A Year In History: 1779

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This Year in History:

1779

Discover what happened in this year with HISTORY’s summaries of major events, anniversaries, famous births and notable deaths.

March 11

Congress establishes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

On March 11, 1779, Congress establishes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help plan, design and prepare environmental and structural facilities for the U.S. Army. Made up of civilian workers, members of the Continental Army and French officers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers played an essential role in the critical Revolutionary War battles […]

June 1

Benedict Arnold is court-martialed

The court-martial of Benedict Arnold convenes in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After a relatively clean record in the early days of the American Revolution, Arnold was charged with 13 counts of misbehavior, including misusing government wagons and illegally buying and selling goods. Although his notorious betrayal was still many months away, Arnold’s resentment over this order and the […]

July 16

Anthony Wayne launches risky attack against British forces

On July 16, 1779, American Brigadier General Anthony Wayne launches a coup de main against British fortifications at Stony Point, New York, on the orders of General George Washington. He earns the moniker “Mad” Anthony Wayne for the ensuing maneuver. The British fort on the cliffs at Stony Point overlooking the Hudson River threatened West […]

July 24

Massachusetts begins ill-fated Penobscot Expedition

On July 24, 1779, a naval expeditionary force commissioned by the Massachusetts General Assembly departs Boothbay, Maine, headed for the Penobscot peninsula, where British forces had recently established a small fort and trading post. The attack, and subsequent three-week-long siege, would end disastrously for the Americans with one of the worst naval defeats in the […]

September 27

John Adams appointed to negotiate peace terms with British

On September 27, 1779, the Continental Congress appoints John Adams to travel to France as minister plenipotentiary in charge of negotiating treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain during the Revolutionary War. Adams had traveled to Paris in 1778 to negotiate an alliance with France, but had been unceremoniously dismissed when Congress chose Benjamin […]

December 1

George Washington establishes winter quarters at Morristown

General George Washington’s army settles into a second season at Morristown, New Jersey, on December 1, 1779. Washington’s personal circumstances improved dramatically as he moved into the Ford Mansion and was able to conduct his military business in the style of a proper 18th-century gentleman. However, the worst winter of the 1700s coupled with the […]