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Home > History > Battle of Monmouth Courthouse

Battle of Monmouth Courthouse

This is a description of what happened before, after, and during, the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse.
Battle of Monmouth Courthouse
 

Perfect Opportunity

Following the winter and spring at their encampment at Valley Forge, the Continental Army was trained and refreshed. Commander-in-Chief of Continental forces, George Washington, had learned that British forces had planned to evacuate Philadelphia and return to New York in fear of a naval blockade. The 100 mile march from Philadelphia to New York would occur largely through the state of New Jersey. Washington saw the evacuation as a perfect opportunity to strike at the British.

A Deadly Battle on a Blistering Day

On the blistering afternoon of June 28, 1778, Washington ordered a detachment of 5,000 men to strike at the British rear guard as they departed Monmouth Courthouse, New Jersey on their way to New York. The strike was initiated to delay the British until the main American force could engage them. Patriot General Charles Lee was in charge of the initial attack, which failed miserably and resulted in a disorganized retreat. An enraged General Washington reportedly reprimanded Lee before taking command of the retreating soldiers. Placing himself in the line of fire among the retreating Continentals, Washington rallied the soldiers who regrouped and held the British in check until the main American force could arrive. The battle raged throughout the entire day with neither side gaining a decisive advantage. Only the arrival of dusk silenced the muskets and cannon. Although Washington wanted to resume the battle in the darkness, British forces had withdrawn from the area to continue their march to New York City.

Molly Pitcher

The Legend of Molly Pitcher was born at Monmouth Courthouse

An Encouraging Draw

Patriot forces suffered approximately 500 casualties in the battle while British forces suffered as many as 1,000. Dozens, if not, hundreds of soldiers died of heat stroke rather than from combat. The battle is historically seen as a tactical draw, although the Patriots did not stop the British march to New York. The Patriots, did however, prove they could successfully battle the British in open combat. Monmouth was the last major battle waged in the Northern Theater. British forces would soon turn their attention on the Loyalist-friendly Southern colonies.

Battles and Events of the Revolutionary War
Battles of Lexington and Concord - 1775
Siege of Fort Ticonderoga - 1775
Battle of Bunker Hill - 1775
Noble Train of Artillery - 1775
Battles in and Around New York City - 1776
Battle of Trenton (Washington's Crossing) - 1776
Battle of Princeton - 1777
Battle of Brandywine Creek - 1777
Battle of Germantown - 1777
Battle of Saratoga - 1777
Battle of Monmouth Courthouse - 1778
Battle of Newport - 1778
Siege of Charleston - 1780
Battle of Camden - 1780
Battle of Cowpens - 1780
Battle of Guilford Courthouse - 1781
Siege of Yorktown - 1781

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