Tidewater Times June 2022

Page 95

Pride Goeth Before by A.M. Foley

In the Battle of Chesapeake Bay, Admiral Sir Thomas Graves squandered every advantage his British f leet enjoyed, thus arguably losing the War for Independence to the Americans. Credit for this battle’s victory belongs to the French. At the time, America’s navy was little more than two frigates supplemented by a few ships of individual colonies. (Benedict Arnold, converted to a British brigadier general, led a raid that destroyed Virginia’s navy.) While Admirals Graves and Francois Marquis de Grasse scrambled on September 5, 1781 to form battle lines outside Capes

Charles and Henry, the American and French armies were on the move on land: Generals George Washington and Jean Baptiste Rochambeau marched from New York to Virginia. Their hope was to locate and encircle General Charles Cornwallis when the French f leet arrived to prevent his reinforcement. When they reached Chester, Pennsylvania, a courier brought word that de Grasse had reached the Chesapeake. Cornwallis’s army ~ especially Banastre Tarleton’s cavalry and zealots under Benedict Arnold ~ had brutalized civilians and captive troops from South Carolina


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