With Little Less Than Savage Fury

America’s first civil war took place during the Revolution, an ultra violent, family-splitting, and often vindictive conflict between patriots and loyalists

On April 22, 1775, three days after a British column marched out of Boston and clashed with militiamen at Lexington and Concord, the news—and the cry of Revolution!—reached Danbury, Connecticut, where 18-year-old Stephen Maples Jarvis was working on the family farm. Over the next several days, the young man would confront the hard, consequential choice between joining the rebel patriots or staying loyal to King George. He was not alone; all across the eastern seaboard, others were wrestling with the same dilemma. Read more »

1775, Two Hundred Twenty-Five Years Ago

The Battle of Bunker Hill

Early on the morning of June 17, Gen. Thomas Gage, governor of Massachusetts and commander in chief of British forces in North America, awoke in his Boston home to learn of a serious new threat. On the Charlestown peninsula, which was connected to the mainland by a narrow neck of land, rebel soldiers were building military fortifications on a rise known today as Breed’s Hill. If left alone, they would surely fortify neighboring Bunker Hill as well. Gage conferred with his officers and decided on an immediate attack. Read more »

You Are Invited To A Mischianza

Saluting a departing general, the British dazzled Philadelphians with the grandest party the city had ever seen; the tiny army that had toppled the general bided its time nearby

In the spring of 1778 William Howe, commander in chief of His Majesty’s forces in North America, received orders to return to London and justify his actions, or rather his inactions, for he had gained no conspicuous victory in three years of war. He was nearly fifty, plump and rosy, a friend of the gentler arts, the gentler sex. Through the winter of 1777–78 he and his troops had reposed comfortably in Philadelphia while Washington’s hapless little army, freezing and starving, lay vulnerable twentyfive miles away in Valley Forge.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 »

The Signer Who Recanted

Under duress in a British prison, Richard Stockton of New Jersey had the singular misfortune to become

Various legends linger around the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the circumstances of the signing.Read more »

A Bicentennial Monument ToOur Fumbling Foes Of ’76

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 »

Men Of The Revolution: 12. Richard And William Howe

The brothers were expected to perform an almost impossible task, subduing a people of the same flesh and blood and heritage.

Wars are more often lost than won, but in 1775 a man who predicted British defeat in the Revolution would have been taken for a fool. The mightiest, richest empire since Rome, Great Britain ruled the seas unchallenged; there seemed no limit to the power and resources that could be brought to bear against the uprising across the Atlantic. Yet after seven years of fighting, England withdrew from the contest, yielded up its sovereignty over thirteen American provinces, and left its lonely monarch to contemplate the wreckage of his hopes.Read more »

Battles Of The Revolution

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 »

Addressee Unknown

In the spring and summer of 1776 there were many Englishmen who earnestly hoped that the mutual abrasions of the colonies and the mother country might be healed without further violence. Among them were the famous Howe brothers—Sir William, commander m chief of the British army m America, and Lord Richard, topadmiral of the corresponding naval forces. When Lord Howe reached America in June, 1776, he brought with him a royal commission to grant pardons, and thereby to attempt a reconciliation.Read more »

Gentleman Johnny’s Wandering Army

Defeated at Saratoga, Burgoyne’s troops faced nearly five years of enforced exile in a hostile countryside

On October 17, 1777, Elijah Fisher confided the following information to his diary: … Gen. Burgoin and his howl army surrendered themselves Prisoners of Ware and Come to Captelate with our army and Gen. Gates. … Then at one of the Clock five Brigades was sent for Albeny (for there come nuse that Gen. Clinton was a comin up the North river). … Gen. Clinton having nuse that Gen. Birgoyne had capetlated and had surrendered his army prisoners of war he Returned back to New York. … Read more »