The American Revolution for Kids - June, 1778 The Battle of Monmouth Illustration

The American Revolution for Kids - Battle of Monmouth

For Kids: The famous picture above shows Molly Pitcher helping fire the cannons at the battle of Monmouth.

By 1777, the British had captured Philadelphia, home of the Continental Congress. Philadelphia was protected on three sides by water and one side effectively by the British army. George Washington knew his forces could not win a battle with the British, while they were in Philadelphia. They were too well protected. Instead, he took his army and crossed the Delaware River. His men camped for six months, outside of Philadelphia at Valley Forge. It was a miserable time. The British were warm, and sheltered and fed. The colonial army was freezing, starving, and dying. It was not unusually cold in January, but in February, supplies were running out. One in six men died of influenza.

Washington used the time at Valley Forge to train his men. They drilled constantly, which helped to keep them warm and fit. They also learned how to fight as an army.

Still more help came through the efforts of Benjamin Franklin. While the troops marched and trained and shivered at Valley Forge, Benjamin Franklin was busy securing help from the French.

In May 1778, word arrived at Valley Forge that the French had entered the war on the side of the colonists! That changed everything!

Upon hearing the French had entered the war, the British troops in Philadelphia departed the city and marched towards New York. With its many waterways, New York offered a much better position should the French send their navy.

Washington and his (by now) trained troops secured Philadelphia, cleaned up Valley Forge, and marched towards New York in pursuit of the British.

They caught up with the British at the Battle of Monmouth, near the Monmouth Courthouse in New Jersey. The battle clearly showed that the Continental army had learned a great deal while training during the cold winter at Valley Forge.

No one really won the battle at Monmouth. It was the biggest and longest one day battle of the Revolutionary War. It was hot and humid. Both sides were exhausted after many hours of fighting. The British decided they had had enough. They left, to catch up to the rest of the British army. Only about half the British army had stayed behind to fight the colonists. The rest of the army did not join in this battle, but instead continued to travel on by wagon train, moving north. For whatever reason, the British left, while the Continental army was still standing on the battlefield.

Washington had achieved his goal. Although there was some desertion and much illness, Washington had kept the Continental army together. With the entry of the French into the Revolutionary War on the side of the colonists, things were definitely looking up!

There is an old saying: Timing is everything. The timing of this battle probably saved many men in George Washington's army from once again giving up and going home. Many of their enlisted periods were over or almost over. That almost happened in 1776 after the battle of Trenton. Washington, understanding that, loudly proclaimed the battle of Monmouth a win. About half the men whose enlisted period was up did  re-enlist in the Continental army.

Under George Washington, the Continental army went on to fight for another five years. Ultimately, the American Revolution ended with the Treaty of Paris. The Americans won. And, as we know, a new country was born - the United States of America.

Battle of Monmouth (Liberty Kids, video, animated)

Valley Forge

Famous Battles of the Revolutionary War for Kids, with interactive maps