Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Friday, December 28, 2012

ARRT-Richmond Stalwarts Tour Trenton, NJ

Several members and friends of the ARRT-Richmond gathered in Trenton, NJ on December 8-9, 2012. Braving the damp weather, we toured The Old Barracks in Trenton and then headed to Washington's Crossing to tour the visitors' center and see the Swan Collection.

On Sunday, Bill Welsch treated us to an overview of the two battles of Trenton, taking us to several of the landmarks in town. After that, it was off once again, in an increasingly chilly rain, to Washington's Crossing to view the rehearsal for the reenactment of Washington Crossing the Delaware.

In the end, it was fortuitous that we got to see the rehearsal as the actual crossing reenactment was scrubbed due to high water. Here are links to two articles, one from the Wall Street Journal and one from Lehigh Valley Live.

Proposed Dues Increase

As required by Article X of our bylaws, any amendments must be announced at a meeting and acted upon at the next meeting. Additionally, the membership must be notified via email of the impending changes and they are being posted on our web site. At the November meeting, the board proposed a dues increase to $20 per year, from the current $15, with $5 being designated for our approved preservation cause. This would replace the “passing of the hat.” Additionally, new members joining as of September in any year will pay $15 dues, with $5 going to the preservation fund. This is an increase from $9 and applies only to new members and not to current members who have not paid their yearly tariff. 

The board recommended, and the membership generally seemed to support, Battersea as the recipient of our current funds and those raised in 2013. But no action will be taken on this until after the motion is decided in January. 

We will discuss and vote on both of these amendments at the January meeting.

Barrett Farm House, Concord, MA

The 300-year-old Barrett Farm House and its surrounding farm have been restored and added to Minute Man Historical Park in Massachusetts, bringing to the park a Revolutionary War landmark. Thanks to John Maass for sending this to us.

Fort John Moore Restoration

The Friends of Valley Forge are attempting to restore Fort John Moore, one of the redoubts from the encampment. For details:

SCAR Round Table and Corps of Discovery: January 12-13, 2013

January 12, 2013: SCAR Round Table at The Charleston Library Society, 164 King Street, Charleston, SC. For more information:

January 13, 2013: SCAR Corps of Discovery, Revolutionary War Sites East of the Cooper River. For more information:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Next Meeting: January 16, 2013

Patrick Henry--In person, Bill Young

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

University of Richmond campus map:

Battersea Plantation

At the November meeting it was proposed that Battersea receive our collected preservation fund at the end of 2013. Here is a link to information regarding this historic site:

Meeting Notes: November 14, 2012

"The British Raids in Virginia, 1781," Bert Dunkerly

On January 1, 1781 all was quiet throughout modern-day Virginia in terms of Revolutionary War fighting. There were no British combat troops anywhere on Virginia soil, and Virginia’s primary war contributions were sending troops and war supplies to military campaigns in other states. However, everything changed in a matter of days with the first of three major British raids against Central Virginia.

Park Service historian Bert Dunkerly reviewed these three raids at ARRT-Richmond’s November 2012 meeting. Dunkerly has served as a ranger for approximately 14 years in a variety of Park Service locations and is currently on the staff at Richmond National Battlefield Park. He is the author of several books on the American Revolution and teaches history courses at the Virginia Historical Society and the University of Richmond. Dunkerly is also a member of ARRT-Richmond and serves as chairman of the organization’s preservation committee.

The first 1781 raid which Dunkerly described was led by none other than the infamous Benedict Arnold. After the British navy sailed up the James River and landed his 1,600 troops at Westover Plantation, Arnold marched his troops toward Richmond via Darbytown Road and Main Street.

Since most Virginia troops were fighting in other states, only small numbers of militia were available to defend Richmond. The Virginia militia made a brief defensive stand on Chimborazo Hill but retreated and abandoned the City after firing a few shots against the much larger British army. Governor Thomas Jefferson and most of Virginia’s other elected officials also fled the City and tried to move and/or destroy important records and supplies before they could fall into British hands.

On January 5, 1781 Arnold’s troops entered Richmond. For 24 hours the British destroyed a foundry, powder magazines, military stores, tobacco and other warehouses and various mills. They also broke into private homes and stole stocks of liquor, especially rum. In just 24 hours Arnold’s troops marched approximately 15 miles, fought a skirmish, tore up Richmond’s industries, stole from Richmond’s residents and got drunk. The next day the British navy took Arnold’s troops to Portsmouth where they made their winter quarters.

The second British raid of 1781 took place in April. Approximately 2,300 troops under the command of William Phillips landed at what is now Hopewell. They marched along what is today Route 36 toward Petersburg where on April 25 they fought with Virginia militia on the east side of the City who were under the overall command of Baron Frederick von Steuben. The militia defended well and gave ground gradually but they eventually retreated across the Appomattox River and left Petersburg to the British.

Phillips’ troops burned Petersburg’s tobacco and later pushed north toward Richmond, getting as close as Manchester. Slowing the British advance were troops under the command of the Marquis de Lafayette. After burning warehouses in Manchester the British returned to Petersburg where Phillips became very ill with a fever and died. His body is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Blandford Cemetery. 

While Phillips’ troops were raiding the Petersburg area, Lord Charles Cornwallis was moving his army from Wilmington, NC to Petersburg. The new, much larger British army overwhelmed Petersburg and then Richmond after crossing the James River near what is today the Civil War battlefield of Malvern Hill. The British continued their march northward into Hanover County and camped at what is today the Civil War battlefield of North Anna.

Cornwallis detached his cavalry under the command of Banastre Tarleton on a series of raids that went as far north as the Rappahannock River near The Wilderness and as far west as the Lynchburg area. Tarleton also raided Charlottesville where Governor Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia General Assembly fled after evacuating Richmond. If not for the heroic 40-mile ride of Jack Jouett to warn Jefferson and the legislators of Tarleton’s plans, they would have been captured or killed. The elected officials escaped to Staunton but Tarleton’s cavalry seized over 3,000 muskets and considerable supplies of powder and shoes in the Charlottesville area.

After their raids to the north and west of Richmond the British returned to the Capital City. On June 21 they evacuated Richmond and marched toward Williamsburg, and later to Yorktown where they surrendered in October.

In closing, Dunkerly noted that school children in England and Canada who study the American Revolution are taught that the British lost the War as a result of the battles in America’s southern colonies. Certainly the year 1781 was a critical one for the Revolution and in the history of Virginia.

Dunkerly’s program was a substitute for the one originally planned by Tim McGrath on naval hero John Barry. Unfortunately McGrath’s New Jersey home was damaged by Superstorm Sandy and he was forced to cancel his trip to Richmond.

-Bill Seward