Image courtesy of Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown.

Monday, December 11, 2023

2024 Meeting Dates, Topics, and Speakers

Our schedule of meetings is set for 2024. Click on the Meetings tab above to see the dates, topics, and speakers. Our new 1st Vice President has lined-up a wonderful slate of speakers for us... thank you, Randy!

As a reminder, our January meeting will be ZOOM ONLY. Details will be in our January newsletter.

Meeting Notes: November 15, 2023

The November 15, 2023, meeting was held in the Westhampton Room, Heilman Dining Center, at the University of Richmond. Meeting attendance continues to grow towards pre-pandemic numbers.

Bill Welsch announced the retirement of Dr. Bruce Venter as 1st Vice President of Programs and thanked him for 15 years of truly significant, selfless, and important services to the Round Table. In recognition of his contributions, Bill presented Bruce a certificate of appreciation and an engraved Jefferson Cup. Bruce is an author, tour leader, and president of America's History, LLC, and conducts conferences for history enthusiasts (  Bill announced that Randy Flood, Host and Executive Producer of The Real American Revolution Multimedia Center & Consortium for Civic Education, has been selected by the Board to replace Bruce. Randy will assume the position on January 1, 2024.

The evening’s presenter was Bob Thompson, author of Revolutionary Roads, Searching for the War That Made America Independent...and All the Places It Could Have Gone Terribly Wrong, published by: Twelve Books (

Bob Thompson, a longtime feature writer for the Washington Post, is known for his pieces on the intersection of history and myth. His book Revolutionary Roads, Searching for the War That Made America Independent...and All the Places It Could Have Gone Terribly Wrong was the product of his curiosity about which Revolutionary War battles were turning points towards victory and the actions of some relatively unfamiliar individuals and groups. His presentation focused on not so much battles and strategies but how he researched the stories he wanted to tell when Patriot forces encountered British and Loyalist forces and the outcome was uncertain or could have gone terribly wrong for either side. He described his travel history of going to battlefields, walking the ground, and seeking out local experts, from Quebec to Savannah, learning their stories of historical events and separating out mythical spins.

He presented examples of moments that played key roles in shaping the course of the war and, ultimately, the outcome of the American Revolution. Thompson emphasized his walks seeking out battlefield guides and revolutionary war enthusiasts gathering facts to pass along and educate future readers of a planned book. Speaking briefly about the Battle of Brooklyn (also known as the Battle of Long Island) that allowed Washington a nighttime retreat and saving a significant portion of his army. Thompson made his way through the 2nd Battle of Trenton, then spoke about his research methodologies concerning the nearly (or not so) famous Americans involved in particular actions like the Philadelphia dock workers, Brandywine, Monmouth, Charleston, Savannah, King’s Mountain, Saratoga, Cornwallis’ decision at Wilmington, African Americans (both enslaved and free) performing military duties in the Continental Army, and how the French fleet sailed to the Caribbean and then northward into Chesapeake Bay cutting off the British escape route by sea and trapping the British at Yorktown. Each a combination of strategic decisions, tactical competence or incompetence, and sometimes pure happenstance contributed to preventing potential disasters and leading to eventual victory for the United Colonies’ forces.

Fred Sorrell


Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Next Meeting: November 15, 2023

Our next meeting on November 15 will feature a presentation by Bob Thompson on "Revolutionary Roads: Searching for the War that Made America Independent... and All the Places It Could Have Gone Terribly Wrong." Be sure to mark your calendars now!

We will be returning to the Westhampton Room in the Heilman Dining Center. Regular dining service will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m.

University of Richmond campus map:


Meeting Notes: September 20, 2023

Meeting was held September 20, 2023, in the Westhampton Room, Heilman Dining Center, University of Richmond

 Meeting attendance is increasing. Bethany Sullivan, Director of The James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage ( attended the meeting and spoke about the 18th, 19th and 20th century cultural heritage and artifacts located at the Museum, of Orange County and the Piedmont region of Virginia.

 The evening’s presentation was “The Unintended Consequences of Interrupting Britian’s Slave-trading Economy.” The speaker was Christian McBurney, author of Dark Voyage: An American Privateer’s War on Britain’s African Slave Trade. His books are available from his publisher (

 An armada of more than 2,000 so-called “privateers” were legally commissioned, by both the Continental Congress and individual states, to seize enemy shipping on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of collecting court-awarded vessels as prizes whereby seized ships and contents could then be sold. The ship’s owners, crews and investors profited by selling the captured vessels and contents. This severely disrupted Great Britain’s global commerce and turned British public opinion against the war as British officials complained they could not guarantee the safety of civilian trade. Privateering advanced America’s War of Independence objectives by diminishing the importation of British goods into the United Colonies and the exportation of natural resources to Great Britain. Privateers became “our cheapest and best navy.” Seized merchant ships were later sold to American traders and syndicates (and others masking as American) who repurposed the ships expanding commercial capacity for the slave trade.

 Christian McBurney’s presentation “followed the money” of ships and investors from Portugal, Spain, the Dutch Republic, France, and Britain leading up to slave-trading throughout the Americas. This occurred when the demand for enslaved labor rose sharply with the growth of sugar cane agriculture in the Caribbean and tobacco plantations in the Chesapeake region. He described how European naval commerce developed as triangular trade ventures proved profitable: in which arms, textiles, and wine were shipped from Europe to Africa; enslaved people were transported from Africa to Brazil, the Caribbean islands, and North America; and sugar, and its derivatives rum and molasses, and coffee were shipped from the Americas to Europe.

 At the start of the American War of Independence, Britain dominated Atlantic commerce and was the leading slave-trading nation in the world. In 1776, American privateers began to prey on British merchantmen exploiting opportunities for immediate profits. Privateers began to capture British slave ships with African captives on board just before they arrived at their Caribbean Island destinations, and North American coasts, returning the seized ships to port to declare and await award their prizes. Privateers later expanded their roaming to the western coast of Africa.

 Based on a little-known contemporary primary source, The Journal of the Good Ship Marlborough, one privateer was given an extraordinary task: to sail across the Atlantic to attack British slave trading posts and ships on the coast of West Africa. The story of this remarkable voyage is told in McBurnie’s book. He attributes the work of the Marlborough and other American privateers as so disruptive that it led to an unintended consequence: virtually halting the British slave trade. British slave merchants, alarmed at losing money from their ships being captured, invested in fewer slave voyages. As a result, tens of thousands of Africans were not forced onto slave ships, then transported to the New World, and consigned to a lifetime of slavery or an early death.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Next Meeting: September 20, 2023


Our speaker will be Christian McBurney, president of the George Washington ARRT-DC and the author of a number of Revolutionary War books.  He will be speaking about his newest, Dark Voyage: American Privateer's War on British African Slave Trade, describing one privateer's extraordinary task: to sail across the Atlantic to attack British slave trading posts and ships on the coast of West Africa.  Christian is a return guest, having previously presented on both the capture and court martial of General Charles Lee.  His books are available at the Fort Plain Bookstore.

We will be returning to the Westhampton Room in the Heilman Dining Center. Regular dining service will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m.

University of Richmond campus map:


Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Next Meeting: July 19, 2023

 "Revolutionary Money & Finance," Edward Lewis

The Currency Act or Paper Bills of Credit Act was legislation passed by the British Parliament that regulated paper money issued by the colonies.  Ed will discuss this, as well as revolutionary finance in general.  He will also present bills and coins for our inspection.
Edward Lewis has studied the American Revolution for fifty years, with an emphasis on money and finance. He became interested in the American Revolution in the early 1970s, tracing ancestors who served in the Continental Army, including Cresaps Maryland Rifles Company.  He has collected all types of currency and documents  related to the revolution, signers of the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution. Ed is a member of the Chesterfield Historical Society and three coin clubs in the Richmond, Colonial Heights, and Charlottesville areas.


Thursday, June 15, 2023

Meeting Notes: March 15, 2023

Administrative Items:

 1.      AART-R’s financial to support to other Revolutionary War organizations was discussed, including recurring contributions to the American Battlefield Trust and Crossing of the Dan. The membership present voted on and approved sending a donation to the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust for The Camden Burials.

2.     Mark Lender re-announced the 2022 Harry M. Ward Book Award co-winners:

a.     Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778-1781, author John Ferling

b.     Francis Marion and the Snow's Island Community: Myth, History, and Archaeology, author Steven D Smith

3.     Bill Welsch announced the planning of an October 14 (tentative) tour of Revolutionary War sites around the Newport News area. Details are to follow.

 Meeting Presentation:

William L. Kidder spoke on the Battle of Trenton, entitled "That Unhappy Affair at Trenton" based on his book Ten Crucial Days: Washington's Vision for Victory Unfolds available from the Fort Plain Museum Bookstore [].

The significance of the patriots' victory at Trenton was not forgotten in the ensuing years and two and a half years after the battle, it was Lord George Germain, the British Secretary of State for North America throughout the Revolutionary War, who remarked to the House of Commons on May 3, 1779 “all our hopes were blasted by that unhappy affair at Trenton. Germain shared a heavy amount of blame for Britain’s ultimate defeat by the American patriots under General George Washington.

While the American Revolution seemed on the verge of defeat, on December 25, 1776, Washington assessed the weaknesses and strengths of his situation as he moved his troops towards Philadelphia. He reacted to the complex situation and developments over the next ten days [December 25, 1776 through January 3, 1777] in ways not expected by the British military which became turning points for George Washington as America’s Commander-in-Chief and respect for American military capabilities against the world’s largest army.

Kidder walked through the events leading up to and through the turning point victory at the Battle of Trenton using a coalition of Continental soldiers, state and local militias, and local volunteers.

 Washington’s failed defenses and retreats during the New York Campaign [July to November 1776] that included the Battle of Long Island, the Battle of White Plains, and most seriously at Fort Washington. Washington’s command was in jeopardy. Enlistments were set to expire.

Washington’s forces retreated across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania to make a stand at defending Philadelphia, where the Second Continental Congress was meeting, and thereby allowed British control of New Jersey, The British commander, William Howe, had made a miscalculation and overextended his forces over a chain of winter garrisons, along the supply route from the stronghold at Staten Island southward to the Delaware River. At the southern end of the chain was the village of Trenton.

On December 8, 1776 Continental forces crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania for temporary sanctuary. On the morning of December 13, 1776, Major-General Charles Lee, second in command of the Continental Army, was captured by the British at Widow White's tavern, at Basking Ridge, New Jersey, during his troops’ slow march to help Washington. British-born Lee ranked next to Washington in command but believed he should have been named Commander-in-Chief because of his experiences as a British officer and services in European mainland armies. He spent 18 months as a prisoner. Major-General John Sullivan took over Lee’s command and continued the march to join Washington.

To rally his troops Washington planned a logistically complex surprise attack on the British garrison at Trenton that required his army to recross the ice jammed Delaware River. The route chosen for the main army’s crossing resulted in a longer march to Trenton because a patriot-friendly ferry point was chosen over a loyalist-leaning ferry point that was closer to the town. The Continental Army and various state militias led by George Washington attacked the winter quarters of a brigade on the morning of December 26, 1776. The Trenton garrison consisted of mainly German soldiers quartered in civilian houses throughout the village and commanded by German Colonel Johann Rall.

Colonel Rall made mistakes in both his defensive preparations around his garrison (no redoubts, no defensive plan) and his reaction to learning an attack was underway. Washington exploited British arrogance by leading his army, made up of Continental soldiers, state militia groups and volunteers, in maneuvers that humiliated His Majesty’s forces.

In just ten short days the course of history was changed. The Battle of Trenton was notable as the first open field success won by Washington. The victory at Trenton restored American morale and renewed confidence in Washington as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army thereby turning the tide of the Revolutionary War.

--Fred Sorrell

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Meeting Notes: May 24, 2023

The Round Table meeting was held in the Ukrop Auditorium located in the Robins School of Business, at the University of Richmond. Our own Randy Flood spoke on: "The Real John Graves Simcoe."

Randy is a member of our ARRT-Richmond and of the Williamsburg-Yorktown Roundtable, as well. He is also Host and Executive Producer of The Real American Revolution Multimedia Center & Consortium for Civic Education, located at; a nonprofit organization established to educate Americans and others about what really happened during our American Revolution.

John Graves Simcoe was born into a military family in England. He was well-educated and joined the military. He was deployed to America during the Siege of Boston in 1775.

In America, he was involved in the Northern (New York, New Jersey), Mid-Atlantic (Brandywine, Quinton’s Bridge, Crooked Billet, Monmouth), and Southern (Charleston, Blandford, Point of Fork, Spencer’s Ordinary, Yorktown) Campaigns from 1776 to 1781 

Simcoe commanded the Queen's Rangers in 1777, a Loyalist unit, and conducted successful “hit and run” raids in central New Jersey and along Virginia's Lower Peninsula.

Served with Cornwallis and Tarleton at Yorktown (Gloucester Point), then returned to New York and then England, due to sickness, and became a Member of Parliament.

Named 1st Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada (which is geographically south of Lower Canada) in 1791. His legacies included government reforms, influencing the first abolishment of slavery in the British Empire, founding the City of York (Toronto) as the capital of Canada, establishing British civil law, trial by jury, the use of British Winchester standards of measure, a provision for jails and courthouses and others considered on the same scale was Washington’s legacies to America.

He strengthened Great Britain's defenses against potential French invasion during the part of the Napoleonic wars.

Simcoe was chosen to succeed Lord Cornwallis as Governor General of India, but died before he could take office.

Importantly, John Graves Simcoe was, in real life, the complete opposite of the psycho-maniac character that is portrayed in the fictional television series "TURN." Simcoe emphasized: training and instruction of his troops; support of local farmers; anti-marauding; taking of prisoners to prevent unnecessary bloodshed; the reading of all written orders to the rank-and-file at daily parade; and verbal instructions of officers as to what was required of them to eliminate possible misunderstandings.

Some of the significant events depicted in the series simply did not occur in real life.

--Fred Sorrell

Monday, May 22, 2023

** May 24 Meeting Location Change **


The University of Richmond has moved us out of the Gottwald Center for our Wednesday evening meeting.

We have been moved to the Ukrop Auditorium in the Robins School of Business (Building 102 on the attached map). This is right by the Campus Drive entrance.  There is ample parking all around the building, but across the street is best.  MAP IS HERE. (link at bottom of page)

Friday, May 19, 2023

Speaker Change for our May 24 Meeting

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Mark Lender's presentation on Fort Ticonderoga will be rescheduled for 2024.

Our own Randy Flood, who presented on Alexander Hamilton in 2017, will step in and be speaking on:
The Real John Graves Simcoe

To most Americans who enjoyed watching the TV series entitled "TURN: Washington’s Spies," British Lt. Colonel John Graves Simcoe is a crazed, sinister, psychopathic nutcase, reminiscent of the Clint Eastwood “Dirty Harry” movies of the 1970’s. Is this true? Who was the “real” John Graves Simcoe? In this lecture, Randy will focus on Simcoe’s life and military career and offer insights rarely known about this British officer of the American Revolution.

Randy is a member of our ARRT-Richmond and of the Williamsburg-Yorktown Roundtable, as well. He is also Host and Executive Producer of The Real American Revolution Multimedia Center & Consortium for Civic Education, located at; a nonprofit organization established to educate Americans and others about what really happened during our American Revolution.


Sunday, April 30, 2023

May 2023 Meeting Change

Our next meeting, originally scheduled for May 17, 2023, will now be held on Wednesday, May 24, in the Gottwald Science Center auditorium. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and dinner will not be available. Scheduling conflicts at the University necessitated this change. Remember:

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Gottwald Science Center auditorium

6:30 p.m.

Our presenter will continue to be Mark Lender speaking on his new book, Fort Ticonderoga, The Last Campaigns of The War in the North, 1777-1783.

Hope to see everyone there!

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Harry M. Ward Book Prize Winners!

The American Revolution Round Table of Richmond is very pleased to announce that the 2022 Harry M. Ward Book Prize honors two excellent but very different works on the War for Independence. Our winners are John Ferling’s, Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778-1781 (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021), and Steven D. Smith’s, Francis Marion and the Snow's Island Community: Myth, History, and Archaeology (Ashville, NC: United Writers Press, 2021).


John Ferling is (or certainly should be) a familiar name to anyone with more than a passing interest in the Founding Era. He is one of the true deans of the history of the Revolution and its related events. Winning Independence takes a fresh new look at the later years of the War for Independence, when after years of fighting, the course of the conflict continued to defy prediction. The French Alliance had kept the patriot war effort war going, but with the shift of major British operations to the South, there was seemingly no end of the conflict in sight. Ferling’s perspective on the southern war is provocative. He presents a new and positive re-evaluation of the strategic vision of Henry Clinton, and thus takes a critical view of Cornwallis. Ferling also suggests that time was not necessarily on the patriots’ side as the American economy went into virtual free-fall and army and popular morale tanked along with it. Clinton actually thought a British victory was within his grasp. How Washington, the French, and any number of other patriots responded to all of this, and how British miscalculations ultimately led to Yorktown, makes for thoughtful and often dramatic reading. The book is based on an extraordinary research effort and is beautifully written. Winning Independence is John Ferling at his best.

Historians have looked at Francis Marion, the famous Swamp Fox who so vexed the British campaign in South Carolina, from almost every conceivable angle. Now, however, in Francis Marion and the Snow's Island Community, Steve D. Smith has added a new dimension to the story. He has, so to speak, dug Marion up—by excavating the territory that served as the partisan leader’s home base. Smith is an archaeologist at the University of South Carolina’s Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, and his book is based on an exhaustive study of Snow’s Island, a marshy and remote area north of Charleston. The people living on and near Snow’s Island were ardent rebels and were quick to join the rebellion against the Crown. Many of them had become partisans as early as 1775, and after the British capture of Charleston in 1780, they offered a haven to Marion when he arrived to launch guerilla operations. Smith has used extensive archaeological evidence to document the nature of the Snow’s Island community and how it served as a base and as a source of supplies and recruits for the Swamp Fox. Drawing deeply on the literature of partisan warfare, including the work of Mao Zedong, Smith describes the interactions of Marion and the civilian population and infrastructure that kept patriot resistance alive in South Carolina in the face of enemy occupation and anti-partisan efforts. The book is a fascinating read.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Meeting Notes: January 18, 2023

1/18/2023 – Washington’s Tent

The January 18, 2023 members’ meeting was hosted by the University of Richmond in conjunction with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Richmond via Zoom.

Mark Lender announced Harry M. Ward Book Prize committee’s winner of the 2022 competition: A TIE! Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778-1781 by John Ferling, and Francis Marion and the Snow's Island Community: Myth, History, and Archaeology by Steven D Smith. Congratulations to both.

Tyler Putnam, Ph.D., manager of gallery interpretation for the Museum of the American Revolution, in Philadelphia, presented an object biography following General George Washington’s Revolutionary War marquee and headquarters tents.

Marquee tents were tents of unusual size and elaborateness. These officer's field-tents were large tents erected for temporary purposes, such as to accommodate a special occasion, or as temporarily housing for a commanding officer and providing personal space for command activities. Marquees were hard to come by throughout the war. After taking command of the Continental Army, Washington ordered two marquees from Philadelphia upholsterer Plunkett Fleeson which were used during the Valley Forge encampment. A second set, comprised of a dining tent and an office tent with a built-in smaller sleeping chamber, was ordered from James Abeel which survives today. As described by Putnam, Washington’s elaborate marquees were a metaphor signaling the importance of Washington’s leadership position. Today, the marquee is described as “the first Oval Office.”

During George Washington's military career, he owned a series of marquees. At war’s end, the tents were taken to Mount Vernon. After Washington’s death, the marquees were passed by Martha Washington eventually to her grandson George Washington Parke Custis. He passed them on to his daughter, Mary Anna Custis Lee, and her husband, Robert E. Lee. Their enslaved housekeeper, Selina Norris Gray, kept the tent fabric safe when Union Army soldiers ransacked Arlington House during the American Civil War. The tents and other related objects (exterior of the office/sleeping tent, poles of the dining tent, and a storage trunk) are owned and exhibited at the new Museum of the American Revolution. A complete history of Washington's War Tents can be found on the museum’s web site. An internet search of “Washington’s marquee tent” results in many interpretations of this important object.

Meeting Notes: November 16, 2022

 11/16/2022 – “Forting Up”

Held at University of Richmond

Due to unforeseen events, there was a last-minute change in the evenings’ program speaker. Again, another ARRT-Richmond member was called on, at the last minute, as speaker for the evening’s program presentation. Dr. Bruce M. Venter is CEO of America’s History, LLC , an experienced tour leader, and has written for Blue & Gray, Civil War and the Washington Times. He has previously led tours entitled Rogers Rangers and the French and Indian War and Defending the Highlands: The Revolutionary War in the Hudson River Valley.

After general announcements, Bruce spoke on “Forting Up: Defending the Mohawk Valley through the Artwork of Rufus Grider.” Rufus Grider’s artistic endeavors relating to New York State history began in 1886. At that time, he came up with the idea of making a “collection of pictures of old” buildings of the Mohawk Valley. He decided he could draw these buildings that “formerly existed” if he could find individuals who could describe them and recognize them when drawn. Initially he drew views of buildings and landscapes then Indian relics and finally ”any object suited for illustration,“ including documents, which he copied by tracing the original. From 1886 to about 1900, Grider traveled up and down the Mohawk Valley, with occasional excursions to the Cherry and Schohoarie valleys and Lake George and Lake Champlain, in search of historic buildings, battlefields, the sites of forts the relics of Indians. All of which he drew or copied with explanatory notes. Bruce presented images of Grider’s works and provided architectural details about the buildings’ construction, function and Revolutionary War historical significance.

The New York State Library holds a large collection of Grider’s works

At meeting’s end, Bill Welsch offered the Board’s recommendations for leadership positions of ARRT-Richmond for the next two years and changes to the by-laws. A vote was taken and the Board’s recommendations were unanimously accepted.

Meeting Notes: September 21, 2022

9/21/2022 – Washington’s Lieutenants

Held at University of Richmond

Due to unforeseen events, there was a last-minute change in the evenings’ program speaker. Luckily, Bill Welsch stepped in and presented a program on the Continental generals under George Washington. Bill is a frequent speaker on and experienced tour leader of New Jersey Revolutionary War sites. He is a founding member and president of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond, Virginia.

After general announcements, Bill began his presentation with a collective perspective about the 78 Continental Army’s leaders who were promoted or commissioned as major generals and brigadier generals and took part in the American Revolutionary War.

Summary level demographic information about the generals included: origins by state, pre-war military and political experiences, ethnic origins, professions, Masonic affiliations, and European origins. Bill also spoke about their relations with Congress, Washington, and each other; and offered bits of trivia about a number of the generals, as well as Washington’s opinions about his subordinates.  He concluded with a slide show of generals’ portraits.

Bill offered Washington's Revolutionary War Generals (Campaigns and Commanders Series Book 68) by Stephen R. Taaffe as a good source for further information.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Next Meeting: March 15, 2023

At our next meeting on March 15, 2023, Larry Kidder will speak on "That Unhappy Affair at Trenton."

We will be returning to the Westhampton Room in the Heilman Dining Center. Regular dining service will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m.

University of Richmond campus map: