Fort Griswold

Fifth in a series of painting for

One of the ghastliest incidents of the Revolution took place at Groton, Connecticut, during the last engagement of the war in the north. Seventeen hundred British, Hessian, and Tory troops under the command of Benedict Arnold—now a British general after his defection the year before—set out against New London, on the west side of the Thames River from Groton, to seize a large supply of military stores there.Read more »

Only One Life, But Three Hangings

In September a statue of Nathan Hale, martyr-patriot of the Revolution, is to be unveiled near the main entrance to the CIA headquarters in Washington. A similar statue has stood for some years next to the headquarters of the FBI, and there are other copies of it in New London and Bristol, Connecticut, and at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. Hale was hanged by the British in New York in 1776 while on a behind-the-lines espionage mission for General Washington.Read more »

Men Of The Revolution: 9. Israel Putnam

Perhaps the most experienced general in the American army, he was credited with shouting “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” at Bunker Hill. But “Old Put” was not without his faults.

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 »

Men Of The Revolution: 8. John Wilkes

Crowds on both sides of the Atlantic shouted “Wilkes and Liberty!” after he was jailed and thrown out of Parliament for defending the rights of Colonists and the “middling and inferior sort of people who stand most in need of protection.”

Not many political martyrs are born to the part; more often they are cast in it by government officials who are stupid or self-righteous or both. Take John Wilkes: a reckless, ambitious parvenu who became involved in the cause of liberty quite accidentally and emerged the champion of London’s mobs and the darling of America’s rebels—thanks to King George in’s intolerance for dissent. Read more »

The Way It Was-more Or Less

At one point in the Battle of White Plains an American militiaman whose unit was temporarily not engaged with the enemy called out to a nearby civilian: “Who’s ahead?” The civilian, holding a small square object up to one ear, replied: “Oakland, 3 to 1.” Read more »

Stand-off At White Plains

Second in a series of paintings for

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 »

The Last Battle

Yorktown was not the end of the Revolutionary War. The Americans were to gain one victory more. Read more »

Encounter at the Brandywine

“The damn rebels form well”

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 »

Men Of The Revolution: 11. George Rogers Clark

Clark’s career was like the passage of a meteor—a quick, fiery moment that lit up the heavens for all to see and wonder at, then vanishing in oblivion.

It is of a piece with the rest of the story that the portrait of George Rogers Clark which his son described as “a Masterpiece” was painted long after the events that made him famous, when he was in the throes of his final illness, embittered and forgotten. Nor should it surprise anyone familiar with Clark’s sad tale that he should have commissioned the portrait himself or that he personally paid an itinerant painter named C. D.Read more »

Men Of The Revolution: 7. Thomas Paine

Common Sense was a bestseller and turned the tide of public feeling toward independence, but for its author ingratitude followed fame.

The whole history of America affords examples of men who fitted precisely the needs of a particular moment, only to be cast aside, forgotten or traduced when the tide of events they created or manipulated waned and time passed them by. During and after the Revolution, it happened to James Otis and Samuel Adams, but for no one did ingratitude follow fame quite so cruelly as for Thomas Paine. Read more »