Balladeer’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
It 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
The 4th of July is coming up soon so why not do another seasonal post? The format of my recent look at some overlooked American victories from the Revolutionary War was pretty popular with readers, so in that same format here’s a look at some victories AND defeats from 1778.
MAY 15th, 1778 – George Rogers Clark and his troops seize the British base at Cahokia on the Mississippi River near what is now East Saint Louis, IL. This officially kicks off Clark’s campaign to take control of America’s northwest frontier (of the time) away from the British. The campaign was begun at the behest of Virginia’s Governor Patrick Henry.
MAY 30th, 1778 – British-educated Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant leads a combined force of 300 Iroquois and British Loyalists against 60 militiamen and Continental Soldiers who were defending Cobleskill, NY. Brant’s army wins, resulting in the looting and burning of Cobleskill.
JULY 3rd, 1778 – At what became called the Wyoming Valley Massacre in Northern Pennsylvania, British Loyalist Colonel John Butler leads 574 combined British Loyalists and Mohawk Indians against 360 Americans under Colonel Zebulon Butler. The Americans lose and the British Loyalists allow the Mohawks to torture to death surviving Americans who could not avoid capture. Roughly 340 of the original 360 men were killed, either in battle or by slow torture.
JULY 4th, 1778 – George Rogers Clark and his American army attack and capture the British post at Kaskaskia, IL at the confluence of the Kaskaskia and Mississippi Rivers. 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
With the Fourth of July holiday rapidly approaching here is another seasonal post. Previously, Balladeer’s Blog has looked at the swashbuckling actions of some American privateers from the Revolutionary War. This time here’s a look at one of the most successful months for our privateers – September of 1778.
SEPTEMBER 1st-5th – The American privateer ship the Active seized multiple prizes and took aboard several British Prisoners of War. Unfortunately, the Captain of the Active had stretched his crew too thin. The captive Brits gleaned the vulnerable position of their captors and rose up to seize control of the ship and were determined to link up with the first British vessel they could find to help take in the seized U.S. ship and consummate their freedom.
SEPTEMBER 6th – The 10-cannon brig the Gerard, an American privateer, under Pennsylvania’s J. Josiah, came upon the seized Active and, after a long chase, compelled the ship to surrender. Captain Josiah and his men learned they had just saved the American privateer crew and had recaptured the British POWs. The Gerard escorted the Active back to its Philadelphia port in case the POWs grew frisky again.
SEPTEMBER 17th – The 18-cannon privateer ship Vengeance, under one Captain Newman of Massachusetts, chased the British packet ship Harriet (16 cannon) for at least 6 hours before engaging it in battle. The Americans won and the Harriet surrendered. Continue reading
HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM BALLADEER’S BLOG!
Two thousand fishermen from Cape Cod had gone off to enlist in the Continental Army, and in their absence the British had repeatedly landed raiding parties to harass the citizens.
Every man, woman and child on the Cape hated the soldiers and sailors of King George and would do anything to work them harm. When the Somerset was wrecked off Truro in 1778 the crew were helped ashore, but they were immediately marched to prison.
It was November – the night before Thanksgiving Day in fact – and ugly weather caused a British three-decker warship to yaw wildly and drift toward land with a broken tiller. No warning signal was raised on the bluffs; not a hand was stirred to rescue. The New Englanders who saw the accident watched with sullen satisfaction.
Ezekiel and Josiah Breeze – father and son – stood at the door of their cottage and watched the warship’s peril until three lights twinkling faintly through the gray of driving snow were all that showed where the enemy lay, straining at her cables and tossing on a wrathful sea.
They stood long in silence, but at last the boy Josiah said “I’m going to help the ship.”
“If you stir from here to help King George’s men, you’re no son of mine,” said Ezekiel. 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
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