The Philadelphia Campaign, 1777-1778
Stephen R. Taaffe
Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Book Award
American fortunes were at a low point in the winter of 1777-78. The British had beaten the Continental Army at Brandywine and Germantown, seized the colonial capital of Philadelphia, and driven Washington's soldiers into barren Valley Forge. But, as Stephen Taaffe reveals, the Philadelphia Campaign marked a turning point in the American Revolution despite these setbacks.
“Good book and good read.”
“A wonderful window onto the war of maneuver that was so much a part of the Philadelphia campaign. . . . A compelling book about strategy and tactics.”
—HistorianSee all reviews...
“A well-researched and highly readable book that is liberally interspersed with useful maps. It will appeal to both popular and scholarly audiences.”
—Pennyslvania Magazine of History and Biography
“Vital to understanding the Continental Army. Highly recommended.”
“An impressively researched, well organized, concise, and judicious study of an important campaign of the Revolutionary War.”
—Charles Royster, author of A Revolutionary People at War
“A fine work of historical synthesis that should appeal to the general reader. Taaffe provides a clear, well-informed, and balanced treatment of both sides in the conflict.”
—John Shy, author of A People Numerous and Armed
“Taaffe’s engaging new book is a valuable and welcome addition to studies about Revolutionary America, and a pleasure to read.”
—James Kirby Martin, author of Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero: An American Warrior ReconsideredSee fewer reviews...
Occurring in the middle of the war in the heart of the colonies, this key but overlooked campaign dwarfed all others in the war in terms of numbers of combatants involved, battles fought, and casualties sustained. For the first time, British and American armies engaged out in the open on relatively equal terms. Although the British won all the major battles, they were unable to crush the rebellion.
Taaffe presents a new narrative history of this campaign that took place not only in the hills and woods surrounding Philadelphia, but also in east central New Jersey and along the Delaware River. He uses the campaign to analyze British and American strategies, evaluate Washington's leadership, and assess the role of subordinate officers such as Nathanael Greene and Anthony Wayne. He also offers new insights into eighteenth-century warfare and shows how Washington transcended traditional military thinking to fashion a strategy that accommodated American social, political, and economic realities.
During this campaign Washington came into his own as a commander of colonial forces and an astute military strategist, and Taaffe demonstrates that Washington used the fighting around Philadelphia as a proving ground for strategies that he applied later in the war. Taaffe also scrutinizes Washington's relationship with the militia, whose failure to carry out its missions contributed to the general's problems.
Still, by enduring their losses and continuing to fight, the Americans exacted a heavy toll on Britain's resources, helped to convince France to enter the war, and put the redcoats on the defensive. As Taaffe shows, far from being inconclusive, the Philadelphia Campaign contributed more to American victory than the colonists recognized at the time.