“Rev War Revelry” Nathanael Greene, Quartermaster

In March 1778, Major General Nathanael Greene finally consented to become the quartermaster for the Continental army then encamped at Valley Forge. He was loathe to give up his position as a line commander in charge of a division of infantry but with reassurances from General George Washington that he would retain his place and that his expertise was absolutely needed to revitalize the quartermaster department the Rhode Islander agreed.

His work over the next two plus years paid huge dividends. On Sunday, August 21, at 7p.m. EDT join Emerging Revolutionary War on our Facebook page for the next “Rev War Revelry.” Joining ERW will be the American Battlefield Trust’s Senior Education Manager, historian and author Dan Davis.

In reference to Greene’s role as quartermaster general at Valley Forge, Davis said, “Primarily remembered for his actions during the Southern Campaign, Nathanael Greene’s efforts at Valley Forge were critical in sustaining the Continental Army during a crucial period of its history.”

We look forward to a great discussion and hope you can join us for this historian happy hour!

One artist’s depiction of what the encampment at Valley Forge looked like

“Rev War Revelry” Battle of Cowpens

On January 17, 1781, General Daniel Morgan and his mixed force of Continental soldiers and militia defeated the British under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton. This victory for the patriots in northwestern South Carolina had major implications on the southern theater and the main British force under General Lord Charles Cornwallis. The battle, named after the use of the fields in which it was fought, Cowpens, also included one of the only instances in American history of a successful double envelopment.

On Sunday, at 7 p.m. EDT, Emerging Revolutionary War will be joined by American Battlefield Trust’s Kristopher White, Deputy Director of Education and Daniel Davis, Education Manager, in a discussion about the history and preservation of the Battle of Cowpens.

Round out your January weekend by joining us on our Facebook page for this live historian happy hour.

History of the Horn Work and the Siege of Charleston

Press Release from our friends at American Battlefield Trust and their Liberty Trail Initiative

In 1757, during the French and Indian War, Lieutenant Emanuel Hess, a Swiss engineer serving in the British 60th Regiment of Foot, designed a series of fortifications to surround Charles Town, South Carolina. Central to this plan was Charles Town’s Horn Work, a large gate flanked by horn-shaped half-bastions covering three city blocks. Before this plan could be fully executed, the threat of a French attack on Charles Town was contained by British victories in Canada and funding for building the fortification system was withdrawn.

However, the Revolutionary War brought a new threat to Charles Town — this time from the British, and work to fortify the city was resumed by determined Patriots. The Horn Work, with its 30-foot-high walls constructed from an oyster-shell cement called tabby, became the centerpiece of the city’s defensive line and the headquarters for American commanding officers.

Beginning in late March 1780, the British laid siege to Charles Town and trapped the American forces in the city. On May 12, 1780, American Generals Benjamin Lincoln and William Moultrie — standing under the Horn Work’s arched gateway — surrendered to the British, in what was the largest American surrender of the war. The fight for American independence looked bleak on that day, but the resolve of the Patriots in the coming months would turn the tide toward victory.

Modern-Day Archeology

In the years following the Revolutionary War, the tabby walls of the Horn Work were dismantled to make way for the growth of the city. Today, all that remains above ground of the once towering structure is a small remnant in Charleston’s Marion Square — a vibrant urban park located in the heart of downtown Charleston and named for Revolutionary War general and backcountry tactician, Francis Marion. Yet, just a foot under the surface of Marion Square, there is much more to discover about the Horn Work.

In February of this year, graduate students from the Clemson/College of Charleston Historic Preservation program, working on behalf of the American Battlefield Trust and South Carolina Battleground Trust’s Liberty Trail, commenced an archeological study to fully document the exact footprint of the Horn Work for the first time. This study was undertaken in partnership with many organizations, including the Charleston County Library, the Charleston Museum, the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Washington Light Infantry and Sumter Guards.

More than 250 years after work began to build the Horn Work, these graduate students utilized modern technology, including ground penetrating radar, to ensure the protection of this important historic resource and enhance future endeavors to tell its story.

Charleston Gateway

While no period drawings or plans of the Horn Work are known to have survived, the findings of this archeological study, together with historical research on comparable tabby fortifications built in the same area and time by the same engineer, have made it possible to create a rendering of the Horn Work for the first time. With this rendering complete, we are now able to explore a variety of opportunities to interpret the Horn Work in the very place it once stood.

Our goal is to create an outdoor exhibit in Marion Square utilizing an array of interpretive techniques, including physical signage, in-ground markers tracing the footprint of the Horn Work, and Augmented Reality — all designed to bring the Horn Work and the Siege of Charleston to life for visitors. Augmented Reality, in particular, presents a chance to use cutting-edge 21st Century technology to tell this 18th Century story.

Just as the Horn Work was the gateway into Charleston before and during the Revolutionary War, we now seek to create a gateway into the Liberty Trail through Marion Square, which will encourage visitation to battlefields throughout South Carolina and beyond.

For more information on this subject, click here.

Thank you to Catherine Noyes, Liberty Trail Program Director for bringing this to our attention,

The German Principalities that Contributed Soldiers

When I was in elementary school, my father who worked for the Department of Defense was tasked with a job in Wiesbaden, Germany. Located in the central part of the country, the town was located in the German province of Hesse. Never thought much of the connection between this province and the founding of the country whose government my father was actively employed with at the time. To cut myself some slack I was nine years old when we moved to Deutschland.

Fast-forward to graduate school and my studies focused on the social and military world of the Maryland Line and the American Revolutionary War in general. One does not have to do too much research to find “Hessian” in a publication about battles and campaigns from the conflict. Furthermore, one always hears a line similar to the following…

“Although known generally as Hessians, soldiers under this label actually hailed from multiple German principalities”

“Grouped together as ‘Hessians’ the mercenaries hailed from other German states besides Hesse-Kassel”

To be honest, never thought more of it, then a trip in December to Mount Vernon where a display in their museum showing the various German states brought the idea back to the forefront where the question lingered. With a few other projects, interruptions that 2020 brought, and my curiosity was subdued for the last nine months.

Hessian soldiers
(courtesy of Hessian State Archive)

Until the term “Hessians” popped up again, fortunately, on a weekend, when I had time to go down the proverbial research rabbit hole.

Approximately 34,000 German soldiers were hired by King George III to augment the British army in their subduing of the rebellious colonies. Numbers range from 12,000 on the low-end to 18,000 on the high-end of that number consisting of soldiers from the Landgraviate (or Principality) of Hesse-Kassel. Chief among the reasons that this principality furnished 35% to 53% of the total soldiery could be attributed to the fact that Frederick II, ruler of Hesse-Kassel was an uncle to the British monarch. Secondly, 7% of the adult male population this small principality was already under arms and was ready for deployment; being well-supplied and equipped for foreign service.

Sharing a name with the larger landgraviate, was Hesse-Hanau, a semi-autonomous principality that did not wait for the British government to come calling for troops. After news reached the German state of the bloody engagement at Bunker Hill, the rule of Hesse-Hanau Landgrave William offered King George III a regiment of infantry. Volunteers also flocked to the chance of service in America, with many relocating permanently at the end of hostilities, rather than returning. Numbers from Hanau list 2,422 men who served the British in the American Revolution.

Continuing the familial connection, Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, with King George III’s sister, Augusta married to the heir of Duke Charles I, the use of soldiers from this German principality was another guarantee. As early as 1775, the duke sent an offer of troops to King George III and 4,000 sons of Wolfenbuttel would cross the Atlantic.

In a controversial clause, the British government agreed to pay a certain fee for every soldier of Duke Charles’s killed in battle, with three wounded Wolfenbuttel soldiers equaling one killed. In return, King George III and his forces would be repaid for any soldier that deserted or fell ill outside what was listed as an “uncommon malady.”

When he heard news of this stipulation, Frederick the Great of Prussia, supposedly snickered that “cattle tax” on all the soldiers passing through Prussia en-route to British service “because though human beings they had been sold as beasts.”

Ansbach-Bayreuth under Margrave Charles Alexander, deeply in debt, gave the British cause 2,361 soldiers to subdue the rebellion in North America to help rescue his finances. This proved unsuccessful in the long run as he would eventually sell his dual margraviates to Prussia in 1791 and life off the sale in England.

Waldeck, under Prince Frederich Karl August had three standing regiments ready for foreign service as part of their governing structure. One of these regiments helped in the defense of Pensacola, along with companies being stationed in Mobile and Baton Rouge, probably the move diverse, geographically, of any of the German regiments in the American war. Waldeckers, numbering 1,225, served in the various theaters of the American Revolution.

Five battalions from Hanover, the ancestral lands of King George III’s family saw service in Minorca and Gibraltar which freed British troops in those duty stations for service in North America.

Anhalt-Zerbst, in 1777, agreed to send 1,160 men to buttress British forces in North America, including garrisoning New York City in 1780.

From Saratoga to Yorktown, from Quebec to New York City, these German mercenaries aided the cause of the British, providing much-needed manpower in an attempt to recover the rebellious American colonies. However, the cause of freedom from King George III that prompted the rebellion resonated with thousands of these German soldiers, who decided to stay after the war or after exchange when captured, or walked away in service. In fact, slightly over 50%, around 17,300 actually returned to their German home principalities upon the conclusion of the war in 1783.

Map of German states 1789 yet one can see the various German principalities and their respective sizes that contributed soldiers to the British effort to subdue their rebellious colonies.

An introduction to another aspect of how the American Revolution had far reaching international complications and commitments.

Saving 1862 Battlefield Land But Really Saving Land From the Siege of Yorktown

Emerging Revolutionary War would like to thank Drew Gruber, for bringing this connection to our attention.

During the May 5th, 1862 Battle of Williamsburg as Confederate soldiers ran down into what would be called the bloody ravine they ran headlong into men from New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. In an effort to push the Union soldiers out of the ravine and sweep them from the field brigade after brigade was sent into the fight. Among those was four Virginia regiments under AP Hill. After leaving the relative safely of the City they deployed in some form of a line and pitched down into the ravine too. 

Portion of the map of the Battle of Williamsburg, showing the land the American Battlefield Trust is currently working to purchase (map courtesy of LOC)

In the ravine hand-to-hand combat, fallen trees, driving rain, and the thick smoke made communication almost impossible and command fell on company commanders to keep the battle moving in their favor. Among the men in Hill’s brigade fighting down in the bloody ravine was Tipton Davis Jennings of the 11th Virginia Infantry. His account of the fighting here at Williamsburg will be of particular interest to your readers of the ERW blog. 

Writing in 1897 his “Incidents in the Battle of Williamsburg” appeared in the Confederate Veteran Magazine. In fact Kate and I covered this in an earlier ERW post titled, Revolutionary Memory. (click here to read that post). 

“Just then,” he wrote, “we happened upon what was apparently an ancient line of grass-grown earthworks. We learned afterward that portions of Washington’s line of entrenchment were yet discernible thereabouts. And so it is possible that we ragged ‘Rebs’ were actually defending the same works were [sic] once stood the ragged continental ‘Rebs’ fighting, the hessian of Europe, as we were now, some eighty years later. So doth history repeat itself.”

At first glance is this a cool anecdote and yet rather odd. However, when you consult french maps from the Williamsburg region created during the Yorktown Campaign you’ll find references to Mulhenburg’s “lights” camped in this very area. Moreover, almost hidden in plain sight on one of Sneden’s 1862 maps is and “Old Fort of 1781.” Civil War soldiers seemed wholly cognizant of the Revolutionary landscape around them and like Jennings used it to spur on their cause(s). 

Yesterday, on the 158th anniversary of the May 5th, 1862 battle the American Battlefield Trust launched a campaign to save the 29 acres over which Jennings charged. Perhaps it is this very same ground where the original cast of “ragged continental ‘Rebs'” also campaigned. Click here to read about that initiative and for further information on how to donate.

Rise and Fight Again for Southern Revolutionary History

From our friends at American Battlefield Trust (ABT). To learn more about the ABT, click here.

ABT

At stake are 31 acres associated with two Southern Campaign Revolutionary War battlefields, Hanging Rock in South Carolina and Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina.

At Hanging Rock, generous battlefield preservationists like you have already secured 141 acres. These 30 acres in the part of the battlefield where the initial Patriot attack began will add significantly to the land we have saved there already.

At Guilford Courthouse, the half-acre tract at stake may be small, but it’s part of a larger strategy to deal with the modern development crowding in on this battlefield from all points of the compass. Our plan is to buy up plots of battlefield land – including small ones and those with non-historic structures on them like this one – remove all non-historic structures and restore the battlefield. The Guilford Courthouse National Military Park has generously agreed to take responsibility for demolishing and removing the house on this plot, a considerable cost that we would typically need to cover. Continue reading “Rise and Fight Again for Southern Revolutionary History”

Press Release: Veterans Dig History in Groundbreaking Project at Saratoga Battlefield

From our friends at American Battlefield Trust (ABT), for more information about the ABT click here.

ABT

 

Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam veterans have returned to the battlefield.  But instead of the Middle East or Southeast Asia, they are mustering at Saratoga National Historical Park where they will be applying their military knowledge and newly learnt archaeological skills to conduct a field survey at the famous Revolutionary War battlefield.

Approximately 33 veterans will participate in the project created by the American Veterans Archaeological Recovery (AVAR) in cooperation with the American Battlefield Trust and the National Park Service (NPS).  Working together, they will attempt to verify revolutionary-era troop locations during the 1777 battle while aiding participants’ transition back to civilian life.  AVAR recruits veteran participants through social media, and specifically targets those who feel isolated and disconnected after leaving service; the organization predominantly recruits veterans from recent conflicts, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, with a young average participant age of 35. Continue reading “Press Release: Veterans Dig History in Groundbreaking Project at Saratoga Battlefield”

From the Preservation Front: “Liberty Trailblazers – American Battlefield Trust”

ABTFrom our friends at American Battlefield Trust (ABT) comes the following announcement and call for assistance. 

The first line of the announcement sums up the importance of this new initiative of the American Battlefield Trust:

“They secured our liberty. It’s time for us to honor their legacy.” 

In a collaboration between the ABT, the National Park Service, and the South Carolina Battleground Trust, the joint initiative is to highlight the “tremendous significance of these places to American independence.” Their combined goal is to preserve 2,500 acres of American Revolutionary War battle lands in the Palmetto State.

As of the middle of this month, 308 acres of hallowed ground has been saved. The land protected are part of the battlefields of Camden and Eutaw Springs, which “bookend a period of incredible consequence to the American Revolution.”

This is a great start, but as that means, it is a beginning and the ABT will need all our help to make it happen. This new direction will bring preservation, education, and technology together into one investment and keep the effort going, until this land is saved for the present and future generations.

For those readers of ours that are already members, thank you. For those that are interested in learning  more, click here.

To check out the various sites and history associated with the Liberty Trail, click here.

Women in War

As February turns to March, our friends at American Battlefield Trust (ABT), in honor of Women’s History Month, are starting a series on “Women in War.”

ABT

The objective of the initiative is to highlight the important role women have played in America’s conflicts, especially the wars that the Trust is actively trying to preserve the hallowed ground from. From the home-front to the front-lines, women were crucial to all aspects of the winning or sustaining the fight during the respective conflicts.

That got one historian at Emerging Revolutionary War thinking.

If you had to list the most influential women during the American Revolutionary War time period, who would top the list?

Feel free to comment below!

For information about the ABT’s month-long series click here.

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”