The Irish Rebellion of 1798 and the Battle of Vinegar Hill

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all us at Emerging Revolutionary War! The Irish contributed significantly to the cause of American independence. A large percentage of the Continental army was made up of Irish immigrants and Americans of Irish descent. One of Washington’s trusted aides in the war was the Irish Catholic patriot, Colonel John Fitzgerald.

While American independence benefited greatly from Irish support, the American Revolution helped to inspire the Irish rise up for their own freedom back in Ireland. Following the American and French Revolutions, the Irish sought to break the sectarian divides between Catholics and Protestants and unite to drive the British out of Ireland at the end of the 18th century. The United Irishmen rose up in 1798 and fought a bloody conflict that was brutally suppressed by the British.

This Sunday, join us as we discuss the 1798 Irish rebellion and the dramatic battle that occurred on Vinegar Hill near Enniscorthy, Ireland. We will be joined by historian and archaeologist Damian Shiels from Ireland. He has worked at Vinegar Hill and will give some insights on the battlefield. Join us as we gear up for this year’s ERW Symposium where we will be discussing the international importance of the American Revolution.

The talk will broadcast live on Sunday, March 20 at 7 p.m. ET on our Facebook page. If you are unable to join live, you can catch it on our Facebook page, YouTube page, and podcast later.

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Prelude to Guilford Courthouse: Weitzel’s Mill

This March brings the 241st Anniversary of the pivotal battle of Guilford Courthouse, NC. While this battle is of immense importance to the Southern Campaign, several smaller battles leading up to it have been largely overlooked. Through February and early March of 1781, detachments of the American and British armies maneuvered across the modern-day counties of Alamance, Guilford, Orange, Chatham, and Caswell. The is the third in a series of three articles.  

            The last of the skirmishes occurred at Weitzel’s Mill, also spelled as Wetzel’s, and Wiley’s. Cornwallis was becoming more determined to strike at the Americans to either force a general battle, which he felt his veteran army could win, or destroy the isolated detachments operating near him. 

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“Rev War Revelry” Convention Army Discussion

On October 17, 1777, British General John Burgoyne surrendered his joint British, Canadian, and Hessian and Brunswicker forces to patriot General Horatio Gates near Saratoga, New York. Over 6,000 soldiers, the number placed by one historian is 6,222, became captives of war. Under the terms of the convention agreed upon by Burgoyne and Gates, the vanquished army was to march to Boston, Massachusetts, board British ships, and sail to England, to await formal exchange and to not participate in the war in America further.

When news reached the Continental Congress of this concession, that political body demanded a complete list of the troops surrendered to ensure the terms of the convention was to be upheld. When this was not forthcoming by the British, Congress reacted by vowing to not adhere to the stipulations of the convention. Burgoyne’s forces would not head back to Great Britain to await an exchange that year. Instead, these men were to be confined in camps both in New England and Virginia for the duration of the war. This force came to be called the Convention Army.

This Sunday, March 6, at 7 p.m. EDT, join Emerging Revolutionary War on our Facebook page for the next historian happy hour, as Dan Welch and Phillip S. Greenwalt discuss the Convention Army and what happened after the pivotal battle of Saratoga in October 1777.

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Prelude to Guilford Courthouse: Clapp’s Mill

This March brings the 241st Anniversary of the pivotal battle of Guilford Courthouse, NC. While this battle is of immense importance to the Southern Campaign, several smaller battles leading up to it have been largely overlooked. Through February and early March of 1781, detachments of the American and British armies maneuvered across the modern-day counties of Alamance, Guilford, Orange, Chatham, and Caswell. The is the second in a series of three articles.  

            Pyle’s Defeat on February 25, 1781 was a public relations disaster for the British. The next skirmish fought between the opposing forces was at Clapp’s Mill on March 2nd and has also been called the Battle of Alamance. On February 27th, Cornwallis’ army moved from Hillsborough to the Haw River, camping on the south side of Alamance Creek at an important crossroads.

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63 Podcast Episodes Available Wherever You Stream Podcasts!

Miss us this Sunday? Our “Rev War Revelry” Sunday evening discussions on all things Revolutionary War happen every other Sunday evening live on our Facebook page, and are available afterwards to watch on our YouTube channel. We now have uploaded every program on our podcast, available to stream from Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

That is 63 episodes, over 60 hours of content! You could listen to nothing but Emerging Revolutionary War on a road trip from Washington, DC to Los Angeles, and you would still have more than 20 hours of content left to listen to! So, whether you are at the gym, going on a road trip, or just commuting back and forth to work, be sure to check out the Emerging Revolutionary War podcast!

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Prelude to Guilford Courthouse: Pyle’s Defeat

This March brings the 241st Anniversary of the pivotal battle of Guilford Courthouse, NC. While this battle is of immense importance to the Southern Campaign, several smaller battles leading up to it have been largely overlooked. Through February and early March of 1781, detachments of the American and British armies maneuvered across the modern-day counties of Alamance, Guilford, Orange, Chatham, and Caswell. This is the first of a series of three articles.

Having unsuccessfully chased General Nathaniel Greene’s small, ragged army across North Carolina, British forces under Lord Charles Cornwallis moved to the state capital at Hillsborough to announce their liberation of the state and call Loyalists to come forward and support them. Greene’s army retreated across the Dan River into Virginia, where he awaited supplies and reinforcements.

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von Steuben arrives…

After a circuitous journey, from Paris, France across the Atlantic Ocean and then into Pennsylvania, an eager participant trekked to join the American effort. After an introduction to the Continental Congress this European officer headed toward the Continental army encampment. Baron Frederich William Ludolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben, 47-years old, rode into camp drawn by horses and relaxing, as much as one can on the roads of Pennsylvania during 1770s, in a sleigh, with a Russian wolfhound dog strolling beside the wooden vehicle. On this date, 244 years ago, General George Washington, his staff, and any inquiring eyes around camp saw von Steuben for the first time.

Baron von Steuben Statue, Valley Forge NHP

Although Christmas was almost two months in the past, von Steuben became a late blessing for Washington and his Continental army. Through an adaptation of a military training regimen from continental Europe which became a manual known as the “Blue Book” (this guide was used to train United States Army recruits for decades into the future as well), von Steuben began to morph the rank-and-file and junior officer corps of the Continental army into an actual army that knew how to follow commands and change formations. This training aided the Continentals in the battles of 1778, from a small engagement in May at Barren Hill to the last major fighting in the northern theater at Monmouth in June and into other theaters of the conflict.

Today, the field in which he trained the first model company is preserved by the National Park Service within the boundary of Valley Forge National Historical Park.

This November, during the second annual Emerging Revolutionary War bus tour, attendees will see the field and stand at the foot of the statue to von Steuben, looking over the same ground he first saw on this date, February 23, 1778. To secure your tickets, click the link on the header bar above titled “2022 Bus Tour.”

See you in November!

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Happy Washington’s Birthday! (Not Presidents Day)

Happy Washington’s Birthday (observed) from all of us at Emerging Revolutionary War. Though commonly incorrectly referred to as Presidents Day, the federal holiday is specifically for George Washington only. The indispensable man of America’s founding, Washington was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Born on February 22, 1732, the holiday is observed every year on the third Monday in February.

We hope you celebrate the day maybe by enjoying Washington’s favorite breakfast of “hoecakes swimming in butter and honey,” or making the journey to a Washington related site such as Mount Vernon, Ferry Farm, or his birthplace. Last year ERW historians Mark Maloy and Rob Orrison were able to be at his birthplace at the same time he was born (check out the video here). His hometown of Alexandria is holding a parade in his honor as well. If you are not nearby these sites, Mount Vernon is hosting special virtual programming. Be sure to also check out our interview with Tom Hand on the character of Washington we hosted last night. We hope you enjoy the day and remember George Washington on his holiday!

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An Evening about George Washington

On February 11, 1731/32 George Washington was born at Popes Creek Plantation in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Seems like we have the date wrong? Actually, George had two birthdays, one in the old style calendar and one with the change to the new style, which pushed his birthday to February 22, 1732. According to his mother, Mary Ball, the first date, February 11, was the real date–regardless of the calendar change–and is what is written in the Washington family bible.

That fact and story and so much more will be the focus of this “Rev War Revelry” as Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back historian Tom Hand of Americana Corner. Tom will join us in a discussion of all things George Washington as we celebrate the 290th birthday of this great American. The talk will broadcast live on Sunday, February 20 at 7 p.m. ET on our Facebook page. If you are unable to join live, you can catch it on our Facebook page, YouTube page, and podcast later.

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“It it with great reluctance, I trouble you on a subject.”

In the throes of the winter of 1778, spent at Valley Forge, General George Washington and his staff formulated a mountain of paperwork to multiple recipients of the American cause. On February 16, 1778, Alexander Hamilton composed a letter for the commander-in-chief of the Continental army to a gentleman who had moved from the military to the political ranks; George Clinton of New York.

George Clinton

He had seen service in the Hudson Highlands and had been commissioned a brigadier general in the Continental army on March 25, 1777. Later that same year both governor and lieutenant governor of New York, formally resigning the latter and accepting the former on July 30, 1777. In that capacity, he received the letter, excerpts below, from Valley Forge.

“It is with great reluctance, I trouble you on a subject, which does not properly fall within your province; but it is a subject that occasions me more distress, than I have felt, since the commencement of the war; and which loudly demands the most zealous exertions of every person of weight and authority, who is interested in the success of our affairs.” I mean the present dreadful situation of the army for want of provisions and the miserable prospects before us, with respect to futurity. It is more alarming, than you will probably conceive, for to form a just idea, it were necessary to be on the spot.2 For some days past, there has been little less, than a famine in camp. A part of the army has been a week, without any kind of flesh & the rest three or four days.3 Naked and starving as they are, we cannot eno⟨ugh⟩ admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery, that they have not been, ere this, excited by their sufferings, to a general mutiny and dispersion. Strong symptoms however of discontent have appeared in particular instances; and nothing but the most active effort⟨s⟩ every where, can long avert so shocking a catastrophe.

Washington then asks for any help or supplies that Clinton can send his way, even though the army is outside the state lines of New York. Washington’s mindset is that the cause of the army in Pennsylvania is the cause of American independence and that Clinton, who had served would recognize that and do his utmost to provide what he can.

“I am calling upon all those, whose stations and influence enable them to contribute their aid upon so important an occasion, and from your well known zeal, I expect every thing within the compass of your power, and that the abilities and resources of the state over which you preside, will admit. I am sensible of the disadvantages it labours under, from having been so long the scene of war, and that it must be exceedingly drained by the great demands to which it has been subject, But though you may not be able to contribute materially to our relief, you can perhaps do something towards it; and any assistance, however trifling in itself, will be of great moment, at so critical a juncture, and will conduce to keeping the army together, ’till the Commissary’s department can be put upon a better footing, and effectual measures concerted to secure a permanent and competent supply. What methods you can take, you will be the best judge of; but if you can devise any means to procure a quantity of cattle or other kind of flesh, for the use of this army, to be at camp in the course of a month, you will render a most essential service to the common cause.

Not only did Clinton receive this missive from Washington, dated February 16, but the following day Gouverneur Morris from a camp committee established by the Continental Congress also sent the New York governor a letter asking for any assistance he could provide for the army at Valley Forge.

These letters underscore the seriousness of the plight of the army encamped at Valley Forge as the winter slowly turned to spring. The action at Washington’s headquarters and from the camp committee helped create a path forward through that pivotal winter. To learn more about what transpired during those six months from December 1777 to June 1778, follow the link above to the “2022 Bus Tour” and join Emerging Revolutionary War on our second annual bus tour November 11-13, 2022.

The entire letter from Washington (Hamilton) to George Clinton can be found here.

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