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
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 Eight Men Out, at Halloween The Evil Dead and 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. 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