"...while the French assist the Rebels with Arms, clothing & amunition they will not submit"
In January 1778, British General Robert Pigot, commanding the King's forces in Rhode Island, penned a letter to a friend in England that sheds a great deal of light on the British Army's attitude towards the war at that time. The previous campaign season had been a hard one: the defeat at Princeton on January 3, 1777, had set the year off on a mournful note, followed by frustrating defeats throughout the Jerseys as British and Hessian troops sought to gather forage and to force various mountain passes in order to close with Washington at Morristown. By June, General John Burgoyne's Army was on its way south to a rendezvous with unfortunate fate that would climax with the battles around Saratoga in the Fall. Likewise, General Sir William Howe's Army was preparing to sail for the Chesapeake, where it would eventually capture the rebel capital at Philadelphia, only to learn that their victory meant very little, particularly when set against Burgoyne's capture. Thus in January of 1778, British fortunes were at a low ebb. The remaining crown forces in America were spread throughout small enclaves ranging from Halifax, Nova Scota, to the North, down to Philadelphia in the South, barely able to control any territory in their hinterlands. American successes had brought further pressure to bear on the British Empire, as the French became more active in aiding the rebels, preparing to actively intervene with troops as well as boosting shipments of supplies. While the war would continue to rage for five more years, Pigot's letter (presented in full below) provides a poignant indication of how some officers saw the writing on the wall long before Yorktown. Our thanks to Library Research Assistant David Swain for this transcript.