by Jerome A. Greene
New York: Savas Beattie, 2005. Pp. xix, 507.
Illus., maps, tables, append., notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN:1-932714-05-7
A masterful account of the campaign and siege of Yorktown, the final major action of the American Revolution. In The Guns of Independence, the author, an historian with the National Park Service and author of a number of works, dealing primarily on the Plains Indian Wars, has provided the first comprehensive account focused on Yorktown in many years.
The work sets the siege of Yorktown within the broader framework of the American Revolution, discusses the personalities – American, British, and French – involved, provides a good look at the military practice of the day, including such esoterica as how to work a siege gun, and gives the reader adequate coverage not only of affairs during the siege, but also events elsewhere that contributed to the American success, most notably the operations of the French Fleet. The book is well written, and, surprisingly, considering that this is, after all, the story of a siege, not usually the most dramatic of military operations, tells the story in a lively, well-paced manner. The final chapters deal with the aftermath of Yorktown, and the appendices include documents, material on battlefield archaeology, including a photo essay of the present state of the site, and a long discussion about artillery,
Drawing not only on documents, both public and private, and work of earlier historians, but also on battlefield archaeology and experimental history, The Guns of Independence is likely to serve as the standard treatment of Yorktown for some time to come.