General George Rogers Clark dies

General George Rogers Clark dies

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“It would seem from the public Gazettes that the Minority in your State are preparing for another attack of the – now – adopted Government; how formidable it may be; I know not. But that Providence which has hitherto smiled on the honest endeavors of the well-meaning part of the People of this Country will not, I trust, withdraw its support from them at this crisis.”-George Washington

Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko is born

Revolutionary War hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko is born

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly."

George Washington (1788)

Colonel John Laurens sets sail for France on the USS Alliance

Colonel John Laurens sets sail for France on the USS Alliance

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"[A] wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."

Thomas Jefferson (1801)

 

 

Pennsylvania General John Cadwalader dies

Pennsylvania General John Cadwalader dies

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"We must make our election between economy and Liberty, or profusion and servitude." Thomas Jefferson (1816)

General Lachlan McIntosh is exchanged for General Charles O’Hara

General Lachlan McIntosh is exchanged for General Charles O’Hara

 

On this day in history, February 9, 1782, General Lachlan McIntosh is exchanged for General Charles O’Hara. McIntosh was born in Scotland and emigrated to Georgia with his father as a boy. As a young man, he moved to Charleston, South Carolina and worked for Henry Laurens, a future President of the Continental Congress. McIntosh became a wealthy rice planter in Georgia and sided with the rebels as the American Revolution broke out, becoming a colonel in the militia.

 

McIntosh was celebrated for his exploits during the war, but today he is best known for killing Georgia Declaration of Independence signer, Button Gwinnett, in a duel. After signing the Declaration, Gwinnett became the leader of Georgia’s Provincial Congress, while McIntosh was made Brigadier General of the Continental Army’s Georgia Line. The two clashed continuously, mostly due to Gwinnett’s pride.

 

Gwinnett and McIntosh collaborated on a planned expedition to attack the British at St. Augustine, Florida in early 1777, but when Gwinnett was replaced under Georgia’s new Constitution, he was left with no authority. McIntosh was the appointed leader of the expedition and he would not obey Gwinnett’s orders, leading to constant infighting and delays. Both were finally called back and the expedition would be a colossal failure.

 

Gwinnett blamed McIntosh for the failure and McIntosh delivered a seething rebuke of Gwinnett to the legislature. Gwinnett demanded a public apology and when he received none, he challenged McIntosh to a duel. When the two met on May 16, 1777, both were injured, but Button Gwinnett died from his wounds.

 

McIntosh was charged with murder, but he was acquitted and George Washington had him transferred to Valley Forge for his protection. In May, 1778, McIntosh was appointed Commander of the Western Department of the Continental Army. He was sent to Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh) and charged with security on the western frontier. He built two forts and planned an attack on the British stronghold at Fort Detroit, but was forced to abandon the plan when Congress could not fund it.

 

In 1779, McIntosh was sent south and was part of the failed attempt to recapture Savannah, Georgia. After retreating to Charleston, General Benjamin Lincoln was forced to surrender his entire army of 5,000 men when the British attacked in 1780. General McIntosh was among the captives and spent the next 21 months in prison. He was finally exchanged for British General Charles O’Hara on February 9, 1782. O’Hara was second-in-command to General Charles Cornwallis and was the officer who surrendered Cornwallis’ sword to George Washington at Yorktown. The rank of General O’Hara gives an indication of the rank and prestige of Lachlan McIntosh.

 

After the war, McIntosh tried to rebuild his plantation which had been destroyed by the British, but he would never find financial success again. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1784, but never arrived. He served on various boards and commissions in Georgia for several years and passed away in Savannah in 1806.

 

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

Daniel Boone is Captured by a British/Shawnee War Party

Daniel Boone is captured by a British/Shawnee war party

 

On this day in history, February 8, 1778, Daniel Boone is captured by a British/Shawnee war party. Boone had forged a trail across the Cumberland Gap several years earlier and settled Fort Boonesborough, one of only three settlements at the time in what is now Kentucky.

 

In the winter of 1777-78, Boonesborough ran out of its vital salt supply. No supplies would come until spring, so the only way to get salt was by boiling water from a salt spring. The settlers decided they had to do this, in spite of the fact that sending out a large party of men to the nearest spring would leave the fort vulnerable to attack.

 

30 men set out for Blue Licks, which was about 60 miles away, where they gathered salt for several weeks. On February 8, Boone was out hunting when he was captured by a group of Indians. He discovered that over 100 Shawnee were on their way to attack Boonesborough, accompanied by two aides to the British Governor of Detroit. This was a British backed attack.

 

Boone knew the fort couldn’t stand, so he played nice and told them that if his men were allowed to surrender peacefully and accompany them back to Detroit, in the spring Boone would lead an expedition back to Boonesborough where he would persuade the settlers to declare allegiance to King George. Chief Blackfish, the Shawnee leader, agreed to this, not knowing that Boone was lying and trying to save the lives of his men and those back at the fort.

 

Boone persuaded the men to give themselves up, convincing them it was the only way to save their families. The Indians did not harm them, but did force them to “run the gauntlet,” a form of punishment in which the prisoners were made to run through two lines of Indians who would strike them as hard as they could. The prisoners stayed with the Indians for months, pretending to be friendly, but hoping to escape all along. Boone was even adopted into the tribe as a son of Chief Blackfish.

 

Back at the fort, word arrived that the men had been captured. After several months of hearing nothing, they were given up for dead. Rebecca Boone, Daniel’s wife, and her children moved back to North Carolina with many of the others. Meanwhile, one of the other captured men escaped and returned to the fort. He convinced them that Boone was collaborating with the British.

 

In June, the Shawnee decided to take revenge on Boonesborough for a failed attempt to capture Donelly’s Fort. Boone escaped to warn them, traveling 160 miles across the wilderness in 4 days. He was held in suspicion at first because the settlers believed he had colluded with the British, but he was able to convince them a war party was coming.

 

The Great Siege of Boonesborough began on September 8 and lasted 12 days. Though the Indians made numerous attempts, they were unable to penetrate its defenses and finally gave up the attack. Daniel Boone was charged with aiding the British for his ruse, but after a court-martial examined the evidence, he was commended for his handling of the crisis, promoted to major in the Virginia militia and soon reunited with his family in North Carolina.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

“Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a state than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.”
Samuel Adams (1775)

The Great Siege of Gibraltar is Lifted

The Great Siege of Gibraltar is lifted

 

On this day in history, February 7, 1783, the Great Siege of Gibraltar is lifted after peace agreements are signed ending the American Revolution. The Great Siege of Gibraltar was a combined Spanish and French effort to take Gibraltar back from Britain. The entrance of France and Spain into the war on the American side stretched British forces thinly across much of the world as they tried to protect their interests in multiple locations.

 

Spain and France agreed to help each other take back territories lost to Britain in earlier battles. In particular, France agreed to help Spain take back the peninsula of Gibraltar in the south of Spain, which the British had owned since 1713. Gibraltar is critical to the movement of ships from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. It is only 2.6 square miles large, but it has been fought over for centuries because of its location. The main feature of Gibraltar is a 1,400 foot high mountain known as the Rock of Gibraltar. The territory shares a small border with Spain on the north end that is only .75 miles long.

 

The Great Siege of Gibraltar began on June 24, 1779 and would last 3 years and 7 months. 5,300 British soldiers were stationed there. A force of 13,000 Spanish forces camped on the north end of the peninsula, while a fleet of Spanish and French ships blocked the island from receiving reinforcements. By the winter, food was running low, but a British fleet was able to penetrate the blockade. In fact, several times over the course of the siege, British fleets were able to break the blockade and bring in vital supplies and reinforcements.

 

On September 13, 1782, nearly a year after the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, the Spanish and French mounted their largest attack. 5,000 soldiers manned "floating batteries" armed with cannons, 30,000 sailors manned 78 ships, while 35,000 troops amassed to storm the British fortifications. 80,000 civilians watched from nearby hills across the border in Spain, expecting to see their armies victorious over the British. The ships bombarded the British positions, but the British bombarded them back, causing great damage to the fleet and the floating batteries.

 

After several weeks of little progress, another British fleet showed up under the command of Admiral Sir Richard Howe, the same Admiral who had been in charge of the British fleet in North America earlier in the war. A strong gale on October 10th blew the Spanish and French fleets off, allowing Howe's 65 ships in to the peninsula with food, supplies and ammunition. Howe's fleet left and the siege continued for several months more.

 

The preliminary Treaty of Paris that would end the American Revolution was signed on November, 30, 1782. Parliament ratified the Treaty in January, 1783 and Congress ratified it in April. Spain and France ended the Siege of Gibraltar on February 7. In the terms of the Treaty, Britain was allowed to keep Gibraltar. Nearly a half million bullets were fired during the conflict and the British used up 8,000 barrels of gunpowder. Over 1,200 British soldiers were killed or wounded and 6,000 British and French were killed or wounded in the largest and longest action of the war.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

Secretary 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 the rulers are concealed from them."
Patrick Henry, 1788