My recent comments about Stacy Schiff’s The Revolutionary Samuel Adams got me thinking about some of John Adams’s thoughts about his second cousin. In particular, John shared a neat story about Sam’s secretiveness—a problem that has bedeviled biographers, including Schiff, because Sam didn’t leave behind a trove of documentary evidence the way other Founders did.
“I have seen him . . .” said John, “in Philadelphia, when he was about to leave Congress, cut up with his scissors whole bundles of letters, into atoms that could never be reunited, and throw them out at the window, to be scattered by the winds. This was in summer, when he had no fire. In winter he threw whole handfuls into the fire. As we were on terms of perfect intimacy, I have joked him, perhaps rudely, upon his anxious caution. His answer was, ‘Whatever becomes of me, my friends shall never suffer by my negligence.’”
John admired Sam, 13 years his senior, a great deal. The two were hardly acquainted growing up, but as John started off his legal career in Boston, Sam—a great cultivator of talent—pegged him as someone to develop. As tensions in Boston grew between the Sons of Liberty, British officials, and far-off Parliament, Sam brought John into the inner circle because of John’s sharp legal mind. The decision paved John’s eventual path to national politics.
“Mr. Adams was an original,” John said of Sam, saying he was “born and tempered a wedge of steel. . . .”
In his common appearance, he was a plain, simple, decent citizen, of middling stature, dress and manners. He had an exquisite ear for music, and a charming voice, when he pleased to exert it.—Yet his ordinary speeches in town meetings, in the house of representatives and in congress, exhibited nothing extraordinary; but upon great occasions, when his deeper feelings were excited, he erected himself, or rather nature seemed to erect him, without the smallest symptom of affectation, into an upright dignity of figure and gesture, and gave a harmony to his voice, which made a strong impression on spectators and auditors, the more lasting for the purity, correctness and nervous elegance of his style.
John spoke on several occasions of Sam’s “an air of dignity and majesty.” He admired Sam’s “harmonious voice and decisive tone” and his “self-recollection, a self-possession, a self-command, a presence of mind that was admired by every man present. . . .” He also listed “his caution, his discretion, his ingenuity, his sagacity, his self-command, his presence of mind, and his intrepidity” as traits that “commanded the admiration” of friend and foe alike—friends who applauded him and foes who could not help but respect Sam Adams’s considerable populist powers.
It is little doubt why John later said, “Without the character of Samuel Adams, the true history of the American Revolution can never be written.”
I’m currently reading Stacy Schiff’s new biography The Revolutionary Samuel Adams. It’s a snappy-to-read, deeply researched book—all the more challenging to write because Sam Adams made careful effort not to leave much of a paper trail about himself.
Schiff uses her introduction to sketch out this fundamental problem, and in doing so, she creates a compelling flash portrait of Adams that the rest of the book fleshes out. Adams the historiographical sphinx is well served by this portrait. Sam Adams simultaneously led from the front yet operated in the shadows, an apparent contradiction that Schiff nonetheless portrays fully and effectively.
As the book goes on, Schiff manages to pull from a deep well of primary sources, even if there’s not a mountain from Sam himself. She handles those sources adroitly and comfortably, plucking this bit from here and that bit from there the way a conductor works an orchestra.
The result is an admiring but not fawning portrait of Adams—a man without whom, said cousin John, “the true history of the American Revolution can never be written.”
Troubling to me in the text is that, in the late 1760s and early 1770s, the Adams-led Sons of Liberty often employed mob violence—real and threatened—to achieve their aims. Propaganda efforts were often tethered to reality by only thinnest of meager threads, if at all. Men were intimidated, bullied, tarred and feathered, humiliated, assaulted, and run out of town for opposing or even just disagreeing with them. Houses were ransacked. Livelihoods destroyed. Reputations ruined. I could not help but think of the Klan in the Reconstruction-era South—a comparison no-doubt tantamount to sacrilege when talking about a group of Bostonians popularly and fondly remembered as patriots.
Yet Schiff merrily skates over such rough terrain, sharing vivid details about incidents without exploring the moral morass this tension suggests. Her hero acts in decidedly less-than-heroic ways, arguing that the ends justify the means. We as readers are left to ponder this ambiguity ourselves. Such work on the reader’s part isn’t a bad thing, but it does strike me as somewhat of an abdication on the biographer’s part when the rest of the narrative is so cheerfully pro-Adams.
Overall, The Revolutionary Samuel Adams is an excellent work so far, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants a fuller understanding of how the wheels of Revolution started turning—and who started them.
Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes this guest submission by historian Werther Young, aka Elmer Woodard
Not THAT Lee. And not at Stratford Hall, Leesylvani, nor Shirley plantations. No rustle of silk, silver platters from the kitchen, obsequious servants bowing and scraping, no twitter of conversation, nor the tinkling of crystal. Our repast was much less spectacular. In his Memoirs, Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee told of a dining experience during the Race to the Dan on or about February 11, 1781. We tried to recreate that meal.
Lee’s Legion had been assigned By Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene to Col. Otho William’s Light Division, which had in turn been tasked with luring the British away from Greene’s main army on its retreat to Boyd’s Ferry (now South Boston, Virginia). Williams apparently roused his men at 3 a.m. at Guilford Courthouse (modern Greensboro, N.C.), drew rations, and marched north to collect his Delaware company at an outpost near Brice’s Crossroads (now Summerfield, North Carolina). He then marched northeast on the road to Dix’s Ferry (now US Rt. 158 towards Reidsville, North Carolina and Danville, Virginia) as far as Rodes’ House, six miles almost due north of Guilford Courthouse, and four miles northeast of Brice’s Crossroads. With Lee’s cavalry rearguard at Rodes’ House, Williams’ infantry was probably spread out along the present Scalesville Road northeast towards Troublesome Iron Works and modern Reidsville. A Lt. Harrington commanded cavalry patrols southeast towards Salem, North Carolina on the Scalesville Road, the direction of the last reported location of the British. In the cool and drizzly morning, everything was quiet, so quiet that Williams’ men had started the slow process of cooking their rations.
The latest intelligence put the British somewhere towards Salem (present Winston-Salem, North Carolina), some twenty-four miles away. Unfortunately, that information was stale. The British had marched early, passing through Dobson’s Crossroads (present day Kernersville, North Carolina) and by early morning were near present Oak Ridge, North Carolina just nine miles away from Rodes’ House and coming on hard, while Williams and his men were enjoying a “comfortable meal.”
On paper, Revolutionary War infantry regiments were made up of companies of fifty men each. Generally, cavalrymen counted each horse as a man, so their “company” was only about twenty-five men, and was called a “troop.” For ration purposes, each company/troop was further divided into subgroups of five or six men each, called a “mess.” In practice, a company could be anywhere from fifteen to seventy men, but let us stay with a typical size of fifty. By 1781 in North Carolina, with many, many exceptions, army rations were essentially a pound of protein and a pound of carbohydrate per day, roughly four Quarter Pounder hamburgers per day.
“Protein” in the 1781 south was meat, usually pork, fresh or salted. Carbohydrate was usually ground corn, and was packaged from the mill in barrels of about 200 pounds. Rations were usually issued in three day lots to the company, although six day lots were not unheard of. Indeed, the British 1768 warrant specified that the men’s haversacks were to be large enough for six days’ rations. Williams’ “Light” Division was ‘Light’ because it did not contain wagons, so the men had to carry everything, including rations, themselves. Stopping to distribute rations would certainly lose the Race to the Dan, so the men were probably issued six days rations (two pounds per man per day, or twelve pounds per man) beforehand. Our theoretical fifty-man company would receive about 600 pounds of food for six days; the horsemen about the same because they had to feed the horse. One whole (500 man) regiment would receive about 3,000 pounds of food. Williams had about a regiment and a half, so his six days’ ration weight would approach 5,000 pounds.
Rations were issued raw, and it was the messes’ responsibility to cook them. One of the most essential pieces of equipment was therefore something to cook them in. This item was so important that four iron kettles were among of the few items specifically mentioned by the Williamsburg Public Store on the very day it opened, October 12, 1775. Kettles were sometimes cast iron, like a witch’s cauldron, but most often were sheet iron with soldered joints, holding about four gallons. Many were made in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Each mess received one kettle, which someone in the mess had to carry where ever they went.
By 11 a.m. or so, somewhat delayed by the difficulties of igniting wet wood, Williams’ Light Division was happily cooking their rations. Lee described the fare as “the meat was on the coals and the corn cakes in the ashes.” Apparently, it also was pretty far along in the process, as Lee referred to having had (past tense) a “comfortable meal” at that time. For one five-man infantry mess with six days’ rations, this meant that they were boiling thirty pounds of meat and making thirty pounds of corn cakes per man.
Earlier this year my son Patrick and I decided to try some applied archaeology and figure out just how the corn and pork ration system in the 1781 south worked. We had found a first-person account from an Overmountain man who went through the Smoky Mountains from Sycamore Shoals (now Elizabethton, Tennessee) to King’s Mountain, North Carolina in ten days on twenty pounds of “parched corn,” about two pounds per day. While we had heard of parched corn, no one really knew what it was, because no one eats it anymore. Additional research showed that it’s just corn meal that has been browned over heat. It was usually mixed half and half with a sweetener of some sort. So, we browned some corn and mixed it with table sugar. It tastes like sweet cornmeal-flavored sand. We tried to make parched corn molasses bars, but this degenerated into a sticky mess, and we were … requested … to absent ourselves from the kitchen, permanently ending that part of that experiment.
The next project would be to figure out how Colonel Lee and his men prepared their February repast. Having thirty years’ experience as a Civil War reenactor with the 44th Virginia and 5th New York Zouaves, I knew that cooking meat on coals in a hurry results most of the time in semi-raw, inedible meat, and corn cakes made in the ashes are just gritty yellow discs that taste like burned dirt. Given that Lee’s Legion moved about sixty miles in five days, they weren’t eating raw meat and burned dirt.
Happily, I have a four-gallon mess kettle, and so the experiment began. As it turned out, a friend had recently killed his wife’s pet hog, and he generously donated ten pounds of frozen pork. In 1781, pork was either on the hoof or salted, the only way of preserving it at the time. Since Mr. Hogg was no longer on the hoof, our friend salted it. Finding a watertight oak barrel difficult to come by, he dry-salted it in a food safe plastic bucket, with a layer of pickling salt, then a layer of meat, and so on until the bucket was full, with the top layer being salt. It then sat for several months, during which time we turned to the carbohydrate issue.
Corn meal is a much more complex article than one would imagine. Back then in the South it was not just a staple, but THE staple. Farmers planted corn, which generated about twenty-six bushels (approximately 1500 pounds) per acre. When harvested in the fall, the stalk was cut and then a dozen or so stalks tied together and set upright into a “shock” to dry. Once dried, the ears went into the corn crib and the stalks fed the animals. Periodically the farmer removed the kernels from the cobs, placed them in a log bucket or a cloth bag, and took them to the mill to be ground. The miller ground the corn, taking a percentage, and returned the rest to the farmer. This would last a family of four for about two months before it became musty, at which time the farmer would shuck more corn and go back to the miller.
The mill was water powered and contained two mill stones which ground the corn kernels into meal. Nowadays, most “corn meal” is for baked corn bread, and is superfine, almost like powdered sugar. Back then, this was almost unheard of. The finer the grind, the higher the miller’s toll (grinding fee), so the grinds were usually much coarser. Fine meal, meal, and grits were what humans generally ate. One coarseness level below grits was “Indian grind,” which only Indians would buy, because it was the cheapest grind but still fit for humans, rather than animals. Soldiers received it, too. We managed to find a local mill that was happy to make us some Indian grind but we had to buy fifty pounds of it. Ten bucks later, we had a about eight gallons of Indian grind.
We were not too thrilled about eating burned, dirt flavored disks, so we decided not to make ash cakes. A bit of research revealed that non-ash corn cakes were often made on a flat rock, or even a shovel blade. We decided to use a spade blade with the edges bent up. Spades these days are surprisingly expensive, but a case of beer delivered to a pal at the local machine shop soon had us a brand-new steel spade blade with turned up edges and an integral handle, just as shown in the Collectors Encyclopedia.
Rummaging through the pile of rarely-used reenacting gear produced a foot long “flesh” fork for manipulating the chunks of pork, a small kettle to mix in, a ladle, and a spatula for flipping, although these items could technically be considered cheating. Ten pounds of salt pork has its own unique needs, so we scrubbed out a cooler, put Mr. Hogg’s remains on ice, and set forth.
As members of the re-created 7th Virginia Regiment, we attended their annual living history event at the Gloucester Museum of History in Gloucester Courthouse, Virginia, where the 7th was initially mustered in April 1776. Since fires were not allowed, one of the members brought a charcoal brazier. Not exactly wet wood from February 1781, but it would do. Once the coals were going, the first task was to put the pork on. This was pretty simple, in that you put the pork in the kettle, fill it with water, and put it on the fire. The point of this is to remove the salt and cook the meat. Ten pounds of salt pork half-filled the kettle. With the pork simmering, we reviewed the next phase of the plan. When lard formed on the top of the water, we’d skim it off. When the pork was done, we’d use the salty pork water (the “liquor”) to make batter for the corn cakes, and then fry them in the lard on the spade.
Of course, the plan went awry almost from the beginning. Despite a lot of boiling, there was not much lard, and nothing was going to get fried without any lard. One of the kind folks at the museum had to run and errand and agreed to pick up a pound of lard for us. Of course, as soon as she left, the kettle hit critical lard mass, and we were up to our smallclothes in it. We needed a way to get rid of the lard, so my son Patrick used the small kettle to go ahead and mix water with the Indian grind, and I greased up the shovel. In the meantime, we were fighting a lard tsunami that threatened to boil over into the fire. We took turns using the spatula to skim, but had no place to put it, except my drinking cup. Hot lard is much like sand at the beach—it gets into everything. The cup was too hot to handle, so we had to use a rag. Which was soon hot and slippery, because it was full of lard. Soon our hands were covered with a layer of lard, which at least made everything else slippery.
We must have gotten the triple expansion Indian grind, because soon we had half a gallon of batter and a hot shovel, so we started frying. The soupy batter just ran all over the shovel and over and out the sides in a giant boondoggle, but over time the water soaked into the grind, stiffening it up. A three-inch portion, one-half inch thick, was enough to fry in place and we soon learned to flip it just as the visible top side began to tan, not brown, about five minutes for the first side, and four for the second.
We soon had it going like gangbusters, cranking out five shovelcakes every ten minutes. Surprisingly, the only thing that Indian grind likes to absorb more than water is – lard. All of the lard we had skimmed was soon gone, but we avoided disaster by fishing nice fatty chunks of pork out of the kettle and greasing the shovel with that. In no time, we had gone through two pounds of Indian grind and had a plate of thirty to forty shovel cakes to go with our salt pork. The moment of truth had arrived. Someone had to try it. This whole thing being my idea, this duty fell to me.
Honestly, it was pretty good. The boiled salt pork tasted exactly like boiled pork, now known as “pork loin.” We had accidentally used water in the Indian Grind instead of the kettle liquor from the pork, so the shovel cakes needed salt, but they were still really good, being essentially a crunchy corn pancake. Everyone was eating them like potato chips. We purloined some honey from the surgeon, and the shovelcakes became REALLY good. Shovelcakes differ from potato chips in that the former, like the parched corn, are immensely filling. After three or four each, everyone was stuffed, and we still had plenty of them, so we tossed them in a haversack, and turned to stopping car traffic to interrogate the drivers as to whether they were a friend of American Liberty or vile traitors in league with the pernicious Lord Dunmore. Most of the drivers had clearly never heard of Lord Dunmore, but they got it when we used somc…historical license… and changed the vile traitor to the pernicious Benedict Arnold. To our great surprise, the shovelcakes survived the trip home largely without crumbling, and we munched on shovelcakes while scrubbing out the kettles. We rustproofed the inside with lard. We cleaned the guns and oiled them with lard. And we still have a great deal of lard.
In summation, we had duplicated how Lee and his men fed themselves on the Race to the Dan. Each mess had cooked its six days ration of thirty pounds of meat and made dozens of ash/shovelcakes out of their thirty pounds of Indian grind for their “comfortable meal” on that cold drizzly day in February. What they didn’t eat hot went into their haversacks, and though we haven’t quite yet confirmed this, probably turned that item into a lard-soaked corny gritty pork mess. Since it was already fully cooked, they could reach in and munch at any time, and all they needed to do for the next meal was to reheat it over the fire.
Recipe for stovetop Gateaux de la Pelle (shovel cakes):
1 cup water
½ cup Indian grind
¾ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
Boil water and add salt. When hot, add butter. Once the butter has melted, combine this mixture with the Indian grind, adding small amounts of grind until the batter is stiff. Spoon onto well lard/bacon greased griddle/frying pan. Turn when the top side is just tan, just about to brown. Condiments include honey, butter, molasses, more butter, powdered sugar, and/or more butter.
Regular store-bought corn meal probably won’t work, as it is too fine. Uncooked yellow or white grits might work, but we haven’t tried that. Yet.
Returning to 1781, while “the meat was on the coals and the corn cakes in the ashes,” a citizen galloped into Williams’ camp at Rodes’ House. The man had found one of Lt. Harrington’s patrols and had been rushed to headquarters in the emergency. The British had evaded detection and were now only four miles away, approaching Brice’s Crossroads. It was all mess kettles and elbows. No doubt shocked that he had been so badly surprised, Williams ordered his men to stop cooking, fall in, and escape northeast. Lee and his men rode south to fight – and delay – Banastre Tarleton and his Legion.
 The British accounts reveal that they had to forage during the Race, and were nevertheless starving. In contrast, the American account mention extreme fatigue, but little hunger.
 Gregory B. Sandor, Journal of the Public Store at Williamsburg (privately published, 2015), 1. See also 9, 10.
 Henry Lee, Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States (Miami, FL: Hardpress, 2017), ebook location 4523-4542. No mention is made of any campfire grates, fire irons, dining flies, etc.
 Spade converted into a frying pan by soldiers, from the collections of Morristown National Historical Park. Pictured in George C. Neumann and Frank J. Kravic, Collector’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1975), 94.
Wether Young is a graduate of Norfolk Academy, Washington and Lee University, and Campbell University School of Law. He has practiced law in Virginia for 35 years. . Beginning in 1987, he has been a member or the 44th Virginia, Coppens’ Zouaves, Brian Pohanka’s 5the New York Duryees’ Zouaves (First Sergeant), the Life Guard, King Charles I, 151er Regiment de l’Armee de France, His Majesty’s Marines, and the 7th Virginia Regiment. Publications include “Evolutions of the Color Guard in the Cam Chase Gazette,” and “Johnson & Dow Waterproof and Combustible Cartridges” in the magazine of the Company of Military Historians. He is also the author of “A Bloody Day at Gaines’ Mill “ (McFarland, 2019).
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!
On December 19, 1777 a bedraggled, underfed, undersupplied, and hemorrhaging manpower, the Continental army trudged into their permanent winter encampment at Valley Forge. Located approximately 20 miles from Philadelphia, General George Washington’s army would recuperate, revitalize, re-train, and march out six months later a different military force.
Meanwhile, the British army, victors of Brandywine and survivors of Germantown ensconced themselves in the colonial capital of the rebellious colonies after its peaceful fall on September 26, 1777. Commanded by Sir General William Howe the British were better fed, better equipped, and in theory better suited to continue conducting military operations to quell the rebellion.
Which begs the question, why did Howe not attack Valley Forge?
Although historians have grappled with this, there are a number of reasons why Howe did not press the issue during the winter months, some range from personal to logistical to how warfare was conducted in the 18th century.
Was Howe frustrated at Washington for not taking the bait at White Marsh in early December 1777 to fight outside defensive works and envisioned the same reticence would be shown by the Virginian if the British attempted an offensive action toward Valley Forge?
Or was Howe simply a man of his time and war was not practiced in winter when there were so many variables one could not control, chiefly the unpredictability of Mother Nature?
Was Howe already worried about his reception and defense when he arrived back in England? Only willing to take a low risk-high reward gambit, which he attempted in May 1778 at Barren Hill?
One of his own soldiers,Captain Richard Fitzpatrick in a letter to Charles Fox penned the following;
“If General Howe attempts anything but securing his army for the winter I shall consider him, after what has happened in the north, a very rash man. But if he lets himself be governed by General Grant I shall not be surprised if we get into some cursed scrape.”
Or does this one paragraph explain the main reason behind no winter campaigning, “what has happened in the north.” A clear implication to the disaster of the other field army operating in the northern American colonies, Burgoyne’s that capitulated at Saratoga in October 1777.
Although we will never know for certain, this is a question that has come up in conversations, at book talks, and around the national park at Valley Forge. This is a question Emerging Revolutionary War will grapple with on our second annual bus tour, which will include Valley Forge, this November. Check the link “Bus Tour 2022” on the black banner above to secure your ticket and partake in the ongoing debate on why Howe did not attack. Limited tickets remain.
 Urban, Mark. “Fusiliers: The Saga of a British Redcoat Regiment in the American Revolution (Walker & Company: Manhattan, 2007).
We are happy to welcome Scott Stroh to our Third Annual Symposium on the American Revolution, co-hosted with Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, The Lyceum and Emerging Revolutionary War. This year’s theme is “The World Turned Upside: The American Revolution’s Impact on a Global Scale. We asked Scott to answer a few questions about their talk and their passion for history.
Scott Stroh was born in Philadelphia, PA, but family roots along the Chesapeake Bay fostered a deep love of Virginia history at a young age. Mr. Stroh Graduated from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, VA with a BA in History and Education in 1992 and from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN with a MA in History and Museum Studies in 1997.
Mr. Stroh served as Curator of Collections and Interpretation at the Anacortes Museum in Anacortes, WA, as Curator at Historic Spanish Point in Osprey, FL, as Executive Director of the Roanoke Island Commission in Manteo, NC, as Florida’s State Historic Preservation Officer and Director of Historical Resources, and as Executive Director of the Milwaukee County Historical Society. He was appointed Executive Director of Gunston Hall in June 2013.
What first attracted you to the study of early American history? What keeps you involved in the study of this history? Do you find these things are the same or different?
Growing up in Philadelphia I fell in love with history and, in particular, early American history as a child. Even at a young age, I was very interested in the people who defined this period and I voraciously read biographies about anybody living during that period of time. My favorite museum was also Franklin Court, in part because they had a large room with telephones that allowed you to call and “talk” with the Founders, but also with lesser known figures like Absalom Jones (first African American to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal of the United States). These moments, and others like them, were defining experiences of my childhood and directly contributed to my career in museums.
I remain involved with this history not only because of my role at Gunston Hall, but perhaps more importantly because I believe learning about and understanding this history is essential to being an informed and productive citizen today.
“Colonel Armand’s dragoons and militia displayed a good countenance, but were soon borne down by the rapid charge of the legion. The chase again commenced…” So wrote British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton in his work, “A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781, in the Southern Provinces of North America” regarding his pursuit of retreating American militiamen from the disastrous battlefield at Camden, SC in August 1780, and the gallant effort of one Patriot cavalry commander, a foreign officer, who sought desperately to reform the panicked militia and make a stand. He was Lieutenant Colonel Charles Armand Tuffin, Marquis de la Rouerie.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Armand
French by birth, Armand was one of many European soldiers to come to America in the 1770’s with hopes of obtaining high ranking commissions in the fledgling Continental Army during the Revolution. Arriving in 1776, Armand’s service in the war would generally become overshadowed by that of his more famous countryman, the younger Marquis de Lafayette, who would arrive a year later.
Been a bit since we checked in and shared what our good friend Tom Hand has been doing at Americana Corner. The blog, dedicated to sharing “informative stories of the great events, founding documents, and inspirational leaders” routinely has a new post up every Tuesday. Below is what was on the blog for the month of May. Click the title to read the entire post.
Patriots, Loyalists and America’s First Civil War With the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, the actual fighting of the American Revolution was underway. As it turned out, this open warfare was not reserved just for the new Continental Army formed around Boston and the British Army trapped in the city. It soon spilled over into a fight between neighbors.
Americans Divide Over Independence According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a civil war is a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same state or country. By this definition or any objective measure, our nation experienced a civil war from about 1773 to 1783. It was much worse in its intensity and cost than anything from the Civil War, including Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea.
The Quasi-War and Its Aftermath The only fighting in the Quasi-War occurred at sea, and mostly in the Caribbean. But with war at a fever pitch and French interests so close by in Louisiana, there was a very real concern in Congress about a possible French invasion of the United States from the west.
Escalating Tensions with France Lead to Quasi-War The Quasi-War was an undeclared war between France and the United States, largely fought at sea in the Caribbean and along the southern coast of America, between 1798 and 1800. It developed because of a series of related events that soured the formerly strong relationship between the two nations.
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.
April 19th in American Revolutionary War history is usually remembered as the day the “shot heard around the world” happened in the towns of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. For the 2022 edition of that day, Emerging Revolutionary War invites you to turn your attention to Valley Forge and a virtual event hosted by the Valley Forge Park Alliance.
Starting at 7 p.m. EDT, Emerging Revolutionary War historian, Phillip S. Greenwalt will present a virtual talk entitled, ‘Timely and Handsome’: Transformation of the Continental Army at Valley Forge. A synopsis of the talk is below.
“As spring began to blossom over Valley Forge, Baron von Steuben’s drilling of the Continental army was in full effect. Although the men and officers of Washington’s army had become proficient on the drill field, there was still the simple question of how would they fare against the British in the upcoming campaign season? A month prior to the end of the winter encampment on June 19, 1778, a small-scale action, at Barren Hill, by a detachment of the Continental army would prove a snapshot into possible future battlefield behavior. The signs were promising. This talk will focus on the training of von Steuben, the composition of the Marquis de Lafayette’s force that marched out of the encampment in middle of May, the action at Barren’s Hill, and the insight this small scale action showed about the transformation of the army during the winter at Valley Forge.”
To register for the event, click here. The link will take you to the Valley Forge Park Alliance website. To learn more about this important aspect of the Valley Forge encampment, Emerging Revolutionary War invites you to click the link on the title bar at the top of this blog labeled “2022 Bus Tour” and secure one of 14 remaining tickets to attend the November 11-13, 2022 tour that will cover Valley Forge and Monmouth.