Thursday, April 24, 2008

Today in History April 24th

I received this post from a mailing list, I thought it was interesting. Thanks to Sally Rolls Pavia.

April 24, 1781Battle of Petersburg beginsOn the evening of April 24, 1781, British General William Phillips lands onthe banks of the James River at City Port, Virginia. Once there, he combinedforces with British General Benedict Arnold, the former American general andnotorious traitor, to launch an attack on the town of Petersburg, Virginia,located about 12 miles away. Defending the town of Petersburg from the approaching British troops was acontingent of 1,000 troops from the Virginia militia led by Major GeneralFriedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. General von Steuben had set up defensivelines of resistance, but had no real hope of victory as the Americans wereseverely outnumbered by the British army of 2,500 troops. After severalhours of fighting, von Steuben ordered a full-scale retreat of the Virginiamilitia as the city of Petersburg fell into British hands. AlthoughPetersburg was lost, General von Steuben and the Virginia militia were ableto resist the British force long enough for Patriot troops to assemble andset up defensive positions in nearby towns. General Phillips had survived three years of captivity after being taken prisoner by the Americans at Saratoga in 1777 and marching with the so-called “Convention Army”--dubbed as such because the British and Americans signed a short-lived convention that the prisoners would be released to Europe if they agreed not to fight in North America again--700 miles from Saratoga, New York, to Charlottesville, Virginia, in November 1778 (after the revocation of the Convention of Saratoga). He was released in exchange for Patriot Major General Benjamin Lincoln in 1780. Despite such earlier fortitude, Phillips died of typhus on May 13 in Petersburg, less than a month after his victory .

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