The Imprisonment Of Lafayette

and how, a decade after the Revolution, a melodramatic rescue attempt, involving a grateful young American, went awry

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 »

A 1783 Monument To American Independence Makes Sense-but In Yorkshire, England?

It is normally the winners, not the losers, who erect triumphal irches at a war’s end. Yet at Parlington Park in West Yorkshire, some two hundred miles north of London, stands this monument, boldly dedicated to Liberty in North America Triumphant, MDCCLXXXIII . Built in 1783, the year America officially wrested her independence from England, it is the little-known creation of Sir Thomas Gascoigne, the eighth Baronet of Parlington and an aristocrat with distinctly individual views. Read more »

Monmouth

Eleventh in a series of paintings for AMERICAN HERITAGE

When in June of 1778 Sir Henry Clinton evacuated Philadelphia and moved his army of ten thousand British and German troops toward New York, Washington called his officers together to discuss strategy. Their decision—which, said Alexander Hamilton, “would have done honor to the most honorable society of midwives, and to them only”—was to keep watch on Clinton’s flank but to avoid a major action. Read more »

Men of the Revolution: 17. Joseph Reed

Like many another well-to-do young man of his day, Joseph Reed seems an unlikely revolutionist. His background, money, education, marriage—all these, one would suppose, would have placed him firmly on the side of the status quo, kept him loyal to the Crown. It did not turn out that way, of course; yet Reed was something of an enigma even to his contemporaries. Political radicals thought him insufficiently radical; many fellow officers considered him a reluctant soldier. Read more »

Portrait Of A Hero

Courtly, gallant, handsome, and bold, John Laurens seemed the perfect citizen-soldier of the Revolution. But why did he have to seek death so assiduously?

How a nation regards its past is itself a fact of considerable historical significance, and it will be interesting to observe the treatment of the Founding Fathers during the Bicentennial celebration. Indications are that in some quarters at least the military heroes of the Revolution may not fare very well. “They wrote in the old days,” Ernest Hemingway noted some years ago, “that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying.Read more »

Men Of The Revolution: 16. Daniel Morgan

A few months after the shooting began, the besiegers and the beleaguered of Boston became aware of a new presence on the scene. It was a new man, so to speak, with a new weapon; and since there were some fourteen hundred of them—boisterous, cocksure frontiersmen, clothed in fringed buckskin shirts and leggings, given at the slightest encouragement to demonstrating their skill with their deadly-accurate long rifles—it was difficult for anyone in the vicinity of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to ignore them.Read more »

Men Of The Revolution: 15. Frederick Mackenzie

Of the British officers who served in America during the Revolution, the names Howe and Clinton, Burgoyne and Cornwallis, are the ones that echo across the years. There is some irony to this, since none of those captains—with the possible exception of Cornwallis—had any notable claim to posterity’s attention for their accomplishments on this side of the Atlantic. Yet just as they had in their day the perquisites of rank, so they were accorded the privilege of fame. Read more »

Battles Of The Revolution Eutaw Springs

Ninth in a series of paintings for AMERICAN HERITAGE

All through the spring and summer of 1781 Major General Nathanael Greene had fought his way through the Garolinas, never quite winning a battle but always hurting the British more than they hurt him. When Greene had started his campaign, British posts had stretched across hundreds of miles. Now, in late summer, they had melted away under Greene’s persistent attacks, and the enemy had sure control only in the area around Gharleston. Read more »

Three Forgotten Heroes

Who today remembers John Paulding, Isaac Van Wert, or
David Williams? Yet for a century they were renowned as the
rustic militiamen who captured Major John André

Before September 23, 1780, the three seemed unlikely stuff for heroes. But on that day Major John André came their way, and fame for the trio followed. Read more »