Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Monday, July 15, 2024

Run To Revolution! September 2024

Run to revolution!

A little over two years from now, America will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Goochland has partnered with the Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission, established in 2020 by the General Assembly, to commemorate the anniversary of the American Revolution. 

The Goochland County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution of support for this endeavor in 2022 with the understanding that the Goochland Historical Society would lead the local committee. The Hon. Manuel Alvarez, Jr., who served as District 2 Supervisor and interim county administrator,  was appointed chair of the Goochland 250th Commission

In September, the Goochland 250th Commission will sponsor a 5k race at historic Elk Hill Farm in western Goochland, where British troops commanded by Lord Cornwallis camped before heading to Yorktown. Go to for sign up information.

This will be the first of a series of events planned to explore the world changing impact of the Declaration of Independence. Stay tuned!

The American Revolution Experience Traveling Exhibit: Sept. 9, 2024


Meeting Notes: May 23. 2024

The May 23, 2024, meeting was held in the Westhampton Room, Heilman Dining Center, at the University of Richmond.

John Beakes, author of William Campbell in the American Revolution Commander of Riflemen at Kings Mountain and Guilford Courthouse, published by Heritage Books, was the evening’s speaker. He is the author of five books on the Revolutionary War that focus on little-known combat leaders in America's fight for independence.

William Campbell in the American Revolution: Commander of Riflemen at Kings Mountain and Guilford Courthouse is a biography of a lesser-known figure who played a significant role in securing American independence. Campbell was born in Augusta County, Virginia of Scots Irish descent, and migrated to Fincastle County to farm on newly opened frontier land. Campbell became a significant figure in the American Revolution as a militia leader in far western Virginia, especially in the Southern Theater. The book covers the Battle of Kings Mountain in detail. Campbell's strategic leadership was instrumental in the American victory. Beakes covers a wide range of American and Virginia historical events leading up to open revolution. Campbell's life as a militia leader in shaping the success of the Battle of Kings Mountain makes for prime reading, where his riflemen, and eight other militia detachments surprised, outmaneuvered, and defeated Loyalist forces.

Campbell grew up on the harsh Virginia frontier, that shaped him into a tough and resourceful regional leader. He participated in Dunmore's War, was committed to the Patriot cause, and became a de facto leader of his neighboring frontiersmen when the British were agitating native tribes to prevent the French from expanding their influence eastward towards the Appalachians. Campbell served at the Battle of Point Pleasant (where the Kanawha River joins the Ohio River on the western boundary of today’s West Virginia) in 1774 that ended Lord Dunmore's War reducing the threat of Native American attacks on settlers inhabiting the area. In 1775, he was appointed captain in the First Virginia militia regiment. At that time, Virginia militias had become organizations independent of the Crown's militia. Campbell was an aggressive opponent of Loyalists who wished to remain under British control and Campbell used ruthless tactics against Loyalists on the Virginia frontier during a period marked by brutal violence on both sides. He earned the nickname "the bloody tyrant of Washington County" due to his tactics combating Loyalists, which included property destruction, hangings, and a disregard for legal proceedings. As a friend of Patrick Henry, he heard Henry’s ideas on political and military strategies for Virginia’s future.

Virginia’s boundaries and political jurisdictions were ever changing. Fincastle County was created in 1772 from Botetourt County and had a western limit of the Mississippi River. Fincastle men spent most of 1774 engaged in frontier Native American warfare orchestrated by British agents who intended to stifle further westward expansion into contested Native American lands. Early settlers extended the foothold on the frontier and helped open the door to mass westward migration.

The British oppression was not felt as heavily in Virginia as it was felt in Massachusetts. In 1774, Bostonians resolved to boycott all British goods and called on the other colonies for support and assistance. In statements of unity, Virginia jurisdictions began writing and publishing resolutions and instructions, during the summer of 1774, that clearly revealed the hardening of Virginians’ opinions against British rule in the colony. Acts of Parliament were condemned by the various county organizing committees as they were considered "violating the most sacred and important rights of Americans" (Caroline County), "repugnant" (Dunmore County, now Shenandoah County), "unjust, arbitrary, and unconstitutional" (Chesterfield County), "tyrannical" (Essex County), etc. The objection to taxation without representation was a common theme (and was explicitly expressed in Fairfax County’s sixth resolve). Many jurisdictions resolved not to import commodities (the non-importation policy) from Britain, with tea prominent among such items specifically mentioned. Almost all the jurisdictions concluded by electing delegates to the upcoming Virginia Convention and ordering that their resolves or actions be published.

At a meeting in distant Southwest Virginia, Fincastle freeholders on January 20. 1775, adopted its resolutions which included a bold declaration of armed resistance against the British Crown – one of the earliest such statements in the Thirteen Colonies. Fincastle Resolutions signers had developed their military skills fighting Native Americans and for many it provided an intensely personal experience with the loss of family members and the destruction of property. Campbell was one of thirteen men to sign the Fincastle Resolutions. Colonel William Christian, Patrick Henry's brother-in-law, was elected chairman of the committee to see that the boycott of British goods was properly executed. By March 27, 1775, a total of fifty-nine of the colony's sixty-five jurisdictions had acted. Campbell's spirit landed him a captaincy in the Virginia militia, and he was not afraid to take a stand against those who remained loyal to the British rule.

Patrick Henry was able to influence the Fincastle signers because he had significant connections with four of the signers, then present and future: William Campbell, William Christian, Thomas Madison, and William Russell. Campbell was a regular traveler to Williamsburg to represent his territory and it was there he was introduced to Elizabeth Henry, a sister of Patrick Henry, who he would marry in April 1776. Campbell returned to the frontier later in 1776 to fight Native Americans and Tories.

In 1780, the situation to the south of Virginia was under danger of British military control. The British had captured Charleston, along with General Lincoln and his entire army. The war was transferred to the Carolinas and Georgia. General Gates, who had captured the British army at Saratoga and was in command of the Southern army during this year, was disastrously defeated at Camden. Colonel Sumpter and his body of Patriots had been overwhelmed by Colonel Tarleton at Fishing Creek. Detachments from the British army were scattered throughout South Carolina and Georgia. Colonel Buford and his Virginia forces had been defeated by Tarleton's cavalry at the Waxhaw's, and every preparation was being made by Lord Cornwallis to overrun North Carolina and Virginia. Lord Cornwallis had placed the command of the western borders of North Carolina and South Carolina under Colonel Patrick Ferguson. Ferguson had overrun and destroyed the Patriot forces in his territory to such an extent that the officers and men of the Patriot forces were driven across the mountains to the Holston settlements of southwest Virginia. The British were raising Loyalist units from the Tory population of the Carolina backcountry to protect the left flank of Lord Cornwallis' main body at Charlotte, North Carolina. Patriot leaders sent word to Virginia militia leader, William Campbell, asking him to join them at Sycamore Shoals. Campbell called on Benjamin Cleveland to bring his Wilkes County, North Carolina militia to the rendezvous. The detachments of Shelby, Sevier and Campbell were met by North Carolina militiamen led by Charles McDowell and his brother Joseph. Campbell's cousin, Arthur Campbell, brought 200 more Virginians. About 1,100 volunteers from southwest Virginia and today's northeast Tennessee (known as the "Overmountain Men" because they had settled into the wilderness west of the Appalachian Mountains’ ridgeline) mustered at the rendezvous on September 25, 1780, at Sycamore Shoals near the modern city of Elizabethton, Tennessee.

The five colonels leading the Patriot force (Shelby, Sevier, William Campbell, Joseph McDowell, and Cleveland) chose William Campbell as the nominal commander, and agreed all five would act in council to command their combined army of 1,400. The British left-flank detachment camped on Kings Mountain awaiting reinforcements. The Patriot force, after an all-night forced march in pouring rains, arrived at Kings Mountain on the afternoon of October 7, 1780, where they formed into eight detachments and immediately surrounded the encampment ridge and attacked.

The Patriots caught the Loyalists by surprise. In approximately one hour of back and forth skirmishing the British leader and scores of his troops were dead, and the remainder, many wounded, were taken prisoner by the Patriot army. Campbell became known for his rallying cry "Here they are, my brave boys; shout like hell and fight like devils!" as they made their charge to the peak.

The victory at Kings Mountain set the scene for an American military resurgence with Cornwallis falling back into South Carolina and delaying his planned invasion into North Carolina and into Virginia. William Campbell's military role at the Battle of Kings Mountain immortalized him. Some believe that without that victory the Revolution would have been lost. His bravery and successful rallying of his men at Kings Mountain contributed greatly to the final American victory at Yorktown.

William Campbell's Virginia riflemen were present and fought alongside the Continental Army at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. The battle of Guilford Court House was fought March 15, 1781. The British army was damaged considerably, and Lord Cornwallis decided to leave the Carolinas for good. Hard feelings developed by Campbell towards General Henry Lee when Lee failed to support Campbell's riflemen during Tarleton's charge and Campbell’s men left for home and on March 20, the Campbell resigned and left the American camp for home.

Campbell was elected two times to the Virginia House of Delegates. He was commissioned a brigadier general by the Virginia Assembly on June 15, 1781, when Cornwallis entered Virginia and more troops were needed, Campbell recruited 600 riflemen and started towards Lafayette's army. But Campbell stayed behind at Rocky Mills Plantation, in western Hanover County on the South Anna River, due to illness. Campbell’s men skirmished at Three Burnt Chimneys with Simcoe's horsemen and moved further down the Middle Neck with Anthony Wayne. His rifle corps moved down the James to join the rest of the American army at West Point. On August 22, 1781, General William Campbell died at Rocky Mills. He was thirty-six years of age.

Lord Cornwallis surrendered his forces to American forces at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781 - a little more than one year after the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Fred Sorrell


Friday, June 14, 2024

Next Meeting: July 17, 2024

Meika Downey will speak on "Preservation and Artifacts at the John Marshall House."

Meika Downey, MA, serves as the statewide Education Manager for Preservation Virginia’s five early American historic sites across the Commonwealth ( In managing all student and adult education for Preservation Virginia, Meika prioritizes inclusive history, sensory-learning, and amplifying diverse voices in primary sources and material culture. She earned her BA in history and political science from Hollins University and her MA in history and public history from Virginia Commonwealth University. She lives in Richmond, Virginia. [source: History Camp website]



Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Meeting Notes: March 20, 2024

The March 20, 2024, meeting was held in the Westhampton Room, Heilman Dining Center, at the University of Richmond. Meeting attendance continues to grow towards pre-pandemic numbers.

Bill Welch announced the membership’s selection of Wilton House Museum, Richmond, Virginia, as AART-R’s 2023 Preservation Partner. Dr Joseph Rizzo, executive director of Wilton House Museum, was presented with a donation to continue their preservation work.

Charles McDaniel was the presenter for the evening. He is chairman of Hilldrup Moving and Storage Corporation, a University of Richmond graduate and owner of the Sentry Box House. He and his family have restored the Sentry Box and currently reside there. Sentry Box is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Weedon built the Sentry Box House in about 1786 and named it to reflect an aspect of his military career. The property overlooks the Rappahannock River in the historic district of Fredericksburg and has a terraced lawn that extends to the river and provides a view across the river toward Ferry Farm in Stafford County.

Mr. McDaniel’s presentation included the topics: Brigadier General George Weedon’s life, the Sentry Box House, Weedon’s family, neighbors and friends in Fredericksburg, the importance of Fredericksburg as the third most populated town in the Colony of Virginia, Fredericksburg’s importance as a transportation hub of roads and waterways, and nearby industries such as the Hunter Iron Works at Falmouth.

George Weedon’s military experience began during the French and Indian War while serving with George Washington and Hugh Mercer. After the French and Indian War ended in 1763, Weedon returned to Fredericksburg and married Catharine Gordon. Hugh Mercer married Catharine’s sister, Isabella. The Gordon family owned a popular tavern known as "Mrs. Gordon’s Tavern" which Weedon began managing. The tavern became the social center of Fredericksburg's wealthy planter class and became a meeting place for Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Hugh Mercer, George Mason, John Marshall, Richard Henry Lee, Gustavus Browne Wallace, William Woodford, George Washington, and other well-known patriots.

Weedon re-entered military service into the Virginia militia and rose to the rank of Continental Army brigadier general. In consequence of a question of General William Woodford’s supremacy of rank, Weedon retired from service shortly after the battle of Germantown. Not having resigned, he resumed command of a brigade in 1780. During the siege of Yorktown, Weedon led the Virginia militia at Gloucester Point. Seizing that strategic position located directly across from Yorktown, on the opposite bank of the York River. Weedon prevented Cornwallis' escape across the York River thus sealing the fate of Cornwallis. This forced Cornwallis’ surrender of all the British forces, effectively ending America's war for independence October 19, 1781.

Mr. McDaniel spoke about generals who lived in the Fredericksburg area; among them were Brigadier General George Weedon, General George Washington, Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, Brigadier General John Minor, and Brigadier General William Woodford. In presenting, he included the famous lineage of the Mercer family (General George S. Patton, Jr., and songwriter Johnny Mercer).

Weedon contributed significantly to the success of the Revolutionary War and played an active role in the beginnings of post-war government and commerce in Fredericksburg.

The McDaniels have agreed to include The Sentry Box House on the Historic Garden Week Fredericksburg Tour.

Further information is available at the following links:

 Biography of George Weedon

Sentry Box House History

Sentry Box Fredericksburg

Sentry Box National Register of Historic Places

Hugh Mercer's Fredericksburg

Mercer Family's Military Lineage


Fred Sorrell


Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Next Meeting: May 23, 2024


Please note our revised meeting date of Thursday, May 23. We needed to reschedule due to the University of Richmond's graduation closures.

John Beakes will speak on "William Campbell in the American Revolution: Commander of Riflemen at King's Mountain and Guilford Courthouse."

John Beakes graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1966 and served in nuclear submarines until 1974. He then began a career of executive leadership in technology service companies, from which he retired in 2021. His five books on the Revolutionary War have focused on little-known combat leaders in America's fight for independence. He co-authored "Cool, Deliberate Courage: John Eager Howard in the American Revolution" and "'Light Horse Harry Lee' in the War for Independence" with Dr. Jim Piecuch. He then completed "Otho Holland Williams in the American Revolution" in 2015, and "De Kalb: One of the Revolutionary War's Bravest Generals" in 2019. In 2022, he completed "William Campbell in the American Revolution: Commander of Riflemen at Kings Mountain and Guilford Courthouse." These books have brought forth the stories of how these largely unknown military leaders made important contributions to the American victory in the Revolutionary War. [Source:]

Here are directions to campus and a map.  Click on Campus Map near the bottom.  We will meet in the Heilman Dining Center. Dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.   

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Next Meeting: March 20, 2024

Charles McDaniel will speak on "General George Weedon and the Sentry Box House."

George Weedon was a Continental Army brigadier general from Fredericksburg who fought throughout the entire war, up to Yorktown. Weedon built the Sentry Box house in about 1766 and named it to reflect his military career. Our speaker will be Charles G. McDaniel, chairman of Hilldrup Moving and Storage Corp. Mr. McDaniel, a University of Richmond graduate and owner of the Sentry Box, is active in numerous state and local charitable and historic boards and committees. He and his family have restored the Sentry Box and currently reside there. Join us to learn about the general and his house.

Here are directions to campus and a map.  Click on Campus Map near the bottom.  We will meet in the Heilman Dining Center.