Savannah, an International Engagement

Last week I wrote about the various German principalities that contributed manpower to the British attempt to subdue the colonies. I ended the post with:

“An introduction to another aspect of how the American Revolution had far reaching international complications and commitments.”

I figured this week I would return to that theme and share a portion of the Battle of Savannah in 1779, from the perspective of how many nationalities had native sons take part in the fighting.

Besides the three obvious nationalities; British, German, French, and American, the following countries represented; Ireland, Haiti, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.

The British commander was General Augustine Prevost, who was born in the Republic of Geneva on August 22, 1723 and like an older brother joined the British army. He saw action in the French and Indian War with the 60th Regiment of Foot and at the conclusion of that conflict even served a brief term as governor of West Florida.

During the American Revolution he was ordered to invade Georgia in 1778 and had taken command at Savannah in January 1779, although he wanted to resign in favor of a younger officer to take charge. His replacement was captured while enroute to relieve Prevost, thus the Genevan was still in charge during the subsequent siege and fighting in September and October 1779.

Curt von Stedingk, hailed from Swedish Pomerania in 1746 and by the time of the Siege of Savannah he had been tabbed to lead part of the offensive. He made it to the British entrenchments where he valiantly placed the American standard. Stedingk was wounded in the fighting. He received a decoration from the French and after the American Revolution George Washington invited him into the Society of Cincinnati. This created some controversy in his native Sweden as the king, Gustav III forbade Stedingk from wearing the ribbon and medal as it was from his service to a “revolting people.” He went on to have a long military career, including fighting Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig.

Henri Christophe, the only monarch of the Kingdom of Haiti, was a drummer boy in a French regiment during the Siege of Savannah. The unit, the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue was comprised of various ethnicities hailing from the island of Saint Domingue. Christophe may have been wounded around Savannah. He would distinguish himself in the Haitian Revolution before claiming his kingdom and naming himself monarch on March 28, 1811.

Casimir Pulaski, nicknamed “the father of American cavalry” was mortally wounded by canister while attempting to rally retreating French forces. The grapeshot that felled the Warsaw, Poland native is on display in Savannah or Charleston, depending on what account you believe; or possibly neither? He never regained consciousness and died on board the ship Wasp two days after his wound on October 11.

Arthur Dillon and his “Wild Geese” Irish Regiment, in the employ of the French, also took part in the failed attempt to subdue Savannah. Dillon, born in 1750, continued in the French service until being executed in Paris in 1794 due to his royalist leanings.

With such an international cast of personas, which did include rank-and-file from the countries not listed, the Siege of Savannah showed the global reverberations the conflict had. The preserved plot of land pays homage to this fact, which, if nothing else brings you to want to visit the city, is reason enough!


A special thanks to Stacey Fraser at the Lexington Historical Society for the update on the new exhibit described below.

If one asked what a buzzword for 21st century communication would be today, what would be your answer?

Text? Tweet? Snap?

(courtesy of Lexington Historical Society) 

What if the follow up question was that some of the same buzzwords of the 21st century could describe the 18th century? Thanks to the Lexington Historical Society at Buckman Tavern, you can see the similarities yourself.

Opening on April 8th, the interactive exhibit is part of the admission ticket to the tavern. Titled #Alarmed! 18th Century Social Media “explores how news went viral  250 years ago” in addition to letting “visitors  imagine how colonials might have made use of modern media tools to kick start a revolution. Continue reading “#Alarmed”

Nation’s Oldest Historcal Society and First Veterans Organization Issues Appeal to Save the Princeton Battlefield

Emerging Revolutionary War is honored to share the open letter below from the Society of Cincinnati. This open-letter has not been shared with the public. Thank you to Meg Martin, of Civil War Trust / Campaign 1776 for passing it to ERW. 

Symbol of the Society of the Cincinnati, est. 10 May 1783, by Continental officers of the American Revolution. (Courtesy of the George Washington Papers).

Members of the Society of the Cincinnati — the nation’s oldest historical society, whose members are descendants of the officers of the American and French forces that won the Revolutionary War — are calling on the Institute for Advanced Study of Princeton, New Jersey, to halt the development of a critical part of the Princeton battlefield. They are appealing to the Institute to work with the Society and the Civil War Trust, which are working together to preserve the remaining battlefields of our War for Independence.

Eight hundred and fifty members of the Society have signed an Open Letter to the Board of Trustees of the Institute for Advanced Study appealing for the Institute to halt construction that will destroy the site of the charge personally led by George Washington that won the battle. The victory was a turning point in the Revolutionary War.

The signers of the Open Letter include descendants of George Washington, Nathanael Greene and other generals, colonels and other officers of the Continental Army.The signers include men whose ancestors were killed at the Battle of Princeton and others who were wounded in that turning point of the Revolutionary War.

The Institute for Advanced Study, an independent scholarly organization, owns the land over which George Washington led the charge that won the battle and saved the American cause from imminent defeat. “Defeat at Princeton would probably have spelled the end for Washington’s army and with it, our bid for independence,” says Jonathan Woods, president general of the Society of the Cincinnati. “The Declaration of Independence, which the nation will celebrate in a few weeks, would have become a footnote in the history of the British Empire.”

The Society of the Cincinnati, which has its international headquarters in Washington, DC, has allied itself with the Civil War Trust and other members of the Save Princeton Coalition in an effort to save the Princeton battlefield and the other endangered battlefields of the Revolutionary War. The Civil War Trust has made repeated overtures to the Institute for Advanced Study to discuss the purchase of the land by the Trust for a price well in excess of its appraised value. More than 20,000 concerned citizens have signed petitions and sent letters to Institute officials and Governor Chris Christie, urging that the Institute for Advanced Study find alternatives to destruction of this hallowed battlefield site. A copy of the Open Letter is attached.


CONTACT: Jack D. Warren, Jr. Executive Director, The Society of the Cincinnati Office: 202-785-1716 Cell: 202-531-9278

James Monroe at War



Part Two

With an excess of officers in the Continental Army and little prospect of getting a field command, James Monroe resigned his commission in 1779.  He became a Lieutenant-Colonel of Virginia forces, but was unable to recruit enough men to form a new regiment.  In 1780 he went to North Carolina as a military observer for Governor Thomas Jefferson, with whom he had begun the study of law. Continue reading “James Monroe at War”