Posts Tagged ‘Revolutionary War’

Paul Revere and American independence

July 4, 2018

Paul Revere was much more than the man who rode to warn the troops at Lexington and Concord that the British were on their way.

He was a true revolutionary whose methods in some ways resemble revolutionaries and insurgents of todays.  He was one of the most important leaders in a network of revolutionary organizations that engaged in propaganda, espionage and preparation for armed revolt.

He helped bring Britain’s Massachusetts colony to the tipping point of armed revolt, the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, and make that revolt successful.

PAUL REVERE’S RIDE by David Hackett Fischer (1994) tells the true story of Paul Revere as part of a detailed account of the events leading up to Lexington and Concord and an hour-by-hour account of what happened on that fateful day.

In giving a granular factual account of what happened on a particular day, Fischer threw light on many things—including manners, morals and day-to-day life in 1775 Massachusetts, how American and British political and social values differed, and how this was reflected in their respective military tactics.

In 1774-1775 Britain, you could be an artisan or mechanic who worked with his hands, a merchant who handled money or a gentleman who owned land and had a title of nobility, but you couldn’t combine these roles.

Paul Revere was all three.  He was a silversmith who worked with his hands, and whose work is still prized today.  He was a respected merchant.  And he claimed and was given the status of gentleman.

Revere’s opposite number was General Thomas Gage, commander of British forces in North American and royal governor of Massachusetts.  Gage believed his power derived from the King who ruled by divine right, but subject to British laws.  The British believed they were a free people because of the principle of the rule of law.

A contrary principle had grown in up colonial New England.  The Puritan churches, both in England and New England, were governed by their congregations.  The New England townships were governed by town meetings.  The principle was that authority in government came from the bottom up, not the top down.

General Gage’s mission was to make the people of New England submit to the authority of the British crown in some way, however minor or symbolic.  At least seven organizations sprung up to resist this.  There was no overall leader and nobody who belonged to all seven.  Paul Revere and another leader, Dr. Joseph Warren, belonged to five.

Out in the countryside, each town had is own well-ordered militia, based on the right and duty of the citizen to keep and bear arms.  Some towns provided weapons for the indigent.

There was no overall organization, only a communication network.  Paul Revere organized teams of riders who kept the nearby towns informed of British plans.  He made many rides himself.

Gage never ordered the arrests of Paul Revere, Dr. Joseph Warren, Sam Adams, John Hancock or any of the other revolutionary organizers, because they had not broken any specific law.  He was later criticized for this.

Because of the broad-based nature of the organizations, any leaders would have been quickly replaced.  Would new leaders have been as effective as the old?  Would this have mattered?  There is no way to know.

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The immortal words of Patrick Henry

July 4, 2015

Click on Patrick Henry – Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death to read the text.

Washington’s victory at Monmouth, 1778

July 3, 2015

monmouth-3

When I think of the Revolutionary War, the first names that come to mind are Bunker Hill and Valley Forge.

But Bunker Hill was an exercise in survival, like the evacuation of the British army at Dunkirk in 1940.  And Valley Forge was an exercise in endurance.

I read a couple of articles the other day that make the case that the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778, in which George Washington’s Continentals met the best of the British army head-on, and won, was the real turning point, and the battle we should remember.

Whether or not you agree with that particular contention, you will see, if you read the articles linked below, that the battle showed the greatness of Washington as a commander and the valor of Americans fighting for their independence.

LINKS

June 28, 1778.  Battle of Monmouth by “streiff” for RedState.

Battle of Monmouth by the HistoryNet staff.

John Paul Jones, American hero, Russian admiral

July 2, 2015
John Paul Jones in 1781

John Paul Jones in 1781

John Paul Jones is remembered by Americans as a naval hero of the Revolutionary War and the founder of the American Navy.

He then had a remarkable short second career in the service of the Empress Catherine the Great in Russian’s conquest of Crimea.

He was born John Paul, the son of a poor gardener in Scotland, in 1747.  He went to sea at age 13 and was a captain by age 21.

In 1773, he was put on trial in Tobago in the West Indies for allegedly running a would-be mutineer through with his sword.  He fled to Virginia instead and changed his name to Jones.

When the Revolutionary War began, he took service in the new United States Navy, and quickly rose to the rank of captain.   On his first command, he captured 16 British ships in six weeks.

jpj4-05He was sent to French waters in 1778 to take the war to the British, which he did.   As captain of the Ranger and later of the Bonhomme Richard, he raided British ports, captured British merchant ships and defeated British warships in British waters.

This was astonishing achievement.   The American rebels had no navy or naval ships at the outbreak of the Revolution, and the British Navy was regarded as invincible at sea.

John Paul Jones’ most famous battle was in September, 1779, when he commanded a squadron that attacked a British merchant fleet protected by British ships of war.

He sailed directly for the lead British warship, the H.M.S. Serapis.  They fired broad-sides at each other at close range, and within an hour or so, the two ships were actually lashed together.

bhrichrdCaptain Pearson of the Serapis asked Jones, who was getting the worst of it, if he wanted to surrender.  Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight”—or words to that effect.

Jones personally fought with a pike to help repel a boarding party from the Serapis.  Then one of his crew threw an exploding grenade at one of the hatches of the Serapis, igniting gunpowder that lay along the deck and slaughtering many of the British crew.  The British captain surrendered soon after that.

The Bonhomme Richard sunk, but Jones sailed back to port in possession of the Serapis.

After the war ended, Congress disbanded the Continental Navy.   Jones took service with Catherine the Great of Russia in 1787 under the name Pavel Ivanovich Jones.

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Yorktown 1781: Glory to the French

July 1, 2015
Lord Cornwallis surrenders to French and Americans at Yorktown

Lord Cornwallis surrenders to French and Americans at Yorktown

As we Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, it is worth remembering that we didn’t win our freedom all by ourselves.

And when an American mouths off about French military history, he’s not just being ignorant, he’s being ungrateful.  I was raised to think ungrateful people were trash.

When I say ungrateful, I’m talking about the American Revolution.   If you’re a true American patriot, then this is the war that matters.  Hell, most of you probably couldn’t name three major battles from it, but try going back to when you read Johnny Tremaine in fourth grade and you might recall a little place called Yorktown, Virginia, where we bottled up Cornwallis’s army, forced the Brits’ surrender and pretty much won the war.

Well, news flash: “we” didn’t win that battle, any more than the Northern Alliance conquered the Taliban.  The French army and navy won Yorktown for us.  Americans didn’t have the materiel or the training to mount a combined operation like that, with naval blockade and land siege.  It was the French artillery forces and military engineers who ran the siege, and at sea it was a French admiral, de Grasse, who kicked the shit out of the British navy when they tried to break the siege.

Long before that, in fact as soon as we showed the Brits at Saratoga that we could win once in a while, they started pouring in huge shipments of everything from cannon to uniforms.  We’d never have got near Yorktown if it wasn’t for massive French aid.

So how come you bastards don’t mention Yorktown in your cheap webpages?  I’ll tell you why: because you’re too ignorant to know about it and too dishonest to mention it if you did.

via Gary Brecher – The eXiled.

Expressed a bit harshly, but true.

His whole article, which is about French military history, is worth reading.

LINK

The War Nerd: Glory to the French by Gary Brecher for The eXiled.