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The Mischianza is Thrown for British General Sir William Howe

The Mischianza is thrown for British General Sir William Howe

 

On this day in history, May 18, 1778, the Mischianza is thrown for British General Sir William Howe upon his resignation. It was the largest and most extravagant celebration the colonies had ever seen to that time. William Howe was the Commander-in-Chief of British forces in America. He had served at the Battle of Bunker Hill and led the invasion of New York.

 

Howe's tenure was controversial. He captured New York and Philadelphia, but failed to defeat George Washington's Continental Army. Howe finally resigned in late 1777 amidst a cloud of criticisms and received word that his resignation was accepted in April, 1778. Howe's military successes can be questioned, but nonetheless, he was extremely well liked by his soldiers. Several of his officers got together and planned a lavish ball and celebration, at their own expense, to honor his departure, which was called the Mischianza, which is Italian for "medley."

            

The grand event was not merely a ball though. It was a grand display of opulence and extravagance, complete with a regatta sailing down the Delaware River, a jousting tournament, costumes, military bands, arches of flowers, a ball room and banquet hall constructed just for the occasion and fireworks and dancing that lasted into the night.

 

Captain John Andre, the captain who would later be hanged by the Americans for his role in the Benedict Arnold affair, was the main planner of the Mischianza. Andre was a soldier, but was also an artist, poet and singer. He personally designed the whole display from front to back. He painted murals, designed the tickets, ordered tons of food and built bleachers with covered awnings for the joust.

 

The affair began with a regatta sailing down the Delaware from Philadelphia. The boats were covered in flowers, banners and awnings and many of the leading citizens, mostly Loyalists, and top officers and officials were among the guests. The flotilla sailed down the river as most of Philadelphia watched from the shore and dozens of boats brought onlookers out to see the display. The procession landed south of town and made its way to Walnut Grove, the mansion of merchant Joseph Wharton, where they went to the jousting field.

 

12 knights fought for the hands of the most eligible maidens in town, which included the daughters of many leading citizens. After the joust, the procession walked to the ballroom, specially constructed for the occasion, where they were entertained all evening and finally secret doors were opened up to reveal a grand dining hall. Later in the evening, the fireworks began and the guests danced and drank until morning.

 

General Howe sailed for England a few days later where his leadership faced an inquiry by Parliament. The grandness of the Mischianza was questioned by Tories and patriots alike. Many felt the display was too extravagant, especially since Howe had failed to obtain any type of significant victory. Others criticized the lavish expense of the event while people all around Philadelphia, including George Washington's army, which was then at Valley Forge, were starving due to the war. In later years, the Mischianza came to be looked at with romantic sentimentality by those who remembered it. In reality, it probably reveals a good deal about why the British lost the war in the first place. Its chief officers were often more concerned with titles, rewards and promotions than they were with actually winning battles.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“All the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government." 

Thomas Jefferson, 1781- Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIII

The Battle of Thomas Creek Ends the Second Florida Expedition

The Battle of Thomas Creek ends the Second Florida Expedition

 

On this day in history, May 17, 1777, the Battle of Thomas Creek ends the Second Florida Expedition, an attempt by Georgia patriots to invade British East Florida during the American Revolution. After the French and Indian War, eastern Florida was ceded to Great Britain by Spain. It became a separate colonial province with its capital at Saint Augustine.

 

East Florida had a very small population, but Saint Augustine became an important British military base. When the Revolution began, it remained loyal to the Crown and thousands of Loyalists fled there to escape persecution. The influx of people brought about a food shortage and raiding parties into Georgia were established to confiscate food and wreak havoc on Georgia patriots. In addition, the Creek Nation to the southeast was allied with the British and aided the raiding parties into Georgia.

            

In response to all this, three attempts were made by Georgia to capture Saint Augustine. All three failed and were plagued by infighting. The first expedition in late 1776 failed due to food shortages and the recall of Continental Army General Charles Lee back to the main army. The third expedition, in the spring and summer of 1778, failed due to infighting of the leaders of different militia factions and a superior British opposing force.

 

The Second Florida Expedition ended in disaster and the death of Button Gwinnett, a Georgia signer of the Declaration of Independence. As President of Georgia in early 1777, Gwinnett planned an expedition against Saint Augustine. He had no military experience, so command of the mission was given to Brigadier General Lachlan McIntosh, Gwinnett's chief political rival. Both tried to lead the mission, causing unnecessary delays. Their constant fighting caused the General Assembly to call them both back to Savannah after they had already left on the mission, command of which was given to Colonel Samuel Elbert. McIntosh and Gwinnett would famously fight a duel over who was to blame for the mission's delays and Gwinnett would be mortally wounded.

 

Colonel Elbert continued the expedition to East Florida, sending the cavalry over land and taking the rest himself down the coast in ships. The cavalry arrived first at the Nassau River, but were forced to wait for days for Elbert's flotilla. Meanwhile, East Florida governor, Patrick Tonyn, sent 200 Loyalists and Creek to ambush the approaching patriots. On May 14, Indians captured some of the patriots' horses, but one of the Indians was caught and allegedly tortured and killed by the militia, which outraged the Indians.

 

On May 17, the cavalry reached the Loyalists who were hiding in wait at Thomas Creek. When they were fired upon, the surprised Georgia militia turned to flee, only to run right into more Loyalists who had come up behind them. A handful of Georgia patriots were killed or wounded, but more than 30 were captured. Unfortunately, the Creek Indians tortured half of them to death in retaliation for the alleged murder of their compatriot a few days before. The rest of the Georgia militia escaped and made their way to rendezvous with Colonel Elbert. When Elbert discovered what happened at the Battle of Thomas Creek, he called off the mission. They were already deep inside enemy territory, many had already been killed or captured, they suffered from food shortages and a fleet of British ships was nearby. The Americans would not attempt another invasion of East Florida.

 

The British forces in Saint Augustine would later play an important part in the overall British strategy to reclaim the south during the latter part of the Revolution. All of East Florida would eventually be ceded to Spain by Britain at the end of the war and would not become part of the United States until 1822.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree." 
James Madison (1787)

The Battle of Alamance brings the War of the Regulation to a close

The Battle of Alamance brings the War of the Regulation to a close

 

On this day in history, May 16, 1771, the Battle of Alamance brings the War of the Regulation to a close when North Carolina "Regulators" are defeated by Governor William Tryon. The War of the Regulation is often viewed as a pre-cursor to the American Revolution because it pitted regular settlers against corrupt colonial officials.

 

The War of the Regulation was the result of a severe drought and the heavy influx of new settlers into the inland parts of North Carolina during the early 1760s. The population grew quickly, bringing not only farmers, but also businessmen to the county seats. Farmers went into debt during the drought and the local population became dependent on merchants’ supplies from the east. As debt increased, many fell into trouble and were brought to court by the merchants. A small cabal of merchants, lawyers, judges and sheriffs arose around each county courthouse that took advantage of the indebted population, often enriching themselves at the people’s expense.

           

This led to the rising of the "Regulators" who attempted to reign in these corrupt officials, by force if necessary, when reason failed to prevail. The late 1760s saw many acts of violence against local officials, including an incident when the Regulators interrupted the North Carolina Assembly meeting in Hillsborough. Public buildings, shops and private residences were destroyed and some officials were severely beaten. Much of the population was sympathetic to the Regulators views, but did not support the use of violence.

 

By 1771, Governor Tryon decided to put an end to the rebellion, gathered a thousand trained militia soldiers and marched into Regulator territory, arriving near Great Alamance Creek on May 14. The Regulators also raised 2,000 men, but they had no military training or official leadership structure and had little ammunition. Instead of fighting, they hoped to intimidate Tryon with their greater numbers. Tryon, however, was not intimidated and, on May 16, offered pardon for anyone who would leave and pledge his oath to the Crown, while requiring that the key leaders of the Regulation be turned over for prosecution.

 

The Regulators refused, but asked for an exchange of prisoners who were captured the previous day. Tryon agreed but moved his army closer, to within 30 yards of the Regulators, who sensed they were about to be fired on. At this point, Governor Tryon shot negotiator Robert Thompson dead in a spate of anger. Knowing things were about to unravel, he sent a white flag-bearing messenger to the Regulators, who fired on him in anger for the killing of Mr. Thompson and an all-out battle ensued.

 

After Tryon’s hat was shot through, he sent a second white flag, but this messenger was also shot, angering Tryon into ordering an all-out pursuit. The Regulators scattered and fled the battlefield. The victorious Tryon then marched through Regulator territory, requiring the citizens to sign oaths of allegiance to the Crown and destroying the properties of its leaders.

 

In all, somewhere between 9 and 27 militia were killed and 61 injured. 9 Regulators were killed with dozens and dozens injured. The Battle of Alamance brought the War of the Regulation to an end. Many of its key leaders were killed or executed after being captured. Others fled to other states or beyond the Appalachians to make new settlements. The Battle of Alamance and Governor Tryon’s actions were viewed favorably by most colonists at first, who viewed the Regulators as rabble-rousers. Questions did arise, however, about the methods of taxation and government coercion in North Carolina, which helped feed the rising flames that would ignite into the American Revolution in less than four years.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

"It’s not tyranny we desire; it’s a just, limited, federal government."
Alexander Hamilton

Virginia votes to declare independence

Virginia votes to declare independence

 

On this day in history, May 15, 1776, Virginia votes to declare independence from Great Britain with the passage of the Virginia Resolution. Tensions had been rising in Virginia, as in the other colonies, for years. Things began to get serious in 1773, when the Virginia legislature tried to pass legislation condemning the Townshend Acts and the regime of taxes and tax collectors the Acts created. In response, Royal Governor John Murray, Earl of Dunmore shut the Assembly down, only to have the members convene independently.

 

In June 1774, Murray reopened the Assembly shortly after the passage of the Coercive Acts, which shut down Boston Harbor and the Massachusetts government in response to the Boston Tea Party. Murray quickly closed the Assembly again when the legislators called for a day of fasting and prayer over the state of things between the colonies and Great Britain.

 

The Continental Congress, which first met in September of that year, recommended to all of the colonies that they begin storing up arms and ammunition and preparing for war. Patrick Henry gave his fiery "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech to the rogue House of Burgesses in March, 1775, and this may have pushed Governor Murray into confiscating the colonial arms cache in Williamsburg, which nearly caused the war to break out right there when the militia gathered to recover it. Eventually the arms were given back to the colonists, but Murray fled to a warship on the York River for his own safety.

 

At this point, the Royal government was virtually dead and Murray engaged in the use of force to try and reestablish it. He sent raiding parties against the homes of patriots and encouraged slaves to rebel against their masters and join him. All this outraged the people of Virginia and brought them to the end of hoping things would change from Britain.

 

When the House of Burgesses met again on May 15, 1776, they passed a resolution instructing their delegates to Congress to call for a formal declaration of independence from Great Britain. The resolution came to be called the Virginia Resolution and states that the colonists tried over and over to work amicably with Parliament to redress their grievances. Since Parliament responded by raising an army against them, sending foreign mercenaries into their midst, encouraging their slaves to rebel and so on, they were left with two alternatives, either “an abject submission to the will of those overbearing tyrants, or a total separation from the Crown and Government of Great Britain.”

 

The Virginia Resolution also calls for Congress to reach out to foreign nations in search of allies against Great Britain and to begin working on a plan of confederation to join all the colonies. It also calls for the creation of a state Declaration of Rights and a new state constitution. The Declaration of Rights was largely written by George Mason and adopted by the Virginia Convention on June 12. A new Constitution was written by the convention and adopted on June 29th.

 

The directives of the Virginia Resolution were carried to Philadelphia and presented to Congress by Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee on June 7, 1776. As we all know, Congress voted on Lee’s resolution on July 2, 1776, with a vote to declare the colonies’ independence from Great Britain once and for all.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined."

Patrick Henry (1778)

Jamestown settlement is founded

Jamestown settlement is founded

 

On this day in history, May 14, 1607, the Jamestown settlement is founded in Virginia. It would become the first successful English settlement in the Americas. The New World was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and this soon brought a host of French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Danish and English explorers who searched for riches and traded with the natives.

 

The first European settlement was founded at Santo Domingo by the Spanish in 1498, while the first settlement on the mainland occurred in Columbia in 1502. John Cabot, sent by Henry VII of England, was the first to reach the northern part of North America in 1497. The first attempt at a permanent settlement in North America took place by the Spanish at Pensacola in 1559. The first successful settlement in North America was Saint Augustine, Florida, in 1565, also by the Spanish.

           

Queen Elizabeth I made the first attempt at a permanent English settlement in the New World at St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1583. This venture ended when the leader of the expedition died. The following year, Elizabeth granted his half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, the chance to start a new settlement on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. The settlement began on July 4, 1584, but was plagued with food shortages and problems with Indians. A mission to resupply the colony in 1587 found it abandoned with no trace of the inhabitants, giving rise to the name "The Lost Colony of Roanoke."

 

A major settlement was not tried again until 1606 when King James I gave a charter to the Virginia Company of London, a group of investors who supplied the funds for a new settlement in the Chesapeake Bay area, hoping to reap rich financial rewards from the local natural resources.

 

The Company’s first expedition landed at Cape Henry on April 26, 1607 with 144 men and boys aboard. They spent two weeks searching for a suitable spot on which to build their settlement and settled on a spot up the James River about 40 miles inland. The spot proved to be a malarial swamp and was uninhabited by local Indians because of its inferior agricultural qualities.

 

The earliest settlers battled primarily with starvation. 2/3s of the settlers died in the first year before an expedition arrived with supplies and more settlers. The winter of 1609-10 was particularly hard and is called the "Starving Time." When another supply expedition arrived in May, 1610, only 60 people were left alive of the 500 who had landed thus far.

 

In spite of those harsh first years, the colonists began to learn how to plant and harvest food in the New World and instituted private ownership of land, which greatly increased their productivity. In 1619, the first elected assembly to meet in North America met at Jamestown. In 1624, King James made Virginia a Royal colony and Jamestown served as its capital until 1699 when the capital was moved to Middle Plantation (now Williamsburg).

 

After the removal of the capital, Jamestown began to deteriorate to the wild. Eventually the site’s historical significance was realized and preservation efforts began. Today, the site of the original fort and the ruins of Jamestown’s church, built in 1639, can be visited at the Jamestown National Historic Site, which is owned by Preservation Virginia and the US National Park Service. The site contains a museum where period displays can be observed, along with replicas of the original settlers’ ships, a huge collection of artifacts dug up from the site and much more.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“There exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity.” George Washington (1789)

Captain Abraham Lincoln is born

Captain Abraham Lincoln is born

 

On this day in history, May 13, 1744, Captain Abraham Lincoln is born – not President Abraham Lincoln, but instead, his grandfather. Abraham’s father’s family settled in Pennsylvania and Abraham was born in Berks County, the first of 9 children. Abraham became a tanner, perhaps because of a family relationship with James Boone, a well-regarded tanner who lived nearby. James was an uncle of Daniel Boone and his daughter was married to Abraham’s father’s half-brother.

 

Much of the Lincoln clan moved to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia when Abraham’s father purchased a large tract of land there in 1768. Abraham received a portion of the land, married  and began having children. When the American Revolution broke out, Abraham became involved with the local militia. He served as a captain of the Augusta County militia first and later with the Rockingham County militia when that county was established in 1778. Lincoln’s unit was called into service under the Western Department of the Continental Army when Brigadier General Lachlan McIntosh of Georgia was in command there.

           

McIntosh had recently been involved in the killing of Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia and a political rival of McIntosh, when the two fought a duel over various accusations. George Washington valued McIntosh’s contributions to the war and feared that McIntosh might be killed or imprisoned by Gwinnett’s supporters, so he had him transferred to the northwest.

 

The Western Department was headquartered at Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh) and was responsible for guarding the backcountry from British invasion from Fort Detroit. McIntosh devised a plan to attack Detroit that involved the building of two new forts to aid in the attack, Fort Laurens on the Tuscarawas River in Ohio and Fort McIntosh at the convergence of the Ohio and Beaver Rivers in Pennsylvania. Abraham Lincoln’s Rockingham militia unit was called into service to help build the two forts during the latter part of 1778.

 

In 1780, Abraham Lincoln moved his family to Jefferson County, Kentucky (then part of Virginia) and settled near Hughes’ Station east of Louisville (a station was like a small fort near which settlers would live for protection). Lincoln began purchasing land and eventually owned 2,000 acres. Unfortunately, the area was still contested by Indians and Lincoln had numerous "visits" from local Indians who wanted him off their hunting grounds.

 

In 1786, Lincoln was working on the farm with his three sons when he was shot from the forest and killed. The oldest son, Mordecai, who was 15 or 16, quickly ran to the cabin to get a gun, while the next son, Josiah, 13, ran off to Hughes’ Station for help. The youngest son, Thomas, who was only 8 years old, stood by and watched in fear as an Indian came out of the woods. When the Indian reached for Thomas, either to kill or kidnap him, Mordecai took aim and shot the Indian dead. The boys then ran into the house where the rest of the family stayed until the arrival of help from Hughes’ Station that drove the Indians off.

 

After his death, Abraham’s wife Bathsheba was left with five children on the harsh frontier. Abraham’s land was divided by law between Bathsheba and the oldest son, Mordecai, leaving Thomas to earn his own way in life. He would eventually become a wealthy landowner himself and his second child, also named Abraham, would one day become the 16th President of the United States.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue; or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change and can trace its consequences; a harvest reared not by themselves but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens."

James Madison (1788)

Seth Warner captures Fort Crown Point

Seth Warner captures Fort Crown Point

 

On this day in history, May 12, 1775, Seth Warner captures Fort Crown Point at the south end of Lake Champlain. In colonial times, Lake Champlain, Lake George and the Hudson River formed the border between the French and British colonies and the original Fort St. Frederic was built here by the French in 1734 to guard against British invasion.

 

When the French and Indian War broke out in 1754, Fort Carillon was built 15 miles south to strengthen the barrier. The British were finally successful in driving the French back to Canada in 1759, but the retreating French forces destroyed both forts to prevent the British from using them. Both forts were rebuilt and renamed Fort Crown Point and Fort Ticonderoga.

           

At the end of the war, Britain received all of the French territory and the two forts lost their strategic value. Both forts fell into disrepair and were lightly guarded up to the outbreak of the American Revolution. Despite the fact that very small British garrisons guarded the forts, a vast amount of military supplies, cannons, howitzers, mortars and ammunition were stored there. As the New England militia surrounded Boston after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, various people suggested the two dilapidated forts should be immediately assaulted and the weapons captured.

 

Captain Benedict Arnold of the Connecticut militia suggested the idea to George Washington who sent him to accomplish the mission. Simultaneously, Ethan Allen, Seth Warner and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont were moving on the forts. The two groups worked together and captured Fort Ticonderoga and its 70 British soldiers on May 10, 1775. Two days later, Seth Warner took 100 men and captured Fort Crown Point, which was guarded by a meager 9 soldiers. In November, Colonel Henry Knox would arrive and drag 60 tons of the captured weapons across the mountains to Boston where they were used to force the British to abandon the city.

 

After the Americans captured Crown Point, it was used as a staging ground for operations into Canada. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold staged an attempt to capture Fort St. Jean from here later in May, but were driven back. In the fall of 1775, a major American invasion force gathered at Crown Point under General Philip Schuyler. This army was eventually defeated and retreated back to the fort in June, 1776, riddled with smallpox. Hundreds of American soldiers died from the disease at Crown Point.

 

Benedict Arnold spent the summer building an American fleet on Lake Champlain, while the British did the same at the north reaches of the Lake. When the two forces finally engaged at the Battle of Valcour Island in October, the American fleet was largely destroyed or captured and retreated to Crown Point, which was abandoned to the advancing British. British General, Sir Guy Carleton left Crown Point, however and returned to the north for the winter.

 

The following summer, the British made a major invasion down the lake in an attempt to capture the entire Hudson Valley. Fort Crown Point and Fort Ticonderoga quickly fell to British General John Burgoyne. Burgoyne’s army was finally defeated and captured at the Battle of Saratoga in October, but the two forts remained in British possession until the end of the war.

 

Today, the remains of Fort Crown Point are part of the Crown Point State Historic Site, which is managed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.

 

Note: Some sources place the taking of Crown Point on May 11 and not May 12.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

John Adams