1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Monmouth, Battle of

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MONMOUTH, BATTLE OF (1778), a battle in the American War of Independence. The prospect of an alliance between France and America in 1778 induced the British to concentrate their forces. Sir Henry Clinton, who had succeeded Sir W. Howe in command, determined to abandon Philadelphia, captured in the previous year, and move his troops direct to New York through New Jersey. Washington, who had spent the winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and had materially recruited his army, immediately marched to intercept the British, and overtook them near Monmouth Court House (now Freehold), New Jersey, on the 28th of June 1778. A strong detachment of Americans under General Charles Lee was sent forward to harass the enemy's rear and if possible cut off a portion of their long baggage train. Clinton strengthened his rearguard, which turned upon the Americans and compelled them to retreat. When Washington, who was well up with his main body, heard of Lee's retreat, he spurred forward and exerted himself in forming a strong line of battle in case the British continued their determined attack. Warm words passed between Washington and Lee, which subsequently led to the latter's court-martial and suspension for a year. The readjusted American line was composed of the divisions of Lafayette, Greene, Alexander and Patterson, while Wayne's brigade, which had been in Lee's advance from the first, was posted in a favourable position. The British attacked this line and a warm, though brief, engagement ensued. Both sides encamped at night on the ground occupied. The British, having accomplished their object in delaying Washington's pursuit, cotinued their march the next day toward New York. Washington turned to the left, crossed the Hudson above, and encamped for the remainder of the season at White Plains, New York, within striking distance of the city. Each side suffered about the same loss in the battle, that of the British being 400 (60 due to sunstroke), the American somewhat less. In this engagement Lieut.-Colonel Henry Monckton (1740-1778) of the British Grenadiers was killed in leading a charge.