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Monmouth

Monmouth Courthouse

New Jersey  |  Jun 28, 1778

On a hot and humid June 28, 1778, General George Washington and his subordinate, General Charles Lee, attacked rearguard elements of General Sir Henry Clinton’s British Army.

Although the American army outnumbered its foe two-to-one and had undergone extensive training in the art of war during its winter encampment at Valley Forge, Lee, who launched the initial attack, lacked confidence in the ability of the Continental soldiers under his command. In failing to press his advantage, Lee ceded the initiative to his British counterpart, General Charles Lord Cornwallis, who commanded the rear elements of Clinton’s army.

What began as a promising opportunity devolved into a potential disaster. As Washington approached the fighting, he encountered panic stricken troops fleeing the enemy. Enraged, he galloped ahead of his wing, In an angry confrontation on the field of battle, Washington removed Lee from command.

Rallying what troops he had, Washington continued the assault on the British. The commanding general’s delaying action gave time for the rest of the Continental Army to come up and join the battle.

Washington placed General Nathanael Greene’s division on the right and the division of General William Alexander, “Lord” Stirling, on the left. Lee’s men were turned over to the Marquis de Lafayette, who kept those troops in reserve. General “Mad” Anthony Wayne assumed command over other elements of Lee’s force and manned Lafayette’s front. Artillery was placed on both flanks, with the guns on the right positioned to rain enfilading fire on the British.

An American counterattack on the British right forced the Redcoats to fall back and reorganize. Cornwallis then led his men in attack on Greene’s division. Supported by artillery, Greene’s men stiffened their line and repulsed Cornwallis and his troops.

The fighting see-sawed back and forth under the brutal June sun for several hours. By 6:00 P.M., however, the British felt they had enough. While Wayne wanted to press the attack, Washington demurred, believing that his men were “beat out and with heat and fatigue.”

The British did not give Washington a chance to renew the fight in the morning, slipping away under the cover of darkness and resuming their withdrawal to New York City.

All battles of the Philadelphia Campaign

Rev War  |  Battle
Brandywine
Pennsylvania  |  Sep 11, 1777
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,887
American: 1,300
British: 587
Rev War  |  Battle
Paoli
Pennsylvania  |  Sep 20, 1777
Result: British Victory
American: 272
British: 11
Rev War  |  Battle
Germantown
Pennsylvania  |  Oct 4, 1777
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,644
American: 1,111
British: 533
Rev War  |  Battle
Monmouth
New Jersey  |  Jun 28, 1778
Result: Inconclusive
Est. Casualties: 1,300
American: 600
British: 700

Related Battles

NJ | June 28, 1778
Result: Inconclusive
Commanders
Estimated Casualties
1,300
American
600
British
700