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By James C. Bradford

The US, Sea strength, and the realm

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Clinton sent his heavy equipment by sea, but, fearing being caught at sea by a French fleet, he marched his troops overland in June 1778 and entered the city just prior to the arrival of d’Estaing. Meanwhile officials in England decided to refocus their military efforts on the American South. In December 1778, a British expeditionary force seized Savannah, Georgia, and shortly thereafter 22 America, Sea Power, and the World captured Augusta as well. D’Estaing returned to North America in August 1779 to join Major General Benjamin Lincoln’s Southern Continental Army in a siege of Savannah.

During that same time the use of the Royal Navy to enforce revenue laws changed its image in America from that of a guardian into one of an oppressor. Internationally, an unintended outcome of the Treaty of Paris was the upsetting of the balance of power so that, when its colonies rebelled, France assisted those colonies in their war for independence with the goal of reducing British power to reset the balance of power. France was joined in the War for American Independence by Spain and the Netherlands, Britain faced opposition from the Armed Neutrality formed by Russia, and, for the only time between 1689 and 1980, Britain was without a continental ally.

1778 John Paul Jones, I778–1779 7 in Ranger, April 11–May 7, 1778 8 Ranger captures Drake, April 24, 1778 9 in Bonhomme Richard, Aug. 14–Oct. 3, 1779 10 Bonhomme Richard captures Serapis, Sept. 3 Battle of Flamborough Head, 1779. Contemporary painting by William Elliot, RN. Source: The Granger Collection/Topfoto. joined the war and a joint campaign by a French fleet and his Continental Army could evict the British from the 13 states. In July 1778, Washington believed that time was at hand when Vice Admiral Charles Hector, Comte d’Estaing, arrived off New York with 12 ships‐of‐the‐line, but was disappointed when the French commander, fearing his ships would ground, refused to attempt to enter the harbor to engage the British.

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