March 4, 1776: Washington Occupies Dorchester Heights

Friday, March 4, AD 2016

“The rebels have done more in one night than my whole army would have done in a month.”

General Howe, March 5, 1776
After Colonel Henry Knox brought the artillery from Ticonderoga to the siege lines around Boston in January 1776, Washington gathered together the powder and ammunition for the cannon.  By early March he was ready.  Occupying high points around Boston with artillery to divert British attention.  Beginning on the evening of March 2, he conducted nightly bombardments of Boston.  The bombardments continued on March 3 and March 4.  However, on March 4, he also had General John Thomas lead 2000 men to occupy Dorchester Heights to the south of Boston.  Hay bales were placed between the path taken by the Americans and Boston Harbor in order to muffle the sound of the movement.

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Jefferson on the History of the American Revolution

Wednesday, February 24, AD 2016

On August 10, 1815, Thomas Jefferson set pen to paper to respond to John Adams’ letter to him of July 30, 1815.  Go here to read that letter.  Jefferson was no more optimistic than Adams that a true history of the American Revolution could be written:

On the subject of the history of the American revolution, you ask Who shall write it? who can write it? and who ever will be able to write it? nobody; except merely it’s external facts. all it’s councils, designs and discussions, having been conducted by Congress with closed doors, and no member, as far as I know, having even made notes of them. these, which are the life and soul of history must for ever be unknown. Botta, as you observe, has put his own speculations and reasonings into the mouths of persons whom he names, but who, you & I know, never made such speeches. in this he has followed the example of the antients, who made their great men deliver long speeches, all of them in the same style, and in that of the author himself. the work is nevertheless a good one, more judicious, more chaste, more classical, and more true than the party diatribe of Marshall. it’s greatest fault is in having taken too much from him. I possessed the work, and often recurred to considerable portions of it, altho’ I never read it through. but a very judicious and well informed neighbor of mine went thro’ it with great attention, and spoke very highly of it. I have said that no member of the old Congress, as far as I knew, made notes of the discussions. I did not know of the speeches you mention of Dickinson and Witherspoon. but on the questions of Independance and on the two articles of Confederation respecting taxes & voting I took minutes of the heads of the arguments. on the first I threw all into one mass, without ascribing to the speakers their respective arguments; pretty much in the manner of Hume’s summary digests of the reasonings in parliament for and against a measure. on the last I stated the heads of arguments used by each speaker. but the whole of my notes on the question of independance does not occupy more than 5. pages, such as of this letter: and on the other questions two such sheets. they have never been communicated to any one. do you know that there exists in MS. the ablest work of this kind ever yet executed, of the debates of the Constitutional convention of Philadelphia in 1788.? the whole of every thing said and done there was taken down by mr Madison, with a labor and exactness beyond comprehension. I presume that our correspondence has been observed at the post offices, and thus has attracted notice. would you believe that a printer has had the effrontery to propose to me the letting him publish it? these people think they have a right to every thing however secret or sacred.

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One Response to Jefferson on the History of the American Revolution

John Adams on the History of the American Revolution

Tuesday, February 23, AD 2016

John Adams often groused that the true history of the American Revolution would never be written.  Considering this, it is somewhat surprising that he did not undertake the task himself.  He had ample time after his Presidency, and his lively and copious correspondence indicates that age had not lessened his skill with a pen.  It is possible that he simply viewed it as an impossible task, as he indicated in a letter to Thomas Jefferson on July 30, 1815:

Dear Sir                                                                                                                                                                                  Quincy July 30th 1815

Who shall write the history of the American revolution? Who can write it? Who will ever be able to write it?

The most essential documents, the debates & deliberations in Congress from 1774 to 1783 were all in secret, and are now lost forever. Mr Dickinson printed a speech, which he said he made in Congress against the Declaration of Independence; but it appeared to me very different from that, which you, and I heard. Dr Witherspoon has published speeches which he wrote beforehand, and delivered Memoriter, as he did his Sermons. But these I believe, are the only speeches ever committed to writing. The Orators, while I was in Congress from 1774 to 1778 appeared to me very universally extemporaneous, & I have never heard of any committed to writing before or after delivery.

These questions have been suggested to me, by a Review, in the Analectic Magazine for May 1815, published in Philadelphia, page 385 of the Chevalier Botta’s “Storia della Guerra Americana.” The Reviewers inform us, that it is the best history of the revolution that ever has been written. This Italian Classick has followed the example, of the Greek and Roman Historians, by composing speeches, for his Generals and Orators. The Reviewers have translated, one of Mr R H Lee, in favour of the declaration of Independence. A splendid morcell of oratory it is; how faithful, you can judge.

I wish to know your sentiments, and opinions of this publication.  Some future Miss Porter, may hereafter, make as shining a romance, of what passed in Congress, while in Conclave, as her Scottish Chiefs.

Your friend durante Vita2

John Adams

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John Adams: Washington’s Ten Talents

Sunday, February 21, AD 2016

“The History of our Revolution will be one continued lye [sic] from one end to the other. The essence of the whole will be that Dr. Franklin’s electric rod smote the earth and out sprang General Washington. Then Franklin electrified him… and thence forward those two conducted all the Policy, Negotiations, Legislations, and War.” 

John Adams, letter to Benjamin Rush, 1790

John Adams was a very great man, but he could be somewhat petty at times.  This pettiness came to the fore when he considered that other men, particularly George Washington, would loom larger than him in the history of the American Revolution and its aftermath.  In a letter to Benjamin Rush on November 11, 1807, he remarked upon what he considered to be Washington’s ten great talents:

Self taught or Book learned in the Arts, our Hero was much indebted to his Talents for “his immense elevation above his Fellows.” Talents? you will say, what Talents? I answer.

1. An handsome Face. That this is a Talent, I can prove by the authority of a thousand Instances in all ages: and among the rest Madame Du Barry who said Le veritable Royaute est la Beaute.

2. A tall Stature, like the Hebrew Sovereign chosen because he was taller by the Head than the other Jews.

3 An elegant Form.

4. graceful Attitudes and Movement:

5. a large imposing Fortune consisting of a great landed Estate left him by his Father and Brother, besides a large Jointure with his Lady, and the Guardianship of the Heirs of the great Custis Estate, and in addition to all this, immense Tracts of Land of his own acquisition. There is nothing, except bloody Battles and Splendid Victories, to which Mankind bow down with more reverence than to great fortune. They think it impossible that rich Men especially immensely rich Men, Should Submit to the trouble of Serving them but from the most benevolent and disinterested Motives. . . . Such is their Love of the Marvellous, and Such their Admiration of uncommon Generosity that they will believe extraordinary pretensions to it and the Pope Says, Si bonus Populus vult decipi, decipiatur. Washington however did not deceive them. I know not that they gave him more credit for disinterestedness, than he deserved, though they have not given many others so much.

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9 Responses to John Adams: Washington’s Ten Talents

  • Don

    Ignoring the untactful nature of the list, there is a point hidden in there.

    It is the common estimate that one third of the population supported the revolution, a third England and a third were neutral. In most places the Patriots had control of the local government and thus were in charge

    At any point if the Continental Army had dissolved, which was a real threat through early 1778, the British could have deployed there army in to small detachments and put the local Loyalists in charge and backed them up.

    With the Continental Army in the field, the British could not break up into small detachments because the Continentals would destroy them piece meal.

    Washington’s greatest accomplishment was, by charisma shear force of will, and fantastic personal leadership he kept the Army together despite hunger, scarce and poor equipment, long marches, and poor quarters, and multiple defeats.

    The revolution had a number of persons with the more conventional set of “talents” but did not have the charisma to keep the Army together.

  • You anticipate my post for tomorrow Hank!

  • Seems to me most of the list are assets (nature) rather than talents. In that vein, I want to add: Faith and that he was graced with huge amounts of the Divine assistance.

  • I agree, T. Shaw. Benjamin Franklin wrote of striving for virtues but it seemed mostly because it would make him a more pleasant person— a secular saint wanna-be. But Washington’s diaries reveal that he had pleasing God more in mind. Anyway, Washington stands alone.

  • Adams did not say it was an all inclusive lisit but i’d have suggested

    Washington had great physical strength and stamina – he could crack a walnut between his thumb and index finger. His letter writing is incredibly voluminous and always gracious and tolerant. He was also quick to give others credit and recognition.

    Last, he funded some of the revolution from his own money which was not unique in the revolution – Martha wrote out his expenses for submission to congress for recompense. we have a copy of them here in upstate new york. he took no salary as Com-n-chief The image of Washington praying along side his war horse tops the list i think. i believe in one of his biographies Washington claimed 67 times Divine Providence intervened on his or the revolutions behalf.

  • “First in war, first in peace, and (still) first in the hearts of his countryman.”

  • Good Lord, John Adams was a vain and petty little man. His greatest contribution to the American cause was nominating Washington to be Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. That fact, alone, must have caused him no end of indigestion.
    ***
    And I say that as a great admirer of John Adams.

  • I think Jay the difference between the men comes down to the fact that Adams was always concerned about what the history books would say about him. Washington could not have cared less. If he could have lived his life peacefully as the squire of Mount Vernon he would have been content. It was events outside his control, and his own sense of duty, that thrust him into the historical limelight. In Washington the old Roman tale of Cincinnatus came wonderfully to life.

  • and a constant exercise in humility i think- Adams was a talented man, maybe not so great a dad

    but every day he had to walk, talk and work among GIANTS, and he was savvy enough to know they were……..

Yankee Doodle and The World Turned Upside Down

Saturday, February 20, AD 2016

Something for the weekend.  Yankee Doodle, seems appropriate in the weekend before Washington’s Birthday.  Originally sung by British officers to disparage American troops who fought beside them in the French and Indian War, it was seized upon by Patriots, given endless lyrics, and cheered the patriot troops and civilians during the eight long years of the Revolution.  After Lexington and Concord it was reported by Massachusetts newspapers that the British were suddenly not as fond of the song:

“Upon their return to Boston [pursued by the Minutemen], one [Briton] asked his brother officer how he liked the tune now, — ‘Dang them,’ returned he, ‘they made us dance it till we were tired’ — since which Yankee Doodle sounds less sweet to their ears.”

At Yorktown when the British troops marched out in surrender, they looked at the French troops, doing their best to pretend that the American troops did not exist.  The Marquis de Lafayette, commanding the Continental Light Infantry Division, was outraged and ordered his bands to strike up Yankee Doodle.  Startled by the outburst of music the British turned and faced the Americans who had outlasted and defeated them in a very long War.  It was appropriate that the British bands were playing a popular ditty, The World Turned Upside Down.

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The Nation Makers

Monday, February 1, AD 2016

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American artist Howard Pyle did a series of paintings on the American Revolution in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  Pyle had a striking style, combining both romanticism and realism in his paintings.  My favorite of the series is the above painting that depicts an American line of infantry advancing at the battle of Brandywine.  Led by their officer, the common soldiers are dressed in rags, but clearly determined and ready to fight.  A ragged American flag gives a splash of color as it towers over the men below it.  The light of the sun seems to be breaking through a cloudy sky.  The painting is brilliantly entitled The Nation Makers, reminding us that this nation came into being largely through the courage of private soldiers.  Most of them, if they survived and did not die of illness or in battle, would end the War poorer financially then they began it, being paid in worthless currency.  They fought their War usually wearing the ragged remnants of uniforms, often barefoot and living off wretched rations.  Many of them were teenagers, no doubt homesick and frequently worried that no one outside of their fellow soldiers really cared about the sacrifices they were making for the nation they were desperately attempting to bring about.  If they were lucky they left the Army without their health being broken by wounds, illness, or the endless privations they endured daily through the long years of the War.

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7 Responses to The Nation Makers

  • If those Nation Builders had lived today, then would they be considered terrorists?

  • Donald, Surprised there have been so few posts about the GOP primary. Curious about your opinion on the current circus: Huckabee defending Trump and his pro-life switch while claiming Cruz is insincere and less than a Christian, “phony,” because Huckabee lives by Mosaic Law and tithes (10% minimum), Palin’s forfeiture of previous positions to support Trump, and on and on.

  • I agree with Kyle. Will be faced with a choice between a philandering layboy caricature of a business man (Donald Trump) and a murderous pathological liar (Livia Caesar) or that commie pinko geriatric (Bernie Sanders)? And from that choice who wins, or does it matter?
    .
    BTW, Donald, you did say that Trump would have blown up by now, but that hasn’t happened. And I fear a Bernie Sanders presidency more that a Livia presidency because the commie is a true believer whereas no matter what happens, Livia will ensure that her flesh is protected.

  • “BTW, Donald, you did say that Trump would have blown up by now, but that hasn’t happened”

    Considering that zip votes have been cast yet that is unsurprising. What I have actually said about Trump:

    “That Bob Dole, the avatar of Establishment Republicanism, who basically sleep-walked his way through the 1996 Presidential race, prefers Trump to Cruz is not surprising. The Establishment knows that Cruz could win and Trump can’t, and the Establishment prefers a Democrat win to either Trump or Cruz winning. More mystifying is Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Trump over Cruz. I think it will have little impact because Palin, eight years after her Vice-Presidential run, is in the category of yesterday’s news, but it is odd. Cruz of course is now the only true opposition to Trump that there is, and I think he will ultimately be the nominee. Most Republicans are not as enamored of the status quo as the crony capitalists who control the money strings of the party today, and I think Trump has a ceiling in the party that doesn’t go much above 35%. A tough and canny candidate like Cruz has a clear path to victory, especially when people begin to consider The Donald as a serious candidate rather than a protest vote.”

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2016/01/21/bob-doles-still-alive/

    Now, could we please discuss the post rather than heading off on goat path discussions that have zero to do with the post?

  • Now, could we please discuss the post rather than heading off on goat path discussions that have zero to do with the post?

    Actually, it’s the painting that reminded me of the GOP primary. As the men wear their battle scars standing united for what’s right and principled, I wondered which alliances in this race would do the same, which would wear English apparel to avoid confrontation, and which would cut deals with the Crown to avoid the field entirely. Who are the common soldiers today? Sorry the painting inspired tangent thoughts. Resume scheduled programming.

  • It is a strong work.
    The common soldier. Amen.

    On a lighter side, the nation maker’s are facing an enemy. Interestingly going from right of canvas to the enemies of the left of canvas.
    Not an intended message of course, however in light of today’s battle for our Nation, an observation of little significance. Interesting to me however.

  • “And I fear a Bernie Sanders presidency more that a Livia presidency because the commie is a true believer whereas no matter what happens, Livia will ensure that her flesh is protected.”

    Paul, I disagree. A Livia presidency will further the corruption of language and the enticement of the voter with halfway steps to the progressive utopia. Bernie will be more honest and it will be easier for Congress to resist.

January 27, 1776: Henry Knox Delivers the Noble Train of Artillery to Washington

Wednesday, January 27, AD 2016

One of the interesting aspects of wars and revolutions is the unexpected talents and abilities that come to the fore in the most unlikely of individuals.  As that remarkable year 1775 was drawing to a close, General Washington, if he was to force the British  to leave Boston, needed a substantial artillery force, which he entirely lacked.   Twenty-five year old Colonel Henry Knox, a fat Boston book seller prior to the War, came up with the idea of transporting the artillery from newly captured Fort Ticonderoga in northern New York to the siege lines around Boston.  This was accomplished by Knox from December 5, 1775 to January 27, 1776, transporting sixty tons of artillery and ammunition, 59 cannon, mortars and howitzers, through wilderness in the dead of winter, a truly astounding feat. On December 17, 1775 Knox wrote to Washington:

I return’d to this place on the 15 & brought with me the Cannon being nearly the time I conjectur’d it would take us to transport them to here, It is not easy [to] conceive the difficulties we have had in getting them over the Lake owing to the advanc’d Season of the Year & contrary winds, but the danger is now past & three days ago it was very uncertain whether we could have gotten them untill next spring, but now please God they must go – I have had made forty two exceeding Strong Sleds & have provided eighty Yoke of oxen to drag them as far as Springfield where I shall get fresh Cattle to Carry them to Camp – the rout will be from here to Kinderhook from thence into Great Barrington Massachusetts Bay & down to Springfield There will scarcely be possibility of conveying them from here to Albany or Kinderhook but on sleds the roads being very much gullied, at present the sledding is tolerable to Saratoga about 26 miles; beyond that there is none – I have sent for the Sleds & teams to come here & expect to begin [to] move them to Saratoga on Wednesday or Thursday next trusting that between this & then we shall have a fine fall of snow which will enable us to proceed further & make the carriage easy – if that should be the case I hope in 16 or 17 days time to be able to present to your Excellency a noble train of artillery.

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11 Responses to January 27, 1776: Henry Knox Delivers the Noble Train of Artillery to Washington

  • Knox had said it would take him two weeks to move the artillery, and it ended up being six weeks. In today’s politicized climate he would have run the risk of being cashiered.

  • “… but now please God they must go …”
    Could faith be what was behind all the miracle of defeating the King?
    Great article Donald–keep them coming.

  • Faith and providence. Americans up until very recently knew that there were several moments when the Revolution could have easily been lost. In hindsight the coincidences are too eerie.

  • “A contemplation of the compleat attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended against so formidable a power cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverence of the Armies of the U States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.”

    George Washington

  • but Don – knox was a private citizen when he performed this task, not colonel. how he loved washington and vice versa …. his commission did not come in till later 76 – Arnold had first volunteered to get the artillery but got distracted with other opportunities – knox lost a few canon thru river ice weakness- in the hudson near lansingburgh ny and the hudson again near albany – the citizens of albany helped him retrieve it from the river- early jan 76 – knox nearly froze to death near albany’ in a snow storm’ as he recounted to his Excellency George in a letter: the hoax was knox brought no powder – there was no propellant for the shells- Gage was looking for an excuse to abandon boston -small pox was killing him – so when dorchester heights made boston appear untenable he shipped his army to points north like nova scotia to fight another day …..

  • Knox was appointed Colonel of the Artillery Regiment on November 17, 1775:

    http://allthingsliberty.com/2013/09/richard-gridley-nearly-forgotten-patriot/

    Arnold took part with Ethan Allan in the taking of Fort Ticonderoga from a miniscule British guard. He then headed the Maine prong of the American invasion of Canada.

    Lack of powder delayed Washington from fortifying Dorchester Heights until March 5, 1776 by which time his army had sufficient powder for the cannon, much of it smuggled in from the West Indies.

  • hey Don – i mis spoke- Knox’s commission came in a day late , not a year late, for the then private citizen – Knox was acting as a ‘continental officer’ and was issued orders a day before his congressional commission was effective ; “Washington put Knox in charge of securing the Ticonderoga artillery, saying that “no trouble or expense must be spared to obtain them.” On November 16 Washington issued orders to Knox to retrieve the cannon (and authorized £1000 for the purpose), and wrote to General Philip Schuyler, a native New Yorker recently commission[ed] by the Second Continental Congress, asking him to assist Knox in the endeavor. Washington’s call for the weapons was echoed by the Congress, which issued Knox a colonel’s commission in November[17] that did not reach him until he returned from the expedition. Knox departed Washington’s camp on November 17, and after traveling to New York City for supplies, reached Ticonderoga on December 5 love your blog obviously, http://burnpit.legion.org/2012/12/henry-knox-begins-organizing-noble-train-artillery-transport-bostonnce Washintons

    the corpulent Colonel Knox’s congressional commission is dated to 11/17/1775. see Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution; mark puls , pg 38-43
    https://books.google.com/books?id=Xf5Kmmp-yycC&dq=when+did+congress+commission+col+knox%3F

    regarding powder – note in washingtons’ own writings https://books.google.com/books?id=ONaxAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA381&lpg=PA381&dq=colonel+knox%27s+continental+commission&source=bl&ots=ZhNhd3OsGp&sig=M-8-SvWl_oajVUdwJpRiODgaKQE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjQyJGks9DKAhVHPCYKHewKAHI4ChDoAQgrMAQ#v=onepage&q=colonel%20knox's%20continental%20commission&f=false on page 380 Washington himself tells of Gage attempting to evacuate 1,000 men on transports on MARCH 5TH – along with their arms and magazines – and being driven back to boston by a violent storm . Gage decided to leave well prior to 3/5 or 3/17
    the ruse de guerre worked , prior to His Excellency having the powder to effect the departure; i believe Gage was running from small pox and “inclement surroundings” in beantown.

  • Don- ‘Arnold took part with Ethan Allan in the taking of Fort Ticonderoga from a miniscule British guard. ” took part?! – like Patton took part in the defeat of Nazi germany….. Col.Easton may be the cause of some confusion here
    http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/served/arnold.html – BTW – Arnold was one of only 2 visitors to valley forge who were applauded and saluted by the starving, frozen patriots
    i digress….

    ……Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys were as equally eager to capture such a prize and the two groups met up with each other at Bennington. [Arnold, as usual was out ahead , as Dark Eagle always was …..of his authorized 400 man brigade from Mass. ] Arnold was surprised and a little angered because Ethan Allen did not care if Arnold had permission from the Committee of Safety and Arnold couldn’t talk Allen out of relinquishing command. Arnold had to concede to accompanying Allen and his rowdy, rough and tumble fighters. On May 10, they surprised the British garrison and the Green Mountain Boys celebrated by invading the rum stores of the British and getting totally sloshed. They virtually ignored Benedict Arnold except when they were teasing and jeering him. Arnold had an argument with Colonel Easton, who was to deliver the missive announcing the victory of the capture to Massachusetts…which doesn’t make it surprising that Arnold spent time with the captured enemy officers than his fellow countrymen.
    Frustrated, he retired to the captain’s quarters to await forces that he had recruited, reporting to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress that Allen and his men were “governing by whim and caprice” at the fort, and that the plan to strip the fort and send armaments to Boston was in peril.[28] When Delaplace protested the seizure of his private liquor stores, Allen issued him a receipt for the stores, which he later submitted to Connecticut for payment.[29] Arnold’s disputes with Allen and his unruly men were severe enough that there were times when some of Allen’s men drew weapons.[28]
    28=Randall, Willard Sterne (1990). Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor. New York: William Morrow. ISBN 1-55710-034-9.

    Arnold eventually gained some control by way of his sailing experience, however he and Allen really never could see things the same way…except for the essential need of an invasion of Canada. Easton returned from his mission to Massachusetts while Arnold and Allen were planning the Canadian Invasion. Easton had done his best to diminish Arnold’s participation in the capture of Ticonderoga and the two were arguing once more. Arnold challenged him to a duel and Easton refused. When the fight got physical, Allen and Easton both left. He proceeded with his own plans, but soon a Massachusetts Committee commanded him to place himself under Colonel Benjamin Hinman. With his quick temper, he immediately dismissed all his troops after resigning his commission. He was not any happier when he found out his men had been recruited by his nemesis, Colonel Easton. Completely affronted, he went to Albany and there sent off a statement of the situation at Ticonderoga to Continental Congress.

    I am so pleased you know and post about our great history … God Bless your work!! and you…

  • from of all places….. https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2010-featured-story-archive/capture-of-fort-ticonderoga.html
    ” he attackers roused the fort commander from his bed, and Arnold reputedly demanded the fort’s surrender “in the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress.” The fort fell without casualties and without a shot being fired.

    i’d always seen the phrase demanding surrender attributed to E. Allen of the New Hampshire estates …..

  • Other sources say that he said, “Come out you damn old rat!”

  • “who was Benedict Arnold?” Was the answer for last night’s Final Jeopardy American Revolution question.

Finished Peace, Unfinished Peace Portrait

Wednesday, January 20, AD 2016

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The negotiations that led to the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War, were long, contentious and complicated, involving not merely the peace treaty between Great Britain and the United States, but also separate treaties between Great Britain and France, Spain and the Netherlands.  Benjamin Franklin, who led the American team, and who deserves the title of greatest American diplomat, made it clear from the outset that the United States would not make any peace with Great Britain without its ally France also coming to terms with Great Britain.  He also demanded Canada.  By such wily ploys, Franklin outthought the British negotiators at every turn, and quickly got them to concede American Independence in hopes that the Americans could prevail upon France to be reasonable in its demands. 

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One Response to Finished Peace, Unfinished Peace Portrait

  • Never hear of Henry Laurens, so I have to look him up (thanks again for the stimulus Don). Quite a history. His estate is now in large part a Trappist monastery.

Defeat at Quebec

Tuesday, January 12, AD 2016

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The year 1775 ended on a note of defeat for the Americans. Since December 6, 1776 the city had been under siege by the combined forces of General Richard Montgomery and Colonel Benedict Arnold. Twelve hundred Americans confronted 1800 British regulars and French Canadian militia.  The Americans realized that the British would eventually strongly reinforce Quebec by sea, and that a prolonged siege in the teeth of a Canadian winter would probably do far more harm to the besiegers than the besieged.

Thus before dawn on December 31, 1775, in the midst of a blizzard, the Americans began a two pronged assault on the lower town of Quebec, the plan being that the forces led by Montgomery and Arnold would meet in the lower town, and then scale the walls of the upper town.

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5 Responses to Defeat at Quebec

  • I have been reading a book by Kevin Phillips, 1775.
    Phillips points out the animosity between Catholic Quebec and Puritan New England, which are not far apart. The outright hatred among many New Englanders for the Catholic Church was a divide Quebec would not cross. The British Crown guaranteed freedom of religion to Quebec, which drove New England crazy.
    This animosity exists today in a different way, as the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins have a fierce rivalry……even though Catholicism has faded in both regions.

  • The Revolution was a major factor in helping chip away at anti-Catholicism in the colonies. Civil disabilities, where they existed, against Catholics were removed in most of the colonies. As for Canada, there was a fair amount of support for the Revolution among English Canadians, little among French Canadiens. However there was also little love by the French Canadiens for their English overlords, the French Canadiens largely just wishing to be left alone. Phillips was an overrated political analyst who became a bad historian.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_big_idea/2006/03/the_erring_republican_authority.html

    http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/760

  • While I never thought much of Phillips, and still don’t, there is one very good chapter in his book. Many times I have pointed out the help that Spain provided to the Americans and Phillips does go into this in some detail. How often is Galvez mentioned in any American history textbook? Not in any I ever read.
    Back to Quebec…it is correct that they wanted to be left alone…still, many Quebecois left to settle Vincennes, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve and New Orleans, giving further evidence that the Catholic impact upon our nation is greater and goes back further than most of us are aware of.

    Back to Quebec

  • Is this the genesis of the phrase “keep your powder dry?”

  • A good query Pete! The quote is attributed to Cromwell, although I doubt if he said it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trust_in_God_and_keep_your_powder_dry

Washington Refuses to be Beaten

Saturday, December 19, AD 2015

 

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Each year, as Christmas is approaching, I think of a Christmas long ago in 1776.  The year in which we declared our independence from Great Britain was a year of military disaster for the United States.  Washington and his troops had been beaten time after time, and as the end of the year approached the Revolution seemed to be dying.  The British controlled New York, the largest city in the colonies and the major port.  New Jersey had been conquered.  The Continental Congress was in flight from Philadelphia, in expectation that the British would next move on that city.  Washington’s army had been reduced to around 5,000 ill-clad and ill-fed poorly trained troops, vastly outnumbered by their British adversaries and their Hessian mercenaries, all well-trained, well equipped, well clad and well fed.  Most of the enlistments of Washington’s troops would be up by the end of the year, and few of them seemed likely to re-enlist.  Defeat seemed all but inevitable to all but Washington.  In this hour of doom, he rallied his troops and launched the Trenton-Princeton campaign, which restored the morale of his Army, liberated much of New Jersey, and put new heart into American patriots everywhere.  Washington had worked a military miracle.

The feat is all the more impressive, in that privately Washington was well-aware of the odds against him, and feared that defeat was probably likely.  We see that in two letters he wrote on December 10 and 17, 1776, to his nephew Lund Washington, who ran Mount Vernon in his absence:

Dear Lund:

    * * * * *

    I wish to Heaven it was in my power to give you a more favorable account of our situation than it is. Our numbers, quite inadequate to the task of opposing that part of the army under the command of General Howe, being reduced by sickness desertion, and political deaths (on or before the first instant, and having no assistance from the militia), were obliged to retire before the enemy, who were perfectly well informed of our situation, till we came to this place, where I have no idea of being able to make a stand, as my numbers, till joined by the Philadelphia militia, did not exceed three thousand men fit for duty. Now we may be about five thousand to oppose Howe’s whole army, that part of it excepted which sailed under the command of Gen. Clinton. I tremble for Philadelphia. Nothing, in my opinion, but Gen. Lee’s speedy arrival, who has been long expected, though still at a distance (with about three thousand men), can save it. We have brought over and destroyed all the boats we could lay our hands on upon the Jersey shore for many miles above and below this place; but it is next to impossible to guard a shore for sixty miles, with less than half the enemy’s numbers; when by force or strategem they may suddenly attempt a passage in many different places. At present they are encamped or quartered along the other shore above and below us (rather this place, for we are obliged to keep a face towards them) for fifteen miles. ***

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13 Responses to Washington Refuses to be Beaten

  • Great piece, Don.

  • It occurs, Sir, that Madeira is the proper wine for Americans to drink at Christmas.

    I kept a few bottles about up until a few years ago, out of deference to President Washington. That is a habit I think I shall revive.

  • I agree Dave, although being a tee-totaler the question is of purely academic interest for me!

  • Taking time to thank God for our reluctant first President of the United States. Unanimously voted into that office. Thanks go to you as well Mr. McClarey for perspective.
    Keeping alive the spirit of hope in times that seem unmanageable. Washington called upon Almighty God numerous times and this God Almighty was none other than the Trinity.

    No. All religions are not equal. All religions will not guarantee life everlasting. God help America.

  • Bar none, George Washington is the greatest man in American History.
    .
    The British believed that 1777 would be “the year of the hangman.” The Continental army had suffered disastrous after disastrous defeat in New York from August though December 1776 and was on the verge of collapse. God Almighty and His servant George Washington held it together. If it hadn’t been for Washington’s brilliant moves against Trenton and Princeton, it may have been all over.
    .
    Truly, “First in war; first in peace; first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
    .
    On a humorous note: the kids were too young to understand when I used to tell them, “George Washington is the father of our country. Boy, did he get around!”
    .
    Philip, Truth. In fact, some religions are banned. Think the Aztec religion of human sacrifice. That is not protected under the First Amendment. Similarly, Islam and the Koran promote (go read it) hatred and violence against non-Muslims. The fact that a predatory belief system is countenanced by the failed regime and the effete, corrupt elites tells us more about them than it does about Islam.

  • T. Shaw.
    I believe what you write.
    Why do the elites want chaos?
    Is it power grabs and disturbance that creates division and within the division opportunity?

    The Koran and history of Islam is a feature we study at our Holy League gathering’s. The conclusions we arrive at is that we have a serious threat to the liberties we’ve taken for granted for so long. The cry from progressives is that anyone who tries to teach others of the threat, and to prepare themselves is in their minds a group of fear monger’s. Uncaring in the plight of refugees.
    Not true. The vetting process is hindered.
    We do care for innocent life, however we care also of the possible loss of our families lives do to terrorist infiltration.

  • Philip,
    .
    It’s beyond Orwellian.
    .
    Americans are afraid because the regime not only refuses to defend them, it feverishly works to kill more Americans. Obama is bringing (and the taxpayer is paying for it) in tens of thousands more covert mass murderers while acting to confiscate our means of defense. Why? Obama hates us.
    .
    Me. I’m very fearful that my enlarged prostate will have me running to the latrine before I can get some. I don’t need no stinking government employee to keep me safe.
    .
    Obama and progressive elites hate America, Americans, and the uses we make of our property an freedoms equally as much as do devout Muslims.
    .
    Muslims (often funded by Sunni Wahhabi petrodollars and the American taxpayer) divide the World between them and us; dar al-Islam against dar al-harb. It’s motivated almost 14 centuries of desultory invasions, mass murders, and wars. Muslims are expected to bring Allah’s word and will to all of humanity, by force if necessary, and attempts by dar al-harb (the house of war) to resist back must be met with fatal force.
    .
    There are three classes of citizens in dar al-Islam: First Class – Muslim men; Second Class (treated like chattel) – Muslim women; Third Class (treated like dirt) everyone else.

  • UN resolution 2117 dusted!
    In a 53 – 46 Senate Vote the UN arms trade treaty was voted down….thanks be to God.
    This resolution had 21 points.
    Number 11 calls for Member States to support collection of weapons and disarmament in all UN countries.

    46 out of 100 US Senator’s were willing to give away our Constitutional rights to a foreign power. Forty six. Disgraceful!

  • That is good news, Philip. It means one fewer unconstitutional gun restriction of which I will be in violation.
    .
    Re: the idiot progressives’ (I repeat myself, again) asinine gun laws, after the Sandy Hook massacre (It wasn’t me!) CT and NY passed laws requiring registration, or turn in, of so-called assault weapons and high capacity magazines. In CT, approximately 50,000, of an estimated 400,000, were registered, or whatever. CT did nothing. What could it do? In NY, many county sheriffs publicly stated they would not enforce the law. And, guess what: the NY S.A.F.E. law prohibits public reporting of compliance. It’s beneath Orwellian. So much for the idiots’ common sense gun control laws.
    .
    The idiocracy near approaches: 46 senators need to go.
    .

  • T. Shaw.
    “46 Senators need to go.”
    Amen!

  • PHILIP and T Shaw- you can’t hear it but i am wildly applauding your exchange!
    bravi gentlemen …

  • 46 Senators need to go

    Only 46? Seems to me we ought to turn out the whole lot of ’em, just to be sure.

  • 46 senators need to go.
    –T. Shaw

    They don’t feel the need. I’m curious, please reveal what you will do to make even one of them feel the need.

November 13, 1775: Montgomery takes Montreal

Friday, November 13, AD 2015

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Of all the former British officers who fought on the patriot side in the American Revolution, the most militarily talented was Richard Montgomery.  Born near Swords in County Dublin in 1738, he was a member of an Ulster Scots family notable for supplying officers to the British Army.  After studying at Trinity College he joined the 17th Foot in 1756, his father purchasing an ensign’s commission for him.  During the siege of Louisburg in 1758 his courage and initiative earned him promotion to Lieutenant.  In 1759 he participated in the siege of Fort Carillon and in 1760 was made adjutant of the regiment, a singular honor for an officer so young.  During subsequent fighting in the West Indies he was promoted to Captain.  After participating in the suppression of Pontiac’s Rebellion, Montgomery returned to Britain to recover his health, exhausted and ill from years of campaigning.

In Britain he became friends with Whig members of the British Parliament, including Edmund Burke and began to question British policies in America.  He sold his commission in 1772 for 1500 pounds, intent on retiring to America and becoming a gentleman farmer.

In America he married Janet Livingston, sister of future Founding Father Robert Livingston in 1773.  It was a love match marred by a dream in which Janet saw Montgomery being killed in a duel with his brother.  Montgomery responded stoically,  I have always told you that my happiness is not lasting…Let us enjoy it as long as we may and leave the rest to God.

Associated with a strong New York patriot family, additionally politically powerful, Montgomery gradually became a firm patriot, convince that the British government was acting tyrannically against the Americans.  On June 22, 1775 he was appointed a Brigadier General in the newly formed Continental Army and made deputy to Major General Philip Schuyler who commander the Continental forces in the north, charged with the invasion of, or, as the Americans saw it, the liberation of Canada.  Schuyler’s health failing him, Montgomery took command of the invasion force.

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2 Responses to November 13, 1775: Montgomery takes Montreal

  • Somehow, as an industrious genealogy-minded niece of mine said, I’m related to the first “governor” of Montreal.
    Having been there lately with their empty churches, and their public goat-head Satanic worshipping on the main streets, I tend to mostly stay quiet about it.

  • Quebec was one of the most Catholic places on Earth less than 60 years ago….but no more. The Liberal Party destroyed it.
    I began reading a book by Kevin Phillips, 1775. The author points out that the year 1775 was as critical as any other year, and more than most, to the birth of the USA. The author noted the tension and often outright hatred between then Puritan New England and their fellow British subjects, the then Catholics of Quebec. They border each other.
    I have noted before that the rabid anti-Catholicism of New England precluded Quebec from joining the American War for Independence.
    It will be left to the remnant, small as it is, in Quebec to rebuild the Church there. First, they must realize that salvation is not found in politics.

Through a Howling Wilderness

Sunday, November 8, AD 2015

American traitor Benedict Arnold, a 34 year old Connecticut merchant at the beginning of the Revolution, had considerable military ability, as he first demonstrated in his epic march through the Maine wilderness in September-November 1775 on his way to join in a two-pronged attack on Quebec, Brigadier General Richard Montgomery leading the other prong up Lake Champlain.  Traveling over 350 wilderness miles, ill-supplied, Arnold’s force of 1100 was reduced to 600 starving men by the time they reached the Saint Lawrence River on November 9, 1775 across from Quebec.  It was a miracle that Arnold was able to complete the march with such a sizable force.  On November 8, Arnold sent off a report to Washington:

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3 Responses to Through a Howling Wilderness

  • an earlier commentator casually questioned the catholicity of Thaddeus Kosciusko… the Real hero of Saratoga “Bemis Heights” – I’ll let you tell the readers why this Polish Engineer is the real brilliant hero of Bemis heights – and why the I 87 bridges over the mohawk[magua ]RIVERS are named after him … there are 2 clues in there Penguin I for get who it was so i’llpick on penquin fan – washington gave Thaddeus Kosciusko his ceremonial sword and pistols at Fraunces tavern when saying goodbye to all his men- Not to Green, not to the German poofer, not to wayne, but to thaddeus and TK’s near starvation in giving his rations to British prisoners at West point [ he designed it ] is a legend. corporal work of mercy i think feeding the hungry even when you are hungry ……

    through a howling wilderness….. i have finished ‘dark eagle by greg zoller done, patriots on the kennebec by mark young is next i’ve started voices from a wilderness expedition stephen darl;ey…..then i will get to through a howling wildreness tom a dejardain

    But the baddest general up among all those boys was John Stark – to even look at him wafrightening and i know why what happened when he was saving his kid brother from ther abenakis. i’lll tell the story tomorrow- it can be found in the book Washington and his Generrals. he wrote the phrase live free or die on car tags for new hampshire. more tomorrow. om Bad john stARK.

  • John Stark, one of the finest American combat commanders of the American Revolution and the man who, at 81, originated the New Hampshire slogan of live free or die. “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.”

    “Yonder are the Hessians! They were bought for seven pounds and ten pence a man. Are you worth more? Prove it!”

    General John Stark to his men prior to the Battle of Bennington.

  • in the on line book “Washinton and his generals “- one could read how a young john stark saved his younger brother and a friend by delaying an abenaki indian war party using himself as the delay tool- he was captured and forced to run a gauntlet – but Stark was no ordinary captive; he grabbed the first indian in line and gave him a devil of a whoopin- his bravery was noticed by the chief who adopted Stark and made him a member of the tribe. Stark was terribly disfigured in his face by the episode though and was said to be frightful and fearful to behold thereafter…… Gen’l Stark resigned from the Continental army, shortly after the battle of bemis heights, over issues with congress and lesser men being promoted – he was not your every day frontiersman – he wrote the phrase ‘live free or die’ in a letter to his fellow warriors who were having a reunion which stark was too old and feeble to attend. We need more john starks today!

Penobscot Debacle

Wednesday, October 21, AD 2015

One of the great fiascos in American military history, the Penobscot Expedition of 1779 has faded into almost complete obscurity.

The British had long wished to form a new colony for displaced Loyalists.  What is now the State of Maine seemed perfect for the proposed colony of New Ireland.  The forests of the new colony would supply ample naval stores for the Royal Navy, and due to its location it could also serve as a base for raids on New England.

In June of 1779 the British constructed Fort George on a small peninsula jutting into Penobscot Bay.  The garrison consisted of 700 regulars: 50 men of the Royal Artillery and Engineers, 450 of the 74th Regiment of (Highland) Foot and 200 of the 82nd (Duke of Hamilton’s) Regiment, all under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis McLean.

Massachusetts reacted promptly to this invasion of territory the Bay State claimed.  An expedition of 44 ships and 1000 troops, Continental Marines and Massachusetts militia, was rapidly gathered.  Lieutenant Colonel Paul Revere commanded the artillery.  The expedition arrived at Penobscot Bay on July 25, 1779.

On July 28, 1779 an assault by land was made against Fort George.  The Americans incurred casualties of approximately one hundred men but took the heights near the Fort.  The high casualties of this day seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of the leaders of the expedition.  Brigadier General Solomon Lovell contented himself with besieging the fort, while Commodore Dudley Saltonstall, who would be cashiered from the Continental Navy for his performance during this expedition,  refused to close with and destroy the small British fleet off Fort George, despite frequent requests from Lovell that this be done and for Saltonstall to bombard Fort George.

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October 17, 1777: Saratoga

Saturday, October 17, AD 2015

Yonder are the Hessians! They were bought for seven pounds and ten pence a man. Are you worth more? Prove it!

General John Stark to his men prior to the Battle of Bennington

 

 

 

 

Something for the weekend.  The Fate of John Burgoyne sung by Bobby Horton, turning his attention to the music of the Revolution rather than his usual stomping grounds, the Civil War.  Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago the turning point of the American Revolution occurred with the surrender of his British army by Major General John “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne.  A playwright and sometime member of Parliament, Burgoyne has gone down in history as something of a fop and an amateur incompetent soldier.  This is unjust to him.  Burgoyne was a career officer who took his duties seriously and his overall military record indicates above average ability combined with a streak of ruthlessness.  However, his invasion of northern New York in 1777 with 7,000 troops from Canada was doomed by events largely out of control.

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Supposedly his invasion was to be coordinated with the efforts of General Howe commanding the main British army in New York.  However, no orders were issued to Howe requiring such coordination and he embarked on a campaign against the American de facto capital of Philadelphia, leaving Burgoyne to fend for himself among the wilds of frontier northern New York.

His was a polyglot force, much of it ill-suited for frontier fighting.  That was certainly the case with his Hessian mercenaries and British regulars.  The Loyalists and Indians under his command were more suited for the area but brought their own problems including lack of discipline and a desire for loot and sometimes murder.

The campaign started well for Burgoyne and by July 6 he had taken the strategic fort of Ticonderoga, the gateway to northern New York.  Then the campaign went south for him as Burgoyne’s army proceeded south.  The first blow was that a column led by Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger that was to cooperate with Burgoyne, became bogged down besieging Fort Stanwix in western New York.  Patriot Tryon County militia under General Nicholas Herkimer fought a bloody battle against St. Leger’s Indian auxiliaries at Oriskany.  Losses on both sides were devastating with General Herkimer being mortally wounded.  Indian morale plummeted due to their losses.  Patriot General Benedict Arnold caused St. Leger to break the siege and retreat by using loyalist Hans Yost to spread among the Indians the news that Arnold, actually leading a small force, was on his way to relieve Fort Stanwix with an army as numerous as the leaves of a forest.  Without the support of his Indian allies, St. Leger had no choice but to retreat.

Burgoyne’s campaign suffered its worst single blow when Indians from Burgoyne’s army on July 27, 1777 murdered Jane McCrea, a young woman on her way to visit her sweetheart, ironically a Loyalist officer with Burgoyne’s army.  News of her murder spread like wildfire and converted hordes of Loyalists to being Patriots over night.  Thousands of militia poured into the American army of the North, and across northern New York a common sign on cabins, farms and businesses read:  “Gone to fight Burgoyne.”

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3 Responses to October 17, 1777: Saratoga

  • Great history, I know the area very well. I found it interesting that your map also named four USN aircraft carriers: the Bennington, Saratoga, Oriskany, and my old ship the USS Lake Champlain.

  • I just noticed a couple of other items The Ticonderoga, and my brother’s old ship the USN cruiser, the USS Albany.
    There was time when the navy named carriers after old battles.

  • Don McC- allow me to insert my oar on an aspect of this battle that has been pretty much lost over time- the great Catholic Warrior Thaddeus Kosciuszko.

    you wrote ‘ General Washington, while desperately needing every man against Howe’s force, did not neglect the North, and sent some of his elite units, including Colonel Daniel Morgan’s corps of riflemen, to bolster the northern army, now commanded in a lackluster fashion by Major General Horatio Gates’.

    the great Washington sent, by order of congress, the coward Gates, And on his own wisdom col Morgan, Gen’l Arnold and Thaddeus. Congress had transferred command of the northern Dept. of the continental army from Philip Schuyler to Gates. Gates never visited the battle front in either phase of the battle. It was Thaddeus Kosciuszko upon arrival reconnoitered north of the ‘sprouts of the Mohawk river’ and advised the confrontation battle to stop Burgoyne be conducted by the Continentals at the narrows of a place called Bemis Heights, a ravine much more favorable to the Rebel Army rather, compared to Pebbles island as Schuyler had anticipated.

    Thaddeus saved the day as he had previously saved Washingtons’ bacon with fortifications near Philadelphia. Kosciuszkos’ military engineering skill facilitated the win for the Americans. Tradition has it Washington had a special affection for Thaddeus and gave Thaddeus his ceremonial sword, to him alone among all his warriors including Green, upon Departing Fraunces Tavern and the formal tearful goodbye of “his Excellency ” to his staff in December of 83!

    they really appreciated one another!

    couple of other bulletts- the battle plan was arrived at in a council of war with Gen’l Clinton[ then governor of NY] , Gates and Schuyler. in late august 77. at the VanSchaick mansion which still stands.
    Ben Arnold ‘ volunteered’ to go relieve Gansevoort at Ft. Schuyler [stanwicks ] and left the Van Schaick/ Pebbles island area leading Learneds brigade of 800 in August of 77, he sent col. st Ledger packing back to canada, relieved the fort and returned to Bemis heights in time to save the day at ‘ Saratoga ” [ breymans redoubt at Bemis heights !

    Gates initially balked[refused] at accepting the command of the northern dept. since the troops were so ill fed, naked and ill armed. They has just spent the last 30 days heroically delaying Burgoyne coming down from Skenesboro [Whitehall] N.Y..
    P.Schuyler ‘borrowed’ $10k in gold from his in law J. VanSchaick and funded the equipping of the army to facilitate the transfer of command ; Schuyler was never repaid by our Congress.

September 22, 1776: Nathan Hale’s Only Regret

Tuesday, September 22, AD 2015

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How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country.

Joseph Addison, Cato (1712)

Death at 21 is always a tragedy, but Nathan Hale’s heroic death 239 years ago today ensured him Earthly immortality.  A schoolmaster before the Revolution, he was a Captain in the 7th Connecticut when he volunteered to take on the immensely dangerous task of being a spy, at the request of General Washington, behind enemy lines in New York City.  He was soon captured by the British, perhaps betrayed by his Tory cousin Samuel Hale.  Interviewed by General Howe, his fate was a foregone conclusion:  spies were always to be executed.

The night before he died he requested a Bible and a member of the clergy.  Both requests were denied.  According to British officer Frederick MacKensie, who was present, Hale met his death with great fortitude:

He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.

At the foot of the gallows, before he entered eternity, he uttered the comment that has ensured that his memory will be cherished as long as their is a United States of America.  British Captain John Montresor, who was present, told under a flag of truce to American Captain William Hull the next day:

“On the morning of his execution, my station was near the fatal spot, and I requested the Provost Marshal to permit the prisoner to sit in my marquee, while he was making the necessary preparations. Captain Hale entered: he was calm, and bore himself with gentle dignity, in the consciousness of rectitude and high intentions. He asked for writing materials, which I furnished him: he wrote two letters, one to his mother and one to a brother officer. He was shortly after summoned to the gallows. But a few persons were around him, yet his characteristic dying words were remembered. He said, “I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.””

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4 Responses to September 22, 1776: Nathan Hale’s Only Regret

  • “….saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief…”

    How reminiscent of Nuremburg (no degradation intended–just wonder)

  • In the much more civilized era in which he lived, Hale could never have dreamt of the horrors of the Twentieth Century. He was also responding in his comment to friends who thought acting as a spy to be dishonorable and disreputable. Washington throughout the War placed a high value on spies, constantly receiving valuable intelligence from them. If Washington thought such activity honorable and patriotic, that was good enough for Hale.

  • Donald McClarey: This is beautiful. Thank You. Nathan Hale was denied a bible and a clergyman. Freedom of religion, exactly what the War of Revolution was fought for. Freedom to choose one’s relationship with God,.. not to have the state’s religion imposed… and the English proved Nathan Hale right.

  • ” the duty of every good Officer” I believe that the word “good” is essential. Any Commander -in-Chief, such as Hitler, who violates humanity impeaches himself. Like self excommunication, any person who violates truth and Justice makes himself anathema.

Fortnight For Freedom: Catholics in the American Revolution

Friday, July 3, AD 2015

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

 

Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.

Pope Leo XIII

American Catholics, a very small percentage of the population of the 13 colonies, 1.6 percent, were overwhelmingly patriots and played a role in the American Revolution out of all proportion to the small fragment of the American people they represented.  Among the Catholics who assumed leadership roles in the fight for our liberty were:

General Stephen Moylan  a noted cavalry commander and the first Muster Master-General of the Continental Army.

Captains Joshua Barney and John Barry,  two of the most successful naval commanders in the American Revolution.

Colonel John Fitzgerald was a trusted aide and private secretary to General George Washington.

Father Pierre Gibault, Vicar General of Illinois, whose aid was instrumental in the conquest of the Northwest for America by George Rogers Clark.

Thomas Fitzsimons served as a Pennsylvania militia company commander during the Trenton campaign.  Later in the War he helped found the Pennsylvania state navy.  After the War he was one of the two Catholic signers of the U.S. Constitution in 1787

Colonel Thomas Moore led a Philadelphia regiment in the War.

Major John Doyle led a group of elite riflemen during the War.

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3 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom: Catholics in the American Revolution

  • Let us not forget the contribution made by the Spanish Navy. They attacked English shipping in the Caribbean and kicked the English out of the Mississippi Valley. The society ladies of Havana, Cuba (it is difficult to believe that Cuba was ever wealthy) assisted General Washington with their own funds.

    Was it not mentioned in this blog that Fray Serra, the evangelist of California, assisted the cause for independence with his own funds?

    The Church was already in existence in St. Augustine, St. Louis, New Orleans, parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California before independence though not subject to Great Britain. This is part of American history, but a matter for another time. I mention this because the Church has a history in this country that predates any other Christian church and we should all know this.

  • During the American Revolution in 1778 Serra prayed for the success of George Washington and sent off $137.00 to him collected in donations from his missions.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2015/05/04/popewatch-junipero-serra/

  • 2nd Canadian Regiment From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Active 1776–1783
    Allegiance Second Continental Congress of the United States
    Type Infantry
    Size 1,000 authorized
    Part of Continental Army
    Nickname Congress’ Own, Hazen’s
    Motto Pro aris et focis
    Colors Brown and Yellow stripes
    Engagements Battle of Staten Island
    Battle of Brandywine
    Battle of Germantown
    Siege of Yorktown

    Notable commanders Moses Hazen

    The 2nd Canadian Regiment, also known as Congress’ Own or Hazen’s Regiment, was authorized on January 20, 1776, as an Extra Continental regiment and raised in the province of Quebec for service with the Continental Army under the command of Colonel Moses Hazen. All or part of the regiment saw action at Staten Island, Brandywine, Germantown and the Siege of Yorktown. Most of its non-combat time was spent in and around New York City as part of the forces monitoring the British forces occupying that city. The regiment was disbanded on November 15, 1783 at West Point, New York.

    The regiment was one of a small number of Continental Army regiments that was the direct responsibility of the Continental Congress (most regiments were funded and supplied by a specific state). Commanded by Colonel (later Brigadier General) Moses Hazen for its entire existence, the regiment was originally made up of volunteers and refugees from Quebec (some of the officers but most of the enlisted men were Catholics whose families had settled in Canada when it was known as New France (my words)) who supported the rebel cause during the disastrous Invasion of Canada. Hazen and his staff were later authorized by Congress to recruit in other areas to supplement their ranks.

Fortnight For Freedom: A Just War

Monday, June 30, AD 2014

Fortnight For Freedom 2014

As we approach the Fourth of July we celebrate American independence and the liberties we enjoy.  Independence was won on the battlefield.  Was the American Revolution a just war is therefore a question that should be asked and answered.

Based on the just war doctrine first enunciated by Saint Augustine, I believe the American Revolution was a just war.

 

Over the centuries the precise content of the just war doctrine has varied.  The classic definition of it by Saint Thomas Aquinas is set forth in Part II, Question 40 of his Summa Theologica:

“I answer that, In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war, because he can seek for redress of his rights from the tribunal of his superior. Moreover it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime. And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, according to the words of the Apostle (Rm. 13:4): “He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil”; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies. Hence it is said to those who are in authority (Ps. 81:4): “Rescue the poor: and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner”; and for this reason Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 75): “The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority.”

Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault. Wherefore Augustine says (Questions. in Hept., qu. x, super Jos.): “A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.”

Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. [*The words quoted are to be found not in St. Augustine’s works, but Can. Apud. Caus. xxiii, qu. 1]): “True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.” For it may happen that the war is declared by the legitimate authority, and for a just cause, and yet be rendered unlawful through a wicked intention. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 74): “The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war.”

The most recent formulation of the Just War doctrine for the Church is set forth in the Catechism at 2309:

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