Early on the afternoon of June 13, 1777, a French vessel slipped into an isolated inlet on the coast of South Carolina and dropped anchor. On board was the young Marquis de Lafayette, who had purchased the ship for this voyage, along with Baron de Kalb and a group of French nobles, all promised commissions in the “Armies of the States-General of North America” by one of the American agents in Paris, Silas Deane.Read more »
Although the bicentennial of American independence is just over a year away, it is the unhappy fact that the United States has not yet expressed the slightest appreciation to those who did the most to make that independence possible.Read more »
In the early summer of 1775, when the time came to appoint major generals to serve with George Washington in the Continental Army, Congress voted unanimously that Israel Putnam was to be one of them. Then in his fifty-eighth year and known universally as Old Put, he was five feet six inches tall, powerfully built, and had the face of a cherubic bulldog mounted on a jaw cut like a block of wood.Read more »
Mid-October of 1776 found a badly beaten American army in full retreat from Manhattan Island into the forests and farmlands of Westchester County. It was by no means a rout; units of Washington’s army fought skillful and rugged rearguard actions every step of the way. William Howe, in command of the king’s forces, followed the Americans in a pursuit sluggish enough to allow Washington ample time to settle his troops in the hills surrounding the village of White Plains.Read more »
Two hundred years ago men grown tired of a king shouldered arms and marched away to a quixotic and seemingly hopeless campaign against the greatest military power in the world. It was all a very long time ago, and it is perhaps too easy for us to see them as West, Trumbull, and all the artists schooled in the European tradition painted them: solemn demigods sacrificing themselves willingly on the altar of history, falling bloodlessly amid clusters ojflags beneath rich, rococo skies. Read more »
One acquaintance nicknamed him Naso, for the long beak that dominated his dark, pinched face. Mohawk warriors, with whom he lived during the French and Indian War, called him Ounewaterika, or “Boiling Water”—a name that only partially suggested his disposition. And during the first year of the Revolution certain members of the Continental Congress regarded him as the greatest general in the world—the officer who should have led the American army had he not been an Englishman.Read more »
On the morning of May 13, 1783, a group of officers of the Continental Army gathered at Verplanck House near the Hudson River village of Fishkill, New York. The house, built of stone in the Dutch style, was headquarters for General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, the Prussian professional who had done so much to train and reorganize Washington’s Revolutionary army. As the senior officer present, Baron von Steuben presided.