“Rev War Revelry” The Importance of Germantown

On October 4, 1777, General George Washington’s Continental Army struck the British outpost at Germantown, Pennsylvania. Less than a month after the Battle of Brandywine and approximately a week after the loss of their capital, Philadelphia.

Initially successful, Washington’s forces got bogged down by fog and British holdouts in a stone structure called Cliveden. What started so promising did end in a tactical defeat for the Americans. Yet, coming days before the climatic battle in New York, dubbed Saratoga collectively, the cause of American independence was buoyed.

Although outshone in the annals of history by Saratoga, the setback at Germantown proved decisive in the French court, especially with the French foreign minister, who saw that the simple fact that Washington could regroup following Brandywine and come within some bad luck and fog of defeating the British was testament to resolve of the American effort for independence.

To cut through the fog and discuss the campaign, engagement, and repercussions of the Battle of Germantown, Emerging Revolutionary War invites back historian and author Michael C. Harris this Sunday for the next installment of “Rev War Revelry” at 7pm EST on our Facebook page.

He will join a duo of ERW historians. In addition, his publication, Germantown: A Military History of the Battle of Philadelphia, October 4, 1777, is now available through the publisher, Savas Beatie, LLC. Click here to order.

We look forward to hearing your comments, questions, and/or opinions this Sunday. So, set a side an hour-ish–as you know historians can get to talking and lose track of time easily, especially when books are also involved–for this historian happy hour.

“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.

“Rev War Roundtable with ERW” Epic Moments of the American Revolution

This Sunday, at 7 pm, EST on our Facebook page, join Emerging Revolutionary War historians as they discuss “Epic Moments of the American Revolution.”

What is an epic moment? This umbrella term will be discussed by using examples from the eight-year conflict that spawned American independence. As ERW historian Mark Maloy relates, one such moment came in early 1777 at Princeton, New Jersey, as explained by a participant in that engagement:

“I saw [Washington] brave all the dangers of the field and his important life
hanging as if it were by a single hair with a thousand deaths flying around him.” –
Pennsylvania officer at Princeton”

Moments of bravery, of personal sacrifice, be it in a battle, skirmish, raid, siege, political moment or on a mission of importance, the American Revolution has a multitude of them. During the hour-ish long historian happy hour, the panel will describe the ones that they deem as important or noteworthy. Bring your own as well, as we encourage comments, opinions, and dialogue via the comments section of our Facebook live.

Looking forward to sharing a brew and an epic moment from the War of Independence with you, this Sunday, on Emerging Revolutionary War‘s “Rev War Revelry.”

On this date in….1776

A few random musings on the importance of this date in American Revolutionary history…

President’s chair, Independence Hall, Independence National Historical Park (author collection)

This day was the date that the assembled Second Continental Congress voted on the draft of a document that was Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia had put forth in a measure, in June, to be voted on declaring;

“That these United Colonies are, and of right out to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

Thomas McKean by Charles Wilson Peale

On July 4, two days after this resolution passed, the final and formal version was approved by Congress. John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress affixed his signature boldly and largely at the bottom of the document. Eventually 55 other men would place their signature on the Declaration of Independence, with Thomas McKean, generally accepted, as the last to sign the document, possibly as late as January 1777.

Copies were made and four days later, on July 8, the first public reading occurred in Philadelphia. George Washington had the document read to the Continental Army in New York on the following day, July 9.

John Adams by Gilbert Stuart

For John Adams, future second president of the United States, the second day of July would and should be the day to remember American Independence, as he wrote;

“The most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival…It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade with shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

And that is how many Americans choose to celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, however, usually two days later on July 4th. Yet, it took another war; World War II, for July 4th to become a national paid holiday for workers of the Federal government when Congress approved it in 1941.

So, happy Independence Day!

*Feel free to add any interesting historical tidbits about the Second Continental Congress, the signers, or 1776 below!*


A Tribute to Robert Treat Paine

The city of Boston, Massachusetts is steeped in American Revolutionary War history. The city has designed an entire trail–the “Freedom Trail”–a footpath that leads interested visitors around the city to the areas of most importance.

Yet, some history, is just, literally, stuck right on the walls of Boston. On the side of a modern office building, is situated the plaque below:


One of the 56 men that affixed his signature to the Declaration of Independence, Paine was born in Boston on March 11, 1731 and was actually given a middle name, a family tribute. His family legacy was well-established in the colonies and Paine himself was counted as an early advocate for the patriotic cause.

Yet, like the more famous John Adams, Paine also was a lawyer and dedicated to the law and order. He was the second attorney, along with the aforementioned Adams, to represent the British soldiers in the “Boston Massacre” trial. He continued to hope for reconciliation, hoping when he ventured to the Second Continental Congress, that the resolve of the colonies would bring the British Parliament to negotiate. On that same vein, Paine also put his signature on the Olive Branch Petition–the final attempt by the colonies to reach King George III and give their side of the story. When the king outright rejected the petition and did not even lay eyes on the document, Paine saw there was no hope and firmly planted himself in the camp of those clamoring for independence.

He became a vocal and valuable member of the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776. Returning to Massachusetts near the end of 1776, he became the Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives the following year. In 1780 he was a member of the committee that drafted the state constitution and as attorney general he prosecuted members of Shays’ Rebellion in 1787.

His last public role was a justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court from 1790 until his retirement in 1804. He was 83 years old when he died in the house that the plaque mentions. He was buried in the Granary Burying Ground in his native Boston, Massachusetts.

Another great patriot of the American cause, whose last house where his last days were spent, has a lasting memorial for those to discover. So, many historical treasures are just hanging there, waiting to be discovered in Boston.

Another view of the Robert Treat Paine plaque in Boston

Continue reading “A Tribute to Robert Treat Paine”

Finding The “Correct” Image of General Washington

I handed over a couple of one dollar bills to pay for my coffee. The image of George Washington caught my eye, and I smiled. It would be nice to relax for a moment and pick-up Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick, the Revolutionary War history book I was reading. Settling into a comfortable chair, I soon immersed myself in the drama of the Battle of Princeton. Guided by the book’s text, my imagination created a vivid image of the unfolding conflict. George Washington – looking splendid on a large horse – galloped along, leading his men and shouting “It’s a fine fox-chase, my boys.”[i]

Startled, I closed the book. It seemed too difficult to accept that the “Father of His Country”, the dignified George Washington, and the reserved and diplomatic leader of the 1790’s could be riding recklessly, shouting in a full, commanding voice, and – on other occasions – struggling to keep his temper controlled when dealing with difficult subordinates. Then I felt foolish. My image of George Washington was based on the Gilbert Stuart presidential painting from 1797 that we’d studied in high-school art class!

Photo 1 Continue reading “Finding The “Correct” Image of General Washington”

American Revolution Round Table of Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia, when mentioned in terms of United States military history usually conjures up images of the American Civil War. However, at the University of Richmond, every other month of the year, there is a dedicated history round table to another, earlier conflict in American history.

Founded in 2007, the eight round table dedicated to the American Revolutionary War era, the Richmond American Revolution Round Table is “devoted to the study of all aspects of the Revolutionary period.”

Their meetings include dinner and a guest speaker, once a year a day-long field trip that covers an aspect of the revolutionary era is available to its 75 members and guests. Each year the round table selects a national author to receive  its book award.

The group, described by Bill Welsch, president of the round table, are a “group of eclectic, yet historically-minded individuals.” Furthermore, “all are welcome to participate in this enlightening and enjoyable pursuit, regardless of knowledge level.”

So, next time in the Richmond area, check out the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond, Virginia and stop in for to listen to a great presentation. Check out their website, via the link above (American Revolutionary War Round Tables on the top bar of this page) or send Mr. Bill Welsch an email at wmwelsch@comcast.net.

arrt richmond

The Revolution’s Southwest Front

Emerging Revolutionary War is honored to welcome back historian Robert “Bert” Dunkerly. 

During a trip to Mobile, Alabama for some Civil War research, I came across a fascinating and lesser-known aspect of the American Revolution.  When I travel, I always keep my eye out for unusual finds and hidden history.  I was rewarded on my trip to Mobile with a great discovery.

Ft C
Fort Conde (author collection)

One of the main historic sites in downtown Mobile is the reconstructed Fort Conde.  This brick fort interprets the early history of Mobile and the region under the flags of France, Spain, and the United States.  Just outside the fort is a marker discussing the battle of Fort Charlotte.

Mobile was originally the capital of the French Louisiana Territory until the close of the French and Indian War.  As part of the settlement of that conflict in 1763, this French territory passed to the British.  Fort Conde, built in 1723, was renamed Fort Charlotte by its new owners.

Map of Ft. Conde superimposed over modern Mobile streets, (photo by author)

Most of us know that the French were anxiously watching the American Revolution when the conflict broke out, hoping to score revenge against their English adversaries. Also watching with interest were the Spanish.

The British garrisons along the Gulf of Mexico coast (Pensacola, Mobile, Baton Rouge) were quite small and vulnerable.  The Spanish had been providing material aid and funds to the Americans, but finally declared war on Britain in 1779.  The Spanish were ambivalent about American independence, and unlike the French, did not recognize the United States, but did agree to help militarily.

Even before Spain’s entry into the war, New Orleans was a source of aid smuggled in for the American effort.  The Crescent City, and all the land west of the Mississippi, had been awarded to Spain at the close of the French and Indian War.  From here, supplies moved up the Mississippi to Fort Pitt at Pittsburgh, PA.  And from New Orleans, Governor Bernardo de Galvez attacked British posts up the Mississippi and along the Gulf Coast.

General Bernardo de Galvez, (artist unknown)

A statue of the Spanish general who did much to wrest the Mississippi and Gulf coast areas away from the British stands near the World Trade Center in New Orleans.  A gift from Spain to the city of New Orleans, the statue is a reminder of this important but neglected aspect of the war.  A group known as Granaderos y Damas de Galvez are dedicated to preserving his memory and that of the Spanish role in the Revolution.

Oliver Pollock was a Philadelphia merchant with close ties in Cuba and New Orleans.  When the war broke out, he used his connections to aid the Revolutionary cause from the Crescent City.  In 1777 he was appointed “commercial agent of the United States at New Orleans” and used his fortune to finance American operations in the west, such as General George Rogers Clark.  When Spain entered the war he served as an aide to General Bernardo de Galvez.

Moving up from New Orleans, a force under General de Galvez, that included Spanish troops, American volunteers, Acadian settles, and free blacks, attacked and captured the British outpost of Fort Richmond at Baton Rouge on September 21, 1779.  Today a memorial with plaques and a cannon marks the site.

In February, 1780, Spanish troops and American volunteers under Governor Bernardo de  Galvez laid siege to the 300 British in Fort Charlotte at Mobile.  The siege lasted a month.  The garrison’s surrender gave the Spanish control of this important site, and removed all English military forces from the Gulf region.

This was one of the few actions of the war in which Spanish and American troops fought side by side.  Spain declared war on Britain but did not recognized the United States, their primary interest being to settle scores with the British.




For more information on these fascinating events, check the following websites: 




The Boston Massacre

The night was chilly, snow laid on the streets and walks of Boston, and the cold air kept people bundled up around the port town of Massachusetts colony.

Yet, the cold air could not dampen was the seething resentment a growing number of Bostonians were feeling toward the occupying British military. Minor brawls and exchanges had taken place in the various taverns and around the bustling harbor; common places where alcohol and/or hard work created short tempers.

However, on this night, March 5, 1770, outside the Custom House on King Street a British redcoat infantrymen, the sentry, kept his post. Private Hugh White, whose shift it was to stand guard, would have noticed the approach of Edward Garrick, who had come calling for a British officer who owed Garrick’s boss money for his wig services. Unbeknownst to Garrick, the apprentice, the debt had been paid, so no response from the field officer was forthcoming.

old state house
Old State House (Custom House) scene of the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770

A response from White was forthcoming, who admonished the young man to have a more respectful tone when speaking to an officer in His Majesty, the King’s service. Garrick did not take too kindly to this tone and responded with an insult of his own toward White.

This prompted White to leave his post and literally knock some sense into Garrick by way of a musket strike to the side of the head. Garrick yelped in agony and a companion took up the verbal barrage toward the British soldier.

The cacophony created by the yelling of insults and as the colonial version of a game of telephone spread the message about what was transpiring at the Customs House. Church bells were rung, a telltale sign that something was afoot, led to the crowd surging past 50 in number by the evening.

White, prudently, had left his post and retreated up onto the steps of the Customs House summoned a runner (messenger) to race to the local barracks for extra manpower.As was custom, there was an officer of the watch, in this case, Captain Thomas Preston and seven soldiers responded.

En route, Henry Know, destined to become chief of artillery for the Continental Army in the American Revolution urged Preston, “For God’s sake, take care of your men, if they fire, you must die.”

Against this sage advice, shouts of “Fire” were emanating from the crowd, which had also resorted to throwing snowballs and spitting in the direction of the red-coated soldiers. Other derogatory names for British soldiers, like “lobsterbacks” which took into account the red uniforms adorned by the British infantry were also heard being shouted.

The British soldiers, with loaded muskets, and Captain Preston reached White’s station, the British officer ordered the large crowd to disperse. Preston had taken a position in front of his soldiers and had told a member of the crowd that his soldiers would not fire unless ordered.

No order was ever given.

Shortly after Preston spoke those words to a Bostonian, a foreign object hurtled toward Private Hugh Montgomery and knocked the infantryman off his feet. His musket clattered onto the steps. Standing up, Montgomery reportedly yelled “Damn you, fire!” and pulled the trigger of his musket. The accompanying “bang” reverberated in the square.

Copy of the lithograph by Paul Revere on the Boston Massacre

And then there was a pause of an uncertain length.

This silence was broken by the staccato of other muskets being fired. A few rounds belched forth from the British soldiers. Screams and shouts along with deafening echo of the discharge of black-powder muskets in an enclosed city square mixed with the sickening thud of lead impacting bone and body.

All told, eleven colonists were hit from the volley fire. Three were killed outright; Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, and Crispus Attucks. One more, Samuel Maverick, who was struck by a ricocheting round would die later that same evening. One more, a recent immigrant from Ireland, Patrick Carr, would succumb to his wounds a fortnight later.

Early portrait of Crispus Attucks (courtesy of http://crispusattucks.org/)

In the immediate aftermath, Preston would call the majority of his unit, the 29th Regiment of Foot to the scene. With the mob spilling out of the Customs House Square, Governor Thomas Hutchinson, the acting governor, was able to temporarily restore a semblance of tranquility with the promise that a fair trial of what transpired that March 5th evening would happen.

The trial would be a major event for the city of Boston, but, that was in the near future. With the shots fired and the citizens struck, the burgeoning independence movement had a rallying point. Lives were lost that night, but, the events that followed would, to the proponents of American independence, make them martyrs for the cause.


The Return of L’Hermoine


It will be hard to describe in modern terms the celebrity of Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, Marquis de Lafayette (aka LaFayette) in 18th century America.

The young Marquis was fascinated with the American ideal of revolution and against the wishes of the French monarchy, in 1776 he cast his lot with the American patriots.  His relationship with George Washington and other American leaders played a major role in the American-French alliance that brought about American independence. Continue reading “The Return of L’Hermoine”