Sir Henry Clinton
British general during American Revolution
1738 - 1795
Commander-in-chief of British Army in America during the American Revolution, was born in Newfoundland, where his father was governor. He joined the army in 1757, served in the final three campaigns of the Seven Year's War, and was promoted to colonel in 1762. In 1772 he was made a general. He went to America in 1775 as second-in-command to Sir William Howe, fought with distinction at Bunker Hill and Long Island, and was left in command in New York when the main army went south to Pennsylvania. On Howe's retirement (1778), Clinton succeeded to the supreme command. He conducted various minor expeditions in the New York area, but disagreed with Lord Cornwallis, his second-in-command, over the possibility of more decisive operations with the limited forces available. He led his main army in an offensive in the Carolinas in 1780, but after the siege and fall of Charleston he returned to New York, leaving Cornwallis in charge of the subsequent operations which led to the capitulation at Yorktown and the peace treaty recognizing American independence. Clinton resigned his command in 1781, and returned to England.
His Narrative of the Campaign of 1781 in North America (1783; new ed. by W.B. Wilcox, 1954) provoked an angry reply from Cornwallis. Clinton was appointed governor of Gibraltar in 1794 and died there on December 23, 1795.
His two sons also rose to be generals. The younger, Sir Henry Clinton (1771-1829), saw varied service, and won a good reputation, especially during the Peninsular War. His division held a vital portion of the British line at Waterloo in 1815. He died in Hampshire on December 11, 1829.
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