Chief Cornstalk’s American Revolution (part one)

Chief Cornstalk (Wikimedia Commons).jpg

Chief Cornstalk after an 1870 rendering (Wikimedia Commons)

The American Revolution on the frontier was brutal.  Neutrality was difficult position to maintain, but some Native American tribes attempted it.  In the Ohio River Valley, it was particularly challenging.  But, for a time the Shawnee and Delaware tribes in modern-day Ohio sought to navigate their way between British power in Detroit and the Americans in Pittsburgh.  Chief Hokoleskwa, known as Cornstalk among the whites, was a leader of the pro-peace factions of the Shawnee.  Unfortunately, it got him killed. Continue reading

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The Carlyle House Congress and Britain’s Military Objectives for 1755

The campaigns of 1755 began when Britain’s ranking military leaders in North America met in Alexandria, Virginia with the colonial royal governors of Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, at the home of prominent Ohio Company member, John Carlyle. On April 14-15, 1755, in what became known as the “Carlyle House Congress,” the newly minted commander in chief of His Majesty’s Forces in North America, Major General Edward Braddock, presented London’s military objectives for that coming spring and summer. The Crown’s strategy, on paper, was simple: capture and hold key French fortifications within the boundaries of New York, Nova Scotia, and Pennsylvania before the enemy could concentrate his strength. This plan was intended to oust the French from His Majesty’s colonial possessions on the continent before a large-scale conflict could commence.

Carlyle House

The John Carlyle House, c. 1918-1920, Library of Congress.

The task of subduing the French, Canadians, and their Native American auxiliaries in these regions fell upon a mixed contingent of British Regular soldiers, colonial provincial troops, and British-allied Native American warriors. How each group would be utilized depended upon how the respective expeditionary field commander chose to execute his orders by moving, supplying, and fighting his men. Continue reading

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Winning the Battles and Losing the War: A Review of Whispers Across the Atlantick: General William Howe and the American Revolution, by David Smith

General William Howe Color (Wikimedia Commons).jpeg

(William Howe, Wikimedia Commons)

David Smith, Whispers Across the Atlantick: General William Howe and the American Revolution, (NY: Osprey Publishing, 2017).

If it’s true that George Washington lost all his battles, but won the war, then it’s equally true that Sir William Howe won all his battles and lost the war.  Of course, neither premise is accurate, but they pithily sum up the conventional interpretation of each commander’s accomplishments on the battlefield, wrong as they may be.  Washington’s role as Commander-in-Chief has come under increased scrutiny as Americans revisit their history.  His chief adversary, however, Sir William Howe, has largely escaped focused study.  David Smith set out to rectify that shortfall in his doctoral dissertation, which became the basis of Whispers Across the Atlantick.  Historians should thank him for it.  Continue reading

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Dr. Prescott, Love & War

Love brought Dr. Samuel Prescott, a practicing physician, to the town of Lexington on the night of April 18, 1775. The young doctor was courting Ms. Lydia Mulliken, when the alarm of the British soldiers marching from Boston went out to the local militia. Lydia’s brother was one of those called to gather.

Love. That emotion also drew Dr. Prescott back toward his hometown of Concord—this time to alert friends, neighbors, and family members of the urgent news of the evening. En route, Dr. Prescott along with Paul Revere and William Dawes, alerted the countryside of the moving British troops. After being vetted and vouchsafed as a true friend of liberty, Dr. Prescott rode posthaste to his hometown, where his word carried greater weight.


A artist’s interpretation of Paul Revere’s (or maybe William Dawes or Dr. Samuel Prescott)’s ride to warn the Massachusetts countryside. (courtesy of VFW)

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Hugh Mercer’s Last Companion

While walking through the Willis cemetery, located at the top of Marye’s Heights in Fredericksburg, Virginia, I encountered the grave of an American patriot from the Revolutionary War, George Washington Lewis.  Lewis, as it turns out was George Washington’s nephew and played a role in the Trenton-Princeton campaign in 1776 and 1777.


A relatively modern stone marks the location of George Lewis’ grave in the Willis cemetery on Marye’s Heights. (Author photo)

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“Acts of a Rude Rabble…” General Gage, Lord Dartmouth and Ignorant Orders


General Thomas Gage

When one studies British General Thomas Gage and his performance leading up to Lexington and Concord you must step back and put yourself in Gage’s position. A man that believed not only in Royal authority over the American colonies, but also in the basic rules of law. Gage was not anti-American by any means.


In November 1763, Gage was placed in overall command of British forces in the American colonies and settles in New York. At this time Gage was well respected by most American colonists. Of course, this all changed in 1774 when Gage was sent north to Boston to become the Royal-appointed Governor of Massachusetts and enforce the highly unpopular Port Bill that closed the port of Boston among other harsh actions. He was walking into a situation that most historians today argue was a no-win situation. Continue reading

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ERW at Patriots Day Weekend 2018!


Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, MA

We look forward to our time in Lexington, Concord and Boston on Patriots Day Weekend 2018! We will be at the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington on Sunday, April 15th at 1:30pm. We will also be posting FB live videos throughout the weekend…stay tuned!


Meet the Author event

​Sunday April 15th, 1:30 PM
Cary Memorial Library

Historians Phillip Greenwalt and Robert Orrison launch their new book “A Single Blow: The Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Beginning of the American Revolution, April 19, 1775” with a presentation, Q & A, and book signing event. This book, the first in a new Revolutionary War series, uncovers the amazing history that this pivotal spring day ushered in for the fate of Massachusetts and thirteen of Great Britain’s North American colonies. The event is co-sponsored by the Lexington Visitors Center, Cary Memorial Library, and Lexington Historical Society28468420_10155304839444327_325033352871924612_n

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