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Fatal SundayFatal Sunday

George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle

Mark Edward Lender and Gary Wheeler Stone


Book published by Oklahoma University Press


Historians have long considered the Battle of Monmouth one of the most complicated engagements of the American Revolution. Fought on Sunday, June 28, 1778, Monmouth was critical to the success of the Revolution. It also marked a decisive turning point in the military career of George Washington. Without the victory at Monmouth Courthouse, Washington's critics might well have marshaled the political strength to replace him as the American commander-in-chief. Authors Mark Edward Lender and Garry Wheeler Stone argue that in political terms, the Battle of Monmouth constituted a pivotal moment in the War for Independence.

Viewing the political and military aspects of the campaign as inextricably entwined, this book offers a fresh perspective on Washington’s role in it. Drawing on a wide range of historical sources—many never before used, including archaeological evidence—Lender and Stone disentangle the true story of Monmouth and provide the most complete and accurate account of the battle, including both American and British perspectives. In the course of their account it becomes evident that criticism of Washington’s performance in command was considerably broader and deeper than previously acknowledged. In light of long-standing practical and ideological questions about his vision for the Continental Army and his ability to win the war, the outcome at Monmouth—a hard-fought tactical draw—was politically insufficient for Washington. Lender and Stone show how the general’s partisans, determined that the battle for public opinion would be won in his favor, engineered a propaganda victory for their chief that involved the spectacular court martial of Major General Charles Lee, the second-ranking officer of the Continental Army.

Replete with poignant anecdotes, folkloric incidents, and stories of heroism and combat brutality; filled with behind-the-scenes action and intrigue; and teeming with characters from all walks of life, Fatal Sunday gives us the definitive view of the fateful Battle of Monmouth.

Mark Edward Lender is Professor Emeritus of History at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, and the coauthor of A Respectable Army: The Military Origins of the Republic and Citizen Soldier: The Revolutionary War Journal of Joseph Bloomfield.

Gary Wheeler Stone is retired as Regional Historian for the State Park Service and Historian for the Monmouth Battlefield State Park with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

REVIEWS:

“This is a superb study, large in scope, detailed in content, and insightful in all that it considers. Based on massive research that ranges in depth across a variety of sources, Mark Lender and Garry Wheeler Stone have provided a broad and subtle history that ranks with the best written on the Revolutionary War. A marvelous book.”

—Robert Middlekauff, author of Washington’s Revolution: The Making of America’s First Leader and The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789

“This welcome addition to the literature on the Revolutionary War not only considers the Battle of Monmouth in detail but reassesses the performance of General Charles Lee even as it details the high-stakes political infighting in which George Washington established himself as military commander.”

—Lawrence E. Babits, author of A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens, and coauthor of Long, Obstinate, and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse

“Mark Edward Lender and Garry Wheeler Stone show how the daylong slugfest at Monmouth Courthouse was a coming-of-age battle for the Continental Army with profound consequences for the outcome of the Revolutionary War. Gripping yet definitive, this model of military history deserves a wide readership.”

—James Kirby Martin, author of Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero: An American Warrior Reconsidered

“This is a landmark study of a battle too often overlooked. The writing is crisp, clear, and commanding, the research is deep, and the analysis is learned and sophisticated. Lender and Stone have set the standard.”

—Ricardo A. Herrera, author of For Liberty and the Republic: The American Citizen as Soldier, 1775–1861





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