Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Preservation Donation

The American Revolution Round Table - Richmond donated its 2013 preservation funds to the Battersea Foundation. Battersea is one of the earliest and finest surviving examples of a five-part, Robert Morris-style Palladian house form in the United States, and is the earliest surviving, fully developed example of this house type in Virginia.

The Foundation's plans for 2014 call for spending as much effort as possible on the restoration of the villa itself. For more information on Battersea:

New York City Map Found

A map unearthed by researchers in the United Kingdom could offer a unique look at British-occupied New York City during a crucial chapter of the Revolutionary War — if it proves to be authentic. For more information:

American Revolution Roundtable of the Backcountry: January 17, 2014

Please join us for the next meeting of the
American Revolution Roundtable of the Backcountry
on Friday evening, January 17, 2014
in the Montgomery Room of the Burwell Building at Wofford College.
Our speaker, Scott Hodges, an historian from Darien, Georgia will present Andrew Pickens in first person, using letters, diaries, and documents of the time period. 
 "General Andrew Pickens was an enigma in the truest sense of the word.  Born out of the turmoil of the American Revolution, he was known to the Cherokee as "Skyagunsta" or the "Wizard Owl".  This once consummate Indian fighter would become a successful Indian trader and planter along the South Carolina backcountry in the mid-18th Century.
At the very outset of the Revolution, he would align himself firmly on the side of the Patriots when he took part in the first land battle south of New England at Ninety-Six, in November 1775.  When the British took Charleston, in May 1780, Pickens, now Colonel of a backcountry militia regiment, became known to Lord Cornwallis, the British commander, as "the most dangerous man in South Carolina".  Known to his fellow Patriots as "the Hero of Kettle Creek," he was instrumental in the defeats of the British at Augusta, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse, and in assisting General Green at the Siege of Ninety-Six, as well as many other skirmishes in the back country.
A defender of "Liberty" in both Georgia and South Carolina, Andrew Pickens was a true "Firebrand of the American Revolution".  Hear his story in his own words from letters, diaries, and documents of the time period.  A display of artifacts and items from the colonial period accompanies this program."
Schedule: Dessert & coffee: 6:30-7:00, Program: 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Cost: $5.00 per person 
If you plan to attend, please contact me or Juanita Pesaro at PesaroJB@Wofford.Edu not later than Wednesday, January 15.

2015 Conference on the American Revolution

Not sure how many of you get up Boston way, but I thought the following from the Massachusetts Historical Society might be of interest:

Boston MassacreMark your calendars for this conference, to be held 2 to 4 April, 2015, in recognition of the 250th anniversary of the passage of the Stamp Act. The program will be held at the MHS and is co-sponsored by the Society, Boston University, the David Library of the American Revolution, and Williams College. This conference aims to break out of the well-worn grooves of historical inquiry that have defined the study of the Revolution for the past fifty years. Colleagues are invited to submit proposals to present scholarly essays; in particular, the organizers are seeking papers that address issues of politics and ideology, the impact of military developments and military actions on society, and the course of Revolution in New England. They may reserve some slots for invited scholars. Aside from the keynote speaker, presenters will not deliver their papers aloud; papers under discussion will be available at the Society’s website to registered attendees approximately one month before the program. Submissions should include a one-page description of up to 500 words and a short c.v. with current contact information. Send proposals to Conrad Edick Wright, Director of Research at the MHS, or by email to by 21 February 2014.

Counting Fifes and Drums in George Washington's Army

An interesting article on tallying the number of musicians and instruments in the brigades under Washington:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

St. John's Church Website

Historic St. John's Church has a new website! You can check it out here:

Third Annual Conference on the American Revolution: March 21-23, 2014

The Third Annual Conference on the American Revolution will be held in Williamsburg on March 21-23, 2014. The last two America’s History conferences were excellent and if you missed them you owe it to yourself to attend this one!

Scheduled speakers:

Edward G. Lengel: “Philadelphia is the Object in View”: George Washington at the Battle of Brandywine, 1777
James Kirby Martin: Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians’ Contribution to the American Revolution
Andrew O’Shaughnessy: First in War or First in Peace: Sir William Howe as Commander-in-Chief
Glenn Williams: Revenge and Reprisals: Irregular Warfare and the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign against the Iroquois
Todd Andrlik: Reporting the Revolutionary War: Colonial Newspapers as a Historical Record
Don Hagist: 60 Men at Yorktown: A British Light Infantry Company
David Mattern: Major General Benjamin Lincoln and the American Revolution
James L. Nelson: The Best General on Either Side: Benedict Arnold’s Naval Operations on Lake Champlain and the Chesapeake Bay

Two Panel Discussions:
“Could the British Have Won the American Revolution? Where and How?”
“What Revolutionary War Personality Would You Like to Have Dinner with and Why?”

For more information:

Williamsburg - Yorktown ARRT

The web site for the new Williamsburg - Yorktown ARRT is now up and running. Under the leadership of Gerald Holland and Sean Heuvel, their first meeting will be in February. Welcome to the fold and best wishes!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Meeting Notes: November 20, 2013

"The Men Who Lost America: British Generals and Politicians," Andrew O'Shaughnessy

Many military historians say that Great Britain should have easily won the American Revolution. After all, during the war Great Britain had the best navy in the world and one of the world’s largest armies. Their military was led by veterans of the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French & Indian War), and their war effort was well-financed by a government which purchased war supplies from flourishing British factories that were beginning to enter the Industrial Revolution---one of the greatest economic transformations in world history. So what went wrong and who was responsible?

According to historian Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, the British experienced several major problems in conducting the war but while their military and political leaders made mistakes, their leaders were highly competent professionals. O’Shaughnessy is the author of the recently published book entitled The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire. During the November meeting of the American Revolution Roundtable of Richmond, O’Shaughnessy briefly outlined some of Great Britain’s major problems with the war and he analyzed 10 British military and political leaders who played key roles in the war effort.

O’Shaughnessy began with King George III, a man whom O’Shaughnessy described as having received an unfair portrayal in numerous American history books.

“He wasn’t the tyrant as portrayed in the Declaration of Independence,” said O’Shaughnessy. “During the years immediately after the French & Indian War, King George was actually a restraining force when it came to attempts by Parliament and the British prime minister to tax the colonies. However, the Boston Tea Party changed everything.”

O’Shaughnessy described King George as becoming so angry with the Boston Tea Party that he became obsessed with war and a desire to crush the American rebellion against British authority. He ignored various peace negotiations such as John Dickinson’s Olive Branch Petition, and believed the loss of America would be viewed throughout Europe as a major blow to Great Britain as a world power. King George was an intelligent man who possessed great knowledge about the British navy. He was also an avid art collector.

Frederick, Lord North was the British prime minister shortly before and during the American Revolution. O’Shaughnessy said it was North’s policies toward the American colonies which triggered the American Revolution. North thought if Great Britain could isolate Massachusetts from the rest of the American colonies, the rebellion would stop. His isolation efforts underestimated American opposition up and down the east coast to London’s treatment of the colonies.

Once the war started, North spent considerable time making peace offers to stop the conflict. His best offer was in 1778 via the Carlisle Peace Commission, which proposed the elimination of all British taxes on the American colonies in exchange for an end to the rebellion. It was regarded by America as too little, too late.

O’Shaughnessy said that North did a good job of financing the British war effort. “Remember, France went bankrupt after the war,” said O’Shaughnessy. North tried several times during the American Revolution to resign as prime minister, however King George wouldn’t accept his resignation and even threatened to abdicate if anyone other than North took the job. All of the other top candidates for prime minister opposed the war.

The Howe Brothers were regarded as two of Great Britain’s finest officers. William Howe was regarded as an expert in light infantry and was a veteran of the French & Indian War, having fought on the Plains of Abraham at Quebec. Richard Howe was also a veteran of the French & Indian/Seven Years’ War, having served as captain of the British ship that fired the first shot of that war.

During the American Revolution, William Howe never lost a battle where he was in direct command (which was not the case at Trenton). Richard Howe was regarded during the war as an innovator in amphibious warfare, getting 16,000 troops off British ships onto Staten Island in just a few hours.

John Burgoyne was also a veteran of the Seven Years’/French & Indian War. He commanded an army in Portugal which successfully defended this British ally from a Spanish invasion.   

Lord George Germain was a veteran political administrator who had earlier served in the British army and was once wounded and captured in battle. During the American Revolution, he served as Great Britain’s secretary of state for America, and was the most prominent government spokesman in the House of Commons, next to Lord North.

Prior to the American Revolution Henry Clinton had served as a British observer during the Russo-Turkish War in Bulgaria. “He was a constant neurotic,” said O’Shaughnessy. “After the American Revolution he felt his country made him the scapegoat for losing the American colonies, and he once told friends about having a dream where Lord Cornwallis apologized to him for surrendering at Yorktown.”

According to O’Shaughnessy, the British general during the American Revolution who had the most successful career after the war was Charles Cornwallis. In 1786 he was appointed governor general of Bengal and commander-in-chief of British forces in India. In 1798 during the great rebellion in Ireland, Cornwallis led troops that defeated a French invasion force.

Of all the British generals and admirals who fought in the American Revolution, the one who immediately emerged from the war with an enhanced reputation was George Rodney. His 1782 naval victory against the French in the Battle of the Saintes not only protected Great Britain’s colonies in the Caribbean, but also brought sweet revenge to Great Britain for capturing French admiral Francois-Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse---the French admiral whose fleet had sealed Britain’s fate at Yorktown one year earlier.

John Montague, fourth earl of Sandwich, was known for “working hard and playing hard”, according to O’Shaughnessy. While serving as Britain’s first lord of the admiralty between 1771-1782, Sandwich was a very capable administrator of the British navy and took more of a global view on the American Revolution than did many of his British colleagues in government. He feared a French invasion of Great Britain and the loss of British colonies in the Caribbean far more than Great Britain’s conflict with the 13 American colonies.

After O’Shaughnessy completed his brief review of his 10 British political and military leaders who “lost” the American Revolution he turned his attention to why Great Britain lost the war.

“The British sent an army of conquest to America instead of an army of occupation,” said O’Shaughnessy. “Although they captured all of the major cities, they faced insurrections. Whenever they spread out, their supply lines got cut because their armies were usually small.”

In fact British armies were so small that they relied on Hessians, Indians and runaway slaves to supplement their ranks, which further provoked many colonists who resented the “foreigners, savages and slaves”. The British also faced major supply problems.

“Supplying British armies was a logistical nightmare. Most of their supplies came from Great Britain since their armies and the loyalist population were never self-sufficient in America,” said O’Shaughnessy. In addition, the British navy was never able to mount a sufficient blockade of American ports, allowing French supplies to reach American armies.

O’Shaughnessy also noted that Great Britain fought the American Revolution with no allies, something it wouldn’t do again in a war until 1940 when it stood alone against Nazi Germany during the Battle of Britain.

In the question and answer session O’Shaughnessy thought the comparison of Great Britain during the American Revolution to the United States during the Vietnam war was a “legitimate one”. As for Britain’s political opponents to the war effort in America, O’Shaughnessy said they were split over whether Great Britain should officially recognize the 13 newly independent states as a new nation.

O’Shaughnessy is the Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, and Professor of History at the University of Virginia. In addition to his current book on The Men Who Lost America he is the author of An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean.
-Bill Seward

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Next Meeting: January 15, 2014

The Marquis de Lafayette in person (Charles Wessinger)

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. It is not necessary that you purchase dinner in order to attend the meeting.

University of Richmond campus map:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Review: "Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution," by Nathaniel Philbrick

The First "Oval Office" Replica Erected Nov. 15-17, 2013

Colonial Williamsburg erected the recently completed replica of Gen. George Washington's marquee--the first "oval office"--for the first time during the grand opening Nov. 15-17 of  James Anderson's Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury. The weekend marked the first public display of the reproduction of the marquee tent that served as Washington's field headquarters throughout most of the American Revolution. The tent, the first of two to be made, will be on display at the Secretary's Office adjacent to the Capitol at the east end of Duke of Gloucester Street. 

Historic Trades tailors constructed the reproduction entirely by hand during the late spring through early fall for the Museum of the American Revolution, which is planned to open in Philadelphia in 2017. The museum, which owns the original marquee, wanted a replica made for a variety of uses, including testing the mounting system for the original artifact, in advance of the museum's opening. 

The reproduction marquee is made of linen fabrics, some of which were woven by Historic Trades artisans in Colonial Williamsburg's Weaving Shop. Several other Colonial Williamsburg trade shops also participated in reproducing the tent and its pieces. Carpenters and joiners fashioned wooden poles to support the structure. Blacksmiths forged iron hardware and pole fittings. Wheelwrights assisted with small wooden fasteners and paint. Cabinetmakers turned the wooden finials that go atop the tent poles. The completed marquee measures 22 feet long, 15 feet wide and ten feet high. 

The original sleeping and office tent--a national treasure--was one of a pair of marquees made for Gen. Washington in early 1778, at the end of the Valley Forge encampment. Washington returned to his Mount Vernon home with his tents and other military equipment in December 1783 after he resigned his commission. Following his death in 1799 and the death of his wife, Martha, in 1802, Washington's military effects, including the tents were sold at private auction to Martha's grandson, George Washington Parke Custis. The tents were displayed periodically at the Custis home, Arlington House, during the ensuing decades until his death in 1857. While Union Army units occupied Arlington House during the Civil War, many of Washington's military possessions were taken into federal custody until they were returned to the Custis/Lee family in the early 20th century. Various elements of Washington's field headquarters are now held by institutions including the Museum of the American Revolution, the National Museum of American History, George Washington's Mount Vernon, and the National Park Service. 

The reproduction tent, and associated research on General Washington's field equipment, is funded in part by a generous grant to the Museum of the American Revolution from the Acorn Foundation Fund for History in Memory of Alexander Orr Vietor. 

Commemoration Date Set to Honor the Worcester Revolution of September 6, 1774

Nearly eight months before the American War of Independence began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord, 4,622 militiamen from 37 towns marched down Main Street in Worcester, shut down the Crown-controlled county courthouse and, for the first time ever in the American colonies, effectively overthrew British authority.  The date was September 6, 1774.  Not a shot was fired.

William Wallace, executive director of the Worcester Historical Museum, sums up the importance of this largely untold story.  “The Worcester revolt is noteworthy because it was the first actual ‘revolution’ in the War of Independence – the first real seizure of political and military authority to ever occur in the American colonies. And it happened almost a year before the first shot was fired at Lexington and Concord. That's significant."

The Worcester revolt came about in response to the detested Intolerable Acts, a series of bills enacted by Parliament in the spring of 1774.  A key provision of the Acts limited the colonial right to representative government.  This presented a significant problem for the middle-class farmers, shopkeepers and craftsmen who relied on the county courts as their primary source of civil authority and contact with government.  Ultimately, the citizens of Worcester “demanded that the courts be run, as they had been, by officials ultimately accountable to the voters through their representatives, and not to court officers beholden to the Crown,” according to Melvin H. Bernstein, author of the essay Setting the Record Straight: The Worcester Revolt of September 6, 1774.

The impact of the revolt was immediate and widespread.  “The spectacle of the Worcester rebellion against British authority and public humiliation of its officials sent a shock wave across the Massachusetts colony, all the way to Philadelphia where the First Continental Congress was in session,” says Bernstein.  “Worcester’s militiamen had set the stage for an inevitable later, larger confrontation with the British military.”  The following spring, when General Gage decided to mount an offensive, his spies warned him not to attack Worcester, where arms and powder were stored and where patriots were too strong, but to go after Concord instead.  The rest, as they say, is history.

No one’s sure why this story has been untold for so long, but a local coalition is out to change that.  Comprised of historic and cultural organizations from throughout Worcester County, the Worcester Revolution of 1774 is on a mission to develop a sense of community pride in the role the region played in the founding of America.  “We want to raise awareness of this pivotal event in American history to a level on par with that seen in Lexington and Concord,” said Michael Fishbein, coalition spokesperson.  The communities of Lexington and Concord are well-known for elaborate annual celebrations in honor of their revolutionary heritage.  Each year, they proudly celebrate their role in history with authentic reenactments and colorful parades to honor the historic battles fought there.

To do this, a consortium of organizations has developed a website,, and is planning a region-wide, year-long celebration encompassing Worcester proper and the 37 surrounding towns that particip0ated in 1774. The series will be coordinated with a common brand--Worcester Revolution of 1774--to build momentum and leverage the effect of each event on another.

For more information contact Michael Fishbein at (508) 538-1776 or or visit 

Artillery Piece Returned to Saratoga

A Revolutionary War cannon surrendered by the British after the Battles of Saratoga in 1777 somehow disappeared about 1961. Now it’s back at the Saratoga National Historical Park.

Photos from Return to the Hook, October 19, 2013

Bob Yankle has added pictures of the Return to the Hook reenactment that took place on October 19, 2013, at Gloucester, VA. Apparently, this was one of the largest reenactments ever.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

ARRT-Richmond Tours the US Army Quartermaster Museum

Woven insignia in the entrance.
Our stalwart group with Laura Baghetti "front and center."

Twelve members of our round table toured the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum at Fort Lee, VA on October 16, 2013. Laura Baghetti led us on an informative and fun tour of their facility and described the museum as a "hidden gem"--is she ever right! Thank you, Laura!

In addition to learning about the mission of the quartermasters throughout history, we were able to view some artifacts not generally available to the public:

Some of the various uniform artifacts.

More artifacts, including Gen. Eisenhower's uniform jacket and a drum used at the funeral of J. F. Kennedy.

"Ice Creepers" drew the interest of all.

We highly recommend a visit . . . and take a friend!

Historic Marker in Indiana

Member Bernie Fisher alerted us to this historic marker in Indiana for the Oldest Surviving Veteran of the American Revolution.  Bernie is one of the associate editors of the highly recommended Historical Marker Data Base. Stop by on your next trip through the area. Thanks, Bernie!

Opening Ceremonies for the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington

Click this link to see some of the photos and videos from the opening ceremonies. The comments by David McCullough are of particular interest.

New Book by Todd Andrlik

Most of you reading this are familiar with Todd Andrlik, whose wonderful book Reporting the Revolutionary War was published last fall. 

Todd's articles also appeared in David Reuwer's "American Revolution Magazine." He's the editor of the online "Journal of the American Revolution." Many of you know about this and some of us have had articles posted.  Highly recommended.

Todd's latest project is another book, featuring some of his new research, entitled Journal of the American Revolution  Publication date is scheduled for November 2013.

Spanning 250 full-color pages, each article is accompanied by high definition images, including some that are appearing in print for the first time ever. The book's content debunks many common myths. The origins of "no taxation without representation," the true start of the Revolution, the real first Declaration of Independence, and the truth about British soldiers are all covered. The famous 1776 recruiting poster that pops up at every Revolutionary War reenactment event and in numerous textbooks will be identified as not-so-1776 for the first time ever.

Plus, there are dozens of groundbreaking story lines that are traced and lingering questions that finally get addressed, such as:
  • Were the Founding Fathers young enough to be called Founding Teenagers or Twenty-somethings?
  • What role did dogs play in the war?
  • How did news about America's independence go viral in 1776?
  • How did Washington's army actually cross the Delaware River?
  • At what moment did Washington become a politician as well as a general?
  • What was it really like to walk the colonial streets of Boston, Philadelphia, or New York?
  • What was the treatment for a scalped head or an arrow wound?
  • Was the most hated Loyalist in America really a Patriot spy?
The book will delight casual readers, novice historians and expert scholars equally.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

American Revolution Round Table of the District of Columbia: November 6, 2013

Those who live in, or may be planning to visit, the National Capital Region are cordially invited to attend the next meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of the District of Columbia on Wednesday 6 November 20013. 

The 6 November 2013 program "British Soldiers, American War." will be presented by Don N. Hagist. Much has been written about those who took up arms and served in the cause of American independence during the Revolutionary War. Far less has been devoted to their adversaries. Mr. Hagist will speak on the experience of the common British soldier, taken from their own personal narratives. The information is based on research for his recent book, British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution (Westholme, 2013). Don will be happy to sign copies of his book following the presentation.

Don N. Hagist is an avid historical researcher who has spent much of his life studying and researching the history of the American Revolution, with a particular focus on British soldiers. He is the author of three books and numerous feature articles on the subject. Don lives in Providence, Rhode Island. An engineer by profession, he works for a major electronics company

The ARRT of DC meets at the Fort Myer (Arlington, VA) Officers Club on the first Wednesday of September, November, March and May, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. For more information on attending the program, or the ARRT of DC in general, go to our web page at ; OR, send an e-mail off-list to; or call: (703) 360-9712; or write: ARRT DC, PO Box 137, Mount Vernon, VA 22121.

Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington

The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington is a new center for cutting-edge and compelling scholarship about George Washington, Colonial America, and the Revolutionary Era. Click this link to learn more about its research resources, facilities, and upcoming events:

Meeting Notes: September 18, 2013

“The Revolutionary War Leadership of Major General William Heath: A Reassessment,” Sean Heuvel

While most American Revolution historians have chosen to minimize the military contributions of General William Heath, or to ignore him altogether, historian Sean M. Heuvel told the American Revolution Roundtable of Richmond that Heath “deserves to be remembered more than he has.”

“He was on the edge of greatness but something seemed to hold him back,” said Heuvel. “He is known and stereotyped for one incident and that hides his real contribution.”

Indeed, William Heath was a man who was devoted to the American Revolution. When the War broke out at Lexington and Concord, Heath was the first American general to appear on the scene during the last stage of battle, commanding his Massachusetts militia forces. When the War ended, Heath was still serving as an American army general and in fact served as the army’s last general officer of the day.

Heath came from a family that had lived in Roxbury, Massachusetts (near Boston) since 1636. Prior to the War he was mainly a farmer but was also a man with ambition and according to Heuvel, “Heath was very good at marketing himself and schmoozing people.”

One of Heath’s early pastimes was reading books on military history from Henry Knox’s bookstore. He became a book-educated officer in the Massachusetts militia and rose up the ranks until he was named a brigadier general shortly before the start of the Revolution. “They didn’t have ROTC in those days,” joked Heuvel. “Officers had to learn on the run.”

Heath participated in the siege of Boston by helping to train troops now under the overall command of George Washington. He later fought in the New York campaign at Long Island, Harlem Heights and White Plains. However, for most of the War he tended to hold administrative positions in New England and New York, and can generally be called a “political general,” according to Heuvel.

“Even though he didn’t see many battlefields, it wasn’t by his choice,” said Heuvel. “However when he did fight, he was generally seen as being too cautious.”

Seen by some of his troops for being a bit pompous, they nicknamed Heath “The Duke of Roxbury”, in honor or his Roxbury, Massachusetts roots. “He was a spit and polish type of guy,” said Heuvel.

Heath is probably best known in America’s history books for the Fort Independence campaign. In January 1777 Washington ordered Heath to launch a feint against Fort Independence in conjunction with Washington’s campaign in New Jersey against Trenton and Princeton. Heath’s army, consisting mainly of militia, had approximately 6,000 troops and greatly outnumbered the 2,000-troop Hessian garrison which held Fort Independence.

When Heath’s army reached the outskirts of the fort, they easily captured a few Hessian outposts. Heath then proceeded to order the Fort Independence commander to surrender the fort immediately, to which the Hessian commander replied with a large burst of his garrison’s artillery. Heath wasn’t aware that the Hessians had any artillery so the surrender talks promptly ended and a campaign to capture the fort began.

Over the next few days Heath tried to maneuver his army so that it would encircle the fort, however the terrain was difficult and movement slowed by half-frozen creeks. During this time additional British forces arrived to assist the fort, and skirmished with Heath’s army. Finally, with the approach of a major snowstorm Heath ordered a retreat and left Fort Independence in Hessian hands.

After Washington learned the details about the Fort Independence campaign he sent two letters to Heath, a public one which also went to Congress and a private one. In the public letter Washington was diplomatic and expressed his regret over Heath’s inability to capture Fort Independence. In the private letter Washington expressed anger over the way Heath managed the campaign and censured him, saying that Heath retreated too quickly. Heath attempted to defend himself by blaming the failure on poorly trained militia and the pending snowstorm, however Washington apparently wasn’t persuaded because he never gave Heath another field command.

While Heuvel agrees with Washington’s accusations concerning Heath’s timid nature as a field commander, Heuvel thinks most historians have ignored Heath’s major war contributions in four important areas away from the battlefields.

The first of these contributions was Heath’s ability to supply his army. Nearly all historians agree that Heath was a very good administrator, and quite successful in obtaining supplies and recruiting troops throughout the War. In fact at one point in the War when overall army supplies were unusually low and troop morale was sinking toward mutiny, Washington dispatched Heath to take a tour of state capitols in the Northeast and plead with the legislatures for the immediate need for more supplies. Heath undertook the mission and was quite successful with the legislatures.

A second area where Heath contributed to the American war effort was the manner in which he handled the surrendered troops of General John Burgoyne. Heath was in charge of the Convention Army and successfully managed to keep order among the surrendered troops. When the exchanged British officers were marched to Boston in order to board a ship to England, the officers were protected by Heath’s troops from any physical and verbal abuse coming from civilians. In fact Burgoyne was so shocked at how Boston’s civilians remained quiet as Heath’s troops and the British officers marched through the streets, he later told Heath that if the American/British prisoner roles had been reversed and in London, the people of London would have thrown tomatoes at captured American officers. Certainly Burgoyne left North America with a more favorable opinion of his war adversaries.

Heath also applied his diplomatic skills in a third area which contributed to winning the War. Shortly after the arrival of French troops in Newport, Rhode Island the Americans needed a general to serve as their senior liaison with the Comte de Rochambeau, commander of the French army. Even though Heath didn’t speak French, he was quite successful at forging a close friendship with Rochambeau and cementing the alliance between America and France. This contributed to the close working relationship which Rochambeau and Washington later enjoyed during the Yorktown campaign.

A fourth area where Heath served the American cause was via his constant loyalty to Washington. Even after being censured by Washington over the Fort Independence debacle, Heath cheerfully served Washington and followed orders. “Heath worshipped Washington,” said Heuvel. “He was no Charles Lee.” Apparently Washington appreciated Heath’s loyalty when he trusted Heath to take command of the West Point military district shortly after Benedict Arnold’s treason.

After the War Heath returned to his Roxbury farm and served in several public capacities during the first few years of the new American nation. He was a member of the Massachusetts Convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution, and later served in the state senate and as a judge. Although he was a Federalist, Heath tended to drift toward the Democrat-Republican viewpoints. A few years before his death Heath was elected lieutenant governor of Massachusetts but declined the job, citing health concerns.

Heath and Washington remained friends for the rest of their lives. After Heath published his memoirs from a diary he maintained throughout the War he sent a copy to Washington, who cordially replied with a thank you note. Washington kept the Heath book which was later discovered in his Mount Vernon library after his death.

In summarizing Heath’s relationship with Washington, Heuvel joked, “Heath was the kind of friend who can get on your nerves!”

Heuvel is a distant descendant of Heath’s and has relatives who still live in the Boston area. He is a faculty member at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, where he teaches in the Department of Leadership and American Studies. Heuvel is also the author or co-author of four books:
Christopher Newport University
Life After J.E.B. Stuart: The Memoirs of His Granddaughter, Marrow Stuart Smith
The College of William & Mary in the Civil War
Remembering Virginia’s Confederates

-Bill Seward

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Battle of the Hook: October 18-20, 2013

Gloucester, Virginia
October 18-20, 2013

A National Event Sponsored by the Continental Line, British Brigade, and Brigade of the American Revolution.

Over 1,000 reenactors participating in one of America's Largest Revolutionary War Reenactments. Held on the historic grounds of Warner Hall.
A Revolutionary War reenactment of the 1781 Yorktown Campaign, celebrating General Washington's victory over the British Army. Historic battles will be brought to life by Revolutionary War reenactors and living historians, on the property of the Inn at Warner Hall in Gloucester, VA. Recreated military units from across the country will encamp near the actual battlefields where the American Revolution was won after 6 long years of fighting.

No admission fee. No parking fee. An educational and fun event for the entire family.
For further details:

Next Meeting: November 20, 2013

"The Men Who Lost America: British Generals and Politicians," Andrew O'Shaughnessy

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. It is not necessary that you purchase dinner in order to attend the meeting.

University of Richmond campus map:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Link to "Common-Place"

Here’s a link to the current issue of Common-Place. Although not all revolutionary, there are always a few articles specific to our interest, as well as others.

SCAR Calendar

The SCAR calendar remains the best source of events of a revolutionary nature. Thanks, Charles.

The Yorktown Victory Center's Fall Lecture Series


YORKTOWN, Va., July 23, 2013 – The Yorktown Victory Center’s Revolutionary War lecture series returns this year with guest scholars speaking at 7 p.m. Saturdays, September 14 and 28 and October 5, in the museum’s Richard S. Reynolds Foundation Theater.

James C. Kelly, chief of Museum Programs for the U.S. Army Center of Military History, will present “To, Through, and Beyond Virginia” on September 14.  He will address the paradox that Virginia was the largest destination for voluntary and involuntary immigrants to colonial North America and the largest source of emigrants to the west in the early republic.  Prior to joining the Center of Military History, which operates 62 museums at military installations in the United States, Germany and South Korea, Dr. Kelly was director of museums for the Virginia Historical Society, where he was co-curator and co-author of Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement.

Holger Hoock, the J. Carroll Amundson Professor of British History at the University of Pittsburgh, will present “‘The Tyranny of the People’: A Loyalist Perspective on the American Revolution” on September 28.  The lecture will explore the role of violence in the treatment of Loyalists and in the stories they told of the Revolution and will conclude with an outlook on how they were re-integrated in the new American nation after 1783.  Dr. Hoock is author of Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750-1850 and previously taught at the Universities of Cambridge and Liverpool, where he founded and directed the Eighteenth-Century Worlds interdisciplinary research center.

The series concludes October 5 with Carolyn J. Weekley presenting “Painters and Paintings in the Early American South: 1735-1800,” a survey of painters and their customers, in this case Southern clients, who commissioned various sorts of paintings, but mostly portraits, from about 1735 to the end of the century.  Ms. Weekley is Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Juli Grainger Curator Emerita.  She curated “Painters and Paintings in the Early American South” currently at Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and is author of a recently published book by the same name. 
Admission to the lectures is free, and advance reservations are recommended by calling (757) 253-4572 or e-mailing  The series is supported with private donations to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc.

The Yorktown Victory Center, located at Route 1020 and the Colonial Parkway, chronicles the American Revolution, from colonial unrest to the formation of the new nation, through gallery exhibits and historical interpretation at re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and 1780s farm.  Under the administration of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a Virginia state agency, the museum is undergoing a transformation with a new facility and expanded exhibits and will be known as the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown when the project is complete.  The Yorktown Victory Center remains open to visitors daily while work is under way.  For more information, visit or call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.