Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Meeting Notes: September 16, 2020

Pre-Guest Speaker Notes:

ARRT-R’s next meeting is scheduled for 11/18/20 at 6:30 p.m.  This is a zoom meeting!  Sign in details will be provided in the November newsletter.  Thanks again to Peggy Watson for allowing us to utilize the Osher network.

ARRT-R’s featured speaker on 11/18/20 will be Jeff Dacus.  Jeff will be speaking on “Washington’s Family: The Aides and Secretaries that helped him through the War”.  As Jeff says, “Most people think it was just Alexander Hamilton but he had an excellent group of young men that did his staff work.”

Jeff Dacus is a retired schoolteacher who taught U.S. history for 35 years and also taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Portland.  A retired Marine tanker, he volunteers with local veterans groups and is a speaker at historical events.  A member of the Company of Military Historians, he has written numerous articles in the Journal of the Company of Military Historians, Marine Corps Tanker’s Association Newsletter, as well as Leatherneck and Armor Magazines.  He is the winner of the 2020 General Roy S. Geiger Award given to the author of the best article in the field of Marine Corps Aviation.  His first book is The Fighting Corsairs: The Men of the Marine Fighting Squadron 215.

Guest Speaker: Norm Bollen  – “George Washington and the Mohawk Frontier” 

Norm is chairman of the board of the Fort Plain Museum and Historical Park.  He is the former president of the Mohawk Valley Museum Consortium and the president and founder of Mohawk Country Inc., a non-profit group which promotes historic preservation and heritage based tourism in the Mohawk Valley.

New York State was a key battleground in the War for American Independence with nearly a third of all battles being fought there. The Mohawk Valley, often described as the "Bloody Mohawk," suffered through multiple coordinated strikes by an enemy determined to split the Colonies. This book deals with a little known and little understood chapter of American history. Communications between the Commander-in-Chief and Philip Schuyler, George Clinton, James Clinton, John Sullivan, General William Stirling, Goose Van Schaick, Marinus Willett, George Reid, Benjamin Tupper, all as it related to the defense of the Mohawk frontier are covered in the research. The book follows Washington's trip into the Mohawk Frontier and his visit to Fort Rensselaer on August 2, 1783 just three years after the fort successfully repelled an enemy attack.

1776 – British and Indian forces under the command of Sir John Johnson begin conducting raids in the Valley.  General Washington struggling to keep his own army in the field is unable to devout resources to secure the Valley.

1777 – British and Indian attacks on the Valley intensify as part of the British campaign in the Northern Theater that included the movement of General Burgoyne’s forces south into eastern New York State.  British and Indian forces in the Valley where commanded by Colonel Barry St. Leger.  The Battle of Oriskany took place on August 6, 1777,

To Philip Schuyler July 2, 1777

“I fear the Indians will make ravage of our Frontier Country and the Enemies will make an entry in our State from our Quarters without great difficulty”

Nicholas Herkimer

1778 – General Washington’s fails in his attempt to organize an expedition to clear the Valley.  He blames the failure on the leadership of the Northern Department.

To the Continental Congress November 16, 1778

“These depredations of the Enemy give me the most serious concern.  I lament that we have not yet had it in our power to give them an effectual check.  I am perfectly convinced that the only way of preventing Indian ravages is to carry the war vigorously into their own country”

George Washington

1779 – General Washington takes control of the planning for what becomes the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition.  

To General Sullivan May 31, 1779

“…lay waste to all the settlements around with instructions to do it in the most effectual manner, that the Country may not merely be overrun but destroyed?

George Washington

1780 – Once again the Mohawk was under attack.  During the summer of 1780, General Washington is focused on securing Fort Schuyler.  On August 2nd a raid on the greater Fort Plain area devastates the countryside.  General Van Resselaer is blamed for the attack.

1781 – American forces under the command of Marinus Willett fight the key battle of New Dorlach on July 10, 1781 and the Battle of Johnstown on October 25, 1781.

1782 – Washington made his 1st trip to the Valley.  His mission was to inspect the defenses on the northern & western frontiers.  On June 27th Washington received the “key to the city” while visiting Albany.  On June 30th Washington attended a banquet in Schenectady.  Seated next to him at the banquet where Frederick Fisher & Jellis Fonda of the Mohawk District Tryon County Militia.  This banquet was Washington’s first meeting with Tryon County Militia and allowed him to mend fences over the disastrous handling of the war in Tryon County.

Staff with Washington on the trip included Major General Henry Knox, AG Edward Hand, and Governor George Clinton.

“For my own part, I am more apprehensive for the safety of the Country on the 

Mowhawk River than for any other part of the frontier”

George Washington

1783 – Washington and his entourage made a 2nd trip to the Mohawk Valley in 1783.  Washington utilized Fort Rensselear as his headquarters from July 28 to August 3.

To the Marquis de Chastellux October 12, 1783

“Would to God we may have wisdom enough to improve them, I shall not rest contented, till I have explored the Western Country, and traversed those lines or a great part of them, which have given bounds to  anew Empire”

George Washington

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