Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

"Recovered Memories: Spain and the Support for the American Revolution" Exhibit: Through November 18, 2018

Thanks to our Carol Beam, also a DAR member, about "Recovered Memories: Spain and the Support for the American Revolution."  Details are here.  https://www.spainculture.us/city/washington-dc/recovered-memories-spain-and-the-support-for-the-american-revolution/ 

"Recovered Memories: Spain and the Support for the American Revolution" showcases this support from Spain for the American colonies prior to and during the Revolutionary War, and also highlights notable Spanish figures whose lives impacted the emerging new country. The exhibit takes the visitor on a chronological journey of Spanish-American relations beginning with Spain’s own Age of Enlightenment during the reign of Charles III, through the times of European and American revolutions, and ending with the technological advancements at the turn of the 20th century.

Organized by Iberdrola and SPAIN arts & culture, the temporary exhibition is on display through November 18, 2018, at the Embassy of Spain’s Cultural Office at 2801 16th Street NW. It features historical documents and works of art. Also on display are clothing of the period, musical instruments, maps of colonial America, and many other historical pieces.

Yorktown Events: October 19-21, 2018

The 237th anniversary of America’s decisive Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown will be marked on Yorktown Day, Friday, October 19, at Yorktown Battlefield, administered by Colonial National Historical Park, an annual event that will feature a patriotic Yorktown Day Parade and Commemorative Ceremony at the Monument to Victory and Alliance, also known as the Yorktown Victory Monument. 

The Yorktown Day events are a prelude to weekend programs on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, with artillery demonstrations, military music and hands-on interpretive programs at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open house tours at Yorktown Battlefield, and special events in Historic Yorktown. 

Yorktown Day marks the anniversary of the American-French victory in 1781 over the British. In 1781, following a nine-day bombardment, British forces in Yorktown under General Charles Cornwallis requested a cease-fire and then surrendered more than 8,000 soldiers and sailors to the combined American and French armies commanded by General George Washington. This was the last major military action of the American Revolution, effectively securing independence for the American colonies following a six-and-a-half-year military struggle.


YORKTOWN DAY – OCTOBER 19
Colonial National Historical Park Annual Commemorative Event

The modern-day observance of Yorktown Day traces its roots to 1922, when the Daughters of the American Revolution began an annual wreath-laying ceremony, which set the tradition upon which the current Yorktown Day is based. Today, Yorktown Day commemorative events are co-sponsored by the Yorktown Day Association, comprised of 13 civic, patriotic and government organizations, and the National Park Service, Colonial National Historical Park.

In addition to morning wreath-laying ceremonies, the official Yorktown Day Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. The route will follow Yorktown’s Main Street and pass in front of the Monument to Alliance and Victory, erected in 1881 to commemorate the military victory a century before. Included in the 35 parade units are representatives of all branches of the U.S. military, fifes and drums corps – including The U.S. Army Old Guard Fifes & Drums Corps – JROTC and NJROTC units, and patriotic organizations.

Patriotic exercises will commence at the Monument to Alliance and Victory at 11:15 a.m. with the annual parade of flags that includes the 3rd Infantry Color Guard and flags of the 13 Yorktown Day Association members. At the conclusion of the patriotic exercises, a wreath will be placed on the monument in memory of those who fought and died during the siege of Yorktown in 1781.  

The Old Guard Fifes & Drums Corps will perform at 1:00 p.m. at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center, and Revolutionary War guided tours by Living History Associates will be offered at 1:45 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

On October 19, admission to Yorktown Battlefield will be free as part of the Yorktown Day celebration. For more information, call (757) 898-2410 or visit www.nps.gov/colo.


AMERICAN REVOLUTION MUSEUM AT YORKTOWN TO OFFER OCTOBER 19 LECTURE, OCTOBER 20-21 WEEKEND REVOLUTIONARY WAR PROGRAMS, ARTILLERY DEMONSTRATIONS & SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will offer a public lecture at 3 p.m. Friday, October 19, by historian and author Ray Raphael. In “How to Listen and Win Wars,” Raphael will explore General George Washington’s willingness to consult colleagues on military decisions. A book signing will follow the lecture.

During its annual “Yorktown Victory Celebration” event on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will present a variety of hands-on experiences, artillery firings and military music. Stories of citizens and soldiers of the American Revolution unfold at the expansive history museum through an introductory film, exhibition galleries and outdoor re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm. Visitors can interact with Revolutionary War re-enactors, take part in interpretive demonstrations, and experience the “Siege of Yorktown” immersive theater.

Visitors can take in the ongoing “Blast from the Past: Artillery in the War of Independence” special exhibition that examines the American, French and British artillery used during the Siege of Yorktown. In conjunction with the weekend celebration, the William & Mary Symphony Orchestra will perform 12 musical compositions in salute to the military, culminating with Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” accompanied by the sounds of artillery. The symphony performance will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 21.

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. Special events are included with museum admission: $15.00 for adults, $7.50 for ages 6-12, and free for children under 6. Residents of York County, James City County and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William and Mary students, receive complimentary admission with proof of residency. “Yorktown Victory Celebration” activities are presented in part by the York County Arts Commission. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll free or (757) 253-4838, or visit www.historyisfun.org.


ANNIVERSARY WEEKEND PROGRAMS AT YORKTOWN BATTLEFIELDFEATURE TOURS AND OPEN HOUSES TO HISTORIC SITES

 The Colonial National Historical Park at Yorktown Battlefield, site of the climactic 1781 siege, will offer open houses of historic Yorktown homes on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, in commemoration of the defeat of Lord Cornwallis to the combined forces of Generals Washington and Rochambeau.

The Nelson House, home of Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, will be open 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The Moore House, where surrender negotiations took place, will be open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. 

Programs begin at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center, located at 1000 Colonial Parkway at the eastern end of the Colonial Parkway, 12 miles from Williamsburg. For more information, including times for programs and demonstrations, call (757) 898-2410 or visit www.nps.gov/colo.


VISITING HISTORIC YORKTOWN

 Visitors can ride the free Yorktown Trolley all weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with convenient drop-offs at several attractions throughout Yorktown, including the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Another stop on the route is The Gallery at York Hall which will be featuring the work of historian Chris Bonin the entire month of October. On October 19, from 12:30 to 3 p.m., Jenny L. Cote and Alan R. Hoffman will be doing book signings of “The Voice of Revolution & the Key” and “Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825.”

 Riverwalk Landing will be filled with exciting attractions and entertainment for this momentous local anniversary. Enjoy Yorktown’s waterfront farmers market Saturday, October 20, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Then, bundle up and set sail on the York River when you book a ticket on the Schooners Alliance or Serenity, which depart daily at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. from the Riverwalk Landing piers. Water Street Grille and Yorktown Pub will offer live music Friday and Saturday evenings, and Riverwalk Restaurant will serve its Sunday brunch buffet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn more about Yorktown’s special events at www.visityorktown.org or call (757) 890-3500.

ARRT-Richmond Preservation Efforts

Over the last eleven years, the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond has donated $2780.00 to a variety of historical causes. These include our yearly Preservation Partner, our annual Revolutionary War Trust membership and donations, and other worthy efforts. That’s $2780.00! This is certainly a record of which all members can be very proud. You’ve all shown your colors when it comes to saving revolutionary land, structures, and documents. Huzza to you all!  There will be more specific details at the November meeting.

2019 Meeting Dates Announced

For your planning pleasure, the dates of our 2019 meetings are listed under the Meetings tab above. Topics and speakers will be added once they are finalized.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Event: "Mid-Atlantic Campaigns, 1776-1778" Yorktown, VA, November 17-18, 2018

The American Revolution Consortium for Civic Education is presenting the above-titled symposium at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Click the link directly below to go to the brochure.

Next Meeting: November 14, 2018

"'To Bring the American Army under Strict Discipline': British Army Foraging Policy in the South," Greg Urwin

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 plan on joining us!

University of Richmond campus map:

http://www.richmond.edu/visit/maps/print/campus.pdf

Meeting Notes: September 19, 2018

"American Independence Beyond the Battlefield: Figures, Facts, and Realities of the American Revolution as Seen Through the Eyes of an Historical Novelist," Karen Chase

Although July 4 is today recognized as America’s Independence Day, the signers of the Declaration of Independence did not actually sign the document until August 2, 1776 or in some cases even later.

In her upcoming novel entitled Carrying Independence, author Karen A. Chase focuses on the seven signees who did not sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2 for various reasons. Chase discussed her upcoming novel at the September 19, 2018 meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond.

At the meeting Chase briefly outlined some of the reasons why signees waited after August 2. For example, Oliver Wolcott from Connecticut was too ill to sign on that date, and New Hampshire’s Matthew Thornton had not yet been voted into Congress.

“The Declaration of Independence was a contract that 56 men signed. In fact it was the biggest ‘Dear John’ or breakup letter ever written,” joked Chase.

Chase compared the Declaration of Independence to a teenage breakup, saying the preamble outlined the relationship between the 13 colonies and their mother country. Then the document listed the grievances in the “relationship”, and then there’s the “declaration of the relationship” being “totally over”. Finally, the representatives of the 13 colonies signed their “breakup letter” and sent it to the other party.

After Chase provided her light-hearted comparison of the Declaration of Independence to a teenage breakup, she described more serious events taking place around the same time period. For example, her upcoming novel describes in great detail the harsh reality of what life was like for American prisoners aboard British prison ships.

According to Chase, approximately 4,500 American soldiers died on battlefields whereas 11,000 American troops died on prison ships. Of the 2,837 Americans who surrendered at Fort Washington, NY only 800 of them were still alive 18 months later.

“The British often treated American prisoners as treasonous subjects and not as POWs,” said Chase. “It’s hard for me as a novelist to describe the deaths of 1,100 prisoners, however by using a character I can help readers to feel what life was like on a prison ship.”

Chase’s novel is nearly complete and has already received a second place award out of 502 entries in the 2017 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for unpublished novels.

In addition to her upcoming novel, Chase is also the author of the book entitled Bonjour 40: A Paris travel log (40 years. 40 days. 40 seconds.). She is a contributing writer in both non-fiction and historical fiction for national and local publications which include the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Chase is a member of both the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond and James River Writers. 

Prior to the speaker’s presentation President Bill Welsch and others made several announcements on business matters related to ARRT-Richmond.

 --Bill Seward

Thursday, August 16, 2018

New Round Table

There's a new round table in town: The American Revolution Round Table of South Jersey! Click on the link below to go to their new website.

American Revolution Round Table of South Jersey

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Next Meeting: September 19, 2018

"American Independence Beyond the Battlefield: Figures, Facts, and Realities of the American Revolution as Seen Through the Eyes of an Historical Novelist," Karen Chase

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 we're returning to our regularly scheduled times: The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. with dinner available for purchase in the Dining Center beginning at 5:30 p.m. Please plan on joining us!

University of Richmond campus map:

http://www.richmond.edu/visit/maps/print/campus.pdf

Meeting Notes: July 18, 2018

"Brothers in Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It," Larrie Ferreiro

While most American history textbooks mention America’s official alliance with France which began shortly after the Saratoga Campaign, America actually depended on France and to a lesser extent Spain for military assistance throughout the entire eight-year war for its independence. 

“When the war started in 1775, America had only a few thousand gunsmiths, no cannon forges, very little gunpowder and no navy, said historian and author Larrie D. Ferreiro at the July 18, 2018 meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond. “The American Colonies were dependent on foreign powers from the beginning in their fight for independence from Great Britain.”

Ferreiro is the author of the recently published book entitled Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It. The book is a Pulitzer Prize finalist.  

“How did we know that France and Spain would fight with us? After the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War) ended in 1763 with the loss of French and Spanish territory to the British, they wanted a rematch with Great Britain. The American Colonies really pushed this idea,” said Ferreiro. 

It didn’t take long after the ink was dry on the 1763 Treaty of Paris for France and Spain to begin plotting their revenge. Both countries began major shipbuilding projects to expand their navies and to look for opportunities to take advantage of any perceived weaknesses in the British Empire. French and Spanish merchants and smugglers served as “front men” to challenge Great Britain with the behind-the-scenes blessings of the French and Spanish governments.

“France and Spain wanted to use America to weaken Britain,” said Ferreiro. “They sent spies to America to take America’s temperature regarding movements toward independence. They didn’t want to challenge Britain too early and then have the American Colonies reconcile with Britain.”

The Declaration of Independence showed to the world America’s intentions to form a sovereign nation. 

“The Declaration wasn’t written for King George III in order to express America’s grievances. He had already gotten the memo. The Declaration of Independence was written for one goal---an engraved invitation to the Kings of France and Spain to fight with us,” said Ferreiro. “We needed their alliance but they wouldn’t get involved in a civil war---only in a war with America as a sovereign nation.”

The chief architect of France’s foreign policy was Charles Gravier, Comte de Vergennes---France’s minister for foreign affairs. He was an experienced diplomat who wanted France to weaken Great Britain in order to restore the balance of power in Europe. 

“Vergennes was the most important character in this whole affair,” said Ferreiro. “He couldn’t allow a reunited America with Great Britain, which would then threaten France’s sugar colonies in the Caribbean.”

During the early months of the war, both French and Spanish merchants supplied the American government with arms and other supplies. One of the leading French merchants was Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais. In addition to his successful career as a merchant, Beaumarchais wrote and produced plays which included The Barber of Seville and the famous character named Figaro. 

Beaumarchais’ ships arrived in New England during the Spring of 1777 with abundant rifles, artillery, ammunition and other military supplies which the American troops put to good use during the Saratoga Campaign later that year. As a result of America’s stunning victory at Saratoga and the surrender of British General John Burgoyne’s army, Vergennes used the occasion to commit France to an official alliance with America in February 1778. 

The Treaty of Alliance paid nearly instant dividends for the Americans in that it brought the French navy into the war. The British feared the possibility of a French fleet bottling up the Delaware River and Delaware Bay, which would cut off supplies to the British army occupying Philadelphia. As a result of this fear, the British marched their army out of Philadelphia and back to New York City in June 1778.

When France formed its official alliance with America, Spain opted to stay officially neutral. The chief reason was Spain’s insistence on waiting for the arrival of two large Spanish convoys from Central and South America. One of them carried a huge amount of silver which was worth approximately $50 billion in today’s dollars. The other convoy carried a large number of Spanish troops who were returning home. 

Spain’s chief minister and minister of foreign affairs was Jose Monino y Redondo, Conde de Floridablanca. His goals for Spain against Great Britain were to win back Gibraltar and Florida, which Spain had lost to Britain during the French & Indian War. Spain officially joined an alliance with France and declared war on Great Britain in April 1779. 

“Floridablanca wanted to eliminate Great Britain’s presence in the Gulf of Mexico and basically turn it into a Spanish lake,” said Ferreiro. 

In August 1779 France and Spain assembled an armada with approximately 150 ships in order to attack Great Britain itself via the English Channel. However the proposed invasion was aborted due to a severe outbreak of dysentery which left most of the French and Spanish ships undermanned. The armada also had serious problems with supplying their ships with food and drinking water. 

The Spanish had better luck in fighting the British in North America. Bernardo de Galvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, eagerly fought the British and captured Mobile, Natchez and Pensacola in what was called West Florida. This campaign basically isolated the British in the Gulf of Mexico to the island of Jamaica.

While Galvez made plans with French Admiral Francois Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse to attack Jamaica, de Grasse received an urgent request in mid-July 1781 from the commander of French troops in North America. General Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau urged de Grasse to sail his fleet immediately from the Gulf of Mexico to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The Spanish and French postponed their attack on Jamaica, which allowed de Grasse to sail his entire fleet to the Virginia waters while four Spanish ships guarded Cap Francois, a French port located in Haiti. 

Rochambeau had requested the assistance of de Grasse’s fleet as part of a plan to trap the British army under the command of General Charles Cornwallis in the Virginia port of Yorktown. Although George Washington preferred a joint attack by the American and French armies against Sir Henry Clinton’s British army occupying New York City, Rochambeau gently persuaded Washington to support a joint American/French attack against the British troops in Yorktown. However the American and French armies needed the assistance of the French navy in order to block the British navy from assisting Cornwallis.

On the evening of August 29, 1781 de Grasse’s fleet reached the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and the next morning it sailed past Cape Henry and anchored in Lynnhaven Bay. A few days later a British fleet under the command of Admiral Thomas Graves sailed to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay as well, and attacked the French fleet on September 5. In what is now called the Battle of the Chesapeake or the Battle of the Capes, the French fleet held its defensive position and prevented the British fleet from entering the Chesapeake Bay and reinforcing Cornwallis’ army, trapped in nearby Yorktown. 

“Thanks to the Spanish navy guarding French possessions in the Caribbean, de Grasse was able to sail his entire French fleet to Virginia. This contribution by the Spanish is ignored in virtually all American history books, said Ferreiro. “The British navy was second to none but the combined navies of the French and Spanish could overwhelm British ships in terms of numbers.”

For the next six weeks the French and American armies tightened the noose around Cornwallis’ besieged army. Using classic siege tactics which French armies practiced in earlier European wars, the French and American armies relentlessly bombarded the British and captured two strategic redoubts which led to the British surrender on October 19, 1781.

“When France chose Rochambeau to command their army in North America, they chose very well,” said Ferreiro. “ He was a great general.”

General Charles O’Hara, Cornwallis’ second-in-command, tried to surrender the British army to Rochambeau who declined O’Hara’s sword and pointed him to George Washington. The American army commander also declined the sword and pointed O’Hara to General Benjamin Lincoln, Washington’s second-in-command.

The surrender at Yorktown ended most of the fighting in North America. However the fighting continued for two more years in the Caribbean, at Gibraltar and even as far away as India. 

“Great Britain was fighting five nations by the time the war officially ended in 1783,” said Ferreiro. “They fought America, France, Spain, Holland and the Kingdom of Mysore in India. Britain was getting overwhelmed and knew if they kept fighting, they would lose.” 

The 1783 Treaty of Paris was signed by America, France and Spain on September 3, approximately two years after the French fleet stopped the British fleet at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

“France and Spain were as invested in this war as America,” said Ferreiro. “The United States didn’t achieve its independence by itself.”

Larrie D. Ferreiro teaches history and engineering at George Mason University in Virginia and at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. He has served for over 35 years in the Navy, the Coast Guard and at the Department of Defense. He was once an exchange engineer in the French navy. 

In addition to Brothers at Arms, Ferreiro is the author of the following books:

1. Measure of the Earth: The Enlightenment Expedition That Reshaped Our World 

2. Ships and Science: The Birth of Naval Architecture in the Scientific Revolution, 1600-1800

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

1. President Bill Welsch said that four non-profit organizations have been nominated by ARRT-Richmond members to serve as the 2018 Preservation Partner. President Welsch said he would soon send an email to all dues-paying members, requesting them to reply with their votes via email for this year’s preservation finalist. This year’s nominees are the Battersea Foundation, the Menokin Foundation, the St. John’s Church Foundation and the Revolutionary War Trust, specifically for the Yorktown Campaign.  

 --Bill Seward

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Meeting Notes: May 16, 2018

"Benedict Arnold: Guilty or Innocent?" by John Millar

While most Americans regard Benedict Arnold as a traitor, historian John Millar called him “a patriot” at the May 16, 2018 meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond.

“Arnold changed sides because he hated greedy real estate speculators and tobacco planters who wanted to rip off land from Native Americans for westward expansion,” said Millar. “Arnold thought Congress needed a kick in the pants. He was a patriot right to the end.”

According to Millar, the westward expansion was fueled by the need for tobacco planters to find fresh soil to grow their crops. When tobacco was grown on the same soil for a number of years, the soil became poisoned with a chemical which stripped the soil of its nutrients.

Millar also praised Arnold for his efforts after the American Revolution to restore trade between Great Britain and the new American nation. After Arnold moved to London he became friends with King George III, and convinced the king that it was in Britain’s best interests to trade with America rather than allow America to trade primarily with France. Not only did Great Britain resume trade with America but the British navy frequently protected American merchant ships against pirates. 

When King George III listened to Benedict Arnold, he was listening to a man with considerable trade experience. Prior to the American Revolution, Arnold was a merchant in New Haven, CT and “knew the whole East Coast and Canada”, according to Millar.

Arnold was also the founder of New Haven’s militia unit and served as its captain. When word reached New Haven on April 22, 1775 about the earlier fighting at Lexington and Concord, he immediately called out his troops with the intention of marching to Cambridge, MA where other American troops were stationed opposite the British army occupying Boston. 

However Arnold’s troops hadn’t marched more than 15 miles when they changed direction and headed toward Lake Champlain, NY. They arrived in time to participate in the American capture of the very strategic Fort Ticonderoga.  (Arnold sent a few sent to Fort Ti, but he actually went to Cambridge, got commissioned a colonel by Massachusetts and then went to Ti.) 

“Arnold had a mind like a steel trap,” said Millar. “He knew that Lake Champlain would be critical to the war effort, and he knew that Fort Ticonderoga had a heckuva lot of cannons that were needed by the American army outside Boston.”

After Henry Knox led an American force to move the cannons from the fort to the heights above Boston the British abandoned the city. 

Following the liberation of Boston, Arnold led one of the two American armies in a campaign to capture Quebec City, which according to Millar, had 25% of all the cannons in North America. Arnold led his army northward through modern-day Maine to Quebec while Richard Montgomery led another American army northward from Upstate New York to Montreal, and then eastward to Quebec. On New Year’s Eve 1775 the two armies unsuccessfully attacked the city’s very strong defenses. Arnold was wounded and Montgomery was killed.

After Arnold and Montgomery’s remaining troops gradually retreated out of Canada and back into New York, the British launched a Fall 1776 campaign against Upstate New York. Sir Guy Carleton’s troops got as far as Lake Champlain when they encountered a small American army under Arnold’s command which had built its own ships, and challenged the British navy on Lake Champlain near Valcour Island. Although the British prevailed, the tenacious fight from Arnold’s small fleet intimidated the British to the point of where Carleton called off his southward campaign before the arrival of winter. 

“George Washington owes the saving of his army at New York to Arnold’s fleet on Lake Champlain,” said Millar. 

In February, 1777, Arnold was passed over for promotion to major general, with five men junior to him being appointed.  He was promoted before Saratoga, but his seniority wasn’t restored until after Saratoga.  This was a big point on contention between Arnold and Congress.

In May 1777 General John Burgoyne replaced Carleton as the British northern army commander with the mission to capture Albany. His army marched southward from Canada while the British army under Colonel (Was a BG at this time) Barry St. Leger marched eastward from Lake Ontario. When St. Leger’s troops surrounded American troops at Fort Stanwix, Arnold led a small American army to relieve the siege.

“Arnold put out fake news that he had a much bigger army than he actually did,” said Millar. “When British informants told St. Leger the erroneous news, St. Leger’s army retreated.”

Following his rescue of Fort Stanwix, Arnold participated in the two pivotal battles of Saratoga, which historians often call “the turning point” of the American Revolution.

“Arnold was given only so much authority at Saratoga because the overall army commander, Horatio Gates, didn’t like him. Although Arnold didn’t get the credit he deserved for helping to win the campaign, he probably did more than anyone else to win it,” said Millar. 

Arnold was badly wounded at Saratoga and nearly lost a leg. As a result of his severe wound, George Washington gave him an administrative assignment which would allow him to continue his recovery. He selected Arnold to serve as the military commander of Philadelphia after the British abandoned the city in June 1778. 

While serving in this position, Arnold fell in love with Peggy Shipman and married her. She and her family had loyalist sympathies and friendships with British officers such as Major John Andre. When Arnold decided to change allegiances, it was Andre who served as a liaison between Arnold’s confidants and Sir Henry Clinton, the British army commander in New York City.

After Arnold became the American commander at West Point he began a systematic plan to weaken the fort’s defenses. On September 21, 1780 he met with Andre near West Point, and soon afterward Andre got caught by American troops while in possession of documents revealing Arnold’s plot to allow the British to capture this strategic fort. Once the plot was uncovered, Arnold barely alluded capture by American troops and made his way to a British ship which took him to New York City.

The British made Arnold a brigadier general in their army, and later gave him the assignment to raid Virginia during the Winter of 1780-81. According to Millar, Arnold chose Portsmouth as his base of operations because the surrounding water was too shallow for the larger French ships to attack his supply base.

From Portsmouth Arnold’s raiding party sailed up the James River to Westover Plantation, and then marched virtually unopposed into Richmond where they destroyed warehouses and a foundry, and captured military supplies. Then they returned to Portsmouth.

During the Spring of 1781 Arnold served as the second-in-command to General William Phillips when the British once again raided Central Virginia. This time their primary targets were Petersburg and Manchester. Phillips became ill in Petersburg and died on May 12, 1781, leaving Arnold temporarily in command. 

Approximately one week later General Charles Cornwallis marched his army from the Carolinas into Central Virginia, and took overall command of British forces in that area. Arnold returned to New York City in June 1781.  

On September 4, 1781 Arnold led a British raid on New London, CT. Most of the town burned to the ground but according to Millar, a fire spread rapidly because a ship containing gunpowder exploded. 

“Arnold got blamed for burning the town but he didn’t mean to,” said Millar. “A ship blew up.”

During the Winter of 1781-82 Benedict Arnold left American soil for the last time, as a passenger sailing from New York City to London. One of his fellow passengers was Cornwallis, who had been paroled after his Yorktown surrender. The two of them developed a close friendship while on their voyage, and in fact Cornwallis would later introduce Arnold to King George III. 

Benedict Arnold died in London on June 14, 1801 at the age of 60. He was buried in a London churchyard and wearing his Continental army uniform. 

John Millar and his wife Cathy own and manage Newport House Bed and Breakfast, located in Williamsburg near the Historic District. He is a former museum director and a member of both the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond and the Williamsburg-Yorktown American Revolution Round Table. 

Millar is also the author or co-author of several books which include the following:

1. Ships of the American Revolution

2. Early American Ships

3. Country Dances of Colonial America

Prior to the speaker’s presentation the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond briefly discussed several topics, such as the need for members to submit nominations to President Bill Welsch concerning the 2018 Preservation Partner.


-----Bill Seward

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Next Meeting: July 18, 2018

"Brothers in Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It," Larrie Ferrero

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:

http://www.richmond.edu/visit/maps/print/campus.pdf

Friday, April 13, 2018

Call for Nominations for Our 2018 Preservation Partner

Please submit your nomination(s) for our 2018 Preservation Partner to Bill Welsch at wmwelsch@comcast.net or bring them with you to our May 16, 2018 meeting (the deadline).

As a reminder, five dollars of each membership goes towards our preservation effort.

Next Meeting: May 16, 2018

"Benedict Arnold: Guilty or Innocent? by John Millar

For this meeting only, we will meet in the Tyler Haynes Commons (number 4 on the linked campus map; just down the hill from the dining hall where we usually meet). The dining hall will be closed so dinner will not be available and the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. 

The meeting will be held in the Haynes Room on the first floor of the Tyler Haynes Commons.

University of Richmond campus map:
http://www.richmond.edu/visit/maps/print/campus.pdf

Meeting Notes: March 28, 2018

"Mary Ball Washington, the Mother of George Washington," Michelle L. Hamilton

During an age when most young widows either remarried or moved into a home with family members, the mother of George Washington chose a much more independent lifestyle of living on her own for approximately 46 years until her death.

“Mary Ball Washington decides not to remarry at age 35 in order to protect her assets,” said historian Michelle L. Hamilton at the March 28, 2018 meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond. “She becomes the head of household and collects the rent for her children on the property that they inherit from their father.”


Hamilton is the author of the recently published book entitled Mary Ball Washington: The Mother of George Washington. Hamilton also serves as the manager of the Mary Washington House Museum in Fredericksburg, VA.

When Augustine Washington (Mary’s husband) died on April 12, 1743, he left her with five children under the age of 12. In addition she lost approximately 60% of her income upon Augustine’s death when his two sons from a previous marriage inherited their father’s two largest properties.

By not remarrying, Mary prevented her family assets and those of her five children (including George) from coming under the control of a future husband. Instead of remarrying she acted as trustee for all of her young children until they became old enough to inherit property.

Mary Ball Washington had a history of independent living long before the death of her husband Augustine. She was the only child of Joseph Ball and Mary Johnson Ball, a widow with two children from a previous marriage. Mary was born in 1708 and just three years later her father died, leaving her an inheritance of slaves, cattle and 400 acres.

Mary’s mother remarried shortly thereafter and then her stepfather died, leaving 600 acres to Mary’s half-brother John Johnson and a plantation in Northumberland County called Cherry Point to her half-sister Elizabeth Johnson. When Mary was 13 years old, both her mother and her half-brother died, leaving the 600 acres to Mary. She then went to live with her half-sister Elizabeth at Cherry Point. Thus as a young teenage orphan, Mary Ball owned slaves, cattle and a total of 1,000 acres from two inheritances.

George Eskridge, a lawyer and close friend of the family, served as Mary’s legal guardian and managed her land holdings. In a few years he would also introduce Mary to his good friend named Augustine Washington, who had recently become a widower. The two of them married on March 6, 1731. She was age 23 and he was 36 years old.

Augustine and Mary made their home on his plantation at Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County. On February 22, 1732 Mary gave birth to their first child named George. One year later she gave birth to a daughter named Betty, and the following year to a son named Samuel.

In 1735 Augustine and Mary moved their growing family to his plantation at Little Hunting Creek, which would later be renamed Mount Vernon. The family lived there for three years, where Mary gave birth in 1736 to a son named John Augustine and in 1738 to a son named Charles. Later in 1738 the family moved once again to a plantation called Ferry Farm, across from Fredericksburg.

In 1739 Mary gave birth to her last child named Mildred who died from a childhood disease 16 months later. Tragedy continued for Mary at Ferry Farm when in 1743 her husband Augustine died from a stomach disease after a very short illness.

“When her husband died, Mary got back the 1,000 acres of her property that she brought into the marriage,” said Hamilton. “Her sons and daughters got everything else.”

Mary and her young children continued to live at Ferry Farm. She struggled financially to rear her children and as a result, she couldn’t afford to send George and his younger brothers to school in England as Augustine had done for his two sons from his first marriage. Instead George and his younger brothers were tutored by the Reverend James Marye in Fredericksburg.

After all of her children reached adulthood and moved away, Mary continued to exercise her dower rights and remained at Ferry Farm. In fact she continued to live on the plantation until the early 1770s when she was in her 60s. However during the Winter of 1771 she became very ill with influenza during horrible weather,  and became virtually isolated from her family, doctors and close friends who lived across the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg.

She recovered but the isolation during her serious illness convinced her to accept her family’s pleas to move across the river into Fredericksburg. In 1772 her son George sold Ferry Farm and used some of the proceeds to purchase a 1 1/2-story cottage for Mary which was adjacent to the Kenmore plantation where Mary’s daughter Betty and her son-in-law Fielding Lewis lived.

After the American Revolution began in April 1775, Mary’s son George became the commander of the Continental Army and left Virginia. Mary and George didn’t see each other between 1775-1784, and exchanged very few letters.

“Communication between George Washington and his family in Fredericksburg was very difficult during the war,” said Hamilton.

The war created hardships for Mary and the rest of her Fredericksburg family. A smallpox epidemic resulted in a very poor harvest in 1778, which caused both a food and cash shortage for Mary. This forced her to write the man serving as George’s overseer at Mount Vernon for assistance. In 1780 the government requisitioned a large quantity of Mary’s bacon in order to feed Continental soldiers.

During April 1781, the Marquis de Lafayette visited Mary in Fredericksburg while he was passing through for military purposes. They had a very pleasant visit, and for years afterward Lafayette made it a point in letters he wrote to Washington to extend his best wishes to Mary.

When General Charles Cornwallis moved his British army into Central Virginia and fairly close to Fredericksburg, the local militia commander ordered Mary and the rest of the Washington family to evacuate to a safer locality. Mary, her daughter Betty and son-in-law Fielding Lewis moved to the Lewis’ home in Frederick County, VA (near Winchester).

Fielding Lewis was terminally ill with a lung disease, and the family’s financial conditions sharply worsened. As a result, Mary attempted to receive additional income by applying to the Virginia legislature for a military pension because her late husband Augustine had served in the Virginia militia.

“Mary’s pension application didn’t sit well with her son George,” said Hamilton. “It looked as if her son couldn’t take care of his mother.”

Washington responded by writing a lengthy letter to legislator Benjamin Harrison, asking the General Assembly to stop or to deny Mary’s request for a pension.

When Washington and his army marched through Fredericksburg in September 1781 on their way to Yorktown, Mary was still living in the Winchester area and therefore missed seeing her oldest son. In 1782 Mary returned to her cottage in Fredericksburg. Washington returned to Mount Vernon in 1784, and the two of them saw each other for several years on a regular basis.

However by the late 1780s Mary’s health steadily declined as a result of breast cancer. On March 8, 1789 Washington visited his mother for the last time. In a few weeks he would travel to New York City to become the first president of the United States.

On August 25, 1789 Mary Ball Washington lost her battle with breast cancer and died at her cottage in Fredericksburg.

Michelle L. Hamilton is the author or editor of three books in addition to Mary Ball Washington: The Mother of George Washington. They are as follows:

1. I Would Still Be Drowned In Tears: Spiritualism In Abraham Lincoln’s White House

2. My Heart Is In The Cause: The Civil War Diary Of James Meyers---Hospital Steward 45th Pennsylvania 1863-1865

3. Manners During The Civil War: American Etiquette Or Customs Adopted By The Polite Society Throughout The United States

Prior to the speaker’s presentation ARRT-Richmond President Bill Welsch asked the audience to start thinking about nominations for ARRT-Richmond’s 2018 Preservation Partner. Each member may submit nominations via email to President Welsch or may do so in person at the May 16 membership meeting.

--Bill Seward

Friday, April 6, 2018

2017 Harry M. Ward Book Prize Presentation

The 2017 Harry M. Ward Book Prize was presented to Nathaniel Philbrick for his book Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. The presentation was made at the Seventh Annual Symposium on the American Revolution in Williamsburg, VA on March 24, 2018.

(l. to r.) Mark Lender, Chairman of the ARRT-Richmond Book Prize Committee, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Bill Welsch, President of ARRT-Richmond

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March 21 Meeting Postponed

Tomorrow night's meeting is postponed until next Wednesday, March 28, 2018.

Everything else will remain the same – speaker, time, and place. Michelle Hamilton will be speaking on Mary Ball Washington.  

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Speaker Change: March 21, 2018 Meeting

Due to a family situation, Bob Smith, our March speaker, had to cancel. Bruce Venter, our intrepid vice president for programs, was able to recruit Michelle Hamilton to fill in. She will be speaking on “Mary Ball Washington – Mother of George Washington,” from her new book.


Hamilton's book, published in November of last year, details Mary Ball Washington's life from 1708 to 1789. Please plan to attend this enlightening presentation!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Next Meeting: March 21, 2018

"Manufacturing Independence: Industrial Innovation in the American Revolution," Robert Smith

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.

University of Richmond campus map:

http://www.richmond.edu/visit/maps/print/campus.pdf

Meeting Notes: January 24, 2018

"Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty," John Kukla

“Give me liberty or give me death” is the last line of Patrick Henry’s most famous speech, but how many of the words which we quote today are what he actually said?

“I think we are pretty close on what we remember about the Liberty or Death speech,” said historian Jon Kukla at the January 24, 2018 meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond. Kukla is the author of a recently published biography that is entitled Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty. 

The text of Henry’s speech first appeared in 1817---42 years after he delivered the speech and 18 years after he died. William Wirt, who would later become the longest-serving U.S. attorney general in American history, published what he believed was the accurate speech text in his biography on Henry. While conducting his research for the book, Wirt corresponded with men who were present in Richmond at St. John’s Episcopal Church when Henry delivered his famous speech at the Second Virginia Convention.  

While Wirt was successful in obtaining considerable information about the speech, only one person actually wrote down what he perceived as the entire text for Wirt. This was Judge St. George Tucker, whose recollections of the specific text were used nearly verbatim by Wirt in his biography on Henry. 

“It should be noted that people during the 18th Century listened intently to philosophical debates, and typically didn’t take notes for publication,” said Kukla. “In fact we see this in Parliament’s debates where it was against the law to publish their debates. “I’m concerned that folks in the 18th Century remembered far more from speeches than people do today because we have too many distractions.”

Patrick Henry was born on May 29, 1736 in Hanover County, Virginia. He first came to prominence as an American revolutionary in December 1763 when he argued a legal case in Hanover County that is known as the Parsons’ Cause. 

Since hard currency was scarce in Colonial Virginia, the Anglican clergymen were paid in tobacco which was typically worth two pence per pound. However several droughts during the 1750s caused a shortage of tobacco and sharp price increases of as much as 3-4 times its normal market value. As a result, the Virginia legislature passed the Two-Penny Acts, which allowed debts that were normally paid to clergy with tobacco to be paid at the flat rate of two pence per pound.

Several Anglican clergymen petitioned London’s Board of Trade to overrule the actions of the Virginia legislature, which the Board of Trade did. As a result of the Board’s actions, several Virginia clergymen sued in Virginia’s courts for the market value of the tobacco which exceeded the two pence per pound price that they had already received under the Two-Penny Acts. One of these clergymen was the Reverend James Maury. 

Maury had sued successfully in Hanover County Court, and on December 1, 1763 the case resumed for the purpose of having a jury to award damages. Henry served as the attorney for Maury’s parish vestry against Maury. 

“Basically Patrick Henry argued that the structure of the British Empire called for its colonies to be governed by their elected legislatures and to express allegiance to the King, while the British people who elected Parliament were subject to its laws and their allegiance to the King.”

The jury awarded Maury the minimum amount allowed under Virginia law for damages, which was one penny. Henry’s name became widely known and as a result, both his law practice and overall popularity flourished. In May 1765 he was elected to the Virginia legislature as a representative from Louisa County. 

Shortly after becoming a Virginia legislator, Henry and his legislative colleagues learned of Parliament’s passage of the Stamp Act. During the debate by the legislature as to how Virginia should react to this controversial tax, Henry repeated many of his arguments that he first raised during the Parsons’ Cause. Henry argued that Parliament had no taxing authority over Virginia and the other colonies, and that British colonists had the same rights and privileges as British citizens living within the mother country. 

During the debate, Henry also warned King George III as to what can happen to monarchs and dictators when he said, “Tarquin and Caesar each had his Brutus, Charles the First had his Cromwell and George the Third ..........”. At that point Speaker John Robinson and others shouted, “Treason, treason!” Henry paused and then replied, “.......... and George the Third may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.”

The Virginia legislature passed five of the seven resolutions proposed by Henry to protest the Stamp Act. These actions put Virginia in front of Colonial America’s opposition to this unpopular tax, and spread Henry’s name throughout the other American colonies.

The Road to the American Revolution would continue for another 10 years when Henry would utter his immortal Liberty or Death words on March 20, 1775. During the early months of the war, Henry briefly served in two military capacities as a commander of county and state militia units. 

On June 29, 1776 Patrick Henry was elected to a one-year term as Virginia’s first post-colonial governor. In 1777 and 1778 he was re-elected to two additional one-year terms and then stepped down per Virginia’s term limitations at that time. In 1784-1786 he served for two additional one-year terms.

As a wartime governor, Henry was a very strong supporter of George Washington’s Continental Army. He helped to recruit new troops for Washington, and supplied Washington’s army with badly needed food, clothing and ammunition. Henry also remained loyal to Washington during a time in the war when several prominent political and military leaders wanted to replace Washington as the overall army commander with Horatio Gates.

“They had a really strong friendship,” said Kukla. “Henry remained loyal to Washington, and Washington always remembered it. They remained good friends even when they were on different sides of political issues such as the U.S. Constitution.”

After Washington was elected president he offered Henry several prominent positions in the new government such as secretary of state, ambassador to Spain and chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Henry declined the offers for health reasons and family matters.

Finally in early 1799 when Washington was a private citizen, he was able to persuade Henry to stand for election one more time for a seat in the Virginia legislature. Henry agreed and was elected as a delegate from Charlotte County, but he died before serving on June 6, 1799 at his Red Hill home.

What should we think of Patrick Henry today? Certainly he was a great orator, a dedicated public servant and a very talented trial lawyer but Kukla said that Henry was much more. 

“He was involved in all aspects of the American Revolution,” said Kukla. “I rather like the guy because I like his candor. He looked at things pretty clearly, and he was a good loser. There were occasions when the votes went against him, such as on the U.S. Constitution. When Virginia voted to ratify the Constitution, George Mason and other opponents of the document were upset and wanted to organize a protest against the ratification vote. They invited Henry to attend a meeting but Henry declined and told them, ‘We have done our best, we have lost and now it’s time for us to go home’.” 

Jon Kukla is a former director of research and publishing at the Library of Virginia, and a former director at the Red Hill-The Patrick Henry National Memorial in Charlotte County, Virginia. He has been a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. Kukla is currently working on a book about the Stamp Act.

In addition to his new book on Patrick Henry, Kukla is the author of the following books:

1. Mr. Jefferson’s Women

2. A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America

Prior to the speaker’s presentation, the following topics were discussed:

1. ARRT-Richmond and America’s History, LLC (a business member of ARRT-Richmond) donated two checks to Campaign 1776 toward their fundraising campaign to purchase land that was part of the Battle of the Waxhaws. Lindsey Morrison accepted the checks on behalf of Campaign 1776, and thanked both organizations.

2. President Bill Welsch reminded the audience that 2018 membership dues are now due, and should be paid in person or mailed to Woody Childs, ARRT’s Vice President-Membership. 

3. President Welsch made other announcements regarding several upcoming lectures and conferences across the state that relate to the American Revolution. 

 --Bill Seward

Sunday, January 28, 2018

2017 Preservation Partner Donation

(l. to r., Bill Welsch, Lindsey Morrison, Lynne Venter)
At our January 24 meeting, Bill Welsch, president of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond, and Lynne Venter, CFO of America's History LLC, presented Lindsey Morrison of Campaign 1776 donations to aid in the preservation of the Waxhaws battlefield in South Carolina. A portion of each year's dues are donated to an annual preservation partner chosen by the membership. For this year, America's History LLC graciously volunteered to match the donation.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January 17 Meeting Postponed

Tonight's meeting is postponed until next Wednesday, January 24, 2018.

Everything else will remain the same – speaker, time, and place. Jon Kukla will be presenting “Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty.”  

Friday, January 12, 2018

7th Annual Conference of the American Revolution, March 23-25, 2018

This premier conference, sponsored by the Venter's America's History, LLC, will once again be held in Williamsburg on the above dates. Details may be found at
http://americashistoryllc.com/2017/5th-annual-conference-of-the-american-revolution-2-2-2/


There are about 150 people already signed up and it will be sold out, so don’t wait to register!

"Virginia Campaign of 1781," February 24-25, 2018

Presented by the Williamsburg Yorktown ARRT. Details may be found here: https://williamsburg-yorktownarrt.weebly.com/   It’s filling up fast.

Congratulations, John Millar!

Our own John Millar has been recognized by the Virginia State Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. A presentation was made at John’s Newport House of the Good Citizenship Medal, one of the highest awards given to a non-member of SAR. John was honored for the Revolutionary War ship (HMS Rose) that he had built, the ships he’s proposing to build, the books he has written on revolutionary subjects, and the fact that he founded the Bicentennial Council of the Thirteen Original States back in 1970, which raised millions for worthy Bicentennial projects. Congratulations, John! Very well deserved.

2018 Reenlistments Are Being Accepted

Yes, it's a new year and that means that reenlistments are being accepted for the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond. Details and information form are located on the "Dues" page above but the salient points are:

  • Annual dues are $20.00
  • Checks are preferable; please make payable to "ARRT-Richmond" 
  • You may pay at the next meeting or may mail your form and check to the address on the form
Don't be a laggard... submit your reenlistment levy today!