A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Major General Charles Lee and the Battle of Monmouth

I don't know about you, but I'm always caught offguard by the after the fact news coverage of the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Monmouth  Well, maybe this year will be different. I've got about a three month head start on this year's festivities. The 232nd Anniversary Commemoration will take place at Monmouth Battlefield State Park on 19-20 June 2010, each day from 10 am to 5 pm. We'll all have to check back at the battlefield website, which promises further details as the event get closer.

In the meantime, what does the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library have for us about the battle? A nice summary of the battle, which took place on 28 June 1778, is the locally published The Battle of Monmouth by Samuel Stelle Smith (Monmouth Beach: Philip Freneau Press, 1964) (974.946 Sm). A more detailed read is also called The Battle of Monmouth, but was written by William S Stryker (Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1927, reissued 1970) (974.946 St). A pamphlet based on Smith's work is available in pdf format online from the NJ State Library (until it loses its website, that is). There are also plenty of websites that provide useful information about the battle, including History of War, My Revolutionary War, and British Battles.

Besides the fact that the heat killed about as many men and horses as gunfire and bayonettes, the most interesting aspect of the battle seems to have been the questionable actions of Major General Charles Lee. Some think that Lee might have turned to the British side while being held prisoner just before this battle. Others think he disagreed with Washington about attacking the British and did his best to prove his point about the folly of the orders he was given. Yet others thought he was offended at being told to serve under Lafayette, who was only a lad when named a General in the Continental Army. Embittered by his court marshall, Lee died about two years later at age 50.

Along with the citations in Smith (especially pp 24-26), you will want to read George Washington's letter to his brother Jack dated 4 July 1778 included in New Jersey in the American Revolution, 1763 - 1783: A Documentary History, edited by Larry R Gerlach (Trenton: NJ Historical Commission) (974.903), pp 306 - 08. There is also an interesting section in New Jersey and the Revolutionary War, by Alfred Hoyt Bill (Princeton: D Van Nostrand Co, 1964) (974.9 Bi), pp 78-84.


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