Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Internet Links of Interest

Two new links have been added to the "Links" tab above:

Johannes Schwalm Historical Association:
JSHA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to researching those German auxiliary troops (generically called Hessian) who remained in America after the Revolutionary War, became loyal citizens, made cultural contributions and were the progenitors of any thousands of Americans living today.

The George Washington American Atlas, Yale University Library

2016 Harry M. Ward American Revolution Round Table of Richmond Book Award Winner

The 2016 winner of our annual book award is:

Claudio Saunt, West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 (New York: W.W. Norton, 2014).

Dr. Claudio Saunt is the Richard Russell Professor of History at the University of Georgia. In West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776, he has given us a very different perspective on the year of Independence. While he ties his narrative to events in the East—the focus of most historians of the Revolution—his primary concern is with developments far to the west. Saunt pictures a North America in a state of dramatic and often violent change. In 1776, as American rebels were seceding from the British Empire, the Russians were exploring Alaska, the Spanish were settling San Francisco, and the Lakota Sioux first entered the Black Hills in modern South Dakota. On the California coast near San Diego the Kumeyaay Indians fought their own war of independence from the Spanish. Professor Saunt’s book challenges us to see the Revolutionary period through a new and fascinating lens. Compellingly written and based on deep and interesting research, West of the Revolution belongs on the book shelves of everyone interested in America’s formative years.

Honorable Mentions:
John Beakes, Otho Holland Williams in the American Revolution (Mount Pleasant, SC: Nautical & Aviation Publishing Co. of America, 2015).

Ethan A. Schmidt, Native Americans in the American Revolution: How the War Divided, Devastated, and Transformed the Early American Indian World (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2014).

Robert M. Owens, Red Dreams, White Nightmares:  Pan-Indian Alliances in the Anglo-American Mind, 1763-1815 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2015).

Derek W. Beck, Igniting the American Revolution, 1773-1775 (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2015).

Marla Miller, Rebecca Dickinson: Independence for a New England Woman (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2014).

Ken Miller, Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014).

Meeting Notes: November 16, 2016

"Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle," Mark Lender

Fought on a June 1778 day when temperatures climbed above 95 degrees, the Battle of Monmouth was fought on two fronts---both the military one and the political one.

“It was a hard fought tactical draw,” said historian Mark Edward Lender at the November 16, 2016 meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond. “From a tactical draw came a political victory, and George Washington became an icon.”

Just a few months earlier Washington was looking like anything but an icon. In fact his ability to maintain command of the Continental army was very much at stake.

During the latter months of 1777, Washington’s army lost the battles of Brandywine Creek, Germantown and several smaller battles that led to the American evacuation of Philadelphia, the new nation’s capital. While Sir William Howe’s British army occupied Philadelphia during the Winter of 1777-78, Washington’s army endured the hard winter and shortages of food and other supplies at Valley Forge. Troop morale dropped, and an increasing number of American enlisted men and their officers began to question the leadership skills of their commander-in-chief.

In what historians today call the Conway Cabal, several American generals plotted with certain members of the Continental Congress to get Washington removed as commander-in-chief and replaced by Horatio Gates, the commander of the American army that won the Battle of Saratoga and forced the surrender of the British army under the command of John Burgoyne. The three American generals who were primarily behind the “cabal” were Thomas Conway, Thomas Mifflin and Horatio Gates.

“Mifflin was a dangerous man as far as Washington was concerned because he had good connections,” said Lender. “Gates definitely wanted Washington’s job after Saratoga when he got the public credit for winning the battle at a time when the country needed some good news.”

When word of the “cabal” leaked out and got back to Washington, he publicly confronted his critics. This caused them to back away temporarily, at least until after the next military campaign.

Washington wasn’t the only commanding general in the Philadelphia area with serious army problems. Sir Henry Clinton, the newly appointed commander of the British army occupying Philadelphia was disgusted with his new job and his bosses in London. 

As a result of France’s entry into the war on the side of the Americans, the British government ordered Clinton to evacuate Philadelphia and to move his army back to New York City where a significant number of his troops would board ships bound for Florida and the West Indies. Since the British navy didn’t have enough ships to transport Clinton’s army to New York City, his army would need to march across New Jersey to get there.

On June 18, 1778 the British completed their evacuation of Philadelphia with most of Clinton’s army crossing the Delaware River and occupying Haddonfield, NJ. Commanding Clinton’s first division was Charles Cornwallis. Commanding the second division and protecting the baggage train was Wilhelm von Knyphausen. 

Wherever possible the British army took two roads on their march toward New York City because their army stretched for 12 miles. In response to the British march through New Jersey, Governor William Livingston called out approximately 2,000 New Jersey militia under the command of Philemon Dickinson. 

“Think about it. What was the reputation of militia at this point during the war? It wasn’t very good. However, the New Jersey militia had become battle-hardened and had two years of experience. They were an entirely different animal from two years earlier,” said Lender. 

The New Jersey militia’s job was to delay the British army and to skirmish with them. Meanwhile Washington moved his army from Valley Forge and across the Delaware River to Baptist Meeting House, known today as Hopewell, NJ. 

After holding a council of war with his senior subordinates Washington decided to hit the British hard but not to risk the entire Continental army in a general engagement. He selected approximately 4,000 troops to carry out this special assignment under the commands of Charles Scott and Anthony Wayne, and the overall command of Charles Lee. 

Lee was Washington’s second-in-command but the two men weren’t close to each other and shared very different viewpoints on how to fight the war. Lee had returned to the American army only a few weeks earlier after spending 18 months as a prisoner-of-war. 

“Charles Lee had the propensity to shoot himself in the foot. He was similar to Jackie Gleason in ‘The Honeymooners’---he had a big mouth,” joked Lender. 

When Washington offered Lee the command of this special force, he declined the offer because he didn’t feel it was a worthwhile command for an officer of his rank (major general). Washington then turned to the Marquis de Lafayette who eagerly accepted.

“Lafayette was only 19 years old,” said Lender, “and as a tactical commander he had a lot of growing up at this time.”

Shortly after Lafayette accepted the special command Lee changed his mind and agreed to lead the American vanguard against the British rearguard. On the night of June 27 Washington told Lee to use his discretion to land a blow against the British but not to take any undue risks with his troops. On the morning of June 28, 1778 Lee’s vanguard caught up with a small British force near Monmouth Courthouse.

“Lee had a difficult assignment,” said Lender. “Since he had just returned to the American army after spending 18 months as a British prisoner, he didn’t know his subordinates very well. In addition he didn’t know the terrain where he was going to fight, and he didn’t know what the British were doing. Were they retreating or staying put? The truth was that some British troops were retreating and some were defending.”

Lee ordered Anthony Wayne’s troops forward to hit the retreating British forces lightly for the purpose of getting them to stand and fight. Meanwhile Lee ordered Lafayette to circle around the British flank and hit these British troops from the rear. 

“Wayne hit the British a little bit harder than he intended,” said Lender. “As a result these British troops retreated back to Cornwallis’ first division, which turned around and advanced toward the Americans. Instead of 800 versus 2,000 troops, it was more like 6,000-8,000 British troops who were now bearing down on the Americans.”

The American attack ground to a halt. Some of the units started falling back without any orders issued by Lee. 

“Lee doesn’t know what to do,” said Lender. “His troops are retreating but in good order.”

A local militia officer and farmer named Peter Wikoff rode up to Lee and offered his assistance, and where the Americans might form a defensible line. While Lee was maneuvering his retreating units toward this new defensible position, Washington rode up to Lee. 

At first Lee expected Washington to congratulate him for conducting an orderly retreat. Instead Washington was visibly angry with Lee and couldn’t understand why Lee’s troops were retreating instead of attacking the British. Contrary to what many historians have written over the years, Washington did not relieve Lee on the field. 

“Nobody knows exactly what Washington said to Lee. Lafayette claimed that Washington called Lee ‘a damn poltroon’ but Lafayette made this claim 46 years after the battle. Scott claimed that Washington ‘swore on that day until the leaves shook on the trees,’ but Scott must have possessed incredible hearing because he was over a half mile away when Washington and Lee met each other,” quipped Lender.

Soon after the encounter Washington rode forward and realized that the British were advancing in large numbers. He gave Lee a choice. Lee could either stay in command of the retreated forces along the new defensible line, or he could ride back to the main American army and bring up these troops. Lee chose to command the new defensible line, which allowed Washington to ride back and deploy the main army and artillery on high ground called Perrine’s Ridge.

Meanwhile the British troops continued their advance but got ambushed by a flank attack from Anthony Wayne’s troops that were located in a wooded area called Point of Woods. British doctrine said that if ambushed, British troops were to turn and attack. The British did but got disorganized. Clinton and Cornwallis kept attacking with unorganized troops but the new American defensive line on high ground inflicted heavy cannon fire on some of Great Britain’s top guards and grenadiers.

“During the fight, Clinton did something really stupid,” said Lender. “He tried to lead from the front and nearly got shot before a British soldier slashed an American who was trying to shoot Clinton.“ 

At approximately 1:45 p.m. the British infantry quit attacking. Then their own artillery opened fire, and for the next two hours both the British and American artillery fired at each other in what historians now call the Great Cannonade. While both sides made a great deal of noise, they inflicted few casualties.

It was during the Great Cannonade that the Legend of Molly Pitcher was born. Most likely there were two women on the battlefield at this time and one of them was probably Mary Hays, who served next to her husband on a gun crew. Reports vary but most likely she served water to her gun crew on this extremely hot day (thus the “Pitcher” name), or carried ammunition from the box to the loader. There are also accounts of a woman serving as a rammer on a gun crew but this is less likely true. 

After the Great Cannonade some American troops and artillery under the command of Nathanael Greene fired into the British left flank from a strategic position called Combs Hill. Taking heavy casualties, the British pulled back their troops late in the afternoon and resumed their march toward New York City. They left behind their seriously wounded soldiers. Washington sent small units of troops to shadow the British and to harass them. 

According to Lender, the Americans suffered approximately 500 killed or wounded at Monmouth while the British casualties were much higher at approximately 2,000 troops killed, wounded or deserted. As a result of the record heat on the day of this battle, more soldiers died from heat exhaustion than combat.

“The Battle of Monmouth was over but there was a political end game. Charles Lee had to go,” said Lender.

Two days after the battle Lee wrote a letter to Washington and demanded an apology for the way Washington treated Lee when they first met during the middle of the battle. Rather than apologize, Washington offered Lee an official inquiry into Lee’s conduct during the battle. Instead Lee asked for a full court-martial in order to clear his name. Washington promptly agreed and had Lee placed under arrest.

During this time several of Washington’s most loyal subordinates, including Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens, began a massive letter-writing campaign where they “spun” the Battle of Monmouth into a great victory, and praised most of the senior American officers other than Charles Lee. Letters of this nature were sent to very influential Americans, such as Henry Laurens who was John Laurens’ father and also president of the Continental Congress.

At the court-martial the judges were all good friends of Washington’s. They found Lee guilty of disobeying orders to attack on the morning of June 28, making an unnecessary and disorderly retreat in the face of the enemy and disrespecting the commander-in-chief for what he wrote to Washington shortly after the battle. Lee was officially suspended from the army for one year but he never returned.

“The charges of disobeying orders to attack and ordering an unnecessary and disorderly retreat were ridiculous but Lee was definitely guilty of insubordination”, said Lender.

Mark Edward Lender is the co-author along with Garry Wheeler Stone of the new book entitled Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle. He is also a professor emeritus of history at Kean University in Union, NJ and the co-author of A Respectable Army: The Military Origins of the Republic and Citizen Soldier: The Revolutionary War Journal of Joseph Bloomfield. Lender is also a member of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond and serves as chairman of the organization’s annual book award committee.

Prior to the speaker’s presentation the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond discussed the following topics: 

1. The membership voted unanimously to support two board recommendations to rename the Round Table’s annual book award after the late Harry M. Ward, and to donate $100 toward the University of Richmond’s Harry Ward Scholarship in History. Dr. Ward was a founding member of ARRT-Richmond and served as its senior advisor for many years.

2. President Bill Welsch called the membership's attention to an article that appeared in the Fall 2016 edition of "Hallowed Ground," the quarterly magazine of the Civil War Trust and Campaign 1776. The article entitled "Burgeoning Partnerships" cites the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond for being the first American Revolution Round Table in the nation to make a donation to Campaign 1776 and its efforts to preserve the nation’s American Revolution and War of 1812 battlefields. 

3. Mark Lender, chairman of the Round Table’s annual book award committee, announced that the winner of the 2016 book award is Claudio Saunt’s West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776

4. Walt Pulliam presided over the election of ARRT-Richmond officers for the 2017-18 term. He read the list of nominees received so far, one person for each office. (See the ARRT-Richmond website for the complete list.) Pulliam then called for additional nominations from the floor and when no further nominations were made, he called for a vote. The membership unanimously approved the proposed nominees for the 2017-18 term. 

--Bill Seward

Next Meeting: January 18, 2017 (Updated with Speaker and Topic)

"Money is the Sinews of War: George Washington, Money, and the Revolutionary War," Ed Lengel

Meetings are held in the Westhampton Room, Heilman Dining Center (dining hall--building 34 on the campus map), University of Richmond, at 6:30 p.m. with dinner available for purchase 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:

2017 Speakers and Presentations

The speakers and their presentations for the upcoming year are posted in the "Meetings" tab above.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Preservation Funds Presented to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Bill Welsch, president of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond, presented a check to Peter Armstrong, director of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, on October 22, 2016, representing the ARRT-R's 2016 preservation contribution.

Bill Welsch (l) and Peter Armstrong (r)

Next Meeting: January 18, 2017

Our next meeting we be held on January 18, 2017--topic and speaker to be announced later.

For your advance planning, the entire list of 2017 meeting dates has been added to the "Meetings" tab above.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Secret Phoenixville Revolutionary War Items Move to Philadelphia Museum

New American Revolution Round Table

The American Revolution Round Table (ARRT) of the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys is a brand new group of history enthusiasts dedicated to the studies of the American Revolution. The ARRT's mission is to provide an opportunity to socialize, network, and present material for those interested and who enjoy the American Revolution. We see the ARRT as a way for people who enjoly a common topic to get together for discussion, and to have an enjolyable experience. All are welcome to participate regardless of knowledge level.
The ARRT was created by historians, tour guides, and historic site and museums professionals but most importantly, they are all enthusiasts of American Revolution history.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Election of Officers

We will elect officers for the 2017-18 term at November's meeting. Nominations to-date are:

President – Bill Welsch
1st VP for Programs – Bruce Venter
2nd VP for Membership – Woody Childs
Paymaster – Art Ritter
Scribe / Historian – Bill Seward
Publicity / Web Master – Mark Groth
At Large – Charlotte Forrester
At Large – Jerry Rudd.

Walt Pulliam has graciously agreed to conduct the election at our November meeting, as well as accept any self or other nominations.  These can be sent to Walt at or can be made at the meeting.

But all the board members realize that we can’t / won’t / shouldn’t do our jobs forever.  Regardless of who is elected in November, we offer the following proposal.  Any member who is interested in a specific office in the future is encouraged to volunteer as an aide or shadow or apprentice to that officer to learn and offer suggestions.  This is not meant to increase the board size, but rather to identify and orient future ARRT leaders, as well as provide occasionally needed backup to the incumbent.  Let’s see if this approach works.  Please feel free to speak to whomever you wish.

Harry M. Ward Scholarship Fund

A scholarship in Harry's name is being established by the University of Richmond History Department. Anyone wishing to make a personal contribution may do so by sending it to:

Harry Ward Scholarship in History
Advancement Operations
University of Richmond
28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173

Harry M. Ward Remembrance

In 2006, about a year after we moved to Richmond, Gerry, my wife, while reading the Richmond Times Dispatch, inquired if I had read the book George Washington’s Enforcers.   I had and thought that it was a wonderful book exploring a hidden aspect of the American Revolution.  She then told me that Harry M Ward, the author, would be discussing his work at a local book store on the following Sunday. 

I had read not only that one, but a number of others by Dr Ward and, knowing that he was from Richmond, was curious to meet him.  On that day, I collected a small stack of his volumes, in hopes that he might inscribe them, and headed off to Book People.  (Harry later told me that he never knew what to write when someone asked him to sign a book!)  I expected a large turnout.  There wasn’t.

Lynn Sims, Jerry Rudd, and I were it.  Harry’s friend Bernard brought him, but is a self admitted non-history guy.  I expected Dr. Ward to monopolize the conversation.  After a brief discussion about Enforcers, Harry steered the discussion in another direction.  We spent time talking about our mutual interest in the revolution.  Lynn and Harry had worked together during the bicentennial and Jerry was a former student.  I would later meet many more of these folks and hear many fun stories about their teacher.  I was the new kid on the block.  Near the end of the time, Harry said “We need to form a round table.”  He then pointed at me and said, “You do it.”  To say the least, I was a bit shocked.  But it sounded like neat idea.  I told him that there were a few things that I needed to finish first and would be back to him in a few weeks.  I often wonder if he thought that I would ever call back.  But I did, and that was the start of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond.

Harry, Lynn, Jerry, and I, shortly after joined by Steve Atkinson, met a few times and laid out our plans.  Ten years later, we’re a well respected and ever growing organization, number eight on the countrywide ARRT list of sixteen.  So credit Harry with our conception.

Over the next few years, our relationship slowly changed.  I went from being an admiring groupie of a distinguished historian to a close friend.  Harry was very accepting and warm to me personally and provided much useful advice as the round table moved along.  Our friendship grew stronger over the last ten years.

We didn’t always agree on the best approach to help ARRT-R grow.  Harry wanted nothing to do with computers and didn’t accept the great publicity opportunities that they offered.  He preferred the printed word, whether our white advertising cards that he had printed yearly or our one foray with an advertisement in The Richmond Times Dispatch.  He personally paid for that ad, but wished to remain anonymous.  I suspect that some members guessed who funded it.  Harry constantly pushed for us to be bigger, to recruit more members.  I think that he was pleased that we’re now up to eighty members.

He was my post-meeting sounding board.  We usually spoke after each gathering to hear his opinion about the speaker.  He often surprised me with what he enjoyed and what he didn’t.  He was always honest, and we often disagreed.  And he often needed to be reminded that not all had the same level of knowledge as he did.  Harry was aware of the concern of satisfying and pleasing members with different levels of revolutionary expertise.  I’ll miss his perceptive evaluations.

When we started ARRT-Richmond, Harry was adamant that he wanted no office.  We created the position of Senior Advisor specifically for him.  As our bylaws allow the board discretion in such appointment, we have decided to leave the position open.  Hopefully, Harry will advise us in spirit.

Harry Ward was a prolific writer, an outstanding historian, a valued teacher, a bit of a curmudgeon, a funny guy, a generous man, a beer drinker, a thoughtful advisor, and a great friend.  I know that many round table members had wonderful relationships with him and will miss him.  I will, too.  He leaves a void for all of us that will be impossible to fill.

Rest in peace, Harry, as we carry on in your memory.

Bill Welsch
October 17, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

Next Meeting: November 16, 2016

"Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle," Mark Lender

Meetings are held in the Westhampton Room, Heilman Dining Center (dining hall--building 34 on the campus map), University of Richmond, at 6:30 p.m. with dinner available for purchase 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:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Book List: Origins of the American Revolution

I just finished reading An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America (2014) by Nick Bunker. In his afterword, Bunker offered a listing of what he considered the ten most useful books on the origin of the American Revolution. I know we all have our favorites--here is his list in order of relevance:
  1. Jensen, Merrill, The Founding of a Nation: A History of the American Revolution, 1763-1776 (1968).
  2. Greene, Jack P., The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution (2011).
  3. Marshall, P. J., The Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India, and America, c.1750-1783 (2005).
  4. Wood, Gordon S., The Radicalism of the American Revolution (1991).
  5. Breen, T. H., American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People (2010).
  6. Anderson, Fred, Crucible of War (2000).
  7. O’Shaughnessy, Andrew Jackson, The Men Who Lost America (2013).
  8. Black, Jeremy, George III: America’s Last King (2006).
  9. Bailyn, Bernard, The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson (1974).
  10. Boswell, James, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1791).

Meeting Notes: September 21, 2016

"Tories in the Shadows: Loyalism, Society, and Warfare in Virginia during the American Revolution," Stephanie Seal Walters

Frequently hated and persecuted by their fellow Virginians during and after the American Revolution, Virginia’s loyalists also ceased to exist in most Virginia history textbooks and classrooms for nearly 200 years.

“Their story is a side in Virginia that very few people have paid any attention to,” said historian Stephanie Seal Walters at the September 21, 2016 meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond.

In fact Walters’ research shows where very few historians wrote anything about Virginia’s loyalists prior to the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. At that time many historians began to study the whole story of the American Revolution, not just the battles and political activities of the famous Founding Fathers.

“During the Bicentennial, historians began researching and writing about women, blacks and other groups such as loyalists and the neutral population,” said Walters.

A few years later Hollywood produced a very popular movie called The Patriot, which told the fictitious story of a Mel Gibson character who fought against an evil character who was loosely based on British Colonel Banastre Tarleton, the commander of a loyalist cavalry regiment.

“The Tarleton-like character was the most interesting character in the movie. For example, he ordered his loyalist troops to burn down a church with the people still in it. He was a wonderful villain,” laughed Walters.

Over the years historians struggled and disagreed over how to identify people as loyalists during the American Revolution. While conducting her research, Walters used five criteria to identify loyalists. If anyone met at least one of the five criteria, she regarded that person as showing serious loyalist tendencies.

Her first category was whether a person tried to submit a postwar claim to the Loyalist Claims Commission concerning property that was allegedly stolen or destroyed during the war. Virginia’s loyalists were frequent targets for theft and vandalism. Two other criteria which Walters used to identify Virginia loyalists were whether a person was ever imprisoned for alleged loyalist views, or whether a person ever joined the British army or a loyalist militia unit.

Walters said that her fourth criteria was “somewhat of a gray area” because it involved “neighbors hating neighbors”. During the American Revolution, people wrote to public newspapers, charging people with loyalist beliefs. Routinely, the accused would promptly reply in writing to the newspaper, and deny the charges of being a loyalist. However Walters classified people who didn’t promptly deny the accusations as being most likely loyalists.

Her fifth and final criteria covered the actual writings of people who wrote either publicly or privately about their loyalist views. Examples of private writings were diary entries and personal letters to family members and close friends. 

After applying her five criteria to Virginia writings and public records from the American Revolution years, Walters identified approximately 2,500 Virginians as loyalists. This was a much larger number than previous estimates by historians who placed the number of Virginia loyalists at approximately 500 people.

As for the geographical breakdown of Virginia’s loyalists, Walters said that by far the heaviest concentration was in Norfolk, Portsmouth and the Eastern Shore. Many of Virginia’s merchants were loyalists, especially the wealthy ones who had extensive trade deals with Great Britain.

Virginia’s first problems with open rebellion against British authority took place on November 7, 1774 at what was called the Yorktown Tea Party. Approximately 10-15 protesters dumped tea into the York River in a similar manner to the more famous tea party that took place in Boston one year earlier.

“The Revolution hit Virginia really late,” said Walters. “They stayed out of the patriot versus loyalist disputes when compared to New York, Massachusetts and the Carolinas. However, Yorktown opened up a first-time debate. Even though the Yorktown Tea Party was very small, its significance was important in starting a discussion.”

One of Virginia’s earliest and prominent loyalists was John Agnew, the Anglican rector of the Suffolk parish. According to Walters, he was “a grumpy man who sued his own church to get paid more money.” Agnew’s attorney was none other than Thomas Jefferson.

In March 1775 Agnew called a meeting where he invited only the women parishioners, and spoke on rendering unto Caesar what was Caesar’s and unto God what was God’s. When some of the male parishioners learned about the secret women-only meeting, they stormed into the church and ordered Agnew to shut up. They accused the loyalist rector of having “a master in Heaven and a master in England”. A few days later Agnew was imprisoned but he escaped, and soon joined the Queen’s Rangers loyalist regiment as their chaplain.

Tensions steadily increased across Virginia in 1775 between Virginia patriots such as Patrick Henry and Virginia loyalists who supported Lord Dunmore, Virginia’s royal governor. When Dunmore feared for his safety in Williamsburg and felt compelled to move his base of operations, he chose Norfolk because it included many residents who were loyal to the British crown.

Dunmore set off a firestorm across Virginia in November 1775 when he declared that any slaves who ran away from their masters and joined his all-black Ethiopian regiment would be considered free people under British law. Dunmore also enraged Virginia patriots by creating an all-white Virginia loyalist regiment.

Shortly after Dunmore’s forces abandoned Norfolk in January 1776, Virginia patriots reoccupied Norfolk and sought revenge against the city’s loyalist population. Most loyalist homes were set ablaze, and the fires spread to the point where they burned down most of the city.

After Virginia and the other 12 American colonies declared their independence most of the state’s newspapers, including the widely-read Virginia Gazette, became strong promoters of independence. They quit covering stories about Virginia loyalists, especially any patriot atrocities committed against them. For example, a Virginia loyalist stole the Great Seal of Virginia and when he got caught in the Fredericksburg area, a crowd tarred and feathered him. No news of the event appeared in the Virginia Gazette, which basically censored the incident.

“Virginia’s newspapers covered loyalist stories outside Virginia but they didn’t cover those within the state. It was as if there were no loyalists in Virginia,” said Walters.

Stephanie Seal Walters is a first-year digital history fellow at the Roy Rosenzweig Digital History Center at George Mason University, where she is also pursuing a PhD in U.S. history. Her research interests include Colonial America, digital history, war and society and loyalism during the American Revolution.

She received her BA and MA in history at the University of Southern Mississippi where she was also a graduate fellow for the Southern Quarterly: A Journal of the Arts in the South and the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society.

Prior to the speaker’s presentation the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond discussed the following topics:

1. President Bill Welsch welcomed approximately 50 members of the University of Richmond’s Osher Institute to the Round Table for what was an annual joint meeting between the two organizations.

2. Osher member Donna Callery thanked ARRT-Richmond for the invitation and urged ARRT-Richmond members to join the Osher Institute and to register for Osher’s upcoming mini-courses and tours which begin later this semester.

3. President Welsch also announced the dates and locations of several upcoming lectures and tours across Virginia that relate to the American Revolution.

--Bill Seward

Harry M. Ward

Harry Ward, esteemed professor at the University of Richmond, scholar, prolific author, and founding member of our Round Table, passed away on October 4, 2016. His obituary should appear in the "Richmond Times-Dispatch" by this weekend; service will be Wednesday, October 12, 2016, 3:00 p.m., Westhampton Garden, Patterson/Glenside Avenue. He was a great friend to us and will be missed.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Battle of Brandywine in Four Minutes

The Battle of Brandywine in 4 Minutes, with Tom McGuire, from Campaign 1776.

"American Revolutions: A Continental History," Alan Taylor, October 5, 2016

On October 5, Alan Taylor will speak at the University of Richmond on “American Revolutions: A Continental History,” the subject of his new book.  This is a Society of Cincinnati Lecture.  Check here.

Site of Revolutionary War Battlefield Located

Thanks to Bruce Venter for the following:

BEAUFORT, S.C. (AP) _ Historians say they've found the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Grays Hill on the South Carolina coast.

There's a roadside marker on U.S. 21 north of Beaufort generally describing the battle, but The Beaufort Gazette reports ( ) the exact site of the 1779 encounter was only recently discovered.

During the battle, continental regulars, South Carolina militia and volunteers turned back a British attempt to capture nearby Port Royal.

Historians Daniel Battle and John Allison found the site using metal detectors. The location won't be revealed until the property can be purchased. The battlefield spans 12 acres and is owned by three property owners. The historians will present their findings and artifacts during a talk in Beaufort in October.

Information from: The Beaufort Gazette,

The Road to Yorktown, John Maass, September 28, 2016

When Polegreen Church was formed in the mid-18th Century, revolution was in the air. And the next speaker in our popular lecture series, Dr. John Maass, will join us September 28 from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. to explore the drama that unfolded.

To be held at the University of Richmond's Jepson Hall, Dr. Maass' presentation will explore the British invasion of Central Virginia in the campaign leading up to the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781.

A military historian with broad experience, Dr. Maass will have copies of his latest book -- The Road to Yorktown: Jefferson, Lafayette and the British Invasion of Virginia -- available for signings.

Admission is free, and the event will be held in Lecture Hall 120 - just inside the main entrance to UR's Jepson Hall School of Leadership Studies (not the Alumni Center).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"The Swamp Fox Rides Again," October 27-30, 2016

Lynne and Bruce Venter, America's History LLC, presents "The Swamp Fox Rides Again,” led by our friend Charles Baxley from October 27 - 30, 2016. 

For more information:

14th Annual Francis Marion Symposium, October 21-22, 2016

Save the date & plan to come, register within the month for the early-bird discount. Please share with those interested. We’ve planned the presenters and two dinner theaters.

14th Francis Marion/Swamp Fox Symposium  -  Oct 21-22, 2016, Manning, SC
Explore the Revolutionary War Southern Campaign with General Francis Marion.
Immerse yourself in Francis Marion's world and the and the significance of the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution.

Francis Marion and the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, topics to be included:

Agenda is in-progress, & starts about 2:00 on Friday, Oct  21
Includes presentations & Friday dinner theater & Saturday dinner theater:
Mike C: Marion & Fort Fair Lawn
John O: "A patriot (but not ‘The Patriot')“
Randell J: Routes to what became the Battle of Kings Mountain
Larry B: The Bullets They Fired
Bill S:  SC Churches burned during the American Revolution
John A:  The Battle of Shubrick's Plantation, Marion & Sumter Fight Together for the Last Time
Steven S:   Col. Hezekiah Maham, The Soldier
Steve S: “New Interpretations of the Siege of Fort Motte”
Mark M: Folksinger/Songwriter/Guitarist, with Rev. War songs
Janet D & Bob M: A one-act play:  “Bloody Ribbons ... The Women …”

Site: FE DuBose Campus, Central Carolina Technical College, I-95, Exit 122, Manning, SC
- Register Soon.
(Lectures, reception, lunch & dinner theater)  Price: $ 95     ($175 / couple)
(Early bird $90/$165 by Sept 19)  Registration closes 10/14/16
The Swamp Fox Murals Trail Society is a 501(c)(3), non-profit.

Latest details at

Interview with Mark Lender

Visit the Mount Vernon website for an interview with our own Mark Lender about his new book Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle, the new Monmouth standard.  Mark and Garry’s book has been nominated for the George Washington Award.  Congratulations!

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown Tours

We’ve arranged two tours of the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, our 2016 Preservation Partner.  The first will be Saturday, October 22, at 10:30.  The second will occur in conjunction with the WYARRT November conference.  Details will be available at our September meeting.

Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution Symposium, November 11-13, 2016

The Williamsburg/Yorktown ARRT will be holding a Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution Symposium in Yorktown from November 11-13, 2016. Below is information that outlines the speakers, the tentative schedule, and a sign-up form in case you want to participate. Also, please spread the word about the symposium to others who may be interested.  Space is limited so sign up today!  If you have any questions, please contact the WYARRT President, Jeff Lambert, at
Friday November 11, 2016:
Evening reception at Watermens' Museum Yorktown for Fellowship (7 PM)  
Saturday Nov 12, 2016:
Symposium at American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (8 AM ~ 5 PM)  

Pre-Declaration of Independence and First Blood:
Colonial Provincial Governments        
Governor Dunmore's Proclamation (Nov 75) 
First Siege of Ninety-Six, SC (Nov 75) Great Bridge, VA (Dec 75), Great Cane Break, SC (Dec 75) , Moores Bridge (Feb 76) Yamacraw Bluff (Rice Boats), GA (Mar76), Sullivan's Island, SC (Jun 76)  
1778-1779 ~ British Transition to Southern Theater:
Fall of Savannah, GA (Dec 78)         
Kettle Creek, GA (Feb79)  
Siege of Savannah, GA (Sept-Oct 79)                   
1780 ~ Civil War Erupts:  
Fall of Charleston, SC (Apr-May 80) 
Clinton Proclamation (June) Formation of Partisans and Loyalist 
Waxhaws + Williamson Plantation (Huck's Defeat) = Civil War  
Camden, SC (Aug) 
King's Mountain, SC (Oct)               
1781 ~ World Turned Upside Down....:
Cowpen's, SC  (Jan)  
"Race to the Dan" NC & VA (Jan-Feb)    
Guilford Courthouse, NC (Mar) 
Hobkirk's Hill, SC (Apr) 
Eutaw Springs, SC   (Sept) 
Siege of Yorktown, VA (Sept-Oct)  
1782  ~ Epilogue        
 Sunday November 13, 2016:
  Tour of Yorktown Battlefield from behind the Siege Line ~ NPS  

John Buchannan, Historian, Road to Guilford Courthouse 
Carl Borick, Director, Charleston Museum, Author, A Gallant Defense /  Relieve US of This Burthen     
Bert Dunkerly ~ NPS 
Jason Baum ~ NPS 
Olivia Williams Black~ NPS 
Ginny Fowler ~ NPS 
Tyler Smith ~ NPS 
David P. Reuwer ~ President American Revolution Association 
Charles Baxley ~ President Southern Campaign of the American Revolution (SCAR)  and others.....   
Symposium will include
 Tours of the: 
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown by Peter Armstrong Dir Museum Operations 
Yorktown Battlefield by Kym Hall, Supervisor Colonial National Historical Park NPS     
Reception Friday evening at: 
The Watermen's Museum waterside Carriage House              
Lodging is available 
This classic family-run hotel is across the street from Yorktown Beach. Between the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (2.6 miles) and the Yorktown Battlefield (1 mile) Address: 508 Water St, Yorktown, VA 23690 Phone: (757) 898-3232 Website:   
Seating is limited ~ first come first served   
Name: ______________________________________________________  
Send check for $125 per person made out to:  
Williamsburg-Yorktown American Revolution Round Table (W-Y ARRT) 412 West Francis Street Williamsburg, VA 23185   
Southern Campaigns 1775-1782 November 11-13, 2016 
 Book Signings 
John "Jack" Buchanan  ~The Road to Guilford Courthouse  
Carl Borick     ~A Gallant Defense - The Siege of Charleston, 1780     ~Relieve Us of This Burthen -American Prisoners of War         in the Revolutionary South 1780-1782  
Robert "Bert" Dunkerly  ~The Battle of Kings Mountain: Eyewitness Accounts   

"George Washington's Secret Spy War," John Nagy

George Washington’s Secret Spy War is the untold story of how George Washington took a disorderly, ill-equipped rabble and defeated the best trained and best equipped army of its day in the Revolutionary War. Using George Washington’s diary as the primary source, author John A. Nagy reveals a surprising chapter in George Washington's life, one spent steeped in espionage. Before passing away in 2016, Nagy had become the nation’s leading expert on the subject, discovering hundreds of spies who went behind enemy lines to gather intelligence during the American Revolution, many of whom are completely unknown to most historians. George Washington's Secret Spy War will be published September 20th from St. Martin's Press.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

2015 Book Award Presentation

American Revolution Round Table of Richmond president, Bill Welsch (left), presents the 2015 Book Award to Michael Harris at our July 20th meeting.

Harris' award-winning book is Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777, published by Savas Beatie of El Dorado Hills, California.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Next Meeting: September 21, 2016

"Tories in the Shadows: Loyalism, Society, and Warfare in Virginia during the American Revolution," Stephanie Seal Walters

Meetings are held in the Westhampton Room, Heilman Dining Center (dining hall--building 34 on the campus map), University of Richmond, at 6:30 p.m. with dinner available for purchase beginning at 5:30 p.m. It is not necessary that you purchase dinner in order to attend the meeting.

Note the school is back in session so we are reverting to our usual start times.

University of Richmond campus map:

Lafayette in the Wilderness: August 13, 2016

A lecture and walk by Dr John Maass on "Lafayette in the Wilderness" on Saturday,  August 13, 2016.

The event  will be held at Ellwood Manor, Locust Grove, near the intersection of Hwy 3  and 20.

Details are provided at

If there are questions, please feel free to contact me.

Mike Pierce
434 466 1542

Meeting Notes: July 20, 2016

"The Battle of Brandywine," Mike Harris

Should historians regard General John Sullivan’s performance at the Battle of Brandywine as that of an “American goat” or an “American scapegoat”?

This question and other Brandywine topics were addressed by historian Michael C. Harris at the July 20, 2016 meeting of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond. Harris is the author of the recently published book entitled Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777. The book was the 2015 winner of ARRT-Richmond’s annual book award.

The Battle of Brandywine was the largest battle fought during the American Revolution in terms of the number of troops actually engaged (nearly 30,000). It was also the longest single-day battle of the war, lasting from approximately 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Brandywine was also the largest battle in terms of acreage, encompassing over 10 square miles.

Brandywine was part of Sir William Howe’s 1777 late summer/early autumn campaign to capture Philadelphia. Howe moved his army via the British navy from New York City, and then up the Chesapeake Bay to Head of Elk, Maryland where they landed. From there the British marched basically northeast toward Philadelphia, the American capital. George Washington’s army formed a defensive line between Howe’s army and Philadelphia along Brandywine Creek, approximately 25 miles from the capital city.

Commanding one of Washington’s five Continental divisions was General John Sullivan. He was a veteran of several war campaigns which included Canada, Long Island and Trenton. His army division consisted primarily of troops from Maryland and Delaware who were new to the American army.

“Washington was basically rebuilding his army in 1777,” said Harris, “and these guys didn’t really know what they were doing yet.”

Sullivan’s division consisted of two brigades---the 1st Maryland and the 2nd Maryland. Although General William Smallwood was the official commander of the 1st Maryland Brigade, Colonel John Stone substituted for him at Brandywine because Smallwood was on assignment in Maryland where he was raising militia units for the American army.

Commanding the 2nd Maryland Brigade was General Preudhomme de Borre, a French officer who had served in their army in Europe for 35 years and had recently volunteered his services to the American army. Unfortunately he could barely speak English and therefore had great difficulty communicating with his fellow American officers and his American troops in general.

On the morning of September 11, 1777 Washington’s army was spread out along Brandywine Creek for approximately seven miles, however most of his troops were in close proximity to Chad’s Ford and the Great Post Road---the most direct road leading to Philadelphia. From the Chad’s Ford area Washington’s defensive line along Brandywine Creek grew thinner and thinner as it meandered northward on what was the American right flank. Sullivan’s division was in charge of the thin right flank which guarded several fords located along Brandywine Creek.

Around 5:00 a.m. on September 11, 1777 Howe began to move his troops from the Kennett Square area, located on the Great Post Road approximately seven miles west of Brandywine Creek. Howe divided his army into two wings under the commands of General Wilhelm von Knyphausen and General Charles Cornwallis.

Howe ordered Knyphausen to march his army wing eastward on the Great Post Road to Chad’s Ford and to launch a convincing diversionary attack against the American defensive line on Brandywine Creek. He also ordered Cornwallis to move his army wing northward and then eastward to cross Brandywine Creek upstream from where the seven-mile American defensive line ended. The goal was for Cornwallis to sweep around the American right flank while Knyphausen kept the American left flank busy at and near Chad’s Ford.

“This is the sixth time that Howe tried a flank attack on Washington so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise,” said Harris. “In fact this flank attack was very similar to the one Howe launched on Long Island where John Sullivan got captured and was later exchanged.”

Starting around 9:00 a.m., the Americans received conflicting intelligence reports on the movements of British troops toward the American right flank. After rumors began circulating about a large number of British troops marching around the American right flank, the Americans sent Major John Jamison to scout this area but he found no evidence of British troops.

At approximately 10:00 a.m. Colonel Moses Hazen, whose regiment guarded two of the Brandywine fords, sent Sullivan a report claiming that British troops were marching upstream in large numbers around the American right flank. Sullivan sent both Jamison’s and Hazen’s conflicting reports to Washington. After Washington received these reports he sent his cavalry toward the American right flank to patrol the roads in that area.

“Washington had approximately 800 cavalry who were camped near his headquarters---doing nothing,” said Harris. “The only horsemen that the Americans had near their right flank were a few patrols of dragoons under the command of Theodorick Bland, and Bland was a Virginian and therefore didn’t know much about the nearby Pennsylvania roads.”

Around noon Lieutenant Colonel James Ross sent Washington a report concerning the presence of a large number of British troops moving northward. Thinking that these troops were moving toward the American supply depots at Reading, PA and not northeast or east toward his right flank, Washington assumed that his right flank was safe. In fact he thought it was so safe that he could launch his own attack against Knyphausen’s diversionary troops located near Chad’s Ford. Washington wanted to take advantage of the British while their forces were divided, and ordered Sullivan to attack the British at Brinton’s Ford and for Generals Nathanael Greene and William Maxwell to attack at Chad’s Ford.

After just a few minutes the American attack was called off abruptly. Around 12:30 p.m. Major Joseph Spear, a Pennsylvanian and a resident of nearby Chester County, reported that he had not seen a single British soldier marching on the road where the British were supposedly marching north toward Reading. Fearing that the British had not divided their army and that the whole British army was located directly in front of him on the west side of Brandywine Creek, Washington called off his attack and retained his defensive position on the east side of Brandywine Creek.

Around 1:15 p.m. a crisis developed for the Americans. Some of Bland’s dragoons spotted a very large number of British troops massed on Osborne’s Hill, to the right rear of the American defensive line along Brandywine Creek. The British left wing under the command of Cornwallis (and Howe who accompanied him) had marched north and then east, across Brandywine Creek and beyond the American right flank. Then they turned south toward the American right rear.

“Washington was in a panic” said Harris. “He sent three of his divisions to counter the British flanking movement. The divisions of Lord Stirling and Adam Stephen took a roundabout route while Sullivan’s division went directly overland but got out of position.”

Washington told Sullivan to take command of the three divisions. The Americans formed a defensive line on and near Birmingham Hill with Sullivan’s division on the left, Stirling’s division in the center and Stephen’s divisions on the right. Unfortunately for the Americans, Sullivan’s division marched into a valley, which created somewhat of a gap between his division and the adjacent one of Stirling’s. Sullivan tried to close the gap by ordering his division’s senior subordinate, Preudhomme de Borre, to move the division to the right while Sullivan rode over to Stirling’s troops to coordinate the American redeployment with them.

“Instead of simply shifting Sullivan’s division slightly to the right, our French friend (de Borre) put Sullivan’s troops into a marching column in what was a very complicated maneuver,” said Harris.

At approximately 4:00 p.m. and shortly after de Borre and his troops began their complicated redeployment, Howe and Cornwallis launched their all-out assault against the three American divisions of de Borre, Stirling and Stephens. Since the British right flank caught de Borre’s troops in the middle of their redeployment, a British volley and bayonet charge into one of de Borre’s units caused that unit to retreat into an adjacent American unit, and set off a panic among most of de Borre’s troops.

“By 4:30 Sullivan’s division under de Borre was basically destroyed as a fighting unit,” said Harris. “Sullivan tried to hold the rest of his defensive line with Stirling and Stephen’s divisions, but the British kept lapping around the American left flank until Stirling’s troops and eventually Stephen’s were forced to retreat as well.”

While the troops of de Borre, Stirling and Stephens were fleeing the Birmingham Hill defensive line, Nathanael Greene’s division formed a U-shaped defensive line behind them at approximately 6:00 p.m. Greene’s troops, plus some of the retreating troops from Birmingham Hill, held this new defensive line until darkness at approximately 7:00 p.m. Overnight the entire American army retreated eastward from the Brandywine Creek area toward Chester, PA.

Shortly after the battle de Borre resigned from the American army, and the Continental Congress wanted to convene a court of inquiry into the military conduct of John Sullivan at Brandywine. Washington tried to tell Congress that there was no time for a court of inquiry because the British army was advancing toward the outskirts of Philadelphia, and therefore the Americans needed to worry about more critical problems. A few days later Washington’s army and members of the Continental Congress were forced to flee Philadelphia, and allow the British to march into the city on September 26, 1777.

Many American officers came to the defense of Sullivan regarding the accusations brought against him by members of Congress. One of these officers was Washington, who blamed the Brandywine defeat not on Sullivan, but on faulty intelligence reports (particularly the report from local resident Major Joseph Spear) for failing to locate the large British flanking column until after they had marched around the American right flank.

Congress never convened a court of inquiry on Sullivan’s military conduct at Brandywine, probably because Washington successfully stopped it. Sullivan remained a major general in the American army and fought in other battles---most notably the Newport, RI campaign that took place approximately one year later.

Michael C. Harris started conducting his research on the Battle of Brandywine back in 2005 when he worked for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at Brandywine Battlefield. He has also worked for the National Park Service in Fredericksburg and Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey. Today he teaches high school in the Philadelphia region, and lives approximately 10 minutes from Valley Forge and 45 minutes from Brandywine Creek.

Harris also conducts tours and staff rides at many battlefields. He is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and the American Military University.

Prior to the speaker’s presentation the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond discussed the following topics:

1. Book Award Chairman Mark Lender officially presented Michael C. Harris with the ARRT-Richmond 2015 Best Book Award for his Brandywine book.

2. President Bill Welsch announced that ARRT-Richmond’s membership had recently voted online to select the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown as ARRT-Richmond’s 2016 Preservation Partner. President Welsch notified the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown about the election results, and they cordially invited the ARRT-Richmond membership to take a group tour of the museum sometime this fall. The two organizations are working on the details.

3. President Welsch also mentioned that the Round Table is working on a 2017 bus trip to sites located in the Richmond area that relate to Patrick Henry.

4. Brief announcements were made by other ARRT-Richmond members concerning various history topics.

--Bill Seward