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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Battle of Richmond

     The Battle of Richmond on Jul 5, 1781 was more of a raid, much as the battles in Connecticut, in which an overwhelming British force entered the city, dispersed token resistance, burned buildings, and left.  Still, it is important to note this exchange in terms of the overall activities in the South at this time and as a tile in the mosaic of Benedict Arnold's new career as a British general.

     The British had a finite number of troops in the South, and had just suffered significant losses of favorable militia at King's Mountain.  Contrary to hopes, if not expectations, Cornwallis was not generating additional enlistments among the local population.  King's Mountain had not helped.  Clinton sent Benedict Arnold down from New York in December 1780 with 1600 troops, which included Lieutenant Colonel John Simcoe's Queens Rangers and Major General Thomas Dundas' 18th British Regiment (Scotch).  On January 4, they landed about 25 miles south of Richmond and marched on the city, taking position on January 5.

     American Colonel John Nichols set up with 200 Virginia militia on Church Hill to the east of the center of the city.  Church Hill is the site of St. John's Church, where Patrick Henry had delivered his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech.  Here is that location:


     The Americans withdraw with no casualties as the British advanced.  Arnold burned parts of the city and withdrew.

     As in Connecticut, this was less of a strategic operation than what today we might term a kind of terrorist attack.  It was hit and run and accomplished nothing militarily.  Given the events occurring that year in the Southern campaign and the result at Yorktown, it was not even a distraction.
   

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