Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cavalry of the American Revolution, Jim Piecuch, Editor

The following is from Charles Baxley, by way of Charlie Gray. Many of you will remember when the Cavalry Conference, sponsored by the Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution, was held in Spartanburg.

From the bitterly contested no-man’s-land between American and British lines in New York and New Jersey to the scorching pine forests of the South, the cavalry of both armies fought valiantly throughout the American Revolution. This volume explores several aspects of cavalry’s role in the war, which has often been overlooked in general histories. The topics covered include the development of the Continental Army’s cavalry arm, European influences on American cavalry training and tactics, accounts of several important cavalry raids and battles, and histories of mounted units such as the Continental Light Dragoons, American rangers in the South Carolina backcountry, and the British army’s Queen’s Rangers and “Black Dragoons,” the latter force composed entirely of former slaves. The essays also examine the roles of important commanders, including Brigadier General Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion, Lieutenant Colonel William Washington, and Colonel Anthony Walton White of the American army, and British cavalry leaders Banastre “Bloody Ban” Tarleton and John Graves Simcoe, as well as the American prisoners of war who switched sides and served in the “British Legion.” The authors of the essays include acclaimed military historians Gregory J. W. Urwin and Lawrence E. Babits. Readers with a general interest in military history, as well as those with more specific interests in the American Revolution or the history of the cavalry arm, and anyone who wishes to undertake further study of these subjects, will find the essays fresh, engaging, and informative.

  • Gregory J. W. Urwin: The Continental Light Dragoons, 1776-1783
  • Lee F. McGee: European Influences on Continental Cavalry
  • John M. Hutchins: Cavalry Action at Poundridge, New York
  • Donald J. Gara: Cavalry Battles in New York and New Jersey
  • Scott A. Miskimon: Anthony Walton White: A Revolutionary Dragoon
  • Michael C. Scoggins: South Carolina’s Backcountry Rangers
  • Lawrence E. Babits and Joshua B. Howard: Continentals in Tarleton’s British Legion
  • Charles F. Price: Cavalry Operations at Eutaw Springs
  • Jim Piecuch: The “Black Dragoons”
JIM PIECUCH is an associate professor of history at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. He received his doctorate in history from the College of William & Mary and is author of a number of books, including The Battle of Camden: A Documentary History.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Looking at Lexington in 1775"

If you've never checked-out John Bell's blog, "Boston 1775," you owe it to yourself to do so. May 12th's entry discussed an article by Mary Babson Fuhrer titled, "The Revolutionary Worlds of Lexington and Concord Compared." Her article is available as a download from a link on the Boston blog. Here's a link to the entry:

Yorktown Victory Center Replacement will be Named "American Revolution Museum at Yorktown"

From Debby Padgett, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. Images may be found at:

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., May 10, 2012 – Along with a physical transformation of the Yorktown Victory Center will come a new name – “American Revolution Museum at Yorktown” – adopted today by the Board of Trustees of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, the state agency that operates Yorktown Victory Center and Jamestown Settlement history museums, and endorsed by the Board of Directors of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc. Recommended by a board naming study task force, the new name will be implemented upon completion of the museum replacement, and in the meantime the Yorktown Victory Center will continue in operation as a museum of the American Revolution.

Construction is expected to start in the second half of 2012 on the project, which includes an 80,000-square-foot structure that will encompass expanded exhibition galleries, classrooms and support functions, and reorganization of the 22-acre site, located at Route 1020 and the Colonial Parkway in Yorktown. Total cost of building construction and renovations to the site and living-history areas, to be funded primarily through the sale of Virginia Public Building Authority bonds, is estimated at $46 million. Private donations to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc., will support elements of gallery and outdoor exhibits and educational resources.

“The new name highlights the core offering of the museum, American Revolution history,” said Frank B. Atkinson, who chaired the naming study task force comprised of 11 members of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc., boards, “and the inclusion of the word ‘Yorktown’ provides a geographical anchor. We arrived at this choice through a methodical process that began with compiling an extensive list of potential names, engaging our Museums and Programs Advisory Council and Foundation staff. Key elements to include in the name were identified, and research was undertaken on names currently in use. Selected names were tested with Yorktown Victory Center visitors and reviewed by a trademark attorney and branding consultant.”

“This name ideally reflects what we aim to achieve with the new museum,” said Foundation Chairman H. Benson Dendy III. “The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will provide a renewed perspective on the meaning and impact of the Revolution and will have a nationally important role, along with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the National Park Service and other Historic Triangle partners, in interpreting events that transformed 13 British colonies into the United States of America.”

The Yorktown Victory Center opened in 1976 as one of three Virginia centers for the national Bicentennial. In 36 years of continuous operation, the museum has hosted 5.3 million visitors and has served more than 900,000 students with curriculum-based structured educational programs. In the early 1990s, the museum’s focus was broadened to encompass events that led to the Revolutionary War and the subsequent formation of a new national government and to interpret the Revolution from diverse points of view and experiences. Critical short-term exhibit renovations were completed in 2006 in time for major commemorations in which the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation had a key role – the 225th anniversary of the decisive American victory at Yorktown and 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, America’s first permanent English colony.

In 2007 the Foundation board adopted a master plan to address long-term exhibit, building and operation issues. The Virginia General Assembly authorized funding the following year, including $1.6 million from Foundation-generated revenues, for environmental studies and architectural and exhibit design planning.

The new museum building will be positioned on the site with an entrance that will serve as a focal point for arriving visitors. Featuring museum galleries with immersive learning environments, interactive exhibits and period artifacts, the structure also will house classroom and event space, visitor services, gift shop, and support functions and will provide improved access to the museum’s outdoor re-created Continental Army encampment and Revolutionary-period farm. The two outdoor areas will be expanded and relocated.

The Yorktown Victory Center will remain in operation during construction. The existing buildings will be demolished after the new building is complete, and new permanent gallery exhibits will be fabricated and installed after the new building is in use. Upon completion of the entire project, with the new exhibition galleries ready for visitors, “American Revolution Museum at Yorktown” will be the museum’s name.

Benedict Arnold, American Hero?

Two upstate New York battlefields are remembering Benedict Arnold for his pre-treason exploits. Thanks to Bruce Venter for sending along this article:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Preservation: Great Bridge, VA

Fought in December, 1776, this lopsided American victory ensured American control of Virginia early in the war. Royal Governor Lord Dunmore had organized British regulars, Virginia loyalists, and runaway slaves and occupied Norfolk. Virginia militia fortified the Great Bridge south of the town. Dunmore’s forces made a disastrous charge over the causeway, and fell back in disorder.

The Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation is creating a park and museum at the site of this important early battle. Plans for the museum and park are on the website, and the site can be toured with advanced notice.

This is exciting, as a park and museum are being created from scratch at a significant site that had no preservation before. Follow their progress at:

Preservation: Battersea Plantation, VA

This plantation was the home of John Banister, first mayor of Petersburg, delegate to the Virginia Convention of 1776, the Continental Congress, and a signer of the Articles of Confederation. During the Virginia Campaign of 1781, British troops occupied the site. The plantation is in the process of restoring the house and is actively seeking donations to support its work. 

The Battersea Foundation directs the restoration of the house which includes many unique architectural features. On the grounds is a rare orangery and other outbuildings. Recently, the exterior stucco on the main house was stabilized and repaired.

Preservation: Point of Fork, VA

Site of an important arsenal at the junction of the James and Rivanna Rivers, the British seized the site in the summer of 1781. After the war, a more substantial armory was built for use by the Virginia militia. The site is now private property, but the landowner has allowed archaeologists to investigate the historic features remaining underground. We will update this site regarding future discoveries here.

Preservation: Sullivan's Island, SC

Thomson Park Revolutionary War Battle Site was dedicated last June on Sullivan’s Island near Charleston, SC. Local citizens created the park, which has markers describing this lesser known part of the battle of Sullivan’s Island in 1776. While British warships failed to silence American forces at Fort Moultrie, a landing force met disaster here, ensuring the British could not take Fort Moultrie from land. Visit their website at:

Preservation: Camden, SC

The Congress of Revolutionary War Roundtables endorsed an effort by the Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution, based in SC, to petition the U.S. Congress to create a National Battlefield Park at Camden. This is the site of one of the largest battles of the war that is not preserved as a state or national park. It has high integrity, as the landscape is still undeveloped.The battlefield is currently owned by the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, a land preservation group in South Carolina. 

Fought in August, 1780, Camden was a disaster for the American army under General Horatio Gates. The defeat enabled British troops to spread across South Carolina and consolidate their control over the state. 

Preservation: Washington Crossing, PA

Washington Crossing Historic Site is completing its new museum, complete with an education center and more exhibit space. The enlarged visitor center is scheduled for an opening by late summer. The park sits on the west bank of the Delaware River, site of the Continental Army’s crossing on Christmas night, 1776. For information visit:

Preservation: Yorktown Heights, NY

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Yorktown Heights is on the Hudson, not the York River in Virginia. Also known as the battle of Pine Bridge, this 1783 engagement featured the Rhode Island Regiment. This unit included a number of freed slaves and Indians in its ranks. A new monument is being planned for the site, the first in the nation on a Revolutionary Battlefield that will include a Caucasian, African American, and Native American soldier. To learn more visit:

Preservation: Constitution Island, NY

Located near West Point, this was the site of a fortification guarding the Hudson River. Throughout the war, Continental troops camped here. This was also the site of the Great Chain that stretched across the river to deny access to British warships. The Constitution Island Association works with the US Military Academy at West Point to preserve the site. The groups are working to restore the eighteenth century Warren House, located on the property. For updates visit:

Preservation: Princeton, NJ

This engagement capped-off the Ten Crucial Days - Washington's aggressive counter- offensive that saved the Revolution in the dark days of early 1777. Princeton was the first Continental Army victory over British regular troops. Virginia General Hugh Mercer was bayoneted in the battle. 

Having lost its fight to stop development on part of the battlefield through the planning review process in March, 2012, the Princeton Battlefield Society will now use legal action.  The Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) intends to build faculty housing on a tract of land that is part of the battlefield, adjacent to land owned by Princeton Battlefield State Park. 

The IAS contends that the land was not fought over, but an archaeological survey conducted by the American Battlefield Protection Program of the National Park Service shows conclusively that heavy fighting indeed took place on the ground. It was the site of the American counter-attack, led by Washington in person, that forced the British back. The proposed development violates zoning and wetlands regulations and it is on these issues, not the relevancy of the battle, that the Princeton Battlefield Society hopes to score a victory. 

Princeton is probably the Number 1 preservation priority for Revolutionary sites in the nation.  For more information:

To donate to the cause:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

10th Francis Marion/Swamp Fox Symposium: "Explore the Southern Campaign with General Marion," October 12-13, 2012

Immerse yourself in Francis Marion's world and the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution.

Approx. Times: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012: 2:00 PM - 9:00 PM and Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012: 9:00 AM - 10:00 PM.

Site: FE DuBose Campus of Central Carolina Technical College, I-95, Exit 122, ½ mi E on US 521, Manning, SC.

Details on as schedule is developed.

Agenda framework for Presentations: Friday, October 12, 2012
2:00 PM Sign-in
2:30 (starts with 2 presentations)
Reception Dinner in Manning
Saturday, October 13, 2012
9:00 AM Opening, Drinks & Breakfast Snacks
9:30 AM (continues with 6 presentations)
Displays/ Book Signings
An Evening in Rev. History Dinner Theater With Our Historian:
Joe Stukes as Harry Lee

Washington's Artillery Talk by John Bell of "Boston 1775" Fame

"Washington's Artillery: Remaking the Regiment Between Bunker Hill and Dorchester Heights"

J. L. Bell speaking at Longfellow-Washington House National Historic Site
Cambridge, MA
March 15, 2012

Video is approx. 53 minutes.

Paul Revere Print Newly Discovered

A “newly discovered” print by Paul Revere is covered here and in other places on the web:

Nathan Hale's Problems Continue