This Sunday on the Emerging Revolutionary War’s Facebook page, Robert Dunkerly will join the “Rev War Revelry” to discuss his newest publication, Decision at Brandywine: The Battle of Birmingham Hill.
The Battle of Brandywine, fought on September 11, 1777, saw the defeat of the American forces in southeastern Pennsylvania. The victory by the British opened the road to Philadelphia, which fell to Sir William Howe’s forces on September 26, fifteen days after the battle.
Dunkerly, a park ranger with Richmond National Battlefield Park and a contributing historian for Emerging Revolutionary War will discuss the pivotal action that happened around Birmingham Hill on that Thursday in 1777. The engagement at Brandywine was the largest and longest battle in the entire American Revolution and the third bloodiest. This new publication examines the action near Birmingham Hill and Meeting House where the action that day turned against George Washington’s forces.
Thus, this Sunday, at 7 p.m. EDT, tune into ERW’s Facebook page for the next historian happy hour as the popular “Rev War Revelry” series continues with this author spotlight.
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.
When he arrived in Alexandria, Virginia in October 1775, Nicholas Cresswell, an Englishman visiting the colonies in search opportunity, found himself in dire straits. The war had cut off his father’s money, while his loyalist principles strained his acquaintances and put him in an awkward position. He summed it up: “if I enter into any sort of business I must be obliged to enter into the service of these rascals and fight against my Friends and Country if called upon. On the other hand, I am not permitted to depart the Continent and have nothing if I am fortunate enough to escape the jail. I will live as cheap as I can and hope for better times.”[i]
Doctor. Major General. President of the Provincial Congress. Author of political tracts. A true patriot. Forgotten.
All these words, plus many more, are titles that depict the life of Dr. Joseph Warren. However, the last term is most synonymous with the Massachusetts doctor who fell in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775 in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. That last word, forgotten, is exactly what author and historian Christian Di Spigna is hoping to expunge with his new biography, Founding Martyr.
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!*
Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, could have contributed to a forgotten shipwreck narrative, according to new research.
Based on studies of Franklin’s early life as a printer, Dr Hazel Wilkinson claims there are clues which provide information about Benjamin Franklin’s activities during his first visit to London as an 18-year-old printer.
The Philadelphia Campaign did not end well for the Continental Army after three separate defeats at Brandywine, Paoli, and Germantown followed by the British occupation of the new nation’s capital. Among other things, however, it would produce an amusing little ditty commemorating an attack on the British on January 5, 1778 for American audiences eager to poke fun at the British.
When informed that the British had occupied his adopted hometown, Benjamin Franklin reportedly waved off his concern and replied, “No, Philadelphia has captured Howe.”[i] Franklin was more militarily astute than many politicians observing the war. When his army captured Continue reading “The Battle of the Kegs (January 5th, 1778)”→
This past July I had the pleasure to attend and present at the American Battlefield Trust Teacher Institute. One of the keynote speakers was David O. Steward, the author of Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution. During his talk, there were a few points that stuck out to me and I share them with you.
72 elected, 55 attended, and 35 delegates were probably there all summer.
Out of the 55 that attended, 39 affixed their signatures to the document
In reference to George Washington, Stewart candidly remarked he had “more influence by keeping his mouth shut” almost as if by his calm, quiet demeanor, he was displaying that “I trust in you and I’ll try and make it work” with whatever the delegates designed in that hot and stuffy room in Philadelphia. Continue reading “Summer Lecture on Summer of 1787”→
Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes guest historian Eric Sterner.
In February 1778, Brigadier General Edward Hand, commanding Continental forces at Fort Pitt on the American frontier, launched what may be one of the oddest campaigns of the American Revolution, more famous for its fecklessness than any benefit to the American war effort. Born in Ireland, Hand arrived in the colonies with the 18th Royal Irish Regiment as a surgeon’s mate. He eventually left service in 1774 and set up a medical practice in Philadelphia. The siege of Boston found him among the besiegers as Lieutenant Colonel of a Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion. He fought under Washington on Long Island, at White Plains, and then Princeton, after which Washington successfully pursued the rank of Brigadier for him before sending him to Pittsburgh. Hand arrived in June, 1777, finding just two companies of the 13th Virginia. As was often the case on the frontier, Fort Pitt was under-garrisoned and Continental officers would have to scrounge constantly for troops, largely relying on local militia forces to defend the frontier.
Hand hoped to conduct a campaign to the west, driving toward British power at Detroit, but was unable to raise sufficient forces that fall. Instead, he settled for a trip down the Ohio to ensure local garrisons were in proper order. Around Christmas, Hand received information that the British had established a small magazine on the Cuyahoga River, likely somewhere close to where it empties into Lake Erie in the current city limits of Cleveland. As December gave way to January and February, Hand resolved to do something about it. At the beginning of the month, he wrote Colonel William Crawford, formerly of the 13th Virginia, currently of the Pennsylvania militia and a well-respected local leader, entreating the colonel to undertake an expedition: “As I am credibly informed that the English have lodged a quantity of arms, ammunition, provision, and clothing at a small indian Town, about one hundred miles from Fort Pitt to support the savages in their excursions against the inhabitants of this and the adjacent counties, I ardently wish to collect as many brave, active lads as are willing to turn out, to destroy this magazine. Every man must be provided with a horse, and every article necessary to equip them for the expedition, except ammunition, which, with some arms, I can furnish.”Continue reading “General Edward Hand: The Squaw Campaign”→
From a Pennsylvania State Historical Commission marker, one quickly can find out the importance of Osborne Hill to the Battle of Brandywine, fought on September 11, 1777.
The hillside was the site of British General William Howe’s post in which he coordinated and commanded the different components of the British and Hessian forces that day. The battle opened the way for the British conquest of Philadelphia and was the largest, in terms of manpower fighting, of any American Revolutionary War battle.