By Bill Federer
Surrender of Cornwallis
Americans won the Battle of Kings Mountain, Oct. 7, 1780, in which 668 British were captured, 163 wounded and 290 killed, as compared to only 29 Americans killed. Thomas Jefferson called the victory of the Battle of Kings Mountain: “the turn of the tide of success” in the War for Independence.
Theodore Roosevelt wrote of “The Battle of Kings Mountain”: “This brilliant victory marked the turning point of the American Revolution.”
Herbert Hoover stated at Kings Mountain: “This is a place of inspiring memories. Here less than a thousand men, inspired by the urge of freedom, defeated a superior force intrenched in this strategic position. This small band of Patriots turned back a dangerous invasion well designed to separate and dismember the united Colonies. It was a little army and a little battle, but it was of mighty portent. History has done scant justice to its significance, which rightly should place it beside Lexington, Bunker Hill, Trenton and Yorktown.”
A little over three months after the Battle of Kings Mountain, American General Daniel Morgan defeated the British at the Battle of Cowpens, Jan. 17, 1781. The British troops, under the command of 26-year-old Colonel Banastre Tarleton, suffered 110 killed, 229 wounded and 829 captured.
Captured British officer, Major McArthur of the 71st Highlanders commented that “he was an officer before Tarleton was born; that the best troops in the service were put under ‘that boy’ to be sacrificed.”
When news of loss was told to British Lord Cornwallis he leaned on his sword so hard the blade snapped.
British General Cornwallis took off in a hasty pursuit of American General Daniel Morgan, who was joined by General Nathanael Greene. To travel faster, Cornwallis discarded his slow supply wagons and heavy equipment, but to no avail – the Americans successfully retreated into Virginia.
Though the British won the Battle of Guilford Court House on March 15, 1781, their loss of over 500 British killed or wounded resulted in the battle being considered a strategic victory for the Americans.
Now low on supplies, Cornwallis was ordered by British General Henry Clinton to move his 8,000 troops to Yorktown and wait for British ships. Providentially, Ben Franklin and Marquis de Lafayette had succeeded in persuading French King Louis XVI to send ships and troops the help the Americans.
French Admiral de Grasse left off fighting the British in the West Indies and sailed 24 ships to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, where, in the Battle of the Virginia Capes, he drove off 19 British ships which were trying to evacuate Cornwallis’ men.
De Grasse’s 3,000 French troops and General Rochambeau’s 6,000 French troops hurriedly joined General Lafayette’s division as they marched to help Washington trap Cornwallis against the sea. They joined the troops of Generals Benjamin Lincoln, Baron von Steuben, Modecai Gist, Henry Knox and John Peter Muhlenberg. Alexander Hamilton led 400 infantry to capture British redoubt number 10.
Altogether, 17,000 French and American troops surrounded Cornwallis and forced him to surrender on Oct. 19, 1781.
Yale President Ezra Stiles wrote, May 8, 1783: “Who but God could have ordained the critical arrival of the Gallic (French) fleet, so as to … assist … in the siege … of Yorktown? … Should we not … ascribe to a Supreme energy … the wise … generalship displayed by General Greene … leaving the … roving Cornwallis to pursue his helter-skelter ill fated march into Virginia. … It is God who had raised up for us a … powerful ally … a chosen army and a naval force: who sent us a Rochambeau…to fight side by side with a Washington … in the … battle of Yorktown.”
General Washington wrote Oct. 20, 1781: “To diffuse the general Joy through every breast the General orders … Divine Service to be performed tomorrow in the several Brigades. … The Commander-in-Chief earnestly recommends troops not on duty should universally attend with that gratitude of heart which the recognition of such astonishing Interposition of Providence demands.”
On Oct. 11, 1782, the Congress of the Confederation passed: “It being the indispensable duty of all nations … to offer up their supplications to Almighty God … the United States in Congress assembled … do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these states in general, to observe … the last Thursday … of November next, as a Day of Solemn Thanksgiving to God for all his mercies.”
On Sept. 3, 1783, the Revolutionary War officially ended with the Treaty of Paris, signed by Ben Franklin, John Adams, John Jay and David Hartley: “In the name of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity. It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George the Third, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain … and of the United States of America, to forget all past misunderstandings and differences. … Done at Paris, this third day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.”
George Washington wrote to General Nathanael Greene, Feb. 6, 1783: “It will not be believed that such a force as Great Britain has employed for eight years in this country could be baffled in their plan of subjugating it by numbers infinitely less, composed of men oftentimes half starved; always in rags, without pay, and experiencing, at times, every species of distress which human nature is capable of undergoing.”
Washington added in his Farewell Orders, Nov. 2, 1783: “The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the perseverance of the Armies of the United States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.”
Harvard President Samuel Langdon stated in his address “The Republic of the Israelites an Example to the American States,” June 5, 1788: “The signal interpositions of divine providence, in saving us from the vengeance of a powerful irritated nation … in giving us a Washington to be captain-general of our armies; in carrying us through the various distressing scenes of war and desolation, and making us … triumphant … and finally giving us peace, with a large territory, and acknowledged independence; all these laid together fall little short of real miracles. … We cannot but acknowledge that God hath graciously patronized our cause, and taken us under his special care, as he did his ancient covenant people.”
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Chief Justice John Jay noted in 1777: “This glorious revolution … is distinguished by so many marks of the Divine favor and interposition, that no doubt can remain of its being … supported in a manner so singular, and I may say miraculous, that when future ages shall read its history they will be tempted to consider a great part of it as fabulous (unbelievable). … Will it not appear extraordinary that thirteen colonies … should immediately become one people, and though without funds, without magazines, without disciplined troops, in the face of their enemies, unanimously determine to be free, and, undaunted by the power of Britain, refer their cause to the justice of the Almighty, and resolve to repel force by force. … We should always remember that the many remarkable and unexpected means and events by which our wants have been supplied and our enemies repelled or restrained, are such strong and striking proofs of the interposition of Heaven, that our having been hitherto delivered from the threatened bondage of Britain ought, like the emancipation of the Jews from Egyptian servitude, to be forever ascribed to its true cause, and … kindle in them a flame of gratitude and piety which may consume all remains of vice and irreligion.”
Samuel Adams stated Aug. 1, 1776: “There are instances of … an almost astonishing Providence in our favor; our success has staggered our enemies, and almost given faith to infidels; so that we may truly say it is not our own arm which has saved us. The hand of Heaven appears to have led us on to be, perhaps, humble instruments and means in the great Providential dispensation which is completing.”
Benjamin Franklin stated at the Constitutional Convention, 1787: “In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. – Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.”
With the war over, Massachusetts Governor John Hancock proclaimed, Nov. 8, 1783: “The Citizens of these United States have every Reason for Praise and Gratitude to the God of their salvation. … I do … appoint … the 11th day of December next (the day recommended by the Congress to all the States) to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, that all the people may then assemble to celebrate … that He hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the Blessed Gospel. … That we also offer up fervent supplications … to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish … and to fill the world with His glory.”
Ronald Reagan proclaimed a day of prayer, Jan. 27, 1983, stating: “In 1775, the Continental Congress proclaimed the first National Day of Prayer. … In 1783, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the long, weary Revolutionary War during which a National Day of Prayer had been proclaimed every spring for eight years.”
The Journal of the U.S. House of Representatives recorded that on March 27, 1854, the 33rd Congress voted unanimously to print Rep. James Meacham’s report, which stated: “Down to the Revolution, every colony did sustain religion in some form. It was deemed peculiarly proper that the religion of liberty should be upheld by a free people. … Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle.”
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