Washington’s First Valley Forge Abode Location

As the Continental Army marched into Valley Forge on December 19, 1777, staff officers under the commanding general had scoured the local area for a residence suitable for George Washington that winter. While discussions and negotiations were taking place, since the Continental Congress had decreed that the army had to ask and could not just commandeer private residences which was a chief complaint of the British policy prior to the war, Washington spent five nights in his marquee.

Afterwards Washington and his military family, later joined by Martha Washington, the general’s wife, moved into the Isaac Potts House for the remainder of the winter encampment.

This tent, called a marquee and served as headquarters, sleeping quarters, and dining area, was pitched in a field in the valley. The site is now marked by a stone monument and within the boundaries of Valley Forge National Historical Park.

On the second annual Emerging Revolutionary War Bus Tour, “The Rise of the American Army: Valley Forge and the Battle of Monmouth” from November 11 -13, 2022, this site, where Washington’s marquee tent was hoisted, will be one of the sites shown to tour participants.

To secure your spot, click here or the link on the banner at the top of this page.

Stumbling Upon Daniel Boone

Recently I had the chance to travel through Lexington, Kentucky en route to western Kentucky and to see the sites associated with the Fort Donelson campaign in the American Civil War.

In Frankfurt, Kentucky, Simon Bolivar Buckner, the Confederate general who surrendered the Tennessee fort, is buried.

Little did I know that a stone’s throw away, literally, is the grave of Daniel Boone. A fascinating find, if I would have researched a little more, I probably would have realized who all was buried in that cemetery in the state capital of Kentucky.

There, on a bluff, above the Kentucky River, lies Daniel and his wife Rebecca. The great frontiersman and pioneer who took settlers through the Cumberland Gap. One of the first folk heroes of American history.

Never know what you may stumble upon, when on a history excursion!

Pictures are below.

Lafayette at Brandywine

Marquis de Lafayette was a French aristocrat serving in the French army, and recently married, when the Revolution broke out in America.  He followed events with interst, and was motivated to come and fight with the Americans.

He arrived in March, 1777, nineteen years old and eager.  He immediately formed a friendship with Washington, and was an aide on his staff.  In the meantime British forces had invaded Pennsylvania, intent on capturing Philadelphia.  Washington’s army took a position behind Brandywine Creek, and the British attacked on September 11, 1777.  British troops had flanked the Americans, and reinforcements were rushed to the threatened sector, making a stand on Birmingham Hill.

Eager to get to the fighting, Lafayette and a group of French officers rode to the unfolding battle at Birmingham Hill, arriving as the action was at its hottest.  Approaching from the south, they rode up the Birmingham Road, and turned to the left, coming in behind the brown-coated troops of General Thomas Conway’s Pennsylvania brigade.

Continue reading “Lafayette at Brandywine”

ERW in the Hudson Valley: 4th Annual ERW Trip

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Billy Griffith, Kevin Pawlak, Rob Orrison and Mark Maloy at George Washington’s HQ in Newburgh, NY

Just over two weeks ago, ERW historians Billy Griffith, Phillip Greenwalt, Mark Maloy, Rob Orrison and Kevin Pawlak took a long weekend trip up to upstate New York. This was the fourth year that ERW authors have gotten together to take a “field trip” to see sites related to the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.

The trips not only serve as chances for research, but also to make new connections with public historians working in the American Revolution era. Along the way, we posted several videos from locations to give our followers an idea of some of the great places to visit out there. Again, our goal is to not just share this history, but to get people to visit these great sites.

Sites visited on the first day included the Stony Point Battlefield, where Americans under Gen. Anthony Wayne over ran a surprised British outpost. Reading about this action almost rings empty until you stand on the ground. Looking at the steep terrain that Wayne’s men climbed after traversing through a wetland, it is hard to imagine how the Continentals were able to take the British fort with so few casualties. Later that day we made a quick stop at George Washington’s headquarters in Newburgh. Here Washington lived from April 1782 to August 1783 and where he learned of the cease fire with the British, wrote his now famous circular letter to the colonial governors on his vision for the new government. Most importantly, here Washington responded to the Newburgh Conspiracy of his officers looking to possibly over throw the civil government. This site is also important in the history of the museum field as it is the first publicly owned historic site in the United States, opened in 1850 as a museum. A worthwhile nearby site, the New Windsor Cantonment site, preserves the camp site of the Continental Army during the 1782-1783 time period. Several of the buildings are rebuilt, including the Temple of Virtue, where Washington made his impassioned speech to his officers (with the assistance of his glasses) to diffuse their discontent with Congress.

The morning of the second day of the trip was spent visiting sites around Lake George, NY, including some much over looked French and Indian War sites. That afternoon sites along the upper Hudson including the site of the murder of Jane McCrea, Fort Edward and sites in Albany.

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Park Interpreter Bob Hoar explains the terrain of the battlefield

Early Sunday morning, a quick trip to the Bennington Battlefield State Park was highlighted with a great personal tour by Bob Hoar. The battlefield is well preserved and interpreted. Bob also shared some of his research into reinterpreting the battlefield using first person accounts and the landscape. Again, understanding the landscape of these places creates such a better understanding.

The majority of the day on Sunday was spent at Saratoga National Historical Park, posting several Facebook Live videos from various points across the battlefield. Also a special visit to the surrender site in Schuylerville which was recently preserved and opened as a memorial by the Friends of Saratoga Battlefield. A great preservation victory that adds to the overall story of Saratoga.

One of the highlights of the trip took place on Monday, where we received a behind the

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Curator Matthew Keagle gave a behind the scenes tour of Fort Ticonderoga’s amazing collection storage.

scenes tour by Fort Ticonderoga staff. We started by learning about the military interpretive program by Ron Vido, Military Programs Supervisor. Anyone who has visited Fort Ticonderoga knows about their quality interpretive staff and programs. Ron also shared with us their plans to slowly restore the Carillon Battlefield (1758), which will be a great addition to the understanding of North America’s bloodiest battle before the Civil War. That afternoon we were treated to a behind the scenes tour of Fort Ticonderoga’s collections storage by Curator Matthew Keagle. The Fort has been collecting 18th century items for nearly 100 years. Their collection is one of the largest collection of 18th century military artifacts in the United States. From a Continental knapsack to an original copy of Baron von Steuben’s drill manual, the collection on display is only a small portion of what the museum owns. Matt also shared the museum’s ongoing work to digitize their collection for the purpose of research. The day was capped off by a visit to one of the best preserved battlefields in the United States, Hubbardton. Fought as part of the Saratoga Campaign, this is Vermont’s only battlefield. The landscape at the foot of the Green Mountains is amazing and the viewsheds are near pristine. A nice state park and visitor center are there to help explain the events of July 7, 1777.

Thank you to all the people that assisted us in this trip and all the sites that were nice enough to host us. We will be posting more on the blog in the future focusing on some of the stories around these amazing sites. Again, we encourage you to take the time to visit all these places. History books are great, but there is no substitute for being in the footsteps of history

To check out the Facebook Live videos and photos from the trip, please visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/emergingrevwar/ .

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Bill Griffith, Kevin Pawlak, Phill Greenwalt, Mark Maloy and Rob Orrison at Saratoga, over looking the Hudson River.

 

Oriskany Battlefield (part two)

part two of two

In my first post, I described my visit to the Oriskany Battlefield near Rome, New York, on a dreary day. Recent rain, mostly dried, still left streaks on the monuments. The denuded trees created deceptively open visibility quite unlike the heavy foliage that would’ve clogged the surrounding forest on August 6, 1777. Still, it was a great little battlefield to see, even in the off season. Today, I follow up with some photos from my visit. (Read part one for a battle summary and additional resources.)

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The battlefield monument, dedicated in 1884, on the 107th anniversary of the battle

Continue reading “Oriskany Battlefield (part two)”

The Shot Heard in Youngstown?

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes historian Dan Welch

As we commemorate the 244th anniversary of the engagements at Lexington and Concord, it is an opportunity to reflect upon this moment’s importance in American history. The results of what happened in April 1775 were truly “heard around the world.” The importance of those events are commemorated and remembered in various forms across the fabric our country. This holds true, even in Youngstown, Ohio.

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The Road to Remembrance Memorial on the southside of Youngstown, Ohio. (Image courtesy of the author)

As the country grappled with the effects of the Great Depression, numerous civic organizations in the state of Ohio sought to construct a “Road of Remembrance” in honor of the servicemen from the country’s previous conflict. On June 17, 1930, the state legislature designated a portion of Route 193 from Lake Erie to 422 in Youngstown as a memorial roadway in honor of those soldiers who gave their last full measure of devotion during the Great War. Many towns planted memorial trees along the route, some erected monuments, while other organizations held ceremonies marking the occasion. This special route was to be just a small portion of remembrance that was to span from Montreal, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Continue reading “The Shot Heard in Youngstown?”

Disaster on the Eastern Frontier

Part Two
For Part One, click here.

The British and loyalists would not have to wait long. Word of the landing reached the Massachusetts government within a matter of days, and preparations for a counterattack began almost immediately. There was such a hurry to respond that the General Assembly voted to carry out the operation with state forces rather than wait for Continental assistance.[1] Despite the initial rush it still took a month to assemble a force of over 1,000 militiamen, as well as the food, arms, and other supplies to sustain them. All of these troops and their supplies would be transported by a fleet of 21 transports, accompanied by nearly twenty state and Continental navy vessels and privateers. Among the warships the largest was the Frigate Warren of 32 guns which served as the flagship of Commodore Dudley Saltonstall. The Connecticut born officer was given overall command of the naval forces – no small task given the lack of experience with large scale fleet actions among his subordinates. Command of the land forces was given to Massachusetts Brigadier Solomon Lovell. Lovell has seen experience early in the war outside of Boston, but was also relatively untested in battle. The inexperience and poor communication between Saltonstall and Lovell was to have a decisive impact on the coming expedition. Notable among the other officers in the expedition was Paul Revere, who commanded the Massachusetts artillery. The expedition was also joined by a band of the local Penobscot Indians allied to the Continental Congress.

The New England fleet entered the Penobscot Bay on July 25th and immediately attempted a landing. Clearly outnumbered and with their works incomplete, General McLean and his men were determined to resist the Americans, but expected the worst. Saltonstall’s fleet sailed in close to the shore and exchanged cannon fire with both the British defences and the three remaining Royal warships, now under the command of Captain Henry Mowatt. In the confusion and smoke the Americans lowered seven launches full of marines and militiamen, but as they neared the shore they were met by a hail of musket fire[2]. At least one of the attackers – a Native American – was killed and the boats returned to the safety of the fleet. It was an inauspicious start to the battle for the New Englanders and already the relationship between the two commanding officers was becoming strained. General Lovell knew little about sailing or naval operations. He questioned the Commodore as to why he couldn’t just sail his fleet into the harbor and blast the British to pieces while his troops landed under their covering fire. The Connecticut seaman replied curtly, exclaiming “You seem to be damn knowing about the whole matter! I am not going to risk my shipping in that damned hole!”[3]

On the 26th a second militia landing on the peninsula was repulsed after the lead boat carrying militia Major Daniel Littlefield was swamped by British chain shot, drowning the Major and two privates.That same day, however, the Americans scored a small victory when a force of 200 Continental marines and artillerymen landed on Nautilus Island and captured the small British battery there[4]. More artillerymen were landed and soon the Americans had a battery from which they could harass the British shipping. With the Americans making some headway Captain Mowatt withdrew the remaining British ships deeper into the harbor, creating a defensive line across the Bagaduce River.

Castine harbor, looking out roughly where Captain Mowatt anchored the British transports and warships (Author_s photo)
Castine Harbor, looking out roughly where Captain Mowatt anchored the British transports and warships (Author’s photo)

Continue reading “Disaster on the Eastern Frontier”

Visiting the Scene of Action: Battle of Camden

A reflection on the previous month’s exploration in South Carolina.

IMG_1905 (1)August 16, 1780 would prove to be a devastating day for the American Army in the south, known as the “Grand Army” by its commander, Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, the Hero of Saratoga. The battle between this army and that of Lt. Gen. Charles, Earl Cornwallis, in the Pine Barrens near the South Carolina town of Camden, would end in the total rout of the Americans and the destruction of the reputation of its commander. It would also temporarily leave the southern colonies without a central army to oppose the British.

On November 1, members of the Emerging Revolutionary War Era staff took a road trip to Camden, SC to research the battle, walk the battlefield and meet with local historians in preparation for an upcoming addition to our book series, on the Battle of Camden.  On the way down, we took the opportunity of visiting other sites of combat, actions that occurred prior to and after the fight at Camden. Continue reading “Visiting the Scene of Action: Battle of Camden”

From Campaign 1776: Ten Crucial Days

Emerging Revolutionary War is pleased to share the following information from our friends at Campaign 1776 managed by the Civil War Trust. 

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“As many of you may know, this winter marks the 241st anniversary of the American victories at the battles of Trenton and Princeton. The Continental Army’s triumphs in the Ten Crucial Days campaign proved instrumental to rekindling Patriot morale and keeping the cause for American independence alive in the wake of early defeats. Continue reading “From Campaign 1776: Ten Crucial Days”

Independence and Contradiction: Our Founding Slaveholders

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Michael Aubrecht. A biography of Mr. Aubrecht is attached below. 

In 2011 an exhibit titled “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” started running at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum from January 27, 2012 – October 14, 2012. This somewhat controversial exhibition explored slavery and enslaved people in America through the lens of Jefferson’s plantation and was a collaborative effort between the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello and the African American History and Culture Museum in Washington DC. It helped to instigate public discussion about the dichotomy between the Founders and freedom. The paradox of course is that Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence and called slavery an “abominable crime,” yet he was a lifelong slaveholder. The exhibition provides a glimpse into the lives of 6 slave families living at Monticello and reveals how the paradox of slavery in Jefferson’s world is relevant for generations beyond Jefferson’s lifetime.

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Founders, presidents, slave-owners

Continue reading “Independence and Contradiction: Our Founding Slaveholders”