Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Defeat at Camden, A Victory at Bennington

The Defeat

After the defeat in Charleston, the Congress appointed General Gates to be the new commander of the American Southern District. Gates was impatient to strike back at the British. He believed the British troops at Camden, North Carolina were vulnerable. Camden was also an advanced munitions depot, so it made a tempting target.

On July 27th 1780, Gates set off for Camden with over 3,000 regular and militia troops. Gates headed directly towards Camden, despite the difficulty in obtaining supplies on the route. Gates arrived near Camden on August 14th, with his 3,000 men, believing that this would give him overwhelming numerical superiority over the forces of British Colonel Radwon, whom he believed were in Camden. Little did he know that British General Cornwallis had learned of Gates' advance and hurried to Camden with reinforcements.

Gates' forces still outnumbered the British forces. However, the British forces were better equipped and included cavalry as well as more extensive artillery. 

On the night of the 15th, Gates learned of the arrival of the British forces, when his forces approached Camden at night; only to run into a British force. Neither force wanted to fight at night, so they both retreated. The Americans took some soldiers prisoner and learned of the existence of Cornwallis' troops. Gates realized he faced a difficult predicament. Capturing Camden seemed nearly impossible, while a withdrawal with a large number of British cavalry forces present would be nearly impossible. He decided to stand and fight.

Gates arranged his forces in a defensive position, a strategy that had served him well at the Battle of Saratoga. Despite his knowledge of the British position, Gates arranged his forces in a disastrous deployment. He placed the militia opposite the British dragoons and Hessian soldiers, while placing his better trained Continentals opposite the Loyalist militia that Cornwallis lead. Gates' final error of the day was to order the militia forward to attack.

The American line broke at the site of the British regulars advancing. Most militia ran without firing a shot. Gates tried to staunch the retreat, but it was hopeless. The Americans began a full retreat from the battlefield, losing over 600 soldiers in the process. The Battle of Camden was a complete American defeat. It marked a low in the war for the Americans.

The Victory

Battle of Bennington, by Frederick Yohn

August 16, 1777, the Battle of Bennington was a battle of the American Revolutionary War in Walloomsac, New York, about 10 miles from its namesake Bennington, Vermont. A rebel force of 2,000 men, primarily composed of militiamen, led by General John Stark, and reinforced by Vermont militiamen led by Colonel Seth Warner and members of the Green Mountain Boys, decisively defeated a detachment of General John Burgoyne's army of led by Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum, with support of Hessians under Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich von Breymann.
He was sent by Burgoyne to raid Bennington New Hampshire for horses, draft animals, and other supplies. Believing the town to be only lightly defended, Baum was unaware that Stark and 1,500 militiamen were stationed there. After a rain-caused standoff, Stark's men enveloped Baum's position, taking many prisoners, and killing Baum. Reinforcements for both sides arrived as Stark and his men were mopping up, and the battle restarted, with Warner and Stark driving away von Breymann’ Hessian reinforcements with heavy casualties.

The battle was a decisive victory for the rebel cause, as it reduced Burgoyne's army in size by almost 1,000 men, led his Indian support to largely abandon him, and deprived him of needed supplies such as cavalry and draft horses and food, all factors that contributed to Burgoyne's eventual surrender at Saratoga.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Most blunderbuss were used by European navies or to protect coaches, but "thunder guns" were also used by civilians for defending their homes, businesses, carriages, and boats.

Those with brass barrels were especially suited for the high seas since they are resistant to salt water corrosion.

British blunderbusses were also issued to the Royal Mail coaches to defend against highwaymen.

Their flared muzzles acted as a funnel and made reloading much easier while bumping along in a coach or on the rolling seas.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Battle of Monguagon

On August 9, 1812, American Lieutenant-Colonel James Miller’s command, comprised of 280 regulars and more than 330 Ohio Volunteer troops, was sent to escort a supply train to Detroit.

Image result for Battle of Maguaga
Battle of Monguagon by J.C.H. Forster
At Monguagon (Trenton, MI), Miller came upon British Captain Adam Muir, with 205 British regulars, Canadian militia and Native American. As the Americans advanced a skirmish broke out and things started to go wrong for the British.
Noticing some men creeping through the woods on their right, some of the British thought it was the enemy trying to outflank them and opened fire on them. The "enemy" turned out to be allied Potawatomi warriors, who immediately thought that the people firing at them must be Americans. Both returned fire until the Potawatomi realized that they were fighting their own side and withdrew into the woods to the rear.
At about that same time, seeing the American advance waiver, Muir ordered the bugler of the light infantry company to sound the charge.
In the British Army, only the light infantry used the bugle; the rest of the infantry communicated using drumbeats. The officer commanding one of the other companies thought that the bugle was sounding the "recall" and ordered his men to fall back.
Before Muir knew what was happening, his whole force was streaming off to the rear.
The Americans, who thought that the British were running from them, took heart and advanced over Muir's vacated position in pursuit of an enemy they thought they had routed. Miller advanced a good distance only to find that Muir had regrouped and was standing, awaiting Miller to attack. Miller, satisfied with his "victory", decided not to renew his assault and withdrew.

Lieutenant-Colonel James Miller

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Battle of Oriskany, is considered to be a significant turning point in the War of Independence as well as described as one of the bloodiest battles of the war.

The battle took place August 6, 1777,  Oriskany, New York. 

The Oneidas at the Battle of Oriskany - August 6, 1777 by Don Troiani

During the British siege of Fort Stanwix, occupied by Continental Army forces, Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer assembled 800 militiamen, supported by 60 allied Oneida warriors, and marched from Fort Dayton to aid against the siege. Upon hearing of Herkimer's advance, British and Loyalist troops under Sir John Johnson and Col. John Butler, and Indian forces led by Mohawk Joseph Brant, set a trap in a boggy ravine west of Oriskany Creek. As the unsuspecting American troops crossed the swampy bottom and marched up the ravine, the British attacked. The patriots fought in brutal hand-to-hand combat, and in spite of heavy losses, caused the Seneca and the Mohawks, followed by the British and Loyalists to retreat.

It was in this battle that General Herkimer received the wound to his leg which led to his death ten days later. 

The battle cost the Patriots approximately 450 casualties, while the Loyalists and Indians lost approximately 150 dead and wounded. The result of the battle remains ambiguous because the apparent Loyalist victory was significantly affected by a sortie from Fort Stanwix in which the Loyalist camps were sacked, spoiling morale among the allied Indians.
For the Iroquois, the battle marked the beginning of a civil war, as it pitted Oneida warriors against Mohawk and Seneca, all members of the Iroquois nations. There were also internal divisions among the Oneida, some of whom went to Canada as allies of the British.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

On this date in 1763, the Battle of Bushy Run, it would be the critical turning point in Pontiac’s War. It also became one of the most memorable moments in North American Military history.

Pontiac by Robert Griffing

With the outbreak of Pontiac's War in the spring of 1763, Native American warriors placed Fort Pitt under siege and began raiding British settlements to the east around Fort Bedford and Raystown, Pennsylvania.
On July 18th Colonel Henry Bouquet departed Carlisle, with a relief column for Fort Pitt. His column numbered around 460 men and included elements of the 60th Royal Americans and the 42nd and 77th Highlanders.
Though he had no firm intelligence regarding the siege, he felt an urge to increase the speed of the advance. As a result, he left his ammunition and wagon trains at Fort Ligonier and pressed on with around 300 men and 340 horses loaded with provisions.
Bouquet's instincts proved correct as the Native Americans had already attempted to storm the fort. Learning of the Bouquet's advance, the Native Americans broke off the siege of Fort Pitt and moved east to lay an ambush for Bouquet's column near Bushy Run.

On August 4, the lead elements of Bouquet's force were attacked by Delaware and Shawnee warriors. Believing the attack to be more than a small skirmish, Bouquet ordered his entire command to assume a circular defensive position on nearby Edge Hill. Using bags of flour, from the provisions, to help fortify their position, the British dug in for the night. In the morning, the Native Americans renewed their assault against Bouquet's men.
With the battle raging, Bouquet planned a trap for the attackers. With the enemy pushing closer, he ordered two companies of light infantry to fall back from their position along the perimeter as though a retreat had begun. Believing the British were retreating, the Native Americans charged into the gap. Here they quickly came under fire from two sides. Taking heavy losses, they were then assaulted by a bayonet charge from the Highlanders. Stunned, the survivors began fleeing the battlefield, leaving Bouquet in command of the field.
Colonel Henry Bouquet’s resolute Highlanders turned calamity into victory through sheer bravery and the wielding of cold steel.
Recovering his wounded, Bouquet resumed his advance and reached Fort Pitt five days later. The destruction of the Native American force at Bushy Run, along with the arrival of supplies and reinforcements ensured that the Fort Pitt remained in British hands for the remainder of the conflict.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Battle of Fort Stephenson

Shortly after the War of 1812 began, twenty two year old Major George Croghan became commander of Fort Stephenson, Located on the Sandusky River. (Fremont, Ohio)

Major George Croghan

The fort consisted of three blockhouses inside a rectangular stockade. Croghan worked hard to increase the fort's defensive capabilities. General William Henry Harrison believed that the fort was located at a difficult place to defend and ordered Croghan to abandon it. But Croghan argued that, if his forces withdrew, American Indians would cut his men off from the rest of the army. Before the two men could resolve their differences, the British troops arrived at the fort.
Major General Henry Proctor with 1,000 British regulars and Indians attacked the fort on August 2, 1813. Procter ordered a frontal infantry assault. Croghan had only 160 troops under his command and ordered the defenders to hold fire until the attackers were within close range. Once within range, the garrison opened fired along with the fort's artillery. The attack fell back, Procter tried and failed several times. Finally realizing that the attackers could do very little against the fort, Procter called off the attack. Croghan's men were so successful that they crippled the British forces -- not one officer was left standing, and one-fifth of the British force was either killed, wounded, or missing in action. The Americans forced the enemy to withdraw from the area.

“Men of the 41st falling at Fort Stephenson”
The uniforms of the 41st as depicted are slightly inaccurate.

The victory at Fort Stephenson came at an important time during the war, as the United States had few military successes.

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Simon Lauck

Simon Lauck (1760-1815) worked as a gunsmith in Winchester, Virginia and was reportedly trained by John Philip Beck of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. 

Simon Lauck, Jr. (1784-1864) also worked as a gunsmith circa 1805-1815 in Winchester prior to becoming a minister and heading further west. 

The rifle is signed "S. Lauck" on the silver inlay on the top of the barrel. 
Additional silver inlays, attractive carving, brass furniture, and a gorgeous engraved patchbox all attest to Lauck's craftmanship. The lock has unclear markings and was likely purchased from an outside lock maker or importer as was common in the period.

As a side note;
Simon along with his brother Peter (1753-1839) served with the Daniel Morgan's famous riflemen in the American Revolution. Morgan's riflemen are well known for striking down British officers from long ranges, devastating enemy morale, and were integral to the victory in the Battle of Cowpens. 

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On this date in 1758 the French fortress of Louisbourg falls after a lengthy British siege .

This event ended the French colonial era in Atlantic Canada and led directly to the loss of Quebec in 1759 and the remainder of French North America the following year.

The siege had began on June 8th with a blockade of the harbor and after eleven days the British artillery batteries were landed and in position. Orders were given to open fire on the fort and French ships in the harbor. The British battery's consisted of seventy cannons and mortars of all sizes. Within hours, the guns had destroyed walls and damaged several buildings.
On the 21st a mortar round struck a 74 gun French ship of the line, L'Entreprenant, and set it ablaze. A stiff breeze fanned the fire, and shortly after the L'Entreprenant caught fire, two other French ships had caught fire. L'Entreprenant exploded later in the day, depriving the French of the largest ship in the Louisbourg fleet. On the evening of the 23rd a British "hot shot" set the King's Bastion on fire. The King's Bastion was the fortress headquarters and the largest building in North America in 1758. Its destruction eroded confidence and reduced morale in the French troops and their hopes to lift the British siege.
On the 25 Admiral Boscawen sent a cutting-out party to destroy the French ships in the harbor. With the help of a thick fog as cover, the British raiders eliminated the last two French ships of the line, capturing the Bienfaisant and burning the Prudent, thus clearing the way for the Royal Navy to enter the harbor. On the 26th the French surrendered.

Louisbourg today

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

James Teaff

The exceptionally fine patch box on this flintlock rifle is an indication of the maker’s skills. The box is a classic example of that found on the American/Kentucky/Pennsylvania long rifle. It is echoed in the light well executed engraving accents on the the lock, side plate, and 9 of the 10 silver stock inlays.

The barrel marking is not fully clear but appears to read "J Teaff".

James Teaff, is listed as gunsmith out of Stuebenville, Ohio, listed as late as 1853 and 1856 as a working gunsmith in that city. He died 1861.

The patch box, especially the finial, has similarities to the "S McCosh" rifle (figure 264) in "Kentucky Patch boxes & Barrel Marks" and the Jacob Earnest rifle (figured 134) in "Kentucky Rifle Patch boxes All New Volume 2" both by Chandler & Whisker.

The rifle has the standard blade and notch sights seen on nearly all original long rifles and is also equipped with double set triggers. The full length maple stock has a small cheekpiece with an inlaid silver plate engraved with a floral design. 

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

July 16, 1779, The Battle of Stony Point took place.

 Stony Point is on the eastern bank of the Hudson river and Verplanck's Point on the opposite shore, they were key to the control of the Hudson. 
A British garrison of between 600 and 700 men occupied Stony Point under the command Lieutenant Colonel Henry Johnson.
Stony Point was surrounded by water on three sides. On the mainland side of the point flowed a swampy steam that flooded at high tide and was crossed by one causeway.

Watching the British actions from atop nearby Buckberg Mountain, General George Washington decided to attack utilizing the Continental Army's Corps of Light Infantry. Commanded by Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 1,300 men would stage a night time attack against Stony Point in three columns. The first, led by Wayne and consisting of around 700 men, would make the main attack against the southern side of the point. This was to be supported by an attack against the northern side by 300 men under Colonel Richard Butler. Major Hardy Murfree was ordered to stage a diversionary attack against the main British defenses with around 150 men. This effort was to precede the flank attacks and serve as signal for their advance.

To ensure surprise, Wayne's and Butler's columns would make the assault with their muskets unloaded and relying solely on the bayonet. Approaching Stony Point, the Americans benefited from heavy clouds which limited the moonlight. As Wayne's men neared the southern flank they found that their line of approach was flooded with two to four feet of water. Wading through the water, they created enough noise to alert the British pickets. As the alarm was raised, Murfree's men began their diversionary attack.

Responding to Murfree's diversion, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Johnson rushed to the landward defenses with six companies from the 17th Regiment of Foot. Wayne’s flanking columns succeeded in overwhelming the British and cutting off those engaging Murfree.

A stunning victory for Wayne, the fighting at Stony Point saw him lose 15 killed and 83 wounded, while British losses totaled 19 killed, 74 wounded, 472 captured, and 58 missing. In addition, a host of stores and fifteen guns were captured. Washington ordered Stony Point abandoned the next day as he lacked the men to fully protect it.


Also on this date in 1812
Soon after the outbreak of the War of 1812, the British forces on St Joseph's Island moved toward the American held Mackinac Island. The British forces consisted of 45 regular soldiers under the command of Captain Roberts plus 180 Canadian Voyageurs from the North West Company and 400 Indians.

On the night of July 16th the British landed at a sheltered cove of the island and the next morning were in position on the hill above the fort with cannon and muskets aimed down into it.

When confronted by the British, Lieutenant Porter Hanks the American commander amazingly uttered "War! What War?" 

Fort Mackinac - Mackinac Island
1798 North Blockhouse at Mackinac

A full month has passed since the United States declared war on Great Britain, but this is the first Lieutenant Hanks has heard of it.

He had never been warned by his own government that they were declaring war. 

Lieutenant Hanks had 61 regular soldiers in the sturdy fort. Hanks had a choice, he could fight to the last man and become a hero or surrender. If it were a matter of facing just the 45 British regulars he might have done that. But he was also facing the Indian warriors whose savagery was said to be without limits, and therefore he may be fighting to not only the last man but the last women and child as well.

The American commander had no choice but to surrender and agree to the British terms, one of which was that his troops be paroled to their homes and not take part in the war until they can be exchanged for British soldiers who have been captured.

The American Government will pay a big price for not warning all their forces that they had declared war. This bloodless battle is also one of the most significant. The news of the capture of Michilimackinac Island will touch off a chain of events that will frustrate the Americans in their attempt to seize British North America, an enterprise that most of them believe to be, in Thomas Jefferson's much quoted phrase, "A mere matter of marching."

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

On this day in 1755 Braddock's Defeat occurred.

 When news of the defeat at Fort Necessity reached British Prime Minister Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle, he called for a quick undeclared retaliatory strike against the French.

General Edward Braddock

The British Government sent General Edward Braddock to the colonies as commander in chief of British North American forces. Braddock arrived in Virginia in February 1755 to take command against the French in North America.
Braddock was about sixty, a short, stout, bad-tempered with little experience in action and none of the type of fighting that was in store for him. His rudeness and arrogance made a thoroughly bad impression on the colonials and were to contribute to a jaundiced view of the British officer class. On arrival, however, he received a congratulatory letter from a Virginian lieutenant-colonel of twenty-two named George Washington, who was privately thinking of a career in the British regular army. Braddock soon discovered that Washington knew the wilderness country and took him on his staff as an aide. His first objective was the French Fort Duquesne, deep in the wilderness at the Fork of the Ohio River, where the city of Pittsburgh stands today.
Two regiments of infantry, the 44th and 48th, arrived from England and after some difficult months making preparations and recruiting additional troops locally – with Braddock’s temper almost permanently at boiling point – the army began the march for Fort Duquesne.
The expedition progressed slowly because Braddock considered making a road to Fort Duquesne a priority in order to effectively supply the position he expected to capture and hold at the Forks of the Ohio. As progress was slow Braddock left about one-third of his force to bring the supply train on behind under Colonel Dunbar of the 48th, while pressing on through forest country with perhaps 1,500 men.

On July 9, 1755, Braddock's men crossed the Monongahela without opposition, about 10 miles south of Fort Duquesne. The advance guard of 300 grenadiers and colonials with two cannon under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Gage began to move ahead. Washington tried to warn him of the flaws in his plan, for example, the French and the Indians fought differently than the open-field style they were using but his efforts were ignored. It would cost Braddock his life for not listening to young Washington.

As Braddock’s advanced guard proceeded through the trees in their red coats they were surprised by an enemy force. Most of them were American Indians, the rest French and Canadians. Fiendish war-whoops sent chills down British spines as the Indians darted down each flank of the British and caught them in a cross-fire, while the French blocked the front.

After an exchange of fire, Gage's advance group fell back. In the narrow confines of the road, they collided with the main body of Braddock's force, which had advanced rapidly when the shots were heard. The entire column dissolved in disorder as the Canadian militiamen and Indians enveloped them and continued to snipe at the British flanks from the woods on the sides of the road. At this time, the French regulars began advancing and began to push the British back.
Following Braddock's example, the officers kept trying to reform units into regular order within the confines of the road, mostly in vain and simply providing targets for their concealed enemy.
Many British officers were killed or put out of action and the men ran for it, colliding with their comrades moving up in support.
After several hours of intense combat, Braddock was shot off his horse, and effective resistance collapsed. 

Colonel Washington put Braddock on a cart and led as many of the British as he could get to listen to him back across the Monongahela.

Washington's first order of business was to get Braddock to safety. Fortunately for Washington, most of the opposing forces chose to loot the battleground rather than pursue Braddock's men across the Monongahela River. Momentarily out of harm's way, Braddock ordered Washington to rally the fleeing troops. As best he could, Washington was able to collect nearly 200 men—an insufficient number to stage a strong counter-attack. With increasing despair, Braddock ordered Washington to locate Colonel Thomas Dunbar and retrieve the men and supplies that were being held in reserve.
Carrying out his assignment, Washington located Dunbar seven miles away. The next day, Braddock and the remainder of the army reached Dunbar's camp and plans began anew to orchestrate a deliberate retreat. Unable to effectively lead, Braddock relinquished command to Dunbar.
Braddock struggled on for another day before dying at night on July 13, 1755.
The following day, Washington fittingly chose a spot along Braddock's road and buried his commanding officer. Fearing that enemy soldiers would attempt to locate Braddock's body, Washington directed the wagon train and foot soldiers to march over the recently disturbed earth to cover any signs of Braddock's recent burial.

"Looking down the old road to the location of Braddock's original burial site."
The French commander Dumas realized the British were utterly defeated, but he did not have enough of a force to continue organized pursuit.

Washington's actions earned him the sobriquet "Hero of the Monongahela", by which he was toasted, and established his fame for some time to come.

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

July 8, 1758, the bloodiest battle of the French & Indian War took place near Fort Carillon on Lake Champlain. (now known as Fort Ticonderoga)

In the battle, which took place primarily on a rise about three-quarters of a mile from the fort itself, a French army of about 3,600 men under General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and the Chevalier de Levis decisively defeated an overwhelmingly numerically superior force of British troops under General James Abercrombie, which frontally assaulted an entrenched French position without using field artillery, the lack of which left the British and its allies vulnerable and allowed the French to win a decisive victory. Over 3,000 casualties suffered. French losses were about 400, while more than 2,000 were British.

American historian Lawrence Gipson wrote of Abercrombie's campaign that "no military campaign was ever launched on American soil that involved a greater number of errors of judgment on the part of those in positions of responsibility"

Many military historians have cited the Battle of Carillon as a classic example of tactical military incompetence.

The Victory of Montcalms Troops at Carillon by Henry Alexander Ogden.JPG
"The Victory of Montcalm's Troops at Carillon" by Henry Alexander Ogden

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July, 5th, 1777, Fort Ticonderoga falls to the after British.

A view of Fort Ticonderoga from Mount Defiance. (Flickr | Slabcity Gang)
Fort Ticonderoga from Mount Defiance

Fort Ticonderoga commander Major General Arthur St. Clair retreated from after British cannons were seen on top of the high ground of Mount Defiance and Sugar Loaf Hill both of which commanded the fort.
After capturing Fort Ticonderoga, the British, under Lieutenant General John Burgoyne, pursued the retreating Continental army under St. Clair.
The bulk St. Clair's army retreated through Hubbardton to Castleton, while the rear guard, Patriots commanded by  Colonel Seth Warner, Colonel Ebenezer Francis and Colonel Nathan Hale, stopped at Hubbardton to rest and pick up stragglers.

On July 7, the British and German troops ran into stubborn rebel resistance at Hubbardton, Vermont. The day would ultimately turn the tide for the Patriot cause.  In the fields and hills around Hubbardton, a tenacious American rear guard of about 1,200 derailed the British general’s plan for a quick march to Albany. The British won a tactical victory, but they suffered precious losses. The Patriots left the British and Germans bloodied while also saving untold casualties from their own army. Burgoyne and his weakened force ultimately surrendered at Saratoga on October 17, 1777, paving the way for a French alliance with the colonies and American independence. 

"Battle of Hubbardton" by Roy Frederic Heinrich

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