Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Monday, December 8, 2014

ARRT-Richmond 2014 Book Award

(l. to r. Chairman, Book Award Committee Mark Lender, Co-winners Andrew J. O'Shaughnessy and Mark R. Anderson, and ARRT-Richmond President Bill Welsch

At their November 16, 2014 meeting, president Bill Welsch and Book Award Committee chairman Mark Lender presented the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond's 2014 Book Award to co-winners Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy and Mark R. Anderson.

O'Shaughnessy was honored for The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire. Anderson was honored for The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony: America's War of Liberation in Canada, 1774-1776.

ARRT-Richmond Field Trip: November 16, 2014

A stalwart group of ARRT-Richmonders braved the cold and damp on November 16 to follow Lafayette's movements in central Virginia prior to Yorktown. Led by John Maass, the group visited Winston’s Bridge, Ground Squirrel Bridge, “Scotchtown,” Davenport’s Ford, Mattaponi Church, Corbin’s Bridge on the Po River, Wilderness Run, Ely’s Ford on the Rapidan River, Lower or Great Fork Church, and Raccoon Ford.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Next Meeting: January 14, 2015

"Stand to Horse! The Dragoon at War," Dennis Farmer

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.

Please note that this is the second Wednesday of the month and not our usual third Wednesday!

University of Richmond campus map:

Meeting Notes: November 19, 2014

“The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony: America’s War of Liberation in Canada, 1774 – 1776,” Mark R. Anderson

During the American Revolution, several American armies crossed the border into Canada. Did the Canadians see them as liberators or as invaders, and did Canadians view the Americans as spreading democracy or anarchy between Anglo and French Canadians?

Mark R. Anderson discussed these issues at the November 19 meeting of the American Revolution Roundtable of Richmond. Anderson is the author of The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony: America’s War of Liberation in Canada, 1774-1776. His book is the co-winner of the Roundtable’s 2014 Book Award.

“When I started my research on this topic, I thought it would be cut and dry---a difference between Canada and the United States over culture and religion,” said Anderson. “However, as I did the research, I discovered a much more complex story than I first thought.”

Anderson said he found two major themes which hadn’t been addressed in previous writings on this topic. One was the American effort to spread democratic government to Canada and the other was the effort to offer Quebec an alternative to British rule.

Quebec became a part of British Canada in 1763 when France ceded the territory as part of the treaty to end the French and Indian War. Although most Quebec residents spoke French and practiced Catholicism, most of Quebec’s wealthy merchants and political leaders who ran the government spoke English and were Protestants.

For approximately 10 years many French Canadians complained about their treatment under this government, and in 1774 Quebec Governor Guy Carleton persuaded London to grant more rights. In what became known as the Quebec Act, Great Britain granted more political power to wealthy French Canadians and to the Roman Catholic Church. Naturally many Anglo Protestant Canadians disliked the Quebec Act because they lost some of their economic, political and religious power. 

“The Quebec Act created a hybrid government,” said Anderson. Up until then there was a real question as to whether Quebec would get its own legislature. In fact not even the French Canadian elite wanted a legislature where the French Canadian masses could dominate it. Instead the French elite wanted more representation within the existing government.”

Anderson also noted that the Quebec Act had an influence on Great Britain’s other North American colonies. For example when invitations were issued in 1774 to attend the First Continental Congress, Quebec received an invitation.

After Lexington and Concord triggered all-out war the Second Continental Congress gave Philip Schuyler permission to take his army across the border from New York into Canada, provided his army didn’t alienate the Canadians. Later in 1775 Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold also took their armies across the Canadian border with similar congressional instructions, and launched a two-pronged attack to capture Montreal and Quebec City.

“Initially the Canadian patriots worked with the Americans,” said Anderson. “However, the Continental Congress didn’t back the military campaign with enough money, supplies and support of political activity for Canadians to form their own government. As a result, the Americans came north as an invasion and didn’t build a good enough Canadian coalition.”

Anderson closed his remarks by calling the American war in Canada a “very complex story”. He said the Americans tried to “sell” the Canadians on the American Revolution serving as a way to end “Canadian oppression” under the British. In Anglo Protestant areas such as Montreal the people rallied to the American cause.

However thanks largely to the leadership of Quebec Governor Guy Carleton, Great Britain was very successful in neutralizing the vast population of French Canadians. As a result, Carleton was able to save Quebec City during the campaign against Montgomery and Arnold, and to re-supply Quebec City via the British Navy.

“Carleton was the key to bringing along the French Canadians,” said Anderson. “He kept working with them but he never relied on them.”

Carleton cemented his relationship with Canadians by the way he handled Canadian supporters of the Americans after the Americans were defeated at Quebec City and had retreated. Instead of killing people who supported the Americans and burning pro-American villages, Carleton simply dismissed the public officials who backed the Americans and issued no additional punishment.

During the question and answer period, Anderson was asked to name his “heroes and villains” among America’s early war efforts to win over Canada. The first “hero” whom Anderson cited and the one whom he described in greatest detail was Benedict Arnold.

“The whole attack on Quebec would have completely fallen apart after the death of Montgomery if not for Arnold,” said Anderson. “Even after getting wounded in a boot he initiates a second regiment to form a defense. During the campaign he also did a good job of showing Canadians that his troops weren’t invaders and that they respected the Catholic Church.”

As for “villains”, Anderson’s main culprit was the Second Continental Congress.

“They authorized an invasion they couldn’t support. They even adjourned their session shortly after authorizing the invasion,” laughed Anderson.

Anderson is a retired U.S. Air Force officer who currently serves as a civilian military consultant to the U.S. government. He earned his B.A. degree in history from Purdue University and his M.A. in military studies from American Military University. He currently lives in Colorado Springs, CO.

--Bill Seward

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Campaign 1776" to Save Revolutionary War Battlefields

Campaign 1776 (150x)(Princeton, N.J.) – Nearly 240 years after the "shot heard 'round the world" signaled the beginning of the journey toward American independence, historians and preservationists gathered in Princeton, N.J., to launch the first-ever national initiative to protect and interpret the battlefields of the Revolutionary War. The new effort, titled 'Campaign 1776,' is a project of the Civil War Trust, the nation's most successful battlefield preservation advocate. 

Campaign 1776 will employ the same proven strategy of harnessing public-private partnerships to permanently protect hallowed ground that has made the Civil War Trust one of the country's top charitable land conservation organizations.

"The patriots who fell during the struggle for American independence deserve to have their sacrifices remembered and honored just as much as those who took up arms 'four score and seven years' later during the Civil War," said Trust president James Lighthizer. "All of these battlefields are hallowed ground, living memorials to this nation's brave soldiers, past, present and future." 

The organization's chairman, Michael Grainger, concurred, saying, "For nearly three decades, the Civil War Trust has led the charge to protect endangered battlegrounds from this nation's bloodiest conflict, securing millions of dollars in private sector donations to preserve these tangible links to our past. Through Campaign 1776, we are lending our expertise in heritage land preservation to a fuller spectrum of American history." 
Although primarily focused on preservation of the battlefields of the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), Campaign 1776 will also target battlegrounds associated with the War of 1812 (1812-1814) - the conflicts that established and confirmed American independence from Great Britain. In its 2007 report on the status of these battlefields, the National Park Service found that of the 243 significant engagements of those conflicts, only 100 retained historic integrity. Those sites that have endured through more than two centuries are now facing pressure from residential and other development. 

"Many of our Revolutionary War battlefields were lost long ago - buried beneath the concrete and asphalt of Brooklyn and Trenton and consumed by the sprawl of Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Those unspoiled landscapes that remain are precious reminders of the struggle to achieve independence and create a republic dedicated to the liberty of ordinary people," said Jack Warren, executive director of the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati. "No organization is better equipped to lead us in this work than the Civil War Trust - the most effective historic land preservation organization in the United States." 

In addition to announcing Campaign 1776, Lighthizer also revealed the first preservation project of the new national initiative: a fundraising campaign to save 4.6 historic acres on the Princeton Battlefield. The January 3, 1777, engagement was General George Washington's first victory over British Regulars in the field, and a turning point in the war. In this effort, the Trust is working in partnership with the State of New Jersey, local governments and the Princeton Battlefield Society. It will mark the first addition to Princeton Battlefield State Park since 1971. To learn more about this transaction, or to contribute, visit

"The emergence of a national battlefield preservation entity focused on the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 will serve to empower regional and local organization," said Princeton Battlefield Society president Jerry Hurwitz. "Not only will Campaign 1776 allow battlefields from those earlier eras to take advantage of the Civil War Trust's specialized professional expertise, but it will demonstrate to the American people the urgent need to protect those tangible links to our past."

Princeton Mayor Liz Mepert and Richard Boornazian, the state's assistant commissioner for natural and historic resources, representing the governmental entities integral to the project, similarly welcomed the availability of a national battlefield preservation group to help facilitate such local land preservation efforts. The existence of government matching programs, like New Jersey's Green Acres program, and the active participation of historic communities like Princeton, are critical components of battlefield preservation efforts.
Campaign 1776 had its origins when representatives of the National Park Service (NPS) approached the Civil War Trust about expanding into Revolutionary War and War of 1812 preservation, in light of pending federal legislation that would create a unified pool of government matching grant funding for the protection of battlefields from all three conflicts. After careful consideration and analysis of both the stark reality of what would likely befall these battlefields should they demure and any potential impact on the organization's primary mission, the Trust board voted unanimously to move forward with a controlled and measured extension. 

In accepting this challenge now, the Trust has the benefit of tools never before available to preservationists, even beyond the approaching availability of federal land preservation matching grants. For example, NPS and the Trust are partnering to undertake an unprecedented GPS mapping study of Revolutionary War battlefields. Moreover, the American Battlefield Protection Program's report on the status of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefields, modeled on the landmark study of the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission, provides a prioritized roadmap for preservation of these battlegrounds. 
Becoming a member of the new initiative is fully voluntary for Civil War Trust members; conversely, Trust membership is not a prerequisite for joining Campaign 1776. Working in parallel to existing efforts, Campaign 1776 will provide advocacy and public education opportunities for Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields in the same manner the Trust has done for Civil War sites. Additional details on organizational mission, structure and membership are available at

Campaign 1776 follows in the spirit of the modern battlefield preservation movement that began in 1987, when a group of historians concerned with the destruction of suburban Virginia battlefields formed the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, today the Civil War Trust. Donors are invited to support individual projects, presented with historical context and illustrated on maps, where the availability of federal or state matching grants and major donor or foundation gifts can multiply each contributed dollar several times over. The Trust works only with willing sellers, paying fair market value for land that will be protected in perpetuity through fee simple purchases and/or conservation easements. The Trust also has a reputation for working cooperatively with developers to seek out well-planned projects that allow for community growth and vitality while respecting irreplaceable historic resources. 

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. Through educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives, the Trust seeks to inform the public about the vital role these battlefields played in determining the course of our nation's history. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 40,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more at, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial. 

Campaign 1776 is a national initiative of the Civil War Trust, America's largest and most efective battlefield preservation organization. Its purpose is to protect the battlefields of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, and to educate the public about the importance of these battlefields in forging the nation we are today. To learn more, visit the Campaign 1776 website at

Monday, November 3, 2014

Richmond's Benedict Arnold

Charles F. Bryan Jr., president and CEO Emeritus of the Virginia Historical Society, wrote an article titled "Richmond's Benedict Arnold" that appeared in the October 25, 2014 "Richmond Times-Dispatch." Here's a link:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

November Meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of the District of Columbia

If you live in, or plan to visit, the Washington, DC, area the first week of November, you are invited to the American Revolution Round Table of the District of Columbia program for Wednesday, 5 November. 

Our next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 5, 2014, at 6 p.m.  The program is entitled, "The American Revolution: A Historical Guidebook " and will be presented by Ms. Frances H. Kennedy.  She will provide an overview of this recently published work (2014 by Oxford University Press) which she edited. The book guides general readers, students, and travelers to 147 historic places in twenty states. The places, are addressed in general chronological order, and are drawn from the National Park Service "Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the United States." 

Frances H. Kennedy is a conservationist, historic preservationist and historian. Her other books include The Civil War Battlefield Guide, American Indian Places.and
Dollars & Sense of Battlefield Preservation: The Economic Benefits of Protecting Civil War Battlefields: A Handbook for Community Leaders

See: for more information.

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 me an e-mail off-list to; or call: (703) 360-9712; or write: ARRT DC, PO Box 137, Mount Vernon, VA 22121.

Video: Re-enactment of the Non-Violent Worcester Revolution of 1774

Mel Bernstein, one of the driving forces behind the Worcester Revolution Commemoration, sent us the link to a seven-minute video of the gauntlet walk titled, "Re-enactment of the Non-Violent Worcester Revolution of 1774, September 7, 2014." It gives an upfront view of what was going on at the Commemoration.

Thanks, Mel!

American Revolution Conference Registration Now Open at MHS

American Revolution Conference 2015

Infusing new energy into the study of the American Revolution will be at the top of the agenda next April when the Massachusetts Historical Society hosts a major scholarly conference. "So Sudden an Alteration: The Causes, Course, and Consequences of the American Revolution" will take place at the MHS 9 to 11 April. The program will pay special attention to new ways to understand the political roots and consequences of the crisis.

The conference will feature a keynote address by Abigail Adams author Woody Holton, "'Not Yet': The Originality Crisis in American Revolution Studies." It will also include nine sessions, a proposal by Brendan McConville of Boston University offering a new approach to thinking about the conflict, and a wrap-up discussion. The program will provide an introduction to Annotated Newspapers of Harbottle Dorr, Jr. and offer a visit to the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.

Presenters will not read their papers at the conference; instead, sessions will focus on the discussion of academic essays circulated in advance of the event. Support for the conference includes grants from the David Library of the American Revolution, Boston University, and Williams College, as well as a gift from an anonymous donor. To register, please visit

2015 Meeting Dates and Speakers

The "Meetings" tab at the top of the page has been updated with a listing of our 2015 meeting dates and associated speakers.

November 2014 Meeting Speaker Change

The co-award winner for our first book prize, Mark R. Anderson, will be speaking at our next meeting. His topic is “The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony: America’s War of Liberation in Canada, 1774 – 1776.”

Dennis Farmer will be speaking instead at our January 2015 meeting.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Next Meeting: November 19, 2014

"Stand to Horse! The Dragoon at War," Dennis Farmer

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:

Meeting Notes: September 17, 2014

"The Road to Yorktown: Jefferson, Lafayette, and the British Invasion of Virginia," John Maass

A few months prior to the Yorktown campaign, the armies of Cornwallis and Lafayette played the military equivalent of “cat and mouse” across the landscape of Central Virginia.

“Many history books give only 2-3 pages to Lafayette’s Virginia campaign,” said historian John R. Maass at the September 17 meeting of the American Revolution Roundtable of Richmond. “This was Lafayette’s major independent command. From mid-April until mid-September his time in Virginia was his major show during the War.”

Maass is currently working on a book about Lafayette’s Virginia campaign prior to Yorktown, and will be leading an American Revolution Roundtable of Richmond bus tour on November 16 to many of the sites where Lafayette’s army marched and camped. 

“Almost all of Lafayette’s campaign sites in Virginia can still be found today if you know where to look,” said Maass. “Many of the sites are known and most of his campaign correspondence still exists today.”

In February 1781 Lafayette left Washington’s army with a detachment of 1,000-1,200 light infantry who were from New England and New Jersey. The troops headed to Virginia with the mission to attack British soldiers camped in Portsmouth under the command of turncoat General Benedict Arnold, and to hang Arnold if they captured him.

Lafayette’s troops arrived in Richmond between April 28-29. In fact Lafayette’s army arrived just in time to prevent British troops under the command of General William Phillips from crossing the James River at Manchester to loot and burn Richmond. Phillips’ troops retreated from Manchester back to Petersburg, where Phillips caught a fever and died on May 15.

On May 20 the British army under the command of Lord Charles Cornwallis reached the Petersburg area after its long march across the Carolinas and Southside Virginia. Cornwallis had approximately 5,000 troops, including 500-600 cavalry under the command of Colonel Banastre Tarleton. These forces were much larger than Lafayette’s 1,000-1,200 troops which included only 40-50 cavalry.

“Lafayette’s goal was not to fight a big battle with Cornwallis,”said Maass. “He wanted to shadow the British and wait for the arrival of reinforcements coming from the north under the command of Mad Anthony Wayne.”

At all times Lafayette wanted to keep a river between his army and the much larger British army. Lafayette also wanted to keep his army between the British and Hunter’s Iron Works, a major supplier of American swords and other war materials which was located in Falmouth, just across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg.

On May 24 the British marched out of Petersburg and crossed the James River near Westover Plantation in Charles City County, where they camped. After Cornwallis crossed the James River, Lafayette’s army packed up all of the supplies they could carry and marched northward out of Richmond via what is today Route 1.

Lafayette’s army crossed Upham Creek in today’s Lakeside neighborhood at what was then called Brook’s Bridge. From this bridge his army continued its march northward and crossed the Chickahominy River at what was called Winston’s Bridge, near what is today Green Top Sporting Goods. While Lafayette marched northward, the British marched northwest and then north from Westover Plantation, burning tobacco and other commodities which they couldn’t carry with them.

“Cornwallis was interested in burning stuff and wrecking stuff,” said Maass. “Tobacco was frequently used as a currency to pay American troops so burning tobacco was a means of burning American currency.”

The British marched through the Malvern Hill and White Oak Swamp areas and camped near Bottom’s Bridge on the Chickahominy River and what is today Route 60. From Bottom’s Bridge the British continued their march northward toward Old Church in northeastern Hanover County and then toward Newcastle, a town with 50-60 structures that was located on the Pamunkey River. At this time Newcastle was a large river port but nothing exists today other than an archaeological site.

After reaching the Pamunkey River the British marched northwest along the river, passing through Hanovertown and reaching Hanover Courthouse on May 30 where they rested in the Hanover Tavern area. Along the way they burned warehouses, captured French cannons and destroyed them.

From Hanover Courthouse the British continued their march northwestward to what was called Cook’s Ford, near what is today the Route 1 bridge across the North Anna River near Kings Dominion. During the Civil War, this area was part of the North Anna Campaign.

“This was Cornwallis’ farthest point north, other than some movement with his cavalry forces,” said Maass. “From here he was only 20 miles from Fredericksburg and those iron works that were located just across the Rappahannock River.”

Meanwhile, Lafayette’s troops left the Richmond area and marched northwest on the Mountain Road toward Dandridge’s Plantation, which was located on the South Anna River and modern-day Vontay Road in the Rockville area of Hanover County. The plantation house still exists today and is now called “Oldfield”. During the American Revolution, Dandridge’s Plantation served as a supply center for Lafayette’s troops and their horses. 

After resupplying his army Lafayette headed toward Beaverdam in northwestern Hanover County and then across the North Anna River at what was called Davenport’s Ford, and today is Route 738. Lafayette’s immediate goal was to move toward Fredericksburg and stay between the British and Hunter’s Iron Works. However he also wanted to avoid getting too close to Tarleton’s cavalry.

“Tarleton’s troopers were literally occupying Lafayette’s camps only 90-120 minutes after Lafayette’s small forces had retreated,” said Maass.

Lafayette’s army continued its northerly march and on May 31 they passed Mattaponi Church, a wooden structure near the Ta River. His army continued northward to the site of the old Spotsylvania Church , near what is now the new Spotsylvania courthouse complex. They camped in this area around June 2.

From Spotsylvania Courthouse his troops headed northward toward the Rappahannock River where they hoped to meet the American reinforcements under the command of Mad Anthony Wayne. Earlier these reinforcements had crossed the Potomac River near Leesburg and were marching southward to meet Lafayette in the Fredericksburg area.

Lafayette’s men crossed the Po River on Corbin’s Bridge (modern-day Route 612) near what is today Todd’s Tavern. They camped in this area for one day.

While Lafayette continued to move northward, Cornwallis made the decision near modern-day Kings Dominion to turn westward and launch raids against this part of Virginia which was only lightly defended by the Americans. His goal was to capture and destroy American supplies and crops in such areas as Scottsville, Columbia, Cuckoo Tavern, Shadwell and Charlottesville.

Leading the British attack was the two-pronged advance of Colonels John Simcoe and Banastre Tarleton. Simcoe’s forces marched on what was known as Three Chopt Road (modern-day Route 250), and then changed direction toward Columbia. The rest of Cornwallis’ infantry headed toward Elk Hill (just west of Columbia) and then toward Point of Fork at the confluence of the James and Rivanna Rivers.

Tarleton’s cavalry rode through Cuckoo Tavern on their way to Charlottesville with the goal of capturing Governor Thomas Jefferson and members of Virginia’s General Assembly, who had fled to this area from Richmond. Fortunately for Jefferson and most of the legislators, Captain Jack Jouett spotted Tarleton’s cavalry and rode approximately 40 miles from Cuckoo Tavern to Charlottesville via a shorter route than Tarleton’s route to warn the governor and legislators about the planned British cavalry raid.

While the British headed toward Columbia, Point of Fork and Charlottesville, Lafayette continued his trek northward through what is known as The Wilderness, the same terrain that would become even more famous during the Civil War. Lafayette’s army camped near Wilderness Run and what is today the intersection of Routes 3 and 20. From this campsite Lafayette’s army crossed the Rapidan River at nearby Ely’s Ford in search of Mad Anthony Wayne’s reinforcements.

After Lafayette received word of the British movement toward Charlottesville he sent orders to Wayne for him to change direction and head toward a rendezvous with Lafayette’s army in an area between Culpeper and Orange Courthouse. Lafayette’s army then headed west and south where his troops re-crossed the Rapidan River at Raccoon Ford, one of the best crossings on the Rapidan River because its riverbanks were low.

On June 10 the forces under Lafayette and Wayne met each other approximately four miles from Raccoon Ford at what was formerly known as Verdiersville and is now known as Rhoadesville. The exact site of the rendezvous is not known.

The combined forces then headed westward toward Orange Courthouse and then generally southward on what is modern-day Route 15 toward Zion Crossroads. They camped in this area near what was called Boswell’s Tavern. From there, they marched to a site called Boyd Tavern, which was east of Charlottesville on a creek. At this point Lafayette got word that Cornwallis had turned eastward and was headed back toward Richmond, which the British entered on June 16. They stayed in Richmond approximately three days before marching off toward Williamsburg, which they reached on June 25.

“It looks as if all Lafayette did was retreat but there was no way he could tangle with Cornwallis,” said Maass. “Lafayette was aware of this and how his troops had very limited supplies.”

Maass is a historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., and holds a PhD in early American history from The Ohio State University. He is also the author of the following three books:

1. The French and Indian War in North Carolina: The Spreading Flames of War

2. Horatio Gates and the Battle of Camden—“that unhappy affair,” August 16, 1780

3. Defending a New Nation, 1783-1811

--Bill Seward

Edward J. Larson Presentation: October 11, 2014

The National Park Service and North Jersey American Revolution Round Table welcome Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward J. Larson to Morristown. Larson will discuss his new book The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789, at Washington’s Headquarters Museum auditorium, Morristown, NJ   Larson will speak about the crucial, yet often overlooked period in George Washington’s equally distinguished career and life. When George Washington retired from the army to lead a quieter life at Mount Vernon in 1783. In The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789, Larson reveals how Washington “saved” the United States by coming out of retirement to not only lead the Constitutional Convention, but to also serve as America’s first president. Vice President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and Professor of History at the University of Virginia Dr. Andrew O’Shaughnessy says, “This book is one of the best illustrations of the ability of individuals to change the course of history.”

This special event is free and open to the public, book sales and signing will follow Larson’s program.    Students and teachers especially welcome.

EDWARD J. LARSON is University Professor of history and holds the Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University.  Larson is also an inaugural Library Fellow at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington in Mount Vernon, VA and a Gay Hart Gaines Distinguished Visiting Lecturer of American History for 2013-2014. He received the Pulitzer Prize for History for Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. His other books include A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign; An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science; Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory; Evolution's Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands; and Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution. Larson also co-authored (with Michael P. Winship) The Constitutional Convention: A Narrative History from the Notes of James Madison, published by Modern Library Classics. He lives in California.

American Revolution Round Table of Richmond: 2014 Book Award Winners

2014 Book Award Co-Recipients

The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire. By Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy (Yale University Press, 2013).


 The Battle for the Fourteenth Colony: America’s War of Liberation in Canada, 1774 – 1776. By Mark Anderson (University Press of New England, 2013).

2014 Honorable Mentions

Charles Lee: Self before Country.  By Dominick Mazzagetti (Rivergate Editions, Rutgers University Press, 2013).

Dunmore’s New World: The Extraordinary Life of a Royal Governor in Revolutionary America.  By James Corbett David (University of Virginia Press, 2013).

Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War for Independence. By Alan Gilbert (University of Chicago Press, 2012).

Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire. By Eliga H. Gould (Harvard University Press, 2012).

Crescent Moon over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty. By C. L. Bragg (University of South Carolina Press, 2013).

A Generous and Merciful Enemy: Life for German Prisoners of War during the American RevolutionBy Daniel Krebs (University of Oklahoma Press, 2013).

The Swamp Fox: Lessons in Leadership from the Partisan Campaigns of Francis Marion.  By Scott D. Aiken (Naval Institute Press, 2012).

Embattled Farmers: Campaigns and Profiles of Revolutionary Soldiers from Lincoln, Massachusetts, 1775-1783.  By Richard C. Wiggin (Lincoln Massachusetts Historical Society, 2013).

American Revolution Era Map Lectures: October 25, 2014

The Library of Virginia will be hosting map lectures focused on American Revolution Era maps and atlases on October 25, 2014. Dr. Max Edelson and Dr. Martin Bruckner will be giving lectures starting at 1:00 PM.

Saturday, October 25, 2014
Map exhibition | 11:00 am
Lectures | 1:00 pm
Place | the Conference Rooms and Lecture Hall at the Library of Virginia
Special Collections Viewings 10:30 am & 11:30 am
Please call 804.692.3561 for reservations.

Reading Maps in the Age of the American Revolution
by Dr. Martin Br├╝ckner, University of Delaware
This lecture recovers the art and science of “mappery” in early America. A rare
term revived during the Revolutionary decades, it meant the study of mapmaking
and map reading. Discussing a variety of maps owned by the Library of Virginia,
the lecture describes American encounters with popular maps and the practical
and symbolic role of map literacy in the age of revolution.

Reading Atlases from Both Sides of the American Revolution
by Dr. S. Max Edelson, University of Virginia
As the Revolutionary War began, London’s mapmakers published atlases that
put forward the idea of an interdependent Atlantic empire. At the same time,
the Continental Congress gathered together colonial maps to describe an
independent nation. Drawing on examples from the Library of Virginia’s map
collection, this lecture describes how Britain and the United States used maps
to picture the America they each sought to create.
This event includes a special oneday exhibition of Revolutionary-era maps beginning at 11:00 am. For more information and reservations, please call 804.692.3561 or visit

Publications: Revolutionary War Intelligence

There are two publications that the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence has published.  They are both on line. Go to  “The Founding Fathers of American Intelligence” was published in 1999.  The other publication, “Intelligence in the War of Independence,” was published in 1997.

(Thanks to Chan Mohney.)

Allen McLane Public Symposium: October 25, 2014

The Allen McLane Public Symposium will bring the life and military career of this noted son of Delaware, Allen McLane, to the attention of the people of our state and beyond.  He has been called the “Unknown Hero of the Revolution,” “Delaware’s Daredevil” and “Washington’s Favorite Cavalryman.” 
McLane was a patriot, partisan leader, soldier, and spy for eight years during the Revolutionary War.   Subsequently, he was a government servant, Delaware’s first marshal, member of the Privy Council, member of the House of Assembly, and magistrate, and then for 32 years served as the Collector of the Port of Wilmington. 
The symposium’s impressive list of speakers includes: John Nagy, author of Invisible Ink; Glenn Williams, military historian; Chuck Fithian, retired HCA archaeologist; Edith McLane Edson, descendant of McLane and writer; Robert A. Selig, writer and noted Rochambeau Revolution Route advocate; and Michael Lloyd, long-time McLane researcher.  Also featured will be a presentation by the 1st Delaware Regiment and a portrayal of Allen McLane by Tom Welch.  Delaware State University Professor Samuel Hoff will serve as the master of ceremonies.
Participants will receive a free copy of the booklet “Allen McLane –Patriot, Soldier, Spy, Port Collector,” which has been written by a team of scholars, researchers and historians, each of whom has a unique perspective on the McLane story.  Some of the same writers will be presenting at the symposium. 
The symposium will be held on Saturday, October 25, 2014, from 9:00am until 3:30pm at Wesley College’s Peninsula Room, in the du Pont College Center, 120 No. State Street in Dover, DE.  Parking is available in the lot at Fulton and Bradford Streets.
The symposium is free and open to the public. Luncheon is available for $10. Registration is at 8:30am.  Preregistration is available by calling Tom Welch at 302-632-1803 or by email at  
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Primary sponsors include the Caesar Rodney Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Wesley College History Department, the Delaware Historical Society, the Delaware State Society of the Cincinnati and the American Revolution Roundtable of Northern Delaware.

Co-sponsors include the Friends of the Delaware Public Archives, the Claymont Historical Society, the Friends of Old Dover, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Friends of Belmont Hall, the Duck Creek Historical Society, and the 1st Delaware Regiment. Gifts have also been made by Ginger Trader, Troy Foxwell, Claudia Onkean, Tom Welch, the James Family, and Kim Burdick.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Next Meeting: September 17, 2014

"The Road to Yorktown: Jefferson, Lafayette, and the British Invasion of Virginia," John Maass

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.

Please note the times. School is back in session so we will return to our usual dinner and meeting times.

University of Richmond campus map:

Meeting Notes: July 16, 2014

“The Fort Gower Resolves," Jim Glanville

Even though most American history books say nothing about the Fort Gower Resolves, they were an important steppingstone toward Lexington/Concord, the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution in general.

“The Fort Gower Resolves were a collective statement of defense against British authority made by Virginia militia officers,” said historian James Glanville at the July 16 meeting of the American Revolution Roundtable of Richmond. “In fact some historians say that the Fort Gower Resolves were actually the beginning of the American Revolution. They were published in newspapers throughout the American Colonies and in England, and were even read in the House of Lords.”

The Fort Gower Resolves were made November 5, 1774 on the banks of the Ohio River in what is today Hockinport, Ohio. The Resolves were the final act in what became known as Lord Dunmore’s War, and were also one of the final acts of rebellion by the American Colonies against Great Britain during the tumultuous year of 1774.

1774 started only a few weeks after the Boston Tea Party. After news reached England about the Tea Party, Parliament retaliated by passing several pieces of legislation that were collectively called the Coercive Acts (known in the American Colonies as the Intolerable Acts). One of these acts officially closed the Port of Boston in March 1774.

Boston responded in May by calling for a boycott on the purchase of all British goods. Later that month Virginia’s legislature voted to support Boston’s boycott, and worked with other colonies to plan a meeting in Philadelphia where each American colony (except Georgia) sent delegates to what became known as the First Continental Congress.

During the Summer of 1774 when the talk of boycott was prevalent, Virginia’s royal governor Lord Dunmore made the decision to launch a military campaign against several Indian tribes over a border dispute in what was then known as the Ohio Territory of Virginia. Most of Dunmore’s troops were riflemen from Virginia’s western counties.

Dunmore split his forces into two columns. He marched troops under his command northwestward to what is today Pittsburgh and then down the Ohio River, gathering more and more Virginia riflemen along the way.

A second column of Virginia riflemen to the south of Dunmore’s troops marched westward toward the Ohio River and also gathered riflemen. Under the command of Colonel Andrew Lewis this second column stopped its march at the mouth of the New River (now called the Kanawha River) where it empties into the Ohio River at what is today Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

On October 10, 1774 the Lewis riflemen “got jumped by the Indians,” according to Glanville. After several hours of intense fighting the riflemen won the battle but lost approximately 300 men, including the brother of Andrew Lewis. The Indians lost approximately 500 men and retreated across the Ohio River.

The forces under Dunmore and Lewis pursued the Indians across the Ohio River, and soon forced the Indians to sign a peace treaty which ceded more of their land to Virginia. Shortly thereafter, news reached the Virginia troops about the actions of the First Continental Congress and how the delegates had agreed to a total boycott of British goods throughout the American Colonies. The First Continental Congress had also agreed to express its grievances to King George III and to encourage each colony to create and train its own militia.

While camping at a fort located at the mouth of the Hocking River where it empties into the Ohio River, the Virginia officers on the Dunmore/Lewis expedition wished to express their support for the First Continental Congress but also their loyalty to the British Crown. They did so by drafting what history now knows as the Fort Gower Resolves. 

“The Resolves consisted of two parts plus a very tough preamble,” said Glanville. “Some of the language said these officers of a considerable body of men could live in the woods for weeks without bread or salt, and could march and shoot with the best armies in the world.”

The Fort Gower Resolves expressed support for King George III, “as long as he ruled over a free people”. However, they also expressed the officers’ love of liberty and their willingness to defend American rights; “not in any precipitate, riotous or tumultuous manner, but when regularly called forth by the unanimous voice of our countrymen.” Among the Virginia officers who signed the Resolves were Daniel Morgan, Andrew Lewis, Adam Stephen, William Campbell, Isaac Shelby and George Rogers Clark.

The Fort Gower Resolves were first published on December 22, 1774 in the Virginia Gazette. Two weeks later the Resolves were published again in the Pennsylvania Gazette.

“After that, the Resolves went viral,” said Glanville. “They even appeared in the March 1775 edition of the Gentleman’s Magazine, a publication targeted toward London’s upper-class readers.”

Glanville added that the Resolves and Lord Dunmore’s War probably influenced the revolutionary thoughts of Virginia’s civilian leaders. Some of these civilians were friends of various officers who signed the Resolves, while others simply admired the successful military campaign in the Ohio Territory. According to Glanville, the list of Virginia civilian leaders who were probably influenced by the Fort Gower Resolves and the successful military campaign of the Virginia militia included Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, George Mason and James Madison.

Today the Fort Gower Resolves have generally faded into oblivion. Even in Ohio where they were written, they are little known. In addition, there are no public markers that even identify the location of Fort Gower---just a sign on a private building which identifies the location of the fort. 

James Glanville is a professor emeritus in chemistry at Virginia Tech, and a graduate of the Royal College of Science in London. In recent years as an independent scholar he has studied the history and archeology of Southwest Virginia during the period of the American Revolution.

Glanville dedicated his roundtable presentation to Dr. Harry Ward, retired professor of history at the University of Richmond and founding member of the American Revolution Roundtable of Richmond.

--Bill Seward

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's War for Independence, by Jack Kelly

Rachel Lodi has written to notify us of an upcoming book, BAND OF GIANTS: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's Independence by Jack Kelly, which comes out September 9th. Jack is a journalist, novelist, and historian who has written for places like American Heritage and American Legacy, and has appeared on The History Channel.

The book delves into the peculiar backgrounds of the generals, officers and soldiers who won America’s independence in the Revolutionary War. Far from the career officers and ROTC recruits in today’s military, most of these men were inexperienced fighters, often learning to fire a canon from a diagram in a book the day before a battle.   Kelly details their varied backgrounds as merchants, mechanics, fisherman, farmers, and even drunkards.  He takes the reader through the war as these soldiers experienced it, facing immense odds and setback after setback.   The narrative features characters like Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox, Richard Montgomery, Daniel Morgan and Anthony Wayne, detailing their often unexpected backgrounds as civilians.  Jack Kelly is local to the Hudson River Valley, where many of the pivotal Revolutionary War battles took place, and his book provides fascinating new insight into the conditions of the war, and the men who actually fought in it.

"USA 250th Starts Now!"

One of our members, John Millar, forwarded the following essay about the 250th anniversary of the first event of the struggle for independence that happens this week on the 9th. Thank you, John!

USA 250th Starts Now!
by John Fitzhugh Millar

Modern America may be tired of anniversaries (at the moment, we are observing mostly with yawns the 200th of the War of 1812, the 150th of the Civil War, and the 100th of the First World War), but now it’s also time for the pesky Revolutionary War to begin its countdown. The first event of the Revolutionary War happened on 9 July 1764, twelve years before the Declaration of Independence, at Newport, Rhode Island, and the 250th anniversary of that is now.

Rhode Island was unique among the colonies in having a charter that guaranteed that all public officials from the governor on down were to be elected, not appointed from England. For decades, Rhode Island governors encouraged the importation of free Haitian molasses (something the other colonies were not allowed to do), turning that molasses into dark rum, and re-exporting the rum in huge quantities to all the other colonies, principally as a food-preservative.

For a long time, the British had winked at this, but George III ordered Rhode Island to put an instant stop to the only industry that made them any money. To enforce his order, the king sent a small warship to Newport, the 6-gun schooner Saint John, commanded by the arrogant 19-year-old Lieutenant  Thomas Hill. Hill arrested every ship entering Narragansett Bay, selling ships and cargoes at public auction.

Since most Royal Navy ships stationed in America were short of crews, he also forcibly “impressed” Rhode Islanders into the navy. Hardly anyone knew that impressing Americans had been made illegal by Parliament in 1707, back in the reign of Queen Anne.

Rhode Island’s elected Governor Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785) did know it. Therefore, partly to stop this illegal activity and partly to save Rhode Island’s economy, Hopkins had himself rowed out to the Saint John. He ordered Hill to leave the colony by sunset and not return. Hill countered by threatening to have his crew throw Hopkins in the harbor, so Hopkins had himself rowed to Goat Island in the middle of the harbor, and ordered the master gunner at Fort George there to sink the schooner. When the master gunner (a member of the Newport Artillery Company, founded in 1741, the oldest military organization in North America) determined that Hopkins was not joking, he opened fire with his massive 18-pounders, with cannon-balls the size of cantaloupes.

Two of the shots hit the Saint John and turned big chunks of the schooner into splinters, so Lieutenant Hill took his axe, cut the anchor cable, and sailed away from Newport, never to return. These shots were fired on 9 July 1764, the first shots of resistance fired against British authority in America. Of course, no one could have known then that these shots would lead to a lengthy war for independence.

Naturally, the British did not give up that easily, so they sent a series of other small ships to try to end Rhode Island’s rum trade, and the people of the colony rose up each time and destroyed the ships by burning them in 1765, 1769, and 1772.

What about Hopkins? Within weeks of the Saint John incident, he founded what he called “The College at Rhode Island,” later renamed Brown University. In 1765, he founded the Stamp Act Congress, which managed to get the odious Stamp Act repealed. In 1769, predicting the coming of the Revolution, he established the Hope Furnace Cannon Foundry at Scituate RI, which cast the first cannons ever in British America, including most of the cannons used by the Continental Navy. In 1773, he founded the Continental Committees of Correspondence, a major step on the road to independence. When the Committees proved too cumbersome, in 1774 he founded the Continental Congress; that same year, he authored the bill on 10 June that outlawed slavery in Rhode Island seven years later, the first in the New World. In 1775, he founded the US Post Office (26 July), the Continental Navy (13 October), and the Continental Marine Corps (10 November). In 1776, he notified Congress that Rhode Island had already declared independence on 4 May, the first colony to do so, and suggested that Congress do the same. He signed the Declaration with a wiggly hand that shows that he suffered from a serious case of Parkinson’s Disease, and then retired from Congress.

Why have most people never heard of Hopkins? All his papers were carefully collected after his death so that scholars could consult them, but in 1815 the biggest hurricane on record, with peak winds of over 200 miles per hour, swept up the East Coast, placing the streets of Providence under more than 20 feet of water. The papers were never seen again, and no book-length biography of Hopkins has been written since 1880.

In the 1970s, the author raised the money to build full-sized operational copies of two Revolutionary War ships, the 24-gun frigate Rose, and the 12-gun Continental sloop Providence for the Bicentennial. He was then unable to raise the additional money needed to build the Saint John.

1776 Printing of Virginia Declaration of Rights Acquired for American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

YORKTOWN, Va., July 1, 2014 – A rare newspaper printing of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, a precursor of the United States Declaration of Independence, has been acquired for the future American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, replacing the Yorktown Victory Center by late 2016.  The June 12, 1776, issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette containing the Virginia Declaration will be exhibited in the new museum galleries near a July 1776 broadside of the U.S. Declaration of Independence that currently is on exhibit at the Yorktown Victory Center.  

It was the June 12, 1776, Pennsylvania Gazette version of the Virginia Declaration that was available to Thomas Jefferson and the other delegates selected by Congress to draft the U.S. Declaration of Independence, a task they began in Philadelphia on June 11, 1776.  Expressing principles that citizens have the right to “enjoyment of life and liberty … and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety,” and that “all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people,” the Virginia Declaration of Rights directly influenced the composition of the Declaration of Independence adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, and many later statements of basic human rights.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights was an outcome of a resolution passed by the Virginia Convention on May 15, 1776, appointing a committee to prepare a declaration of rights and plan of government and instructing Virginia’s delegation to the Continental Congress “to propose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies free and independent states.”  A draft of the Virginia Declaration, whose principal author was George Mason, first appeared in The Virginia Gazette on June 1, 1776.  It subsequently appeared in newspapers outside Virginia, including The Pennsylvania Gazette on June 12, coincidentally the same date as a modified version of the declaration was adopted by the Virginia Convention.  

The Pennsylvania Gazette, founded in 1728, was one of America’s most prominent newspapers during the 18th century and for a time was published by Benjamin Franklin. The June 12, 1776, issue containing the text of the Virginia Declaration of Rights was acquired with private gifts to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc., which directs fundraising efforts for private gifts, manages an endowment, assists with the acquisition of artifacts, and supports special projects and programs of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a Virginia state agency that operates Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center history museums.

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will present a comprehensive overview of the people and events of the Revolution, from the mid-1700s to the early national period, through gallery exhibits, films and outdoor living history.  The Yorktown Victory Center continues in daily operation as a museum of the American Revolution throughout construction, which is occurring in phases and will include a move from the existing museum building to the new facility in early 2015.