than brilliant. It was genius. Greene’s masterful Southern campaign, in the face of seemingly insuperable challenges and with the vital assistance of rebel militia, drove the British from the interior of the Carolinas and pinned them inside their coastal sanctuaries in Charleston and Savannah, which they evacuated before the end of 1782.

(7) I’d have no hesitation in characterizing as “brilliant” the adroit maneuvers orchestrated by GW in the late summer of 1781 to deceive General Henry Clinton into thinking that a Franco-American assault on British-occupied New York City was impending in order to divert his attention from the movement of allied forces southward to trap Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia, and thereby preclude Clinton’s timely intervention on behalf of Cornwallis in an attempt to forestall the climactic American military victory of the war.

(8) And while not of a strictly military nature, perhaps GW’s most brilliant stroke of the war was to order mass inoculation of the Continental Army against smallpox in 1777. (I suppose you could argue he had no choice, but it was still a dramatic gesture that was not without controversy and arguably indispensable to preserving the integrity of his army, as well as being the first major public health initiative ever undertaken in America.)

Oh well, history is an argument that never ends, by George.

Event Reminder

Hi All –

For anyone in the area who’s interested, on Saturday, April 29 I will be selling and signing copies of my latest book, The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776, and my other scribbling during an author fair at the Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ, The event is part of the library’s twelfth Local Author Day and will be held from 1:30 – 4 pm in the library’s Community Room and first floor area.

Here’s a link to more information about the participating authors (listed alphabetically) and their work.

Also FYI

In terms of current literary activity, I’m wrapping up a new article (number seven) for the Journal of the American Revolution that I expect to submit shortly. This will be the longest one I’ve written for JAR and focuses on a different aspect of the Revolutionary contest than my previous efforts. (Hint: I’m invading the South.) More to come  .  .  .

I hope everyone is having a healthy and happy spring.

Best regards,


New Book Review and Author Signing Event

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Hi All –

For anyone who may be interested, here’s some news concerning the latest arrow in my literary quiver, The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776—not to (uh oh) equivercate in this matter.

Review Snippet

James Stacy wrote as follows in the Winter 2023 issue of The Journal of America’s Military Past:

“David Price presents in less than 200 pages a remarkably well-researched, readable, and informative book on what is arguably a little-known, but very important episode of the American Revolution, the Battle of Harlem Heights…. The Battle of Harlem Heights is another enjoyable and informative book in Westholme Publishing’s “Small Battles” series. This series spotlights small, often overlooked yet important episodes of the American Revolution.”

If you’d like to read the entire review, please email me at [email protected] and I’ll be glad to send it to you.


If you know anyone who might be keen on the subject and is in the area, I will be selling and signing copies of this and my other books during an author fair that is part of the twelfth Local Author Day at the Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ, This event will be on Saturday, April 29 from 1:30 – 4 pm in the library’s Community Room and first floor area.

Best regards,


58. Could We Have Lost the Revolution?

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The answer to the question posed above is “no.” At least according to historian Page Smith, writing in his magisterial work, A New Age Now Begins: A People’s History of the American Revolution (McGraw-Hill 1976). Smith’s analysis, in the final chapter of his second and concluding volume, echoes the thought expressed by John Adams many years after American independence was achieved: “But what do We mean by the American Revolution? Do We mean the American War? The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People.” (Letter to Hezekiah Niles, February 13, 1818)

Here then is Mr. Smith (pp. 1823-1826):

Historians are great ‘if-ers,’ and the revolution offers them a field day…. One consequence of the work of the ‘if-ers’ is that the Revolution has commonly been treated as a ‘war’ rather than as a ‘revolution.’ This of course was the British mistake as well. In a war, especially in the eighteenth-century variety, when one side has absorbed a sufficient number of defeats, lost a sufficient number of soldiers, and surrendered a sufficient number of towns and cities, it adds up the profits and losses, finds that the debit column far outweighs the gains, and petitions for peace, or, more abjectly, surrenders. But a revolution is a different matter. A revolution is for keeps. A true revolution is not reversible; it cannot be ‘defeated’ in any conventional sense. The people can be decimated, starved, virtually destroyed, and in the right circumstances, by means of utter ruthlessness, the revolution can be suppressed. But ‘suppressed’ is different from ‘defeated.’

There must have been some reason why America was the graveyard of British military reputations; why no British general emerged with his laurels untarnished. After all, these were the same men, or at the very least the same type of men, who had administered a decisive drubbing to the French and Spanish during the Seven Years’ War. They made up the best military and naval force in the world. As we have seen, it never occurred to any but a handful of congenital optimists that they could be defeated by a ragtag citizen army of untrained levies. And properly speaking they weren’t. They ‘won’ almost every major engagement. From the ‘battle’ of Lexington and Concord, which wasn’t, properly speaking, a battle at all, to Yorktown, the British claimed an almost unbroken series of victories….

The American Revolution was, in modern parlance, the first ‘people’s liberation movement.’ In order to make any sense out of the question of whether Great Britain could have ‘won the war,’ we have to rephrase the question in a different form: Could Great Britain, after, let us say, the battle of Bunker Hill, and after, certainly the Declaration of Independence, have reduced the colonies to a ‘proper state of subordination’? Could they, in short, have turned off the revolution? Could they have restored the status quo ante bellum, as the military and diplomatic historians put it? And the answer, of course, is an emphatic no. It is quite literally impossible to imagine [Governor] Thomas Hutchinson returning to Massachusetts to guide its affairs and squabble with his council once again; or William Tryon back in North Carolina or New York [where he had served successively as royal governor], or, indeed, any other governor directing the affairs of this or that colony. In 1779, with the Carlisle Commission, Great Britain went as far as it could have possibly gone short of granting complete independence in meeting the American grievances that had brought on the ‘war’; and while Washington and Congress ‘feared it like the devil,’ it caused hardly a stir among the rank and file of patriots. No peace movement developed in the states to barter for a return to the parental fold, which had once appeared such a haven of security. It was indeed as Washington had said of the people crowding around him on the march from New York to Virginia [en route to Yorktown in 1781]: ‘We may be beaten by the English…but here is an army they will never conquer.’

American independence was not a precarious issue, hanging always in the balance, resting on a victory here or there, on this alliance or that, on the preservation of Robert Howe’s army of the Southern Department, or Benjamin Lincoln’s army of the Southern Department, or Horatio Gates’s army of the Southern Department—each of which were successively obliterated—or even on the survival of Nathanael Greene’s army, or the Continental Army of George Washington himself. The Revolution was, quite simply, the first and one of the most powerful expressions of the determination of a people to be free.

Well, there you have it. For those wishing to take issue with any of the above, have at it. As they say, history is an argument without end.

What Now?

Dear Reader,

This feels like a good time for me to hit the “pause” button on creating new posts. After spending more than two and a half years in the blogosphere, I’ve reached a point where it feels more like a chore than an opportunity—and that suggests that, at least for the near future, I need to take a blatant blog break. (Try saying that three times fast.) This pivot won’t necessarily entail a total or permanent abstention from blogging, as I foresee wanting to share information or thoughts on a particular topic at various times or posting a link to something that I hope will be of interest to you (especially if it’s something to which yours truly has been or will be connected). I’ll always enjoy writing, so you can expect me to seek outlets for that impulse, that is, beyond compiling a really long and diversified grocery list.

To anyone who may be disappointed by this news, I offer my regrets and a reminder of the sage advice commonly attributed to P.T. Barnum: “Always leave them wanting more.” And to those who feel otherwise, I’m pleased to do you this favor.

Thank you very much for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride. We’ll see where it goes from here. As Yogi Berra allegedly opined, “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Best wishes,


57. Who Said What About the “Ten Crucial Days” (Again)

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I know I covered the subject in a prior post (no. 35—published Dec. 4, 2021—to be precise), but I wanted to provide a link to a greatly expanded version of this, which just appeared in the Journal of the American Revolution. The article features some fairly obscure quotes, including ones from both sides, in addition to those with which many or most Rev War aficionados would be familiar by virtue of their being frequently referenced in secondary sources.

Oh yeah, I left out the alleged quote from one Lawrence Peter Berra that was in the earlier post and which I thought was an apposite observation in regard to the lesson to be learned from the “Ten Crucial Days” winter campaign of 1776-1777, i.e., “It ain’t over till it’s over.” (And Howe.) It seemed somewhat indecorous to include a reference to Yogi in a JAR piece—off-base, you might say. (And I didn’t want to be the Berra of such tidings.)

56. After the Shouting (or Shooting) – Part II

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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.

55. Giving History A Hand

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Also please note: I know I indicated in the last post that the next one would complement it by outlining the fate of various British and Hessian officers after the Revolutionary War. However, as you can see, I have taken the liberty (this is a Rev War blog, after all) of deferring the post on those officers until next time. Today’s offering is something that’s near and dear to my heart and—given the focus of my second book, The Road to Assunpink Creek—my keyboard.

Giving Revolutionary history a hand and then some is exactly what Thomas Black, a senior at Notre Dame High School in Lawrence Township, NJ—Maidenhead at the time of the War for Independence—recently did. For his Eagle Scout project, Thomas constructed a marker (seen above) to memorialize the delaying action waged by American skirmishers under Colonel Edward Hand against a far larger force of British and Hessian troops advancing from Princeton to Trenton on January 2, 1777—and especially the clash that occurred adjacent to the parking lot at Notre Dame.

The new marker is far more elaborate and informative than the preexisting tiny blue marker by Lawrenceville Road (Route 206) in front of the school. Thomas’s creation stands near Shabakunk Creek, which runs through the campus and was the scene of perhaps the most intense fighting between Hand’s men and His Majesty’s troops, the latter commanded by Lieutenant General Charles Earl Cornwallis. It is quite possible that the efforts of those unsung Patriot combatants saved George Washington’s army from destruction that day by preventing Cornwallis’s formidable column from arriving in Trenton until it was too dark to launch a full-scale assault on the rebel lines positioned behind Assunpink Creek on the southern edge of town.

Thomas’s effort was inspired by his history teacher John McQuarrie, who recently retired after more than two decades at Notre Dame. John (who BTW is a subscriber to this blog) was kind enough to share a link to additional information about this much-needed tribute to the heroic resistance by Edward Hand’s thousand-man detachment, who were outnumbered more than six-to-one by their adversary. Later that day—in the immediate aftermath of Hand’s fighting withdrawal—Washington’s troops held off the enemy thrust at the Battle of Assunpink Creek, or Second Battle of Trenton. The next morning, they counterattacked at Princeton in the capstone engagement of the “Ten Crucial Days” winter campaign of 1776-1777, which reversed the military momentum previously enjoyed by the Crown’s forces.

So kudos to Thomas and John. They deserve a hand and Hand deserves them. I hope what they’ve done is, well, a sign of the times. (Yes, I know, they worked hand in hand.)

And speaking of same, for anyone who may be interested, I will be discussing the significance of the events referenced above at the annual meeting of the Lawrence Historical Society on February 26 at the Lawrence Headquarters Branch of the Mercer County Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville, NJ (at the corner of Brunswick Pike and Darrah Lane). The talk will be based on The Road to Assunpink Creek. The meeting, which is open to members and nonmembers, is scheduled to begin at 1 pmAdmission is free but registration is requested—and here’s the link to register. (I hope to bring copies of my four books to the event.)

54. After the Shouting (or Shooting) – Part I

Dear Reader:

Happy New Year.

Please note: For those of you who are new subscribers (and those who aren’t), if you’re reading this in your email, you have to click on the link to my website and then on the Speaking of Which tab in order to view the actual blog post with the featured image.

This post and the next will outline the fate of various officers in the respective armies after the Revolutionary War. We’ll start with an admittedly arbitrary and very select list of Continental Army officers presented alphabetically below. The next post will attempt to do the same for several British officers who played leading roles in the conflict.

William Alexander (Lord Stirling): The brigadier general who commanded a Continental Army brigade during the “Ten Crucial Days” winter campaign of 1776-1777 was considered one of George Washington’s most loyal officers. He was too ill to participate in the battles at Assunpink Creek and Princeton but was promoted to major general early in 1777 and saw action at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. Known for eating and drinking to excess, he died from gout in Albany, New York, at age 56 in 1783.

John Cadwalader: The colonel of the Philadelphia Associators was appointed brigadier general of the Pennsylvania militia in 1777 but declined Continental Army appointments to brigadier general and to brigadier and commander of the cavalry. In 1778, he left military service and returned to his family’s estate in Shrewsbury, Maryland. That year, he fought a duel with Washington’s nemesis, Thomas Conway, over the latter’s alleged “cabal” among certain army officers against Washington’s leadership, inflicting a nonfatal wound on Conway. After the war, Cadwalader moved from Pennsylvania to Maryland and served in its House of Delegates. He died in Shrewsbury at age 44 in 1786.

John Glover: The colonel commanded the seafaring men of the 14th Massachusetts Continental Regiment from Marblehead, who played an indispensable role in the Delaware River crossing of December 25, 1776. He was left without a regiment after December 31, 1776 because of expired enlistments. Glover went home to attend to family and business matters after his regiment disbanded but returned to the army in 1777 and served for the remainder of the war. He died in Marblehead at age 64 in 1797.

Nathanael Greene: The major general who led one of Washington’s two divisions during the “Ten Crucial Days” subsequently became quartermaster general of the Continental Army. He later earned fame as the successful commander of the southern army against General Charles Earl Cornwallis, in which role he was credited with waging a brilliant military campaign against a superior foe. After the Revolution, Greene was awarded liberal grants of money by South Carolina and Georgia and settled on an estate near Savannah in 1785. He died there at age 43 in 1786.

Alexander Hamilton: The young artillery captain early in the war became an aide-de-camp to Washington with the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1777 and proved to be of inestimable value in his services to the commander-in-chief. He attained battlefield glory by leading the assault on British redoubt number 10 at Yorktown in 1781, then returned to New York City where he practiced law and entered politics. Hamilton supervised and co-authored The Federalist Papers with James Madison and John Jay in 1787 in support of the proposed federal constitution. As Washington’s secretary of the treasury from 1789 to 1795, he played an essential role in shaping young America’s national government and facilitating the development of its capitalist economy, while emerging as the leading spokesperson for the political faction known as the Federalists. He died in New York City in 1804, at the age of 49, from a mortal wound sustained in a duel with his bitter political rival, Aaron Burr.

Edward Hand: The colonel of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, who was promoted to brigadier general in 1777 and became the Continental Army’s last adjutant general, returned to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at war’s end and later built Rock Ford, a Georgian-style brick mansion on several hundred acres of land. He lived there from 1794 until his death. Hand practiced medicine, served as a member of the Congress of Confederation (1784-1785) and the Pennsylvania Assembly (1785-1786), and later as a delegate to the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention (1790). Tradition has it that he played host to Washington during the latter’s visit to Lancaster as president in 1791. He died in Lancaster at age 57 in 1802.

Henry Knox: The Continental Army’s artillery commander and brigadier general for most of the war was promoted to major general in 1782 and succeeded Washington as the army’s commander-in-chief in 1783, serving briefly in that position. Having been at Washington’s side during every battle, Knox became the nation’s first secretary of war under President Washington and then retired to his estate in Maine in 1795. He died there at age 56 in 1806 as the result of an infection from a chicken bone that lodged in his throat.

Charles Lee: The major general who was Washington’s second in command when captured by the British in December 1776 was returned in a prisoner exchange in the spring of 1778. He led the Continental Army’s vanguard against the enemy at the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778, when he was humiliated in a battlefield confrontation with Washington. A court-martial that Lee requested to clear his name found him guilty of insubordination, and he was dismissed from the army in 1780. He lived as a recluse in retirement, first on his Virginia estate and then in Philadelphia, where he died alone in a tavern at age 51 in 1782.

Thomas Mifflin: The general persuaded the soldiers of a New England regiment to remain with the Continental Army when their enlistments expired on December 31, 1776, by offering each a financial bonus for agreeing to serve another six weeks, and thereby inspired Washington to do the same when appealing to other units. Mifflin had been a Philadelphia merchant and politician who served as a delegate to the Continental Congress before joining the army. He rose through the ranks to become a major general but experienced tensions with Washington over Mifflin’s handling of his duties as the army’s first quartermaster general. After his military service ended, he again served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and subsequently as a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. He became the first governor of Pennsylvania in 1790 and served for nine years. Mifflin died in Lancaster at age 56 in 1800.

James Monroe: The lieutenant who was wounded at the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776 saw further military service and after the war returned to his native Virginia. He went on to enjoy an illustrious political career, becoming a United States senator, governor of Virginia, ambassador to France, secretary of state and war, and finally the fifth president of the United States (1817-1825). He is best known for asserting, in his annual message to Congress in 1823, the “Monroe Doctrine” that declared opposition to European intervention in the Western Hemisphere, which became a cornerstone of American foreign policy. He died in New York City at age 73 in 1831.

Joseph Reed: The lawyer and colonel who served as the Continental Army’s adjutant general (chief administrative officer) during the “Ten Crucial Days” was offered both a position as brigadier general and as chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1777, but he turned both down because he had been elected to the Continental Congress. In 1778, he was elected president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania (equivalent to the position of governor) and in that position oversaw the enactment of a 1780 law providing for the abolition of slavery in Pennsylvania. Reed died in Philadelphia at age 43 in 1785.

Arthur St. Clair: The Continental Army brigadier general may have been the first officer to suggest to Washington the idea of an overnight march from Trenton to Princeton on January 2-3, 1777. He was promoted to major general in 1777 and later fought in the southern theater. St. Clair left the army in 1783 and became a delegate to the Continental Congress. He served as governor of the Northwest Territory from 1787 to 1802 and, during a brief return to military duty, suffered a severe defeat against Native American tribes at the 1791 Battle of the Wabash. He died in Pennsylvania at age 82 in 1818.

John Sullivan: The major general who led one of Washington’s two divisions during the “Ten Crucial Days” commanded American troops fighting against the Native American tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy and their Loyalist allies later in the war. After the Revolution, the New Hampshire-born attorney served as attorney general and governor of his state and as a federal district judge. He died in Durham, New Hampshire, at age 54 in 1795.

George Washington: The Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army resigned his commission when the war ended in 1783 and returned to his estate at Mount Vernon in Virginia, but was later recalled to public service. He presided over the 1787 convention in Philadelphia that adopted the federal constitution and became the first President of the United States in 1789. In that role, he forged the federal government’s executive branch, established a set of enduring precedents that would guide his successors—perhaps most importantly creating a tradition of presidential term limits by refusing to serve for a third term—and spearheaded the effort to convert the promise of constitutional democracy into a living reality. Washington retired from public life in 1797, returning once again to Mount Vernon. In what is known as his farewell address to the American people upon leaving the presidency, he exhorted his fellow countrymen to assume a greater sense of national identity in their capacity as citizens of the United States. Washington died at Mount Vernon at age 67 in 1799.

William Washington: The captain and distant cousin of George Washington was wounded at the first Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776 and earned a promotion to major and then colonel. He distinguished himself as a cavalry officer in the southern theater and received a silver medal from Congress, one of only 11 awarded during the war, for his role at the Battle of Cowpens in 1781. After the Revolution, Washington settled in South Carolina and served in the state legislature. He died at age 58 in 1810.