Origins of a Revolutionary Orator

Studley state historical marker

State of Virginia historical marker for Studley

Nestled in Hanover County, VA, near where modern residential communities meet farm fields that have been worked for centuries, is the site of a colonial-era plantation home called Studley.  It was here on this site that Patrick Henry, the “Voice of the Revolution”, was born.

A 600-acre tobacco plantation, Studley was built in the 1720’s for its original owner, Colonel John Syme and his bride, Sarah, the former Sarah Winston.  The surrounding community, as it does today, took its name from the site. (By the mid-19th century, the Studley area was called Haws Shop, after a nearby blacksmith shop.  In the latter part of May, 1864, Union and Confederate cavalry units fought a dismounted action here just prior to the battle of Cold Harbor.  Prominent among the Union commanders engaged was Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer.)

Sketch of Studley

Sketch of Studley

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Uncovering the Continental Army in Morristown

Part of an ongoing series about the Continental Army in Morristown, New Jersey. To read previous posts, click here.

All that remains is a historical marker, on the side of North Park Place across the street from Morristown Green. For a few months, between January 1777 and May 1777, in this location, the headquarters of the Continental Army was located. Within that headquarters, obviously, was George Washington.


Arnold’s Tavern historic sign (author’s collection)

Although no specific date of construction exists, it is believed that Arnold’s Tavern was built by Samuel Arnold between 1735 and 1750. By the time of the American Revolution owned by the son, Colonel Jacob Arnold. The structure was three stories high, with a wide hallway that bisected the building, a front and back parlor, barroom, dining room, and kitchen. Continue reading

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Is the Mercer Legacy Secure?

In one of the songs of the Broadway hit Hamilton, the character of Aaron Burr says: “Did ya hear the news about good old General Mercer? You know Clermont Street? They renamed it after him. The Mercer legacy is secure.”

The line is referring to Mercer Street in lower Manhattan.  Ironically, while they mention in the musical that the renaming of this street secures Mercer’s legacy, many Americans probably have never heard of General Mercer, nor do they know what his true legacy was.


A drawing study John Trumbull did of Hugh Mercer for his painting of the Battle of Princeton.  He likely used Mercer’s son as a stand in. (Wikimedia Commons)

Hugh Mercer was regarded as one of the greatest American heroes of the Revolutionary War, at least by his contemporaries.  Interestingly, though, Mercer was born in Great Britain, (Scotland to be exact) and studied at the University of Aberdeen to be a medical doctor.  After graduating, he joined the Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army as an assistant surgeon and witnessed the bloody destruction of that army on the fields of Culloden in 1746.  The young 20 year old became a fugitive in his own land.


The Battle of Culloden decimated the Jacobite forces in April of 1746.  The suicidal battle followed an aborted night attack that could have possibly resulted in a Jacobite victory. (Wikimedia Commons)

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Uncovering the Continental Army in Morristown

Part of an ongoing series of about the Continental Army in Morristown, New Jersey. For the first post, click here.

“The smallpox has made such head in every quarter that I find it impossible to keep it from spreading thro’ the whole army the natural way.” General George Washington wrote in February 1777.

By the time the Continental Army was encamped in Morrristown, Washington had become a firm believer in the inoculations for smallpox for the entire army. The inoculation process would entail the following: Continue reading

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Memorial Day

Emerging Revolutionary War wishes everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day remembrance.

Beginning with the sacrifices of the soldiers in the American Revolution to the present day, let us take a moment for all those who made that ultimate sacrifice and whose remains lay in unknown graves scattered throughout the country and globe.

In conclusion, John Stark, former general in the American Revolution, in a written announcement commemorating the anniversary of the Battle of Bennington wrote;

“Live free or die; Death is not the worst of evils.” 

Thank you to all those who have fallen so we can have the chance to live free.



*Grave of an American Revolutionary War veteran in Hanover County, Virginia. (photo courtesy of M. Wilcox)

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Uncovering the Continental Army in Morristown

Approximately one month ago, I took a temporary detail assignment to Morristown National Historical Park. The national park preserves the winter cantonments of the Continental Army during the American Revolution; including the harshest winter, weather-wise, of the entire war, in 1779-1780.

For parts of multiple winters and even during the campaigning season, Washington’s forces would come to Morristown, situated behind the Watchung Mountains, which provided safety but also a perch to monitor the British in the New York City.

The town still bears witnesses to this rich legacy of housing soldiers, with historic buildings and signs dotted around the spiraling town. On a walk the other day, I came across the house below, with a small plaque situated on the front of the dwelling.


The home saw soldiers use it for their encampments throughout the majority of the war years. On his return to the United States the Marquis de Lafayette was welcomed with a reception in the building as well, which is in the photo below.


Morristown is filled with tidbits of history from the American Revolution and I as spend the next few months there as a park ranger, I will share what I come across. So, stay tuned as I uncover the history of the place that “Saved America” according to the park’s unofficial slogan.


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Visiting Carlyle House


Carlyle House from the Front (Author Photo)

William Griffith’s examination of the Carlyle House Congress last month (The Carlyle House Congress and Britain’s Military Objectives for 1755) reminded me that I had been remiss in not visiting the site.   So, the family and I set off for Alexandria, VA and a visit to John Carlyle’s home.

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