Financial Assistance for a Veteran

Peter Kiteridge was born into slavery in Boston, Massachusetts and worked in the household of the Kittredge family, from Andover, Massachusetts. Although slavery is most often associated with the southern colonies, and later the southern states, it was an established institution across the the thirteen original colonies at the time of the American Revolution. Despite being born into the institution legalized in the colony in which he lived, African American Peter Kiteredge cast his lot with those fighting for the cause of independence. The Kitteridge family had as well. Many in the extended family of Kittredges were physicians, and Dr. Thomas Kittredge went on to serve as as surgeon for Colonel James Frye’s regiment (Essex County Regiment) that was raised in Andover. In May 1775, the regiment became part of the Army of Observation. During the war, Peter Kittredge served in Captain William H. Ballard’s company of Colonel James Frye’s regiment. Peter joined the army in 1775 or 1776, according to his memory over thirty years later, and served for five years in the army before later becoming a sailor.

Read more: Financial Assistance for a Veteran
Black Continental Soldier (T. Payton, 1997)

By the early 1800s, Peter Kiteridge was struggling both with his finances and his health. In this letter dated April 26, 1806, he noted that he is a freeman and in need of financial assistance. This document reveals much more about Peter, including the time between when he was a slave and when he went into military service. But the heart of Kiteridge’s letter was his request for assistance from the Selectmen of the town of Medfield. Due to a “complaint” that he had suffered since the war, perhaps the lingering effects of a disease contracted during his time in the service, Peter was unable to continue to work, and he asked for help to support his wife and four children. Because he later signed this petition with an “X” we can assume that his years as a slave left him illiterate. By the turn of the century, however, he was not the only veteran of the Revolutionary War that needed financial assistance. As this generation of servicemen aged, a growing demand for what later became known as veteran pensions increased. Today, veteran pension records, and petitions for assistance such as this, provide scholars a wealth of information on those that lived and served during this turbulent period.

Below you will find the full petition of the Medfield Selectman of April 26, 1806 courtesy of the Gilder Lehrman Collection.

“Gentlemen

I beg leave to state to you my necessitous circumstances, that through your intervention I may obtain that succour, which suffering humanity ever requires. Borne of African parents & as I apprehend in Boston, from whence while an infant I was removed to Rowley and from thence again to Andover into the family of Doct. [Thom] Kiteridge, with whom as was then the lot of my unfortunate race, I passed the best part of my life as a slave. [struck: At the age of twenty five] In the year of our Lord 1775 or 6 & in the twenty fifth of my age I entered into the service of the U.S. as a private soldier where I continued five years [inserted: and] where I contracted a complaint from which I have suffered in a greater or less degree ever since & with which I am now afflicted. After leaving the army to become a sailor for two years; when I quited the sea & resided for some time in Newtown, from whence I went to Natick where I remained for a short time & then removed to Dover where I [struck: remained] [inserted: carried] as a day labourer during the period of seven years. Eight years past I removed to the place where I now live, & have untill this time, by my labor, assisted by the kindness of the neighbouring inhabitants been enabled to support myself and family. At present having arrived [2] at the fifty eight year of my life and afflicted with severe and as I apprehend with incurable diseases whereby the labour of my hands is wholly cut off, and with it the only means of my support. – My family at this time consists of a wife and [struck: three] four children, three of whome are so young as to be unable to support themselves and the time of their mother [struck: has] is wholy occupied in taking cair [sic] of myself & our little ones – thus gentlemen, in this my extremity I am induced to call on you for assistance; not in the character of an inhabitant of the town of Westfield, for I have no such claim, but as a stranger accidently fallen within your borders, one who has not the means of subsistence, & in fact, one, who must fail through want & disease unless sustained by the fostering hand of your care.

I am Gentlemen your mos obedient, most humble servant.

Peter Kiteredge
His X Mark

Attent. Ebenezer Clark
Paul Hifner

To the policemen Selectmen of the
Town of Medfield.
[docket]
Medfield 26 April 1806
[docket]
Peter Kittridge
application –
[address]
To the gentlemen Select
[Men] of the Town of
Medfield – “

Jack Jouett, Jefferson’s Paul Revere, after the War

Jack Jouett House

Jack Jouett was Thomas Jefferson’s Paul Revere, most famous for riding pell mell through the night to warn Virginia’s governor in 1781 that Banastre Tarleton and his men were on their way to Charlottesville to capture the governor and Virginia’s General Assembly.  Given Tarleton’s reputation for speed, surprise, and route, Jouett had to ride down back roads and country lanes with low hanging-trees, cattle paths, and foot paths to get ahead of the British officer with enough time to warn Virginia’s government-in-exile.  https://emergingrevolutionarywar.org/2016/08/02/jack-jouett-midnight-rider-of-the-south/  Unlike Revere, whom the British famously captured, Jouett arrived in Charlottesville with enough time for Jefferson and most legislators to escape.

Read more: Jack Jouett, Jefferson’s Paul Revere, after the War
Jack Jouett House with earlier stone kitchen visible at the rear

            It’s a great story and Jouett makes it into standard biographies of Jefferson, histories of the war in Virginia, or campaign studies of Cornwallis and Tarleton.  But, Jouett’s story doesn’t end there.  Like many veterans—Jouett served in the Virginia militia—he headed west, over the Appalachians, in search of land and new opportunities.   The next year found Jouett in Kentucky County, Virginia.  Despite the bloodletting that went on in Kentucky during the Revolution, families continued to flock there.  Shortly after his arrival, he married, eventually fathering twelve children.  Given Kentucky’s exploding growth, the Virginia legislature divided Kentucky County into Lincoln, Jefferson, and Mercer counties and the people of Lincoln county elected Jouett as their representative in the Virginia General Assembly.  But, at heart, he remained a Virginia farmer, raising crops and livestock.  Sadly, he continued the practice of slavery, eventually owning twenty-five people.

Historical Marker at Jack Jouett House in Versailles, Kentucky

            In 1797, Jouett and his family bought a 530-acre farm in Woodford County and built one of Kentucky’s earliest brick homes, a step up from the log and stone buildings many settling the frontier built on their arrival.  Reflecting the period, it adopted design features from Virginia with a central hall and parlor and bedrooms in a half-floor attic.  The building included an earlier stone-walled kitchen built in the 1780s.  Jouett eventually moved away to Bath County in 1809 and died in 1822.  The house 1797 house, however, remains and was restored between 1972-1978 and opened for public tours in 1978.  Many of the interior contents are from the period and a small museum telling Jouett’s story in Virginia and Kentucky is in a separate building nearby.  It is not far from Lexington or some of Kentucky’s other Revolutionary War sites like Harrodsburg or Boonesborough.  It can be visited at:

Jack Jouett House Historic Site
255 Craig’s Creek Road
Versailles, Kentucky 40383
(859) 873-7902

It is best to visit the location’s website (http://jouetthouse.org) or call ahead for operating hours.

“Rev War Revelry” Battle of North Point

On September 12, 1814, approximately 4,700 soldiers, a mix of British infantry and marines, were landed on the North Point peninsula, a jut of land between the Back and Patapsco River and on a direct line of march toward Baltimore. While the infantry and marines advanced toward the city, the British Navy’s task was to subdue the American fortifications in Baltimore harbor. The latter was foiled by the stout defense of Fort McHenry which served as the backdrop for the future national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner.

Less is known about the accompanying land engagement, fought at North Point between the British and American militia. That battle, which cost the life of Major General Robert Ross, the British commander, saw the American militia retreat, but in order, and stymied the initial approach of the British toward Baltimore. Furthermore, the battle gave the Americans more time to add to their defenses.

To shed light on this aspect of the Battle of Baltimore, Emerging Revolutionary War will be joined by two historians, both of who have worked on volunteered at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.

Jim Bailey is now the Chief of Visitor Services and Education at Manassas National Battlefield Park but is a former park ranger at Fort McHenry. The other guest historian is Chris Boyle who has been a National Park Service volunteer at Fort McHenry National Monument & Historical Shrine since 2005 in both the Fort McHenry Guard living history program and as an historical interpreter focusing on the Fort’s history from the War of 1812 through the Civil War. While not a native Baltimorean, he has called the city home for the last 20 years.

We hope you can join us on Sunday at 7 p.m EDT on our Facebook page for this historian happy hour.

2022 Symposium Speaker Spotlight: Liz Williams

This week we interview our Symposium co-host, Liz Williams! Like all of our speakers, we asked Liz to answer a few questions about her passion for history. We appreciate Liz partnering with us for the third year to put on a great program. Liz is the Director of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum in Alexandria, VA and has been with the Office of Historic Alexandria, part of the City of Alexandria, since 2004. She has a passion for history and having fun at work (as shown by her photo!).

Liz is a graduate of Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where she earned her B.A. in Historic Preservation. She went on to receive her graduate degree at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she earned an M.T.A. in Tourism Administration, concentrating on heritage tourism.

She is a Superfan of the musical “1776” and educates everyone she knows about the famous ride of Caesar Rodney, one of her home state’s epic Rev-War stories.

What first attracted you to the study of early American history? What keeps you involved in the study of this history? Do you find these things are the same or different?

It is all my Dad’s fault. Summer family vacations to historic sites embedded history deep into my soul at an early age. I think what attracted me then still attracts me now, just refined by time. I always connected with the people of the past and how they got from Point A to Point B. However, in my older age, I understand those decisions were not so cut and dry like I once thought they were.

Why do you think it is important for us to study the Revolutionary Era?                         

So many of our traditions, things we celebrate as “America,” stem from this era. It helps us all understand how we got to 2022.

What do you think was the most significant foreign impact on the American Revolution?

Other nations using our revolution as a model and inspiration for their own. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? Perhaps…

What are some of the important lessons of the American Revolution do you think are still relevant today?

Envision Barbra Streisand singing “People…” People are complex. How the revolution began, ended, and everything in between is rooted in humanity—choices made for a variety of reasons. Recognizing this human dimension is essential to understanding both the past and the present.

What was it about the American Revolution that elicited such global interest?

We defeated the big bad British (with the help of France, but I digress). It was David vs. Goliath. Of course people across the globe wanted to stay up-to-date on all the ins and outs of this action packed tale – from start to finish to the next chapter. We tell that next chapter story at Gadsby’s. We won the Revolution – Yippie! What do we do now? Those across the globe watched as we made choices to build and create what we now know as the United States of America.

Join us for our Third annual Emerging Revolutionary War Symposium on September 24, 2022. Emerging Revolutionary War is excited to continue our partnership with Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and The Lyceum of Alexandria, VA to bring to you a day-long Symposium focusing on the American Revolution.

Registration fee is now only $60 per person and $50 for OHA members and students. If you feel more comfortable attending virtually, the fee is $30 to register visit: https://shop.alexandriava.gov/EventPurchase.aspx

2022 Symposium Speaker Spotlight: Norman Desmarais

We are happy to welcome Norman Desmarais to our Third Annual Symposium on the American Revolution, co-hosted with Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, The Lyceum and Emerging Revolutionary War. This year’s theme is “The World Turned Upside: The American Revolution’s Impact on a Global Scale. We asked Norm to answer a few questions about their talk and their passion for history.

Mr. Desmarais is the author of The Guide to the American Revolutionary War series (six volumes about the war on land and seven volumes about the war at sea and overseas), as well as America’s First Ally: France in the American Revolutionary War and Washington’s Engineer: Louis Duportail and the Creation of an Army Corps. He is the former editor-in-chief of The Brigade Dispatch, the Journal of the Brigade of the American Revolution.

Norm translated the Gazette Françoise, the French newspaper published in Newport, Rhode Island by the French fleet that brought the Comte de Rochambeau and 5,800 French troops to America in July 1780. He also translated and annotated Louis-François-Bertrand du Pont d’Aubevoye, comte de Lauberdière’s journal, published as The Road to Yorktown: The French Campaigns in the American Revolution, 1780-1783 (Savas Beatie 2021). He has also completed the translation and annotation of Journal of a French Quartermaster on the March to Yorktown June 16—October 6, 1781 which hopefully will find a publisher before the conference.

Norm was inducted into the American French Genealogical Society French-Canadian Hall of Fame in 2015 and received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 and 2020.

What first attracted you to the study of early American history?

Watching the Walt Disney television miniseries The Swamp Fox and Davy Crockett with Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen as a youngster captured my interest. Later, during the nation’s bicentennial, I attended some reenactments and my interest blossomed in a different direction.

When I was going through a period of writer’s block and looking for a project for my first sabbatical, I was speaking with one of my friends who suggested I consider following one of my interests and that brought me into the Revolutionary Era.

What keeps you involved in the study of this history?

Continually learning about our nation’s history. The best way to learn is by doing, so I’m involved with reenacting which feeds my research and gives me opportunities to share my knowledge with the public and other historians. It’s an educational experience like no other.

Do you find these things are the same or different?  

I think they’re different, but they are related.  They use the same sources in different ways for different objectives—sort of a repurposing of information.

Why do you think it is important for us to study the Revolutionary Era? 

People today go to great effort to do their family genealogy to discover their roots.  Going back to the Revolutionary Era is sort of like doing our national genealogy and going back to our national roots. If we don’t know where we come from, we can’t understand where we’re going as family members or as a nation.

What do you think was the most significant foreign impact on the American Revolution? 

The entry of France in the war. France began providing covert aid to support the war effort right from the beginning. However, once she officially entered the war, she could provide military assistance along with a lot of materiel the Continental Army needed so badly.  French artillery helped win the battle of Saratoga which was key to France joining the war.  Without French involvement, we could not have won at Yorktown. Three quarters of the allied force at Yorktown was French (army and navy).

What are some of the important lessons of the American Revolution do you think are still relevant today?

Logistics: Supplying and maintaining an army across an ocean is extremely difficult. Consider our experience in Vietnam, Syria and Afghanistan among others.

Morale: An army that has a will to fight for its independence, homeland or whatever can sometimes defeat a better supplied and trained army that has a lesser will to fight.

National support: Think of this as morale on the home front.  If the populace of a nation doesn’t support the war effort, it’s going to be very difficult to win.  Consider our experience in Vietnam and what Russia is experiencing in the Ukraine.

What was it about the American Revolution that elicited such global interest? 

First of all, it was inspired by the ideological principles of the Enlightenment which introduced some novel ideas and ways of thinking that inspired Europeans.

Second, there was great resentment about the increasing expansion of the British empire and its dominance in world politics and economy.

Third, Britain pretty much controlled the trade routes between Europe and the West and East Indies, in other words, the lucrative sugar trade and the tea and spice trade. The rest of Europe wanted to minimize Britain’s power and to obtain a share of that trade. Then there were the lucrative fishing rights off the coast of North America.

Fourth, People began to realize that the power of the monarchy resided in the willingness of the people to be governed by the monarchy. As they realized this and acted upon it, there arose a series of revolutions for independence and changes of government.

Join us for our Third annual Emerging Revolutionary War Symposium on September 24, 2022. Emerging Revolutionary War is excited to continue our partnership with Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and The Lyceum of Alexandria, VA to bring to you a day-long Symposium focusing on the American Revolution.

Registration fee is now only $60 per person and $50 for OHA members and students. If you feel more comfortable attending virtually, the fee is $30. To register visit: https://shop.alexandriava.gov/EventPurchase.aspx

“Rev War Revelry” Author Spotlight  Decision at Brandywine: The Battle on Birmingham Hill with Robert Dunkerly

This Sunday on the Emerging Revolutionary War’s Facebook page, Robert Dunkerly will join the “Rev War Revelry” to discuss his newest publication, Decision at Brandywine: The Battle of Birmingham Hill.

The Battle of Brandywine, fought on September 11, 1777, saw the defeat of the American forces in southeastern Pennsylvania. The victory by the British opened the road to Philadelphia, which fell to Sir William Howe’s forces on September 26, fifteen days after the battle.

Dunkerly, a park ranger with Richmond National Battlefield Park and a contributing historian for Emerging Revolutionary War will discuss the pivotal action that happened around Birmingham Hill on that Thursday in 1777. The engagement at Brandywine was the largest and longest battle in the entire American Revolution and the third bloodiest. This new publication examines the action near Birmingham Hill and Meeting House where the action that day turned against George Washington’s forces.

Thus, this Sunday, at 7 p.m. EDT, tune into ERW’s Facebook page for the next historian happy hour as the popular “Rev War Revelry” series continues with this author spotlight.

“The Unhappy Condition of Our Poor Fellows”

On the edge of the historic town of Litiz, Pennsylvania in Lancaster County stands an impressive, unique, and solemn, historic site. Two stone monuments and a plaque comprise the complex, marking the final burial of Continental soldiers from the hospital that stood nearby.

The historic marker says that wounded from the battles of Brandywine (September 11, 1777) and Germantown (October 4, 1777) were received here. Yet that does not match what I uncovered in researching this. The dates of the Lititz hospital seem to coincide more with the Valley Forge (winter 1777-78) timeframe. 

In late summer, 1777, British General William Howe and his army left New Jersey and invaded Pennsylvania with the object of capturing Philadelphia. General George Washington’s army tried to stop the British at Brandywine but met defeat. The British occupied Philadelphia, and Washington struck back at Germantown, but again came up short. There were many smaller battles across southeastern Pennsylvania like Paoli, Fort Mifflin, and Whitemarsh. 

Continue reading ““The Unhappy Condition of Our Poor Fellows””

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. 

Continue reading “Down the Rabbit Hole with Three Captains Johnny”

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.”

Continue reading “Artistic License and the French Artillery Park at Yorktown, A Case Study”

“Rev War Revelry” The Winter that Won the War, Valley Forge

In June 1778, the Continental army marched out of their winter encampment in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and headed toward New Jersey in pursuit of the retreating British army. The past six months, from December 1777 to June 1778, ushered in a period of suffering, renewal, and change.

Valley Forge is imprinted into the psyche of Americans as the the toughest winter of the entire American Revolution. In fairness, it was one of many tough winters that the Continental army survived. However, the reasons why this winter stands out will be part of the discussion of this Sunday evening’s “Rev War Revelry” which can be found on Emerging Revolutionary War’s Facebook page at 7 pm. EDT.

This week’s historian happy hour includes a discussion with Philip S. Greenwalt author of the recently released Emerging Revolutionary War Series title, The Winter that Won the War. This is the fourth volume in the series, with previous ones covering Lexington and Concord, Trenton and Princeton, and Monmouth.

Greenwalt will discuss how the Valley Forge winter was the intersection of various issues and how the decisions made and the determination of survival by the army made this the winter that won the war.

Tune in as well to hear how you can purchase a copy of this book to take with you as you plan that summer trip to Valley Forge and the Philadelphia area!