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Summary of the Book 1776 by David McCullough

David Mccullough

The book 1776 by David McCullough covers a series of events from the announcement of war against the American colonies by King George the III in 1775, to the great American victory at Trenton in 1776. Washington lead an army of Americans from various backgrounds and ages most of whom were inexperienced and had had no training. The British Redcoats on the other hand were well equipped and experienced and were being commanded by general William Howe. Henry Knox, a bookseller at the age of thirty five and Nathaniel Green, a quaker at the age of twenty five were both inexperienced generals in general Washington,s army, the commander-in-chief.

The journey first starts off with the battle of Bunker Hill, where the Americans suffer a defeat by the British, but with thousands of British casualties. The Americans recover and attempts an attack on Boston where the British are caught by surprise. The British surrender and retreat back to England on their ships. The American spirit could not be higher at this point and Washington earning the greatest of honors
But victory would not last long as the British would counter with an even larger army after returning from England. This time they had with them an inferior navy that would leave the Americans with their jaws wide open. This time the Americans retreated to New York and lost Boston very easily. The British being very confident about themselves, saw the Americans as no threat and were expecting to defeat the Americans by a landslide.

As the battles continued, the Americans were forced to retreat all the way down to New Jersey, loosing precious territories along the way. Their army was full of traitors who went back to the British to show their loyalty to the King of Great Britain, they were called “loyalists”. They and a whole bunch of other factors led to the defeats and retreats by general Washington and his army of unexperienced men. One of the most crucial factors was the fact that the British controlled the seas with a navy of powerful ships Washington suffered from losses at Brooklyn, New Jersey and Fort Washington mainly because of the strength of the British navy and the fact that the British outnumbered the Americans with nearly twice as many soldiers.

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The defeats and retreats were Washington’s biggest nightmare. His army was loosing faith in him as well as the people in Congress. But he was able to keep his army together even though he doubted himself during several occasions.

The turning point came with Washington ordering his army to cross the Delaware River and the Battle of Trenton began, the first battle that gave the Americans some hope for the cause after the British evacuation of Boston in 1775. The “Brilliant Strike” as Washington put it, was a surprising attack on the British who were defeated at Trenton. Washington was beginning to become a mythical figure after he led the defeat of the British and pushed them back out of Trenton.

The war would continue another six and a half years before the Paris peace treaty in 1783, where America finally achieved their independence