CASIMIR 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.
The 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.
Franklin 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
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
CAPTAIN 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
With the 4th of July holiday fast approaching, here’s another seasonal post from Balladeer’s Blog. Since too many documentaries and books on the Revolutionary War focus on what seems like the same handful of battles I like focusing on a lot of the overlooked military clashes. This is another go-round.
NOVEMBER 19th, 1775 – Days earlier, British Loyalists in South Carolina seized large stores of gunpowder from the American Rebel forces. Starting a campaign to recover the gunpowder, roughly 560 men under Andrew Williamson established a fort at Savage’s Old Fields, near Ninety-Six, SC. The fort was surrounded by 1,900 British Loyalists under Patrick Cuningham and Joseph Robinson. A siege began.
NOVEMBER 21st, 1775 – After two days of fighting, the Loyalists agreed to withdraw from the area. The action of the 19th to 21st is known as the Siege of Savage’s Old Field or the First Siege of Ninety-Six.
DECEMBER 22nd, 1775 – A combined force of 1,300 South Carolina and North Carolina troops attacked over 500 British Loyalists at the Reedy River in the Battle of Great Cane Brake. The American Rebels won and, among other spoils, recovered the stolen gunpowder before the Loyalists could pass it along to Great Britain’s Cherokee allies. Continue reading
The 4th of July is fast approaching! Here’s another seasonal post from Balladeer’s Blog. This one examines the Revolutionary War career of Captain Jonathan Haraden.
“THE SALAMANDER” – Previously I covered Haraden’s career in the Massachusetts Navy as First Lieutenant and later Captain of the legendary commerce raider Tyrannicide. After two years on board that vessel, by the summer of 1778 Captain Haraden left the Massachusetts Navy to command the privateer ship the General Pickering. Haraden’s fame would fly even higher as he earned the nickname “The Salamander,” a play on words regarding his ability to withstand fire.
Jonathan captained his new craft on voyages which saw him serving as a virtual blockade runner and smuggler on his outgoing trips, transporting American goods for his syndicate to be sold in Europe. On the return trips the General Pickering would capture a prize or two for the usual division of shares that made privateering very, very lucrative.
Always a consummate swashbuckler, Haraden would sometimes capture a British prize even while transporting a cargo across the Atlantic. Off Sandy Hook, NJ on October 13th, 1779 the good captain added to his legend by taking on THREE British privateer vessels at once. The Brits outgunned the 16-cannon General Pickering by 14, 10 and 8 cannons but the Salamander coolly emerged triumphant and towed in all three defeated craft.
Near the West Indies Captain Haraden took on an armed Royal Mail ship bound for England. After a prolonged and vicious battle the General Pickering pulled back for repairs then resumed the chase. By this point Jonathan’s vessel had barely enough gunpowder left for one cannon shot but Haraden maneuvered alongside his prey and bluffed that he would unleash a broadside if the Brits did not surrender. The Royal Mail ship gave in. Continue reading
The big names among the signers of the Declaration of Independence get all the attention they need, so Balladeer’s Blog will be spreading the love to ALL the signers in this article.
NOTE FOR CERTAIN IMBECILES: THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION MENTIONED BELOW HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE MUCH LATER CONFEDERACY! THEY WERE SIGNED IN THE 1780s … IDIOTS.
1. Samuel Huntington – Served as president of the Continental Congress from 1779 to 1781. After the war served as Connecticut’s Chief Justice and then Governor.
###2. Roger Sherman – In addition to signing the Declaration he also signed the Articles of Association, the Articles of Confederation AND the U.S. Constitution. ###
3. William Williams – Used his own money to finance various Connecticut Militia units and allowed American and later French troops to quarter in his home.
### 4. Oliver Wolcott – Went on to serve as a Major General and led his forces against British Loyalists who were launching raids along the Connecticut Coastline. He also served in the Long Island and Saratoga campaigns.
1. Thomas McKean – Despite being from Delaware he led the military unit called the Pennsylvania Associators (talk about a name guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy) during Washington’s ultimately futile defense of New York City. When the British were moving through Delaware McKean had to move his family five times to keep them out of the Red Coats’ clutches. Continue reading
The Fourth of July is fast approaching! Balladeer’s Blog presents another seasonal post in honor of that upcoming holiday.
THE TYRANNICIDE – I can’t think of a better name for a ship serving as either a commerce raider or a privateer in the Revolutionary War. What makes the Tyrannicide one of my favorite plunder vessels of our rebellion against Great Britain is the name, its exploits and the fact that it was launched from Salisbury, MA on July 8th, making it about as close as you could get to America’s national birthday.
This ship, crewed by 75 men, was a 14-cannon sloop which preyed on British targets from July of 1776 until August 14th, 1779. After its launch from the Salisbury Naval Shipyard the Tyrannicide made Salem, MA its homeport.
The Tyrannicide wasted no time, battling the HMS Dispatch on July 12th. The Dispatch boasted 20 cannons but after an hour & a half battle fell to Tyrannicide under its first Captain, John Fisk. The raider towed this prize into Salem by July 17th and soon set out for more.
August of 1776 saw the ship working the waters off Cape Sable and Nantucket. During that time three more prizes fell to Tyrannicide – the Glasgow, the Saint John and the Three Brothers. Continue reading
Regular 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.
The 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
Another look at an individual state’s representatives who signed the Declaration of Independence:
PENNSYLVANIA – (Nine reps)
### 1. George Clymer – His home was ransacked by the British who destroyed all his furniture and stole all his booze. After the war Clymer’s business acumen saved the University of Pennsylvania from bankruptcy.
2. Benjamin Franklin – Just about everything is known about him so I’ll throw in two often-forgotten episodes – Continue reading
With the Fourth of July holiday fast approaching, Balladeer’s Blog makes with another often-overlooked item from our war of independence from Great Britain.
SECOND BATTLE OF MACHIAS – Previously I covered the First Battle of Machias from June of 1775. After that action Machias became a busy base for Privateering vessels. This second battle was fought August 13th-14th, 1777.
British Commodore George Collier learned of American Rebel plans to launch a second Siege of Fort Cumberland (Nova Scotia) after the first one – a nineteen-day stretch often called the Eddy Rebellion after Jonathan Eddy – had failed in November of 1776. To nip those plans in the bud, Commodore Collier launched an amphibious attack on Machias, ME, where supplies and troops for the new siege were supposedly gathering.
The supplies and men for a second siege of Fort Cumberland had not yet arrived in Machias, so the battle wound up instead being fought for possession of the town. Commodore Collier had five war vessels plus a force of 120-150 Royal Marines to throw at the seaside rebel village. The Americans, under Colonel Jonathan Eddy, fought back with an unknown total number of Militiamen as well as fifty or more Native Americans from the Maliseet, Penobscot and Passamaquody Tribes. Continue reading
With the Fourth of July Holiday coming up Balladeer’s Blog will be making some seasonal posts, like this one, covering often-overlooked elements of America’s war for independence from Great Britain.
FIRST BATTLE OF MACHIAS – This battle took place June 11th and 12th of 1775, less than two full months after the Battles of Lexington & Concord kicked off our Revolutionary War. At this point in the 1700s Maine was still technically a Department of Massachusetts, which is why Maine is not listed as one of the original 13 colonies despite all the action that took place there.
With British forces under siege in Boston, Loyalist sellout Ichabod Jones contracted with the Brits to supply their troops there. A few of Jones’ ships plus the British war sloop Margaretta arrived in Machias, ME on June 2nd.
Initially the townspeople of Machias voted against doing business with Ichabod Jones since he intended to provide supplies for Redcoats in Boston. The Margaretta, commanded by James Moore, pulled to within bombardment distance of Machias, frightening just enough citizens to change their votes in favor of trade with Jones and his merchant ships.
Colonel Benjamin Foster, leader of the local Rebel Militia, gathered his men to fight back. Continue reading