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Monmouth Matters
General Lee’s insubordination literally thrust General Washington into the line of fire. At one o’clock in the afternoon on June 28, 1778, with less than half a ...

Monmouth Matters

General Lee’s insubordination literally thrust General Washington into the line of fire. At one o’clock in the afternoon on June 28, 1778, with less than half a mile separating the armies, Washington stepped in and personally commanded his troops in the battle of Monmouth.

“Washington hastily formed the men on a rising ground. The enemy came up in force [within an hour], and other divisions of the Americans also mingled in the conflict,” historian William Jackman described. Washington led with fierce determination. He had worked too hard rebuilding his army at Valley Forge to lose because of Lee’s foolishness.

“He then does something astounding. He rides back and forth in front of his lines to rally the troops, putting himself in the line of the fire, risking his life as he asked his own men to risk theirs,” recounted historian Bruce Chadwick.

As a veteran of the French and Indian War, Washington knew what it was like to have four bullets go through his coat and two horses shot from beneath him. He had faced death before. “People who know Washington in the war think that he has a feeling of invincibility because he puts himself in the line of fire so often,” Chadwick added. “The British open up on him and miraculously miss him.”

For five hours in unbearable heat the Americans successfully repelled assault after assault. Had General Howe been in charge of the British, he no doubt would have been shocked to see these Americans. This was not the frightened fleeing force of 1776 or the half-disciplined army of 1777. This was an army knitted together with skills, strength, and spirit.

Nightfall brought a temporary ceasefire. “The Americans slept upon their arms, expecting to renew the contest in the morning. But Clinton skillfully drew off his army during the night, and at daylight was far on his way. Washington did not attempt to pursue, as the weather was intolerably warm, and the march through a sandy region, destitute of water,” chronicled Jackman.

Washington gave his men time to recuperate. Then he marched them across New Jersey to White Plains, New York. There he waited for word of the French fleet’s arrival.

“The Americans lost altogether about two hundred, many of them on account of the extreme heat: the British lost three hundred in the battle, and on the march two thousand Hessians deserted,” Jackman noted.

Some historians have concluded that Monmouth was a draw, others have credited the Americans. Regardless, for the first time, the Continentals proved their pluck through battlefield tactics, not surprise attacks or retreats. They held their own.

Monmouth also mattered because it also showed the military mettle of the man of manners. This “forever solidifies Washington’s position as the unquestioned commander-in-chief,” asserted Chadwick.


Thank you for the leaders you have placed in my life. Grant them wisdom.

“Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people”

(Isaiah 55:4 KJV).

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