List of Previous Programs
of the
American Revolution Round Table
of the District of Columbia

(September 1997 through May 2002)


1 May 2002, "George Mason". Ms Denise McHugh titled her talk more specifically ‘George Mason: Patriot and Planter'. With excellent use of her slides, she covered a challenging overview of this complex and important member the Nation's ‘Founding Fathers'. She wove in most of Mason's impressive and major political contributions during the Revolutionary and Constitutional eras, while describing many aspects of Mason's personal experiences as a Virginia Large Plantation owner [5,500 acres at his Gunston home alone]; a slave owner, who had serious reservations about the institution [mainly on how it adversely affected the slave owners]; and one who planned his garden with care and attend to making a will which addressed his large family. In all, George Mason lived a rather circumscribed personal life. To illustrate this aspect, the speaker drew a parallel to an allegorical theme popular at the time of ‘living with in a compass' -- avoiding the excesses in personal behavior. Though Mason never traveled far from his home [attending the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia was his farthest journey] he was remarkably well read on the topic of law. In this, he held an uncompromising advocacy of individual rights under law. Famous as authoring the Virginia ‘Declaration of Rights', contributing to Washington's ‘Fairfax Resolves', George Mason is particularly known for refusing to sign the initial draft of the US Constitution for failing to include a ‘Bill of Rights'.
        Ms Denise McHugh is education coordinator at Gunston Hall Plantation, where she supervises the mansion guides; serves as liaison to the school volunteers, and is one of the coordinators of the adult living history program. More on events and programs at this very fine historic site in Northen Virginia, along the Potomac River, can be found at the Gunston Hall website: http://www.GunstonHall.org.

3 April 2002, "Battle of Cowpens (17 January 1781)". Edwin C. Bearss, noted and popular battlefield guide for National Park Service and other historic tour activities gave a riveting account of this small but famous encounter. He began by putting the engagement in context of the American Revolutionary War, where it played a key roll in events that led to Cornwallis ending up in Virginia.
        The British ‘Southern Strategy' for the subjection of the southern American colonies got off to a good start with their seizure of Charleston, South Carolina [SC] (May 1780), followed by the destruction of the main American army in the south at Camden (SC), (16 August 1780). This latter event justified the British commander in the south, Cornwallis, to advance into North Carolina [NC]. But here the underpinning of the British ‘Southern Plan' was dealt a severe bow with the annihilation of a Loyalist militia force at Kings Mountain (7 October 1780), on the border of NC and SC. Reeling from the setback, Cornwallis, returned to SC and was confronted by a new American general in the theater, Nathanael Greene.
        Though his strength was less in number than that of Cornwallis' army, Greene divided his force, sending Brigadier General Daniel Morgan with a small cavalry unit under Colonel William Washington to the western part of the colony. Cornwallis sent Tarleton with his Legion after Morgan. The British force had about twice the strength in troops, until a Rebel milita force under Pickens joined Morgan. Still the advantage lay with the more professional British troops and Morgan sought to retreat. However, a swollen river and the closeness of Tarleton's pursuit, forced the American to ‘turn and fight' at a popular cattle and militia rendezvous location called ‘cowpens'.
        Morgan planned his battle carefully, taking into account the advantages and the weakness of his militia, which gave his force size, but were not the caliber of troops to engage in close combat with the British regulars. Morgan asked of his militia to fire two volleys, and then conduct a controlled withdraw. To ensure that this unusual maneuver would not be mistaken by his Continental troops, Morgan spent the evening before the battle roaming his camp and explaining the concept.
        As the battle began the next morning, the British light Infantry advanced, taking considerable losses from the two volleys, the American riflemen paid particular attention – under Morgan's instructions – to fire at those wearing epaulettes [officers]. Ther British infantry pressed on with aggressive confidence as the American militia ‘withdrew'. A British mounted dragoon attack on the American left flank, was repulsed by Washington's cavalry. Soon after, the British infantry's advance was stopped when it encountered the line of American Continentals. Tarlton, attempted to shift the weight of his advance to his left, to out flank the American Continentals. In this effort, the British met the reformed American militia units, and were finally routed by an American cavalry charge. Tarlton's attempt to lead a counter cavalry charge with his depleted mounted unit failed, and he fled the field, leaving many British to be taken prisoner.
        Tarlton's famous and feared Legion was destroyed, though he would soon lead a re constituted unit. More significantly, Cornwallis became fixated with the ‘humiliation', and undertook an unproductive chase in to North Carolinia to catch the elusive American forces. The American victory helped raise American morale and elicited the recruitment of more militia.
        On this remote battlefield Daniel Morgan proved himself a military genius, one who probably never heard of the Battle of Cannae (216 BC) or knew much about its famous victor and one of the world's 'great captains', Hannibal. However, historians cannot help but note the familiar tactical pattern in both engagements. What makes Cowpens particularly noteworthy is Daniel Morgan's cunning and skillful employment of militia in an effective scheme against professional regular soldiers.

6 March 2002, "The Barbary Wars". Dr. Michael J. Crawford's talk on the 'The Barbary Wars' (ranging over a period from 1801 to1815) addressed the events that launched the United States Navy. The speaker's mastery of the subject was enhanced by an expertly delivered slid-supported presentation. There was, of course, an unavoidable temptation by some in the audience to see introduced historic themes pertaining to National Defense that remain relevant in recent international developments.
        Having won independence in the American Revolution, the new Republic sought to remove any means to become involved in ‘foreign entanglements' and let wither away the small Continental Navy. However, the new Nation found its rather robust Mediterranean commerce threatened by a loose coalition of sea pirates sailing out of Algiers, Tunis, Morocco and Tripoli. The tradition of Barbary corsairs went back centuries. The speaker reminded the audience that if viewed as ‘privateers' [state-sponsored raiders], the practice did not fully meet the definition of ‘terrorism' in the late eighteenth century. Nevertheless, this particular threat incited a moral indignation in the new Republic that was not shared by many other nations. Eighteenth-century European powers generally found paying the ransoms and bribes [tribute] to be relatively minor compared to the expense of launching armed naval expeditions against the corsairs. Ironically, while being part of the British empire, American merchant shipping in the Mediterranean had flourished under the umbrella of British tribute paid to the Barbary states. After 1783, the new United States discovered that with Independence came an invoice for self defense.
        The capture and enslavement of American seamen by the Barbary corsairs provoked the United States to respond, and in March of 1794, Congress authorized the construction of six frigates. In 1801, President Jefferson sent to the Tripolitan theater a small ‘punitive expedition', which established a relatively effective blockaded that constrained the corsairs. In April 1802, a new but inexperienced naval commander was appointed. After a series of mis-adventures, he was replaced by Captain Edward Preble. Arriving in theater in September 1803, Preble and a subordinate, Stephen Decatur, earned their place in the lore of US Navy history as they performed superbly in a series of actions that continued to early September 1804. Concurrently, a US Naval agent, William Eaton, led an expedition of 8 Marines and a band of North Africans overland from Alexandria in an attempt to overthrow the Pasha at Tripoli. What appeared to be an successful joint operation for both Preble and Eaton, was disrupted by the arrival of a replacement US naval commander, Samuel Barron, and negotiations initiated by Tobias Lear, the US consul general at Algiers. Lear concluded a treaty with the Pasha of Tripoli in 1805, in which ransom for 300 American prisoners and a reduced tribute was promised to the Pasha. Eaton was forced to abruptly withdraw, leaving his Tripolitan allies stranded. Though severely criticized in the US, the treaty was approved.
        American operations against the Barbary states were temporarily discontinued during the War of 1812 with Britain, in which the US Navy demonstrated surprising competence in taking on the British Royal Navy. Then in March of 1815, Commodore Stephen Decatur led a squadron of 10 vessels to the Mediterranean. After capturing 2 Algerian warships, he sailed into the harbor of Algiers, where he demanded and received cancellation of all tribute and release of US prisoners without ransom. Similar guarantees were forced from Tunis and Tripoli. This ended the American Barbary Wars.
        Dr. Crawford is head of the Early History Branch, Naval Historical Center, and has spoken to the ARRT on earlier occasions: "Battle of Valcour Island -- 11 October 1776" (May 2001); "How the Queen of France Came to America in 1778" (November 1997); "Christopher Prince, New England Mariner of the American Revolution" (May 1996); "Revolution and the Bay: Chesapeake Bay in the American Revolution," (February 1993); and "The French Naval Campaign of 1778 in North America" (October 1989). He also contributes to the US Naval Historical Center's 'Bibliography Series' webpage.

6 February 2002, "John Paul Jones, the 'Ranger', and the Worth of the Continental Navy". Dr. Dennis Conrad's talk examined the early naval career of John Paul Jones, particularly his command of the sloop of war, Ranger, In doing so, the speaker argued very convincingly against the contention of a noted historian Jonathan R. Dull that the United States would have been better served without the Continental Navy. Dr. Conrad reviewed Jones' initial experience as a subordinate in the Continental navy, which was a very modest naval force made up largely from contingents from the states. Both the comparative disadvantage of this Continental navy and the previous limited naval experience of its leading ship captains led to an emphasis on commercial raiding. Aggressive action against British ships-of-the-line was avoided. Once able to obtain independent command of a war ship, Jones headed for European waters. His naval skills and considerable assistance from the French (obtaining command of ships such as the Bonhomme Richard and augmenting his crews with skilled seamen and marines) allowed Jones to not only take the naval war close to the British Isles, but to engage in more warlike actions such as attacking British naval combat ships and conducting raids on the English coast. Jones did not have the force to prevail in any major campaign, but his tactics of striking British elements at unexpected times and locations engendered discomfort upon the British establishment beyond the actual physical damage inflicted.
       Dr. Dennis Conrad, an historian at the Navy Historical Center working on the Naval Documents of the American Revolution series.

2 January 2002, Terror on the Chesapeake". Mr. Christopher George. The talk scanned several aspects of the War of 1812, with a focus on the activities the Chesapeake Bay, and in particular the action that took place around Baltimore, Maryland, in September 1814. Mr. George made some observations on this campaign, which followed the August British victory at Bladensburg and their capture of Washington. While the British repulse in their bombardment of Fort Mc Henry became famous with the Star-Spangle Banner, the speaker suggested that the defeat of the British land attack at North Point was the real cause of their defeat. What made the Americans more effective in this engagement were not only their large force, but the local militia was 'stiffened' by the addition of American naval personnel; further, the Americans had the advantage of firing from behind cover while the British had to advance in the open. Mr George added some opinions about the war that question some popular views. He noted that Francis Scott Key could not have seen the American Flag from the most likely position he was on a British ship in the bay. However, the audience was reminded that the song only says that the 'bombs gave proof that the Flag was still there." Also, Mr. George stated his view that the War of 1812 was not a 'Second American Revolution', since the British were not attempting to take back the colonies. They entered into the war largely to protect their hold on Canada.
       Mr. George recently published a book: Terror on the Chesapeake: the War of 1812 on the Bay. He is editor of The Journal of the War of 1812, and may be contacted through the website http://warof1812.casebook.org.

No ARRT Program was given in December 2001.

7 November 2001, "Some Aspects of the 1781 Yorktown Campaign". Albert D. McJoynt discussed four aspects he believed to be important in understanding the context of the Yorktown Campaign of 1781. First, he emphasized that the scope of the 'campaign' included the strategic movement of the allied armies from New York to Virginia, the naval operations in and off the Chesapeake Bay, and the allied siege of the British at the town of York. It was not a 'battle' as is so frequently cited. Secondly, the speaker addressed how the decision by Washington to conduct the campaign was due to a series of unplanned events that finally presented a unique situtation in early August of 1781. It was not a plan envisioned months earlier. Third, the victory was made as decisive as it was [it was -- a true 'turning point'] mainly when recognized in context that the French and British were engaged in a world war. The resources committed by both extended far beyond the view of the participants in the colonies, and not properly addressed in most historical accounts of the war. Finaly, in modern context, the campaign needs to be appreciated as providing instances of 'exemplary' combined and joint operations -- a rare phenomena in military history.
       Mr. McJoynt has spoken to the ARRT before on the French 1780-83 military expedition to North America; on its commander, comte de Rochambeau; on the allied 1779 Siege of Savannah; on the American Revolution as a 'world war'; on the 'The Last Battles of the American Revolution on the Other Side of the World' (French admiral Suffren's 1782-83 operations in the Bay of Bengal), and 'Lafayette's 1781 Virginia Campaign' (prelude to the Yorktown Campaign). He is a member of the XenophonGroup of military historians and the Expédition Particulière Commemorative Cantonment Society.

3 October 2001, "Dr. Franklin's Plan". Mr. Stephen A. Schwartz, a Virginia-based writer and lecturer, explored part of the theme in his June 2002 article, 'Franklin's Plan', in the Smithsonian magazine. Mr. Schwartz observed that Benjamin Franklin, perhaps to a greater degree than many of the Founding Fathers, has acquired a degree of historical iconography, creating a legendary figure which obscures the more interesting and real person. His presentation illustrated the point by explaining the essence of 'Franklin's Plan' for the new nation of the United States. Mr. Schwartz concentrated on the general sense of Franklin's goals and intents, rather than any specific outline for government, though Franklin's ideas for such extended back to the 1750s, at the opening of the French and Indian (Seven Years' War).
        Mr. Schwartz admires Franklin for his wide range of accomplishments, but particularly so for the unique qualities he brought into the group of the 'Founding Fathers'. Unlike many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and especially the leading members (like George Mason, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington), Franklin came from humble origins, and identified himself as a 'leather apron' man, meaning someone who was a skilled worker rather than a professional or a gentleman-farmer. Franklin’s early experiences influenced his role in the Revolution and the emergence of the United States. Before the Revolution, Franklin had traveled widely in the colonies as deputy postmaster, and in Europe as a colonial agent for Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. This provided him with a wider view of the range of human activity than that possessed by, say, John Adams. The range of experience led Franklin to value the views and observations of women, and to appreciate the contributions of small business entrepreneurs and small-scale freehold farmers. Franklin's vision of the United States was consequently focused on a nation of middle-class people, oriented toward individual rights and the value of 'virtuous citizens'.
        Franklin was nearly 70 as the Revolutionary War opened, and was 16 years older than George Washington, and 27 years older than Jefferson. He spent the first half of his life working, with only a single year of formal education. He proved to be a talented and skillful writer, and acquired a great appreciation for the power and influence of the printed word. By his late 40s, Franklin had achieved sufficient wealth as a printer and businessman to retire from commerce and to devote himself largely to public service. That devotion was, to Franklin, a pillar of his idea of what American society should be. Public office, to Franklin, was a responsibility of citizens who could accomplish the task, and ideally should serve without salary.
        While Franklin's successful embassy to the French court of Louis XVI produced the valuable alliance, the speaker noted that the some $160 million of payments from France to the US were funneled through Franklin's private bank account. Franklin kept nothing from these funds for expenses or commissions of any kind. As a closing point, Mr. Schwartz noted that Franklin's will of 1790 created two trusts, in Boston and Philadelphia. These trusts were to be used to make loans to young artificers (such as Franklin had been) to create or expand small businesses. Each loan recipient had to have two established members of the community stand surety for them (attesting publicly to the recipient's trustworthiness, good intentions, honesty, etc.). Both trusts were dissolved in 1991, having jointly accumulated over $6.5 million in assets (not counting funds disbursed in grants), which was given to two technical colleges, also established by Franklin. The tale of the two Franklin trusts is a monument to the vision and dedication of Benjamin Franklin to the causes of democracy, a free society, and a functional middle-class republic.

5 September 2001, "Our Latest Advices: Contemporary Newspaper Reports
on The American Revolution".
Dr. Stephen Goldman, a collector of historical newspapers and consultant, as well as a major lender, to the The Newseum in Arlington, Virginia, explained how news was perceived in the eighteenth-century American colonies. For the most part, the press reached the literate in the urban community, but these were the focal points for much of the oral distribution of the 'news' reported in the papers.
        Some of the papers were 'broadsides', meaning that they were printed only on one side and expected to be posted on walls for public viewing [an early, pre-electronic Internet webpage, so to speak]. Dr. Goldman's presentation was supported with slides and covered many interesting aspects. For example, there were not front page, banner headlines as known in our times. Often, the front pages were made up days in advance and contained poems, local announcements, and mundane items. The 'late breaking news' was inserted -- often buried -- in massive, small type text in the last pages. The speaker introduced the expression 'whispered news' -- applying to reports unobtrusively introduced in a line of text. As the speaker stated, the reader had to look for 'the news' in much of the printed material. One had to be careful also, as such printed material usually had a political propaganda agenda. Graphic layout for emphasis was almost non existent. On occasions, there were the 'block column' titles that drew attention. Rare too, were thick black borders around death announcements of significant individuals or reports of mass deaths. The speaker emphasized that collecting these newspapers demanded that the collector know the history, so as to recognize the often unobtrusive news coverage of battles etc.

6 May 2001, "Lake Champlain in the American Revolution". Dr. Michael J. Crawford, head of the Early History Branch, Naval Historical Center, gave a slide-supported presentation on the naval 'Battle of Valcour Island' (11 October 1776). He placed this unusual engagement in its strategic context by tracing the events that led up to it and those that followed. The Valcour Island naval action might have been an 'obscure' battle on an inland lake, involving 177 guns and fewer than 1,500 sailors, in 44 vessels, more than half of them small gunboats without names. However, the battle seriously delayed the victorious British in their invasion of the American colonies. The effect was to allow the rebels time to better contend with the next year's British invasion that culminated in the British surrender at Saratoga.
       Dr. Crawford has spoken to the ARRT on earlier occasions: "How the Queen of France Came to America in 1778" (November 1997); "Christopher Prince, New England Mariner of the American Revolution" (May 1996); "Revolution and the Bay: Chesapeake Bay in the American Revolution," (February 1993); and "The French Naval Campaign of 1778 in North America," October 1989. He also contributes to the US Naval Historical Center's 'Bibliography Series' webpage.

4 April 2001, "Annual Banquet". ARRT members and guests enjoy a fine meal accompanied by Colonial-era music played by Gregory Garrett and Jim Stimson. The program was very much as described for 5 April 2000.
       Gregory Garrett's Renaissance to Eighteenth-Century Musical Group
is from Dunkirk, Maryland, and may be contacted at e-mail: ggarrett@chesapeake.net.

7 March 2001, "Sixty Rounds of Powder and Ball: The Equipment Used by Rogers' Rangers During the French and Indian War, circa 1758". Mark M. Helba, current president of the ARRT and member of the recreated Flood's Virginia Company/Jaeger's Battalion of Rogers' Rangers and of the 1st Virginia Regiment, presented a detailed description of the weapons and equipment used by the Eighteenth-Century Roger's Rangers. His talk was enhanced by the extensive exhibit of personal items the Rangers took with them into the field. Mr. Helba explained how the 'Brown Bess' was not yet referred to by that name during the French and Indian War. The 'tomahawk' and a collection of various knives were the essential 'personal weapons' of the 'woods-fighting' Rangers. The Ranger's equipment was generally self made, and was directed toward making the individual self sustaining. Besides their weapons, the Rangers carried with them the means for preparing their own food, providing their simple, rough shelter, and molding their own lead shot. A good portion of the program allowed the audience to examine and to ask questions about the items displayed.

7 February 2001, "Lafayette's Virginia Campaign of 1781". Albert D. McJoynt described how a secondary theater in the American Revolution became 'center stage' for the concluding decisive military event at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781. Lafayette's Virginia campaign was a complex array of military maneuvers and counter-maneuvers, which formed an essential prelude to the Yorktown Campaign of 1781. It was part of the other essential components of the 1781 victory: the siege, the second Virginia Capes naval battle, and the strategic march of the American-French armies from New York to Virginia. Another interesting aspect of this campaign is that it validated General Washington's judgment to entrust a young, foreign volunteer with very limited military experience, with the command of a small American force in confronting more experienced and professional British commanders with larger forces.
       Mr. McJoynt is a member of the XenophonGroup of military historians and the Expédition Particulière Commemorative Cantonment Society. He has given several presentations to the round table on aspects of the French military participation in the American Revolution.

[No ARRT program was held in January 2001.]

6 December 2000, "The Park of Artillery at Pluckemin, New Jersey, 1778-79". Mr. John McConnell described the significant aspects about the 1778-79 American army's artillery park at Pluckemin. The historic encampment was relatively unknown by most of the Revolutionary War artillery re-enactment unit, of which the speaker was a member, when the unit visited the site in 1980. The visit was part of the unit's artillery instruction, which attempt to acquaint the members with the living environment and purpose of this particular artillery encampment.
        Though there had been 'minimal excavation' of the site in 1912, it was in poor condition when visited in 1980. Researching further into this site, the speaker found a valuable 1972 Wagner College thesis, written by Cliford Sekel: 'The Continental Artillery in Winter Encampment at Pluckemin, NJ, Dec 1778-Jan 1779'. The thesis provided interesting information that cannot be found from a visit to Pluckemin today. For example, the American artillery units that occupied the park were from Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and a collection of small contingents from various states. The speaker identified one of the main problems facing recruitment for the Continental artillery. States did not get credit for artillery recruits, so the emphasis was on furnishing troops for the other branches. One of the most interesting aspects of the Pluckemin encampment was how it represented General Knox's grand scheme. Due to his close relationship with George Washington, Knox was able to establish this dedicated 'winter quarters' for needed specialized training of his artillerymen. The site was a park for the 3, 4, and 6 pounders that made up most of the pieces held by the US Army. In addition, Knox had more elaborate ideas for the encampment to be an 'academy'. His plans are evident from specially designed barracks he had constructed.
       Today's visitors to the site, situated on a plateau, will find it built-over with townhouses. We are left with an archeological report, which is evidently on file at the David Library. The speaker drew attention to this evidence of 'urban creep' threatening many other Revolutionary War sites. During the question and answer perod it was noted that the National Park Service recently conducted a survey of Revolutionary War and 1812 War sites [Civil War sites have already been surveyed]. Congress also has just passed a law to fund further studies to assess such locations for preservation.

1 November 2000, "The First Federal Congress Brings the American Revolution to a Close". Dr. Kenneth R. Bowling opened his presentation by asking the audience "When did the American Revolution end?" He acknowledged the various views that ranged from the 'end of the War of 1812' to claims that 'the Revolution continues'. Accepting that there are various perceptions, the speaker argued his view that the fundamental objectives espoused in undertaking the armed revolt against England were not resolved until the First 'Federal' Congress met in New York City, in 1789.
        Key leaders of the American Revolution had become alarmed as they witnessed the failure of the Continental Congress, under the Article of Confederation, to adequately address serious problems, such as payment of the national debts and control of waterways. Fearing that these and other unresolved issues threatened to undercut the success gained by the war, the leaders of the Revolution convened a Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia, in 1787. The Convention redrafted the Nation's government, providing strengthened authority to a new 'Federal' Congress. At its first session in 1789, this Congress had to address more specifically the unfinished business in creating a 'workable government'.
        The speaker described the new Federal government as one of 'interrelated but not equal' Federal branches. The executive, judicial, and legislative branches, often referred to as a 'separation of powers' or 'balance of powers', really reflected a 'power-sharing' arrangement -- each branch had some affect upon the others, but the Congress was certainly more equal than the others. It had many checks upon the executive and had the power to create all the judiciary except the Supreme Court. However, the stronger executive branch and more designated 'Federal' Congressional authority over inter-states affairs were evident. In the process of enhancing the Federal powers, the Congress was confronted with defining more precisely the protection of individual and states rights. This led to one of the most significant acts of the first Federal Congress: to accept James Madison's purposed amendments to the Constitution. House and Senate accepted these 'Bill of Rights', that after ratification became the first ten amendments to the Constitution in 1791.

4 October 2000, "Where A Man Can Go". Mr. Robert Davis gave an excellent review of his research and findings associated with his recently published historical biography on Major General William Phillips, a British officer who was involved in some of the most historic campaigns of the American Revolution. Mr. Davis began by explaining how he discovered this nearly forgotten officer, who merely "lingered in the shadow" of most writings on the Revolution. Mr. Davis shared with the ARRT how he had to dig, as if mining for gold, though archival materials: military retirement applications, scattered personal journals and correspondence to flesh out the story of General Phillips.
       General Phillips had a impressive record as an innovative field artillery officer in European warfare preceding the revolt in the American colonies. He was Burgoyne's personally designated 'second in command' in the Saratoga campaign of 1777. An unusual appointment, as Mr. Davis explained, for British artillery officers were not to be placed in command over those of the other combat branches. Since Burgoyne was allowed to return to England after the surrender of his army, General Phillips was left as the senior officer of the 'Convention Army'. He was exchanged for the American General Lincoln in late 1780. He took command of British forces in Virginia, under Arnold, in March 1781.
        In his research, Mr. Davis uncovered an important, but ignored, engagement in the Revolution at Petersburg, Virginia. He surprised his fellow citizens in this part of the Commonwealth, that there was a 25 April 1781 battle for Petersburg, --- yes, before the Civil War! The 1781 battle is now celebrated with re-enactments and ceremonies. The British victory was part of the 1781 'James River Campaign', which had the potential of being decisive in the Southern Department, had not Phillips met an untimely death, due a fever. Phillips is buried at Petersburg, one of three senior British officers who died on active duty and are buried in the US.
        To find out more -- and there is much more -- one should consult: Where a Man Can Go, Major General William Phillips, British Royal Artillery, 1731- 1781, by Robert P. Davis, Greenwood Press, Westport CT - London, October 1999 (Contributions in Military Studies, Number 179).

6 September 2000, "Making 'The Patriot' -- A Revolutionary War Historian/Reenactor Meets Hollywood". Mr. Vince Hawkins gave a very fine explanation of the movie's intent, while addressing some concerns our ARRT audience held as to the historic inaccuracies conveyed in the film. Unlike so many historians and history-buff critics who have cast unfavorable reviews upon the film, Vince enjoyed close observation in making the film.
        Vince quickly caught everyone's attention by challenging the audience to identify who 'the patriot' was in the film, and to describe what the film was about. Some serious consideration had to be given to Vince's view that 'the patriot' was the eldest son of Martin [the leading character played by Mel Gibson]. It was this son who was inspired by the announced ideals of the rebellion and had joined the Continental army, and who served for most of the war until being killed. And no one could argue that the movie was not about the Revolution, but rather it was, as Vince argued, about a family that was exposed to part of the war.
       Vince certainly shares the frustration with general history buffs in recognizing that the movie sacrificed considerable accuracy for the purpose of 'entertaining' a presumed mass-movie-going audience, who, after all, pay and support the movie-making industry. Vince cited Mel Gibson's comment to the re-enactors who assisted in the film making that 'It is after all just a movie." And as one of the directors reportedly remarked, "If you want history, go to the 'history channel'."
       Vince entertained the ARRT audience by relating some interesting decisions of the movie makers, such as insisting that junior officers' uniforms have two epaulets (rather than the more historically correct single ones) believing that 'the general audience' would be otherwise confused and 'wonder why the second epaulet was missing?' Vince discussed with some ironic humor the movie crew's dangerous employment of oversized, and poorly constructed, imitation (32 pounder) field guns. Then there was the strange appearance of an 'American flag' that did not exist at the time of the major battle scene. Vince provided some background as to what battle was being suggested in the final battle scene. The militia's role seemed to suggest Cowpens, but with Cornwalls present and the overall portrayal as shown, it was far afield. Evidently, there was filmed -- but not shown in the 'final cut' -- an envelopment movement by the Americans. Another, humorous bit was that evidently the movie-makers had a belated recognition that the real English Tarleton was not killed, and, therefore, the character had to be given another name.
        Granting the motion picture business its appropriate requisite to appeal to its main consumers, history buffs might share with Vince's conciliatory suggestion that at least the movie makes many aware that there was a war in North America prior to the Civil War -- no mean task here in Virginia.
       Well known to the members as the long-time editor of the ARRT Newsletter, Vince Hawkins is a published military historian and has given many previous talks to the ARRT. His background is covered in the reviews of earlier programs (see links below).

3 May 2000, "Medicine During the American Revolution". Dr. William Hartland Jr., Ph.D. Dr Hartland is Director of Education and Assistant Professor, in the School of Allied Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has been the 'Regimental Surgeon' of the '1st Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line', as well as a member of the 'Medical Department of the Continental Line'. Dr. Hartland provided an interesting and informative review of eighteenth-century medical education in context of the particular challenges faced by military doctors. He addressed the different environments of various hospitals, and how the contemporary theories of diseases influenced the sometimes adverse treatments. Battle injuries received rather brutal and unsanitary attention. Remarkably some remedies worked, even if applied for the wrong reasons. Dr. Hartland enhanced his presentation by exhibiting and explaining his large display of eighteenth-century medical instruments.

5 April 2000, "Annual Banquet". ARRT members and guests enjoy a fine meal accompanied by Colonial-era music played by Gregory Garrett (playing the lute, cornetto, soprano recorder and the concertina) and Jim Stimson (playing the Cittern). Gregory also sang as Tenor. The musicians explained their instruments, answered questions and commented upon the historical background of some of the pieces performed. Musical pieces played and sung during the dinner were: A Toast to Washington, The Assignation, Alknomook, The Battle of Trenton, Beneath a Weeping Willow's Shade, Bunker Hill, Collinet & Phebe, Come Now, All Ye Social Pow'rs, Conquest, Consolation, Chester, God Save Great Washington, The Liberty Song, Nothing Like Grog, Windham, The Girl I Left Behind Me, Sons of Liberty, Ode for American Independence, Hail, Columbia! Other numbers played during the evening were: Ashley's Ride, Love in a village, Fisher's Hornpipe, Successful Campaign, Sukey Bids Me, Nancy Dawson, Maid of the Mill, Miss Moore's Rant, Hunt the Squirrel, Flowers of Edinburgh, Black Joke, Barrel of Sugar.
       Gregory Garrett's Renaissance to Eighteenth-Century Musical Group
is from Dunkirk, Maryland, and may be contacted at e-mail: ggarrett@chesapeake.net or telephone: (410) 586-0456. Also see webpage for the Early Brass group "The Washington Cornett and Sackbutt Ensemble" http://www.earlymusic.net/WCSE/

1 March 2000, "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings -- An Update". Mr. Tom Worsley, the ARRT's 'resident authority' on Thomas Jefferson, examined the two-century-old allegation of an affair between this famous master and his attractive slave. Tom reviewed some of the material he had presented in an earlier talk to remind the audience of the historical context of the allegation. He then focused on the latest claims pertaining to the 'evidence' found in DNA paternity tests, a research report from Monticello, and the propagation of myth and fantasy in a recent TV romance program. Tom cited examples of the most serious errors related to careless press reports that suggested the DNA tests provided 'proof' of Jefferson parenting any of Sally's children. These exaggerated and misleading claims have been recanted by the more respectable media and research sources. Nothing has been proven. The DNA 'evidence' only suggests that some of Sally's children may have been fathered by a member of the Jefferson family. This has led to some of the earlier, 'die-hard' defenders of Jefferson's reputation to promote theories that point to other male relatives of Thomas Jefferson. The saga continues.

2 February 2000, "A Nation Mourns - Remembering George Washington". Mr. King Laughlin, Special Projects Manager at Historic Mount Vernon, Virginia, described the sequence of events pertaining to George Washington's death and funeral (December 1799). Mr. King's presentation was based mostly upon the eye-witness account of Tobias Lear, Washington's secretary. Particular details were reviewed as to the doctors' treatment of Washington's illness, disposition of his remains, and reactions throughout the new nation upon learning of the death of the 'Father of His Country'. Information on the 1999 re-enactment program for the Bicentennial of George Washington's death and many other aspects of this great and remarkable man, may be seen at the Mount Vernon website.

5 January 2000, "Seasons of Disappointment -- The Last Years of George Washington, 1797-1789". The ARRT began the year with an outstanding presentation by Mr. Jack Warren, a historian and scholar on George Washington. While Mr. Warren's most recent book, The Presidency of George Washington will be published this year, his presentation to the ARRT dealt with the subject of a following book. Mr Warren observed that Washington's last years receive rather brisk treatment in the famous biographies on this great American. It is as if the biographers were 'exhausted' having covered, in multi-volumes, such an illustrious life, through a remarkable war and landmark presidency.
       Mr. Warren's presentation made the surprising observation that Washington did not fully enjoy the rewards that would be expected for a man who had accomplished so much and was so admired by the vast majority of his countrymen. The reasons for Washington's 'discomfort' were varied and complex. Washington had serious reservations about the men who were succeeding him in the leadership of the Nation. These were individuals who had subjected Washington to considerable unpleasantness during the last years as President, and he questioned their motives and goals. Washington also was weary of evolving trends in popular movements in the country, and he worried about the survival of the basic democratic principles he so valued. Then too, Washington did not realize the acme in his private commercial ventures that he had achieved during his years of public service.

1 December 1999, "The Spirit of George Washington Lives!". This was a dramatized, monologue of George Washington's "inspirational life story" presented by James Renwick Manship, dressed in the Revolutionary War military uniform of the General. Mr. Manship's interpretation reflected considerable countenance with the Pastor Weems' version of Washington's life. While Mr. Manship's talk emphasized the particular religious faith that may have contributed to Washington's character, he did make a quick reference to Washington's esteem for the examples set by the Ancient Roman Republic leaders Cincinnatus and Cato. This reminded some in the audience of Washington's acceptance of a broad, ecumenical basis of beliefs and codes of conduct that inspire great leaders.

3 November 1999, "Victim of Potomac Fever: George Washington and the Location of a Capital for the American Empire.". The speaker was Dr. Kenneth Bowling, professor at The George Washington University and author of several books, most recent being The Creation of Washington, DC. The presentation reviewed the tug-of-war between the South and the North in determining a location for the Nation's capital. Eventually a compromise was made possible by northern interests in having southern support in paying off the Nation's war debt. This was far more important in the North, where the main creditors were located, than in the South, where most of the states had paid off their debts. In a circumspect manner, George Washington and other Virginians who aspired to see the Potomac region become a great political and economic center ('victims of Potomac Fever') took advantage of the moment toward realizing their dream.

6 October 1999, "Intelligence From the Westward: George Washington's Company of Scouts in the French and Indian War.". The speaker was Mr. William F. Johnson, a member of the ARRT, who has performed extensive research into military intelligence. Bill Johnson emphasized how George Washington began his practiced use of intelligence as early as the French and Indian War. His talk was quite detailed and was assisted by the various handouts. This presentation is part of the ongoing series that pays particular attention to the service of Washington to the Revolution and to the establishemnt of our Nation's government.

1 September 1999, "The George Washington Papers and the Battle of Brandywine.". The speaker was Dr. Edward George Lengel, an assistant editor of The George Washington Papers. One of the first items Dr. Lengel explained to the audience is why we have experienced for so long the 'publication of The Washington Papers'. It seems that there has been a series of such projects. The initial ones were limited in scope to documents in the Library of Congress and major archival institutions in the US. Later, the documents attempted to cover all of his letters. The current project is casting a broader net and attempting to obtain every note, dispatch, as well as correspondence from earlier gatherings. Using the battle of Brandywine (1777), Dr. Lengel illustrated how the The George Washington Papers project deals with challenges presented by the scarcity and frequent poor quality of documentation relating to the American Revolution.
       More can be learned about this interesting project at the website of the The Papers of George Washington.

5 June 1999 Special Program was sponsored by the ARRT and held at The Jefferson, in Arlington, VA. It was a video showing (along with dinner) of Robert Cassler's stage play, Second in the Realm. The play tells the remarkable story of Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the signing of the Magna Carta (1215). The play's author gave introductory remarks on how the Magna Carta served as an inspiration to some of the advocates in the American Revolution.

22 May 1999, Field Trip to Richmond, Virginia. ARRT members enjoyed a morning guided tour of historic St. John's Church, where Patrick Henry cried out,"Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" Following lunch at the famous 'Tobacco Company Warhouse', the Virginia Historical Soceity led the ARRT visitors on a tour of this history-rich city that old Benedict Armold failed to destroy.

5 May 1999, "James Monore and the American Revolution". The speaker was Mr. John N. Pearce, director of the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library, Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, VA. Mr. Pearce reminded the audience that Monroe and George Washington were the only US Presidents who fought as soldiers in the Revolution. As a young officer in the Virginia Regiment of the Continental Army, Monore participated in many of the early battles of the Revolution, and was seriously wounded at Trenton in 1776. He later served as an aid to General 'Lord Stirling'. Eventually he became the Governor of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson's Military Commissioner. Monroe's outstanding military performance placed him well after the war, as he rose quickly in Virginia and National political spheres, where he 'made history' with his roll in negotiating the Louisiana Purchase (1803) as Minister to France, and declaring the 'Monroe Doctrine' (1823) during his second term as President of the United States. More can be learned at the website of the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library.

7 April 1999, "ARRT's Annual Banquet". It was an evening listening to the enjoyable sounds of eighteenth-century colonial music provided by Gregory Grant and James Stinson.

3 March 1999, "The Care and Feeding of Armies and Fleets". The speaker was Mr. David Bongard, the ARRT's Program Chairman and military historian, who has authored many articles for military encyclopedias and dictionaries, as well as co-authored works covering different eras of military history. His presentation addressed the complexities, many not even thought of today, in the care and feeding of armies and fleets in the eighteenth century. Not only were the methods of preparing food for storage a challenge, but the use of private contractors for all but a few, rare weapons or naval items, led to considerable speculation, bribery and other forms of corruption.

3 February 1999, "George Washington and a Merchant of Cork". The speaker was Dr. Edward A. Miller Jr., graduate of Virginia Military Institute, retired US Air Force officer, and author of several published works on nineteenth century and American Civil War subjects. Dr. Miller recounted a most interesting review of the contitions of American prisoners held in British prisons at Portsmouth and Plymouth, in England, and at Cork, in Ireland. As 'rebels' the Americans were not granted 'prisoner-of-war status'. While these American prisoners did not enjoy the conditions granted to French, Dutch, and Spanish prisoners, the Americans in English prisons fared far better than those held in the ship hauls back in New York Harbor. The particular focus of Dr. Millier's story was how Ruben Harvey, a Quaker merchant in Cork Ireland, openly complained of, and sought to remedy the poor conditions American prisoners encoutered in 'Desmond's Castle' at Kinsale, County Cork. Mr. Harvey's role was acknowledged by the US Congress and by a letter from George Washington.

6 January 1999, "Major Robert Rogers in the French and Indian War". The speaker was Mark M. Helba, a military analyst who has served with the Central Intelligence Agency and various US Defense organizations. He is a member of the ARRT, and a re-enactor in both the Flood's Virginia Company/Jaeger's Battalion of Rogers' Rangers and the 1st Virginia Regiment. Mark's talk covered the military career of Robert Rogers, who became a hero leading an independent ranger company during the French and Indian War. The 1765 publication of Rogers' Journals in England contributed to his fame. However, his personal life was surrounded in debt and financial scandal. At the beginning of the American Revolution, George Washington refused Rogers' services, and in 1776 Rogers briefly command the Queen's Rangers (a Loyalist force that later became famous under Simcoe). At this time, Rogers military career became as dismal as his personal fortunes, and he returned to England in 1780, where he died in 1795. Mark Helba's presentation emphasized how the tradition of 'Roger's Rangers', and 'rules' for his special force influenced the modern US Army Rangers.

2 December 1998, "Origins of American Military Engineering: Army Engineers in the Revolutionary War". The speaker was Dr. Paul K. Walker, Chief of the Office of History in Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and author of Engineers of Independence: A Documentary History of the Army Engineers in the American Revolution, 1775-1783 (1981). Dr. Walker's presentation covered the founding of the American military engineers as part of the very beginnings of the Revolution. Seriously short of trained engineers, the Americans accepted a number of French-trained military engineers. Many of these men served the American cause with high distinction: Duportail, Kosciuszko, Fleury, de Genton, and de Villefranche to name but a few. Their contributions were crucial in many of the campaigns from the defense of the Hudson Highlands to the final siege at Yorktown.

4 November 1998, "The Last Battles of the American Revolution on the Other Side of the World". The speaker was Mr. Albert D. McJoynt, military historian and member of the ARRT. The presentation described the 1782-83 naval operations, in the Bay of Bengal, of the French admiral Pierre-André de Suffren de Saint-Tropez. This campaign was part of the same war which included the Battle of Lexington and the Siege of Yorktown, though no American took part. Suffren's accomplishments were praised in Alfred T. Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1660-1783, and provide an excellent example of joint, theater-level military strategy. The topic illustrates a broader scope, chronologically and geographically, of the American War for Independence than is popularly perceived.

7 October 1998, "John Peter Zenger's Trial and Freedom of the Press in the Era of the American Revolution". The speaker was Mr. Robert Cassler, author and teacher of first amendment law at American University and the University of Maryland. Mr. Cassler explained the impact of Peter Zenger's 1735 trial upon the early tradition of 'Freedom of the Press' in the United States. After taking the audience through a maze of seditious libel laws and arguments that occurred in the formative stages of our Nation, Mr Cassler concluded that, in the end, the Zenger jury's decision to accept 'truth as a defense' gradually prevailed. The October program was a well focused and clear account of legal-political entanglements and contrasting views concerning Freedoms of Speech and of the Press in the US.

2 September 1998, "Field Artillery in the American Revolution". The speaker was Mr. John E. McConnell, Virginia Military Institute graduate, former U.S. Army Field Artillery Officer, and active member of the Artillery Section, First Virginia Regiment re-enactment group. Needless to say, the ARRT members and guests received a most authoritative coverage on the origins of artillery in North America prior to the war, how it was fielded by both sides during the war, and an analysis of field artillery's effectivness in the course of the war.

13 June 1998, Field Trip to Scotchtown, Virginia. ARRT members visited the historic home of Patrick Henry, and witnessed Revolutionary War encampment and battle re-enactment.

6 May 1998, "ARRT's Anual Banquet". It was a full evening of eighteenth-century colonial music provided by Gregory Grant and James Stinson. In a short business meeting, ARRT officers were elected for the following program year (1989-99).

1 April 1998, "Sunday, April 1, 1798 - Reflections on ..."The Course of Human Events"... Seventeen Years after Yorktown". Speaker was Mr. John Douglass Hall, in an interpretative role as a Virginia citizen farmer of the late eighteenth century. Mr. Hall gave a very well received, creative presentation that described the complex array of domestic and international factors affecting the young Nation seventeen years following the American Revolution. Many of the events and concerns of Americans in early April of 1798 were still linked to the Revolution, such as English troops remaining in the western outposts. Other factors introduced unusual twists to conditions since the Revolution, such as strained relations with new French revolutionary government. Mr Hall showed a mastery of his knowledge in fielding a variety of detailed questions, such as the intricate background of the Western Territories which were now [1798] being granted to the States by the U.S. Government. A little sly humor was injected with Mr Hall's expressed hope that the scandal surrounding Mr. Hamilton and a certain lady would hopefully be the last such gossip that this Government would have to endure.

4 March 1998, "The Forgotten Patriot and the American Revolution". Speaker was Mrs. Elisabeth Whitman Schmidt, an officer on the Executive Committee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and member of several lineage societies. Her presentation cited individuals of varied ethnic backgrounds, by name and location, who joined the ranks. While the enlistment of African Americans, and more specifically of slaves, was debated, most all of the colonies eventually took such into their ranks. The practice was noted and reported by European observers. Records show that a considerable number of persons of mixed ethnic backgrounds served on both sides of the conflict. In some cases, the local society accepted free minorities living in the community and expected them to serve. The most significant impetus to the recruitment of minorities in the service was manpower shortages in the American army and naval contingents. There were several instances where the proven participation in military actions by women warranted their receiving veterans' military pensions. The speaker reminded the audience of the French and Spanish military forces who fought as allies of the American colonists, and that even their contingents included some ethnic diversity drawn from the American southeast and the West Indies.

4 February 1998, "The Real Meaning of the American Revolution". Speaker was Mr. Henry J. Sage , professor of history at Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria. Professor Sage gave a dynamic presentation of his views on how the American Revolution evolved and affected America's development. His theme noted that the 'seeds of Revolution' could be traced to beginnings of the conditions that brought the early settlers from Europe to the New World, and to the relative independence that evolved in the separate colonial settlements. His thesis also stated that the Revolution did not end, in terms of having a successful conclusion, until a workable government was finally defined in the Constitution.

7 January 1998, "Without a Respectable Navy, Alas America!". Speaker was Dr. William S. Dudley, Director of Naval History, US Naval Historical Office, a member of the Society for Military History, and a past president of the ARRT. Dr. Dudley discussed the evolution of naval thought, legislative action, and initial ship construction that formed the establishment of the Department of the Navy between 1783 and 1798. It was brought out that one of the main incentives for forming the American Navy was to protect the Nation's merchant shipping from threats in the Mediterranean. The US Navy's first real test was the successful and daring expedition against the Barbary pirates at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

3 December 1997, "Thomas Jefferson Revisited". Speaker was Dr. Thomas B. Worsley, a past president of the ARRT and member of a number of historical organizations in the Northern Virginia and District of Columbia area. An avid scholar on Thomas Jefferson since graduating from the University of Virginia, Dr. Worsley took this time to assess the large array of "recent electronic effusions on Jefferson" that we have seen on TV, in the movies, and in various publications. In such, Jefferson's legacy has been both lauded and attacked from varied perspectives, notably his record on rights, race, education, values, exploration and expansion of the American west, and his personal character. Dr. Worsley gave a brief tour de horizon of the more prominant authors on Jefferson. In response to the negative views of Jefferson expressed by some writers, Dr. Worsley found questionable bases for judging the past by today's standards. If anything, Jefferson's real legacy (as with that of the other Founding Fathers ­ many of whom were slave holders) was the creation of an institutional form of government that would eventually allow for the correction of social inequities of their own time.

5 Nobember 1997, "How the Continental Navy Frigate Queen of France Sailed to America in 1778". Speaker was Dr. Michael J. Crawford, Head of the Early History Branch of the Navy Historical Center, Washington, DC. He honored the members with the first public report of an incident that occurred on the eve of the alliance between the United States and France. The American Commissioners' in Paris purchased in 1778 of a French East India merchant ship, La Brune, renamed her Queen of France, and manned the ship with French seamen. The ship was sent by the Commissioners to America with a dual captaincy consisting of a French master and a Continental Navy captain. When the Queen of France arrived in Boston, the unusual match of crew and ship's nationality caught the attention of the captain a French frigate La Nymphe anchored in the harbor. The affair revealed many facets of conflicting priorities between the two allies. One important point brought out by the speaker, was the high demand for seamen at the time. Both England and France were forced to employ a considerable number of lesser-qualified 'landsmen' to make up for the shortage.

1 October 1997, "Indian Tribes and the American Revolution". Speaker was Dr. Virginia DeMarce, from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and a past president of the ARRT. This presentation was the second of her presentations on the American Indians in the Revolution. In this talk, Dr. DeMarce addressed the complexity of the role of the Native Americans in the Revolution in what was a very multi-ethenic world. She explained that, contrary to the typical portrayal of the Indians in Western writings, the tribes were quite individualistic, and the their political alignment during the colonists' wars were influenced by factors unique to each tribe and community.

3 September 1997, "Getting Acquainted with Peter Francisco". Speaker was Mrs. Edith Francisco Buckley, a member of The Society of Descendants of Peter Francisco, and of The Providence Chapter (NSDAR). Her presentation on Peter Francisco (c.1760-1836), who won distinction in an array of battles of the Revolution, covered interesting points about his most unusual and partly legendary life.

Return to Main ARRT Webpage.

Return to the ARRT Current Program Announcement webpage.

Page last modified 19 February 2003.