Monthly Archives: August 2017

Sir Frederick Haldimand is born

Sir Frederick Haldimand is born

 

On this day in history, August 11, 1718, Sir Frederick Haldimand is born. Haldimand would serve as the British governor of Quebec and Montreal throughout the time of the American Revolution. Francois-Louis-Frederick Haldimand was born in Yverdon, Switzerland and trained in military affairs as a young man. Due to lack of opportunity in Switzerland, Haldimand joined the Prussian army and fought in the War of the Austrian Succession. Afterwards, he joined the Swiss Guard in the Netherlands.

 

In 1755, the French and Indian War was just beginning in North America and Britain put together a regiment of German speaking immigrants called the Royal American regiment. Haldimand was recruited to help organize and lead the regiment due to his native born ability to speak German.

 

Haldimand served in several important positions in the region of Niagara during the war and was involved in the British invasion down the Saint Lawrence River into Canada. Haldimand was the first British officer to take control of Montreal after the French evacuation and later received the military governorship of Trois-Rivieres.

 

After Quebec was turned over to civilian government, Haldimand was promoted to Brigadier General and sent to head the British army’s Southern Department, based in Saint Augustine, Florida. Haldimand held this position for 8 years, a period that he described as very unpleasant due to Florida’s isolation and the difficulty in adequately supplying his troops. During this time, Haldimand became a British citizen.

 

In 1773, Haldimand was called to New York to fill the duties of General Thomas Gage who was then Commander-in-Chief of all British forces in North America, while he took leave in London. Haldimand’s tenure in New York was peaceful, but tensions in the colonies were growing. When Gage returned to the colonies in 1774, this time also as the governor of Massachusetts, Haldimand was called with the New York forces to strengthen the royal army at Boston. While Gage served as governor, Haldimand was the chief officer over the army at Boston. Remarkably, Haldimand was not informed of the march on Concord by Gage and did not learn of it until the march began.

 

As the war broke out, the army leadership judged having a foreigner in Haldimand’s position was too risky and he was forced to step down. Haldimand returned to Europe and bought an estate in Switzerland. In 1778, he was called upon by England again and made the Governor of Quebec, a position he held until 1784. Throughout the American Revolution, Haldimand strengthened Quebec’s defenses in anticipation of an American invasion. He was largely responsible for the near recruitment of Vermont as a British province during what is called the Haldimand Affair, in which Haldimand negotiated with Ethan Allen to bring the rebel state back in to the British fold.

 

After the Revolution, Haldimand helped settle thousands of Loyalist refugees from the colonies in New Brunswick and Ontario, as well as the Iroquois nations which had been driven from New York. Haldimand returned to London in 1784, where he remained until his death in 1791 at the age of 72. Haldimand remained a bachelor his entire life. He left extensive correspondence that gives a unique view of colonial life in North America where he lived and served for 29 years.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

"A nation without its history is like a person without their memory…"

Arthur Schlesinger

Georgia patriots meet at Tondee’s Tavern

Georgia patriots meet at Tondee’s Tavern

 

On this day in history, August 10, 1774, Georgia patriots meet at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah for the first time to plan Georgia’s response to British policies. Only a few days before, Royal Governor James Wright had issued a proclamation forbidding gatherings from meeting to air their grievances against Great Britain, but 30 representatives from Georgia’s various counties met anyway.

 

The meeting was a result of several occurrences over the previous year, starting with the Boston Tea Party in December of 1773. Parliament’s response to the Tea Party was to shut down Boston Harbor and to dissolve the elected Massachusetts government. All the colonies were outraged, knowing that if Parliament could do this to Massachusetts, it would not hesitate to do it to the other colonies as well.

 

Virginia called for a "Congress" of all the colonies to gather in Philadelphia in September of 1774 to organize a joint response to Parliament’s aggressive actions. In Georgia, representatives were chosen to plan the colony’s response to these events. This group, meeting at Tondee’s Tavern on August 10, adopted a series of 8 resolutions which affirmed the colonists’ loyalty to the King, but also affirmed their rights as British citizens.

 

The resolutions condemned the Intolerable Acts (the acts against Massachusetts), Parliament’s insistence that it had the right to tax the colonists and the policy of holding trials of colonists elsewhere than the jurisdiction where the alleged crime occurred. Finally, they appointed an interim committee and sent copies of their resolutions to the other colonies.

 

This first meeting of Georgia’s patriots did not elect delegates to send to the First Continental Congress since Georgia’s population was slow to adopt the idea of resistance to Great Britain. It was not until the war broke out on April 19, 1775 that enough Georgians were persuaded to rebel against England and delegates were finally sent to Congress. On July 4, 1775, Georgia’s Second Provincial Congress met at the tavern and created Georgia’s first post-colonial government and elected delegates to send to Congress.

 

Tondee’s Tavern served as the meeting place for Georgia’s Provincial Congress until Savannah was captured by the British in late 1778. The establishment was run by Peter Tondee, a local patriot and member of the Sons of Liberty, until his death in October of 1775. Peter’s wife, Lucy, took over the business upon his death and continued to allow the rebel Congress to meet there.

 

When the British evacuated Savannah in 1782, the Congress reconvened at Tondee’s Tavern and met there until the government was permanently moved to Augusta in 1785. Lucy Tondee also died in that year and the Tondee property was eventually sold to others. Unfortunately, none of the original Tondee’s Tavern still exists because it burned down in the Great Savannah Fire of 1796.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

"Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction, and of anarchy."
Alexander Hamilton (1788)

The Action of 9 August 1780 takes place

The Action of 9 August 1780 takes place

 

On this day in history, August 9, 1780, the Action of 9 August 1780 takes place during the American Revolution. It would be one of the largest naval captures of all time. Spain joined the American Revolution in 1779 as an ally of France and America against Great Britain. The entrance of France and Spain into the war was a great challenge to Britain, spreading her navy very thinly across the globe.

 

In the summer of 1780, Spain learned that a large British convoy would soon be leaving Portsmouth, England for the West Indies. Preparations were made to send 37 Spanish and French warships to intercept the convoy. 63 ships left Portsmouth by late July, including five East Indiamen, massive ships that made frequent voyages to the Far East and under the control of the East India Company, as well as over 50 West Indiamen, smaller ships that carried goods back and forth from the West Indies. The convoy was guarded by Captain John Moutray aboard the 74 gun HMS Ramillies and accompanied by two other war frigates.

 

The Spanish fleet, under Admiral Luis de Cordova y Cordova, left from Cadiz and finally spied the British on the evening of August 8th, 200 miles from Portugal. They used a trick to lure the British fleet right to them. During the night, lantern signals were given by the Santisima Trinidad, Admiral Cordova y Cordova’s flagship, which the British ships mistakenly believed to be from their own commander. The fleet turned toward the signal and, in the morning, found themselves right in the middle of the Spanish fleet, which commenced an attack from all sides.

 

The Spanish fleet easily captured dozens of ships, one after the other. Many of the ships suffered significant damage as a result of cannon bombardment and numerous sailors were killed. When the five East Indiamen, the Godfrey, Gatton, Mountstuart, Royal George and Hillsborough, were captured, it represented the East India Company’s largest financial loss in the company’s history. In all, 55 ships were captured, one of the largest naval captures of all time. Only the three military escorts and five other ships managed to get away.

 

The loss to the British economy from the Action of 9 August 1780 was staggering. Not only were the ships and their cargos lost, but nearly 3,000 soldiers and sailors were taken captive. Tons and tons of military supplies were confiscated, including arms, artillery, ammunition and tents. The value of the lost cargo was around £1.5 million, an enormous amount of money. The financial loss to British merchants was so staggering, that numerous marine insurance underwriters in Europe went bankrupt. Prices for marine insurance skyrocketed and voices in Britain against the war spoke out all the louder. Captain Moutray suffered the punishment for the loss. He was court-martialed and lost command of his ship.

 

All of the captured ships were put into the Spanish navy. Admiral Cordova y Cordova would go on to capture 24 more ships during the war and would fight the Royal Navy to a standstill at the Battle of Cape Spartel after she brought supplies to the besieged British possession of Gibraltar. The Admiral would be celebrated for his role in the American Revolution, though he failed to stop the British from relieving the Great Siege of Gibraltar.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

"I rejoice in a belief that intellectual light will spring up in the dark corners of the earth; that freedom of enquiry will produce liberality of conduct."

George Washington (1789)

Patriots win the Battle of Gloucester

Patriots win the Battle of Gloucester

 

On this day in history, August 8, 1775, patriots win the Battle of Gloucester, an early battle of the American Revolution fought in Gloucester Harbor, Massachusetts. After the war broke out on April 19, patriots from around the colonies surrounded the British in Boston, trapping them inside the city. This made the British soldiers dependent on supplies brought in from the sea.

 

British General Thomas Gage and Admiral Samuel Graves began sending raiding parties along the coast to take supplies from seaside communities and farms. One such raid was attempted by Captain John Linzee, aboard the HMS Falcon, on August 5, when he sent a raiding party to shore near Ipswich Bay. This particular raid failed when local farmers drove off the sailors with their shotguns.

 

Linzee cruised along the coast of Cape Ann for a few days, until he saw two American merchant ships, newly arrived from the West Indies, on the morning of August 8th. Linzee pursued the ships, quickly capturing one of them without a fight and posting his own men to captain the ship. The second ship, however, was captained by a more experienced seaman who knew the area well. He sailed into Gloucester Bay and grounded the ship to prevent the British from capturing it.

 

Linzee anchored the Falcon and the captured ship in the bay, then sent out 3 small boats of sailors to capture the grounded ship. By this time, the people of Gloucester had called out the militia, who began firing on the small boats as they approached the ship. The sailors reached the ship, but were trapped on board by continuous gunfire from the shore.

 

Captain Linzee fired his cannons on the town and sent a landing party to burn the town down as a distraction. The landing party was not able to reach the town, however, and the sailors remained trapped on the ship. Late in the afternoon, Linzee’s first lieutenant, in charge of the boarding party on the ship and now injured from gunfire, managed to get away on a small boat with a few other sailors, but the rest remained trapped on the ship.

 

The grounded ship was eventually boarded by the citizens and the remaining soldiers were taken captive. Linzee, realizing things were falling apart, sent the captured schooner to shore to retrieve the captured soldiers. The schooner’s native sailors mutinied against Linzee’s men, took them captive and reclaimed the ship. At this point, Linzee realized resistance was futile and he sailed off.

 

The British loss at the Battle of Gloucester was listed as one of the reasons for an October expedition under British Captain Henry Mowat to punish Massachusetts coastal towns. Captain Mowat’s orders specifically included Gloucester as a target, but Mowat decided to forego bombarding the town because its buildings were too far apart and he didn’t think his ships’ guns would have much effect.

 

This expedition culminated in the Burning of Falmouth (present day Portland, Maine), the first American town completely destroyed by the British. The burning of Falmouth led many Americans who were previously neutral or undecided to come down squarely against the British and led the Continental Congress to create the Continental Navy. 

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"The germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal judiciary; an irresponsible body, (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow) working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one."
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Charles Hammond, 1821

 

George Washington creates the Purple Heart award

George Washington creates the Purple Heart award

 

On this day in history, August 7, 1782, George Washington creates the Purple Heart award. Washington had long wanted an award for average soldiers who performed meritoriously in combat. From his headquarters at Newburgh, New York, Washington issued an order that read in part:

 

"The General ever desirous to cherish virtuous ambition in his soldiers, as well as to foster and encourage every species of Military merit, directs that whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear on his facings over the left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth, or silk, edged with narrow lace or binding. Not only instances of unusual gallantry, but also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way shall meet with a due reward."

 

The heart-shaped purple cloth medal was originally called the "Badge of Military Merit," and contained the word "Merit," surrounded by oak leaves. Those awarded the medal were to have their name recorded in a special book and were given the privilege of walking through any sentry or guard, just like officers could do. This was the first time a major military power awarded average soldiers for meritorious conduct in a time when awards usually went to the officers.

 

Historians have verified only three recipients of the Badge of Military Merit during the Revolution, though there are some others who may have received it. The reason for so few awards of the medal is unclear, but it probably had to do with the fact that the war was almost over when it was created. The medal was never officially discontinued, but fell out of use for over a century. The picture of the medal above belonged to one of the three verified recipients, Sergeant Elijah Churchill. It now belongs to the New Windsor Cantonment, a New York historical site which was the last encampment of the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

 

The use of the Badge of Military Merit faded after the Revolution, but in 1918, General John Pershing revived the idea of a badge of merit. General Charles Summerall, US Army Chief of Staff, pushed the idea of reviving the badge in 1927. In 1931, his successor, General Douglas MacArthur, pushed the idea further and the US War Department announced the creation of the "Order of the Purple Heart" on George Washington’s 200th birthday, February 22, 1932. The awards could be given to anyone who met certain criteria back to April 5, 1917.

 

At first, the Purple Heart was awarded for meritorious conduct on the battlefield, just as the original Badge of Military Merit was, and was only awarded to members of the US Army. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an order extending the Purple Heart to other branches of the US Armed Forces, and to those who had been killed in military service on or after December 7, 1941.

 

Also in 1942, the "Legion of Merit" was created, which is an award for meritorious conduct in battle. This made the Purple Heart award obsolete, so its requirements for award were changed. Today, the Purple Heart is awarded to anyone who is wounded or killed during military service in the US Armed Forces. It is the oldest existing US military award, with the exception of the "Fidelity Medallion," a one-time award given to three soldiers involved in the capture of Major John Andre, the British spy who helped facilitate Benedict Arnold’s treason.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

"Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition." Thomas Jefferson (1781)

The Battle of Dogger Bank

The Battle of Dogger Bank

 

On this day in history, August 5, 1781, the Battle of Dogger Bank sees a major battle between British and Dutch ships during the American Revolution. Britain declared war on the Netherlands in December of 1780 for helping the Americans in their Revolution. The Dutch never formally aligned with America, but throughout the war, they had engaged in transporting French supplies to America, primarily through St. Eustatius, a Dutch possession in the West Indies.

 

The Netherlands was a small power whose status as a naval and mercantile superpower was already waning. After declaring war, Britain blockaded the Dutch coast to monitor and prevent naval and merchant ships from leaving port. The blockade wreaked havoc on the Dutch economy and merchants began crying out to the government to provide military escorts for merchant ships.

 

In early August, a large fleet of 70 merchant ships left the Texel, accompanied by 7 ships of the line, along with a number of smaller armed ships. The military escort was captained by Admiral Johan Zoutman, a long term and distinguished Dutch naval figure who would later have Fort Zoutman in Aruba named after him. This structure still stands and is the oldest Dutch structure on the island.

 

On August 5th, Zoutman’s fleet was spotted near the Dogger Bank in the North Sea by British Admiral, Sir Hyde Parker, as he escorted a British fleet from the Baltic Sea back to England. The Dogger Bank is a large area of shallow water off England’s coast that stretches 160 miles long and 60 miles wide. The water in this unique area is only about 50 feet to 120 feet deep, about 70 feet shallower than the rest of the North Sea.

 

Admiral Parker quickly sent the merchant fleet under his supervision on to England and gave pursuit to Zoutman’s fleet. Parker’s fleet was not in the best shape. The British navy was stretched very thin and all over the world at this point in the American Revolution. Many of Parker’s ships were worn out and in need of maintenance. Some were not even built as warships, but were commercial vessels pressed into military service. Most of the ships did not have their full inventory of cannon operational.

 

The battle began around 8 am on August 5 and continued for several hours with both sides taking severe damage. The Dutch merchant ships left the battle and returned to the Texel and around 11 o’clock, Admiral Parker began a retreat. There was no clear winner in the battle, with both sides suffering very high casualties, although the British were successful in turning back the Dutch merchant fleet. 104 British sailors were killed and 339 wounded. 142 Dutch sailors were killed, with 403 wounded, although some reports placed the Dutch casualties as high as 1100. One Dutch ship sank that night.

 

The Battle of Dogger Bank occurred only two months before the surrender of British General, Lord Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. British Admiral Parker would go on to complain about his ill-equipped fleet. He would be appointed the naval commander of India in 1782, but would go down with his flagship, the Cato, on the voyage to the Far East.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

"It is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government…. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever persuasion, religious or political." —Thomas Jefferson (1801)

Bird’s Expedition against Kentucky comes to an end

Bird’s Expedition against Kentucky comes to an end

 

On this day in history, August 4, 1780, Bird’s Expedition against Kentucky comes to a close. A series of British expeditions to capture the American frontier was launched in 1780. The goals included the capturing of St. Louis and New Orleans, Louisville and Vincennes. Most of these ventures failed, but the most successful was a campaign into Kentucky led by Captain Henry Bird from Fort Detroit.

 

Bird’s objective was to capture Fort Nelson at the falls of the Ohio River, the present day site of Louisville, Kentucky, which was then the main base of American general, George Rogers Clark. Bird left Detroit with 150 men in June and met with Indian allies to discuss plans for the upcoming raid.

 

Bird ran into trouble when the Indians were hesitant to attack Fort Nelson. General Clark, or the "Chief of the Big Knives," as the Indians called him, struck terror in the hearts of the Indians for his many raids and victories in the recent past. Instead of attacking Clark’s base, they insisted on attacking less significant posts in eastern Kentucky. Settlers were filling Kentucky and were protected by small posts or forts located every few miles. The Indians wished to attack these lightly guarded posts and capture prisoners and booty. The prisoners could be exchanged for money at Detroit, taken into slavery or adopted into the tribes.

 

Bird argued with the Indians for days, but finally was forced to give in to attacking the smaller outposts on the Licking River. A large force of a thousand men, mostly Indians, arrived at Ruddell’s Station early on June 24th. Ruddell’s Station was a stockaded log fort with about 20 families inside. Approximately 350 people lived in the vicinity. The fort was surprised and a gun battle began. When a British cannon shot a hole through the wall, the fort quickly surrendered.

 

Unfortunately, the Indians violated the peaceful surrender terms and rushed in, took prisoners and killed several people. The settlers were stripped naked and all their goods plundered. To Captain Bird’s horror, the Indians killed all the settlement’s cattle, which he intended to keep for food. On the 26th, Bird and the Indians approached the nearby Fort Martin. This fort quickly surrendered, but again, the Indians violated the prisoners, killing some and taking the rest prisoner.

 

Captain Bird was exasperated by this time. He had no food to feed hundreds of prisoners and the Indians could barely be controlled. They still refused to attack Fort Nelson and wanted to perform more raids on small settlements for booty and prisoners. In addition, it was rumored that General Clark was amassing a force to retaliate against Bird’s Expedition. Bird finally convinced the Indians to call the expedition off. During the march back to Detroit, some prisoners were killed if they straggled. All were nearly starving and they were forced to march quickly because General Clark was now coming in pursuit.

 

Bird finally reached Detroit on August 4, exhausted and nearly starved. Of the hundreds of prisoners that survived, some joined the British army, while others settled in Detroit. Some were forced into slavery or adopted into Indian tribes. All those who remained in British custody until the end of the war were finally returned to Kentucky when the war ended and the state of Virginia paid to help bring them back to Kentucky.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

"We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections."

John Adams (1797)