Communication Time

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Communication Time

COMMUNICATION TIME. One month was the normal sailing time from North America to England and two months was normal for the westward voyage. News of the Boston Port Bill, which passed the House of Commons on 25 March 1774 and received the royal assent on 31 March, reached Boston by a fast ship on 10 May. Paul Revere, with frequent changes of horses, rode 350 miles to Philadelphia in six days with the news. Six to nine days were required for a letter from Boston to reach New York City by ordinary postal service, and it took almost a month for a letter to go from New Hampshire to Georgia. General Thomas Gage's report on the fighting at Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775 was placed aboard ship (the Sukey) on 22 April and reached London on 10 June, a passage of fifty days. The American version left four days after Gage's, in the Quero, and arrived twelve days earlier because the Massachusetts leaders sent the ship in ballast. In late 1781 Congress did not learn of the battle of Eutaw Springs for five weeks. During the Yorktown Campaign, waterborne communications between Sir Henry Clinton at New York City and Charles Lord Cornwallis on the Peninsula in Virginia, not much more than 300 straight-line miles, took eight days. The time involved in communicating decisions could cause problems. For example, a letter from George Germain, dated at London on 2 May 1781, reached Clinton at New York City with instructions that made it necessary for Clinton to countermand the orders he had sent to Cornwallis and that had been received on 26 June. In a fast-moving strategic situation, the British commander in chief in North America might receive counter orders from London before he received their original orders.

SEE ALSO Atlantic Crossing; Yorktown Campaign.

                              revised by Harold E. Selesky

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Communication Time