Letters shed new light on British despair during the American War of Independence

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A remarkable archive of letters has thrown new light on the despair of British commanders during the American War of Independence.

Their downbeat perspective contrasts dramatically with the exhortations of George III and his ministers in London who come across as hopelessly out-of-touch and absurdly optimistic.

The documents, part of a collection that have been in private possession for more than two centuries, reveal a much gloomier analysis by British generals than previously believed.

According to the collection which goes on sale at Sotheby's in New York in a series of auctions beginning in April, they began to despair of victory almost as soon as the conflict began in 1775.

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