Monthly Archives: February 2018

South Carolina patriot Christopher Gadsden is born

South Carolina patriot Christopher Gadsden is born

 

On this day in history, February 16, 1724, South Carolina patriot Christopher Gadsden is born. Gadsden was one of the most prominent patriots in the south during the American Revolution. He was born into a wealthy family in Charleston, South Carolina and went to school in England. He later started a mercantile business in Philadelphia and made his own fortune.

 

Christopher moved back to Charleston in 1747, where he served in the legislature, continued his business pursuits and joined the militia. By 1765, he was involved in the anti-Parliament wave sweeping the colonies. He attended the Stamp Act Congress in New York, where he became friends with Samuel Adams. When he returned to South Carolina, Gadsden would help form the Sons of Liberty movement there and would become known as the "Sam Adams of the South."

 

In the late 1760s, Gadsden began building Gadsden’s Wharf, the most prominent wharf in Charleston, with docking space for six ships at a time and warehouse space which he rented to shipping companies. Gadsden earned a profit from every item shipped through this major southern port. Most of the slaves imported to Charleston at the time came through Gadsden’s Wharf.

 

Gadsden served in the Continental Congress from 1774-1776. While serving on the Marine Committee, in charge of the newly formed Continental Navy, he designed the personal standard of the Navy’s commander, which is known as the Gadsden Flag. It features a yellow field with a rattlesnake and the words Don’t Tread On Me and is still used prominently today in protests against the government.

 

In February, 1776, Gadsden was appointed brigadier general over South Carolina’s militia. When the British tried to invade Charleston in June, General William Moultrie repelled the attackers from Sullivan’s Island, while Gadsden and his regiment built an escape bridge off the island, at Gadsden’s personal expense. The attack was repelled and the British did not return for 3 more years.

 

In 1778, Gadsden served at the convention that drew up the new South Carolina Constitution and became Lieutenant Governor. In 1780, the British returned to lay siege to Charleston again. Continental Army Major General Benjamin Lincoln was eventually forced to surrender the city and his entire army. As the highest ranking civilian authority in town, Gadsden was part of the delegation that surrendered to British General Sir Henry Clinton. Gadsden and many others were taken prisoner to the fortress at Saint Augustine, Florida where he remained in a dungeon for 42 months.

 

Gadsden was released in 1781 and returned to South Carolina where he was re-elected to the legislature. He was also elected Governor, but he declined the position because of his health, which was suffering because of his imprisonment. After the war, he served at the South Carolina Constitutional Convention and voted to ratify the US Constitution. Christopher Gadsden died in 1805 in Charleston.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of others."
Alexander Hamilton (1788)

Abraham Clark is born

Abraham Clark is born

 

On this day in history, February 15, 1726, Abraham Clark, signer of the Declaration of Independence from New Jersey, is born. Clark was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey (now Elizabeth) and was trained as a surveyor. He taught himself law and was involved in surveying and legal work regarding titles, mortgages and so forth. He was well-respected for often helping poor people with legal advice and title issues at no charge. Because of this, he was sometimes called, "The Poor Man’s Counselor."

 

Before the Revolution, Clark served as a clerk for the New Jersey colonial assembly and as sheriff of Essex County. When the Revolution began, he served on the New Jersey Committee of Safety and was elected to the rebel New Jersey provincial assembly in 1775. This assembly appointed 5 men to the Continental Congress on June 21, 1776, including Abraham Clark.

 

Clark voted for independence on July 2, 1776 and signed his name to the Declaration of Independence. About the vote, Clark wrote to his friend Elias Dayton on July 14th, "Our Declaration of Independence I dare say you have seen. A few weeks will probably determine our fate. Perfect freedom, or Absolute Slavery. To some of us freedom or a halter. Our fates are in the hands of An Almighty God, to whom I can with pleasure confide my own; he can save us, or destroy us; his Councils are fixed and cannot be disappointed, and all his designs will be Accomplished."

 

Clark served nearly 10 years in the Continental Congress, both during and after the war. Clark had two sons who served as captains in the war and both were taken prisoner and held captive on the notorious British prison ship, Jersey. The British offered to release his sons if Clark would switch sides and pledge allegiance to the King, which he refused to do. Due to Elizabethtown’s proximity to Staten Island and New York City, the city was the site of dozens of battles and skirmishes during the war. Much of Clark’s property was destroyed, though his house survived.

 

Clark served in the New Jersey legislature for four years, during which he introduced a bill forbidding the abuse of slaves and authorizing their freedom under certain conditions. After the war, he was one of twelve men who met at the Annapolis Convention to discuss the necessity of a new constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation. Clark and the other attendees, including Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Dickinson, urged the Confederation Congress to meet in Philadelphia to revise the inadequate Articles. Clark was then elected to attend the Constitutional Convention in May, 1787, but he was not able to attend because of sickness.

 

Clark’s last act of public service was to represent New Jersey in the US House of Representatives from 1791-1794, where he is said to have insisted on and been responsible for the printing of the word "Liberty" on United States coins. He also persuaded Congress to put symbols of America on the coins, instead of the head of the current president, which was the other proposal. Clark passed away in 1794 after suffering a heat stroke on his property. He is buried in Rahway, New Jersey.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman."
John Adams (1815)

The Battle of Kettle Creek is won

The Battle of Kettle Creek is won

 

On this day in history, February 14, 1779, the Battle of Kettle Creek is won, which turns out to be one of the most important battles in Georgia during the American Revolution. The British had begun their southern strategy to take back the southern states by capturing Savannah in December, 1778. The strategy revolved around the belief that large numbers of Loyalists in the southern states would rally to the British and help defeat the patriot uprising. The Battle of Kettle Creek disproved the theory.

 

After capturing Savannah, a force was sent to take Augusta under Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell. Campbell dispatched well-known Loyalist militia leader John Boyd to travel through the Georgia and South Carolina back country to recruit Loyalist soldiers. Boyd was able to gather some 600 to 800 men and set out to rendezvous with Campbell, who had arrived in Augusta and taken the town without a fight on January 24.

 

Several smaller militia groups under South Carolina Major Andrew Pickens and Georgia Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel John Dooly and Elijah Clarke gathered together to attack Boyd’s Loyalists. On February 14, Boyd’s men stopped to rest and eat at Kettle Creek near present day Washington, Georgia. Pickens, in command of about 350 men, sent Dooly to the right and Clarke to the left, while his own men advanced from the center. An advance force in front of Pickens alarmed Boyd’s sentries and began firing, which alarmed Boyd’s entire camp, ruining the surprise attack. In addition, both Dooley’s and Clarke’s men were hindered in the swamps, ruining Pickens’ plan to attack from three sides.

 

In spite of these errors, Boyd met his fate when he was shot with a mortal wound causing the rest of his men to panic and scatter. Pickens advanced and Clarke was finally able to rally through the swamp and lead another attack on the main force of Loyalists. In the end, 9 patriots were killed and 23 wounded, while somewhere between 40 and 70 Loyalists were killed and another 75 taken prisoner. The more significant statistic though, is that only 270 of Boyd’s men finally joined Campbell’s British troops. The rest went home discouraged and afraid. Several of the prisoners were tried for treason and hung. The British defeat at Kettle Creek proved that Loyalist sentiment in the south was not as strong as the British had hoped.

 

Ironically, on the same day as the Battle of Kettle Creek, Campbell decided to abandon Augusta and head back to the coast, only three weeks after taking the town. He did this because of another gathering patriot army under Generals Andrew Williamson and John Ashe and because he didn’t know whether Boyd would succeed in bringing a large army of Loyalists to his aid. Of course, Campbell turned out to be right.

 

After the Battle of Kettle Creek, Major Pickens tended to the mortally wounded John Boyd, with whom he was probably acquainted. Boyd gave Pickens a message and some personal items to give to his wife, which he later did. Pickens would go on to serve in several major battles and be promoted to Brigadier General and would later become a member of the US House of Representatives from South Carolina.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“One man with courage makes a majority.”

Andrew Jackson

 

 

General George Rogers Clark dies

General George Rogers Clark dies

 

On this day in history, February 13, 1818, General George Rogers Clark dies. Clark was called the "Conqueror of the Old Northwest," for his military exploits. Clark made his first surveying trip into Kentucky in 1772, when settlers were pouring into the region. Lord Dunmore’s War soon broke out with the Indians and Clark became a captain in the war, which ended with the Indians agreeing to recognize the Ohio River as their southern boundary.

 

Just as the American Revolution broke out, Kentuckians were involved in a disagreement with Richard Henderson of North Carolina, who planned to start a new colony in the area known as Transylvania. Many of the settlers were not in agreement with Henderson’s plans so they elected Clark to go to Virginia to persuade Governor Patrick Henry to partition Kentucky. Henry agreed to this and created Kentucky County, Virginia, making the 24 year old Clark a major of the Kentucky County militia.

 

As the Revolution progressed, some of the Indians who had lost their territory in Kentucky allied with England. British Governor Henry Hamilton in Detroit began sponsoring Indian raids south of the Ohio. Clark secured Henry’s support for capturing the British outposts that were supporting the raids and in 1778, he and 175 men marched north of the Ohio and took several British posts and Indian villages, including Vincennes, within a matter of days. Hamilton personally led a march that retook Vincennes shortly after.

 

In February, 1779, Clark made an epic winter trek through the wilderness to recapture Vincennes, which he did. Hamilton was captured, Clark was viewed as a hero throughout the colonies and the Indians feared even the mention of Clark’s name. Virginia claimed the territory and called it Illinois County. Clark was promoted to Brigadier General by new Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson and would go on to plan several attacks on Detroit, which never came to pass. He then led an expedition into Ohio against several Indian towns that proved to be the last expedition of the American Revolution.

 

After the war, Clark led one of the first expeditions of the Northwest Indian War in 1785, but it failed due to a mutiny. Clark was accused of being drunk on the job and was forced to resign. He would never serve in the military again. He spent most of his remaining years in Louisville, Kentucky, which he founded, and Clarksville, Indiana, which was named after him, serving as an advisor to governors and city councils and acting as a negotiator with Indians.

 

Clark fell into deep debt and, in 1793, to remedy his financial woes, made a deal with French Ambassador Edmond-Charles Genet to raise an army to drive Spain out of the Mississippi River valley. President George Washington put a stop to this, however, by issuing a warrant for Clark’s arrest. Kentucky Governor Isaac Shelby refused to arrest Clark, but Genet was recalled to France and the plan dissolved.

 

Clark lived his last years with his brother-in-law near Louisville after a severe accident caused a leg amputation. He died February 13, 1818. Virginia did finally vote to reimburse some of his war expenses to his estate, but not until several years after his death.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“If a country is not worth protecting it is not worth claiming.”

George Rogers Clark

Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko is born

Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko is born

 

On this day in history, February 12, 1746, Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko is born in Poland. Kosciuszko studied engineering and artillery in France, but he also studied the arts and became a fairly accomplished artist and composer. After his studies, Kosciuszko (Kos-choos-ko) was unable to purchase a commission in the Polish army because of his family’s financial plight, so he decided to join the American Revolution.

 

This was due partly to Kosciuszko’s desire to use his military education, but also because he could relate to America’s plight due to harsh treatment his own native Poland had received from Russia and Prussia. Kosciuszko received a letter of recommendation from Ben Franklin at Paris and took this to Philadelphia where he was made a colonel of engineers on October 18, 1776.

 

Kosciuszko’s first assignment was to strengthen the defenses of Philadelphia. In 1777, he was sent to Fort Ticonderoga in New York. His plan for fortifying the fort is well known for being rejected by the fort’s commander Major General Arthur St. Clair. If Kosciuszko’s advice had been taken, the fort probably would not have fallen. After losing Ticonderoga, Kosciuszko’s engineering prowess helped General Nathanael Greene get away from the advancing British army and was integral in locating a battle ground near Saratoga that was nearly impregnable. Kosciuszko’s fortifications at Bemis Heights enabled General Horatio Gates to capture British General John Burgoyne’s entire army, a major turning point in the war. General Gates wrote that "a young Polish engineer" was largely responsible for the victory.

 

In 1778, Kosciuszko was reassigned to West Point on the Hudson River, which was responsible for preventing British ships from traveling upriver. Kosciuszko strengthened the defenses along the river for a year and a half and is usually listed as the fort’s chief engineer and architect. In August, 1780, at his own request, Kosciuszko was sent to the south, where he was the chief engineer to General Nathanael Greene. In the south, Kosciuszko helped Greene’s army escape across the Yadkin and Dan Rivers from General Cornwallis, chose sites for army camps and helped choose the Guilford Courthouse battle site, where Cornwallis’ army was largely destroyed.

 

Kosciuszko was bayoneted in the buttocks during the Siege of 96, his only injury in the war. In 1782, he took over the intelligence network around Charleston formed by his friend Colonel John Laurens, when he was killed. At the end of the war, Kosciuszko was given an honorary title of Brigadier General, 500 acres and a soldier’s pension if he stayed in the United States.

 

Kosciuszko returned to Poland, however, where he became the top general involved in resisting the Russian occupation. His army was eventually destroyed and Kosciuszko spent several years in a Russian prison. He was freed in 1796 and returned to the United States, where he was welcomed as a war hero and developed a deep friendship with Thomas Jefferson. Kosciuszko would leave America again for France in 1798, where he hoped to persuade Napoleon Bonaparte to give Poland its freedom back. He was unsuccessful though and eventually moved to Switzerland, where he remained in exile for the rest of his life, never returning to his native Poland.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations."
Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

 

 

Colonel John Laurens sets sail for France on the USS Alliance

Colonel John Laurens sets sail for France on the USS Alliance

 

On this day in history, February 11, 1781, Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens sets sail for France aboard the USS Alliance. Laurens’ mission was to secure a last loan and supplies from France in order to bring the American Revolution to an end.

 

John Laurens was a son of wealthy rice planter and President of the Continental Congress, Henry Laurens. The younger Laurens became an aide to George Washington and served with distinction in the Battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth and Savannah. He was responsible for pushing Congress to create an all-black regiment of 3,000 soldiers who were to be given their freedom for serving. Laurens was placed as commander of the regiment, but it never got off the ground because of resistance from the South Carolina legislature.

 

Laurens was taken prisoner along with 5,000 other soldiers when General Benjamin Lincoln surrendered his force to the British at Charleston in May, 1780. After being released in a prisoner exchange in November, Congress appointed him on a special mission to France. Partly at the encouragement of Thomas Paine, Congress sent Laurens to ask for a loan, military supplies, clothing and further assistance of the French fleet.

 

Laurens left Boston on February 11, 1781, on board the USS Alliance, the fastest ship in the US naval fleet, commanded by Captain John Barry, America’s first commissioned naval officer. Laurens was accompanied by Thomas Paine as his secretary and Louis Marie, Vicomte de Noailles, a cousin of the Marquis de Lafayette who served as one of Lafayette’s chief officers.

 

The Alliance captured a British cruiser in route to France and arrived in L’Orient on March 9. Laurens and Paine met with Benjamin Franklin, the US Ambassador to Paris, who arranged meetings with the French Foreign Minister, the Comte de Vergennes and King Louis XVI. Laurens was able to successfully persuade the King into giving the US a further grant of six million livres, supplies, clothing and guarantees of further naval support.

 

On the return voyage, Captain Barry put down a mutiny among the sailors and captured 4 British ships before the Alliance was struck by lightning that shattered its main mast. After several days of repairs, she set off again, only to encounter 2 British warships, the HMS Atlanta and the HMS Trepassey. In the ensuing battle, Captain Barry was shot in the shoulder and lost so much blood he nearly passed out, but he was able to inflict enough damage on the two ships that they were forced to surrender.

 

After arriving back in Boston on June 6, Laurens delivered his good news to Congress. The French money, arms and clothes he procured equipped Washington to move his army south to confront Cornwallis at Yorktown. The fleet of French Admiral Fran├žois Joseph Paul, the Comte de Grasse, would arrive and prevent reinforcements from coming to Cornwallis’ aid. Unfortunately, John Laurens would be killed in a minor skirmish called the Battle of the Combahee River while he operated an American spy network near Beaufort, South Carolina, in August of 1782, only a few months before the British evacuated the south forever.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

"As long as property exists, it will accumulate in individuals and families. As long as marriage exists, knowledge, property and influence will accumulate in families."
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1814

Pennsylvania General John Cadwalader dies

Pennsylvania General John Cadwalader dies

 

On this day in history, February 10, 1786, Pennsylvania General John Cadwalader dies. Cadwalader was a wealthy Philadelphia merchant and general who played a prominent role in the early years of the Revolution. He was born to a wealthy physician, but never finished college because he and his brother opened a successful mercantile business.

 

Cadwalader married the daughter of a rich Maryland planter. Between them, their wealth was so great that they built what was called the most luxurious home in the colonies in downtown Philadelphia. George Washington, a personal friend, wrote in his diary that it was the "grandest house he had ever seen." To give you an idea of the wealth and prominence of John Cadwalader, a chair from his parlor sold for $2.75 million at Sotheby’s in 1986!

 

When the American Revolution broke out, Cadwalader was part of Philadelphia’s Committee of Safety. He was a militia captain in the "Silk Stockings Company," so named because most of its members were wealthy. He was placed in command of a battalion to protect Philadelphia and was soon promoted to Brigadier General of the Pennsylvania militia.

 

Cadwalader played a key role early on, fighting in the Battles of Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth. He assisted in the planning of the attack on Trenton, New Jersey, and was charged with bringing a column of soldiers across the Delaware south of the city to assist George Washington. He was unable to get all of his soldiers across the river, however, because of the ice, causing him to turn back and miss the action. The following day, though, they did cross and helped Washington capture Princeton.

 

George Washington so respected Cadwalader that he urged Congress to appoint him a general in the Continental Army. Congress appointed him a Brigadier General, but he declined, instead choosing to stay on as a Pennsylvania general. Shortly after, Washington personally asked him to organize a militia for the defense of eastern Maryland, which he agreed to, later bringing those troops to several prominent battles. Cadwalader was then offered another generalship in the Continental Army over the cavalry, but he declined again, again preferring to remain in charge of the Pennsylvania militia.

 

In 1778, Cadwalader was involved with suppressing the "Conway Cabal," an effort of General Thomas Conway to have George Washington ousted as commander-in-chief. Cadwalader was so offended at Conway’s actions that he challenged him to a duel and shot Conway in the mouth when they met on the field of honor. Conway recovered, wrote a letter of apology to Washington and fled to France, thus ending the Conway Cabal!

 

As the war shifted to the south, Cadwalader became a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, a position his father also held, and moved to one of his homes in Maryland where he became a state legislator. He lived there for the rest of his life, but unfortunately died at the very young age of 43 in 1786.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"Religion and virtue are the only foundations, not of republicanism and of all free government, but of social felicity under all government and in all the combinations of human society."
John Adams (1811)