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The Papers of George Washington

1 June–31 July 1779

George Washington. Edited by William M. Ferraro

Revolutionary War Series
Cloth · 896 pp. · 6.13 x 9.25 · ISBN 9780813933221 · $85.00 · Oct 2012

During the busy and challenging months of June and July 1779 (the period covered in this volume), George Washington remained the fulcrum for Continental army activities. Through his exertions and leadership, the troops under his direct supervision quickly broke their winter encampment at Middlebrook, New Jersey, for positions in the New York Highlands to check a British thrust up the Hudson River that threatened West Point. He then promptly began planning an operation to reduce the British garrison at Stony Point, New York. Those efforts came to fruition with the successful surprise night attack of Brigadier General Anthony Wayne's light infantry in the early morning hours of 16 July. The victory boosted Patriot morale, calmed Connecticut residents recently subjected to British raids, and eased the subsequent disappointment of having to abandon Stony Point as too difficult to hold when a movement to capture the British post across the Hudson at Verplanck Point resulted in a hasty retreat.

After departing Stony Point, Washington established his headquarters at West Point and concentrated his considerable administrative talents on completing a system of fortifications at that strategic location. He envisioned defenses impervious to assault from land or water but manned with fewer troops. Washington's reach extended very far, but he could not control or know everything. Particularly vexing were the supply and coordination problems that delayed Major General John Sullivan's expedition against the Indians of the Six Nations and Loyalists along the Pennsylvania–New York frontier. His attempts to march Brigadier General John Glover's brigade from Rhode Island to the Highlands and then maneuver in Connecticut to counter the British raids suffered complications from that general's absence. Washington’s ability to retain his composure and think clearly while under pressure or amid confusion remained exemplary. He exhibited on a daily basis his importance to the revolutionary cause.