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

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

It is when a people forget God, that tyrants forge their chains.
Patrick Henry

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

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

“Our Constitution is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.
Patrick Henry

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

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

“The present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes.”
Alexander Hamilton (1802)

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

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"It is the press which has corrupted our political morals — and it is to the press we must look for the means of our political regeneration."
Alexander Hamilton (1804)

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

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

"All men are created equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing the obtaining of happiness and safety."
George Mason

 

 

 

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.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“We are a Republican government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of democracy.”
Alexander Hamilton

General Thomas Sumter captures Orangeburg

General Thomas Sumter captures Orangeburg

 

On this day in history, May 11, 1781, General Thomas Sumter captures Orangeburg, South Carolina, as the American patriots sweep across South Carolina and Georgia in their efforts to recover the south. General Nathanael Greene took over the crumbling American defense of the south in December of 1780 after the British had successfully conquered most of Georgia and South Carolina and begun an invasion of North Carolina.

 

After Greene dragged British General Charles Cornwallis on long marches and into a costly battle at Guilford, North Carolina, Cornwallis was forced to retreat to the coast for supplies and regrouping. Greene turned his efforts south to recapture South Carolina and Georgia, whose major cities, such as Charleston, Savannah and Augusta were occupied, but whose interiors were guarded by a string of lightly guarded forts.

           

Greene broke his army into smaller groups under various commanders and sent them out across South Carolina to take as many of these outposts as they could. South Carolina Brigadier General Thomas Sumter had already proven a successful commander with victories at the Battle of Hanging Rock, the Battle of Fishdam Ford and the Battle of Blackstock’s Farm, where he was severely wounded. Sumter had been largely responsible for the resurrection of South Carolina’s partisan resistance after the fall of Charleston and the evacuation of the state’s government to North Carolina.

 

As the patriots began reclaiming the south, General Sumter and Lt. Col. Henry Lee laid siege to Fort Granby, near present day Columbia, South Carolina. Their force was too small to overtake the fort, so after several days they parted. Lee would come back to Fort Granby several days later and offer the British garrison safe passage back to Charleston if they would surrender, which they did.

 

Sumter, meanwhile, headed southeast for Orangeburg, an important supply post on the route from Charleston to the interior that would see numerous activities from both sides during the war. Sumter sent men ahead to begin a siege on the town, while he came behind, slowed down because he was carrying his single six-pounder cannon.

 

At this time, only a small contingent of 89 British soldiers and Loyalists were guarding Orangeburg. When the Americans arrived on the evening of May 10th, the British gathered as a group and holed up inside a brick house, refusing to surrender. Early the next morning, Sumter arrived with the cannon and began to bombard the house. After three holes were shot through the house, all 89 men surrendered without a fight. The following day, after gathering up plentiful supplies in the town, Sumter sent the prisoners to General Greene, but unfortunately local patriot militia killed some of them along the way.

 

The victory at Orangeburg was one of a string of victories that put nearly the entire states of South Carolina and Georgia back into American hands within only a few months, with the exception of Charleston and Savannah on the coast. General Greene’s reconquest of the south was nearly complete. Savannah and Charleston would finally be abandoned by the British in 1782 when the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, was imminent.

 

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

 

Jack Manning

President General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

www.sar.org

 

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual — or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”
Samuel Adams (1781)