Category Archives: Revolutionary War

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY 2022

American flagBalladeer’s Blog wishes a happy birthday to the USA! What happened in early July of 1776 certainly needs no rehashing so in keeping with my blog’s theme of addressing more out of the way subjects this post will examine various events that took place on other July 4ths throughout American history.

JULY 4TH, 1778 – George Rogers Clark led his rebel forces in taking the British stronghold of Kaskaskia, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Kaskaskia Rivers. Clark and his Rangers were on a mission for then-Virginia Governor Patrick Henry.

JULY 4TH, 1783 – The Massachusetts Supreme Court is finalizing its written decision holding that slavery has been illegal in the state since adoption of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights in 1780. Continue reading

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CASIMIR PULASKI: REVOLUTIONARY WAR HERO

pulaski picCASIMIR PULASKI (1747-1779) -Obviously from my last name I’m Polish-American and therefore grew up immersed in the role played by Casimir Pulaski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko in America’s War of Independence. I’m often surprised by how comparatively unknown they are to the public at large, so in keeping with Balladeer’s Blog’s theme here’s a look at Pulaski. I’ll cover Kosciuszko separately.

Casimir Pulaski began fighting against tyranny when he was 21 years old. In 1768 he served in the Bar Uprising against Russian domination of Poland. The uprising was facing overwhelming odds and was deemed hopeless, but it became a minor cause celebre around the western world as the fierce insurgents kept the war going through four long years.

statue of pulaskiThe war never became as romanticized as the later Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Turks, but the conflict drew attention to Russian totalitarianism and to the abilities of Polish officers like Casimir Pulaski. In fact, it took an invasion by Russian-allied Austria and Prussia to help Russia put down the rebellion in 1772.

Pulaski and other Polish soldiers from the Bar Uprising flirted with an alliance with Turkey against the Russians but when the Ottomans made peace with Russia in 1774 that possibility was eliminated. By December of 1776 Casimir was living in Paris where, the following spring, he was introduced to Benjamin Franklin, one of the American Commissioners in France.

pulaski statueFranklin was impressed with what he could learn about Pulaski and sent him on to America with a letter of introduction to George Washington. Franklin described the Pole as “an officer famous throughout Europe for his bravery and conduct in defence of the liberties of his country against the three great invading powers of Russia, Austria and Prussia … may be highly useful to our service.”

Casimir told Washington “I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it.” During the summer of 1777 the 30-year-old Pole was made Chief of Cavalry by Congress. Continue reading

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LUKE RYAN: PRIVATEER OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR

Luke RyanThe 4th of July is fast approaching, so Balladeer’s Blog will be squeezing in a few more holiday-themed posts up til then. In the past I’ve examined Revolutionary War privateers like John Haraden and Silas Talbot. This time around I’ll take a look at the controversial Luke Ryan.

Ryan was born in 1750 in Rush, Ireland and by the late 1770s he was an established smuggler. Captaining his ship the Friendship, Luke got commissioned in February of 1778 as a privateer for the British but would later switch to the American side.

The Friendship, with its 14 cannon and 60-man crew, sailed as a privateer vessel for King George III until April of 1779. Captain Ryan couldn’t resist pulling a side hustle against his ostensible employer England by smuggling some goods from Dunkirk, France to Rush, Ireland.

ryan's shipSome of Ryan’s crew didn’t like the way the spoils were divided from this extracurricular activity and informed the authorities about Luke’s smuggling offense. The Friendship was seized and hauled to Poolbeg and all crew members on board were arrested, then thrown into Black Dog Gaol. This happened on the night of April 11th into 12th. 

Luke was not among those men on board at the time, so he organized a raid to bust his men free from Black Dog. The raid succeeded, following which the freed men and their liberators went to Poolbeg where they stole aboard the impounded Friendship and overpowered the guards.

The recovered vessel sailed to Rush before daybreak and with 18 additional men signing on, it was on to Dunkirk. Captain Ryan and his crew had committed a hanging offense by taking back the Friendship, so they decided to switch sides and become privateers for England’s enemies. Continue reading

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SILAS TALBOT: REVOLUTIONARY WAR HERO

Balladeer’s Blog’s 2017 post about Revolutionary War Privateer Captain Jonathan Haraden has proven to be a very popular item. Here’s another neglected American Privateer cut from the same cloth. And for the Haraden post click HERE

Silas TalbotCAPTAIN SILAS TALBOT – Even if he had never gone on to a career in Privateering, Talbot would still have been a fascinating figure from Revolutionary War history. On June 28th, 1775 Silas was commissioned as a Captain in a Rhode Island regiment and served in the military operations which ended with the British surrender of Boston in March of 1776.

During the New York campaign Talbot and a picked crew sailed a Fire Ship into the 64-gun British ship Asia. Under heavy fire from the Asia and with his own craft already burning, Silas was the last man overboard, suffering severe burns which left him temporarily blinded. Talbot was promoted to Major upon recovering and rejoining his unit. Continue reading

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REVOLUTIONARY WAR BATTLES BEFORE JULY 4th 1776

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.   Continue reading

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HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY 2021

American flagBalladeer’s Blog wishes a happy birthday to the USA! What happened in early July of 1776 certainly needs no rehashing so in keeping with my blog’s theme of addressing more out of the way subjects this post will examine various events that took place on other July 4ths throughout American history.

JULY 4TH, 1778 – George Rogers Clark led his rebel forces in taking the British stronghold of Kaskaskia, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Kaskaskia Rivers. Clark and his Rangers were on a mission for then-Virginia Governor Patrick Henry.

JULY 4TH, 1783 – The Massachusetts Supreme Court is finalizing its written decision holding that slavery has been illegal in the state since adoption of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights in 1780. Continue reading

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1776: FOURTH OF JULY MUSICAL

1776-musical-movieIt may be my fondness for mythology that makes me love to watch particular movies around particular holidays.  I say that because many of the well- known myths were recited on ancient holidays when their subject matter was relevant to those holidays. The stories helped accentuate the meaning of the special events and that’s the way I use various movies.

At Christmas I watch countless variations of A Christmas Carol, around Labor Day I watch Matewan and Eight Men Out, at Halloween, naturally, horror films like the original  Nightmare On Elm Street, Thanksgiving Eve I do Oliver! and for Frontierado (which is just a month away now) I do Silverado.

Since the actual 4th of July is loaded with activity I always show 1776 on the night before. It’s a great way to get in the mood for Independence Day. It’s a musical but with brilliant dialogue portions and the story involves the political maneuvering  surrounding the Original Thirteen Colonies at last announcing their independence from Great Britain, more than a year after  the shots fired at Lexington and Concord started the war.

The story is excellently conveyed and is moving, comical, invigorating and poignant all at once. As long as you know which parts of the tale are depicted accurately and which are complete b.s. it’s a terrific way to spend each 3rd of July evening. Continue reading

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HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY 2019

American flagBalladeer’s Blog wishes a happy birthday to the USA! What happened in early July of 1776 certainly needs no rehashing so in keeping with my blog’s theme of addressing more out of the way subjects this post will examine various events that took place on other July 4ths throughout American history.

JULY 4TH, 1778 – George Rogers Clark led his rebel forces in taking the British stronghold of Kaskaskia, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Kaskaskia Rivers. Clark and his Rangers were on a mission for then-Virginia Governor Patrick Henry.

JULY 4TH, 1783 – The Massachusetts Supreme Court is finalizing its written decision holding that slavery has been illegal in the state since adoption of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights in 1780. Continue reading

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1776: FOURTH OF JULY MUSICAL

1776-musical-movieIt may be my fondness for mythology that makes me love to watch particular movies around particular holidays.  I say that because many of the well- known myths were recited on ancient holidays when their subject matter was relevant to those holidays. The stories helped accentuate the meaning of the special events and that’s the way I use various movies.

At Christmas I watch countless variations of A Christmas Carol, around Labor Day I watch Matewan and Eight Men Out, at Halloween, naturally, horror films like the original Nightmare On Elm Street, Thanksgiving Eve I do Oliver! and for Frontierado (which is just a month away now) I do Silverado.

Since the actual 4th of July is loaded with activity I always show 1776 on the night before. It’s a great way to get in the mood for Independence Day. It’s a musical but with brilliant dialogue portions and the story involves the political maneuvering  surrounding the Original Thirteen Colonies at last announcing their independence from Great Britain, more than a year after  the shots fired at Lexington and Concord started the war.

The story is excellently conveyed and is moving, comical, invigorating and poignant all at once. As long as you know which parts of the tale are depicted accurately and which are complete b.s. it’s a terrific way to spend each 3rd of July evening. Continue reading

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AMERICA (1924): A SILENT FILM FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY

America 1924Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my fondness for old Silent Movies. America was D.W. Griffith’s 1924 production about the Revolutionary War. The movie is pleasant enough for the July 4th holiday season, but don’t expect a classic like The Phantom of the Opera, The Mark of Zorro or many other masterpieces of the silent era.

Batman fans may enjoy the fact that a very young Neil Hamilton – Commissioner Gordon on the much later Adam West Batman show – starred in America as Nathan Holden, a rebel Minute Man in Massachusetts. Nathan is part of a Romeo and Juliet-styled romance and is in love with Nancy Montague (Carol Dempster), who belongs to a Tory family still loyal to England.

America 1924 2The Holdens can’t stand the snobbish Montagues and the Montagues pompously look down on the Holdens and the rest of the rebels. Nancy’s father would rather see Nancy married off to the prominent British military officer Captain Walter Butler, played with aristocratic and sadistic flair by THE Lionel Barrymore.

The star-crossed lovers Nathan and Nancy struggle to keep their romance alive against the backdrop of historical events like the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Ride, the Battle of Bunker Hill and many others.Various actors portray figures like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, William Pitt, King George III, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and, of course, George Washington. Continue reading

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