Balladeer’s Blog as usual will be marking the USA’s upcoming birthday with a series of holiday-themed posts. Since we get overexposed to the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and the actual signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 I will instead stay true to my blog’s theme and focus on the action in between April 19th, 1775 and early July 1776.
May 10th, 1775 – The British Fort Ticonderoga in New York is seized in what would today be called a Special Forces raid by Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, who beat other American forces to the valuable military prize. Allen and his men had the advantage of being an organized body under arms for quite a long time because they were originally formed to fight for the independence of what is now the state of Vermont (“Green Mountain”).
They had been an active guerilla force fighting for Vermont’s right to be an independent entity rather than part of the Hampshire Grants being fought over by New York and New Hampshire. Their secret headquarters was the Catamount Tavern which is why the University of Vermont’s sports teams are called the Catamounts.
May 12th, 1775 - Crown Point, NY is taken by American forces in another early but forgotten action.
May 16th – Benedict Arnold’s ultimately ill-fated invasion of Canada sees its first action as his forces besiege St John. Among Arnold’s troops are Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys and Daniel Morgan’s Kentucky Rifles, a unit that will see impressive action throughout the entire war, from Canada to the Deep South.
June 15th – The Continental Congress unanimously elects George Washington to be the Commander In Chief of the American forces. John Adams ingeniously nominated Washington in order to keep the southern states feeling a part of the conflict which was thus far limited to the north. Washington declines a salary and chooses to bill Congress for his expenses instead. Congress agreed and Washington, no doubt thinking “Suck-ERRSSSSS” to himself, headed off for Boston.
June 16th – 17th – The Battle of Bunker Hill takes place, dispelling British illusions that “the American rabble” would never be able to go toe to toe with British regulars in a formal action as opposed to a guerilla action. Citizens of Massachusetts are able to watch the battle from their homes, among them future First Lady Abigail Adams and her son, John Quincy Adams, like his father a future president.
July 25th – The Continental Congress votes to provide for army hospitals. They decide providing some food and pay might be a good idea, too. (I’m kidding! About the food and pay part.)
August 1775 (exact date disputed) – Carolina privateers seize the British ship The Betsy. Among the booty taken are 111 barrels of gunpowder for the Rebel cause.
September 1775 (throughout the month) American General Richard Montgomery and his troops travel to Eastern Canada to cut off British supplies from the Atlantic coast. Meanwhile Benedict Arnold begins his campaign to take Quebec.
September 17th - American privateers seize another British ship, this one off Tybee Island, GA. Among the booty is an even more impressive 250 barrels of gunpowder for the Continental Army.
October 7th and 18th – British forces launch a naval bombardment of Bristol, RI on the 7th. On the 18th they raid and burn Falmouth, ME.
October 25th – British warships are repulsed and prevented from landing at Hampton, VA.
November 2nd – St John, Canada, besieged since May, at last surrenders to the American forces.
November 12th – A naval battle takes place between the American schooner Defence and the British ships Tamar and Cherokee in Hog Island Channel, SC. The American craft was sinking hulks to help block British entry to the harbor. During a three-hour exchange of fire the Defence managed to sink three hulks but was driven away, allowing the Brits to tow away one of them.
November 13th – The American army under General Montgomery captures and holds Montreal, Canada.
November 27th – John Manley, commanding the American ship the Lee, seizes the HMS Nancy, a British ordinance brig, and with it booty including 2,000 muskets, 100,000 flints, 30,000 round shot, 30 tons of musket shot and a brass mortar.
December 9th - The Battle of Great Bridge, VA takes place. Lord Dunmore’s forces were burning and pillaging their way through Virginia, but were blocked from crossing the Elizabeth River by American forces at Great Bridge and turned back. Virginia rebel leader Colonel William Woodford was the victor.
December 13th – The Continental Congress appoints Esek Hopkins, the brother of the Congress’ own Stephen “Old Grape and Guts” Hopkins from Rhode Island, as the Commander of the American Navy, which as of this date consisted of 2 warships with 13 more being built.
December 14th – At Haddrell’s Point in Charleston Harbor an artillery company under Colonel (later General) William Moultrie drives off British warships.
December 31st – The combined forces of Arnold and Montgomery abandon Arnold’s siege efforts and launch an all-out assault on Quebec, but are repulsed with heavy losses, among them General Montgomery. Now in sole command of the Quebec contingent Arnold settles back into a siege.
January 1st, 1776 – New Year’s Day 1776 is rung in by British troops burning down part of Norfolk, VA.
January 9th – Thomas Paine’s seminal pamphlet Common Sense is published and proves a sensation throughout the colonies, converting literally tens of thousands of undecided Americans to the cause of independence.
January 24th – After countless setbacks in an epic expedition from Fort Ticonderoga to Cambridge, MA, Colonel Henry Knox at last arrives with 43 cannon and 16 mortars removed from the fort to be used to drive the British out of Boston.
February 27th – At Moore’s Creek, NC, the North Carolina Militia rout British Loyalists in the most one-sided American victory in the South thus far in the war.
March 4th-5th – General John Thomas seizes Dorchester Heights. The Heights overlook Boston Harbor and provide Knox’s newly arrived artillery with an excellent site from which they could fatally bombard the British land troops and warships below.
March 7th – The British surrender Boston to the American forces and over the next ten days evacuate themselves and all British Loyalist civilians from the area. The evacuation is very tense with tempers on both sides running high, leading to several ugly incidents.
April 12th – North Carolina empowers its delegates at the Continental Congress to vote for independence at their discretion.
April 17th – John Barry, commanding the American ship Lexington, battled the HMS Edward off the coast of Virginia. After a long exchange of cannonfire and considerable maneuvering the Edward was forced to surrender to the Americans.
May 1st – The American forces besieging Quebec at last abandon the effort and begin a two-month-long retreat back into what is now the United States. Benedict Arnold stops at Lake Champlain with his troops and begins forming a makeshift navy to face the inevitable British invasion from Canada.
May 9th – 18th – Admiral Esek Hopkins, commanding the First Naval Squadron of the United Colonies, captures and holds Nassau in Britain’s Bahama Islands. He then uses it as a base to raid British naval installations in the islands over the next nine days, seizing large stores of military supplies for the Continental Army. One of Hopkins’ junior officers was John Paul Jones, who later became famous as a member of Led Zeppelin. I’m kidding! Jones would eventually have ships under his own command and would become the most famous American naval hero of the war.
June 2nd – General John Sullivan, in command of the remaining American troops in Canada attempts a counterattack to cut off the upcoming British invasion from the north. The Americans are defeated and begin their retreat across the St Lawrence River.
June 1st – 28th – British naval units make their move against harbor defenses off Charleston, SC. Fort Moultrie, named for the hero of the Battle of Haddrell’s Point, contains the British assault for weeks and eventually drives the British warships away, severely damaged. A factor in the fort withstanding the British bombardment was the fact that it was constructed of wood from palmetto trees, which are soft but moist. Cannonballs hit the fort and stayed imbedded in the wood rather than breaking it apart as would have happened with other types of wood. South Carolina would become known as the Palmetto State in recognition of the events at Fort Moultrie. An American soldier serving in the fort was a South Carolinian named Francis Marion, later famous as the Swamp Fox, one of the greatest guerilla leaders of the Revolutionary War.
FOR QUICK FACTS ON ALL 59 OF THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE CLICK HERE: http://glitternight.com/2012/07/03/sacred-honor-quick-facts-about-the-signers-of-the-declaration-of-independence/
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