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The Siege of Bryan’s Station begins

The Siege of Bryan’s Station begins

 

On this day in history, August 15, 1782, the Siege of Bryan’s Station begins. Bryan’s Station was a fort at the top of a hill with about 40 homes insides its walls near Lexington, Kentucky. Down the hill was Elkhorn Creek with a nearby spring the settlers used for water. In August of 1782, 500 Indians and British soldiers marched into Kentucky, planning to capture Bryan’s Station and others.

 

The Indians snuck up to the fort unnoticed on the evening of August 15th and hid in the brush near the spring. Historians are uncertain how, but the settlers figured out the Indians were there. They went about their business as usual though to prevent the attackers from knowing they were discovered.

 

The Indians, believing they were concealed, allowed the few settlers outside the fort to continue their business so as not to expose themselves. Two riders were sent out from the fort for reinforcements, but the Indians let them go. Night fell and the terrified settlers thought it might be their last when they realized they had no water. Water was not only crucial for drinking, but also for putting out fires if the Indians set fire to the fort.

 

In the morning, a plan was devised to send out the women to gather water at the spring, just like they did every morning. The Indians would not attack because they didn’t want to expose themselves by attacking the women only. The brave women marched to the spring and pretended that everything was as usual. As they filled their vessels, they stood within a few feet of hundreds of hiding Indians. After they safely returned to the fort, everyone celebrated, but the Siege of Bryan’s Station was not over.

 

The Indians sent a small group to fire on the opposite side of the fort, hoping to lure the men out. The settlers understood the ruse and sent several men out to pretend to go after the small band, but as soon as shots were fired, they turned around and quickly ran back inside. As soon as the hiding Indians heard the shots, they came running from their hiding places. When they were in the open, a massive volley of shots rang out from the fort and many were killed. The Indians scattered and ran back to the woods. A few reached the still open gates of the fort, however, and set fire to some of the buildings. The settlers raced to put the fires out and a providential wind came that blew the smoking embers away from the fort.

 

In the afternoon, reinforcements arrived. 16 brave horsemen galloped through a barrage of Indian fire right to the gates of the fort with not a single man injured. 30 more men on foot got trapped in the cornfield and were forced to scatter.

 

That evening, the Indians met and decided the fort was impregnable without artillery to breach the walls. On the morning of the 17th, when the settlers arose, the Indians had abandoned their camp. More militia arrived at Bryan’s Station to defend the fort over the next few days and a large party went after the Indians. Unfortunately, the Indians ambushed them at Blue Licks, in the worst defeat on the western frontier during the American Revolution, before returning to their homes in the Ohio country. The massive force that laid siege to Bryan’s Station and inflicted the devastating defeat at Blue Licks proved to be the last major Indian invasion into Kentucky. Individual settlers suffered at the hands of Indians for years to come, but the largest Indian battles in the Kentucky territory were now in the past.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

"We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in." Thomas Paine (1777)

The Bermuda Gunpowder Plot

The Bermuda Gunpowder Plot

 

On this day in history, August 14, 1775, the Bermuda Gunpowder Plot secures Bermuda’s store of gunpowder for the American patriots when sympathetic Bermudians cooperate with the Continental Congress to deliver the gunpowder to them.

 

The Continental Congress voted early on in the war to ban all trade with British colonies that remained loyal to Great Britain. This put Bermuda in a unique bind. Bermuda’s economy was entirely based on shipping. It had maritime interests in all the major ports of America and the other British colonies. Tiny Bermuda had no agricultural production of its own and was entirely dependent on imports for food.

 

Colonel Henry Tucker was one of Bermuda’s most influential merchants. In 1775, he was a former President of the Governor’s Council and his son was the current president, as well as Royal Governor George Breure’s son-in-law. Tucker traveled to Philadelphia to meet with the Continental Congress, where he met with Ben Franklin and Robert Morris.

 

Tucker offered to trade salt (one of Bermuda’s chief industries and much needed by the Americans) in exchange for food. Instead, Franklin and Morris wanted Bermuda’s gunpowder, approximately 100 barrels of which sat in the magazine at St. George’s, Bermuda’s capital. The Continental Congress agreed to exempt Bermuda from the trade embargo on July 15th, in exchange for the gunpowder, and the Bermuda Gunpowder Plot was hatched.

 

On the evening of August 14th, the Lady Catharine and the Charles Town and Savannah Packet arrived from America off the Bermuda coast near Tobacco Bay. Locals who were sympathetic to the American cause met some American sailors and took them to St. George’s magazine, where they quickly overcame the single sentry. From the building’s roof, one of the sailors was let down through the air vent to unlock the door from the inside, where he had to be careful not to make any spark that would set the gunpowder on fire.

 

The citizens then rolled around 100 barrels of gunpowder to the shore where it was put on whaling boats and transported to the American ships. St. George Tucker, one of Colonel Tucker’s sons, was 22 at the time and later told how he helped role the gunpowder to the shore. He would later become an influential judge and author in Virginia.

 

The following morning, when the theft of the gunpowder was discovered by Governor Breure, he sent a customs ship after the fleeing ships, which were seen on the horizon. The ship was severely outgunned though and returned empty handed. Half of the gunpowder was delivered to Charlestown, while the other half went to Philadelphia.

 

Only a few weeks later, George Washington would dispatch ships to confiscate the same gunpowder, not realizing it had already been captured. Bermudians, who were naturally predisposed to side with the American patriots, eventually sided with Great Britain in the war when Congress reinstated its trade embargo and the island was left without food. The Bermudian shipping industry turned to privateering for supplies and wreaked havoc on American shipping throughout the rest of the war.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

Thomas Jefferson (1798)

The Second Battle of Machias Begins

The Second Battle of Machias Begins

 

On this day in history, August 13, 1777, the Second Battle of Machias begins when British marines assault the town of Machias, Maine. Machias, which was then part of Massachusetts, was a center of American privateering during the American Revolution. The town was an irritation to the British since the beginning of the war when it captured the HMS Margaretta during the First Battle of Machias, the first naval battle of the Revolution.

 

In 1777, the Continental Congress gave John Allan permission to establish a patriot militia in western Nova Scotia (modern day New Brunswick). Nova Scotia at that time was teetering between British and patriot loyalties and it was not yet determined which side the colony would choose. Allan began raising troops in Machias and had a small contingent at the mouth of the St. John’s River in New Brunswick by June of that year. When the British northern command, located at Halifax, learned of Allan’s location, they sent a small force to deal with them, causing Allan to flee and return to Machias.

 

By August, Allan’s mission was canceled by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress which needed the men to thwart the anticipated attack of General Burgoyne in New York instead. Allan’s complete plans, including an attack on Fort Cumberland, had fallen into the hands of the British when they attacked his base on the St. John’s River. The plans created alarm in the British headquarters and a mission was planned to destroy Allan’s base of operations at Machias to prevent any attacks on Nova Scotia.

 

Captain, Sir George Collier, second in command at Halifax, abruptly sailed in late July for Machias. He left without any army troops aboard because he did not get along with General Eyre Massey, the army commander at Halifax. Instead, he intended to storm Machias with the marines aboard the four ships that sailed with him.

 

When the citizens of Machias learned a British expedition was heading their way, they quickly set up a string of defenses along the Machias River, which came from the coast up to their town. They erected a log barricade across the river, as well as several redoubts for the militia to fire from. Collier reached the Machias River on August 13 and sent two of his ships upriver, filled with 123 marines. When they reached the log barricade, a firefight began. The following day, the marines were able to break up the barricade, land and capture supplies on shore.

 

The two ships continued upriver and were harassed by gunfire the entire way to the town. Local Indian allies, fighting alongside the Machias militia, began shouting war whoops, which made the British think there were many more defenders than there actually were. Suddenly, the two ships turned around and began to escape downriver. One of the ships grounded, but the next morning it refloated and got away.

 

Both sides claimed victory in the Second Battle of Machias. Casualties were small, with 3 British killed and 18 wounded, while only 1 American was killed and one wounded. General Massey, who had been preparing his soldiers for the expedition when Collier abruptly left Halifax, was quite critical of the whole expedition and claimed that Collier intended to get all the glory for destroying Machias for himself. Overall, the British authorities were able to prevent any successful American invasions or rebellions in Nova Scotia and the colony remained loyal to Britain throughout the war.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

"The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail." Thomas Jefferson (1775)

Andrew Pickens wins the Ring Fight

Andrew Pickens wins the Ring Fight

 

On this day in history, August 12, 1776, Andrew Pickens wins the Ring Fight, a unique battle with Cherokee Indians in South Carolina. The Cherokee tribe was spread out across the southeast through western North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, as well as Kentucky, Tennessee and northern Georgia and Alabama. When the American Revolution arrived, the tribe split in its loyalties, with some siding with the British and others declaring neutrality.

 

In 1776, those Cherokee aligned with the British launched a campaign into the western colonial settlements from Georgia to Virginia. Major Andrew Williamson rallied the South Carolina backcountry militia, assisted by Captain Andrew Pickens. Eventually they gathered a force of 1100 men and began a scorched earth campaign against the Cherokee villages in western South Carolina.

 

On August 12, 1776, Captain Pickens was leading a 25 man scouting party ahead of Williamson’s main body of militia when the party was suddenly surrounded by a large group of Cherokee. The Indians had 175-200 men and easily outnumbered Pickens’ small band. Pickens’ quick thinking saved the day.

 

Pickens ordered his men to form a ring, facing outwards. The men took turns shooting around the circle, while others reloaded their guns. Those Indians who approached were shot. The few Indians who did breach the circle with their tomahawks were killed as well. Eventually, Pickens set fire to a nearby sugar cane patch. As the cane burned, the joints popped, sounding like gunfire. The Indians, hearing the popping sound, believed reinforcements had arrived and fled.

 

Shortly after, reinforcements from Major Williamson did arrive and Pickens’ men survived. Believe it or not, only one of them was even injured! Numerous Indians were killed in what came to be called the "Ring Fight." After Williamson’s arrival, he and Pickens led an attack on the nearby Cherokee village of Tamassee and burned it to the ground.

 

Pickens earned the respect and awe of the Cherokee for his role in the Ring Fight. After the battle, they began to call him "Skyagunsta" or the "Wizard Owl." He would serve throughout the war with great distinction and be raised to Brigadier General of the South Carolina militia. After the war, Pickens spent many years as a state representative and a few years in Congress. Later in life, he built a home called the “Red House” near Tamassee, not far from the site of the Ring Fight, where he lived until his death in 1718.

 

Major Williamson continued to serve in the militia as well and also became a Brigadier General. After the British captured Charleston in 1780, the situation looked very bleak for the patriots and many swore oaths of allegiance to Britain, including Williamson (and Pickens). Many took up arms anyway and continued to fight, such as Pickens, but Williamson actively tried to get his fellow countrymen to renege and join the British, earning the ire of many patriots. After the war, General Nathanael Greene revealed that Williamson was actively feeding him intelligence on British activities, but this did not do much to change his reputation among fellow South Carolinians, who continued to view him as a traitor.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave."

John Adams, Rights of the Colonists, 1772

 

Sir Frederick Haldimand is born

Sir Frederick Haldimand is born

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

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

Arthur Schlesinger

Georgia patriots meet at Tondee’s Tavern

Georgia patriots meet at Tondee’s Tavern

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

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

The Action of 9 August 1780 takes place

The Action of 9 August 1780 takes place

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org  

 

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

George Washington (1789)