Monthly Archives: January 2021

Colonel Ethan Allen is born

Colonel Ethan Allen is born

 

On this day in history, January 21, 1738, Colonel Ethan Allen is born. Allen became a land owner in the late 1760s in the area known as the New Hampshire Grants, the area of present day Vermont. Before the American Revolution, both Connecticut and New York claimed ownership of the land and granted land rights in the area causing frequent disputes between settlers with competing land claims.

 

Eventually, the local settlers formed the Green Mountain Boys, a militia group charged with stopping the actions of any New York officials or settlers in the area, and named Allen the group’s commander. New York’s Governor William Tryon eventually ordered Allen’s arrest and put a price on his head for the Boys’ activities.

 

When the Revolution began, the Green Mountain Boys immediately planned and captured the British Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Crown Point. Allen led the mission and was celebrated as a hero for the victories. The cannons captured at Ticonderoga were brought by Colonel Henry Knox across the wilderness to assist in breaking the Siege of Boston. On June 22, Allen and his cousin, Seth Warner, appeared before Congress and the Green Mountain Boys were brought into the Continental Army, but Warner was chosen as the leader because Allen’s personality and ego had turned many people off.

 

Congress invaded Canada that fall and Allen, who was supposed to be out recruiting local citizens for the army, attempted to capture Montreal. His small force was easily defeated and Allen was captured. He spent the next 2 1/2 years as a prisoner of war. He was eventually released in a prisoner exchange in 1778, received by George Washington and given an honorary title in the Army, but was never used in action for the rest of the war.

 

When Allen returned to Vermont, he became involved in local politics for the next several years, during which Vermont tried unsuccessfully to become the 14th state. Congress was reluctant because four states laid claim to the land and Congress couldn’t settle their dispute. As a result, certain figures in Vermont, including Allen, began negotiations with the British to come back under British rule. Historians believe these figures needed a government to protect their landholdings and since the US wouldn’t receive them, they went to the next best alternative. Vermont was finally accepted as the 14th state in 1791.

 

In 1785, Allen published Reason: the Only Oracle of Man, a polemic against Christianity. He was a believer in God, but was a deist and did not believe in the authority of the Bible or the divinity of Jesus Christ, earning him the reputation of a scoundrel in the eyes of many. He was only able to sell 200 copies, despite the widespread popularity of his earlier work, A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen’s Captivity, about his time as a prisoner of war.

 

Allen passed away on February 12, 1789 after having a stroke. His statue is featured in the US Capitol’s Statuary Hall as one of two Vermont leaders chosen by that state to be represented there. Allen’s grandson Ethan Allen Hitchcock served as a Union General in the Civil War.

 

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Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“Among the strange things of this world, nothing seems more strange than that men pursuing happiness should knowingly quit the right and take a wrong road, and frequently do what their judgments neither approve nor prefer.”
John Jay


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The Pompton Mutiny Begins

The Pompton Mutiny Begins

 

On this day in history, January 20, 1781, the Pompton Mutiny begins. The Pompton Mutiny, also called the Federal Hill Rebellion, was a mutiny of New Jersey Continental soldiers at Pompton, New Jersey. In 1781, the Continental Army was wintering again near Morristown, New Jersey. To make it easier to provide food and supplies from the local countryside, the Army was broken down into smaller groups and placed in different towns around the area.

 

Winter conditions were extremely hard on the Army. There were shortages of food and clothing, and in addition to this, many soldiers had not been paid for their services by Congress or by their respective state governments. On January 1, 1781 about 1300 troops from the Pennsylvania Line quartered at Jockey Hollow, New Jersey, mutinied.

 

Many of these soldiers had not been paid in several years. They were angry that new recruits were being paid a bounty for joining the army, while they had back pay owed to them. In addition to this, many of the soldiers felt that their terms of enlistment had rightfully expired on January 1 and that they should be able to leave or reenlist for a new term and receive the proper bounty.

 

These men left their camp and started marching toward Philadelphia, 80 miles away, to demand that Congress address their grievances. Several officers tried to stop the mutiny and were killed by the mutineers. In the end, the Pennsylvania government and General Anthony Wayne were able to negotiate a settlement with the mutineers. About half the Pennsylvania line was discharged, amounting to over 1,300 men. Some reenlisted later, but this loss of soldiers was a huge blow to the Continental Army.

 

On January 20, New Jersey soldiers stationed near Federal Hill at Pompton (present day Bloomington) decided they would mutiny as well. About 200 soldiers left their stations and began a march toward Trenton where they intended to get a similar redress from the New Jersey government.

 

George Washington, smarting from the loss of Pennsylvania soldiers, took a much more hardline approach with the New Jersey soldiers. As he wrote in some letters about the affair, he knew the entire Army would break down if this type of behavior continued. This time, he ordered General Robert Howe to take as many men as he could to force the mutineers’ unconditional surrender and to execute the ringleaders on the spot.

 

On the 27th, General Howe overtook the mutineers with about 500 soldiers and demanded their immediate surrender, which they did without a fight. Howe then inquired among the mutineers and singled out three ringleaders, sergeants David Gilmore, John Tuttle and George Grant. He ordered 12 of the mutineers to form a firing squad. Gilmore and Tuttle were executed on the spot by the crying and very contrite firing squad, according to Washington’s orders. After further inquiry, however, Grant was given a reprieve when several soldiers testified that he had tried to stop the mutiny once it began.

 

After the executions, the rest of the mutineers had enough of a change of heart that Washington wrote to Congress that the spirit of insubordination in the army seemed to have been put down for good.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

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


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"First Blood" of the American Revolution shed at the Battle of Golden Hill

"First Blood" of the American Revolution shed at the Battle of Golden Hill

 

On this day in history, January 19, 1770, the "First Blood" of the American Revolution is shed at the Battle of Golden Hill. The Liberty Pole in New York City was first erected on the Commons in 1766. Soldiers in a barracks on the north side of the Commons saw this sign of defiance every day and tore it down in August, only to have 3,000 angry citizens confront them. Both sides were armed, but no one was hurt. The citizens erected another pole, but it was torn down in September. A third pole was erected, and this one stood until March 18, 1769, when it was torn down after that month’s Stamp Act repeal celebrations.

 

Yet another pole was raised, this one sheathed in iron to protect it. On March 21, soldiers attempted to blow it up with gunpowder but failed. Two more attempts were made, but thwarted. This pole stood on the Commons until December, 1769, when the new Assembly complied with the Quartering Act by giving some money for the upkeep of the soldiers, an act which previous assemblies had refused.

 

This caused a new round of protests at the Liberty Pole and soldiers tried to blow it up on the night of January 13, 1770. They stopped when citizens from the local Montagne’s Tavern sounded the alarm and ransacked the tavern instead. The Sons of Liberty called for a meeting at the pole the next Wednesday, but the soldiers finally succeeded in blowing it up the night before. When it was discovered, a mob of citizens approached the nearby barracks. The soldiers lined up with drawn bayonets, but officers corralled them back inside.

 

On January 19, several soldiers began posting handbills around town which demeaned the local citizens. Sons of Liberty leader Isaac Sears and others stopped them, but some escaped. Sears took 2 prisoners to the mayor’s house and a large crowd gathered. Soon a group of 20 soldiers showed up to rescue their friends. The 2 soldiers in the house were alarmed by the crowd and told their friends to leave, which they did, but the crowd followed them, harassing them with epithets.

 

When the soldiers reached Golden Hill, a small hill where wheat was grown, another group of soldiers arrived. This emboldened the first group and they turned to face the angry crowd. At this point, one of the soldiers cried out, "Draw your bayonets and cut your way through them!" They attacked the crowd, which began to flee, lunging at anyone who came across their path.

 

Francis Field, an innocent bystander, was slashed across the face when he stepped into his doorway to see what was the matter. A food vendor and a fisherman were injured and another man took a near fatal bayonet stab. Finally, British officers arrived and were able to get control of their men. None of the victims died, however. The following day, violence flared again and a sailor was stabbed with a bayonet.

 

The Battle of Golden Hill is often called the "First Blood" of the American Revolution. The Boston Massacre would happen six weeks later. The Battle of Golden Hill was even more significant than the Boston Massacre in that it was a protracted skirmish that lasted several days. The Boston Massacre would earn the greater place in history though, because of the actual casualties that occurred… and because of the more skillful propaganda machine of the Boston Sons of Liberty.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

"The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which heaven itself has ordained.”
George Washington


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James Wright, Royal Governor of Georgia is arrested

James Wright, Royal Governor of Georgia is arrested

 

On this day in history, January 18, 1776, James Wright, Royal Governor of Georgia is arrested by the Georgia Provincial Congress. Wright was born in England and moved to South Carolina with his father in 1730. James became a lawyer and began to accumulate large plantations. He went to London in 1757 as South Carolina’s agent to Parliament and in 1760 was named Governor of Georgia.

 

Wright was a popular governor and oversaw much of Georgia’s early growth and expansion. He presided over negotiations with the local Creek Indians that saw hundreds of thousands of acres come under Crown rule.

 

In 1765, Wright was the only colonial governor of the original 13 colonies to successfully use the stamps required in the Stamp Act, albeit only a few were sold there. Governor Wright was confronted at his own front door by an armed group of the local Sons of Liberty who demanded that he not enforce the Stamp Act. The armed Governor met them at the door, but refused to back down.

 

Much of Georgia’s population remained loyal to the King, but patriotic fervor finally took over. In early January, 1776, a small British fleet arrived with the intention of buying rice for the beleaguered troops trapped in the Siege of Boston. The Georgia patriots had no intention of cooperating and the Provincial Congress promptly ordered the arrest of Wright and several other officials to prevent them from helping the newly arrived ships.

 

Wright was arrested on January 18 by Major Joseph Habersham, a soldier who would later become President George Washington’s third Postmaster General of the United States. Wright was held captive in the Governor’s mansion for several weeks, but escaped on February 11 and made his way to the lead ship of the fleet, the HMS Scarborough, with the help of a Loyalist supporter. On March 2 and 3, a small battle took place when the fleet attempted to capture several rice boats. Some rice was captured, but the fleet finally left, taking Governor Wright with it. It was the end of British colonial rule in Georgia, for a time…

 

In late December, 1778, the British returned and captured Savannah again. It was the first effort of their new Southern Campaign to retake the southern states. Wright had returned to London after leaving Georgia and spent a year lobbying Parliament to retake the colony. When the effort succeeded, Wright was sent back and resumed the governorship in July, 1778. This was the only instance of the British retaking an American colony after it been taken over by rebels.

 

Wright was able to reestablish royal control over parts of Georgia, but it was an uphill battle. After the surrender of Cornwallis’ army in Virginia in October, 1781, American General "Mad" Anthony Wayne started south and won several battles against British and Indian forces in Georgia. Wright knew it was only a matter of time before Wayne reached Savannah and he knew he could not withstand him when he arrived. Finally, on June 14, 1782, Wright received orders to abandon the city, which he did promptly within the week, abandoning Georgia to the patriots forever.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

"Foreign influence is truly the Grecian horse to a republic. We cannot be too careful to exclude its influence."
Alexander Hamilton (1793)


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General Daniel Morgan wins the Battle of Cowpens

General Daniel Morgan wins the Battle of Cowpens

 

On this day in history, January 17, 1781, General Daniel Morgan wins the Battle of Cowpens, a victory military strategists often call the single most brilliant victory of the American Revolution. After its defeat at Saratoga, the British army redirected its efforts to subdue the southern states, quickly conquering much of Georgia and South Carolina and destroying most of the American southern army in the process.

 

In December of 1780, General Nathanael Greene took over the decimated Continental Army in the south and split his much smaller army in two, hoping to divide the British forces. Part of the army was given to Brigadier General Daniel Morgan, a hero of earlier battles at Quebec and Saratoga. Morgan was to harass British troops in the backcountry and organize patriot militia there. When General Charles Cornwallis learned of this, he immediately sent 1,100 troops under Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton to stop him.

 

Tarleton was only 26 years old and had earned a notorious reputation when his men killed a group of militia trying to surrender to them at the Battle of the Waxhaws. In early January, Tarleton learned of Morgan’s location and set off to find him. Morgan retreated at first, but decided to stand his ground at an area known as the Cowpens, a sparsely wooded and hilly meadow in a bend of the Broad River.

 

Morgan’s strategy included three lines of soldiers, a first line of sharpshooters hidden behind trees, a second line of militia 150 yards back from them and a third line of experienced Continental soldiers 150 yards behind them and hidden by a low hill. As Tarleton attacked, the sharpshooters were to fire on them and then draw back to the second line, which was to fire two volleys and then retreat up the hill. Then, as the British pursued them up the hill, they would run into the third line of experienced soldiers coming at them downhill. The first two lines would weaken and disconcert the British soldiers and the third line would finish them off. Meanwhile, a cavalry charge would come from around the hill and flank the attacking soldiers.

 

Morgan’s strategy worked brilliantly and just as planned. Tarleton’s forces were decimated as they pursued the "fleeing" second line. Nearly the entire army was killed or simply collapsed on the ground in exhaustion and fear. Military strategists have called the victory at Cowpens the greatest tactical victory of the war and one of the greatest of all time. Of Tarleton’s 1150 troops, 110 were killed, 229 wounded and over 800 captured. Tarleton himself escaped, but not before a hand-to-hand fight with Colonel William Washington, George Washington’s second cousin and leader of the American cavalry. Tarleton shot Washington’s horse from under his feet and escaped.

 

The Battle of Cowpens was one of a string of victories, including the Battle of King’s Mountain and the Battle of Guilford Courthouse that turned things around in the south. This series of battles so weakened Cornwallis’ army that he was forced to abandon his plans to conquer North Carolina and head for the Virginia coast to await reinforcements from New York that never arrived due to the French blockade of the Chesapeake. Instead, George Washington took advantage of Cornwallis’ weakened state and brought the war to an end.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys.”
Thomas Jefferson (1808)


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Peter Francisco, the "Virginia Giant," dies

Peter Francisco, the "Virginia Giant," dies

 

On this day in history, January 16, 1831, Peter Francisco, the "Virginia Giant," dies. Peter was abandoned at the age of five years in City Point, Virginia (now Hopewell) by a sea captain. It is believed he was born in the Azores to a wealthy family and was either abducted to be sold into slavery or the abduction was staged by his parents who feared his life was in danger from their political enemies.

 

When Peter was found, he could speak no English, but repeatedly said "Pedro Francisco," so the people called him Peter Francisco. Peter was cared for in the Prince George County Poorhouse until he was adopted by Judge Anthony Winston, uncle to Patrick Henry. Winston raised Peter on his farm called "Hunting Tower Plantation" in Buckingham County. He was eventually trained to be a blacksmith due to his great height and strength – by the time he was fifteen years old, Peter had grown to be six feet six inches tall and weighed 260 pounds!

 

When the American Revolution began, Peter happened to hear Patrick Henry’s "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech when he went to Richmond with Judge Winston. Inspired by the speech, Peter asked if he could join the army, but Winston wouldn’t allow him to join until he was sixteen. In December of 1776, Peter joined the Tenth Virginia regiment of the Continental Army.

 

Peter became famous for his exploits in the army and probably became the best known individual soldier of the entire war. His exploits are numerous, including inspiring a group of soldiers to stand their ground at Sandy Hollow Gap to allow Washington’s army to retreat at the Battle of Brandywine. Peter was wounded in the leg at the battle and recovered with the 20 year old Marquis de Lafayette, who was also wounded and would become a lifelong friend.

 

At the Battle of Stony Point, Peter was one of 20 commandos chosen to assault Fort Stony Point. 17 of the 20 were killed. Peter was the second one over the wall and received a 9 inch gash in his stomach. At the Battle of Camden, Peter allegedly hauled an 1100 pound cannon off the field so the British would not capture it. At the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Peter killed eleven men with a six foot sword made for him personally by George Washington at the request of Lafayette. Peter was shot and left for dead on the battlefield, but found by a local Quaker who nursed him back to health. While recovering from this wound, Peter reconnoitered Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s raiders in Amelia, Virginia. He outwitted and outfought 9 cavalrymen, killed three of them and escaped with all 9 of their horses!

 

Peter also fought in the Battles of Germantown, Monmouth Courthouse, and Cowpens. Peter was present at Yorktown with the Marquis de Lafayette when Cornwallis surrendered his army, but did not fight in the battle. George Washington personally said of Peter, "Without him we would have lost two crucial battles, perhaps the War, and with it our freedom. He was truly a One Man Army."

 

Peter married three times and had six children. He owned a 250 acre farm on Louse Creek and became the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Virginia State Senate for the last three years of his life. He died on January 16, 1831 of appendicitis and was buried with full military honors.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."
Thomas Jefferson (1816)


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General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, dies

General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, dies

 

On this day in history, January 15, 1783, General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, dies at Albany, New York. William Alexander was born in New York in 1726 to a wealthy family involved in provisioning the British army. Due to his experience in provisioning, Alexander joined the army’s commissariat during the French and Indian War and eventually became chief aide to Commander-in-Chief William Shirley. During this time, Alexander first met and became friends with Colonel George Washington.

 

In 1756, while on a trip to London, Alexander learned that he may be the oldest male heir to a vacant title, the "Earl of Stirling," a position that carried with it a vast land claim, including parts of Nova Scotia and the entire St. Lawrence River Valley. He made an appeal to Parliament which granted his claim. However, in 1762, the House of Lords decided he had not adequately proven his pedigree and removed the title. Alexander had already returned to America by this time though and adopted the title Lord Stirling, which he would carry for the rest of his life.

 

When the America Revolution began, Stirling became a colonel of the New Jersey militia and was celebrated for capturing a British transport at Sandy Hook. He was promoted to Brigadier General and given control of the defenses of New York, where he built Forts Washington, Lee and Stirling. He also recommended to General Washington that a redoubt be built at West Point, the foundation for the fort and later military academy there.

 

When the British invaded Long Island, Alexander led a battalion of 300 men that held off the entire British army for several hours. Alexander’s men were finally overwhelmed and he was captured, but the rest of the army was able to escape and Alexander was celebrated as a hero. After a few months in prison, he was traded in a prisoner exchange for Governor Montfort Browne, the Governor of the Bahamas. Alexander returned in time to fight at the Battle of Trenton where a Hessian brigade surrendered to him.

 

Alexander was promoted to Major General and became one of George Washington’s most trusted subordinates. He was third or fourth in command of the entire army for the rest of the war. He participated in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth. He presided over the court-martial of General Charles Lee and was a member of the military court that sentenced British spy John Andre to death for helping Benedict Arnold. Alexander played a key role in exposing the "Conway Cabal," a group of officers that plotted to have Washington replaced by General Horatio Gates.

 

When the war moved to the south, General Alexander was given command of the army’s Northern Department in case of a new British invasion from Canada, making his headquarters at Albany. Alexander had many health problems and was a heavy drinker. In January, 1783, while at Albany, he had a severe attack of gout (severe arthritis) and passed away on January 15 at the age of 56, only three months before the preliminary peace treaty with Britain was signed by Congress.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

2019 – 2021

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"Aware of the tendency of power to degenerate into abuse, the worthies of our country have secured its independence by the establishment of a Constitution and form of government for our nation, calculated to prevent as well as to correct abuse."
Thomas Jefferson to Washington Tammany Society, 1809


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