Newly Published George Washington Papers Shed Light on Revolution in Autumn 1778





There's good news for historians and other enthusiasts of the founding era of American history. The Papers of George Washington, housed at the University of Virginia, has released another volume of annotated Washington documents from the Revolutionary War period. The Washington books are published and available through the University of Virginia Press.

Volume 17 of the Revolutionary War Series project on Washington covers the period from Sept. 15 through Oct. 31, 1778, a time when Washington and his general officers were concerned with establishing strategic winter quarters while also struggling to interpret the puzzling moves of the British high command. Was the enemy about to abandon its occupation of New York City, as some signs seemed to suggest? And if so, would such an evacuation indicate British intent to pull out of the colonies entirely and end the war? Or were they secretly planning an offensive? As editor and longtime U.Va. historian Philander D. Chase writes in the volume's introduction:

"The Americans sensed impending changes in British strategy, but the complex movements of enemy ships, troops, and supplies during September and October obscured their designs. The burning questions in George Washington's mind concerned the likelihood of the British invading the Hudson highlands, attacking the French fleet at Boston, or evacuating New York City altogether. By mid-October he had correctly reasoned that they would do none of those things. Yet certainty eluded him."...



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