Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Next Meeting: September 20, 2017

"Alexander Hamilton: New York's Young Revolutionary," Randy Flood

Meetings are held in the Westhampton Room, Heilman Dining Center (dining hall--building 34 on the campus map), University of Richmond, at 6:30 p.m. with dinner available for purchase beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Please note that the University of Richmond is back in regular session so we are back to our regular meeting and dinner times. Please plan on joining us!

University of Richmond campus map:

Meeting Notes: July 19, 2017

"Lord Dunmore's War: The Last Conflict in America's Colonial Era," Glenn Williams

Approximately six months before the Massachusetts Minutemen fought the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Virginia militia units fought a Shawnee-led Indian Confederacy in what is known today as Dunmore’s War.

The war, which was fought primarily in modern-day West Virginia, was named for Virginia’s royal governor John Murray, fourth Earl of Dunmore. A former lieutenant in the British army, Dunmore personally commanded the military operation to end the Shawnees’ brutal frontier raids against Virginia settlers which had steadily increased over approximately 12 months.

“At this point Dunmore is kind of a friend to America,” said historian and author Glenn F. Williams at the July 19, 2017 meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond. “He had a liking for Americans, and when he served in Parliament, he seconded the motion to repeal the Townshend Acts. He didn’t become a villain until 1775 when he attempted to maintain royal authority against the independence-minded Virginians.”

Williams is the author of the recently published book entitled Dunmore’s War: The Last Conflict of America’s Colonial Era.

Tensions between Virginians and various Indian tribes over this geographic area erupted during the French and Indian War. Virginia’s frontiersmen fought the French and their Indian allies with little help from British regulars.

Shortly after Great Britain and its colonies won the war, the British government issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763. This proclamation attempted to prohibit colonial settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains, and reserve this land for the Indians. The proclamation was extremely unpopular with most frontiersmen who had fought for this land during the recent war, and in some cases had already established their homes in this region.

Between 1768-1772 four new treaties were negotiated with Indian tribes to expand colonial land west of the mountains into parts of modern-day West Virginia and Kentucky. However not all of the Indian tribes, especially the Shawnees, agreed to the land sale. The Shawnees regarded much of this land as their hunting grounds, and viewed colonial settlements as encroachments on their land.

“The settlers and the Indians had two very different views on land use and land concepts,” said Williams. “This resulted in violence and counter-violence between the two sides. Both were guilty of committing torture, murder and other atrocities.”

By the Summer of 1774 the increasing number of Indian raids drove many Virginia settlers into forts constructed along the frontier. Deciding that Virginia needed to switch from a defensive strategy of protecting settlers to an offensive one of attacking the Shawnee villages, Lord Dunmore called out militia units from Virginia’s western counties.

Dunmore opted to organize the militia units into two wings. He placed his southern wing under the command of Colonel Andrew Lewis. The northern wing, which Dunmore personally accompanied, was placed under the command of Colonel Adam Stephen.

“Technically Stephen was in command of the northern division but Dunmore was actually in charge,” said Williams. “This arrangement was similar to the one during the Civil War when U.S. Grant accompanied the Army of the Potomac, which was technically under the command of George Meade.”

Lewis chose a site along the Greenbrier River, eight miles from White Sulphur Springs, as the staging area for his militia units. He named his division’s campsite Camp Union. Dunmore and Stephen selected Winchester as the staging area for the northern division. Both wings would march toward the Ohio River, cross it and march into Indian territory where the militia would either destroy the Shawnee villages or force them to seek a peace treaty.

Dunmore and Stephen marched the northern division to Pittsburgh, Wheeling and down the Ohio River where they crossed it and built a fortification which they called Fort Gower. Lewis marched the southern division down the Kanawha River to where it empties into the Ohio River at Point Pleasant. The two wings of the army were approximately 70 miles apart and located on opposite sides of the Ohio River.

Meanwhile the Shawnee chief named Cornstalk learned about the two approaching wings of Virginia militia, and decided to attack the 1,100-man southern division under Lewis before it could unite with the 1,300 troops under Dunmore and Stephen. Cornstalk secretly crossed the Ohio River with 800-1,000 braves near Lewis’ campsite at Point Pleasant.

Early on the morning of October 10, 1774 when four Virginia soldiers went hunting, they stumbled upon a huge number of Indians. After briefly exchanging gunfire, three of the four were able to run back to Lewis’ camp and warn officers about the close proximity of numerous Indians.

Lewis elected to send two detachments with 150 men apiece to conduct a reconnaissance-in-force. Commanding the two detachments were Colonel William Fleming and Colonel Charles Lewis, Andrew’s brother. The two forces made contact with the Indians, who launched an aggressive attack with their much larger army against the 300 Virginians. Fleming was wounded, Charles Lewis was killed and both reconnaissance-in-force columns were forced to retreat before they would get overwhelmed.

Andrew Lewis sent reinforcements from his Point Pleasant camp to establish a defensive line. The Virginians were successful, and by late afternoon they had repelled several Indian attacks. Shortly before dark the Virginians launched a counterattack which drove the Indians back to where they were able to form a good defensive position. Darkness ended the battle. The Indians re-crossed the Ohio River during the overnight hours with their dead and wounded braves.

Meanwhile Dunmore and Stephen marched the northern division toward the Shawnee villages that were located in modern-day Ohio. Cornstalk’s battle-weary army was in no position to stop them. When Dunmore’s forces reached the Scioto River, they halted and constructed a fort which they called Camp Charlotte. Located just across the Scioto River from this new fort were the Shawnee Indian villages.

Rather than fight for their villages or retreat from them, the Shawnees capitulated. Instead of burning the Shawnee villages and/or slaughtering the tribe, Dunmore gave the Shawnees a very lenient peace treaty. 

The Treaty of Camp Charlotte called for the Shawnees to turn over all white prisoners from not only the recent conflict, but from all previous ones dating back to the French and Indian War. The Shawnees were also forced to recognize the Ohio River as the boundary between Indian land and Virginia settlers, and were prohibited from hunting on the Virginia side of the Ohio River. They were also prohibited from interfering with any Virginia boats and trade along the river.

To guarantee that the Shawnees would keep the treaty, Dunmore required the Shawnees to provide a certain number of “hostages” (who were chiefs or sons of chiefs) to live in Williamsburg until such time that the Virginians were convinced of Shawnee intentions to comply with the treaty.

When Dunmore returned to Williamsburg after this military campaign, he received a hero’s welcome. Suddenly he was one of the most popular men throughout Virginia.

However Dunmore’s popularity wore off in less than 12 months. While he and the militia were fighting the Shawnees, the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and planted some of the first seeds toward American revolution and independence. Shortly after shots rang out at Lexington and Concord, Dunmore emptied the Williamsburg public magazine of all its gunpowder. This decision outraged the public and forced Dunmore to flee Williamsburg on June 8, 1775 for the safety of a British naval vessel.

Glenn F. Williams is a historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. He has served as the historian of the National Museum of the U.S. Army Project, the Army Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration and the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program.

Williams also serves as the president of the American Revolution Round Table of the District of Columbia. He is the author of several American history books and articles, including the award-winning Year of the Hangman: George Washington’s Campaign against the Iroquois.

Prior to the speaker’s presentation the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond discussed the following topics:

1. President Bill Welsch asked the audience for any additional nominations regarding this year’s Preservation Partner. When no new nominations were made, President Welsch closed the nominations and said he will soon send online ballots to all dues-paying members to vote for one of the four earlier nominees.

2. Several brief announcements were made by President Welsch and members of the audience.

--Bill Seward

2018 Meeting Dates

For those of you who like to plan ahead, the dates of our 2018 meetings are listed under the "Meetings" tab above. Speakers and their topics will be added later this year.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Next Meeting: July 19, 2017

"Lord Dunmore's War: The Last Conflict in America's Colonial Era," Glenn Williams

Meetings are held in the Westhampton Room, Heilman Dining Center (dining hall--building 34 on the campus map), University of Richmond, at 6:00 p.m. with dinner available for purchase beginning at 5:00 p.m.

Due to the University of Richmond being out of regular session, we will revert to our summer schedule: The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. with dinner still available for purchase in the Dining Center beginning at 5:00 p.m. Please plan on joining us!

University of Richmond campus map:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Meeting Notes: May 17, 2017

"General Howe and Mrs. Loring: The Myth vs. Reality Behind An Infamous Revolutionary War Affair," Sean Heuvel

Immortalized by a clever poem that portrayed her as Sir William Howe’s Philadelphia mistress, the real Elizabeth Loring lived a far less glamorous life than that of the “blond bombshell” as she is often depicted.

“The poem was probably propaganda and its source is highly suspect,” said historian Sean Heuvel at the May 17, 2017 meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond. “During the Winter of 1777-1778 she was in Philadelphia with Howe and something probably happened, but the story was much more complicated.”

The poem, called The Battle of the Kegs, was written by Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It goes as follows:

Sir William he,
snug as a flea,
Lay all this time a snoring,
Nor dreamed of harm
as he lay warm,
In bed with Mrs. Loring.

Another critic of Elizabeth Loring’s was a loyalist judge named Thomas Jones who wrote approximately 10 years after the American Revolution about how the alleged affair between Howe and Mrs. Loring had cost Great Britain the war. He portrayed Mrs. Loring as a Cleopatra figure and wrote, “As Cleopatra of old lost Mark Antony the world, so did this illustrious courtesan lose Sir William Howe the honour, the laurels, and the glory, of putting an end to one of the most obstinate rebellions that ever existed.”

Heuvel questions Jones’ accusations.

“As a loyalist who was on the losing side of the American Revolution, he was venting lots of frustration,”said Heuvel. “It’s also believed that he loved to drink and to gamble. There aren’t enough primary sources for historians to tell what really happened between Howe and Mrs. Loring but the loyalist judge’s accusations are probably myths.”  

What do today’s historians know about Elizabeth Loring? According to Heuvel, she lived a very difficult life.

Elizabeth Lloyd Loring was from Long Island, NY and married Joshua Loring, Jr. who was from Jamaica Plain (modern-day Roxbury, MA). His father served as an admiral in the British navy during the French and Indian War, and got wounded on Lake Ontario.

Joshua Loring, Jr. served in the British army as a lieutenant on the staff of Colonel William Howe in Savannah, GA. Loring left the British army in 1769 for health reasons after getting sick from tropical diseases.

When the American Revolution began, the Loring Family remained loyal to the British Crown. During the Siege of Boston when the Americans captured Jamaica Plain, the Lorings fled to nearby Boston. In fact the Lorings had to flee without their twin children who were left with a nurse.

Wearing a disguise, Elizabeth Loring went back through enemy lines to see her children. One of her twins had died but the other one was later reunited with his parents in Boston per an agreement approved by Thomas Gage and George Washington. 

During the Lorings’ stay in Boston, Sir William Howe recognized his former staff officer and met Elizabeth Loring for the first time. After Howe’s army left Boston and captured New York City, Howe put Joshua Loring, Jr. in charge of local prisons and prison ships moored in New York Harbor.

“There are two versions as to how Loring treated American POWs,” said Heuvel. “One story is how Loring was very cruel and stole from the prisoners. The other version says that he did the best he could under the circumstances.”

In 1777 when Howe launched his controversial Philadelphia Campaign, Mrs. Loring left her husband in New York City and sailed with Howe and his troops. Historians do not know the details as to why Mrs. Loring left New York City and her husband to sail with Howe’s troops, but Heuvel believes she was attracted to the power and security which Howe could provide.

Following a series of battles near Philadelphia, the American army abandoned the city and then the British army occupied it through the Winter of 1777-78. It was during this time period when Francis Hopkinson wrote what would become his famous poem about Howe and Mrs. Loring.

During the Spring of 1778, Sir Henry Clinton replaced Howe as the British commander in Philadelphia and marched his army back to New York City. Howe returned to Great Britain and Mrs. Loring returned to New York City.

When the war ended, Great Britain became the Lorings’ new home. They, like many other loyalists, were not widely accepted by the British natives.

In 1789 Joshua Loring, Jr. died at the age of 44 after several years of declining health. He left Elizabeth with four children and virtually no money. She applied for a pension because her husband had served in the British army, and received one.

Her oldest surviving son, John Wentworth Loring, joined the British navy in order to support his mother and siblings. He worked his way up the ranks and became a ship captain who earned a large amount of prize money by capturing enemy vessels. 

“John Wentworth Loring won all sorts of British honors so apparently the British Crown didn’t seem upset with his mother and her rumored affair with Howe,” said Heuvel. “John Wentworth’s siblings also did very well.”

As for Elizabeth Loring’s life in Great Britain, not much is known about her. Today’s historians have only two letters written by her---one from when she was a child and the other which she wrote to her adult children.

“In the letter to her children she worried about keeping up with the Jones,” said Heuvel.

Sean Heuvel is an assistant professor in the Department of Leadership and American Studies at Christopher Newport University. He served as the founding president of the American Revolution Round Table of Williamsburg/Yorktown.

His interests include the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, military leadership and higher education history. He is the author or co-author of the following books:

1.The Revolutionary War Memoirs of Major General William Heath

2. Life After J.E.B. Stuart: The Memoirs of His Granddaughter, Marrow Stuart Smith

3. Remembering Virginia’s Confederates (Images of America)

4. The College of William and Mary in the Civil War

5. Christopher Newport University (Campus History)

Prior to the speaker’s presentation the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond discussed the nominations which members submitted to President Bill Welsch regarding this year’s ARRT-Richmond Preservation Partner. Four non-profit organizations were nominated. President Welsch said that each dues-paying member of ARRT-Richmond will get the opportunity sometime in July to vote online for one of the four nominees.

--Bill Seward

Saturday, May 6, 2017

2017 Harry M. Ward Book Prize Nominees

Robert F. Smith, Manufacturing Independence: Industrial Innovation and the American Revolution (Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing, 2016).

Caroline Cox, Boy Soldiers of the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

Stephen Howard Browne, The Ides of War: George Washington and the Newburgh Crisis (Columbia, SC: University of South Caroline Press, 2016).

Nathaniel Philbrick, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (New York: Viking, 2016).

Larrie D. Ferreiro, Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It (New York: Knopf, 2016).

Derek W. Beck, Igniting the American Revolution: The War before Independence, 1775-1776 (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2016).

Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016).

Donald J. Gara, The Queen’s American Rangers (Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing, 2015).