One of the most horrific aspects of the American Revolution occurred within the harbor of New York City, where thousands of American soldiers and patriots suffered and died while imprisoned within a rotting, decommissioned British war ship. In his new book The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn: An Untold Story of the American Revolution author and historian Dr. Robert Watson weaves together accounts of the brutality of the prison ships from old newspapers, diaries, and military reports. Watson follows the lives of a few survivors of the notorious HMS Jersey to illustrate not only its abominable conditions, but also its surprising role in rallying support for American Independence.
Beginning at daybreak on September 11th, the Battle of Brandywine was one of the largest land battles of the Revolutionary War with 30,000 combatants. The battle took place weeks after the British landed a fleet of over 200 ships on the northern shore of the Chesapeake Bay to begin their attempt to capture Philadelphia.
Present at the battles of Brandywine, Monmouth, Charleston, and Yorktown and known for their green uniforms and unconventional, yet effective military tactics, the Queen’s American Rangers operated as one of the most successful Loyalist regiments throughout the Revolutionary War. Although created by Robert Rogers, a hero of the French and Indian War, it was the unit’s third commander, John Graves Simcoe, who developed the Queen’s Rangers into a successful legion of infantry and cavalry. Simcoe led the Queen’s Rangers from Monmouth to Yorktown.
Accounts of torture, suffering, slaughter, and starvation fill the pages of Holger Hoock’s Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth. By writing “violence back into the story,” Hoock intentionally complicates the traditional narrative of America’s founding and questions the motives of the Revolutionaries, the British, and those unwillingly entangled in the conflict.
On an exceedingly hot day 239 years ago, General George Washington met British General Sir Henry Clinton on the battlefield at Monmouth Courthouse in New Jersey. Upon leaving their winter encampment at Valley Forge, the Continental Army tracked the British north as they abandoned Philadelphia for New York. Washington wanted to attack, but his generals, including Major General Charles Lee, advised caution during a Council of War on June 24th.
A sequel to American Colonies: The Settling of North America, Alan Taylor's latest book, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1802 strips away some of the rosy veneer associated with the American Revolution to reveal a violent civil war and a fragile new nation. In extending the timeframe and geographic boundaries in his book, Taylor broadens the narrative to include the "multiple and clashing visions" of the Revolution and its legacies by tracing the role of European empires, slavery, and Native American communities and westward expansion.
As the story goes, in 1776 General George Washington visited Betsy Ross at her home to discuss the creation of a flag. Betsy, upon reviewing a sketch of the proposed flag's design, quickly suggested one major change-reducing the points on the stars from six to five. After quickly folding a piece of paper and with the snip of her scissors, Betsy Ross demonstrated with ease her five-pointed star design and helped create the nation's first flag. This family legend, recorded and promoted by her descendants in the late 19th century, turned the Philadelphia upholsterer into a national heroine, widely celebrated for her small part in America's founding.
For two years after the American victory at Yorktown in October of 1781, the Continental Army -along with their Commander in Chief-remained in the field. Peace with Great Britain, while on the horizon, was still uncertain. By March of 1783, Continental Army officers and soldiers in Newburgh, New York were eager to go home. They were growing increasingly impatient with Congress over back pay. Discord at headquarters was rampant. With peace negotiations underway, an inflammatory address circulated at camp suggesting that if Congress did not act, the officers of the army would challenge Congress's authority. General Washington had to respond. In an address that brought tears to the eyes of those present, he delivered the famous 'Newburgh Address,' quelling calls for mutiny and restoring confidence in Congress and the young nation.
Public celebrations of Revolutionary War battles and military heroes began even before the war was over. A commemoration for the Battle of Lexington and Concord took place in 1776.Major General Joseph Warren-who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill-was honored as a national martyr in poems, sermons, and a play shortly after his death. In Sealed with Blood: War, Sacrifice, and Memory in Revolutionary America, Sarah J. Purcell argues that Shared experiences of war and sacrifice offered Americans an opportunity to create a sense of national unity and identity during and after the war.