Private Flohr’s Other Life

The young German fought for American Independence, went home, and returned as a man of peace

Georg Daniel Flohr, a butcher’s son, enlisted at nineteen in the Regiment Royal-Deux-Ponts, a German outfit in the service of France, and came to America in 1780 with the Comte de Rochambeau’s army to help the Continentals in their struggle against Great Britain. Readers of this magazine may recall the beautifully illustrated diary Flohr kept of his service, which for a century lay unnoticed in Strasbourg’s main library.Read more »

The Warfare State

A scholar searches across two centuries to discover the main engine of our government’s growth—and reaches a controversial conclusion

Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 1835 that America had no neighbors and hence no enemies. Indeed, the New World Republic was the ultimate island power, with the Atlantic Ocean providing a protective moat nearly a hundred times as wide as the English Channel. The German philosopher Hegel, writing at about the same time as Toque, cited this isolation as one reason “a real State”—a powerful, centralized, European-style state—could never exist in America.Read more »

Build-down

After every war in the nation’s history, the military has faced not only calls for demobilization but new challenges and new opportunities. It is happening again.

Not many people appreciate a military base closing. Like the shutting of a factory, it can devastate nearby towns, throwing thousands of people out of work. Merchants face losses and even bankruptcy as sales fall off. Home-owners put their houses on the market at distress prices and sometimes simply walk away from their mortgages. Even long-established military centers are not immune; the current round of closings includes the Mare Island Naval Base near San Francisco, which has operated since 1854. Read more »

Private Flohr’s America

From Newport to Yorktown and the battle that won the war: A German foot soldier who fought for American independence tells all about it in a newly discovered memoir

 

“EwrĠe Pöbels in the Nord america bin the werĠe fein Leyds,” wrote Georg Daniel Flohr, composing in very broken English a preface to his memoir of his time as a soldier in the American Revolution. “All the people of North America are fine people.” Sometime in the summer of 1788, in Strasbourg, France, Georg Flohr put down his pen, having completed about 250 pages of script in his native German (except for the English prologue) and some thirty extraordinary illustrations.Read more »

The Home Front

It was bitter civil war, and a remarkable book offers us perhaps the most intimate picture we have of what it was like for the ordinary people who got caught in its terrible machinery

What was the American Revolution really like, for real homes and real families caught up in its hardships and dangers? It is over two centuries since that famous “hurry of hoofs in a village street … the voice in the darkness, the knock at the door” alarmed our now-distant ancestors, and the vast literature of that war tells us very little about how it was for plain people—matters rarely recorded in the days before there were news media, feature writers, television coverage, and a history industry. We have lost human contact. Read more »

Loyalist Refuge

When their side lost the Revolution, New Englanders who had backed Britain packed up, sailed north, and established the town of St. Andrews, New Brunswick. It still flourishes.

When in 1783 it became clear that a band of American rebels had succeeded in their insurrection against King George, Robert Pagan and 443 of his neighbors in Castine, Maine, did the only thing loyal subjects of the Crown could do: they dismantled their houses and pubs, board by board and nail by nail, piled them onto schooners, and sailed for the northern Crown colonies. There, at the confluence of the St.Read more »

Why Benedict Arnold Did It

To the end of his life America’s most infamous traitor believed he was the hero of the Revolution

Shortly after noon on Thursday, April 20, 1775, a weary postrider swung out of the saddle at Hunt’s Tavern in New Haven, Connecticut, with an urgent message from the Massachusetts Committee of Cor- respondence. At dawn the day before, British light infantry had killed six militiamen on Lexington Green. Anxious New Haven citizens crowded into an emergency town meeting and voted to maintain a policy of neutrality despite Massachusetts’s plea for troops and supplies. Read more »

Revolutionary Village

The little town of Lebanon, Connecticut, played a larger role in the Revolution than Williamsburg, Virginia, did. And it’s all still there.

Natives of eastern Connecticut like to say that except for Boston and Philadelphia, the village of Lebanon stands first in America in Revolutionary importance. While that may sound like typical small-town puffery, the remark contains a large measure of truth. Consider the following categories: Read more »

The Strange Fate Of The Black Loyalists

Thousands of them sided with Great Britain, only to become the wandering children of the American Revolution

IN THE EARLY summer of 1775 the rebeb of Virginia evicted their royalist governor, John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, from his capital at Williamsburg and drove him to refuge aboard a British warship. With only three hundred Royal Marines at his disposal, Dunmore lit upon a controversial recruiting stratagem.Read more »

Bernardo De Gálvez

The Forgotten Revolutionary Conquistador Who Saved Louisiana

Imagine, for a moment, an alternate ending to the American Revolution. The thirteen rebel colonies sign a peace of exhaustion with Great Britain in 1783. Instead of a trans-Appalachian nation, with boundaries on the Mississippi, the Americans are restricted to a few river valleys in Tennessee and Kentucky. The Mississippi valley is British, as well as Canada and all the territory north of the Ohio, peopled with hostile Indians whom Britain controls.Read more »