Americana Corner

Our monthly recap of what our good friend and fellow historian Tom Hand has written on his blog, AmericanaCorner.

The Legacy of Paul Revere
November 2, 2021

Paul Revere began his famous ride from Boston to Concord, around 11:00pm on April 18, 1775, informing the residents and militiamen that the British were on the march. He arrived in Lexington, a town about 10 miles from Boston, around midnight. Read more here.

Lexington and Concord: Minutemen in Arms
November 9, 2021

The Battles of Lexington and Concord, fought on April 19, 1775, marked the start of America’s war for independence from England. The story of that fight is an inspiring account of how everyday Americans came together to resist the power of Great Britain. Read more here.

Lexington and Concord: The Shot Heard Round the World
November 16, 2021

The fight between our Minutemen and the British regulars at Lexington was over in a matter of minutes, and the British began the seven-mile march to Concord. By now, reports of the shooting had reached the minutemen in the surrounding area, and they began to assemble. A bad day for the British was about to begin. Read more here.

The Battle of Bunker Hill
November 23, 2021

The Battle of Bunker Hill, fought on June 17, 1775, is one of the most iconic and familiar events in American history. It was our first pitched battle against the British army and, although technically a defeat, the efforts of the American militiamen were inspirational. Read more here.

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Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789

Emerging Revolutionary War wishes everyone a “Happy Thanksgiving!”

On October 3, 1789, George Washington, as president of the United States of America, issued a “thanksgiving proclamation” designating November 26 as a day of “public thanksgiving.” The statement found its way into newspapers, as depicted in the image below. The text of Washington’s proclamation is typed out below as well.

(courtesy of Mount Vernon)

“By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington”

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“Rev War Revelry” Spends an Evening on Lake George Battlefield

With the turkey eaten, Black Friday shopping completed, and a slate of American football watched, and prior to cyber Monday beginning, Emerging Revolutionary War invites you to tune in for a historian happy hour. This week “Rev War Revelry” returns to the French and Indian War and welcomes as guests Lake George Battlefield Park Alliance President John DiNuzzi and the Board of Trustee Member Lyn Hohmann.

The discussion will entail their organizations effort to preserve and interpret one of the America’s most historical places and hallowed ground.

“The Lake George Battlefield Park was the scene of major battles during the French and Indian War and American Revolutionary War, and the home of Fort George, a key anchor of first British and then American military strategies in those world-changing conflicts. Enveloped by the natural beauty of the Adirondack Mountains in the town of Lake George, the site’s history reflects its prominence as part of the crucial Hudson River-Lake George-Lake Champlain corridor in the mid-to-late 18th Century.”

The Lake George Battlefield Park Alliance’s effort to commemorate the ground is so invaluable to telling the overall story. Joining the two guest historians and preservationists will be ERW historian Billy Griffith who is an author on a book with the HistoryPress on the actions around Lake George.

Grab that last remaining beer, tune in to our Facebook page this Sunday, at 7 p.m. EDT, and hear the amazing work being done in New York. How else would you want to round out the holiday weekend?

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Inaugural Emerging Revolutionary War Bus Tour a Success!

The group at Washington’s Crossing with George Washington himself!

Over the past weekend, Emerging Revolutionary War historians led a bus tour of the battlefields of Trenton and Princeton.  Based on Mark Maloy’s book, Victory or Death, the tour took participants throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey following in the footsteps of George Washington’s army.  Led by Mark Maloy and Billy Griffith, attendees were treated first to a Friday night lecture that explained the American defeats in the summer of 1776 that put Washington and his army in a dire position.  That night guests were given tour packets and free tee shirts provided by our friends at Americana Corner.  People were also able to purchase books from the Emerging Revolutionary War series, as all the authors were in attendance.

On Saturday, guests from as far as Alabama, Maine, and Ohio piled into a sold out 56 passenger bus.  First we visited Washington’s headquarters from early December 1776 at Summerseat in Morrisville, Pennsylvania before driving by Washington’s headquarters where he hatched the plan to attack Trenton.  We then drove by Nathanael Greene’s headquarters where Washington informed his commanders at a council of war about the plan.  We visited the Thompson-Neely House and the nearby soldiers’ graves where numerous unknown patriots lie buried.  Our last stop before lunch was the location location where Washington crossed the Delaware River at McConkey’s Ferry on Christmas night.

After a picnic lunch, the group crossed the Delaware themselves and traveled the same path the patriots took to Trenton.  As we arrived in downtown Trenton a sudden and severe storm blew through, which added a flash of drama to an already dramatic story.  The attendees braved the gusty winds and raindrops to listen about how the battle played out from the location of Col. Henry Knox’s artillery and walk down the streets those brave men fought on almost 250 years ago.

Mark Maloy describes the Battle of Trenton.

After looking at the site of some of the heaviest fighting on December 26, 1776, the group traveled down to the banks of the Assunpink Creek.  There we learned about the intervening time between December 26, 1776 and January 2, 1777 and the Battle of Assunpink Creek that occurred on that day.  After looking at a statue to George Washington, we went and saw the house Washington held a council of war in and made one of the boldest decisions of the war: to disengage the British and make an overnight 12 mile march to strike the British rearguard at Princeton.

We then loaded on the bus and traveled most of the route of Washington’s army and made it back to our hotel.  After a fun evening of enjoying the company of others, we were ready for our final day of touring.

Mark Maloy and Billy Griffith describe the lead up to the crossing of the Delaware River.

On Sunday, the day was cool and clear.  We traveled to Princeton Battlefield State Park.  Here we learned about the meeting engagement that occurred on the morning of January 3, 1777. We learned how Washington rallied his breaking troops and led a charge against the British regulars.  Following in the footsteps of the patriots from 1777, we walked across the field they did and saw the Mercer oak and learned of the brutal hand to hand combat that occurred in that area.  We then walked to the site of a mass grave of British and American troops and listened to how the battle and campaign ended.

Afterwards we were treated to a look inside the Thomas Clarke House, where General Hugh Mercer died, and then traveled to our final stop.  At the Princeton Battle Monument, we closed out the tour focusing on how the campaign has been remembered over the years and the importance of keeping those memories alive for future generations.

The tour was an outstanding success with many positive reactions and many signups for next year.  Next year we are planning a tour of Monmouth battlefield and Valley Forge.  Emerging Revolutionary War loves connecting the stories from history to the places where they occurred.  If you would like to have a fun, engaging, and unique experience learning about the Revolutionary War, sign up today, as we expect it will sell out again!

A happy bus full of people after two days of exploring the Ten Crucial Days!
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Americana Corner

Our monthly recap of what our good friend and fellow historian Tom Hand has written on his blog, AmericanaCorner.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
October 26th

The story of Paul Revere and his Midnight Ride is one of the many fascinating subjects of the grand American past. Taking place in conjunction with the Battles of Lexington and Concord, on April 19, 1775, the tale has passed down from generation to generation. Read more here.

Forefathers Gather at Historic First Continental Congress
October 19th

The First Continental Congress was a key link in the chain of events that led to our nation’s gaining its independence from England. The brief convention brought together most of the influential leaders from colonial America to determine an answer to Parliament’s recently enacted Coercive Acts. Read more here.

The Boston Tea Party Takes Colonists Past the Point of No Return
October 12th

The Boston Tea Party is one of the most iconic moments in American history. In some ways, it sealed our fate to separate from England and become our own nation. The road that led to this watershed event began several years earlier with the Townshend Acts. Read more here.

Aftermath of the Boston Massacre
October 5th

The violence on the evening of March 5, 1770, in Boston is known to us today as the Boston Massacre. It was an unfortunate incident that left five people dead and growing anger between American colonists and leaders in England. Read more here.

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“Rev War Revelry” Headless Hessians and Other German Tales from the Revolution

After you give out the last piece of candy or consume the last piece of candy or just need a break from the doorbell ringing and handing out candy, join Emerging Revolutionary War for our latest “Rev War Revelry” this Sunday, at 7 p.m. EDT, on our Facebook page. This next installment of the historian happy hour will discuss Headless Hessians and other German tales from the American Revolution.

Joining Emerging Revolutionary War historians Kevin Pawlak and Mark Wilcox will be guest historian Ross Schwalm who specializes in the history of Hessians and their role in the American Revolutionary era. Besides diving into this tale on Halloween night, the history behind Washington Irving’s fictional tale will also be discussed.

Questions such as; Was the Headless Horsemen really a Headless Hessian? What is fact and what is fiction? The answers to these questions and more (and we encourage questions from the viewers) will be answered this Sunday. Grab your favorite pumpkin beverage and/or Halloween treat and tune in to this exciting “Rev War Revelry.”

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A Citizen of the World

   The air was stifling on the morning of August 16, 1780. It was made worse by the acrid smoke from the musket and artillery fire that hung low under the canopy of tall, Long Leaf pines that grew on either side of the Great Wagon Road leading to the small town of Camden, South Carolina. The battle fought on that morning between the forces of American Major General Horatio Gates and British Lieutenant General Charles, Earl Cornwallis was short; less than an hour.

   Most of the militia troops on the American left flank fled from the field shortly after the first shots were fired but the hard-bitten Continentals on the right, men from Maryland and Delaware, stood fast and paid a severe price, holding against the British regular and loyalist infantry until cavalry forces under the dreaded Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton swept in on their rear. Then, for the American regulars, it became a game of escape and survival. 

   For the American commander, Horatio Gates, the loss at Camden would be a nightmare. Having been swept from the field early in the battle with the retreating militia, he would ultimately leave his Continental troops to fend for themselves as he made his escape. Thus, the reputation of the former “Hero of Saratoga” would be marred forever. One officer who would not make his escape from this field, however, was the commander of the American right wing, Major General Baron Johann de Kalb.

Baron de Kalb

He was a seasoned veteran of many European battlefields. Commanding the Maryland and Delaware Continental troops at Camden, the German-born 59 year-old de Kalb would continue leading his troops, fighting valiantly throughout the battle until wounds brought him down, forcing him out of action. He would be later found on the battlefield by the British, having suffered 11 wounds in the engagement. According to his Aide-De-Camp, le Chevalier de Buysson, the Baron “having had his horse killed under him, fell into the hands of the enemy, pierced with eight wounds of bayonets and three musket balls.” The two officers were taken to Camden where de Kalb was treated by Lord Cornwallis’ own surgeon; he died on August 19. Of their captivity, de Buysson would write: “Lord Cornwallis and Rawdon treated us with the greatest civility. The baron, dying of his wounds two days after the action, was buried with all the honors of war, and his funeral attended by all the officers of the British army.”

   Reportedly buried alongside British officers likewise killed in the battle, Baron de Kalb’s original grave site was located in a field near Meeting Street, between Broad and Church Streets “in the southwestern part of the town.” On his tour of the southern states in 1791, President George Washington visited the grave of the gallant Baron de Kalb. Over time though, the exact location of this site was forgotten. In the early 1820’s, an extensive search was begun to locate the grave. Leading the way in the search were the Masons of South Carolina who were intent upon finding the original resting place of this brother in freemasonry.

   Baron de Kalb had come to America from France in 1777 to help in the fight for independence. Having fought with the French Army in the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War, he’d had a distinguished military career in Europe. He traveled to America with the wealthy young French aristocrat, the 20-year-old  Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. These two men couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds. Lafayette was genteel and extremely well educated, having been born into a family known for their vast wealth. Johann de Kalb was a farmer’s son. But, along with his military accomplishments, he’d married well and amassed a fortune of his own. By all accounts, these two very different men had a mutual respect for one another and at least one thing in common; they were both Freemasons.

   With the rediscovery of Baron de Kalb’s grave site in the early 1820’s, it was decided that his remains would be carefully removed to the yard of Bethesda Presbyterian Church in the center of Camden where a proper monument would be erected. The people of South Carolina contributed handsomely to the design of the monument and the accompanying dedication ceremony. The monument was designed by artist Robert Mills, who had likewise designed the church where it would be erected along with the United States Treasury Building and the Washington Monument in Washington City.  The ceremony was planned and the cornerstone for the new monument to Baron de Kalb would be laid in March 1825. Laying the cornerstone would be none other than his brother Freemason, the Marquis de Lafayette.

   Now in his late 60’s, the aged hero had made a triumphant return to the United States in August 1824 and begun a grand tour of the country. As part of his tour, the Marquis and his party arrived in Camden on March 8, 1825. On behalf of the Baron de Kalb Monument Committee, General Lafayette was invited to lay the cornerstone of the new monument to which he readily agreed. He was escorted into Camden with military honors; banquets and speeches would follow. On March 9, a procession bearing the remains of Baron de Kalb formed and marched to the monument site, in the yard of Bethesda Presbyterian Church. After an invocation, the remains were laid to rest in a vault. With members of the Kershaw Lodge offering appropriate Masonic honors, the Marquis de Lafayette laid the cornerstone. The final work on the marble monument that would be erected over the vault was completed in 1827. Inscribed on the monument are these words: “Here lie the remains of Baron De Kalb, German by birth, but in principle, citizen of the world”.

Grave of Baron de Kalb

   After laying the cornerstone, nearly 50 years after the two men had first arrived together in America, Lafayette offered a few noble remarks about his friend. “His able conduct, undaunted valor, and glorious fall in the first battle of Camden, form one of the remarkable traits of our struggle for independence and freedom. He was cordially devoted to our American cause, and while his public and private qualities have endeared him to his contemporaries, here I remain to pay to his merits on this tomb, the tribute of an admiring witness, of an intimate companion, of a mourning friend.” It was certainly a fitting tribute.

   In modern times, Baron de Kalb’s legacy continues. After nearly 200 years, a new statue bearing his likeness was unveiled in October 2021. Created by sculptor Maria J. Kirby-Smith, the new statue stands on the grounds of the Revolutionary War Visitor Center in Camden, SC. This will be one of the many stops along The Liberty Trail, a “unified path of preservation and interpretation across South Carolina” that will tell the story of the Revolutionary War in the South. The Liberty Trail is currently under development  through a partnership between the American Battlefield Trust and the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust.

New Statue of Baron de Kalb

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“Rev War Revelry” The Battle of Iron Works Hill and the Thirteen Crucial Days

When one thinks of December 1776 in American Revolutionary War history, one’s mind immediately goes to Washington crossing the Delaware River and the Battle of Trenton, fought on December 26th. Historians refer to that engagement as the beginning of the “Ten Crucial Days” that culminated with the American victory at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777.

However, days prior, American militia under Colonel Samuel Griffin fought an engagement with Hessian troops under the command of Colonel Carl von Donop. The actions occurred on December 22 and 23, 1776. Although the American forces were pushed out of their positions, the end result was the occupation of Bordentown by Donop and his troops, approximately 10 miles from their fellow Hessian comrades at Trenton.

To discuss these engagements, collectively known as the Battle of Iron Works Hill, Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes historian Adam Zelinski to “Rev War Revelry.” Zelinski is a writer and published historian and has worked on various projects with the American Battlefield Trust and the American Revolution Museum in Philadelphia. He will also speak on some exciting news coming out of the Iron Works battlefield too.

Emerging Revolutionary War looks forward to you tuning in, this Sunday, at 7 p.m. EST on our Facebook page as we discuss another component of the 1776 campaign season as we prepare for our inaugural bus tour of the Trenton and Princeton battlefields next month (only 4 tickets left!). If you can’t make it on Sunday night, you will be able to find it later (along with all our videos) on our YouTube page.

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Down the Rabbit Hole with Three Captains Johnny

On the afternoon of June 4, 1782 in the grasslands of western Ohio, a Pennsylvania volunteer named Francis Dunlavy spent a portion of his time trying to shoot a Native American he later called “Big Captain Johnny.”  For his part, the Indian attempted with equal passion to kill Dunlavy.  At some point, they worked themselves into a position on opposite sides of a recently fallen tree at the edge of a wood that adorned a modest, but noticeable rise that could pass for a hill in the surrounding plain.  Even dropped on its side, the tree still held a full canopy of leaves, and the two combatants stalked each other around it.    Eventually, “Big Captain Johnny” saw his opening.  He was close enough to rise and hurl tomahawks at Dunlavy.   Fortunately, he missed and Dunlavy survived to relate the tale to his friends and family.  In 1872, more than 30 years after Dunlavy passed, his family related the tale to C.W. Butterfield, who wrote the first history of the Crawford Campaign.  Before telling the story again, I wanted to confirm it.  That meant searching for Francis Dunlavy and Captain Johnny anywhere, and everywhere, they might have left footprints in history. 

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Artistic License and the French Artillery Park at Yorktown, A Case Study

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Karl G. Elsea

It is common for artists to use “artistic license” when painting historic events including American Revolutionary War art. The problem is this practice also

aids inaccuracies persisting. Here is one case study of one picture involving an historic event that is presented by the National Park Service (NPS) at Yorktown. Please note the staff is helpful and the grounds are beautiful. As for the severity of the problem, the reader can decide after reading the information.

The following picture is from the field at Yorktown where the French Artillery Park was located. The picture illustrates the idea of what an artillery park was.

The problem is this picture contains a number of images that are wrong. For example, the carriages, wagons, carts, and limbers should be painted light blue. The French Army artillery had been painted light blue prior to 1750. There is a lot of confusion to this day concerning gun and limber carriage colors. This confusion may have been generated by a current belief there was one French artillery color. The French used the color of the items to assist which department owned the material. The French Navy department [Ministry of Marine] was responsible for the colonies, including North America, and their cannon were on red carriages with, in all most all cases, iron barrels. The French Quartermaster’s department had their wagons were painted a brighter red. The French Army artillery was painted light blue with bronze barrels. Thus, the French Army barrels shown should appear to be “brass.”

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