Along The Way

   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.

Continue reading “Along The Way”

Artistic License and the French Artillery Park at Yorktown, A Case Study

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Karl G. Elsea

It is common for artists to use “artistic license” when painting historic events including American Revolutionary War art. The problem is this practice also

aids inaccuracies persisting. Here is one case study of one picture involving an historic event that is presented by the National Park Service (NPS) at Yorktown. Please note the staff is helpful and the grounds are beautiful. As for the severity of the problem, the reader can decide after reading the information.

The following picture is from the field at Yorktown where the French Artillery Park was located. The picture illustrates the idea of what an artillery park was.

The problem is this picture contains a number of images that are wrong. For example, the carriages, wagons, carts, and limbers should be painted light blue. The French Army artillery had been painted light blue prior to 1750. There is a lot of confusion to this day concerning gun and limber carriage colors. This confusion may have been generated by a current belief there was one French artillery color. The French used the color of the items to assist which department owned the material. The French Navy department [Ministry of Marine] was responsible for the colonies, including North America, and their cannon were on red carriages with, in all most all cases, iron barrels. The French Quartermaster’s department had their wagons were painted a brighter red. The French Army artillery was painted light blue with bronze barrels. Thus, the French Army barrels shown should appear to be “brass.”

Continue reading “Artistic License and the French Artillery Park at Yorktown, A Case Study”

“I gave my parole once…”

On the morning of August 27, 1780 there was a knock on the door of the Charleston, South Carolina residence of Christopher Gadsden, lieutenant governor of South Carolina. He had stayed when the city capitulated to British forces in May. Gadsden had represented the civil government and handed the city over to the British commander, Sir Henry Clinton. He was released on parole.

Christopher Gadsden

Now, approximately three months later, Clinton was back in New York, and the new British commander Lord Charles Cornwallis had reneged on the parole agreement. Along with another 20 civil officers, Gadsden was led through the town to the docks to a waiting ship, set to sail for St. Augustine in British East Florida.

Upon arrival in the oldest city in European North America, Gadsden was given the opportunity by Governor Tonyn to avoid incarceration in Florida. This is when the 56-year old patriot probably uttered the phrase below.

“I gave my parole once, and it has been shamefully violated by the British Government: I shall not give another to people on whom no faith can be reposed.”

With that decision, Gadsden landed himself in Castillo de San Marcos the large coquina stone fortress that stood guard over St. Augustine. Not only was the South Carolinian kept in a cell, he was kept in solitary confinement for the next 42 weeks!

Upon his release in September 1781, Gadsden and the rest of the civil prisoners were sent by merchant vessel to Philadelphia. Gadsden wasted no time in hurrying southward to South Carolina and a return to the state House of Representatives. He served in various political roles, although he had to decline the governorship because of the affects of his imprisonment. He died in 1805. A grandson, James Gadsden would give his name to the Gadsden Purchase.

Gadsden was held in the cell to the right
(author photo)

Today one can visit Castillo de San Marcos, a national park unit within the National Park Service. When touring the Castillo you can view the cell where Gadsden spent his solitary confinement and read the accompanying exhibits.

“Rev War Revelry” Heads to Kings Mountain

On October 7, 1780, patriot militia, some coming from over the Appalachian Mountains descended on a Loyalist militia force in northwest South Carolina. This pro-British force, commanded by the only British regular on the field that day, Major Patrick Ferguson retreated onto Kings Mountain.

American fought American.

On that hilltop one of the pivotal battles of the American Revolutionary War unfolded. The ramifications reverberated through the southern theater of operations, played a part on the psyche of civilians and militia, and added luster to the burgeoning backwoods, frontier American persona.

Emerging Revolutionary War focuses in on the Battle of Kings Mountain this Sunday, on the next “Rev War Revelry.” Join us on our Facebook page at 7 p.m. EST for a historian happy hour, as we discuss, dissect, imbibe, and provide commentary on this strategic battle, the national park there, and the campaigns that decided this theater of operation.

(courtesy of NC Encyclopedia)

“Rev War Roundtable with ERW” Brandywine Campaign

The largest, in terms of military forces deployed, engagement in the American Revolutionary War occurred on September 11, 1777 in southeastern Pennsylvania. The Battle of Brandywine was a pivotal moment in the British campaign that captured the patriot capital in Philadelphia. With the anniversary of the engagement happening the Friday before, the Emerging Revolutionary War crew will make this engagement and campaign the focal point of Sunday’s “Rev War Roundtable with ERW.”

Joining the “Rev War Revelry” this Sunday, at 7pm on Emerging Revolutionary War’s Facebook page will be Michael C. Harris, historian and author of Brandywine: A History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777, which was published and is available for purchase by Savas Beatie. Click here to order.

Besides authoring the history mentioned above, Harris has an upcoming release, on another important battle in Pennsylvania, Germantown, fought on October 4, 1777. Rumor on the street has it that he will be joining ERW at a future date to discuss this important battle and talk about his new book.

A bit of a background on Harris. He is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and the American Military University. He has worked for the National Park Service in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at Brandywine Battlefield. He has conducted tours and staff rides of many east coast battlefields. Michael is certified in secondary education and currently teaches in the Philadelphia region. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Michelle and son, Nathanael.

Although the battle lost Philadelphia for the patriots, Harris does not hold back on the culprit for the setback:

“Washington failed the army, the army did not fail Washington.”

To hear the reasoning behind that emphatic quote we hope you join us this Sunday!

“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” Father’s Day, Father of the Country

This Sunday, Father’s Day in the United States, join Emerging Revolutionary War for the next historian happy hour on the proverbial “Father of the Country” George Washington.

As our historians discuss, converse, and share their knowledge, the “Rev War Revelry” will not just be dedicated to one man, George Washington. But, also, to the “Fathers’ of the Father of the Country.” The generations prior to Washington who are buried in eastern Virginia, on the historic Northern Neck of Virginia, and within the boundary of George Washington Birthplace National Monument, a part of the National Park Service.

Joining the ERW crew this week will be guest historian Scott S. Hill, who is the Chief of Interpretation and Education at George Washington Birthplace National Monument and Thomas Stone National Historic Site.

So, if you are a father, we wish you a great Father’s Day. We also encourage you to share an hour and a brew, with your father, if able, and tune into our Facebook page at 7 p.m. EST to catch the discussion that ensues.

Burial Ground, George Washington Birthplace NM (courtesy of Project Gutenberg)

ERW Weekender: Ninety Six, The Site That Has It All

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes historian Vanessa Smiley to the blog.

The thing about Ninety Six National Historic Site is that it’s unassuming exterior hides a wealth of history. It’s also nowhere near a major highway, meaning you have to want to get there if you’re thinking of visiting. And when you do get there, you will realize that there’s more history per acre than its demur entrance lets on. Located in the back country of South Carolina, Ninety Six has a history that speaks to the stories of Native Americans, the American frontier of the 18th century, and the American Revolution.

Entrance to the park
(courtesy of Ninety Six NHS, NPS)

The site at Ninety Six holds a treasure trove of study on these subjects. Native American, mostly Cherokee, activity was heavy in the area long before European settlers arrived. One of the earliest backcountry trading posts, established by Robert Gouedy in 1759, made Ninety Six a hotbed of trading activity thanks to its location at the crossroads of twelve different roads and paths, linking the area to nearly all parts of the colonies.

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Following Washington

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Terry Rensel.

I despise driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike, so for my drive from Fredericksburg, Virginia to Erie, Pennsylvania to visit family for Thanksgiving I decide to go cross-country to Cumberland, Maryland and then play it by ear from there. As I realized that I was going to be close to Fort Necessity, I decided to make that a stop since I’ve never been there, then see what the day held.

Although a child of NW Pennsylvania, and getting plenty of young George Washington in school, Fort Necessity was a place that I have never been before. It appealed to both my interest in, and desire to visit as many, National Park Service sites as possible. I also have an interest in travelling historic roads, so the fact that US 40, the National Road, was included made it a bit of a two-for for me.

I knew that Fort Necessity itself was a small fortification, I had no idea just how small until I saw it with my own eyes. I can’t believe that this unassuming stockade was the place was a place where the opening acts of the French and Indian War occurred.

Fort Necessity from treeline

The National Park Service has signage, and recently planted trees, where the historic 1754 tree line was. There wasn’t much room for maneuver. The Visitor Center isn’t a very large building, but their exhibits were fantastic. Along with battle related items, there is also a series of items and interpretation for the National Road.

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August in Lexington, Massachusetts

From our friends at the Lexington Historical Society, a few events to mark on your calendar if going to be in that area of the country. Click here for more information about the events below.

On Thursday, August 8th at 7:00 p.m. at the Lexington Depot
I Am An Honest Woman: Female Revolutionary Resistance 

Most women had limited opportunities for political action during the American Revolution. While some of the lower classes could take to the streets, “genteel” women had to find more subtle ways to support the Patriot cause, while maintaining the illusion of domestic contentment. Dr. Emily Murphy, National Park Service curator and living historian, will discuss the “Daughters of Liberty” and their political accomplishments. These women were able to take an active role in the Revolution by politicizing traditional female activities, like spinning flax into linen to create homespun fabric in protest of British imports. A group of 50 protesting Bostonian men would incite a riot, but who would cross a crowd of dutiful housewives showing off their domestic skills?

Saturday, August 31, 12:00 – 4:00 p.m., across from Battle Green on Harrington Road
Lexington’s Spinning Protest

On the exact 250th anniversary of the 1769 spinning protest in Lexington, come to a reenactment of that important event! There will be spinners in period dress, interpreters sharing information about the craft of spinning, the political climate of the time and the British goods boycott that sparked the 1769 spinning bee. Plus, a preview of our 2020 Buckman Tavern exhibit on women and political protest. Free and open to the public.