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The Papers of George Washington
7 March–5 May 1781Revolutionary War Series, Volume 31
George Washington. Edited by Washington Papers Editors
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In March 1781, General Washington anticipated a campaign to drive the British from New York City, but difficulties mandating enlistments and outfitting recruits forestalled this opportunity. Meanwhile, a storm damaged British ships and provided an opening for the French to sail from Newport to the Chesapeake Bay to help trap British forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold in Virginia. To Washington’s disappointment, however, the British fleet recovered in time to fight the French at the Battle of Cape Henry, prompting Captain Destouches to withdraw and leaving the British to control the bay. Undeterred, Washington encouraged major generals Nathanael Greene and Baron von Steuben in the southern states, where Continental forces bloodied the British at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. His mounting personal frustrations regarding Mount Vernon and his mother’s efforts to secure financial relief from the Virginia legislature were lightened by Martha Washington’s presence at the winter encampment.

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