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Download 1781: The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War epub

by Robert L. Tonsetic

The Treaty of Paris in 1783 formally ended the American Revolutionary War, but it was the pivotal campaigns and battles of 1781 that decided the final outcome. 1781 was one of those rare years in American history when the future of the nation hung by a thread, and only the fortitude, determination, and sacrifice of its leaders and citizenry ensured its survival. By 1781, America had been at war with the world's strongest empire for six years with no end in sight. British troops occupied key coastal cities, from New York to Savannah, and the Royal Navy prowled the waters off the American coast. The remaining Patriot forces hunkered down in the hinterland, giving battle only at opportunities when British columns ventured near. But after several harsh winters, and the failure of the nascent government to adequately supply the troops, the American army was fast approaching the breaking point. The number of Continental soldiers had shrunk to less than 10,000, and the three-year enlistments of many of those remaining were about to expire. Mutinies began to emerge in the Continental Army's ranks, and it was only the arrival of French troops that provided a ray of hope for the American cause.In a shift of strategy given the stalemate between New York and Philadelphia, the British began to prioritize the south. After shattering the American army under Horatio Gates at Camden, South Carolina, the British army under Lord Cornwallis appeared unstoppable, and was poised to regain the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia for the Crown. However, when General Nathaniel Greene arrived to take command of Patriot forces in the south, he was able to gradually turn the tables. By dividing his own forces, he forced the British to divide theirs, dissipating their juggernaut and forcing Cornwallis to confront a veritable hydra of resistance.1781 was a year of battles, as the Patriot Morgan defeated the notorious Tarleton and his Loyal legion at Cowpens. Then Greene suffered defeat at Guilford Courthouse, only to rally his forces and continue to fight on in the Carolinas and Georgia, assisted by such luminaries as Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox," and "Light Horse Harry" Lee. Rather than continuing his campaign in the Carolinas,  Cornwallis marched his exhausted army to Yorktown on the Peninsula, upon which the combined American and French armies under the command of General Washington, and Admiral De Grasse's French fleet  all converged. On October 19, 1781, Cornwallis surrendered his weary and bloodied army.In this book, Robert Tonsetic provides a detailed analysis of the key battles and campaigns of 1781, supported by numerous eyewitness accounts from privates to generals in the American, French, and British armies. He also describes the diplomatic efforts underway in Europe during 1781, as well as the Continental Congress's actions to resolve the immense financial, supply, and personnel problems involved in maintaining an effective fighting army in the field. With its focus on the climactic year of the war, 1781 is a valuable addition to the literature on the American Revolution, providing readers with a clearer understanding of how America, just barely, with fortitude and courage, retrieved its independence in the face of great odds.
Download 1781: The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War epub
ISBN: 1612000630
ISBN13: 978-1612000633
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: Robert L. Tonsetic
Language: English
Publisher: Casemate; 1st ed.(#'s 1-10) edition (October 20, 2011)
Pages: 288 pages
ePUB size: 1606 kb
FB2 size: 1149 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 530
Other Formats: lrf lrf mbr txt

I enjoyed the sweep and description of this book but found it an excellent Military History of the year.
However I felt that it did not give enough emphasis on the politics of the war. In the description of Greene's strategy and battles I was reminded of the American conflict in Vietnam and how America would win battles but lose the Political War and this is what happened with Great Britain and its army in America.
Indeed what the whole book showed was the need to tie the military means with the political offensive, in other words von Clausewitz's war by other methods.
I would have also enjoyed more of a discussion of the individuals in the conflict. It would also have been enjoyable to see how American society adapted to the war and the change in the status quo with Washingtons and Greene's victories and the needs of the American army and Congress.
I did also have a minor quibble with some editing the name Stewart and Stuart was used for the same person.
The American Revolution is one of my favorite periods of history, and I have read a fair amount of the available material on the subject. While many of the books on the subject tend to rehash old facts, Robert Tonsetic does an excellent job in bringing new (at least to me) information to light and yet avoids getting bogged down in meaningless details.

=== The Good Stuff ===

* Reading about Generals Daniel Morgan and Nathaniel Greene kicking Banastre Tarleton's butt across the Carolinas is just one of the great stories of the Revolution. An area often unknown by readers, the Battle of Cowpens is a tribute to common-sense, backwoods wisdom taking on the greatest of Britain's wartime generals. Tonsetic does an excellent job of capturing this series of battles, and brought out several points I had never read before.

* For what ever reason, there seems to be little written about the relationships between American and French commanders in the later years of the war. This book covers these, and brings out both the cooperation and conflict between these leaders. I always thought this to be an overlooked topic, critical to the outcome of the war.

* Tonsetic spends about one half of the book on the Battle of Yorktown and the events leading up to it. He does an excellent job in outlining both the constraints of the battle as well as the tactics and strategies involved. Of all the narratives of the Yorktown/Tidewater campaigns, this is by far the best I have read.

* The book also does an excellent job of relating how interconnected the American colonies had become. Washington's decision to concentrate on Yorktown was also the decision to abandon NYC to another year of occupation, a tough choice. Many of these tradeoffs are highlighted and explained quite well.

* Tonsetic doesn't appear to have a specific viewpoint that he is trying to argue. Rather he presents a reasonably balanced look at all sides in the conflict and mentions complimentary and disparaging information on all.

=== The Not-So-Good Stuff ===

* Once again, whoever (or whatever) scans books for Amazon doesn't seem to own a spell checker. I find that typos break my concentration when reading, and this book has its share of them.

* Although I realize the title of the book specifically says "1781", it did seem to end abruptly and too soon. While the Carolina campaigns are somewhat less than well known, what happened during the two years between Yorktown and the Treaty of Paris is relatively obscure. Maybe a follow-up book?


I'd recommend this book to casual or serious fans of the American Revolution. There are great summaries of the battles of 1781, but sufficient details to capture the interest of dedicated fans. Would have been nice if the scope of the book was somewhat extended, but such is life.
This book revolves around the year 1781, which the author claims was the critical year in which victory or defeat hung in the balance. While most people feel that the battle of Saratoga was the turning point of the revolutionary war, the author points out the perhaps overlooked importance of 1781 in determining the war's ultimate outcome. The troops were mutinous regarding lack of promised pay and disputes over term of enlistments. The British shifted their approach to a "Southern Strategy" and won a crushing victory at Charleston. The British were attempting to separate the colonies at retain the southern portion.
Good, crisp prose, simple to read maps, vivid descriptions of battles and personalities give this narrative an urgency that engrosses the reader. The author highlights the overlooked importance of these campaigns and battles. This is an informative, entertaining and important book.
The Kindle Version of this book suffers from numerous editing errors including missing words, unnecessary hypens, and just plain typos. That said, my biggest problem with the Kindle Version is that the maps are very poor resolution to the point of being unusable.

The content itself is an enjoyable and fast paced read. The author presents a narrative history of the American Revolution in the year 1781. The Battles of Cowpens, Guiliford Court House, and Eutaw Springs comprise some of the most interesting parts of the book with the climax at Yorktown. The real strength of the book in my opinion is that it develops the strategic situation leading to Yorktown. This book is a real treat to military history buffs, and the author deserves praise for his economy of words.
A real chronicle of the War in the Southern colonies which is neglected in teaching about the US Revolution in many basic courses. Very readable history and the biographical sketches at the end of the book are most helpful in providing glimpses into the personalities and post-revolutionary lives of the heroes. Very readable history for anyone who wishes to become better acquainted with that phase of the Revolution and as supplemental reading for students taking the basic courses in US History.
Mr Freeman
I am sorry that I have not finished the book yet due to a busy schedules. I am just half way through it, but I feel that the author has a good grasp of the historical perspective and furnishes good description of the individual battles and the overall Colonial situation, as well as an insightful description of the generals and soldiers involved. Only someone with detailed historical knowledge can provide that kind of insight and detail.
Sadly, I knew nothing about the Revolution in the South. Took this book on a chance. Excellent information, detailed -- sometimes more specifics about troop movements and deployments than I could remember, but really an eye opener. Very well written. A lot of silly typos and some repetitions, but not a hindrance. A keeper. Thank you.