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.

Americana Corner

Emerging Revolutionary War checks in with Tom Hand and Americana Corner. Here is what has has been published on that blog for the month of September.

Heading to Kentucky on the Wilderness Road
September 6, 2022

The Wilderness Road, running from northeast Tennessee through the Cumberland Gap, was the main thoroughfare for Americans heading west into the new promised land of Kentucky from 1775 to about 1820. The pathway, blazed by Daniel Boone, was our nation’s first migration highway, but the trip was not for the faint of heart. Read More

The Early Life of Daniel Boone
September 13, 2022

One of the greatest American explorers from our founding era was Daniel Boone. A legendary woodsman, Boone helped to make America’s dream of westward expansion in the late 1700s a reality. Read More

The Legacy of Daniel Boone
September 20, 2022

Soon after the American Revolution began in 1775, Daniel Boone joined the Virginia militia of Kentucky County (later Fayette County) and was named a captain due to his leadership ability and knowledge of the area. Over the next several years, Boone would participate in numerous engagements. Read More

The Continental Army’s Largely Forgotten Invasion of Quebec
September 27, 2022

The first significant offensive operation of the American Revolution was the largely forgotten invasion of the Province of Quebec by American troops in 1775. It was the opening act of the greater Northern Campaign of 1775-1776 in which the American colonies tried to wrest control of Canada from England. Although it did not end well, there were moments of incredible bravery and perseverance that demonstrated the resolve of our founding generation. Read More

Furthermore, Tom Hand and Americana Corner are providing t-shirts to participants on the Second Annual Emerging Revolutionary War Bus Tour, this November 11-13, 2022. A few tickets remain, so click the link above titled “2022 Bus Tour” to secure your ticket and one of these shirts! Thank you Tom for you support.

Along The Way

   It’s nearly 25 years ago now. I was driving through western North Carolina, on my way south to Cowpens National Battlefield located in Gaffney, SC, scene of the January 17, 1781, battle.

   These were the days before the internet or GPS. Travelers of the day, such as I, depended solely on our wits and a good old-fashioned state map. I had recently finished reading a wonderful biography on the life of American frontiersman, Daniel Boone by John Mack Faragher. So, when I crossed a bridge over the Yadkin River, I knew I was in Boone country.

   The Boone family had migrated south from Exeter Township, in Berks County, PA in 1750. The father of Daniel, Squire Boone, Sr, had purchased land in the Yadkin Valley. It’s where young Daniel Boone took his bride, Rebecca Bryan, and where the couple would be domiciled longer than anywhere else they would live during their long marriage. This is where they would start a family of their own.

   After consulting my map and the copy of Faragher’s book, I knew I was near the small community of Mocksville, south of Winston-Salem, not far off I-40. There in the old Joppa Burial Ground, can still be found the graves of Squire and Sarah Morgan Boone; the parents of the famous frontiersman.

   It’s almost 25 years now since I first pulled up to this ancient cemetery; I parked in a small strip mall adjacent to it. Souvenir hunters had chipped off pieces of the grave stones over the years, so they were later encased in a small masonry wall for protection. I had almost forgotten this impromptu stop; that is until quite recently when I found myself heading south again, this time on my way to visit the Guildford Courthouse battlefield in Greensboro. Remembering the area, I decided to stop off again to pay my respects to the Boones.

Continue reading “Along The Way”

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”

Review: Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation by Peter Cozzens

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness made their way into the American revolutionary project most explicitly in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.  So, I hope you’ll forgive my taking of liberties in reviewing a book that starts in the Revolutionary War Era and peaks during the Madison administration.  Peter Cozzens’ new book, Tecumseh and the Prophet (Alfred A. Knopf, 2020), is a dual biography of the legendary Shawnee leader and his younger brother, Tenskwatawa, aka “the Prophet,” whose mid-life inspiration reawakened nativist aspirations among the Native American nations living in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan.   Together, the two sought to build a pan-Indian movement to resist the growth of the young American nation into the Midwest in the country’s first decades.

Continue reading “Review: Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation by Peter Cozzens”

Review: Russell Mahan, The Kentucky Kidnappings and Death March: The Revolutionary War at Ruddell’s Fort and Martin’s Station, Kindle ed. (West Haven, UT: Historical Enterprises, 2020).

In the summer of 1780, Captain Henry Bird crossed the Ohio River with some 800 Native Americans from various British-allied tribes and two companies of soldiers from Detroit (roughly 50 Canadians and Tories and a mixed group of regulars from the 8th and 47th regiments) to invade Kentucky.  More importantly, he brought two pieces of artillery, a three pounder and a six pounder.  It was one of the largest and most substantial attacks into Kentucky during the American Revolution.  

Bird’s goal was the Falls of the Ohio (today’s Louisville), which was critical to the American war effort on the frontier due to its critical position on the Ohio River.  Bird rendezvoused with the great bulk of the Native Americans at the confluence of the Great Miami and Ohio Rivers, (west of today’s Cincinnati) to discover that they had other plans.  Attacking fortified areas was less appealing than raiding small settlements and isolated farms, where the Indians might secure booty and terrorize the locals into abandoning Kentucky.  Constituting the vast majority of the army, the Native Americans won out. 

Continue reading “Review: Russell Mahan, The Kentucky Kidnappings and Death March: The Revolutionary War at Ruddell’s Fort and Martin’s Station, Kindle ed. (West Haven, UT: Historical Enterprises, 2020).”

Poet in a Patriot Prison

CONFINEMENT hail! in honour's justest cause.
True to our King, our Country, and our Laws;
Opposing anarchy, sedition, strife,
And every other bane of social life.
These Colonies of British freedom tir'd,
Are by the frenzy of distraction fir'd;
Rushing to arms, they madly urge their fate,
And levy war against their parent state.
Surrounding nations, in amazement, view
The strange infatuation they pursue.
Virtue, in tears, deplores their fate in vain; 
And Satan smiles to see disorder reign;
The days of Cromwell, puritanic rage,
Return'd to curse our more unhappy age.
We friends to freedom, government and laws; 
Are deem'd inimical unto their cause:
In vaults, with bard and iron doors confin'd,
They hold our persons, but can't rule the mind.
Act now we cannot, else we gladly wou'd;
Resign'd we suffer for the public good.
Success on earth sometimes to ill is given,
To brave misfortunes is the gift of Heaven.
What men could do we did, our cause to serve,
We can't command success, but we'll deserve. 

--- Dr. John Smyth

The American frontier west of the Appalachian mountains was a fluid place in 1775.  Settlers, officials, and Native Americans were all struggling to decide where their loyalties and interests lay, with the British government in London, colonial governments, or the rebelling Americans organizing themselves to determine their own fates.  Individuals often switched sides as the war unfolded

One man who was a constant in his loyalty to the crown was Dr. John Connolly of Pittsburgh.  Before the Revolution, he had led Virginia’s efforts as Lord Dunmore’s agent to seize control over the Forks of the Ohio and assert its claims westward, even receiving a promise of land in far-off Kentucky.  When the fighting started in Massachusetts, he developed a plan to mobilize Native Americans and Britain’s far-flung military forces on the frontier to attack Pittsburgh and then march on Virginia.  Dunmore and General Gage both approved.  So, Connolly and two loyalists, Allen Cameron of South Carolina and Dr. John Smyth of Maryland, plus Connolly’s enslaved servant travelled surreptitiously through Maryland, hoping to reach Detroit via Pittsburgh, the Ohio River, the Wabash River, and then anther overland trek.  Local patriots recognized them outside Hagerstown, Maryland and the trio was promptly arrested on the night of November 19.  A quick hearing by the local Committee of Safety decided to ship them off to Frederick, where a more thorough investigation revealed Connolly’s plan. Continue reading “Poet in a Patriot Prison”

Augustin Mottin De La Balme’s Disastrous Detroit Campaign, Autumn 1780

Junction of Saint Mary’s, Saint Joseph’s, and Maumee Rivers/Kekionga (Indiana Historical Society)

The Revolutionary War has more than its share of adventurers, rogues, soldiers-of-fortune, and risk-takers.  Augustin Mottin De La Balme combined all these characteristics in his person.  In November 1780, they brought the Frenchman and his soldiers to a horrible end outside the Miami Village of Kekionga, near the confluence of the Saint Joseph, Saint Mary’s, and Maumee Rivers in modern Fort Wayne, Indiana.

La Balme was born in France in 1736, entered the Gendarmerie in 1757, served in the seven Years War, gained experience in the cavalry, received an army appointment in 1763, and retired with a pension in 1773.  He wrote several books on cavalry training and tactics, but finding his fortunes stalled, left for America in 1777 with a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin, just one more French officer seeking rank, advancement, and his fortune in the war against Great Britain.[i]  Major General William Heath, who met him in Boston, wrote Washington, “We swarm with French Officers at this Place, Two arrived in the Ship on Sunday at this Place  They are much Superior to any that I have as yet Seen, One is an Engineer The other a Captain of Cavalry, They are Gentlemen of Education, Sense and Genius, The Captain has with him Two Treatises on the Discipline and management of the Horse, written by himself, and much Approved by all the Generals in the French Service.”[ii]  Despite a glut of would-be foreign officers, La Balme received a commission as a Lieutenant Colonel and then Colonel and Inspector General of Cavalry.  Dissatisfied with the appointment, he resigned, focused his attention on mobilizing Frenchmen still living in North America, and kept petitioning Congress to find useful work for him.  Eventually, Congress tried to pay him off and send him home, but the French officer stayed, trying his hand at various schemes to contribute, including mobilizing Indians in Maine to attack the British.  That short-lived campaign accomplished nothing, but resulted in La Balme’s capture and eventual escape.[iii]

Continue reading “Augustin Mottin De La Balme’s Disastrous Detroit Campaign, Autumn 1780”

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.

“Rev War Roundtable with ERW” Looks West….

The majority of the study of the American Revolution centers on the main theaters of the war, chiefly east of the Appalachian Mountains and on the high seas. Obviously. Yet, what is considered today the Midwest or Great Lakes region saw action that had an impact on the outcome of the war, American independence, British occupation, and Native American life.

Termed “the west” this area encompassed the future states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, and others along the Mississippi River and Great Lakes.

This area will be the focus of the next “Rev War Revelry” on Sunday, August 23 at 7 p.m. EST on our Facebook page. Join Emerging Revolutionary War historians, historian and Gabe Neville, of the 8th Virginia blog who will return for more discussion and revelry.

Joining us this evening will be another historian making his debut on “Rev War Revelry.” That newcomer is Joe Herron, Chief of Interpretation at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Vincennes, Indiana.

So, grab your favorite drink and join us for an evening talking the likes of George Rogers Clark, Daniel Boone, and the personas and campaigns of the American west during the American Revolution.