For those in certain geographical areas of the United States winter weather and temperatures are upon us. The barometer fluctuates between highs and lows and wind whips through open spaces. Similar to the winter encampment at Valley Forge in 1777-1778. Much like the soldiers of the Continental army, looking toward warmer weather in the spring so should you! And it includes a visit to Valley Forge as well!
Join Emerging Revolutionary War historian Phillip S. Greenwalt and other historians in the Pursuit of History: Forging the Continental Army as part of the HistoryCamp.org event weekend. Starting on May 19, 2023 the event rolls through the weekend, Check out the full event page, including the book package where you can secure a copy of The Winter that Won the War, the Winter Encampment at Valley Forge 1777-1778, a volume in the popular Emerging Revolutionary War Series published by Savas Beatie, LLC.
As 2022 winds down, Emerging Revolutionary War wanted to share one more round-up of what our good friends at Americana Corner were doing in this last month of the year. We hope to continue to partner with Americana Corner in the 2023 and bring new content and new enthusiasm for this critical period in American history to the forefront. To all our readers, thank you and we all at Emerging Revolutionary War hope you have a great ending to 2022 and a Happy New Year!
A few blog posts for light reading as you wind down December…
Washington Takes Command December 27, 2022
When it came to finding the right man to command the new Continental Army assembled around Boston, George Washington was the logical choice. John Adams quickly nominated Washington and Congress unanimously approved. As Adams stated, “This appointment will have a great effect in cementing and securing the Union of these colonies.”
George Washington Enters Politics December 20, 2022
As befitting a wealthy landowner in colonial Virginia, George Washington became active in the colony’s politics in the 1750s. He first ran for a seat representing Frederick County in the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1755 but lost the election. Interestingly, it was the only political race he would ever lose. Washington ran for that same seat in 1758 and was victorious, and he held this seat for seven years.
Martha Washington was our nation’s first First Lady and lived in the shadow of her larger-than-life husband George. However, most Americans do not realize that she was a very capable woman and, when given the opportunity, managed her own affairs quite well.
George Washington’s Life at Mount Vernon December 6, 2022
When George Washington resigned as Colonel and Commander of the Virginia Regiment in 1758, he returned to Mount Vernon to begin his life as a gentleman planter. Although in less than twenty years Washington would be called away by his country, his time between the French and Indian War and the American Revolution was a significant portion of this great man’s life.
From November 2, 1777 until early-December, General George Washington and the Continental Army occupied a defensive position at White Marsh, approximately 13 miles northwest of Philadelphia. In early December, a series of small skirmishes erupted along the American lines in the last actions of the campaigning season of 1777. Frustrated by Washington’s refusal to emerge from his entrenchments, Sir William Howe led his British columns back to their winter abode in Philadelphia.
Washington moved the army shortly thereafter toward Valley Forge and their winter cantonment, arriving in that vicinity on December 19. As Washington prepared for the winter of 1777-1778 you can also start the preparations to follow this route with Emerging Revolutionary War on the weekend of November 11 – 13, 2022 on the Rise of the American Army: Valley Forge and the Battle of Monmouth Bus Tour. To secure your spot and further information, click here (or the link on the banner at the top of this page).
If you tuned into our “Rev War Revelry” with historian and author John U. Rees on Sunday, you may have heard him mention a few links and a blog where he adds information that did not make it into the book. Or has come to light since the publication of his history “They Were Good Soldiers: African-Americans in the Continental Army, 1775-1783.”
John was nice enough to provide the following as a follow-up for those interested in reading more into the subject.
African Americans Serving in the Armies of the Revolution (PDF, click here).
“They Were Good Soldiers”,
Additional post-publication updates and information:
List of soldiers and women featured in the book.
African American soldier-servants.
African American women with the army.
Author interviews pertaining to the book.
Entries for blog:
“More ‘Good Soldiers’”:
Revised percentages for 1778 army “Return of Negroes.”
Officers’ observations of black Continental soldiers.
Ranney’s painting “Cowpens” and black cavalry soldiers.
List of soldiers and women featured in the book.
Black Continental soldiers at the Battle of Monmouth.
Printed 19th century remembrances of black veterans
Articles the book was based on including African Americans in Southern Continental regiments plus transcribed pension files used for that study.
Jeffrey Brace, African slave and Continental soldier
Black soldier motivations (Scoggins)
Loyalist Ethiopian Regiment (Copeland)
Black soldiers at New Windsor cantonment (Thorenz)
Hannah Till, wartime servant to Washington (Cole)
Thomas Carney, Maryland Continental (Calder)
Black Hessians (Jones)
Military role of black Loyalists (Braisted)
Author Discussion ERW Facebook Live:
To watch the interview with John, click over to Emerging Revolutionary War’s Facebook page and click on the “Videos” tab. To access the page, click here.
Baron Ludwig von Closen, aide–de–camp to French General Rochambeau, wrote in July 1781:
“I had a chance to see the American Army, man for man. It is really painful to see those brave men, almost naked with only some trousers and little linen jackets, most of them without stockings, but, would you believe it, very cheerful and healthy in appearance … It is incredible that soldiers composed of men of every age, even children of fifteen, of whites and blacks, unpaid and rather poorly fed, can march so fast and withstand fire so steadfastly’.”
During the American Revolution, African-Americans, both freed and enslaved, fought for the patriots. Some wielded muskets in militia outfits whereas others were part of the Continental army. African-Americans were there from the Siege of Boston through the end of the conflict. In fact, until the Korean War the American Revolution was the last time a United States military force was integrated in time of war.
Although publications have been printed about the 1st Rhode Island or comparative studies between Africans that served for the British or patriots. However, the field needed a dedicated study of African-Americans that served in the Continental army. Enter John U. Rees.
A lifelong Bucks County, Pennsylvanian who has studied and written about the soldiery of the American Revolution for the past three decades. He is published many times over and this Sunday, he will join Emerging Revolutionary War at 7 p.m. on “Rev War Revelry.”
The discussion will include his new book, “They Were Good Soldiers’: African-Americans Serving in the Continental Army, 1775-1783.” Which is now available for purchase online. ‘They Were Good Soldiers’: African Americans Serving in the Continental Army, 1775-1783 begins by discussing the inclusion and treatment of black Americans by the various Crown forces (particularly British and Loyalist commanders, and military units). The narrative then moves into an overview of black soldiers in the Continental Army, before examining their service state by state. Each state chapter looks first at the Continental regiments in that state’s contingent throughout the war, and then adds interesting black soldiers’ pension narratives or portions thereof. The premise is to introduce the reader to the men’s wartime duties and experiences. The book’s concluding chapters examine veterans’ post-war fortunes in a changing society and the effect of increasing racial bias in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Besides the book dialogue, a general conversation about the roles of African-Americans in the American Revolutionary period. So, find your favorite brew, bring your questions and insights, and join John Rees and ERW on Sunday evening on our Facebook page.
Before the horrific terrorist attacks that struck the United States on September 11, 2001, this date in American history saw the longest single day engagement with the highest number of combatants during the entire American Revolution fought in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Known to history as the Battle of Brandywine, approximately 30,000 soldiers were involved and 1,887 became casualties, the majority, 1,300 being Americans. One of those 1,300 individuals was Reverend or Chaplain Joab Trout, from New Hampshire.
The night before the engagement, he gave the following sermon beat the evening call on the eve of battle. And 242 years later the words still echo with a sense of patriotism and stoicism for a cause that was worth fighting and dying for. Below is the full sermon:
On this date in 1780, Johann von Robias, Baron de Kalb, died of wounds received three days earlier during the Battle of Camden, South Carolina.
de Kalb, born on June 19, 1721 in the Principality of Bayreuth, was in charge of the American right wing during the engagement at Camden, leading the premier units, the Delawareans and Marylanders, of General Horatio Gates’ Southern Army.
When the left and center of the American line disintegrated, de Kalb’s force had to beat a hasty retreat before becoming completely surrounded. During this juncture of the fighting, the Baron’s horse was shot out from under him and the German was thrown to the ground. Before he could gain his feet, he was hit with three musket balls and bayoneted multiple times by approaching British soldiers. The wounds would prove mortal. Continue reading ““De Kalb has died, as he has lived, the unconquered friend of liberty””→
A few random musings on the importance of this date in American Revolutionary history…
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.”
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.
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!*
Abraham Lincoln usually gets the credit for establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1863. He deserves much of it for making it an annual event. But, Lincoln was harkening back to an earlier practice of giving thanks amidst the trials and tribulations of war, whether it was going well or not. The tradition predated the Revolutionary War generation, but they were as apt to a hold national day of giving thanks as any of their predecessors or successors in American history. Continue reading “Thanksgiving with the Continental Army, 1777”→
Part of an ongoing series of about the Continental Army in Morristown, New Jersey. For the first post, click here.
Across the street from the Ford Mansion, the elegant home of the Jacob Ford, Jr. and his family, and the headquarters for George Washington during the winter encampment of 1779-1780, sits a small boulder with a iron plaque plastered on the side.
Erected in 1932 by the Tempe Wicke Society Children of the American Revolution, the monument commemorates the Life Guards that served as Washington’s headquarters command during the American Revolution. Although the unit went by different names and reorganized at least twice, including once during the winter encampment at Morristown, the company, numbering approximately 150 men, would be around for the duration of the war. Continue reading “Uncovering the Continental Army in Morristown”→