Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Next Meeting: November 15, 2023

Our next meeting on November 15 will feature a presentation by Bob Thompson on "Revolutionary Roads: Searching for the War that Made America Independent... and All the Places It Could Have Gone Terribly Wrong." Be sure to mark your calendars now!

We will be returning to the Westhampton Room in the Heilman Dining Center. Regular dining service will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m.

University of Richmond campus map:


Meeting Notes: September 20, 2023

Meeting was held September 20, 2023, in the Westhampton Room, Heilman Dining Center, University of Richmond

 Meeting attendance is increasing. Bethany Sullivan, Director of The James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage ( attended the meeting and spoke about the 18th, 19th and 20th century cultural heritage and artifacts located at the Museum, of Orange County and the Piedmont region of Virginia.

 The evening’s presentation was “The Unintended Consequences of Interrupting Britian’s Slave-trading Economy.” The speaker was Christian McBurney, author of Dark Voyage: An American Privateer’s War on Britain’s African Slave Trade. His books are available from his publisher (

 An armada of more than 2,000 so-called “privateers” were legally commissioned, by both the Continental Congress and individual states, to seize enemy shipping on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of collecting court-awarded vessels as prizes whereby seized ships and contents could then be sold. The ship’s owners, crews and investors profited by selling the captured vessels and contents. This severely disrupted Great Britain’s global commerce and turned British public opinion against the war as British officials complained they could not guarantee the safety of civilian trade. Privateering advanced America’s War of Independence objectives by diminishing the importation of British goods into the United Colonies and the exportation of natural resources to Great Britain. Privateers became “our cheapest and best navy.” Seized merchant ships were later sold to American traders and syndicates (and others masking as American) who repurposed the ships expanding commercial capacity for the slave trade.

 Christian McBurney’s presentation “followed the money” of ships and investors from Portugal, Spain, the Dutch Republic, France, and Britain leading up to slave-trading throughout the Americas. This occurred when the demand for enslaved labor rose sharply with the growth of sugar cane agriculture in the Caribbean and tobacco plantations in the Chesapeake region. He described how European naval commerce developed as triangular trade ventures proved profitable: in which arms, textiles, and wine were shipped from Europe to Africa; enslaved people were transported from Africa to Brazil, the Caribbean islands, and North America; and sugar, and its derivatives rum and molasses, and coffee were shipped from the Americas to Europe.

 At the start of the American War of Independence, Britain dominated Atlantic commerce and was the leading slave-trading nation in the world. In 1776, American privateers began to prey on British merchantmen exploiting opportunities for immediate profits. Privateers began to capture British slave ships with African captives on board just before they arrived at their Caribbean Island destinations, and North American coasts, returning the seized ships to port to declare and await award their prizes. Privateers later expanded their roaming to the western coast of Africa.

 Based on a little-known contemporary primary source, The Journal of the Good Ship Marlborough, one privateer was given an extraordinary task: to sail across the Atlantic to attack British slave trading posts and ships on the coast of West Africa. The story of this remarkable voyage is told in McBurnie’s book. He attributes the work of the Marlborough and other American privateers as so disruptive that it led to an unintended consequence: virtually halting the British slave trade. British slave merchants, alarmed at losing money from their ships being captured, invested in fewer slave voyages. As a result, tens of thousands of Africans were not forced onto slave ships, then transported to the New World, and consigned to a lifetime of slavery or an early death.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Next Meeting: September 20, 2023


Our speaker will be Christian McBurney, president of the George Washington ARRT-DC and the author of a number of Revolutionary War books.  He will be speaking about his newest, Dark Voyage: American Privateer's War on British African Slave Trade, describing one privateer's extraordinary task: to sail across the Atlantic to attack British slave trading posts and ships on the coast of West Africa.  Christian is a return guest, having previously presented on both the capture and court martial of General Charles Lee.  His books are available at the Fort Plain Bookstore.

We will be returning to the Westhampton Room in the Heilman Dining Center. Regular dining service will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m.

University of Richmond campus map:


Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Next Meeting: July 19, 2023

 "Revolutionary Money & Finance," Edward Lewis

The Currency Act or Paper Bills of Credit Act was legislation passed by the British Parliament that regulated paper money issued by the colonies.  Ed will discuss this, as well as revolutionary finance in general.  He will also present bills and coins for our inspection.
Edward Lewis has studied the American Revolution for fifty years, with an emphasis on money and finance. He became interested in the American Revolution in the early 1970s, tracing ancestors who served in the Continental Army, including Cresaps Maryland Rifles Company.  He has collected all types of currency and documents  related to the revolution, signers of the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution. Ed is a member of the Chesterfield Historical Society and three coin clubs in the Richmond, Colonial Heights, and Charlottesville areas.


Thursday, June 15, 2023

Meeting Notes: March 15, 2023

Administrative Items:

 1.      AART-R’s financial to support to other Revolutionary War organizations was discussed, including recurring contributions to the American Battlefield Trust and Crossing of the Dan. The membership present voted on and approved sending a donation to the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust for The Camden Burials.

2.     Mark Lender re-announced the 2022 Harry M. Ward Book Award co-winners:

a.     Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778-1781, author John Ferling

b.     Francis Marion and the Snow's Island Community: Myth, History, and Archaeology, author Steven D Smith

3.     Bill Welsch announced the planning of an October 14 (tentative) tour of Revolutionary War sites around the Newport News area. Details are to follow.

 Meeting Presentation:

William L. Kidder spoke on the Battle of Trenton, entitled "That Unhappy Affair at Trenton" based on his book Ten Crucial Days: Washington's Vision for Victory Unfolds available from the Fort Plain Museum Bookstore [].

The significance of the patriots' victory at Trenton was not forgotten in the ensuing years and two and a half years after the battle, it was Lord George Germain, the British Secretary of State for North America throughout the Revolutionary War, who remarked to the House of Commons on May 3, 1779 “all our hopes were blasted by that unhappy affair at Trenton. Germain shared a heavy amount of blame for Britain’s ultimate defeat by the American patriots under General George Washington.

While the American Revolution seemed on the verge of defeat, on December 25, 1776, Washington assessed the weaknesses and strengths of his situation as he moved his troops towards Philadelphia. He reacted to the complex situation and developments over the next ten days [December 25, 1776 through January 3, 1777] in ways not expected by the British military which became turning points for George Washington as America’s Commander-in-Chief and respect for American military capabilities against the world’s largest army.

Kidder walked through the events leading up to and through the turning point victory at the Battle of Trenton using a coalition of Continental soldiers, state and local militias, and local volunteers.

 Washington’s failed defenses and retreats during the New York Campaign [July to November 1776] that included the Battle of Long Island, the Battle of White Plains, and most seriously at Fort Washington. Washington’s command was in jeopardy. Enlistments were set to expire.

Washington’s forces retreated across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania to make a stand at defending Philadelphia, where the Second Continental Congress was meeting, and thereby allowed British control of New Jersey, The British commander, William Howe, had made a miscalculation and overextended his forces over a chain of winter garrisons, along the supply route from the stronghold at Staten Island southward to the Delaware River. At the southern end of the chain was the village of Trenton.

On December 8, 1776 Continental forces crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania for temporary sanctuary. On the morning of December 13, 1776, Major-General Charles Lee, second in command of the Continental Army, was captured by the British at Widow White's tavern, at Basking Ridge, New Jersey, during his troops’ slow march to help Washington. British-born Lee ranked next to Washington in command but believed he should have been named Commander-in-Chief because of his experiences as a British officer and services in European mainland armies. He spent 18 months as a prisoner. Major-General John Sullivan took over Lee’s command and continued the march to join Washington.

To rally his troops Washington planned a logistically complex surprise attack on the British garrison at Trenton that required his army to recross the ice jammed Delaware River. The route chosen for the main army’s crossing resulted in a longer march to Trenton because a patriot-friendly ferry point was chosen over a loyalist-leaning ferry point that was closer to the town. The Continental Army and various state militias led by George Washington attacked the winter quarters of a brigade on the morning of December 26, 1776. The Trenton garrison consisted of mainly German soldiers quartered in civilian houses throughout the village and commanded by German Colonel Johann Rall.

Colonel Rall made mistakes in both his defensive preparations around his garrison (no redoubts, no defensive plan) and his reaction to learning an attack was underway. Washington exploited British arrogance by leading his army, made up of Continental soldiers, state militia groups and volunteers, in maneuvers that humiliated His Majesty’s forces.

In just ten short days the course of history was changed. The Battle of Trenton was notable as the first open field success won by Washington. The victory at Trenton restored American morale and renewed confidence in Washington as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army thereby turning the tide of the Revolutionary War.

--Fred Sorrell

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Meeting Notes: May 24, 2023

The Round Table meeting was held in the Ukrop Auditorium located in the Robins School of Business, at the University of Richmond. Our own Randy Flood spoke on: "The Real John Graves Simcoe."

Randy is a member of our ARRT-Richmond and of the Williamsburg-Yorktown Roundtable, as well. He is also Host and Executive Producer of The Real American Revolution Multimedia Center & Consortium for Civic Education, located at; a nonprofit organization established to educate Americans and others about what really happened during our American Revolution.

John Graves Simcoe was born into a military family in England. He was well-educated and joined the military. He was deployed to America during the Siege of Boston in 1775.

In America, he was involved in the Northern (New York, New Jersey), Mid-Atlantic (Brandywine, Quinton’s Bridge, Crooked Billet, Monmouth), and Southern (Charleston, Blandford, Point of Fork, Spencer’s Ordinary, Yorktown) Campaigns from 1776 to 1781 

Simcoe commanded the Queen's Rangers in 1777, a Loyalist unit, and conducted successful “hit and run” raids in central New Jersey and along Virginia's Lower Peninsula.

Served with Cornwallis and Tarleton at Yorktown (Gloucester Point), then returned to New York and then England, due to sickness, and became a Member of Parliament.

Named 1st Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada (which is geographically south of Lower Canada) in 1791. His legacies included government reforms, influencing the first abolishment of slavery in the British Empire, founding the City of York (Toronto) as the capital of Canada, establishing British civil law, trial by jury, the use of British Winchester standards of measure, a provision for jails and courthouses and others considered on the same scale was Washington’s legacies to America.

He strengthened Great Britain's defenses against potential French invasion during the part of the Napoleonic wars.

Simcoe was chosen to succeed Lord Cornwallis as Governor General of India, but died before he could take office.

Importantly, John Graves Simcoe was, in real life, the complete opposite of the psycho-maniac character that is portrayed in the fictional television series "TURN." Simcoe emphasized: training and instruction of his troops; support of local farmers; anti-marauding; taking of prisoners to prevent unnecessary bloodshed; the reading of all written orders to the rank-and-file at daily parade; and verbal instructions of officers as to what was required of them to eliminate possible misunderstandings.

Some of the significant events depicted in the series simply did not occur in real life.

--Fred Sorrell

Monday, May 22, 2023

** May 24 Meeting Location Change **


The University of Richmond has moved us out of the Gottwald Center for our Wednesday evening meeting.

We have been moved to the Ukrop Auditorium in the Robins School of Business (Building 102 on the attached map). This is right by the Campus Drive entrance.  There is ample parking all around the building, but across the street is best.  MAP IS HERE. (link at bottom of page)