William Howe Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1729 – 1814 *** Full Name: William Howe *** Occupation: Commander-in-Chief of British Forces during the American War of Independence *** Date of Birth: William Howe was born on August 10th 1729 *** Place of Birth: William Howe was born in England *** Family background: His father was Emanuel Howe, 2nd Viscount Howe and his mother was Charlotte, the illegitimate half-sister of King George I and Sophia von Keilmansegg, Countess of Leinster and Darlington *** Early life and childhood: William Howe grew up with his two brothers, George was the eldest of the brothers and Richard was the middle brother. George became a general who was killed during the Battle of Carillon at Fort Ticonderoga in northern New York and his brother Richard became one of Britain’s most respected and foremost naval commanders of their time *** Education: William Howe was educated as befitted his station ***
William Howe Fact 1: William Howe was born on August 10th 1729 and during the 18th century period in history when France and America both went through revolutions and the Industrial Revolution began in Britain.
William Howe Fact 2: At seventeen years of age William Howe bought himself a cornet’s commission and entered the army in the Duke of Cumberland’s Dragoons in the year 1746.
William Howe Fact 3: For the next two years he served in Flanders throughout the War of the Austrian Succession thereafter he would be transferred to 20th Regiment of Foot. It was here that William Howe met, and became friends, with James Wolfe.
William Howe Fact 4: He next saw combat in the Seven Year's War which took him to America where he became part of the newly formed 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot during February of 1757 and would receive promotion to lieutenant colonel later that year.
William Howe Fact 5: By this time his friend James Wolfe was a General and Howe would be fighting under his command.
William Howe Fact 6: In England, as a result of his brother’s untimely death, William Howe would be, with the assistance of his mother, elected as a member of Parliament for Nottingham.
William Howe Fact 7: Once he took up his duties in England and in Parliament he was publically sympathetic to the plight of the American colonies with regard to certain legislation such as the Intolerable Acts meant to punish the colonies. He even went so far as to assure his constituents that if conflict arose as a result of these measures he would not take part in any fighting.
William Howe Fact 8: However, in 1775 when called upon to serve King George he felt he had little choice to agree or suffer "the odious name of backwardness to serve my country in distress." and so took passage for America in March of 1775 in the company of Major Generals John Burgoyne and Henry Clinton. During May of that year his colonelcy would be transferred to 23rd Fusiliers.
William Howe Fact 9: Once they had arrived they received news that war had already broken out and his first major batter would be at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The tally of killed or wounded during this attack was over one thousand and would become one of the costliest engagements of the war, William Howe was heard to have said a "success ... too dearly bought." although there was some speculation after the event that he was partially to blame for the high number of casualties because of his over confident manner and tactical errors.William Howe Fact 15: He continued to play an active role in the defense of the British Isles and would also serve in Parliament for many years.
William Howe Fact 10: Although not physically injured during this battle, it was thought mentally however to have had quite an adverse effect on William Howe, culminating in his lack of confidence. William Howe began to rely heavily on his brother Richard for guidance and support.
William Howe Fact 11: In October of 1775 Howe become Commander-in-Chief with the departure of General Gage to England. As soon as conflict had broken out in America and the news had reached England, military planners began to set into motion plans for massive reinforcements to be readied and transported as soon as was possible.
William Howe Fact 12: It was also decided to abandon Boston in favor of establishing bases in Newport, Rhode Island and New York in an effort to contain the rebellion in the New England region.
William Howe Fact 13: William Howe would successfully capture New York City and Philadelphia that year, nevertheless by 1777 the campaign planning took a turn for the worse which resulted in John Burgoyne’s failed Saratoga campaign. This in turn would play a massive part in the French entering the conflict on the side of the United States.
William Howe Fact 14: By 1778 William Howe handed in his resignation as Commander-in-Chief and made his way back to England.
William Howe Fact 16: William Howe received an Knighthood in 1776 and in 1799 after the death of his elderly brother Richard he inherited the Viscountcy of Howe. Although he had married there were no children and with no male heir the Viscountcy ceased after his death.
William Howe Fact 17: On July 12th of 1814 William Howe died of a long illness. His body was laid to rest at Holly Road, Garden of rest in Twickenham.
Influence & Legacy: William Howe had distinguished himself battle many times but his tactics were one of not acting in haste where as the tactics of the American’s was one of hit and run with Washington fighting a defensive war much the same as the Roman generals many centuries ago. This meant Howe chasing the Americans on unknown territories and playing into their hands thus enabling them to be defeated.
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