The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress

Time Line: The American Revolution
The Colonial Period | The American Revolution | The Early Republic

1774 | 1775 | 1776 | 1777 | 1778 | 1779 | 1780 | 1781 | 1782 | 1783


January 29, Augusta, the capital of Georgia, falls to British forces. General Benjamin Lincoln, whose army is camped at Purysburg, South Carolina, sends a detachment toward Augusta and on February 13, the British evacuate the town.

February 25, Congress directs Washington to respond to British, Indian, and loyalist attacks on frontier settlements in New York and Pennsylvania. Washington sends out an expedition under command of General John Sullivan. Sullivan's forces include William Maxwell and a New Jersey brigade, Enoch Poor and a New Hampshire brigade, and Edward Hand and Pennsylvania and Maryland troops. After a series of savage raids and counter-raids between the British and the Americans, including an encounter with British Indian ally Joseph Brant and his Mohawks, and Captain Walter Butler (John Butler's son) and his loyalists, the expedition returns home on September 14. Forty Iroquois villages and their extensive farms lands and crops have been destroyed. The Iroquois soon return, resettle, and rejoin the British in an retaliatory invasion in the northwest. George Washington to John Sullivan, March 6, 1779

March 3, British Major James Mark Prevost defeats Brigadier General John Ashe and his force at Briar Creek, Georgia. In response, Benjamin Lincoln and the southern army cross into Georgia. Lincoln's and Prevost's forces move back and forth between Georgia and South Carolina in an attempt to engage each other, but eventually summer heat and illness bring both armies to a standstill.

March 20, Washington responds to Henry Laurens's March 16th letter on the possibility of raising a black regiment for the defense of the south. Washington writes Laurens that he would rather wait till the British first raise such regiments before the Americans do so. He also expresses some general reservations. But "this is a subject that has never employed much of my thoughts," and he describes his opinions as "no more than the first crude Ideas that have struck me upon the occasion." Henry Laurens is from South Carolina. Previously president of Congress, he is serving on a committee charged with forming a plan of defense for the south. The committee issues its report March 29, urging the formation of regiments of slaves for the defense of the south, for which Congress will compensate slaveowners and the slaves will receive their freedom and $50. Henry Laurens's son, John Laurens is appointed to raise the regiments. South Carolina and Georgia reject Congress's recommendation (see entry under July 10, 1782 below). Successive commanders of the southern army, Benjamin Lincoln and Nathanael Greene, support the formation of slave regiments in the south but to no avail. George Washington to Henry Laurens and Thomas Burke, March 18, 1779 | George Washington to Henry Laurens, March 20, 1779

May 28, British General Henry Clinton launches another campaign up the Hudson River. On May 30, New York Governor George Clinton orders out the militia. June 1, the British take Stony Point and Verplank's Point on either side of the river.

June 21, Spain declares war on Great Britain.

June 30, William Tryon, former royal governor of New York, and 2,600 loyalists and British regulars on forty-eight ships raid Fairport, New Haven, and Norwalk, Connecticut. Tryon wants to prosecute a war of desolation against rebel inhabitants. On July 9, he orders most of Fairfield burned because its militia shot at the British from within their houses, and on July 11 he burns Norwalk. British General Henry Clinton, probably reluctant to endorse Tryon's theories of warfare, never gives him an independent command again.

July 16, Anthony Wayne and his force of light infantry force the British out of Stony Point, and August 18-19 Major Henry Lee takes the British post at Paulus Hook. Neither of these positions are maintained after their capture, but they are morale boosters in a war that has become a stalemate.

September 27, Washington writes state governors Jonathan Trumbull (Connecticut), George Clinton (New York), and William Livingston (New Jersey) about reports of the arrival of a French Fleet and of the necessity of preparing the militia and raising food supplies, especially flour. George Washington, Circular Letter, September 27, 1779

October 4, Washington writes Congress and Comte d'Estaing, who is with his fleet off Georgia or in the West Indies. To Congress, Washington summarizes his efforts at organizing a cooperative effort with the French fleet to attack the British. To d'Estaing, Washington writes that "New York is the first and capital object, upon which every other is dependant," its capture likely to be a severe blow to the British. In his long letter to d'Estaing, Washington writes that he has "not concealed the difficulties in the way of a cooperation," but has the "highest hopes of its utility to the common cause" and its contribution to ending the war victoriously. George Washington to Congress, October 4, 1779 | George Washington to Comte d'Estaing, October 4, 1779

October 19, the Americans and Comte d'Estaing's fleet make a combined assault on British-held Savannah, Georgia. The assault fails, and d'Estaing and the fleet sail for France before the hurricane season begins. The French government assembles troops and another fleet for a return to North America.

December 26, British General Henry Clinton and Admiral Marriot Arbuthnot set sail from New York City with fourteen warships, ninety transports, and approximately 8500 troops for an invasion of Charleston, South Carolina.

1774 | 1775 | 1776 | 1777 | 1778 | 1779 | 1780 | 1781 | 1782 | 1783
The Colonial Period | The Early Republic | George Washington Papers Home Page