155. General Howe defeated Washington’s forces in battle and was in pursuit as they were forced toward the tip of Long Island. Then, as luck would have it, a brilliantly simple plan to crush the rebellion, with minimal British casualties, occurred to Howe. By brother Howe sailing his warships up the East River, preventing all possible escape or receipt of food and military supplies while bombarding the encampment from afar, General Washington and his soldiers would be forced to surrender. With that surrender and possible executions of those involved, Howe could foresee the rapid deterioration of further colonial resistance.
156. As luck would have it, heavy rains and strong adverse winds (does that sound familiar? #134) prevented the war ships from sailing upriver before nightfall.
157. During the night, the patriot army secured enough small boats to begin evacuation, but dawn was arriving with the need of a few hours to complete the escape. But, As luck would have it a dense fog formed over the river, and the necessary time was provided. The fog was so thick, Washington’s Major Ben Tallmage later recorded that he had difficulty in identifying a man six feet away. When the fog dissipated, and the warships were in place, the British found nothing.
158. Howe subsequently took the time to defeat Americans at two forts on opposite sides of the Hudson River and establish control of NY City. As luck would have it, winter weather was nigh, and Howe did not choose to take the field during those conditions. Besides, there were many Loyalists in NYC to assure his comfort. He did send General Charles Cornwallis with 10,000 British and Hessian (hired German’s) troops to spread out and steadily pursue and harass Washington’s depleted and suffering army.
159. Washington reached the Delaware River, secured enough boats to cross, destroyed the rest that were to be found and encamped nine miles upriver from Trenton, New Jersey.
160. After three weeks of encampment,Washington once more faced an existential crisis for his army and the fate of the new USA. Howe had assumed that the American army would be destroyed by the winter elements by spring, and that was an ever increasing probability. Disease, desertions, lack of proper clothing (some even had no shoes) demoralization and the end of enlistment dates on January 1 would shortly decimate his army. Waiting was defeat, and attacking probably meant death.
161. Washington determined to cross the Delaware during the night of December 25, march to Trenton and attack the 1200 Hessians stationed there before they awoke. The motto would be ,”VICTORY OR DEATH”. Unfortunately, complications arose, and the crossing required hours more than planned. Marching to Trenton, expecting to be greeted by a hail of enemy fire, the Americans discovered that Fortune had once again smiled upon them. As luck would have it, the Hessians badly over slept, and the result was a victory with more than 800 of the enemy to be paraded through the streets of Philadelphia. The spectacle of which served to reverse the rapidly declining morale through out the former colonies.
162. A logical plan was devised by General Burgoyne and officials in London. Burgoyne’s smaller forces stationed in Canada would attack to the south down the Hudson Valley and meet Howe’s forces moving north. Together, they would destroy the militias in New England and concentrate their combined numbers on Washington’s army to the south. As luck would have it, for what ever the reason, Howe apparently did not get the message, and instead, pushed his army toward Philadelphia. Burgoyne, having received no support from Howe, was defeated.
163. One of the British strategies was to psychologically demoralize the rebels by hunting down as many of the American civilian leaders as possible. With other details perhaps being informative but incidental, as luck would have it, an American outside a tavern in Louisa, Virginia overheard bits of conversation between some of Britain’s mounted Royal Dragoons. He understood that they intended to capture or kill Thomas Jefferson at Monticello the next morning. The man, John Jouett, road the 50 miles over the back trails throughout the night and was able to warn Jefferson.
164. I am persuaded that these and other previous items are logically supportive of the view that the establishment of the USA was made possible by an inordinate number of improbable events. I will leave the period of time up to 1787 with the words and opinion of Dr. Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. A few other fortuitous incidents occurring through early 1815 will be shared in forthcoming items .
From the records of James Madison, who had asked Dr. Franklin for the notes from which the address had been made:
“… 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….”.