Captain John Paul Jones dies

Captain John Paul Jones dies

 

On this day in history, July 18, 1792, Captain John Paul Jones dies. John Paul Jones was America’s first naval hero for his exploits during the American Revolution. He was born in Scotland and began working as a sailor at the age of 13. Jones was soon serving on merchant and slave ships bound for America and the West Indies.

 

At the age of 20, Jones was on a voyage when the captain and first mate died during a yellow fever outbreak. After successfully leading the ship into harbor, the ship’s owners were so grateful that they made him the captain. He made two successful voyages as captain before his career took a turn.

 

Jones had a sailor flogged for insubordination who died a few weeks later. He was arrested for the man’s death and imprisoned for a time, having his reputation permanently tarnished. Some time later, Jones killed a sailor involved in a mutiny on his ship. He refused to sit for a court martial and fled Scotland for America.

 

Jones had a brother living in Virginia who died around this time and Jones took over his brothers’ affairs. After meeting several local politicians, Jones went to Philadelphia where the new United States Navy was just being formed. Jones was appointed first lieutenant of the Navy’s flagship, USS Alfred.

 

After Alfred’s initial voyage to the Bahamas, Jones was given command of the USS Providence. In six weeks, he captured 16 British ships. He went on to command a series of ships, wreaking havoc on the coast of British Nova Scotia and on British shipping.

 

In 1777, Jones was sent to France to assist the American commissioners there, Ben Franklin, John Adams and Arthur Lee. Jones became endeared to France and eventually set sail for England itself. Jones captured a number of British merchant ships, made the only American land attack on England in the war, captured the HMS Drake and tried to kidnap the Earl of Selkirk.

 

Jones terrorized the English coast and earned the reputation of a "pirate" in England. In 1779, he engaged the HMS Serapis in battle. Both ships were severely damaged. The Serapis surrendered, but Jones’ own ship, the Bonhomme Richard, sank a few days later. Jones then sailed the captured Serapis into port.

 

As the American Revolution came to a close, but with his reputation tarnished from friction with America’s political leaders, including John Adams, Jones looked for employment elsewhere. He served for a time in the navy of Empress Catherine II of Russia, fighting in their war against the Ottoman Turks in the Black Sea. Once again, though, disagreements and accusations stopped his advancement and Jones retired to France.

 

John Paul Jones lived in France for the rest of his life after 1790. He tried to regain employment in Russia and also with Sweden, but this never succeeded. In 1792, Jones was appointed US Consul to the Dey of Algiers, but he never fulfilled his mission. Jones passed away on July 18, 1792 in Paris. Jones’ body was removed to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1913. He is considered America’s first great naval hero and is often called the "Father of the US Navy."

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“It is a principle incorporated into the settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute.”
James Madison (1816)

The Battle of Quinby Bridge and Shubrick’s Plantation

The Battle of Quinby Bridge and Shubrick’s Plantation

 

On this day in history, July 17, 1781, the Battle of Quinby Bridge and Shubrick’s Plantation gives the British temporary relief as they fall back to Charleston  after losing control of the interior of South Carolina and Georgia.

 

In the summer of 1781, American General Nathanael Greene began systematically taking back the south from British armies. After losing control of much of the interior, British forces began moving back to Charleston in an ever shrinking ring around the city. One such place that served as a major supply depot was Monck’s Corner, about 30 miles north of Charleston.

General Thomas Sumter by Rembrandt Peale

 

In mid-July, British Lt. Col. James Coates learned that a large force of 600-700 men, under American Brigadier General Thomas Sumter, was descending on Monck’s Corner. Coates was in charge of protecting provisions and supplies at Monck’s Corner. He quickly decided to get the supplies out before the Americans could capture them.

 

While skirmishes took place between various roaming groups of Americans and British soldiers, Coates moved out with about 600 men, first transporting all the supplies to Biggin Church. Coates, however, began to see that his position was untenable and moved out yet again on the evening of July 16th, setting the church and everything in it on fire to prevent it falling into American hands.

 

Around 3 am, American scouts noticed the fire and informed General Sumter, who immediately took off after Coates. Coates’ group split in two, as did the Americans to follow them. The main body of soldiers crossed Quinby Creek at Quinby Bridge near the Cooper River. Upon crossing the bridge, Coates’ men began tearing up the planking, but the Americans charged the bridge on horseback, driving the British back. Much of the planking fell from the bridge and some of the horses jumped the gap, while other soldiers began walking across on the narrow support beams.

The British scattered on the other side, but soon regrouped and those Americans which had already crossed retreated to the woods. Coates then took over the Shubrick Plantation, placing his men strategically in the main house and outbuildings. General Francis Marion and Lt. Col. Henry Lee, who were leading the pursuit, stopped when they saw what a strong position the British had at the plantation and waited for General Sumter to arrive.

 

When Sumter arrived, he ordered an immediate attack, which Marion and Lee strongly advised against. Sumter overrode their wishes, however, and ordered an assault. The attackers had little cover approaching the house, and dozens were killed. Sumter finally called the assault off, hoping to renew it in the morning when his only cannon arrived.

 

Marion, Lee and others were furious at the needless loss of life. Nearly every commander abandoned Sumter in the night or in the morning, forcing him to call off a further attack. The Battle of Quinby Bridge cemented Sumter’s poor reputation and was the last time many of these soldiers worked with him. The battle gave the British somewhat of a reprieve on their retreat to Charleston, but the American noose was tightening and the British would soon be confined to Charleston until the end of the war.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

“I am determined to defend my rights and maintain my freedom or sell my life in the attempt.”
Nathanael Greene

Maryland has its largest battle of the Revolution

Maryland has its largest battle of the Revolution

 

On this day in history, July 16, 1776, Maryland has its largest battle of the Revolution, the Battle of St. George’s Island, when a fleet of British ships attempts to make a landing on St. George’s Island, a narrow isle between St. George’s Creek and the Potomac River in southern Maryland.

 

St. George’s Island is in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, which was Maryland’s first settlement. During the American Revolution, St. Mary’s County, and indeed, all of Maryland, supplied a large number of soldiers to the Continental Army, in spite of the fact that no major battles were fought in Maryland. St. Mary’s County, in fact, lost over 2,000 men to the war.

John Hanson

 

Even though no major battles were fought in Maryland during the war, there were numerous skirmishes and "actions," especially along the coast. One such major event occurred in July of 1776. John Murray, the Earl of Dunmore, was the Royal Governor of Virginia. He was driven out of Virginia by the colonists in January after burning Norfolk to the ground. Dunmore had already been living on a ship for months for his own protection. After Norfolk, Dummore continued to try to re-establish Royal authority in Virginia, making frequent raids on coastal towns up and down the Chesapeake Bay for supplies.

 

By July, Dunmore was sailing with a fleet of more than 70 ships and they were in desperate need of supplies. Maryland troops were amassing in Annapolis to leave for New York, where the next anticipated British strike would come. On July 12, warnings began to come in that a British fleet was spotted near Point Lookout, the  southernmost tip of Maryland’s western peninsula.

 

Calls were sent to Annapolis to quickly send back some of the soldiers to St. Mary’s County to stop the fleet from landing. Meanwhile, ten boats full of British soldiers landed on St. George’s Island on the 15th. They began foraging for water and food and dumping off the dead bodies of those who had died from smallpox on the ships.

 

The following day, the soldiers came back, but this time 100 of the local militia, under Captain Rezin Beall, held the landing party off. The militia lined up in bushes along the shore and fired on the landing boats when they came within range. They successfully kept the British from landing. By July 19th, more than 400 militia were on the island and Lord Dunmore was forced to abandon the idea of establishing any kind of base on St. George’s Island.

 

The Battle of St. George’s Island was one of the larger skirmishes in Maryland during the Revolution, but coastal areas and plantations were under constant threat of plundering. The locals even resorted to using "fire ships" against the British, lighting ships aflame and sailing them into British ships at night. Maryland’s soldiers would go on to become some of the most celebrated of the entire war. In fact, Maryland got its official motto, "The Old Line State," because George Washington called the Maryland soldiers the "Old Line," because the original line of Maryland soldiers lasted so long in the war.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

"A better system of education for the common people might preserve them long from such artificial inequalities as are prejudicial to society, by confounding the natural distinctions of right and wrong, virtue and vice."
John Adams (1786)

The Battle of Stony Point begins

The Battle of Stony Point begins

 

On this day in history, July 15, 1779, the Battle of Stony Point begins. Led by Brigadier General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, this battle takes back a strategic Hudson River vantage point from the British south of West Point.

 

During the winter of 1778-79, the Continental Army was encamped at Middlebrook, New Jersey. When the spring arrived, British General Henry Clinton hoped to draw George Washington out from Middlebrook and into a decisive full-on battle.

Statue of Brigadier General

 

Clinton marched 8,000 troops north from New York City towards West Point, 50 miles upriver. Clinton hoped Washington would come out of Middlebrook in force to protect the valuable West Point, which was the key to holding the upper reaches of the Hudson. Clinton’s real goal, however, was not to take West Point, merely to draw Washington out of his encampment.

 

In May, Clinton’s army took Stony Point and Verplanck’s Point, ten miles below West Point. These two points were on opposite sides of the busy King’s Ferry crossing. Clinton knew that capturing these two points would make it look like the target really was West Point. After several weeks, however, Washington still had not taken the bait and Clinton sent much of his force on other missions, leaving only about 600 men at Stony Point.

 

Washington himself came to observe the defenses at Stony Point and devised a plan to take it back. Stony Point is a triangle that juts a half mile into the Hudson. The west side, at the time, was mostly a swamp with a single elevated road through it. The other two sides that made the point, were steep, rocky slopes. Washington’s plan was to have a force attack each rocky side, with another force attacking the point. Everyone would scale the heights to the garrison at the top. Another force would make a show of attacking over the main road from the west, but this would be a feint.

 

Washington appointed Brigadier General "Mad" Anthony Wayne to lead 1,350 elite Corps of Light Infantry soldiers. The attack would happen at night and the soldiers would carry nothing but their bayonets. No ammunition was allowed, lest a misfire should occur and warn of their approach.

 

On the evening of July 15 around 8 pm, Wayne’s force arrived at the Springsteel farm, just west of Stony Point. They formed into their columns and began their attack around midnight. Wayne’s column, approaching from the south, found its crossing point flooded with water and had to wade across. British sentries saw them and began firing on them. Wayne himself was shot in the head, but his group continued up the hill and overran the British defenses. The other two attack groups made it to the top as well and the British were forced to surrender. The Americans lost 15 dead and 83 wounded, while the British had 20 killed with 74 wounded, 58 missing and 472 prisoners.

 

Wayne survived the gunshot wound and went on to serve with great distinction for the rest of the war. Congress awarded him a medal for his bravery at Stony Point. The Battle of Stony Point proved not to be a decisive factor in the war, but it did give a much needed morale boost to the Continental Army. A planned continuation of the attack to Verplanck’s Point was called off and Washington abandoned Stony Point within a few days. This was one of the last battles of the Revolution in the north as the British shifted their strategy to conquering the southern colonies.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com  

 

Jack Manning

Prersident General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

“Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, They may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies.” 
John Adams, Letter to Zabdiel Adams (June 21, 1776)

Howe brothers attempt to negotiate with George Washington

Howe brothers attempt to negotiate with George Washington

 

On this day in history, July 14, 1776, the Howe brothers attempt to negotiate with George Washington. Washington, however, will not receive their letter because it is not addressed properly to "General."

 

A massive British fleet arrived in New York’s harbor in mid-July under the authority of General William Howe and his brother, Admiral Richard Howe. This was the largest British expeditionary force ever assembled, with 300 ships carrying over 40,000 soldiers and sailors.

 

The Continental Army, by this time, was assembled around the New York area, after having successfully driven General Howe out of Boston. The Howes intended to conquer New York militarily if peace could not be reached with the rebel Continental Congress and its army. The Howe brothers, however, were optimistic and naive. They believed reconciliation could be reached and that the colonists would bow to their reasonable demands.

 

On July 14, 1776, General Howe sent a message to George Washington in New York. The message offered a "pardon" to all who would lay down their arms and pledge allegiance to Great Britain. The letter was addressed to "George Washington, Esq." The letter was delivered to Washington, but shortly afterwards it was returned unopened to the messenger by Washington’s aide, Joseph Reed. Reed informed the messenger that there was no one with that title in the army.

 

Mystified, the messenger returned the letter to General Howe with the message that no one with that title was in the Continental Army. Howe, who was not amused, sent a second letter, this one addressed to "George Washington, Esq., etc.," the etc. meaning… "and any other relevant titles."

 

Washington rejected the second letter as well, as it was not addressed to "General." He did, however, inform the messenger that he would meet with one of Howe’s subordinates if he wished. The meeting, which took place on July 20, was a short one. The Howes were given diplomatic authority only to issue pardons or have discussions with the colonists, but not to negotiate demands. Washington informed Howe’s representative that since the Americans had done nothing wrong they were not in need of any "pardons," and since the Howes had no authority to negotiate, the meeting was over, and he dismissed the representative.

 

Only a month later, General Howe would begin his invasion at Long Island. Long Island, Manhattan and the surrounding area were quickly overcome and Washington and the Continental Army found themselves being chased across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. The war would drag on for another six years.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com 

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"The Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms."
Samuel Adams

Captain John Parker is born

Captain John Parker is born

 

On this day in history, July 13, 1729, Captain John Parker is born. Parker was the leader of the militiamen at Lexington, Massachusetts at the outbreak of the American Revolution. John Parker had lived in Lexington his whole life as a farmer and mechanic.

 

Parker had extensive military experience during the French and Indian War. He had served at the Siege of Louisbourg and the Battle of Quebec and may have been one of the famed Rogers’ Rangers. The men of Lexington had enough confidence in Parker’s military experience to elect him head of the local militia.

           

John Parker suffered from tuberculosis that was already in its advanced stages when the events of April 19, 1775 unfolded. After Paul Revere and others warned the countryside that a major British expedition was underway on the evening of the 18th, citizen-soldiers from all over Massachusetts began to gather their arms and head toward Concord, whose arms cache was the target of the British expedition.

 

Parker and the other local militiamen gathered on Lexington Common early on the morning of the 19th. They had already waited several hours when a scout arrived and warned that a large British force was very near. Lexington was on the road to Concord and the soldiers would be there soon. Parker instructed his men to gather on the side of the Common, but they were not blocking the road. Many of them were his own relatives. Parker was not anticipating military conflict, but he was ready for the worst.

 

When the British finally appeared around 5 am, the vanguard marched straight into Lexington. Thinking the gathered militia was much larger than it actually was and had hostile intent toward them, the British soldiers formed a battle line opposite the militia. Both Captain Parker and the British officer in charge gave orders to their men not to fire. Parker’s alleged words have been immortalized: "Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."

 

Just before the first shot was fired, Captain Parker ordered his men to disband. Some heard him, while others did not in the confusion. No one knows who fired the first shot. Most eyewitnesses believed the first shot came from somewhere away from the Common. It may have been a misfire, or a drunken militia member at nearby Buckman Tavern. Wherever the shot came from, the result was catastrophic.

 

Most of the militia scattered and had no chance to fire back. The British began full scale firing on the assembled militia. After the first volley, the British soldiers began chasing the militia through the town and killing those they came across until their officers were able to corral them. When it was all done, 8 militia were dead with another 10 wounded. Only 1 British soldier was even injured. In the course of the next day, however, the British would be confronted again at Concord and chased all the way back to Boston with more than 70 killed and 170 wounded.

 

After Lexington, Captain Parker and his militia attacked the British as they returned to Boston near Lexington in what is known as Parker’s Revenge. Lexington’s militiamen then joined the Siege of Boston. It is not known exactly when Parker returned home, but he was not present at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17. John Parker passed away from complications due to his tuberculosis on September 17, 1775 at the age of 46.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com 

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“If the Freedom of Speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
George Washington

Admiral Howe’s fleet arrives at Staten Island

Admiral Howe’s fleet arrives at Staten Island

 

On this day in history, July 12, 1776, Admiral Howe’s fleet arrives at Staten Island. This fleet, along with other ships arriving before and after, carried the largest British expeditionary force to ever be assembled. Along with other British ships in the waters of North America, it was also the largest amphibious assault force in European history.

 

After abandoning Boston in March, 1776, the British high command set its sights on New York. Orders were sent to several fleets to converge at New York in the summer. On June 29th, the first ships arrived off Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Within 2 days, 48 ships arrived, carrying over 10,000 British troops, along with General William Howe, the general in charge of the war. New Yorkers were astonished. A larger fleet of ships had never before been seen in North America. Some reported that the ships’ masts looked like a "forest of pines" spread across the bay.

           

General Howe hoped to land his troops at Gravesend on the west end of Long Island, but, finding the Continental Army firmly ensconced there, his troops began disembarking on Staten Island. This, however, was only the beginning of the British invasion. On July 12, Admiral, Lord Richard Howe, General Howe’s brother, arrived at Staten Island with an even more massive fleet. 82 more ships arrived, carrying multiplied thousands of troops and sailors. Admiral Howe immediately started unloading his troops on Staten Island where he met with his brother to plan efforts to offer the colonists amnesty if they would renounce their rebellion.

 

On August 12th, another fleet arrived, carrying hired Hessian soldiers from Germany. Yet another fleet, under the direction of Commodore, Sir Peter Parker, and carrying Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis and 3,000 more troops, arrived on August 15th. In all, 32,000 British and Hessian soldiers and 10,000 sailors had converged on Staten Island, supported by 30 warships and nearly 300 transports and supply ships.

 

After several failed peace overtures, the anticipated British attack came at Long Island in August. The Americans lost the Battle of Long Island on the 27th and were driven back to Manhattan. New York City was captured on September 15th and the Continental Army was completely driven off Manhattan on November 15th after the Battle of Fort Washington.

 

The Continental Army fled across New Jersey from the pursuing British until it crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. By carefully confiscating all the boats for 70 miles up and down the river, George Washington was able to stop the British from following them into Pennsylvania. In December, Washington would turn the tables on the British with his victory at Trenton and in Princeton a few days later. These victories gave much needed encouragement to the American soldiers who had suffered such a string of defeats. They would need it for the war which was to come, a war which would stretch on for another six years.

 

http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com 

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of the rulers are concealed from them."
Patrick Henry, 1788