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[Detail] An accurate map of North America.

Historical Comprehension: Making Inferences Based on Historical Maps

Compared to more recent wars, the War for Independence was fought at what seems now to be a rather leisurely pace. To explore this notion of the war's pace, examine the map of French General Rochambeau's march from Providence, Rhode Island, to Yorktown, Virginia.

  • About how much distance did Rochambeau and his troops travel?
  • How long did the march take? What would the march have been like for the soldiers? What would the daily routine of the soldiers have been like? What would they have seen, felt, and experienced along the way? Write a journal entry describing a day on the march with Rochambeau.
  • What might have been a quicker way to reach Yorktown? Why do you think the French did not use this means of travel?
  • What inferences can you make about the pace of the war on the basis of this map?
  • Search The American Revolution and Its Era for maps of Revolutionary War battles. Find maps of at least five different battles. How do these maps confirm or dispute the inferences about the pace of the war that you drew above. (Hint: Look at the dates of the battles. When did most fighting occur? When did the two sides appear not to engage in battle? What campaign was an exception to the general rule of when battles were fought? How might the timing of that campaign have been significant?)