Sunday, March 27, 2022

ARP243 Relieving Gibraltar

After Spain’s entry into the war with Britain in 1779, British leaders had to contend with the threat of a combined French-Spanish fleet right in their own backyard.  Only by luck had they avoided a full scale invasion of Britain that year.  The combined French and Spanish fleets continued to pose a grave threat to Britain.

Siege of Gibraltar

One of the main reasons that Spain had entered the war was to regain possession of several territories it had lost to Britain in earlier wars.  These included Minorca in the Mediterranean and the Floridas in the west indies.  But probably the most galling for Spain was British possession of Gibraltar, a mountainous region at the southern tip of Spain itself.  Britain used control of Gibraltar to regulate movement of ships in and out of the Mediterranean.

The Rock of Gibraltar
Britain, with the cooperation of the Dutch, had first captured Gibraltar in 1704, during the War of Spanish Succession.  It was a highly defensible position, having a castle built atop the rocky mountain, first fortified by the Moors a thousand years earlier.  Spain had regularly besieged Gibraltar many times during the middle ages, finally taking the castle.  They had controlled Gibraltar for several hundred years, before losing it to Britain.  

The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht gave Gibraltar to Britain, but the Spanish were never happy about an enemy country holding valuable real estate in what they regarded as part of mainland Spain. During the next Anglo-Spanish war in 1727, Spain launched an all-out attempt to dislodge the British, but were once again unsuccessful.  Following that war, Spain built a line of fortifications around Gibraltar, cutting it off from the rest of mainland Spain.  During the War of Jenkins’ Ear in 1739, the Spanish, once again, attempted to take back Gibraltar, but once again, the British defenses held.

When Spain signed the Treaty of Aranjuez in 1779 with France, marking its entry into the latest war with Britain, the first goal stated in that treaty was to take back Gibraltar once and for all. France agreed that it would not end the war until Spain took back Gibraltar.

As I said, for the prior half century, Spain had used its army to cut off all access from Gibraltar to the rest of Spain to the north.  But the dominance of the British Navy had allowed Britain to supply Gibraltar by sea, just as they did many of their island colonies.  The British left a relatively large garrison of regulars at Gibraltar, even in peacetime.  More than 5000 regulars occupied the rock before the war began.  That was more than 10% of the entire British army worldwide.  When the war in America began, George III, who was also elector of Hanover, deployed several regiments of Hanoverian soldiers to Gibraltar, in order to free up British regulars for America, but without reducing the overall garrison numbers at Gibraltar.

After Spain formed its alliance with France in April of 1779, it began its siege of Gibraltar in June.  Britain could still get its faster military ships past the naval blockade, but the larger and slower supply ships had more trouble getting to Gibraltar.  

Spanish Forces

Spain had deployed about 14,000 soldiers in the land to the north of Gibraltar.  Even with these superior numbers, Spain did not dare to attack the British fortifications.  They knew from experience that the terrain greatly favored the defenders.  The British had built up those fortifications, making use of the centuries-old defenses atop the Rock of Gibraltar, which rose more than a quarter mile above the ground, and defended all possible passages to the top with well-placed artillery.

Admiral Lángara
For Spain to take back Gibraltar, it would have to cut off all support from the sea.  To that end, Spain deployed Admiral Juan de Lángara.  The Admiral was from a prominent family from the Basque region of Spain.  His father had also been an Admiral.  Lángara entered his father’s profession at age 14, when he was commissioned as an ensign in 1750.  He had spent a quarter century proving his capabilities as a naval officer and slowly rising in rank through the Seven Years War, and afterwards leading several naval expeditions around the world, including three trips to the Philippines.

Lángara was part of the invasion fleet that the French and Spanish deployed against Britain in the spring of 1779.  Lángara managed to capture the British ship Winchcomb, the only British warship captured during that campaign. 

When most of the French and Spanish fleet went into winter quarters in Brest and Cadiz in late 1779, Lángara was tasked with maintaining the blockade against Gibraltar with nine ships of the line and two frigates.

British Relief Fleet

The Spanish blockade was having its intended effect.  By December 1779, six months after the siege began, the British-Hanoverian force of over 5000 soldiers at Gibraltar was running out of food and supplies.  Britain would have to find a way to get supplies to the army or risk losing the siege on account of starvation.

Admiral Rodney
To break the siege, London deployed a fleet under the command of Admiral George Brydges Rodney.  Rodney came from a minor aristocratic family.  His father, however, had made some bad investments, leaving the family impoverished.  Although his father had served as an army officer, Rodney entered the navy at age 14, where he could advance without having to purchase commissions.  

Through a combination of capable service, and the patronage of an influential relative, the Duke of Chandos, Rodney commanded the 60-Gun Eagle by the time he was in his early twenties.  This was not the same Eagle that would be Lord Howe’s flagship during the Revolution.  It was an earlier ship with the same name.

During the War of Austrian Succession, Rodney distinguished himself. He even managed to make some money capturing several valuable enemy ships.  By the time the Seven Years War began, Rodney was a Commodore.  He carried Major General Jeffery Amherst to America, and participated in the successful siege of Louisbourg.

He received promotion to admiral, and played a key role in the capture of Martinque, Grenada, and St. Lucia near the end of the war.  Following the War, the King granted him a Baronetcy.  He got married and settled onto a large country estate.  He won election to Parliament, and life must have seemed good.

Unfortunately, the cost of running for Parliament and the lifestyle costs of a gentleman ended up bankrupting the admiral.  He had hoped to secure an appointment as Governor of Jamaica, but failing that, Rodney had to flee to France in order to avoid creditors.  Just after France declared war with Britain in 1778, Rodney convinced a friend to lend him enough money to repay his creditors and return to Britain.  By this time he was an admiral of the white.

In December 1779 Rodney received orders to take command in the West Indies.  Before sailing there, however, he received secret orders to break the siege of Gibraltar by escorting a fleet of supply ships.

Rodney set out for Gibraltar with nineteen ships of the line in early January 1780.  A few days later, his fleet spotted the enemy. It turned out to be a Spanish supply fleet, defended by only one ship of the line. The British managed to capture the entire fleet, including the Spanish ship of the line, the Guipuzcoana.  Rodney renamed the ship the Prince William, after the King’s third son, who was serving as a midshipman with his fleet.

Battle of Cape St. Vincent

Following the capture of the Spanish supply fleet, Spanish officials got word of the British fleet headed for Gibraltar.  They deployed two fleets, one under Admiral Luis de Córdova and another under Admiral Lángara.  Now, you may ask yourself, why did I go through all the trouble of giving background on Lángara, but did not bother to give a background on Córdova?  The reason is that Córdova, once he learned of the size of the British fleet, turned around and went right back to Cadiz.  He did not even try to contest the attack.

Battle off Cape St. Vincent
Lángara, however, did not receive word about just how large a fleet he was facing.  He sailed his nine ships of the line westward, looking to do battle with the British relief fleet.  Just looking at the numerical difference, nine Spanish ships of the line against nineteen British ships, should give you an immediate idea of how lopsided this battle was.  

But the differences were even more stark than that.  Most of the British ships of the line were far larger than the Spanish ships, with more guns.  The Spanish fleet was also much slower.  Spain had done a poor job of keeping up the hulls on their ships, leading to rot and other problems which greatly slowed down the ships. A French admiral had noted that during the failed attempt to move a combined French-Spanish armada against Britain earlier that year, the fastest Spanish ship in the fleet was slower than the slowest French ship.  By contrast, the British ships had copper sheathing underneath, which made their ships even faster.  So, the British have twice as many ships, with much more firepower per ship, and a much faster fleet.

Admiral Lángara did not know any of this.  He only knew that a British fleet was advancing on his position and that he had orders to intercept it.  

On January 16, the two fleets spotted each other in the early afternoon.  They were just off the southern coast of Portugal, near Cape St. Vincent.  

The British Admiral Rodney was sick with gout at the time, and remained in his cabin during the entire action.  He gave advice from his bed, but his flagship captain Walter Young commanded the ship on deck. 

After the British and Spanish fleets confirmed sight of the enemy, both sides began to form a line of battle.  Quickly though, the Spanish realized just how outnumbered they were, Lángara ordered his ships to turn and make a run for it back to Cadiz.  The British, at first, hesitated to give chase, but after determining that the smaller Spanish fleet was not trying to lead them into a trap, they pursued the fleeing Spanish.

British pursue the Spanish fleet
Because the British ships were faster, they caught up with the enemy in only about two hours.  By 4:00 PM, three fastest British ships, the Edgar, Marlborough, and Ajax, opened fire on the slowest Spanish ships, the Santo Domingo.  It took them only about 40 minutes before they hit the powder magazine and blew up the ship, killing everyone on board, except for one crewman who managed to survive being blown into the water.

The Marlborough and Ajax, then sped off in pursuit of others.  The next slowest Spanish ship was the Princessa, who they bypassed in order to go after some of the faster ships.  The captains calculated, correctly, that other British ships could catch up and take the Princessa.  The Bedford soon caught up and engaged, forcing Princessa to strike her colors after about an hour of fighting.

By this time, it was getting close to dusk.  The British officers had to decide whether to call off the attack, in which case the remainder of the Spanish fleet would probably slip away, or whether they wanted to risk continuing the attack into the night.  A nighttime battle carried numerous more risks of being caught out of position, or misidentifying an allied ship and engaging in friendly fire.  In the end, the British thought that the risk was worth continuing the pursuit.  

Santa Maria Demasted
A few hours later, several British ships caught up with the Fenix, the Spanish flagship carrying Admiral Lángara.  During the ensuing firefight, Lángara was wounded.  More British ships arrived to pile on the attack. After the Bienfaisant shot away the Fenix’s mainmast, the Spanish flagship struck her colors and surrendered at around 2:00 AM on the morning of January 17.

Normally, in such a situation, the British would send over a prize crew to take control of the ship.  However, the Bienfaisant had a raging smallpox epidemic aboard.  The British captain informed the Spanish of this case and told them that rather than sending over a prize crew that might infect the Spanish crew, he would allow them parole to continue sailing their own ship.  They had to agree to remain with the British fleet, cease all hostile actions, and follow them back to a British port.  Rather than risk smallpox infection by a prize crew, the Spanish agreed to the terms.

Over the course of the rest of the night, British ships found and attacked the Diligente, the San Eugenio, and the San Julian.  After midnight, the British 80 gun ship the Alcide, caught up with the 74-gun Spanish Monarca.  Although smaller, the Monarca managed to get in a fortunate shot which toppled the Alcide's mainmast.  By that time though the smaller 32-gun British frigate Apollo had also entered the battle.  While probably too small to capture the Monarca on its own, it managed to keep the Spanish ship engaged until the 90-gun flagship Sandwich, sailing toward the sound of cannon fire, arrived on the scene at 2:00 AM and forced the Monarca’s surrender.

Entry into Gibraltar

By dawn, the British managed to capture six of the nine Spanish ships of the line. The remainder of the fleet managed to make it back to Cadiz. Even so, the British were not in the clear yet.  Prize crews aboard several of the damaged Spanish ships were close to the shore, with a strong breeze blowing them toward the land.  The British gave up on one of the badly damaged prize ships, the San Julián.  By late morning, they grounded the ship on the shore, and abandoned her.  

Relief Fleet at Gibraltar
The captured San Eugenio faced a similar fate.  According to British accounts they grounded the ship around noon.  However, the ship was not so damaged that the Spanish were able to recover the ship later and return it to service.  Spanish sources tell a different story, saying that the Spanish crew overwhelmed the British prize crew and retook control of the ship.

The victorious British convoy continued on to Gibraltar with the supply ships.  They chased away the few smaller Spanish ships guarding the coast near Gibraltar.  Even without any further naval opposition, entry into Gibraltar was difficult.  Gale-force winds battered the already battle damaged ships trying to make their way into Gibraltar while avoiding Spanish coastal artillery. Most of the fleet arrived at Gibraltar on January 19, two days after the battle. Although Rodney’s flagship, the Sandwich, made a stop in Tangiers before arriving on the 26th.

The supply ships saved the garrison at Gibraltar from starvation.  The additional food, munitions and over a thousand reinforcements would secure the fortress for at least another year.

During the relief, Spanish Admiral Córdova still had twenty-four French and Spanish ships of the line under his command at Cadiz. He could have pursued the smaller and damaged British fleet, but for reasons I don’t fully understand, he remained in port.


The result of the battle was a great victory for Britain. The Spanish lost over 2500 men killed, wounded, or captured, while the British suffered only 32 killed and 102 wounded.  

The British leadership celebrated news of the lopsided naval victory, and Admiral Rodney became the toast of London. Both Houses of Parliament passed resolutions thanking the Admiral for his service.  Admirals Lord Howe and Keppel honored him in public speeches.  The ministry offered a more tangible thanks in the form of a lifetime annual pension of two thousand guineas. Although Rodney remained at sea, eight months later voters in Westminster elected him to the House of Commons by the highest popular vote of that year’s election.  Two years later, after returning to Britain, Rodney would also receive the title of baron.

HMS Sandwich
The success of the fleet’s increased speed due to the use of copper sheathing led the navy to make greater use of that technology on more navy ships.  The technology had been around for decades, but officials had been uncertain that the improvements justified its cost.  The success at Cape St. Vincent convinced everyone of its value.

Meanwhile the Rodney remained with his fleet at Gibraltar as they completed repairs on their ships.  Once ready, the fleet sailed straight to the West Indies as planned.  We will pick up those exploits in a future episode.

The captured Spanish Admiral Lángara would receive parole and would return to duty in Spain rather quickly.  He received no blame for the loss, given that he was badly outgunned.  Rather, he was praised for his efforts in engaging the superior force.  He would continue in service with a new ship.  After the war, he would eventually become  Capitán General of the Spanish fleet, and later serve as minister of the navy.

His captured Spanish flagship, the Fenix was renamed the Gibraltar and entered British service.  The newly renamed 80 gun ship of the line would sail to Plymouth to be refitted and would remain in service for more than a half century, seeing extensive service throughout the Napoleonic wars.

Admiral Córdova, who avoided battle entirely, did not seem to suffer any backlash as a result.  Instead, a few weeks after the battle, the King appointed the 73 year old admiral the Director General of the Spanish Navy.  This appears to be one of those battles where all of the participants get a trophy.

The naval battle at Cape St. Vincent is sometimes called the Midnight battle since most of it was fought over the course of the night.  It gave the British a much needed decisive naval victory, which helped morale in London.  It also provided much needed relief to Gibraltar, which was stocked up to continue resisting the Spanish siege.

Next week, the British face a new challenge in the League of Armed Neutrals, and launch an attack against the Spanish forces in Central America.

- - -

Next Episode 244 Russia & League of Armed Neutrals

Previous Episode 242 Raids Around NY

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Further Reading


 Battle of Cape St. Vincent, 1780:

The Moonlight Battle off Cape St. Vincent – 16 January 1780, by Richard Hiscocks Jan 17, 2017:

George Brydges Rodney 1st Baron

Walter Young:

The defeat of the Spanish fleet under Don Juan de Langara, by Sir George Brydges Rodney, Decr. 16th 1779, off Cape St. Vincent - most humbly inscribed to Prince William Henry:

Harvey, P. D. A. “An Account of the Siege of Gibraltar, 1779-83.” The British Museum Quarterly, vol. 23, no. 4, British Museum, 1961, pp. 93–95,

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

The Naval Chronicle, Vol. 6, London: Bunny & Gold, 

Ancell, Samuel A Circumstantial Journal of the long and tedious blockade and siege of Gibraltar, from the 12th of September, 1779, ... to the 23rd day of February, 1783,  Liverpool: printed by Charles Wosencroft, 1784.  

Drinkwater, John A History Of The Siege Of Gibraltar(1779-1783), London: John Murray, 1861. 

Rodney, George Brydges Letter-books and order-book of George, lord Rodney, admiral of the White squadron, 1780-1782, Vol. 1, New York : Printed for the New York Historical Society, 1930. 

Wood, Walter Famous British War-ships, and their Commanders, London : Hurst and Blackett, Ltd. 1897. 

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Adkins, Roy Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History, Viking, 2018. 

Dull, Jonathan R. The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650-1815,  Univ. of Nebraska Press, June 1, 2009 

Falkner, James Fire over the Rock: The Great Siege of Gibraltar 1779-1783, Pen and Sword Military, 2009. 

McGuffie, Tom H. The Siege of Gibraltar, 1779-1783, Batsford, 1965 (or read on

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

ARP242 Raids around New York

A few weeks ago, I talked about the Continental Army settling into winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey over the winter of 1779-1780.  It was a brutally cold and snowy winter, made so much worse by the fact that the army had no food or clothing, and felt abandoned by the civilians for whom they were supposedly fighting.

Despite the weather and deprivations, Congress did attempt a few raids and had to defend against a few British raids over the winter.

Raid on Staten Island

One of the reasons that the British felt protected in New York City was that they were almost completely surrounded by water, and the Americans would not really challenge the British Navy’s control of those waters.

Gen. William Heath

The harsh winter changed that dynamic.  Frigid weather froze over New York Harbor, requiring ships to move out to salt water that did not freeze over.  The ice also provided a way for armies simply to march across the water.

In January, the Continentals did just that.  Staten Island is separated from New Jersey by a narrow waterway known as Arthur Kill (actually a bastardization of “Achter Kill” - Dutch for backchannel).  Because Staten Island was so close to American occupied New Jersey, and separated by even more water from the main British forces on Manhattan, the island provided a tempting target for the Americans.  General Sullivan had launched a massive raid on the island in 1777 but ran into trouble evacuating his men from the island after the British counterattacked. (see Episode 153).

In early 1780, the concerns about crossing the waterway disappeared when the Arthur Kill turned into a solid sheet of ice that could support horses and cannons.   In mid January, General Nathanael Greene proposed a raid across that ice onto Staten Island.  An army of 2500 soldiers broken up into smaller raiding parties and pulling small field cannons could create some havoc on the British and Hessian encampments there.

Greene was one of Washington’s most senior major generals, but Washington had made Greene the army’s quartermaster general nearly two years earlier at Valley Forge.  Since the army was still desperately short of everything, Washington did not tap Greene to conduct the raid.  Instead he turned to General William Alexander, Lord Sterling.  General Lord Sterling was a New Jersey native and had fought the forage wars in northern New Jersey with a fair amount of success.  

Gen. Lord Stirling
Washington approved a plan for Sterling to take about 2500 Continentals over the ice onto Staten Island in a night raid.  They would take the local garrisons by surprise, take some prisoners, capture some supplies and return to New Jersey before the main British army in Manhattan could react.

Sterling launched his plan on the evening of January 14.  Things did not go so well.  The enemy saw the raiders coming and were able to man their fortifications before the Continentals could attack.  The Americans had broken into smaller units in order to maximize speed and stealth.  These smaller unsupervised groups ended up focusing more on raiding local farms and helping themselves to much needed food, clothing, and other necessities.  

In New York City, General Henry Clinton had left, along with General Cornwallis for the siege of Charleston, South Carolina.  Hessian General Wilhelm von Knyphausen held command, with British General James Pattison, the senior British officer. Having received word of the raid on Staten Island, they attempted to send reinforcements.  Attempts to move soldiers across New York Harbor by boat failed due to the presence of too much ice.  Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe was on Staten Island during the raid.  He reported that he wanted to lead a counterattack against the raiders but could not convince the local Tory militia to hold the fortifications that his Queen’s Rangers would have to leave for such an attack.

Even though the British could not get their reinforcements to the island, the Americans saw the British boats that were attempting to cross New York Harbor and determined they needed to evacuate the island before the British could arrive.  As a result, the Americans retreated in relatively good order and pulled back to New Jersey by the morning of January 16.

Both sides took a few battle casualties from the fighting, and the Americans managed to burn one British redoubt.  They also captured 17 prisoners and had looted a fair amount of property.  The British managed to capture about 40 American stragglers or deserters.  The Americans also ended up with about 500 men suffering frostbite, from several days of marching in what has been described as wait-deep snow.

On their return to New Jersey, officers attempted to search the men for items looted from civilians on the island.  They said they found very little, although the locals complained greatly about the looting.  It could simply be that the soldiers were too good at hiding their loot, or the officers were not terribly motivated to find it.

Overall, the raid is generally considered a failure, since the Americans took more casualties than the enemy did.  However, it did put both sides on notice that even a brutal winter was not going to end the fighting season.


A few days after the Staten Island raid, a contingent of Connecticut militia raided a home in Kingsbridge, near the northern tip of Manhattan Island.  Kingsbridge was the edge of British controlled territory. 

The target of the Connecticut militia was a house occupied by several loyalist officers, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Hatfield, an notorious loyalist militia leader who was a native of the area.  The raid, led by Captain Samuel Lockwood of Connecticut, hoped to capture Hatfield and some of his fellow officers in a night raid.  The raiders attacked the home, shooting three guards and killing Hatfield’s horse.  About fifteen loyalist officers and men, alerted to the attack, threw up a defensive barricade inside an upper story of the house and held off the attackers for about fifteen minutes. When the attackers threatened to burn the house with the men inside, the defenders agreed to surrender.

The raiders led the prisoners north back to the American lines. One of the prisoners, Major Thomas Huggeford, managed to escape.  He returned to the main loyalist regiment and was able to send a company of dragoons and infantry on horseback after the retreating militia.  The Connecticut raiders managed to get their prisoners back to their lines, but left the bulk of their soldiers as a rearguard to confront the loyalists pursuing them.  The resulting battle, which quickly descended into hand to hand combat, led to the patriot militia being overrun.  Loyalist newspapers reported 23 rebels killed and another 40 captured, many of the prisoners wounded.  If those numbers are correct, that would be more than three-quarters of the original raiding party.  Another report said there were only nine killed and 16 captured.  Whichever number is correct, it was a pretty bloody casualty rate for such a small skirmish.  The loyalists withdrew back to their lines and ended the encounter.


These two January raids put the British garrison in New York on notice that they were subject to more attacks.  The traditional protection provided by the rivers and harbor, and the inability of the navy to sail through icy water made New York much more vulnerable to attack.  Given that General Clinton had left for Charleston with most of his best soldiers, the 14,000 or so soldiers were largely made up of loyalist militia, Hessians, and regulars not fit for active duty.  

British General Patterson began forcing any men of fighting age into active loyalist militia forces.  He also organized any sailors, either from the navy or the commercial fleets into fighting units.  This raised another five or six thousand men, but men with little training, experience, or enthusiasm for fighting.  If the Americans were able to assemble a large invasion, the British might be in trouble.

Considering that the best defense is a good offense, and itching for some payback for the two American raids just launched against them, the British planned to conduct some raids of their own on New Jersey.  Since crossing the frozen ice worked both ways, the British moved a large force to Staten Island, with the plan of attacking Elizabethtown, New Jersey (known as Elizabeth today).  

Leading the attack was the Provincial Lieutenant Colonel Abraham Buskirk.  You may recall I mentioned Buskirk during the 1777 raid on Staten Island (Episode 153).  Buskirk also led the attack on Light Horse Harry Lee’s soldiers while they were attempting to withdraw from their raid on Paulus Hook (Episode 231).  Buskirk was a New Jersey native, a doctor from Bergen County.  He had to abandon his home when he refused to support the patriot cause and volunteered to raise a loyalist regiment after the British captured New York City, and had been stationed on Staten Island for several years.

Wm Von Knyphausen

About a week after the Connecticut militia raid on Kingsbridge, Colonel Buskirk assembled his regiment. The exact size of the raiding party is unclear. Once source says that the regiment executed the raid along with a company of British dragoons and some local New York militia, totalling about 400 soldiers.  Another source says that Buskirk acted on his own with only about 130 soldiers from his loyalist regiment.  

The target of the Elizabethtown raid was the town courthouse along with the Presbetyrian church. The loyalist targeted the church because its pastor was the Reverend James Caldwell, known for his fiery speeches in favor of the patriot cause, and efforts to recruit soldiers for the Continental army.  Caldwell himself had served as a chaplain in the Continental army for a time.

The loyalists raiding party crossed the icy Arthur Kill in a night ride on January 25th.  They completely surprised the small garrison stationed at Elizabethtown, capturing 52 officers and men, primarily from the Maryland line.  That same night the raiders returned to Staten Island considering their raid a success.


That same night as the raid on Elizabeth town the British launched a second coordinated night raid.  The second attack targeted Newark.

Maj. Charles Lumm of the 44th Regiment of Foot commanded the garrison at Paulus Hook, reoccupied after the American raid earlier that summer.  Lumm led a three hundred man brigade at night across the ice to attack the small American garrison at Newark.  Lumm caught the Continentals by surprise, capturing 32 of the 33 soldiers on guard duty, as well as four other soldiers swept up during the raid.  The officer in command of the outpost, Captain John Noble Cumming of the 2nd New Jersey and his second in command were staying in separate quarters and managed to escape.

One of the targets of the Newark raid was a man named Robert Neal.  He was working with the Continental army’s quartermaster corps and had been responsible for the seizure of food and firewood owned by local loyalists.  Neal was taken into custody and imprisoned in New York.  Also captured that night was Judge Joseph Hedden.  Judge Hedden had not been a target of the raid, but apparently one of the loyalists on the raid had a grudge against Hedden and convinced his comrades to capture him.  The British dragged Hedden out of bed, wearing only a shirt and stockings.  He requested to be allowed to put on some clothes but was refused.  When his wife tried to intervene, loyalist soldiers bayoneted her.  Hedden was also taken to New York, and suffered severe frostbite for having to march for miles in the snow without clothes. The British returned to their base at Paulus Hook

Because the raid came off as a surprise, there was little fighting.  The British did not report any battle losses.  Lumm, however, did report that five of his men were missing.  The men had marched at night across ice and snow totaling about twenty miles.  Several of the men fell behind in the march and were lost.  Lumm later reported he found two of their bodies, frozen to death.

Young’s House NY 

A week later, on the night of February 2, a British force left its northern outpost at Kingsbridge to launch an attack on the American outpost to the north.  Lieutenant Colonel Chappel Norton led a group consisting of two companies of light infantry, two companies of grenadiers, several companies of Hessian infantry, several companies of mounted loyalists led by James DeLancey, and mounted Hessian jaegers.  In total between five and six hundred men embarked on a night march against the Americans.

James DeLancey
The weather was terrible, with a snowstorm raging, and between one and two feet of snow already on the ground.  The men attempted to use sleighs for transport, as well as two small field pieces, but quickly gave up on trying to move them through the snow, and sent them back to Kingsbridge.  The force continued on foot or on horseback.  Because of the weather, the attackers did not reach the American lines until well after dawn on the morning of February 3.

The front line American garrison fell under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Thompson, who commanded about 250 men from various Massachusetts regiments.  His command was based at the home of Joseph Young.

Colonel Thompson received intelligence that an enemy force was approaching, but did not realize how large it was.  He called in his guard posts and prepared to meet the attack.  The attackers on horseback quickly overran the American pickets and began a firefight with the defenders inside the Young House.  They did not attempt to storm the house until the infantry arrived.

Once the main British force arrived at the house, the men surrounded the Americans and pushed forward to take the house.  Some Continentals fled, but were run down by the cavalry.  The British force, with its superior force, eventually stormed the house, capturing those inside.  Including a wounded Colonel Thompson.  The entire fight took less than an hour.

About half of the Americans managed to escape, but the British killed fourteen, wounded 37 and marched 76 prisoners back to Kingsbridge.  Among them was the wounded Colonel Thompson who would, along with the other officers, receive parole to Long Island.  The enlisted prisoners were condemned to imprisonment in New York’s infamous Sugarhouse, where many of them died slow lingering deaths from disease and starvation.  The British reported five killed and fourteen wounded in the battle.

The British force burned the Young House, leaving five wounded enemy soldiers inside the burning home.  They also left some of the wounded who were too injured to make the journey back to Kingsbridge and would likely die where they lay.  

An American relief force arrived on the scene too late to do anything but report the attack back to the American Commander, General William Heath, who relayed the “disagreeable circumstances” of the attack back to General Washington.

Kidnapping George Washington

Aside from the raids on outposts, the British also concocted a more daring attack.  British intelligence learned that General Washington had established his winter quarters at a home in Morristown, about three miles away from the main army.  

General Knyphausen, still in command at New York with Generals Clinton and Cornwallis away in Charleston, approved a raid to capture General Washington, similar to the raid that had captured General Charles Lee back in 1776.  A relatively small group of cavalry would ride into the enemy lines at night, capture the general, and return to British lines before the Americans could react.  With the solid ice still allowing passage by horses from Staten Island to the mainland, they believed the raid could be carried out rather quickly.

Initially, the plan was to conduct a series of raids on American outposts that same night, in order to provide distraction a distraction.  But poor weather caused a delay, and the Americans withdrew from some of their more vulnerable outposts following some of the earlier British raids.

Instead, the British raid would be bulked up to include 300 cavalry, a combination of the 17th light dragoons under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Birch, and loyalists in the Queen’s Rangers, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe.  The cavalry would be backed up by another 200 infantry who would provide cover for a retreat as they returned with the prisoner Washington in custody.

At around 1:00 Am on the morning of February 11, the British force crossed over the Arthur Kill and began its night raid toward Morristown.  Along the way, several diversionary forces hit Elizabeth and several other coastal towns, hoping to cause some distraction.  

The Americans, however, were not caught completely unprepared. Washington’s Life Guard had drilled for just such an attack, setting up escape plans for George and Martha Washington.  General Arthur St. Clair also organized nighttime horse patrols that were designed to intercept any such raiding parties.

The Americans also caught a piece of luck.  Days before the planned raid, the British cut off all travel between New York and New Jersey in order to prevent any word of the raid from reaching the Americans.  One of the merchants cut off during this travel ban was a man from northern New Jersey who was attempting to sell food to the British.  The British officers asked if he would agree to serve as a local guide on the raid, and he agreed.

Unbeknownst to the British, the merchant was, in fact, an American spy, who had been in New York to gain intelligence.  Taking advantage of the opportunity to lead the attackers astray, he did so.

The British could not avoid main roads because of the deep snow.  They managed to avoid several Continental check points, but could not avoid the roaming horse patrols.  The cavalry managed to make its way about six miles inland, but was still at least twenty miles from Morristown, when they realized that the poor weather and roaming patrols would make it impossible to reach Washington’s residence while it was still dark and with the element of surprise.  Colonel Birch ordered the firing of several rockets to indicate he was calling off the raid and that all raiders should return to Hackensack.

So, the kidnapping raid never really got close to success.  It did, however, put the Continentals on greater alert so that they would be ready for the next such raid.

Next week, we return to Europe where Britain conducts a naval battle off the coast of Spain that resupplies its besieged garrison at Gibraltar.

- - -

Next Episode 243 Relieving Gibraltar 

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Further Reading


William Alexander’s (Lord Stirling) Raid of Staten Island, January 14-15, 1780:

Staten Island Expedition of Alexander:

Battle in a Blizzard - January 15, 1780:

“Enclosure: Recommendations for Attack on Staten Island, c.12 January 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives,

Capt. Samuel Lockwood at War

Raid on Isaac Hatfield's House

The Fighting Ground Between the Enemy

Presbyterian Church burned at Elizabethtown, New Jersey

British Account of Elizabethtown and Newark

Braisted, Todd W. “A RELATION OF DISAGREEABLE CIRCUMSTANCES: THE ATTACK ON YOUNG’S HOUSE FEBRUARY 3, 1780” Journal of the American Revolution, March 27, 2018

Battle of Young’s House:

Benjamin Huggins “RAID ACROSS THE ICE: THE BRITISH OPERATION TO CAPTURE WASHINGTON” Journal of the American Revolution, December 17, 2013

Mann, Frank Paul The British Occupation of Southern New York during the American Revolution and the Failure to Restore Civilian Civilian Government, Syracuse University Dissertation, 2013:

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Abbott, William (ed) Memoirs of Major General William Heath, New York: Wm Abbot, 1901. 

Atkinson Joseph History of Newark, William B. Guild, 1878. 

Read, D. B. Life and Times of Gen. John Graves Simcoe, Toronto:G. Virtue, 1890.  

Wilhelm, Baron Innhausen and KnyphausenThe Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1892: 

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Chadwick, Bruce The General and Mrs. Washington: The Untold Story of a Marriage and a Revolution, Sourcebooks, 2006. 

Cunningham, John T. The Uncertain Revolution: Washington and the Continental Army at Morristown, Down the Shore Publishing, 2007. 

Daughan, George C. Revolution on the Hudson: New York City and the Hudson River Valley in the American War of Independence, 2016 (or read on

Greenman, Jeremiah Diary of a common soldier in the American Revolution, 1775-1783 : an annotated edition of the military journal of Jeremiah Greenman, Northern Illinois University Press, 1978 (or read on 

Hazelgrove, William Morristown: The Darkest Winter of the Revolutionary War and the Plot to Kidnap George Washington, Lyons Press 2021. 

Laurerman, Rosalie Jockey Hollow: Where a Forgotten Army Persevered to Win America's Freedom, (self-published) 2015. 

Simcoe, John Graves A Journal of the Operations of the Queen's Rangers, Anro Press 1968.

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

ARP241 Drafting an Army & Freeing the Slaves

As 1780 began, the Continental Army suffered its ongoing struggle to keep an army in the field. While the army had begun using three year enlistments in 1777, some of those enlistments were nearing their end.  Soldiers were sick of the continual deprivation of food, clothing and shelter, which took more lives than the enemy ever did.  They saw many civilians doing quite well, and naturally asked themselves, why am I continuing to serve when the country will not support my basic needs?  These thoughts also impacted the ability to attract new recruits to the army.

West Point Mutiny

On January 1, 1780, about 100 men from Massachusetts, who were stationed at West Point, determined that their enlistments were up, and began to march home.  The men were living through a miserably cold winter, without sufficient food, clothing, or shelter.  Even though their officers did not discharge them, they saw no reason to remain beyond their enlistments, and began marching back to New England.  

According to General Heath, the commanders were able to force the men to turn back.  Subsequent hearings, of which there is very little record, found that some men should be discharged, others punished for attempting to desert, and others simply forced to return to duty.  This incident did not get much attention at the time, but was a foreshadowing of larger problems that would only become even greater over the remaining course of the war.

Enlistment Problems

Americans were not accustomed to serving multiple years in standing armies.  While this was the norm in Europe, Americans were used to serving in militia, supplementing regular forces when required, but typically only seeing active duty for a few months, or perhaps a year at most.

In the early part of the war, most Continental enlistments followed this model, enlisting soldiers for no more than a year.  Washington saw his army evaporate every winter, and had to rebuild it before the enemy attacked in the spring.  It was a point of frustration that he repeatedly brought to Congress, calling for multi-year enlistments.  This would give him time to train and drill soldiers and then still actually have time to use them in the field before they returned home.

Even in the best of times, soldiers were not happy to be away from home for years on end.  They had no way to support their families, who often had to rely on the charity of extended family or the community.  Also, these were not the best of times.  As I’ve discussed repeatedly, the Continental Army failed to provide the bare necessities required for survival of the soldiers.  Men regularly died from starvation, exposure, and disease brought about by their condition.  Even the most idealistic men could sour on the army under such circumstances.

While most soldiers kept to their commitments, few men not yet in the army had much desire to subject themselves to such hardships and deprivation.  Recruiting got increasingly more difficult.


Of course, when leaders could not convince men to volunteer for service, they turned to force.  Even before the war, colonies had mandatory military service in the militia.  All able-bodied men were required to serve.  There were a few exemptions for religious reasons, and the wealthy had the ability to avoid service by paying fines for missed militia duty.  But the mindset that all citizens were obliged to provide service was generally an accepted fact.

Continental Soldiers
Militia could be called to active service when the need arose.  Men could be sent to extended duty without volunteering for that duty.  When the war first began, colonial militia turned out for duty.  Many of those units simply had their state enlistment obligations turned over to the Continental Army.  Following independence, states would continue to call up militia units for duty as state leaders saw fit.

In the early part of the war, when enthusiasm ran high, the Continental Army could mostly rely on volunteers.  It offered some enlistment bounties to encourage some men, but it did not have the power to draft its own conscripts.  Congress issued enlistment quotas to each state, but had no way of enforcing those requests. As the war progressed, enthusiasm for military service waned, especially after enlistments turned into three years or the end of the war.  States regularly failed to meet their quotas, leaving the Continental Army dangerously undermanned.

George Washington was calling for conscription into the Continental Army as early as April 1777, but could not get Congress to go along.  In February of 1778, Congress issued new enlistment quotas for eleven of the states.  South Carolina and Georgia insisted on remaining exempt from the quotas.  

This first effort at mandatory conscription called for enlistments of nine months.  It allowed states to meet their quotas however they liked.  States could offer bounties to volunteers.  They could hire soldiers from another state.  They could essentially do whatever they wanted to fill up the ranks of the required regiments with whomever they could get.

Washington was frustrated by all of this.  He was getting soldiers who were not necessarily of the highest quality, and still could not keep them in service long enough to train them properly and still have time to use them against the enemy.

State leaders, however, pushed back on the coerced conscription into a long-term standing army.  That was an indication of tyranny.  If the people would not support the army voluntarily, then perhaps the cause did not really have the support of the people.  State leaders also noted that forced conscription could cause popular support for the cause to falter, and could lead to rioting and other resistance.

Over the next couple of years, most states did enact some sort of conscription law.  In order to meet Congress’ quotas, each state militia issues smaller quotas to local militia leaders. Those local militias could obtain volunteers.  If they could not fill quotas through volunteers, then they could select conscripts, usually by lot.  A man selected as a conscript then had the choice either to fulfill his obligation, or pay a substitute to take his place.

The result was an army that began to skew away from free yeoman farmers and more toward unmarried sons, apprentices, and servants.  Some draftees send their slaves as substitutes. The percentage of African-Americans and immigrants in the army continued to grow, as the typical Continental soldier became someone who was poorer, without other prospects, and could not afford to avoid service.  In short, the typical Continental soldier in this new standing army was moving much closer to the typical profile of an enlisted soldier in the British regulars.

The efforts to fill enlistment quotas  varied greatly by state.  Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina all implemented relatively successful conscription systems.  The other states, not so much.  Again, Congress could do little to force the issue other than continue to nag the recalcitrant states to do their duty.

Congress Remains Optimistic

Despite the difficulties in keeping an army with enough soldiers, Congress remained optimistic. In January 1780, French Minister Luzerne called for the Continental Army to work with France in the following season to expel the British from the continent.  Congress assured Luzerne that they would have over 25,000 men ready for duty in the spring.  They felt this was a conservative number since the Board of War under General Horatio Gates assured them that the army would be at around 35,000.  This was all at a time when Washington was struggling to keep perhaps 5000 men in camp at Morristown.  

Even if the states could manage to fill those enlistment quotas, Congress still had no way to feed and supply such an army.  It could not even supply the existing shell of an army that it had currently.  To rebuild and resupply the army, Congress used the only arrow in its quiver.  It sent demands to the states to send soldiers and supplies for the 1780 campaign.  Congress called on the states to furnish 35,000 soldiers by April 1, and to contribute a collective $1.2 million monthly to keep the army supplied.

So the call went out.  Spoiler alert, the states are not going to meet those quota or provide necessary supplies.  So the difficulties for the continental army to put together a force large enough to contest with the British, would remain a struggle.

Pennsylvania Begins Emancipation

As the Continental Congress was desperately trying to keep the war going, Pennsylvania began taking steps to live up to the principles of liberty that had inspired the war.

Slave Auction in Colonial Philadelphia
On March 1, 1780, the Pennsylvania Assembly passed the first law in any of the newly independent states, to begin the process of ending slavery.  The bill was the result of political compromise.  Although lots of people agreed that slavery was incompatible with the principles they were espousing in the war, the idea of losing one’s labor force was a difficult step for many.  Others used the argument that people who had been enslaved their entire lives, with no education or independent living skills, would not do well with emancipation.

The Gradual Abolition Act of 1780 came after nearly two years of debate.  George Bryan originally authored the bill in the summer of 1778.  Bryan had immigrated to Philadelphia from Dublin, Ireland, in the 1750s.  He came as a young man to start a career as a merchant.  

By the mid 1760s, he was involved in local politics and became a leading supporter of the non-importation agreements to protest the Stamp Act.  Some combination of these trade restrictions and poor health led to his bankruptcy in 1771.  As he recovered from both, he grew his participation in Philadelphia’s radical politics.  He was a strong supporter of the radical constitution of 1776, which he had helped to draft.  

Upon the constitution’s implementation in the spring of 1777, Bryan became the first Vice President of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council, serving under President Thomas Wharton.  When Wharton died in 1778, Bryan became the acting President.  As acting President, Bryan saw the return of government from its exile in Lancaster and began the process of rebuilding Philadelphia following the British evacuation.

Bryan had come to believe that slavery was a moral evil, and that Pennsylvania needed to end the institution.  At the same time, he understood that simply abolishing slavery instantly was a political non-starter.  Slavery was not the highest priority for Pennsylvania, at a time when the state was struggling to recover from the recent British occupation of Philadelphia, and the continuing problems of supporting the war effort.

The Assembly first proposed an act of gradual emancipation in the summer of 1778.  This act would not free any people who were enslaved at the time.  It proposed that, following passage, any child born to a slave in Pennsylvania would automatically obtain his or her freedom after reaching adulthood.  Over time, existing slaves would die off and eventually Pennsylvania would rid itself of the institution of slavery.  

When first introduced, the Assembly considered even gradual abolition to be too controversial.  It tabled the bill after its first reading, and opted to focus on other issues related to the war effort.

George Bryan
Meanwhile Bryan faced a challenge for the presidency at the end of 1778, losing to fellow radical, Joseph Reed.  Interestingly, Bryan was considered too radical, primarily due to his unwavering support for the Constitution of 1776 that made quite radical changes to Pennsylvania’s government.  Reed, who I have described as a radical in many earlier episodes, was actually seen as a bit more moderate, and supported some amendments to the constitution.  However, I think Reed’s landslide victory had more to do with Reed’s political power than his ideology.  Bryan was overwhelmingly elected as vice president once again. 

Some have argued that Bryan never really was president.  He was only acting as president following the death of President Wharton.  The constitution did not provide for succession.  It only said that the vice president could act in absence of the president.  Since the president died, Vice President Bryan was only acting in his absence.

The assembly elected the president and vice president.  There were no tickets or campaigns for office.  So, after overwhelmingly electing Reed as president for 1779, it overwhelmingly voted to continue Bryan as vice president.  Bryan served about ten months of his new one-year term as vice President, then resigned to become a justice on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court.

During his final term as vice president, Reed submitted his revised proposal for the gradual abolition of slavery.  It drew on the 1778 proposal, calling for the emancipation of any child born to a slave after its enactment.  Daughters of a slave would receive freedom at age 18, while sons would be free at age 21.  Slave owners would be required to register their slaves so that there would be a legal record of who was already enslaved, and to record the birth dates of their children.

The final bill did not come up for a vote until early 1780, after Bryan had left the Executive Council and joined the court.  Months of debate and compromise had watered down the final bill a bit further.  Children of slaves would not receive emancipation until age 28.  The bill also outlawed the importation of new slaves into Pennsylvania.  Visitors to the state could bring their slaves, but any slave brought into the state who remained in Pennsylvania for six months would receive immediate emancipation.  The bill required annual registration of all slave owned by anyone in Pennsylvania.  It also ended discrimination in any existing laws against free African-Americans.

If you read the statute itself, you may be shocked by some of the wording.  For example, the refers to “persons as well as Negroes and Mulattos” as if negros and mulattos did not fall under the definition of persons.  The reason for that, of course, was because those drafting the act did not want some later interpretation to claim that “negroes” did not meet  the definition of “persons.” If that seems like an unlikely possibility, recall that the US Supreme Court made just such a finding in Dred Scott v. Sanford many decades later. 

The act also specified that the children of slaves, who were held as servants until age 28, had the same rights as other shorter term indentured servants.  Masters could punish servants, including lashings, but could also seek relief in the courts if “evilly treated.”  Slaves and servants had the same rights in courts as anyone else.  Except, of course, a slave could not give witness testimony against a free man.

If a slave or servant received a death sentence from a court, the state would charge the costs of prosecution and execution to the owner of the slave or servant.  The act also made clear that it gave no protection to people trying to escape slavery and that owners had a legal right to reclaim escaped slaves.  Anyone enticing, assisting, harboring, or employing an escaped slave could be held liable, just as they could have been prior to this law.

Members of Congress and other foreign consoles who were located in Pennsylvania were exempt from the six month rule. They could keep their slaves in Pennsylvania for as long as they wanted. 

There was some opposition, even though the bill only impacted the children of existing slaves, and even those, not for at least 28 years.  The people of Chester and Lancaster counties submitted petitions in opposition to the bill. At the time of passage about half of the black people living in Pennsylvania were already free.

Opponents of the bill argued that even gradual abolition might create conflicts between the states and weaken the war effort.  Opponents also expressed concerns that emancipated slaves would be equipped to participate as full citizens in society, and even that emancipated slaves might take advantage of their new freedom to join the British in their war against Pennsylvania.

Despite these objections, the bill passed by a vote of 34-21, and took effect immediately.  As I said, though, the bill did not impact any existing people.  The first emancipation under this bill would not take place until a child born in 1780 reached the age of 28 in 1808.


Even so, Pennsylvania became the first of the original 13 states to begin the process of abolition.  The Republic of Vermont had outlawed slavery in its constitution of 1777, but no one recognized Vermont independence at the time, so its abolition clause had little influence.

Pennsylvania, however, was one of the largest states in the union and took the first step toward ending an institution that many saw as incompatible with the ideals of the Revolution.  Massachusetts would effectively end slavery in 1783 as a result of a court interpretation of its constitution.  But no other legislature would pass an abolition bill until after the war.  Connecticut and Rhode Island would pass gradual emancipation bills in 1784.

Pennsylvania would amend its abolition bill in 1788.  Some slave owners had found a way around the emancipation bill by moving pregnant slaves to another slave state, where the child could be born into a permanent state of enslavement.  The 1788 amendment banned this practice.  It also called for the immediate emancipation of any slaves owned by a person who moved to Pennsylvania with the intention of setting up permanent residence.

Pennsylvania’s slave law ended up causing some problems for George Washington as President.  When the government moved to Philadelphia, Washington had to make sure he rotated his slaves out of Pennsylvania before remaining in the state for six months.  This allowed him to avoid their emancipation under state law.  The exemption that applied to members of Congress was not extended to members of the executive or judicial branches.

Pennsylvania’s decision to end slavery reflected the changing views about an institution that have been evolving for decades. It seems clear though, that ideals professed by those seeking independence from Britain were having a larger impact on how people viewed the morality and propriety of slavery.

Even though opposition to slavery was growing, not only in Pennsylvania, but in many states, the process of ending the institution was not one that would go quickly .  Slavery would continue in Pennsylvania for many more decades, primarily out of a desire to assuage the difficulties of slave-owners.  But the act put the state on the path toward, at least, eventual abolition of slavery.  In short, it was a start.

Next week: Skirmishing around New York over the winter of 1780 leads to multiple raids on both sides.

- - -

Next Episode 242 Raids Around New York 

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Further Reading


Mutiny of the Massachusetts Line:

Continental Army - Draft:

KESTNBAUM, MEYER. “Citizenship and Compulsory Military Service: The Revolutionary Origins of Conscription in the United States.” Armed Forces & Society, vol. 27, no. 1, [Sage Publications, Ltd., Sage Publications, Inc.], 2000, pp. 7–36,

Rees, John U. “The pleasure of their number” 1778: Crisis, Conscription, and Revolutionary Soldiers’ Recollections (A Preliminary Study)Part I.

Van Atta, John R. “Conscription in Revolutionary Virginia: The Case of Culpeper County, 1780-1781.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 92, no. 3, Virginia Historical Society, 1984, pp. 263–81,

Matheny, Mike “THE PREDICAMENT WE ARE IN”: HOW PAPERWORK SAVED THE CONTINENTAL ARMY” Journal of the American Revolution, May 3, 2021.

Slavery in the North:

Pennsylvania - An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, 1780 (full text):

The Gradual Abolition Act of 1780

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Konkle, Burton Alva. George Bryan and the Constitution of Pennsylvania, 1731-1791. Philadelphia:  William J Campbell, 1922. 

Turner, Edward Raymond “The Abolition of Slavery in PennsylvaniaThe Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1912. 

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Berlin, Ira. "The Revolution in Black Life." In The American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism, edited by Alfred F. Young, 349-82. DeKalb, IL.: University of Northern Illinois Press, 1976.

Dunbar, Erica Armstrong. Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. New York: Atria Books, 2017.

Melish, Joanne Pope. Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and" Race" in New England, 1780–1860. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998. 

Nash, Gary B. Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia's Black Community, 1720-1840. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.

Sinha, Manisha. The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 

Zilversmit, Arthur The First Emancipation: The Abolition of Slavery in the North, University of Chicago Press, 1967 (or read on 

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.