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The second Siege of Augusta comes to an end

The second Siege of Augusta comes to an end

 

On this day in history, June 5, 1781, the second Siege of Augusta comes to an end when patriot forces under General Andrew Pickens, Colonel "Light-Horse Harry" Lee and Colonel Elijah Clarke capture Fort Cornwallis. Augusta was a small trading town on the Savannah River that was one of the important keys to holding the backcountry of Georgia and South Carolina.

 

The British first captured Augusta without a fight in January, 1779, but soon abandoned it when it was deemed indefensible from the numerous rebels in the area. After the fall of Charleston in May, 1780, British forces fanned out to capture inland patriot posts. Many patriot leaders were forced to surrender, including large numbers of rebel militia.

           

Augusta was again captured in June by Loyalist Lt. Col. Thomas Brown. Brown, like other Tory leaders familiar with the climate of backcountry Georgia and South Carolina, begged Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis to send reinforcements, but Cornwallis did not understand the strength of the rebel uprising in these colonies. Instead, with the surrender of large numbers of rebels, he seemed to believe the rebellion in the south was over and became focused on conquering North Carolina.

 

Those patriots which had not surrendered mounted an attack on Augusta in September, which was so bloody and awful that the besieged British soldiers were reduced to drinking urine and eating raw pumpkins, while numerous patriots ended up scalped or burned alive by Indians. The Americans nearly won the siege, but were driven off when reinforcements arrived from Fort Ninety-Six.

 

After the bloody siege of Augusta in September, Cornwallis finally realized that holding the backcountry was not going to be so easy and ordered the construction of a fort. Fort Cornwallis was built in such a way that the local soldiers deemed it impregnable. They were soon to find out otherwise.

 

In May of 1781, General Andrew Pickens, Colonel "Light-Horse Harry" Lee and Colonel Elijah Clarke led a second siege against Augusta. This time, the British were holed up in the "impregnable" Fort Cornwallis. The British had just over 600 soldiers between the fort and several other local posts, while the attacking patriots gathered over 1600 men.

 

The patriots began the siege on May 21 by taking an outlying stockade house and the secondary Fort Grierson, guarded by 80 men on the 23rd. All 80 of the captured men were killed by the militia, a bloody habit that had developed on both sides in the Southern war. This left Fort Cornwallis with about 500 men, defended by extensive defensive works and high walls. The patriots had only one cannon though and could not break the fort’s defenses. Lt. Col. Lee advised the use of a "Mayham Tower," a tall tower on which sharpshooters could be placed to fire down into the fort. This strategy had been successfully used at the Siege of Fort Watson in April.

 

The 30 foot tower was brought near enough the fort to fire down into it on June 1. The firing from the tower made it nearly impossible to move within the fort. Brown attempted an all-out attack from the fort that night, but was repelled by the Americans’ superior numbers. He then tried a ruse by sending a "deserter" out to try to set fire to the tower. The deserter told Lt. Col. Lee he could aim the guns on the tower just right so they would hit and explode the ammunition magazine in the fort. Lee was about to let him do it, but became skeptical and stopped it.

 

The patriots began planning a final assault on June 4, but General Pickens sent a surrender demand first. Lt. Col. Brown asked for one more day due to the fact that the 4th was King George’s birthday. Pickens acquiesced and the entire fort surrendered on June 5, one of a series of losses for the British that would culminate in Cornwallis’ surrender in October.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

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

 

King George III is born

King George III is born

 

On this day in history, June 4, 1738, King George III is born. He would become the 3rd longest reigning monarch of Great Britain and oversee the loss of Britain’s American colonies during the American Revolution. George William Frederick was the grandson of George II of England. He became heir to the throne when his father died in 1751. As the heir-apparent, George lived a life of luxury as a child, but also received an intense education in politics, astronomy, chemistry, geography, history, music, math and law.

 

George II died on October 25, 1760 and George III claimed the throne at the age of 22, during the middle of the French and Indian War. Britain soon won the war, claiming vast swaths of North America from France. The downside of the victory was the great cost involved with governing such a huge territory. Parliament saw it as necessary that the Americans should pay for their own defense and government and began instituting a series of taxes to pay for it, turning the Americans against them.

           

George is viewed as a tyrant by most Americans due to the propagandistic nature of the Declaration of Independence and other incendiary language of the Founding Fathers, but this view is not really accurate. George was not a tyrant in the sense of an evil monster bent on pillaging and destruction for his own personal gain. Instead, George viewed the war with America as upholding the Constitutional rights of the people of England through their elected Parliament. George did not make the policies of Great Britain during the American Revolution, but instead assented to the wishes of various officers and committees of Parliament. The King of England did not have absolute power. Instead, most of the power rested in the hands of Parliament.

 

After the colonies were lost, Britain entered a protracted war with France during the time of the French Revolution and after. George held up the standard against France and was viewed as a hero to most Englishmen during that period.

 

George married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761. By all accounts, they had a happy marriage. He was completely faithful to her and never had the usual string of mistresses common to other British monarchs. They had 15 children together.

 

George began to suffer from mental illness around 1765 and for periods of time he would be incapacitated and engage in bizarre behavior. The longest instance occurred in 1788, when he was known to talk nonsense for hours at a time. By 1810, the illness was permanent and George was completely deranged for the last ten years of his monarchy. His faithful wife Charlotte tended him until her death in 1818. Some historians believe George suffered from a disease called porphyria which can lead to mental illness. He finally passed away in 1820 and his son, George IV, who ruled in his place as Regent during the time of his father’s illness, took the throne.

 

George III reigned for 59 years, longer than any other British monarchs with the exception of the present Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. He is remembered for the loss of the American colonies, but also for standing against France during the years of the French Revolution. George is also remembered for being a patron of the arts and sciences. He collected artwork and books, encouraged agricultural science and oversaw England’s Agricultural Revolution and the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. Of course the one thing he is most remembered for though, is the loss of the 13 colonies in America.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
Patrick Henry

Jack Jouett becomes the Paul Revere of the South

Jack Jouett becomes the Paul Revere of the South

 

On this day in history, June 3, 1781, Jack Jouett becomes the "Paul Revere of the South" when he rides all night to warn Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson and the gathered rebel Virginia Assembly that the British were coming to capture them. Jouett was a captain in the Virginia militia, whose father was a Charlottesville innkeeper who supplied the rebel forces with food. Jack had three brothers who served in the war as well, one of whom died at the Battle of Brandywine.

 

British General Charles Cornwallis, charged with taking back the southern colonies for England, had been having a rough time conquering North and South Carolina. He finally decided Virginia was the key to holding the south and set about to conquer it, leading an invasion into the colony beginning in May, 1781.

           

Numerous successful raids from the coast had already been conducted into Virginia under the leadership of General William Phillips and the turn-coat, Benedict Arnold. One of these raids in January, 1781, burned the capital city of Richmond, forcing the rebel Assembly and Governor Thomas Jefferson to retreat further inland to Charlottesville, only a stone’s throw from Jefferson’s home, Monticello.

 

When Cornwallis invaded from the south in early May, he quickly learned the Assembly and the governor were in session in Charlottesville. He dispatched Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, head of the Loyalist British Legion, on horseback with 250 men to capture Jefferson and the Assembly.

 

During the evening of June 3rd, Jack Jouett observed the passing troops in the small town of Cuckoo, and correctly surmised that they were headed to Charlottesville. Since Virginia had seen little fighting until this time in the war, most of its soldiers were off in other parts of the colonies, leaving few soldiers to defend against Cornwallis’ invasion. Jefferson and the Assembly would easily be captured.

 

Jouett got on his horse and began a 40 mile trek through the night. He stayed on back roads since the British were using the main road and allegedly was injured by sticks and branches as he flew through the night. Some accounts say he carried scars from these injuries for the rest of his life.

 

Finally arriving at Monticello around daybreak, Jouett warned Jefferson and other legislators who were staying with him. Jefferson remarkably took his time, perhaps because his term as governor had expired the day before and Jouett rode on to warn the rest of the Assembly staying in his father’s inn, the Swan Tavern. Jefferson waited to leave Monticello until the British were actually riding up his front lawn, but he did manage to escape on horseback. Most of the Assembly members escaped as well, but seven were captured. The Assembly then reconvened in Staunton to continue its business.

 

Some historians believe Jack Jouett’s ride was even more important than Paul Revere’s because the entire leadership of Virginia’s rebel movement was in peril. Not only Jefferson, but Patrick Henry, Thomas Nelson Jr., Benjamin Harrison, Daniel Boone, Richard Henry Lee and Edmund Randolph were assembled in Charlottesville. Their capture could have turned the war in a whole different direction.

 

The following year, Jouett moved to Kentucky, which was then still part of Virginia. He married, raised cattle and lived there the rest of his life. He served as a legislator from his district in the Virginia Assembly and later on in Kentucky when it became a separate state. Jouett would also become the father of Matthew Harris Jouett, a famous painter, and the grandfather of James Edward Jouett, a Civil War Admiral.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

We must be unanimous; there must be no pulling different ways; we must hang together.
John Hancock

 

 

 

Martha Washington is born

Martha Washington is born

 

On this day in history, June 2, 1731, Martha Washington is born at her father’s estate in New Kent, County, Virginia. Martha Dandridge was the firstborn child of wealthy planter John Dandridge. As a child, Martha received a basic education, which was unusual for girls in that era. She was married at the age of 18 to Daniel Parke Custis, an even wealthier planter than her father, who was 20 years older than she.

 

Martha and Daniel lived at Daniel’s plantation, which was ironically called The White House. They had four children over the next few years, two of whom live past toddlerhood. Unfortunately, Daniel died in 1757, when Martha was only 26, leaving her in charge of a vast network of plantations covering over 17,000 acres in 5 counties and 285 slaves. With the assistance of her late husband’s business manager, however, Martha learned the intricacies of planning, managing and harvesting the tobacco crop and selling it to London merchants.

           

Martha was also now responsible for her two children, John Parke Custis, known as Jacky, and Martha Parke Custis, known as Patsy, who were only 2 years and 1 year when their father died. Years later, Martha would be stricken with grief because both children would die young. Patsy died at the age of 17 from an epileptic seizure and Jacky died at the age of 21 from "camp fever" contracted at the Battle of Yorktown.

 

Martha met and married George Washington in 1759. It is believed they knew each other for only a matter of weeks before he proposed and she accepted marriage. The two moved to Mount Vernon with Martha’s young children and began an idyllic life that by all accounts was loving and harmonious.

 

When the American Revolution broke out, Martha spent much of the next 8 years home alone at Mount Vernon, but she did travel to Washington’s encampments several times in the winters where she comforted her husband and entertained the officers and their wives. She was also known for rallying women, especially the wealthy, to give money to the Revolutionary cause and make supplies, such as blankets and clothing for the soldiers.

 

Toward the end of the Revolution, when young Jacky died, he left four children as well. Two of them ended up living permanently with George and Martha. Eleanor Parke Custis, called Nelly, was only 2 when her father died and George Washington Parke Custis, called Wash or Tub, was only 6 months. Since Martha’s children were all now dead and since George and Martha had no children of their own, they raised Nelly and Wash as their own.

 

Martha was a very private person and did not enjoy the public attention when her husband became President. She lived with him in New York and Philadelphia, where the capital was then located. She entertained guests and dignitaries with lavish dinner parties, but this was a duty to her and not necessarily an enjoyment.

 

After Washington’s presidency ended, Martha hoped to return to the quiet life at Mount Vernon, but a steady string of guests constantly arrived to visit her husband. When Washington passed away in 1799, Martha was grief stricken and was known to frequently say how much she missed him. When her own death neared less than 3 years later, Martha burned all the letters ever written between herself and her husband. Only two letters between them have survived. For this reason, very little is known about the personal relationship of the first President of the United States and his wife, and this is exactly how the very private Martha Washington intended it.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"No power on earth has a right to take our property from us without our consent."
John Jay

 

 

The Boston Port Act takes effect

The Boston Port Act takes effect

 

On this day in history, June 1, 1774, the Boston Port Act takes effect, closing down Boston Harbor from all shipping and trade in punishment for the Boston Tea Party. Boston citizens had thrown 42 tons of tea into the harbor in December of the previous year, as an act of protest against unjust taxation. The colonists had no representatives in Parliament and they believed it was unlawful to be taxed by a body in which they had no representation. The Boston Tea Party was the culmination of many years of protests and strife regarding taxation and representation.

 

Parliament was outraged at this act of defiance and set about bringing the rebellious Massachusetts back to order. A series of acts, known as the Coercive Acts in Britain, were passed in 1774, which shut down all self-government in Massachusetts, limited town meetings and moved the trials of government officials out of the colony. Other measures required all the colonies to provide housing for government troops, extended the boundaries of British Quebec and granted Catholic Quebec residents the right to practice their own religion, which was seen by the colonists as strengthening the heavily pro-British Quebec right next door.

           

The piece of the Coercive Acts, or, as they were called by the colonists, the Intolerable Acts, that caused more outrage in the colonies than any other, however, was the Boston Port Act. This act closed down the harbor to all trade permanently until the ruined tea was paid for, the lost customs revenues paid and order restored in Massachusetts. It placed armed warships in the harbor to enforce a blockade and filled Boston with troops to help patrol the wharfs.

 

The Boston Port Act placed heavy fines on violators. If anyone was caught trying to sneak through the blockade, the ships, cargo and any other property, such as horses or wagons used to transport the goods, were to be forfeited to the government and a fine of three times the value of the cargo was levied. Also, anyone caught trying to bribe officials into letting goods through and any officials involved in taking such bribes, were heavily fined.

 

The Boston Port Act, and the other parts of the Coercive Acts, were really the spark that lighted the American Revolution. Colonists across America were outraged. They realized that if Parliament was willing to do this to Boston, they could do it anywhere in the colonies. All of the colonies joined in a boycott of British goods and a plan was made to convene the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in September. The Congress was to plan a joint colonial response to the Coercive Acts and was the first joint action of the colonies against Great Britain.

 

The Boston Port Act did everything but bring Massachusetts back into submission. Instead, it united  the colonies in their resolve to protect their freedoms. The Continental Congress remonstrated with Great Britain to correct its grievances, but also recommended to all the colonies that they begin stockpiling weapons and ammunition in the event of war. This stockpiling led directly to British General Thomas Gage receiving instructions to capture the rebel supplies at Concord, Massachusetts, leading to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in April of 1775.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

It is the knowledge that all men have weaknesses and that many have vices that makes government necessary.
James Monroe

 

 

 

The Mecklenberg Resolves are adopted

The Mecklenberg Resolves are adopted

 

On this day in history, May 31, 1775, the Mecklenberg Resolves are adopted by Mecklenberg County, North Carolina. The Mecklenberg Resolves are an important document in understanding what most historians believe to be the fraudulent “Mecklenberg Declaration,” a declaration of independence allegedly passed by the county a year before the Continental Congress’ Declaration of Independence.

 

The original document passed by a committee of Mecklenberg County’s citizens burned in a fire in the year 1800. Dr. Joseph McKnitt, the son of someone involved in the passage of the original document, put out an article in 1819 with the alleged language of the “Mecklenberg Declaration.” He claimed this declaration of independence from Britain was made on May 20, 1775, more than a year before the official Declaration of Independence. This would place Mecklenberg County in the heady place of being the “first” in America to declare its independence from Great Britain.

           

Critics, including Thomas Jefferson, immediately pointed out several problems with the document. First of all, it contained several entire phrases from the Continental Congress’ Declaration (causing some to say Jefferson had borrowed heavily from the Mecklenberg Declaration himself for the Declaration of Independence). Others pointed out that there were no other copies or reports of such a declaration in contemporary sources. Indeed, why had no one ever even heard of such a document before now?

 

In 1838, historian Peter Force found a partial copy of some resolutions adopted by Mecklenberg County on May 31, 1775. This list was substantially different than McKnitt’s resolutions. Were there two sets of resolutions passed by the county eleven days apart? Critics pointed out that the alleged May 20 Declaration called for a complete separation from Great Britain, while the later May 31 document called merely for a suspension of British laws and the creation of an interim government until the Provincial Congress gave them more direction. This was much less severe than a complete separation. The County surely did not call for independence on the 20th and then backtrack and leave the door open for reconciliation on the 31st.

 

In 1847, the entire Mecklenberg Resolves were discovered in the archives of the South Carolina Gazette, which had printed the document when it was passed. In the eyes of most historians, this document proved conclusively that there was no such thing as the Mecklenberg Declaration. Instead, what most historians agree upon is that McKnitt, or someone else, tried to reconstruct the Mecklenberg Resolves from memory after the original was destroyed in the fire. Some 50 years had passed and either out of a desire to inflate North Carolina’s role in the Revolution or simply out of mistaken belief, he called the document a declaration of independence, when, in reality, it was no such thing.

 

For decades, many, in North Carolina in particular, believed in the Mecklenberg Declaration. In fact, the date May 20, 1775, is featured prominently on the State Seal and the State Flag. The day was celebrated as an official state holiday for years and taught as fact in history textbooks. Today, you can still find a few holdouts who cling to the idea that the Mecklenberg Declaration actually took place, but most serious historians have relegated it to a fallacious footnote of history.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

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

 

 

Iroquois Indians win the Battle of Cobleskill

Iroquois Indians win the Battle of Cobleskill

 

On this day in history, May 30, 1778, Iroquois Indians win the Battle of Cobleskill when they destroy the settlement of Cobleskill, New York. The Battle of Cobleskill was the first move of a major Iroquois campaign against colonial settlements in western New York and Pennsylvania.

 

Joseph Brant (his English name), also called Thayendanegea, was an Iroquois leader who had strong ties to Great Britain. He had traveled to England and had a personal meeting with King George III a few years earlier. His parents were also Christian converts, hence, the westernized name and connections.

 

After the disaster of General John Burgoyne’s invasion into New York from Canada, the British Canadians began supplying Iroquois and Loyalist supporters in their fight against the patriots in New York. Brant helped plan a major campaign against the settlements in the region. He was adamant, however, that only militia or Continental Army soldiers be targeted. Settlers, women and children who did not resist were to be allowed to leave the area without being harmed.

 

Brant intended to attack Cherry Valley, New York, but was deceived into believing the village had more defenders than it actually had. He settled on Cobleskill, a small village of 20 families on farms along Cobleskill Creek in present day Warnerville, New York. Cobleskill was defended by local militia under Captain Christian Brown and a few dozen Continental Army soldiers under Captain William Patrick.

 

On May 30, 1778, the Iroquois attack began with a trick. A small band of Indians showed themselves at a distance from Cobleskill, causing the soldiers to take off after them. Captain Brown warned Captain Patrick this might be a ruse, but Patrick pursued the Indians anyway. Patrick’s troops chased them for about a mile before the trap was sprung and a large force of 200-300 Indians and Loyalists came out of the woods and surrounded the pursuers. Patrick and half his force were killed.

 

The Indians then turned on the village, which was still being defended by Captain Brown. Several soldiers hid in the home of George Warner which was burned down, killing them all. Many of the other homes in the village and their outbuildings were destroyed. Crops and livestock that could not be carried off were destroyed. When it was all done, Cobleskill was destroyed and 22 settlers were killed. Approximately 25 Indians and Loyalists were killed. 5 settlers were captured by Brant and given the option of integrating with the Indians or being sent to the British Fort Niagara as captives, which is the option the captives chose.

 

After the Battle of Cobleskill, the Iroquois raids continued against villages and forts along the New York and Pennsylvania frontiers, including what some call the worst atrocity of the American Revolution, the Cherry Valley Massacre, in November of 1778. The Iroquois campaign finally drew the wrath of the Continental Congress which authorized a major expedition against them. The Sullivan Expedition, named after General John Sullivan, began in the summer of 1779 and destroyed dozens of Indian villages. The expedition had little overall effect on the war, however, because most of the Indian warriors, though their homes were destroyed, were not killed and survived to continue the fight.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance.”
John Adams