President’s Day is coming up in 11 days so here’s yet another seasonal post. It’s one of my random takes on one of our Presidents. Or in this case just one aspect of one of our Presidents. More will be coming, some positive and some negative, including my close personal friend Barack Obama.
GEORGE WASHINGTON – My other posts about Washington have bashed him over the slavery issue, but this particular blog post is on a whole different topic. (Point being don’t leave a juvenile, snarky remark about him being a slave-owner. Everybody knows that. You won’t be retroactively freeing a single slave by indulging your ego that way.)
THE INDISPENSABLE MAN – George Washington is often called the Indispensable Man to the success of the American Revolution. I’m generally not a Washington fan but I’ve yielded on this point over the years. Here are three reasons why:
A. Odd as it may sound, reading several books about the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Turks helped convince me of Washington’s value. His name is never mentioned in any of my books about that war but there are parallels to our Revolution.
Scattered Greek guerrilla/ outlaw chiefs often let their petty feuds distract from fighting the common enemy: the Turks. Some chiefs would even refuse to let their men fight anywhere else in Greece, just in their own little fiefdom. Shades of how our various State Militias endlessly squabbled and would often refuse to cross state lines to continue fighting. Continue reading
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.” Continue reading
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY! As another seasonal post Balladeer’s Blog 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. Continue reading
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 4th’s 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.
JULY 4TH, 1788 – 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
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
Yes, the Independence Day Holiday is fast approaching! Like other holiday seasons Balladeer’s Blog mixes new posts in with the seasonal favorites of you readers. To start this year’s countdown here are the most popular items from years past:
REVOLUTIONARY WAR BATTLES BEFORE JULY 4th
QUICK FACTS ON ALL THE SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION
NAVAL BATTLES OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR
NAVAL BATTLES OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR PART TWO