Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Jumonville Skirmish

                      
Jumonville Glen


In 1753, 1,500 French soldiers entered the disputed Ohio Valley area and established several forts, including Fort Le Boeuf, present-day Waterford, PA and Fort Machault, present-day Franklin, PA.

Concerned by reports of French expansion into the Ohio Valley, Virginia Governor Robert Dinwiddie sent Lt. George Washington on a mission to confront the French forces. Washington was to deliver a message from the governor demanding that the French leave the region and halt their harassment of English traders.

Washington departed Williamsburg, Virginia in October 1753 and made his way into the rugged trans- Appalachian region with Jacob Van Braam and Christopher Gist, an Ohio company trader and guide. On December 11, 1753, amidst a raging snowstorm, Washington arrived and was politely received by Captain Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre at Fort LeBoeuf. After reviewing Dinwiddie's letter, Legardeur de Saint-Pierre calmly wrote a reply stating that the French king's claim to the Ohio Valley was "incontestable."

Responding to the defiant French, Lt. Governor Dinwiddie sent Captain William Trent and approximately 20 Virginians to build Fort Prince George at the forks of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Work began on the fort on February 17, 1754.
In March Dinwiddie then ordered the newly promoted Lt. Col. George Washington and approximately 160 Virginia militia to return to the Ohio country as part of a small force that was to construct a road to Fort Prince George and defend the fort upon their arrival. Washington was to "act on the defensive," but also clearly empowered Washington to "make Prisoners of or kill & destroy…" all those who resisted British control of the region.

On April 18, a large French force of five hundred strong arrived at Fort Prince George, forcing the small British garrison there to surrender. The French knocked down the tiny British fort and built Fort Duquesne, named in honor of Marquis Duquesne, the governor-general of New France.




Eager to send their own diplomatic directive demanding an English withdrawal from the region, a French force of 35 soldiers commanded by Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville was dispatched.

On May 26 Washington's road building had reached Wills Creek, in south central Pennsylvania, when he received news of the surrender of Fort Prince George as well as the approaching French party.

On May 27 the French diplomatic party camped in a rocky ravine not far from Washington's encampment.

Receiving word of the French approach and accompanied by Tanacharison, a Seneca chief (also known as the Half-King) and 12 native warriors, Washington led a party of 40 militiamen on an all night march towards the French position. 
On May 28, 1754, Washington's party stealthily approached the French camp at dawn. Finally spotted at close range by the French, shots rang out and a vigorous firefight erupted in the wooded wilderness. Washington's forces quickly overwhelmed the surprised French force and killed 13 soldiers including Jumonville and captured another 21. Both sides claimed that the other fired first.





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Sunday, May 21, 2017

This rifle is unsigned but is without a doubt the work of George Schreyer.



















Joe Kindig, Jr. identified Schreyer as active around the years of the American Revolution through around 1813. Kindig noted “this rifle has the earliest rattlesnake patch box that I have seen.”

The rifle is pictured in George Shumway's "George Schreyer Sr. & Jr.: Gunmakers of Hanover York County, Pennsylvania." Shumway writes: "This piece is notable for the patchbox finial engraved with a rattlesnake design. 

Most Schreyer guns are equipped with German locks, but this one has a lock of English style with rounded pan."

Aside from the unique patch box, the gun is a classic long rifle with a standard full length stock, brass furniture, and blade and notch sights. The stock has tear drop flats, a carved finial design at the breech, scroll carving around the patch box, and additional carved accents near the snake's head. The snake design has some cobra like attributes but is clearly inspired by a rattlesnake given the rattle on its tail. Snake designs are not common on golden age rifles especially compared to other animals such as eagles.














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Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Battle of Barren Hill



On May 20, 1778, The Battle of Barren Hill occurred during the American Revolution. British forces from Philadelphia attempt to trap 2,200 Continentals defending Valley Forge led by Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette, through skillful maneuvering, avoids the entrapment and the destruction of his forces. The encounter takes place at Barren Hill, now known as Lafayette Hill, just northwest of Philadelphia.
Washington had dispatched Lafayette and his men two days before to spy on the British in Philadelphia. The British learned of Lafayette’s mission and intended to surprise, surround and capture the encampment with a force of 7,000 to 8,000 men. Lafayette, in turn, learned of the British plan late on May 19.
Lafayette assigned 500 men and approximately 50 Oneida Indians armed with cannon to face the British onslaught and stand their ground by the local church, while the rest of Lafayette’s forces fled west over the Schuylkill River to safety. 

Before following the Continentals across the Schuylkill it is believed the Oneida warriors harassed the British as they marched back to Philadelphia. 


Marquis de Lafayette


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Friday, May 19, 2017

The Skirmish of The Cedars was a series of military confrontations early in the American Revolutionary War during the Continental Army's invasion of Quebec.


The skirmishes, which involved limited combat, occurred in May 19 and 20, 1776 in and around The Cedars which was a strategic landing point for anyone navigating the Saint Lawrence river to or from Montreal.
Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, commanding the American military garrison at Montreal, had placed a detachment of his troops at The Cedars in April 1776, after receiving rumors of British and Indian military preparations to the west of Montreal.
Continental Army units were opposed by a small number of British troops leading a larger force of Indians (primarily Iroquois), and militia.
The garrison surrendered on May 19 after a confrontation with a combined force of British and Indian troops led by Captain George Forster. American reinforcements on their way to The Cedars were also captured after a brief skirmish on May 20.
Forster’s scouts advised him of Arnold’s approach with a sizable force and all of the captives were eventually released after negotiations between Forster and Arnold.

The terms of the agreement required the Americans to release an equal number of British prisoners. However, the deal was repudiated by Congress, and no British prisoners were freed.

Colonel Timothy Bedel and Lieutenant Isaac Butterfield, leaders of the American force at The Cedars, were court-martialed and cashiered from the Continental Army for their roles in the affair.























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Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Lewis and Clark journey begins.



On this day in 1804, the Lewis and Clark “Corps of Discovery” with approximately 45 men left Camp River Dubois, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, for the American interior.
President Jefferson called the group the Corps of Discovery. It would be led by Jefferson’s secretary, Meriwether Lewis, and Lewis’ friend, William Clark.
Twenty-five hundred dollars had been appropriated to fund the Corps, whose mission was to explore the uncharted West. 
Most of the members were U.S. Army soldiers, chosen for their specific skills such as gunsmithing, hunting, or blacksmithing.


Over the next four years, the Corps would travel thousands of miles, experiencing lands, rivers and peoples that no Americans ever had before.


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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The first American victory of the Revolutionary War, Fort Ticonderoga.


On this date in 1775, Benedict Arnold of Massachusetts joined Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont in a dawn attack on Fort Ticonderoga, surprising and capturing the sleeping British garrison. 



The fort, located on Lake Champlain in northeastern New York, served as a key point of access to both Canada and the Hudson River Valley during the French and Indian War. Although it was a small-scale conflict, the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga would give the Continental Army much-needed artillery.  In all, 59 pieces of equipment, which included cannons ranging in size from four to twenty-four pounders, mortars, and howitzers. All to be used in future Continental battles. 



















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Monday, May 8, 2017

The Raid on Lunenburg, Nova Scotia


One of the most ignored events during the French & Indian War, is the Expulsion of 11,500 Acadians from the present day Canadian Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island —an area then known as Acadia. The Acadians were the descendants of of the original French colonists.
As part of the British military campaign against New France the British first deported Acadians to the Thirteen Colonies, and after 1758 transported additional Acadians to Britain and France.

The result of the Expulsion was the devastation of both a primarily civilian population and the economy of the region. Thousands of Acadians died in the expulsions, mainly from diseases and drowning when ships were lost.

Throughout the expulsion, Acadians and the Wabanaki Confederacy continued a guerrilla war against the British in response to British aggression which had been continuous since 1744.

One such event took place on this date in 1756, it was the Raid on Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Charles Deschamps de Boishébert (also known as Courrier du Bois, Bois Hebert), was a member of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine and was a significant leader of the Acadian militia's resistance to the Expulsion of the Acadians. He encouraged a militia of the Wabanaki Confederacy (Mi'kmaq and Maliseet) to attack a British settlement at Lunenburg. The native militia also raided two islands on the northern outskirts of the fortified Township of Lunenburg, Rous Island and Payzant Island (present day Covey Island). The Maliseet killed twenty settlers and took five prisoners. This raid was the first of nine the Natives and Acadians would conduct against the peninsula over a three year period during the war.

Boishébert also settled 
refugee Acadians during the Expulsion along the rivers of New Brunswick. At what is now, Beaubears National Park on Beaubears Island.


Charles Deschamps de Boishébert


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