Book Review: Grand Forage 1778

I am not much of a reviewer of games or books but I did want to commend to you this morning Todd Braisted's Grand Forage 1778 by Westholme Publishing.

Grand Forage details General Henry Clinton's campaign of late September and early October 1778 outside of New York City. Clinton, facing the strategic redeployment of 10 regiments of Britain's finest in North America to the West Indies, lays out a campaign to use them one last time to collect forage from the counties of Bergen in New Jersey and Orange and Westchester counties in New York. Opposing him in a line stretching from Danbury, Connecticut to Elizabethtown, New Jersey is General Washington, a 10,000+ Continental Army and the countless and fickle militia from the counties impacted by Clinton's incursion.

This book is well researched and written in a compelling narrative that keeps you turning the pages despite the absence of any major battle during this campaign.  The author relies on the personal letters and official correspondence of the officers and participants involved and stitches together a comprehensive look at this combined arms operation.

The advancing British force of horse and foot on the western and eastern sides of the North river (Hudson) are joined together by the Royal Navy as they execute a deliberate series of orders designed to draw Washington and his army out from their strong line of defenses in the Highlands and western hills of New Jersey to fight on the ground of Clinton's choosing.  All the while behind Clinton's advancing columns an expansive and very necessary forage for food and supplies drawn from Patriot and to a lesser extent Loyalist farms in Bergen county and Westchester county is undertaken.

As someone who has read a decent amount about Clinton's actions the previous fall along the Hudson, I gained a greater appreciation for his methodical nature from this book.  I also appreciated Clinton's sense of resignation at the close of the campaign having failed to draw Washington out. Clinton knows by then, and very likely earlier, that the war is slipping away from the British and that Lord Germain's preferred strategy of naval/infantry pinpricks against strategic points along the American coastline is less and less likely to succeed.

All in all, Mr. Braisted does an exemplary job of providing both points of view to the battle. I highly recommend this book as a study of the campaign of 1778 around NYC and as an insightful look into warfare in the late 18th century in North America and elsewhere.

Comments

Doug Miller said…
Definitely going on my list to read. This kind of operation was very important during the 18th century but is seldom discussed. I've also found books that use actual correspondence from the period particularly interesting and informative.
Chris said…
Doug I really think you will appreciate the strategic considerations that each army faced and the fog of war Washington had to confront again in 1778 (just like in the Spring of 1777) as he tried to divine Clinton's intentions.