This Day in History

July 11, 1782:

British evacuate Savannah Georgia.

https://revolutionarywar.us/year-1779/battle-of-savannah/

On July 11, 1782, British Royal Governor Sir James Wright, along with several civil officials and military officers, flee the city of Savannah, Georgia, and head to Charleston, South Carolina. As part of the British evacuation, a group consisting of British regulars led by General Alured Clarke traveled to New York, while Colonel Thomas Brown led a mixed group of rangers and Indians to St. Augustine, Florida. The remaining British soldiers were transported to the West Indies aboard the frigate HMS Zebra and the sloop of war HMS Vulture.

Wright had been the only colonial governor and Georgia the only colony to successfully implement the Stamp Act in 1765. As revolutionary fervor grew elsewhere in the colonies, Georgia remained the most loyal colony, declining to send delegates to the Continental Congress in 1774. Governor Wright, though, had been taken into custody and placed under house arrest nearly a month earlier on January 18, 1776, by Patriots under the command of Major Joseph Habersham of the Provincial Congress. On February 11, Wright escaped from his residence in Savannah to the safety of a waiting British warship, the HMS Scarborough, anchored at the mouth of the Savannah River, and returned to London. Wright organized a military action and retook Savannah on December 29, 1778. He resumed his role as royal governor on July 22, 1779, and held the city until the British left of their own accord on this day in 1782, following General Charles Cornwallis’ surrender to General George Washington at Yorktown in 1781.

Wright then moved to London, where he died three years later.

July 11, 1804:

Aaron Burr slays Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

https://www.alamy.com/pictured-together-are-aaron-burr-and-alexander-hamilton-who-fought-a-famous-duel-that-led-to-hamiltons-death-image187533498.html

On July 11, 1804, in one of the most famous duels in American history, Vice President Aaron Burr fatally shoots his long-time political antagonist Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, a leading Federalist and the chief architect of America’s political economy, died the following day.

Alexander Hamilton, born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, came to the American colonies in 1773 as a poor immigrant. (There is some controversy as to the year of his birth, but it was either 1755 or 1757.) In 1776, he joined the Continental Army in the American Revolution, and his relentless energy and remarkable intelligence brought him to the attention of General George Washington, who took him on as an aide. Ten years later, Hamilton served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and he led the fight to win ratification of the final document, which created the kind of strong, centralized government that he favored. In 1789, he was appointed the first secretary of the treasury by President Washington, and during the next six years he crafted a sophisticated monetary policy that saved the young U.S. government from collapse. With the emergence of political parties, Hamilton was regarded as a leader of the Federalists.

Aaron Burr, born into a prestigious New Jersey family in 1756, was also intellectually gifted, and he graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) at the age of 17. He joined the Continental Army in 1775 and distinguished himself during the Patriot attack on Quebec. A masterful politician, he was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1784 and later served as state attorney. In 1790, he defeated Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law in a race for the U.S. Senate.

Hamilton came to detest Burr, whom he regarded as a dangerous opportunist, and he often spoke ill of him. When Burr joined Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican ticket (the forerunner of the Democratic Party) as vice president in the 1796 election, Hamilton launched a series of public attacks against Burr, stating, “I feel it is a religious duty to oppose his career.” John Adams won the presidency, and in 1797 Burr left the Senate and returned to the New York Assembly.

In the 1800 election, Jefferson and Burr became running mates again. Burr aided the Democratic-Republican ticket by publishing a confidential document that Hamilton had written criticizing his fellow Federalist President John Adams. This caused a rift in the Federalists and helped Jefferson and Burr win the election with 73 electoral votes each.

Under the electoral procedure then prevailing, president and vice president were not voted for separately; the candidate who received the most votes was elected president, and the second in line, vice president. The vote then went to the House of Representatives. What at first seemed but an electoral technicality—handing Jefferson victory over his running mate—developed into a major constitutional crisis when Federalists in the lame-duck Congress threw their support behind Burr. After a remarkable 35 tie votes, a small group of Federalists changed sides and voted in Jefferson’s favor. Alexander Hamilton, who had supported Jefferson as the lesser of two evils, was instrumental in breaking the deadlock.

Burr became vice president, but Jefferson grew apart from him, and he did not support Burr’s renomination to a second term in 1804. That year, a faction of New York Federalists, who had found their fortunes drastically diminished after the ascendance of Jefferson, sought to enlist the disgruntled Burr into their party and elect him governor. Hamilton campaigned against Burr with great fervor, and Burr lost the Federalist nomination and then, running as an independent for governor, the election. In the campaign, Burr’s character was savagely attacked by Hamilton and others, and after the election he resolved to restore his reputation by challenging Hamilton to a duel, or an “affair of honor,” as they were known.

Affairs of honor were commonplace in America at the time, and the complex rules governing them usually led to an honorable resolution before any actual firing of weapons. In fact, the outspoken Hamilton had been involved in several affairs of honor in his life, and he had resolved most of them peaceably. No such recourse was found with Burr, however, and on July 11, 1804, the enemies met at 7 a.m. at the dueling grounds near Weehawken, New Jersey. It was the same spot where Hamilton’s son had died defending his father’s honor in 1801.

There are conflicting accounts of what happened next. According to Hamilton’s “second”—his assistant and witness in the duel—Hamilton decided the duel was morally wrong and deliberately fired into the air. Burr’s second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed. What happened next is agreed upon: Burr shot Hamilton in the stomach, and the bullet lodged next to his spine. Hamilton was taken back to New York, and he died the next afternoon.

Few affairs of honor actually resulted in deaths, and the nation was outraged by the killing of a man as eminent as Alexander Hamilton. Charged with murder, Burr, still vice president, returned to Washington, D.C., where he finished his term immune from prosecution.

In 1805, Burr, thoroughly discredited, concocted a plot with James Wilkinson, commander of the U.S. Army, to seize the Louisiana Territory and establish an independent empire, which Burr, presumably, would lead. He contacted the British government and unsuccessfully pleaded for assistance in the scheme. Later, when border trouble with Spanish Mexico heated up, Burr and Wilkinson conspired to seize territory in Spanish America for the same purpose.

In the fall of 1806, Burr led a group of well-armed colonists toward New Orleans, prompting an immediate U.S. investigation. General Wilkinson, in an effort to save himself, turned against Burr and sent dispatches to Washington accusing Burr of treason. In February 1807, Burr was arrested in Louisiana for treason and sent to Virginia to be tried in a U.S. court. In September, he was acquitted on a technicality. Nevertheless, public opinion condemned him as a traitor, and he fled to Europe. He later returned to private life in New York, the murder charges against him forgotten. He died in 1836.

July 11, 1861:

Union notches a victory at the battle of Rich Mountain.

https://www.battlefields.org/learn/civil-war/battles/rich-mountain

On July 11, 1861, Union troops under General George B. McClellan score another major victory in the struggle for western Virginia at the Battle of Rich Mountain. The Yankee success secured the region and ensured the eventual creation of West Virginia.

Western Virginia was a crucial battleground in the early months of the war. The population of the region was deeply divided over the issue of secession, and western Virginia was also a vital east-west link for the Union because the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ran through its mountains.

After McClellan scored a series of small victories in western Virginia in June and early July, Confederate General Robert Garnett and Colonel John Pegram positioned their forces at Rich Mountain and Laurel Hill to block two key roads and keep McClellan from penetrating any further east. McClellan crafted a plan to feign an attack against Garnett at Laurel Hill while he sent the bulk of his force against Pegram at Rich Mountain.

Part of McClellan’s force, led by General William Rosecrans, followed a rugged mountain path to swing around behind the Rebels’ left flank. McClellan had promised to attack the Confederate front when he heard gunfire from Rosecrans’s direction. After a difficult march through a drenching rain, Rosecrans struck the Confederate wing. It took several attempts, but he was finally able to drive the Confederates from their position. McClellan shelled the Rebel position, but did not make the expected assault. Each side suffered around 70 casualties.

Pegram was forced to abandon his position, but Rosecrans was blocking his escape route. Two days later, Pegram surrendered his force of 555. Although McClellan became a Union hero as a result of this victory, most historians agree that Rosecrans deserved the credit. Nonetheless, McClellan was on his way to becoming the commander of the Army of the Potomac.

July 11, 1914:

Babe Ruth makes his MBL debut.

https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/ruth-babe

On July 11, 1914, in his major league debut, George Herman “Babe” Ruth pitches seven strong innings to lead the Boston Red Sox over the Cleveland Indians (now known as the Cleveland Guardians), 4-3.

George Herman Ruth was born February 6, 1895, in Baltimore, Maryland, where his father worked as a saloon keeper on the waterfront. He was the first of eight children, but only he and a sister survived infancy. The young George, known as “Gig” (pronounced jij) to his family, was a magnet for trouble from an early age. At seven, his truancy from school led his parents to declare him incorrigible, and he was sent to an orphanage, St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. Ruth lived there until he was 19 in 1914, when he was signed as a pitcher by the Baltimore Orioles.

That same summer, Ruth was sold to the Boston Red Sox. His teammates called him “Babe” for his naiveté, but his talent was already maturing. In his debut game against the Indians, the 19-year-old Ruth gave up just five hits over the first six innings. In the seventh, the Indians managed two runs on three singles and a sacrifice and Ruth was relieved. His hitting prowess, however, was not on display that first night—he went 0 for 2 at the plate.

Ruth developed quickly as a pitcher and as a hitter. When the Red Sox made the World Series in 1916 and 1918, Ruth starred, setting a record with 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in World Series play. His career record as a pitcher for the Red Sox was 89-46.

To the great dismay of Boston fans, Ruth’s contract was sold to the New York Yankees before the 1920 season by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, so that Frazee could finance the musical No, No, Nanette. Ruth switched to the outfield with the Yankees, and hit more home runs than the entire Red Sox team in 10 of the next 12 seasons. “The Sultan of Swat” or “The Bambino,” as he was alternately known, was the greatest gate attraction in baseball until his retirement as a player in 1935. During his career with the New York Yankees, the team won four World Series and seven American League pennants. After getting rid of Ruth, the Red Sox did not win a World Series until 2004, an 85-year drought known to Red Sox fans as “the Curse of the Bambino.”

July 11, 1918:

German command makes final plans for offensive on the Western Front.

Even with a deadly influenza epidemic spreading among German troops, the German High Command decides to go ahead with plans for a renewed assault on the Allies on the Western Front in the summer of 1918, making their final plans on July 11.

The so-called Spanish flu, an unusually powerful strain of influenza, spread throughout North America, Europe and eventually around the world during 1918, claiming millions of lives. The First World War, with its massive movements of men in close quarters, under harsh conditions, undoubtedly acted as a factor in the epidemic. The soldiers fighting for the Central Powers, Germany and Austria-Hungary, were hit especially hard by the virus beginning in the early summer of 1918, just as the Allies prepared to counter the German spring offensive on the Western Front.

With Austria-Hungary virtually eliminated as a military force by the third year of World War I, Vienna looked to Germany as the Dual Monarchy’s last chance for survival. People have only one more hope, the German Front, the German ambassador to Austria-Hungary reported to Berlin on July 11. Even a hope in a separate peace does not exist any more. That same day, the German army’s High Command, which had previously considered pushing back their plans for a renewed offensive due to the flu epidemic’s effect on their troops, decided instead to push ahead. The German attack on July 15, near the Marne River in the Champagne region of France, met with resounding failure. It would be the final German offensive of World War I.

Taken from: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history

This Day in History

April 27, 1773:

British parliament passes unpopular Tea Act.

https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/boston-tea-party

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament passes the Tea Act, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company from bankruptcy by greatly lowering the tea tax it paid to the British government and, thus, granting it a de facto monopoly on the American tea trade. Because all legal tea entered the colonies through England, allowing the East India Company to pay lower taxes in Britain also allowed it to sell tea more cheaply in the colonies. Even untaxed Dutch tea, which entered the colonies illegally through smuggling, was more expensive the East India tea, after the act took effect.

British Prime Minister, Frederick, Lord North, who initiated the legislation, thought it impossible that the colonists would protest cheap tea; he was wrong. Many colonists viewed the act as yet another example of taxation tyranny, precisely because it left an earlier duty on tea entering the colonies in place, while removing the duty on tea entering England.

When three tea ships carrying East India Company tea, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor, the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England. After Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to send back the cargo, Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the so-called Boston Tea Party with about 60 members of the radically anti-British Sons of Liberty. On December 16, 1773, the Patriots boarded the British ships disguised as Mohawk Indians and dumped the tea chests, valued then at £18,000 (nearly $1 million in today’s money), into the water.

Parliament, outraged by the Boston Tea Party and other blatant acts of destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, known to colonists as the Intolerable Acts, the following year. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to what they saw as British oppression.

Taken from: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/parliament-passes-the-tea-act

18 Miles

https://www.thoughtco.com/revolutionary-war-printables-1832445

18 miles to go

There, an encampment awaits us

Swarming with men who have differing points of view

It’s the potential setting of my demise

But I don’t really know that

I never do

I just march

Because I’m told

The consequences of not marching far outweighs what is in store for us there

Mile after mile I envision it

My ending

I shouldn’t do so

It just tears my stomach raw

But I can’t help it

I fret for my commrades

Whom I’ve known for mere months

Their existence in my life a meager fraction

Of my total days

Letters written

Painting an auspicious depiction

No need to worry them

Any more than they already are

My one hope

Is that my words of promise

Bestow a surplus of comfort

Shall these be my final 18 miles

Lost Dog of the American Revolution: General Howe & George Washington

THE CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

The story begins on a bloody battlefield one cold foggy morning in October. A huge battle rages all around in a small place called Germantown. Men by the thousands are engaged in the fighting. Chaos is everywhere among the muskets and canons. Washington has eleven-thousand men against the British’s nine-thousand soldiers. A little dog is lost in the aftermath…

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This Day in History

March 18, 1766:

Parliament repeals the Stamp Act.

https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/stamp-act

After four months of widespread protest in America, the British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act, a taxation measure enacted to raise revenues for a standing British army in America.

The Stamp Act was passed on March 22, 1765, leading to an uproar in the colonies over an issue that was to be a major cause of the Revolution: taxation without representation. Enacted in November 1765, the controversial act forced colonists to buy a British stamp for every official document they obtained. The stamp itself displayed an image of a Tudor rose framed by the word “America” and the French phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense–“Shame to him who thinks evil of it.”

The colonists, who had convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to vocalize their opposition to the impending enactment, greeted the arrival of the stamps with outrage and violence. Most Americans called for a boycott of British goods, and some organized attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax collectors. After months of protest, and an appeal by Benjamin Franklin before the British House of Commons, Parliament voted to repeal the Stamp Act in March 1766. However, the same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Acts, asserting that the British government had free and total legislative power over the colonies.

Taken from: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/parliament-repeals-the-stamp-act

This Day in History

January 5, 1781

https://comicvine.gamespot.com/benedict-arnold/4005-36038/

Benedict Arnold leads British naval forces in an attack on Richmond, Virginia during the American Revolutionary War. Arnold offered to leave the city unharmed if Thomas Jefferson would agree to surrender its tobacco stores and military arms, but Jefferson refused. In response, Arnold ordered the city to be burned. The capture and subsequent burning of Richmond was one of Arnold’s most notorious actions. His actions angered George Washington so much, a bounty was placed on Arnold’s head.

Taken from:

This Day in History by Jim Daley; Copyright 2019; Publications International, Ltd.

Ethan Allen Frontier Rebel

Ethan Allen Frontier Rebel by Charles A. Jellison; Published 1983

Ethan Allen did not have a self esteem issue.  Regardless of his escapades, whether it be starting a bar brawl or leading his militia, Allen was always quite sure of himself and made sure he commanded the spotlight and was received in a positive light.  Yet, it was this behemoth of a man, in stature and voice, who supposedly played a leading character in the birth of a state and a nation.

In his book, Ethan Allen Frontier Rebel, Charles A. Jellison takes us through Allen’s adventures, such as the personal fight to protect his land, at the front of his guerilla group, the Green Mountain Boys.  In this case, land that the locals assumed was theirs, in what is now Vermont, was the subject of a dispute between established states New Hampshire and New York.  Allen and his boys pestered their neighbors from the east and west to defend what they felt belonged to them.

Jellison brings us through the rugged wilderness to a standoff between Allen and American commander Benedict Arnold during the early portion of the American Revolutionary War.  Their paths crossed while both were on a mission to capture the lightly guarded Fort Ticonderoga (New York) from the British.  Allen’s men refused to follow Arnold’s lead, forcing the commander to take Allen along with him.  When the mission was successfully completed, Allen ensured he received the credit.

We learn of Allen’s faults, as well, in an attempt to generate big headlines.  For example, in a plan that was not properly planned for, he attached Montreal and was captured.  We go with Allen as he spends several years on a British prisoners of war ship.

Allen’s time with the British allows him to foster relationships with people behind enemy lines.  This potentially played a role in his further dealings the governor of Quebec regarding the establishment of Vermont as a British province.  Allen made a few enemies once these negotiations were public, with many considering him treasonous.

Jellison takes the story to the end of Allen’s life, including his role in promoting an independent Vermont, as well as day to day life on his farm.   In addition, Allen publishes a writing that attacked the method of Christianity, while offering an alternative naturalistic view of religion.  We finally are brought to Allen’s untimely death at the relatively young age of 52 years old.

George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved The American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring Than Saved The American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger; Published 2013

1776 was a difficult year in the American cause for independence.  Crushing battlefield defeats, declining morale, and scores of defections threatened to halt the objective not terribly long after the first shots rang out at Lexington and Concord were just part of the issues.  Undoubtedly, the most disturbing event was the loss of New York City to the British.  No one felt the burden more than General George Washington.

With the British showing its might, Washington was fully aware that his army was incapable of beating the king’s army head-to-head.  Rather, the general realized his only hope was to outsmart his opponent.  Truly believing that his hopes of turning the tides of the war depended on taking back New York, Washington recruited a major in the Continental Army, Benjamin Tallmadge.

In George Washington’s Secret Six:  The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution, authors Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger take us on a journey from the formation of what became the Culper Spy Ring through the war that ended with the ragtag Patriot army somehow emerging victorious.  In contrast to the secretive nature of the ring, the identity of its members, and its role in helping the American cause, the reader obtains concrete knowledge of each member, prior to, during, and after the war.  We are informed of duties carried out under dangerous circumstances that played a deciding factor in the outcome of the war.

The first half of the book primarily provides the setting and introduces to us the main players, its fears, near misses during the ring’s infancy stages, and takes us through a period of fits and starts where the knowledge gained, perhaps does not warrant the dangerous nature of the work. It is here where it is said that key members went almost completely silent, fearing their lives were threatened. Up to this point, the book meanders along a rigid timeline, almost setting us up for the thrilling climax.

As promised, it is the second half where things rapidly pick up.  Here, we find out how the ring was able to thwart Benedict Arnold’s plan to turn over West Point to the enemy. Furthermore, intelligence from the ring garnered that the British were going to attack the incoming French navy, who had recently agreed to align with the Americans. This led to Washington planting false evidence that he was going to assault New York, forcing the British to call off their plans with France and return to fight a fictitious battle against Washington. We also learn how the Culper’s intelligence played a key role in the American victory of the decisive battle of Yorktown.  The ring’s efforts were so paramount, it led to Washington winning the war without achieving his main goal of taking back New York.

Secret Six is a spy thriller in the deepest sense.  Upon reading, this reviewer finished the last 150 plus pages in an afternoon, unable to put the book down.  This book is recommended for any lover of history who wishes to discover a network of American heroes that textbooks were unaware of for more than two centuries.

Secret Mission

Infiltrate the lion’s den

Mission of the most critical kind

Everything rides on my execution

Succeed and I’ve fulfilled my duty

Fail and I die

Nothing more, nothing less

I do this not for the noteriety

It does not exist here

The players are unnamed and the achievements unknown

It’s not for the selfish sense of adventure

For I am fraught with worry

Sleepless nights precede each mission

Enjoyment cannot be afforded

No, it’s because of the personal request of his excellency himself

Bowing out gracefully not an option

I’m a proud American

I’ll do whatever it takes

Even if it’s looking into the eye of the lion

Peace and Horror

It’s peaceful here; Nary a human voice hits my eardrums; Only the fabulous songbirds and the occasional chirping of a chipmunk; It’s okay, though; We can coexist up here

Gentle slopes and charming wood lots; Rolling hills and sun drenched meadows; A calm, quiescent brook babbles in the not too distant; I sit here often and soak it all in

It wasn’t always this way; Our descendants experienced here quite differently; Cracks of musket fire and roaring of cannons once drowned out the songbirds of the day; Large trees reduced to rubble; Craters filled the hillsides; Limbs blown off, lifelessness strewn across the meadow; The desperate shrieking of young boys dying in the background forever to haunt those who were just out of harm’s way; When the dust settled, those who were left had to grieve for their fallen comrades all the while carrying them piece by piece off the battlefield

I sit here often and soak it all in; How many took their last breath underneath the rock upon which I sit? How many souls are forever stuck here in their personal hell, a place I come to for peace and tranquillity? How ironic…..

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