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The Glorious Cause Teacher’s Guide

By Jeff Shaara

The Glorious Cause by Jeff Shaara



In Rise to Rebellion, bestselling author Jeff Shaara captured the origins of the American Revolution brilliantly. Now he continues the amazing saga of how thirteen colonies became a nation, taking the conflict from kingdom and courtroom to the bold and bloody battlefields of war.
From Nathan Hale to Benedict Arnold, William Howe to “Light Horse” Harry Lee, from Trenton and Valley Forge, Brandywine and Yorktown, the American Revolution’s most immortal characters and poignant moments are brought to life in remarkable Shaara style. Yet, The Glorious Cause is more than just a story of the legendary six-year struggle. It is a tribute to an amazing people who turned ideas into action and fought to declare themselves free.


This section of the guide divides The Glorious Cause into chapter-based reading assignments. It also provides brief questions for use in classroom discussion or journal writing. The Glorious Cause is divided into 3 parts with shorter chapters within those sections.

In the introduction Jeff Shaara introduces his readers to two new characters–Nathanael Greene and Charles Cornwallis. Write a one-paragraph description for each of these men. Be sure to include what strengths each will bring to his respective side.

Part I
Chapter 1
Shaara uses Chapter One to fill the reader in on some background information, but he also has another purpose. What effect does he attempt to produce, and why is the fisherman an effective way to achieve this effect?

Chapters 2-4
1.What metaphor is used to describe the English warships?
2.Cornwallis seems wary of considering the Hessians as British allies. On what does he base his beliefs? Use a quotation to support your answer.
3.Washington’s consultation with Glover is an example of Washington’s extraordinary leadership abilities. How so?
4.Why does Putnam say, “I believe General Howe is perhaps a friend to us. Or, he is no general after all”?
5.What does Clinton think of Howe’s decisions during this battle? What would he have done differently?
6.What actions seem to frustrate Cornwallis throughout this chapter?

Chapters 5-7
1.Explain Franklin’s lines to Howe: “My lord, we will use our utmost endeavors to save your lordship that mortification.”
2.What is the main difference between what each side wants?
3.Explain Franklin’s thoughts, “Yes, what we lack in discipline, perhaps we make up for in sheer brutishness.” What has he seen that has made him consider this?
4.What metaphor is used to describe what is “coming down” on the rebels?
5.What is Clinton’s motivation in making sure Cornwallis understands that Howe will not fight until he is assured of victory?
6.What does Washington admire most about Nathanael Greene?
7.What does Greene suggest Washington do to New York? What is Washington’s response?

Chapters 8-10
1.Why do you think Nathan Hale volunteered to be a spy for Washington?
2.What now famous words did Nathan Hale say before he was executed?
3.Judging from who was present at the hanging, who do you think recorded these words for posterity?
4.What simile does Shaara use for rounding up the rebels?
5.Describe the circumstances that allow Washington to escape again–where does he go?
6.Cornwallis believes Howe can only save face for letting Washington escape by doing what?
7.What is Greene’s personal opinion of Lee? Be specific.

Chapters 11-13
1.What two things hold Cornwallis back after the fort is secured?
2.Washington doesn’t leave any boats behind for the British to use to follow them, and so Howe chooses again to sit and wait. What nearby solution did Cornwallis see to the boat problem?
3.What do the last lines of the chapter seem to foreshadow?
4.What do the letters of Colonel Reed and General Lee reveal to Washington?
5.What power does congress finally grant to Washington?
6.What do you think Washington plans to give the Hessians as a Christmas present? Why has he chosen this time?
7.What two things happen that could have thwarted Washington’s plan?
8.Explain what Washington thinks will finally destroy the British and how this trait applies to Colonel Rall. Use a quotation to support your answer.

Chapters 14-16
1.What crisis does Washington face at the beginning of this chapter?
2.How do the men react to Washington’s speech?
3.Quote the most powerful line that Washington uses to persuade these men to stay.
4.What scene greets Cornwallis when he arrives at Princeton–how does he react?
5.What observation does Cornwallis make about Knox that he also relates to the entire rebel army?
6.What strategic error did Washington make in this chapter?
7. Why did Washington choose to go to Morristown, changing his original plan to go to Brunswick?
Part II
Chapters 17-19
1.Discuss two reasons why the French monarchy may be leery of supporting the American rebellion.
2.Franklin has altered his “image” drastically in France. How so? Why? How do the French respond to this?
3.What is Vergennes’ warning to Franklin?
4.What is Burgoyne’s plan?
5.What does Cornwallis see as the biggest drawback to the plan?

Chapters 20-22
1.What does Washington fear will indeed destroy his army before the British do? Explain.
2.What bad news does Washington tell Greene on July 10, 1777?
3.Why is Greene so apprehensive about Horatio Gates?
4.How does Washington figure out that the British are going to Philadelphia?
5.What new major character is introduced in this chapter, and how he is different from most of the French who are forced upon Washington?
6.At the end of Chapter 21, General Howe has apparently made two decisions. What are they?
7. What type of biblical allusions does Cornwallis use to compare the many problems the British have faced?

Chapters 23-25
1.What does Washington see as the ultimate irony in his defeat at Brandywine?
2.How does Lafayette view the day’s activities? Use a quotation to support your answer.
3.Why do the British think this it is significant to march into Philadelphia? What is Washington’s opinion?
4.After studying the new recruits from England, what does Cornwallis surmise?
5.How does General Knyphausen feel about capturing the enemy’s capital?
6.What are some of the complaints being levied against Washington?

Chapters 26-28
1.What does Ben Franklin do in order to guarantee that Baron von Steuben is not overlooked in America?
2.Edward Gibbon is the author of the highly acclaimed Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Explain Franklin’s written response to Gibbon when he refuses to meet with Franklin. Do you think Franklin “gets the last word” as he intends? Why or why not?
3.How does Temple view the opulence of France differently from Ben Franklin? What does this tell you about each man?
4.Discuss some of the problems that Washington is facing at Valley Forge.
5.King Charles III of Spain has a few concerns about joining an alliance with France and America. Discuss two of these concerns and state whether you feel each is justifiable.
6.Why is Silas Deane upset with Franklin? What advice does he give Franklin?
7.Why does Franklin decide to meet with the British representative? Is his plan successful?

Chapter 29-31
1.How does Morgan’s account of the Battle of Saratoga differ from the accounts Washington and Greene have heard? How does Morgan feel about the Board of War?
2.Why is Washington forced to appoint Greene to a new position? What is this position, and how does Greene react to this assignment? How does Washington reassure him?
3.Why is Lafayette sent to Canada and what conditions does he find there?
4.Why is it important to the plot of the story for Shaara to write Chapter 31 from the viewpoint of Baron von Steuben?
5.What are some of the differences, positive and negative, that von Steuben sees between the European and American soldiers?
6.To what does von Steuben refer when he considers “an emotion that flows in both directions”?
7.What problem does von Steuben see as significant if the Americans win the war? How does Washington respond to this?

Chapters 32-34
1.How has Howe occupied his time in Philadelphia? What have Howe’s wife and mother been doing in England?
2.What does Howe hope to accomplish by tendering his resignation?
3.In what ways have things begun to improve for Washington and his men? Who is largely responsible for the improvements?
4.The story of Washington and the shad is a light, entertaining moment for the reader, but it also adds to Shaara’s characterization of Washington. How so? What does the reader learn about Washington from this story?
5.What topic do Lafayette and Greene discuss?
6.What insult does Lee hurl at Washington?
7.Why does Greene call Valley Forge a “horrible, wonderful place”?

Chapters 35-38
1.How does Cornwallis feel the peace delegation will be met?
2.During the council many different arguments are heard concerning what Washington’s troops should do. What does Charles Lee suggest? What does Washington initially decide to do? In the end Washington decides instead to do what?
3.Charles Lee tells Washington he will not follow his plan and informs Washington he must choose someone else to do so. Whom does he choose?
4.Before Lafayette can begin his attack, Lee arrives with a message stating what?
5.Describe Lee’s actions or inactions at the Battle of Monmouth.
6.What assumptions can you make about Lee by his actions?
7.What does Washington do when he meets with Lee and hears Lee’s response to the retreat?
8.Why does Shaara include the story of Molly “Pitcher” in this chapter?

Part III
Chapters 39-41
1.What is the first problem the French ships encounter in New York Harbor?
2.By the end of the chapter, the French ships are completely gone. Where have they gone and why?
3.Why does Jeff Shaara open Chapter 40 with the story of the prisoner on the ship?
4.What does Cornwallis mean when he tells his wife “The garbage heap of history is a cluttered place”?
5.Who does Robert Morris warn Washington about?
6.What new character is introduced at the end of Chapter 41? Using other sources, such as an encyclopedia or the Internet, find and list five interesting facts about this man.

Chapters 42-44
1.Franklin seems excited to find that he has a “free day,” but before long he seems completed bored with his day. Who arrives to visit him, mistaking the day of his appointment? What does Franklin’s guest want?
2.What famous words are often attributed to John Paul Jones?
1.Why does Cornwallis volunteer for the West Indies assignment?
2.How has Clinton changed his strategy?
3.Explain, exactly, why a siege is such an effective battle plan.
4.How does Benjamin Lincoln’s decision to bring in more troops lead to the disaster?
5.Explain the importance for the Americans of maintaining control of West Point.
6.What news does Lafayette have for Washington?
7.How does Washington trick Clinton?

Chapters 45-47
1.List some of the reasons Arnold decides to become a traitor.
2.What problem occurs after Major Andre and Arnold meet?
3. Go to the website
Study the engraving of Major Andre’s hanging. What do you think the purpose of this engraving was? Read the information on Andre and Arnold. Write a paragraph detailing what you learned from this website.
4. Why is Gates defeated so soundly and how does he react?
5. How do Jefferson’s beliefs hurt Greene’s army?
6.What is Gates’s opinion of his army?

Chapters 48-50
1.Why couldn’t Cornwallis get supplies to his men?
2.How does Daniel Morgan prove how well he knows the British?
3.How many shots does Morgan tell his men to take? Explain.
4.Why is Morgan’s plan so successful?
5.Because his troops are moving so slowly, Cornwallis makes a decision to do what?
6.Greene surrenders the Carolinas, but in the process what happens to Cornwallis’ army?

Chapters 51-53
1.Why is Daniel Morgan leaving?
2.How did the North Carolina militia react to the sight on the British lines?
3.What, in essence, is the reason Greene finally retreats?
4.What does Harry Lee tell Greene in order to help him see things differently?
5.How does Cornwallis view the victory at Guilford?
6.Who does Cornwallis plan to join forces with? Where is he going in hopes of dividing the country in two?
7.A showdown seems imminent. Where?

Chapters 54-56
1.What plan does Cornwallis suggest to Clinton? How does Clinton reply?
2.How does deGrasse treat Lafayette differently from the way Rochambeau did?
3.According to Lafayette, what makes Cornwallis so dangerous?
4.What does Washington feel he should do, even though he has no idea how to do it?
5.How does Cornwallis make Washington’s decision for him?

Chapters 57-59
1.What does Cornwallis send men across the French-American line to do?
2.Chapter 57 ends with Cornwallis deciding to do what?
3.What are your impressions of Cornwallis during Chapter 57?
4.Who accepts the surrender of the British? Why?
5.What American is in charge of the peace treaty?
6.Why wouldn’t Washington go to New York until the British were completely gone?
7.Describe the last scene with Washington and his men.
8.Where does Washington go at the end of the book? Why?

1.What does Franklin invent out of personal necessity?
2.What animal did Franklin want chosen for the national bird instead of the eagle?
3.How old is Ben Franklin when he dies?
4.Who preserved Franklin’s work?
5.Where is the painting of Ben Franklin that Major Andre stole?


Writing Assignments
Many of these writing assignments can be easily developed into a five-paragraph theme-essay.
After Chapter 8
Montresor tells Hale that he is a tragic figure who will die for no good purpose (91). Agree or disagree with this statement in a well-developed paragraph.
After Chapter 17
Franklin alters his image in France in order to send a message to the French about the American people. Do people still alter their images like this today? Write a paragraph that deals with the subject of altering an image.
After Chapter 24
Conflicting opinions seems to be evident as to how one country can defeat another. Some feel that one must conquer the people; others feel that conquering an area is more important. Using events of today as an example, discuss your feelings on this. You may decide that there is something more important than either of these.
After Chapter 31
Von Steuben brings military knowledge about the fundamentals necessary for a successful fighting force. Which provides a better guarantee of success in life–mastering the fundamentals or being naturally talented?
After Chapter 40
The prisoner on the ship is not given a name by the author because he, in a sense, represents many prisoners who were left to die in prison camps. Give this prisoner a complete identity by having him compose a letter to home.
After Chapter 46
Using any sources, research Major John Andre and write two to three paragraphs detailing what you learned. At the end of the paragraphs document the website or other source that you studied for your information.
After Chapter 58
You are a news reporter at Cornwallis’ surrender. Write the headlines and article for your paper.

After Chapter 59
Choose a favorite character from The Glorious Cause and write a well-developed paragraph about why you enjoyed this character.


Classroom Activities Using the Web
1.One of the most interesting aspects of the Revolutionary War concerns George Washington and his use of spies and misinformation. The websites listed below discuss Washington and his spies. The first one includes a teachers’ lounge with activities for the classroom.
2.Many of Washington letters can be found on the web. A good website for this is Have students find a letter that Washington wrote concerning one of the events discussed in The Glorious Cause. Students should read the letter to the class and discuss its significance.
3.Have students create a biographical sketch of one of the minor characters in the book. Make sure they include a picture of the person. An example is given below. The class can then create a book of Revolutionary War heroes and traitors. There are plenty of characters in the book, so no character should be duplicated. An alternative would be to have the class present a PowerPoint on these characters. A good website for information is


This guide was written by Chris Boone Cleveland, who received her BS and MA degrees in English Education from Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. She has taught at the middle school, high school, undergraduate and graduate levels. She currently teaches at Covington High School in Covington, Indiana where her courses include Advanced Themes and Genres in Literature, AP11 English/History, Remedial English, and a dual credit high school/college credit class with Vincennes University. Her favorite books besides the Shaara books are 1984, The Scarlet Letter, and Fahrenheit 451.

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