Otho Holland Williams and the Southern Campaign of 1780-1782
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Type of Work125 pages
SubjectsOtho Holland Williams (1749-1794)
Southern Campaign (1780-1782)
American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)
Of the many patriots called to arms in the Revolution, Otho Holland WiIIiams of Maryland is one of the least remembered of those who held major command. WiIIiams played an important role as an advisor, counselor and subordinate commander to both Horatio Gates and Nathanael Greene. Whenever a task had to be done both expeditiously and exactly as Greene wanted it, he gave the job to Williams. Yet Williams has been largely ignored by historians while the activities of many of his subordinates and superiors have been heavily documented. Although his part In the Revolution has been recognized by most of the major biographers of Nathanael Greene, this documentation shows Williams as merely an adjunct to Greene's military career. However, an examination of available primary and secondary resources shows that Williams was In fact a significant figure in his own right. Williams' military career spanned the entire Revolutionary War, with continuous service from the siege of Boston to the evacuation of Charleston. He commanded the Light Corps on the last portion of the retreat to the Dan river in the winter of 1780. His brilliant disengagements saved the Southern army. His expertise in using light troops effectively screened Greene's force from Cornwallis both on the retreat and when Greene recrossed Into North Carolina. Williams' effective command of the Maryland Brigade at the battles of Guilford Courthouse, HobkIrk"s Hill and Eutaw Springs show that he was a skilled commander of regular line soldiers as well as a brilliant leader of light troops. His utter fearlessness in battle was recognized by the Continental Congress with a promotion to brigadier general after Eutaw Springs. Williams was universally respected and liked within the Continental Army. Such well known figures as George Washington. Horatio Gates, Nathanael Greene and Henry Lee all spoke highly of not only Williams' prowess on the battlefield, but also his gentlemanly demeanor and fine mind. After the war. Williams returned to Baltimore and civilian life where he made a modest fortune In business and founded the town of Williamsport, Maryland. The fact that he died young, before he had time to write his memoirs, contributed to his relative obscurity. Nevertheless. Williams deserves to be remembered for his valuable contribution to the Southern campaign of the Revolutionary War.