British Military Leadership and Provincial Loyalty

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian George Kotlik

Introduction

By 1775, King George III ruled over nineteen provinces in British North America.[1] Six remained loyal to the Crown during the Revolutionary War. Historians have so far explored, in great depth, the various reasons why the thirteen original colonies rebelled. On the flipside, why did some colonies remain loyal? What role did colonial governors play in securing their province’s loyalty during the rebellion? In an attempt to answer these questions, this research will focus on British North America’s mainland colonial governors and general assemblies during 1775. Data on the backgrounds of each British colonial governor on the North American mainland was gathered from their respective biographies. Hereafter, each governor’s background is considered by colony, listed in alphabetical order. Each biography is brief and not meant to be comprehensive. There is not enough time or space in this paper to accomplish that end. Instead, the biographies help determine the type of individual who governed each province at the rebellion’s onset – a unique factor that I argue contributed, in whatever small way, to a colony’s political disposition during the American Revolution. In addition to looking at provincial executive leadership, I have also inspected general assemblies. General assemblies were an important aspect in this research due to the fact that the mere presence of an assembly influenced a colony’s political disposition in 1775. What’s more, colonial governors wielded the authority to dissolve assemblies. That connection, in addition to the assemblies’ influence on provincial loyalty, I argue, merits their inclusion in this study.[2]

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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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Peter Carried a Cannon, The Real Story

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Karl G. Elsea

History can be fun; for example, when a war trophy in Sweden and the popular television series “Antiques Roadshow” can be combined to explain an American Revolutionary War legend. There are a number of books, articles, an actor impersonator, and even an U. S. Postal stamp from 1975 showing Peter Francisco carrying a cannon barrel to save it from falling into British hands at the Battle of Camden. Sadly, their stories of Peter carrying a barrel weighting 600 pounds, or even an amazing 1,100 pounds, are not close to true. Here is the likely story. The kind of barrel Peter actually carried is shown in the next picture. The barrel likely weighed between 200 and 300 pounds.

An original amusette is located at the Armémuseums’s magazine in Stockholm. This amusette was constructed in 1768 and captured by the Swedes in the battle at Berby in 1808. The following picture shows this amusette:

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“Rev War Revelry” Ladies Night & Loyalist Women

Earlier this year, three great historians, in their words, “took over” the “Rev War Revelry” in a discussion that they dubbed “Ladies Night.” That particular Sunday night historian happy hour was well received, so Emerging Revolutionary War historians Kate Gruber and Vanessa Smiley have decided to have another “Ladies Night” but this time discuss the role of Loyalist women during and after the American Revolution.

Joining this dynamic duo will be Dr. Stephanie Seal Walters, who is currently the Digital Liaison in the Humanities for the University of Southern Mississippi. She earned her bachelor’s and graduate degrees in history from the University of Southern Mississippi and a doctorate in United States History from George Mason University. You may also recognize her from the first annual Emerging Revolutionary War Symposium held in Historic Alexandria, Virginia in September 2019.

We hope that you can tune in, on Sunday night, at 7pm EDT, to catch the next installment of “Rev War Revelry” on our Facebook page.

There Will Be Bloody Bill

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Andrew Waters

Appearing this month at the Journal of the American Revolution (JAR) is an article I wrote on William “Bloody Bill” Cunningham and his infamous raid known as the “Bloody Scout.” The article attempts to provide a single-source narrative of the Bloody Scout and some of the contexts for it, although it is based on a previous article I wrote (though never published) that attempted to explore more deeply its sociological implications.

            Anyone who comes to western South Carolina and has any interest in the American Revolution will soon encounter Bloody Bill. As I attempted to explain over at JAR, “without veering too deeply into sociological speculations, I can only say that his (Cunningham’s) presence is still palpable here, embedded in the cultural DNA. Though he may be only a curiosity in other parts of the United States, if he is known at all, in the South Carolina Upstate, it seems there will always be Bloody Bill.”

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Patriot Field Gun Horse Harness

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Karl G. Elsea

When visiting Revolutionary War battlefields there are often replica field guns (sometimes with original barrels) on the grounds. What is often not shown is the equipment needed for the gun to get to the field. That movement required horse(s) and harness and a limber. An earlier article provided information on Patriot limbers. This article concerns the horse harness.


NPS Yorktown, Author’s photo. Original 4-pounder barrel on reproduction carriage

There are inventories and paintings that show British harness used during the war. Muller’s A Treatise of Artillery shows the horse harness hook-ups on British limbers for medium and heavy artillery, and it is somewhat unique. The British hook-up appears more restrictive as to horse size. The cart-saddle used by the British was ubiquitous. It seems reasonable that the Patriots would have used the same harness with the exception of the specialized hook-up hardware on the limber. The following part of a Philipp Loutherbourg painting of Warley Camp detailing a review in 1778 clearly shows the cart-saddle with chain on the thill horse and the rest of the British harness.

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Secrets of the Patriot Limbers

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Karl G. Elsea

When visiting Revolutionary War battlefields there are often replica field guns on the grounds. Not shown, in almost all cases, is the vehicle that pulled the gun to the battle – the limber. Though less “cool” it was essential.

Author’s limber and photo. Obsolescent British design with cart hook-up hardware modification

Today, there is no surviving original Patriot field gun limber from the American Revolutionary War. That is a problem when attempting to reproduce representative Patriot field gun limbers. The normal starting place, Muller’s A Treatise of Artillery, does not include information concerning British field (light) gun limbers. Muller’s Treatise only contains information on limbers for medium and heavy guns.

The absence of any original limbers is especially gulling because the Patriots had access to both obsolescent designs and the most advanced designs. The Hessian field gun limber was probably the most advanced limber design in 1776, and the Patriot forces captured six of them at Trenton on December 26, 1776. The Hessian limber design had three important improvements; firstly, the pintle (pin that connects the gun carriage to the limber) was behind the axle of the limber thus allowing a shorter turning radius and less likely damage to the gun carriage. Secondly, an ammunition box containing sixty rounds was on the limber. Thirdly, two wheel-horses were used instead of one thill horse thus providing twice the braking power. It would be interesting to know if the Patriots reproduced or incorporated those design elements.

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North Carolina’s Regulators, the Battle of Alamance, and Public Memory

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Jeremiah DeGennaro, Historic Site Manager for Alamance Battleground

In the summer of 1773, Josiah Quincy made a trip to North Carolina. A well-known lawyer and Son of Liberty in Boston, Quincy headed south with the aim of gauging support for a coming revolution, and establishing correspondence with those who were “warmly attached to the cause of American freedom.” Quincy was received by many of the movers and shakers of North Carolina politics. The same men who hosted him—Cornelius Harnett, William Hooper, Robert Howe, and others—later became influential figures in the American Revolution. But upon his arrival, Quincy was quite curious about a different group of North Carolinians: the Regulators. Years before, this group of poor and middling farmers in backcountry North Carolina organized a grassroots movement that called for an end of government corruption, reformation of the rigged justice system controlled by elite “courthouse rings,” and progressive taxation in which citizens paid according to their wealth. At their peak they had thousands of supporters. Their detractors called it a rebellion. In 1773, it had been less than two years since they had been defeated at the Battle of Alamance by Governor William Tryon and his volunteer militia, the movement abruptly crushed. Quincy must have been curious about the motives of former Regulators as potential allies to what he called the “Cause of America.” How warmly attached to the cause of American freedom were they?

He spoke to three different sources, all with firsthand knowledge of events. He sat through a 3-hour lecture against the Regulators by Robert Howe, who commanded the artillery that devastated the Regulators at Alamance. The next day, Quincy met Colonel William Dry for breakfast. Quincy identified Dry as “a friend to the Regulators…he gave me an entire different account of things.” After hearing a few different accounts of the now-defunct Regulators, Quincy abandoned the topic, noting in his journal: “I am now left to form my own opinion.”

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“Rev War Revelry” 18th Century Weaponry

Brown Bess. Grasshopper. Charleville. May seem like random names with no connection to the title of this post. On the contrary though, these names, be it nicknames or the actual name, of the firearm or artillery piece were all used by the soldiers and militia of the American Revolution.

This Sunday, at 7 p.m. EST, on Emerging Revolutionary War’s Facebook page, the next “Rev War Revelry” will dive into the weaponry that was prevalent during the era of the American Revolution. Joining ERW will be T. Logan Metesh of High Caliber History LLC of which he is the founder.

With over a decade of experience working for the Smithsonian Institution, National Park Service, and the National Rifle Association Museums, Metesh is a sought after consultant, writer, and museum professional. He will use his interpretive ability to present history and research on firearms and firearms development to this historian happy hour.

We look forward to welcoming Logan Metesh to the “Rev War Revelry” Sunday night chat and hope you will join us as well.

Hindsight is 2020 (or 2021)

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Liz Williams, from Historic Alexandria, the host of the second annual symposium

When we planned our 2nd Annual Revolutionary War Symposium for 2020, our theme came easily – Hindsight is 2020. Little did we know that our cheeky title would take on a different meaning as we had to navigate a global pandemic. But I am excited that we can still offer our symposium (yes 6 months later) and virtual!  In this format, we can zoom our experts to computers and smartphones across the country. And this year we have a great variety of topics – from Drunken Hessians to African American Continentals. Learn about Loyalists, battles in the Southern Theatre, and along a creek in southeastern Pennsylvania.

As we move toward the 250th anniversary of the nation, it is critical for us all to look with fresh eyes at our founding. At Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, we engage with the complexity and challenges of early America, many of which were rooted in what transpired before and during the Revolutionary War. By understanding our past, we can continue the work of creating a better United States for all.

The Symposium costs $40 per person, $20 OHA Members & Students and reservations can be made at AlexandriaVa.gov/Shop. Looking forward to seeing everyone on May 22!