Sunday, August 1, 2021

ARP211 Winter at Middlebrook


By December of 1778, the Continental Army settled into its winter quarters around Middlebrook, NJ.  The British were already behind their fixed defenses in New York City, the departure in late fall of so many regulars to other parts of the empire made it unlikely that the British would attempt any more major offensives like the grand forage into Bergen county that I discussed in an earlier episode (Episode 198).

William Tryon

Although the lines between the two armies that winter were relatively quiet, both sides did send out raiding parties from time to time.

British Major General William Tryon was one of the more active officers.  Tryon, you may recall, had been royal governor of North Carolina, and then New York before the war.  Prior to that, he had been a career officer in the regular army and was no stranger to combat.  As Governor, Tryon had developed a reputation as a tough leader, taking on the rebels at Alamance in 1771, and then against the Green Mountain Boys in the years just before the war.

William Tryon
Tryon had taken a commission as a major general of provincial forces in the early part of the war.  He was also still a colonel in the regular army.  By 1778, he had received a commission as major general in America, in the British army as well.  The rank of an officer “in America” is a bit strange.  It came with all the authority of a regular officer, but the commission only lasted in that theater of war and for the duration of the war.  If the officer transferred to another theater, or returned to Britain, he would revert back to his permanent rank.

Tryon was also still governor of the colony New York, although this meant little by 1779 since most of the state was under rebel control, and the area around New York City was under martial law.  Tryon’s rule was effectively limited to his authority as military commander of Long Island.  

Tryon was also among the most hard core of British officers who believed that the army was being too soft on the rebels.  Tryon had advocated for a complete war of destruction.  He wanted to go on raids that would burn down civilian towns, destroy food and supplies, and generally make life miserable enough that the people would demand an end to the war and once again accept crown rule.  Even though some leaders back in London also seemed to support this tough policy, to Tryon’s frustration, General Howe, and then General Clinton both rejected such a campaign of terror against civilians.

As the war continued on without any real end in sight, Tryon had petitioned the ministry to end his position as New York Governor and allow him to return to London. Tryon hoped to get a permanent military commission that would replace his compensation as colonial governor but which would also allow him to return to his family in England.  He pleaded both health and family reasons for his desire to end his term in America.

Again, Tryon would be frustrated.  Secretary of State Lord Germain wrote Tryon in late 1778 requesting that he remain in New York until the British reestablished rule, or as Germain put it “all hope is lost.”  The fact that the American Secretary in London was even articulating the possibility in 1778 that Britain could lose the war is rather telling.

General Clinton offered Tryon command of the campaign that he deployed in late 1778 to capture Savannah Georgia.  Tryon declined.  He complained of continuing ailments brought on from diseases he picked up while Governor of North Carolina years earlier in his career.  He believed that a return to the south might make his illness even worse.  Instead, the command of that mission went to Colonel Archibald Campbell.

Horseneck Landing

In February, 1779, General Tryon got approval from General Clinton to lead a raid into Connecticut.  Tryon assembled a force of mostly provincial militia, along with some regulars and Hessians, to raid a community known as Horseneck, which is in present day West Greenwich Connecticut.  On the night of February 25, his brigade marched out under cover of darkness, from the British lines at Kingsbridge.  They completed the twenty mile march to Greenwich by the following morning.

General Israel Putnam was in Greenwich at the time.  He managed to assemble a group of about 150 local militia to meet the raiders.  The Americans had three small field cannons to support their lines.  The British, however, so outnumbered the men that there was no realistic chance of sustaining a defensive line.

Putnam at Horseneck Landing
According to local lore, General Putnam ordered his men to flee into a nearby swamp where the dragoons on horseback could not follow.  Putnam remained with the cannons to distract the British attackers as his men fled.

As the enemy got close, Putnam turned his horse and rode down a steep embankment.  According to some accounts it was a set of stone steps.  Others believe it was a dirt cow path.  Whatever the exact route, the steep path down the hill was so dangerous that the British dragoons did not pursue.  Instead, they fired at the general, one of them managing to shoot Putnam’s hat, but failing to wound the man.

Again, according to unconfirmed accounts, the general stopped at the bottom of the hill, waved his sword at his attacks, and some say swore at them.  Putnam then rode to safety, where he met up with more militia and some of the men from his first assault, who had escaped and then found their way back to the general.

The British destroyed the three American field cannons. They also burned several buildings in Greenwich, along with a saltworks, and a few boats.  By 2:00 PM, the British had finished their work.  General Tryon had driven the men without sleep the previous night, but opted to begin their march back right away.  He feared the Americans might be able to rally a larger force to assault them, if they delayed too long.  

As the British began to withdraw from Greenwich, General Putnam returned again with the militia that he had been able to rally over several hours.  The Americans still did not have the numbers to challenge the British, but did continue to lay down a harassing fire on the British rear of the column.  Putnam managed to catch 38 enemy stragglers who did not keep up with the retreating column.  They also recaptured some of the ammunition and supplies that the British had seized and were trying to haul back to their lines.

By that night, the British had managed to make it out of Connecticut, but were still not back to their lines in Kingsbridge.  Tryon approved a few hours of rest for his exhausted troops, but then got the column moving again early, finally returning to their lines by the afternoon of the 27th.  The entire raid had lasted less than 48 hours, most of that time marching to and from Greenwich.

Following the battle, General Putnam sent an officer under a flag of truce with his captured prisoners to General Tryon’s lines.  He proposed a prisoner swap with some of the prisoners the British had captured in their raid.  Tryon agreed and made the trade.  He even sent General Putnam a new hat with the returning prisoners, to replace the one his officers had shot a hole through.  

Although the raid seemed to be a British victory, it did not seem to improve General Tryon’s standing with General Clinton.  The British commander criticized the raid as a pointless adventure, which led to the deaths of two British soldiers and nine others wounded.  Clinton also attacked Tryon for using his authority as governor to issue several pardons without the approval of the military commander.

Tryon, I think with some justification, returned criticism of the commander for not doing much of anything.  He claimed that, if given 3000 soldiers, he could visit devastation along the New England coast.  Tryon’s criticisms against Clinton seem reminiscent of Clinton’s complaints against General Howe three years earlier when Howe as North American commander was continually reigning in and slowing down General Clinton.

Clinton’s Plans for 1779

A few months later, General Clinton would lead his own offensive and would leave General Tryon cooling his heels in New York City. 

The British had significantly reduced their ranks in North America.  London had issued orders to Clinton not to embark on any major campaigns like the Saratoga Campaign or the Philadelphia Campaign.  The main military action was taking place in Georgia and moving into South Carolina.  Even so, Clinton would not simply sit idly and do nothing with his forces in New York and Newport.  

The British commander spent the winter developing his plans for a series of spring actions.  All of them had limited goals, making use of the limited manpower that was left to him.  He outlined three separate actions for the spring and summer:

Gen. Sir Henry Clinton

The first was a renewed assault up the Hudson River.  He would not attempt to establish a connection all the way to Quebec.  Rather, he would only move upriver to cut off the use of King’s Ferry as a point of transport between New England and the rest of the colonies.  He also planned to move further upriver and threaten the American defenses at West Point.

A second series of raids would assault ports in Connecticut. Assuming Britain could retain control of the waters around Long Island, they could attack the Connecticut coast with impunity.  A large enough raid might even provoke the Continentals into a larger battle, fought on Clinton’s terms, giving him an opportunity to use his superior strategic abilities to defeat them.

A third offensive would make use of a series of raids into the Chesapeake Bay area, destroying commerce and military stores in Maryland and Virginia.  This would not only remove much-needed supplies from the Continental Army.  It would also distract the enemy’s focus on the southern campaign, where British forces in Savannah hoped to capture South Carolina, and possibly move into North Carolina as well.

Long Island Sound

Even while making longer-term strategic plans, Clinton’s forces around New York had to defend against continual raids, particularly from Connecticut, which was just a short boat ride to British-occupied Long Island.  Because Long Island was so large, the British did not have men to defend the entire island.  Particularly isolated was the eastern end of the island, which was more than 100 miles from New York City but only a 10 mile boat ride from the Connecticut coast.

While British vessels patrolled the sound, it remained a pretty wild no-man’s land where smugglers and privateers operated with impunity.  Even posts on western Long Island, near New York City were subject to attack.  Shortly after Tyron’s raid at Horseneck Landing, Connecticut Captain Andrew Meade led a small fleet of Connecticut whaleboats.  The men rowed across the sound at night and seized a small sailing ship at Ferry Point, loaded with supplies.  The raiders sailed the ship back to Greenwich before the British could react.

James Rivington
The British sailed after the stolen vessel.  As they attempted to enter the harbor at Greenwich, they came under fire from cannons that the local militia had mounted on the hill overlooking the harbor.  The British were forced to withdraw without recapturing their lost prize.

A few days later, Captain Meade led another group of men determined to destroy the printing offices of the Royal Gazette, a Tory newspaper in British-occupied New York.  This time they infiltrated downtown Manhattan, seizing the newspaper’s type and carrying it back to Greenwich for destruction.  The newspaper’s owner was a notorious Tory named James Rivington.  The raiders, of course, did not know it, but Rivington was also an American spy, working for the Culper Spy Ring.

Occupied New York

New York City had become an increasingly difficult place to live over the winter of 1778-79.  The city had become more crowded than ever.  Although thousands of British regulars had departed, loyalists from all over the country were taking refuge there.  Thousands of Philadelphia loyalists were attempting to secure the necessary food, clothing, and shelter.  

Without limited access to crops and cattle, food became limited.  To help ease the food demands, Clinton permitted the release of 430 American prisoners in January.  He transported the prisoners to New London, Connecticut for release on parole.  The men were in such poor condition from cold, hunger, and disease that fifteen of them died during the short trip across Long Island sound.  Of those who survived the journey, many more died over the next few weeks, and almost all of them required care.  Many could not even walk.  

The Connecticut Assembly ordered depositions taken from surviving prisoners in order to document the treatment they had suffered as prisoners of war.  Most of the thousands of prisoners who had been held aboard prison ships or at the Sugarhouse left their prisons feet first.  Untold thousands died under horrific conditions.  By the end of February, there were only about 700 prisoners held in the city, including about 200 men on the prison ship Good Hope.  By mid-April, the Good Hope, reported holding only 144 prisoners.  None had been released, but 25% of the ship’s prisoner population had died in only a few weeks.

Continental Army at Middlebrook

General Washington had located the bulk of the Continental Army around Middlebrook, New Jersey, generally the same location they occupied when the British under General Howe were in New York before leaving for Philadelphia.  The Continentals had encamped there in May - July of 1777. Washington was familiar with the terrain, which he believed provided effective defenses against a British assault.  The Continentals could observe the British in New York from the mountaintops, but were also a good day’s march from the enemy, making a surprise attack unlikely.  It also provided good roads in any direction the army might need to pivot in order to counter a British offensive.

George Washington was not with his men for much of the early winter months because he had travelled to Philadelphia.  There he was trying to convince Congress that the army did not have the resources to launch a new offensive into Philadelphia.  Washington’s main focus was putting together a campaign to wipe out the hostile Iroquois and Tories that continued to bring suffering to New Yorkers throughout much of the state.  For most of December and January, Major General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, commanded the main army.

Wallace House, Washington HQ
After Washington returned from Philadelphia, he and Martha stayed at the home of John Wallace.  It was a four bedroom home.  George and Martha occupied one room, a second was shared by Washington’s aid.  The Homeowner, Wallace and his wife occupied a third, and the owner’s mother-in-law, the fourth.

Other generals took up residence at other private homes in the area. Nathanael Greene stayed at the home of Derrick Van Veghten House about one mile east of the Wallace House. Anthony Wayne and his staff occupied the home of Abraham Van Nest.  There, a confrontation with the homeowners eventually resulted in a lawsuit. Lord Stirling stayed at the Philip Van Horne House about two miles east of the Wallace House.  Von Steuben took up residence with local Abraham Staats, about four miles east of the Wallace House. Henry Knox stayed at the home of Jacobus Van Der Veer House six miles north of the Wallace House.

The main army divided into three divisions, camping separately so that the collection of local resources like wood and water would not be too concentrated. What became known as the Pennsylvania camp was laid out south of the Raritan River, to the west of the road to Princeton. The Virginia and Maryland camps deployed on the other side of the Raritan River, about four miles to the northeast, near roads leading toward New York City and the New Jersey coast. To the north of the crossroads village of Pluckemin, about seven miles from the Virginia and Maryland camps, General Knox erected an artillery park for his soldiers and guns.

The winter in New Jersey was not as cold as prior winter at Valley Forge, not nearly as bad as the following winter would be at Morristown. Deprivations continued as the army lacked sufficient food, clothing, and shelter for the men.  Again though, the deprivations do not seem to be quite as bad as the year before.  Reforms by the new quartermaster, Nathanael Greene, seemed to be having some positive effect.

Middlebrook Encampment

The winter at Middlebrook does not seem to get the same attention as the prior winter at Valley Forge, but it was quite difficult for many of the soldiers who endured there.   Most of the men, though, were spread out in the rural mountainous area around Middlebrook, near modern day Boundbrook, New Jersey.  There were not nearly enough buildings to house the men.  The army tried to build crude wooden huts 16’ by 14’ with a single fireplace that would hold a dozen soldiers each.  Even so, many of the soldiers had to endure much of the winter in tents.

One reason the deaths were not as great as at Valley Forge, was that the army had inoculated against smallpox during its stay at Valley Forge.  The inoculated soldiers did not have to suffer with that dreaded and deadly disease the following winter.  Washington first encamped in December with between 10,000 and 12,000 Continentals.  Deaths and desertions left the army with only 8000 survivors by spring.  Of the survivors, another third were unfit for duty due to illness, often brought on by the cold weather and deprivation. The army benefitted from some new uniforms provided by their French allies.  In March, the French Ambassador Gerard visited the camp and received a grand review of the army.  

Compared to other winter encampments, the winter at Middlebrook was not so bad.  Like Washington, many of the general officers had their wives join them at camp.  General Greene held a dance at his quarters in mid-march, where he noted that General Washington and his wife Catherine danced for three hours straight. The men also held a larger celebration on February 18, to mark the first anniversary of the French alliance.

As I said, the winter passed relatively quietly until the British began to deploy for their spring operations in April.  In May, the Continentals left Middlebrook to defend against attacks in the Hudson Valley.  By June, the winter camp was empty and abandoned.

Next week, we return south again as the British attempt to expand on their success in capturing Savanna, Georgia, but find patriot resistance surprisingly resilient.

- - -

Next Episode 212 Port Royal & Kettle Creek (Available August 8, 2021)


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Further Reading

Websites

Horseneck Landing https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/horseneck-landing-west-greenwich-connecticut

General Putnam’s account of the Battle of Horseneck: http://www.historycarper.com/1779/02/26/general-putnams-account-of-the-battle-of-horse-neck

Tryon’s Descent on Horseneck (British account): http://www.historycarper.com/1779/03/03/tryons-descent-on-horse-neck

Melillo “The Meaning of Memorial Day in Greenwich” Greenwich Free Press, May 26, 2019: https://greenwichfreepress.com/around-town/holiday/melillo-the-meaning-of-memorial-day-in-greenwich-123124

“To George Washington from Major General Israel Putnam, 28 March 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-19-02-0624

1779 Campaign:  https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/1779-campaign

The Middlebrook Winter Encampment: http://www.doublegv.com/ggv/battles/midbrk.html

“General Orders, 6 February 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-19-02-0135

Middle Encampment (map) http://zitthere.com/nyc-nj/mdlbrk-angelakos-map.html

Free eBooks
(from archive.org unless noted)

Hill, George C. Gen. Israel Putnam, Boston: E. O. Libby and Co. 1858. 

Irving, Washington The Life Of George Washington, Vol. 3, London: George Bell and Sons, 1905.  

Tarbox, Increase N. Life of Israel Putnam ("Old Put"), Major-General in the Continental Army, Boston: Lockwood, Brooks, and Co, 1876. 

Books Worth Buying
(links to Amazon.com unless otherwise noted)*

Burrows, Edwin Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War, Basic Books, 2008.

Chernow, Ron George Washington, A Life, Penguin Press, 2010.

Hubbard, Robert E. Major General Israel Putnam: Hero of the American Revolution, McFarland & Co. 2017. 

Nelson, Paul David William Tryon and the Course of Empire: A Life in British Imperial Service, Univ of NC Press, 1990.

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Sunday, July 25, 2021

ARP210 Fort Vincennes

 

In early 1779, a group of Virginians attacked Fort Vincennes, which sits on the Wabash River, in what is today Indiana, right on the Illinois border.  In 1779, this was deep into Indian territory, where few people of European descent had settled, or even traveled.  This week, I want to take a closer look at the western dispute that flared up so far away from the main areas of battle.

Henry Hamilton

The British retained outposts deep in the continent’s interior, in order to maintain claims to all of the land that had not been settled or governed by any other European power.  The few white settlers in the area were almost all French, whose families had come to what is today Canada before the British took control of that region in the 1760’s.

Fall of Fort Sackville

Henry Hamilton was the British official in charge of this area.  He was Irish by birth (and no known relation to Alexander Hamilton).  His father had descended from aristocracy, but with that title passing to first-born relatives.  His father, still part of a wealthy and powerful family, served in the Irish Parliament.  His older brother, Sackville Hamilton, would also serve in the Irish Parliament, and would later become undersecretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

Henry grew up in Ireland and as a younger son, followed a traditional route of joining the regular army as an officer.  In 1755, at age 21, he received an ensign’s commission. He had risen quickly to captain when the French and Indian War began.  Serving under General Guy Carlton, Hamilton fought at the Battle of Quebec and the Siege of Louisbourg.  By the end of the war, he served as brigade major.

As with many peacetime officers, Hamilton’s position in the army stagnated.  He returned home with his regiment after the war, but then came back to Quebec when the American rebellion began to heat up in 1775.  Hamilton was still a military officer, but served mostly in administrative positions in Quebec. 

In 1775, London offered a new opportunity.  The North Ministry created five lieutenant governorships in Quebec.  This was part of the expansion of the Quebec territory that Parliament had approved in the Quebec Act of 1774, one of several laws often listed as one of the coercive acts or intolerable acts that set off colonial violence.

Henry Hamilton
Hamilton sold his commission in the army and began a new political career as a lieutenant governor and commander of Fort Detroit, in what is today Michigan.  Other lieutenant governors took posts at Vincennes in what is today Indiana, and Kaskaskia, near the settlement of St. Louis.

Like the other new lieutenant governors, Hamilton was pretty much on his own, at a distant outpost with few resources.  By the time he left for Detroit in the fall of 1775, Americans were already invading Quebec and besieging the capital city.  Hamilton had a few companies of regulars and a handful of local administrators, who were mostly leftovers from French rule.  The judge for the territory had lost his authority with the passage of the Quebec Act.  But since there was no replacement for him, Hamilton simply allowed him to continue handing out judgments.

Because he had no real government to administer.  Hamilton’s real role was more of a diplomat.  His job was to convince the few French Canadians and the local tribes to remain neutral in any coming fights.  By most accounts, he developed a good working relationship with the leaders of the local Ottawa and Huron tribes.

As the war progressed, Hamilton pushed for a more aggressive role.  In 1777, he encouraged local warriors to go on the attack against western settlements, where supporters of American independence were taking hold.  He received the nickname of “Hair Buyer” because of rumors that he paid for each rebel scalp that the warriors collected.  There are some who dispute that Hamilton actually paid for scalps, but there is no question that he encouraged Indian attacks on American settlements.  Initially, the program was a great success.  Indians took hundreds of scalps and forced many settlers to abandon the western territories.  Governor Hamilton seemed willing to overlook that many of the scalps seemed to come from women and children.

In a few cases, the warriors brought back live prisoners.  One of these prisoners was Daniel Boone, who met with Hamilton in Detroit.  Hamilton had hoped to keep Boone a prisoner, but the Indians who captured him refused to turn him over.  Instead they wanted to accept Boone into their tribe.  Later that year, Boone escaped and returned to Kentucky.

George Rogers Clark

Although London had decided this territory was part of Quebec, Virginia still claimed that all of this land was part of Virginia.  Many of the settlements that had been attacked were  composed of Virginians moving west into what became Kentucky, as well as lower Indiana and Illinois.

The British-backed Indian raids on these western lands demanded a response.  The man in charge of responding was George Rogers Clark.  The older brother of William Clark of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition.  Clark was born in Virginia, near Charlottesville, in 1752.  When he was still a toddler, his family moved further west, on the Virginia frontier.  This was a particularly dangerous time when France was stirring up Indians to attack British colonists  during the French and Indian War. George remained back east with his grandfather, where he attended the same school as James Madison.

George Rogers Clark
Clark, however, only attended school for a short time.  He learned a trade as a surveyor and by age 19 was surveying western lands for Virginia settlers.  He also took a commission as a captain in the Virginia militia.

In 1774, Captain Clark led a company in the frontier fighting that became known as Lord Dunmore’s War.  After that, Virginia got the Shawnee to cede control of land south of the Ohio River, thus opening up Kentucky for settlement.  There were still a few hurdles for settlers.  Britain had banned settlement west of the Allegheny mountains via a 1763 proclamation.  There were also a number of other tribes who claimed this same land as their own, and were not part of the treaty that ceded the land.  Beyond that, a North Carolina land speculator was attempting to create a new colony out of this land, based on a treaty that North Carolina had settled with the Cherokee.

To help cement Virginia’s claim to this land, Clark and others petitioned the Governor to recognize the Kentucky territory as part of Virginia.  By 1776, Lord Dunmore had fled Virginia.  The new Governor Patrick Henry did not feel constrained by any royal proclamation.  Governor Henry designated Kentucky as a county in Virginia.  The county included all of the land that is the current State of Kentucky.

Clark served as military commander of the new county.  But it was so lightly populated, and Virginia’s focus was on the war in the east, that very little happened there.

American Offensive

In 1777, after the native tribes began stepping up their attacks on settlers in the region, Clark pushed for a response. In December 1777, Clark presented a proposal to Governor Henry to lead a regiment. Henry approved the plan in a set of secret orders that he did not want to run by the state legislature.  Publicly, Clark’s mission was vaguely defined as protecting Kentucky from attack.  His secret orders were to attack enemy outposts north of the Ohio River, evict the enemy, and secure that land for Virginia.

Henry commissioned Clark as a lieutenant colonel and authorized him to raise a Virginia regiment. These were not militia. Rather, they were regular soldiers commissioned by the State of Virginia. The regiment would sail down the Ohio River from Fort Pitt, then take the British outposts north of the Ohio River that were being used as bases of operations for attacks into Kentucky. 

March to Vincennes
Clark had difficulty raising a sizable regiment since most men were already fighting in the larger campaigns in the east. Also, Clark needed to keep his military targets a surprise and could only reveal to potential recruits the vague goal of protecting Kentucky.  As he worked to recruit volunteers from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina for his “Illinois Regiment of Virginia” he also sent spies into the Illinois territory (which includes modern day Indiana and Illinois) to scout out the enemy defenses.

While he hoped to raise a regiment of 350 men, he only raised about half of that amount for the mission.  Undeterred, the group set out from Fort Pitt in May 1778.  Their first target was the British outpost at Kaskaskia.  

Clark faced his first challenge when several of his recruits objected to the plan.  They had joined the regiment because Clark had told them they were going to be defending Kentucky.  They did not sign up for a military offensive into Illinois territory.  Several tried to desert, but were dragged back to camp.  With threats of execution, Clark managed to keep his new regiment together as they began the journey down the Ohio River.

By late June, the regiment was close to where the Ohio joins the Mississippi River.  They encountered a group of American hunters who were paddling up the Ohio.  The hunters warned Clark that Kaskaskia had lookouts along the Mississippi River to warn about any enemies approaching.  

With this information, rather than approach by moving up the Mississippi River, Clark landed his regiment on the north bank of the Ohio River and marched overland to the town.  The hunters agreed to guide the regiment through the wilderness to Kaskaskia.  The march took longer than expected when the guides got lost.  The men carried four days worth of rations, which ran out during the six day march.  The hungry regiment reached Kaskaskia on July 4.  There, they only encountered the local French-speaking population.  The British lieutenant governor had abandoned the town and headed north to Fort Detroit.

Clark convinced the French locals to sign loyalty oaths to Virginia, and took prisoner several who defiantly backed British rule.  His news that France had recently formed an alliance with the Continental Congress helped to encourage the locals to support the Americans.  Of course, most locals were happy to support whichever side let them keep their property and generally left them alone.  

Clark also removed his soldiers from the town as soon as it was secured, leaving only a small garrison at the fort.  He wanted to avoid any conflicts between his soldiers and the locals that might turn the local population against him.  He also assured the local priest that Virginia would not interfere with the practice of Catholicism. This light-touch approach seemed to work well.  The locals were very happy that their town was not looted and plundered by the enemy army. Most settlers seemed happy to cooperate.

Clark’s forces next took Vincennes and the British Fort Sackville, again without a fight.  The local militia who garrisoned the fort swore an oath to Virginia and continued to garrison the fort under an American officer and flying the American flag.  No one put up any resistance as Clark’s men collected loyalty oaths over much of July 1778 from small settlements around the region and many of the local tribes.

There was some resistance.  During the occupation, a group of Indians attempted to attack and kill Colonel Clark.  After putting down the attack, Clark held several war chiefs in irons and kept them prisoner.  Many of his Indian allies attempted to intervene and get him to release the prisoners on the promise that they would not attack again.  Clark refused to do so.  Clark and his men all had families who had endured merciless Indian raids over the prior two years. Many lost friends and family to these attacks.  While they were willing to make peace with Indians who offered peace, they would also treat harshly any Indians who showed an inclination toward continued violence.

Clark also reached out to the local Spanish leaders at St. Louis.  The Mississippi river marked the border between Spanish territory and the land under dispute between Quebec and Virginia.  Spain was still neutral at this time, and was not helping either side.  Clark opened a friendly correspondence with Fernando de Leyba, the Lieutenant Governor for Upper Louisiana.  Governor de Leyba made clear that as long as they stayed on the eastern side of the Mississippi, there would not be any problems.

By late summer, Clark had largely completed his mission.  His regiment had been recruited for a term of 90 days, which expired in August.  Many of the men who had not wanted to be on this mission in the first place, were more than ready to go home. Others also were eager to get back  home for the winter.

Clark realized that they needed to hold this new territory, or the British would likely simply take it back.  He prevailed on the regiment to reenlist for another eight months.  He managed to convince about 100 of the men to remain.  The rest returned home.

British Retake Vincennes

Up in Detroit, by August, Lieutenant Governor Hamilton received news of the American incursion and the capture of Kaskaskia and Vincennes.  Hamilton sent word to Quebec and hoped to get some guidance, and military assistance from Quebec’s Governor. He wrote to Guy Carlton, not having heard that Frederick Haldimand replaced Carleton in June 1778.  After waiting several weeks and receiving no response, Hamilton decided to act on his own.

Crossing the Wabash
Although he was no longer a military officer. Hamilton raised a battalion which he would lead personally to recapture Vincennes.  He took about 30 British regulars from the Detroit garrison, as well as about 175 local French-Canadian militia.  He also recruited about 60 Ottawa warriors under the command of Chief Egushwa.  

Hamilton’s force left Detroit on October 8th, 1778 for a late season campaign that would inevitably continue into the winter.  As the British force moved south on the 300 mile journey to Vincennes, they recruited more native warriors along the way, so that they had roughly 300 warriors, for a total of about 500 soldiers by the time they reached Vincennes.  Many of the warriors who joined Hamilton had signed loyalty oaths to Clark only a few weeks earlier.

On reaching Vincennes in December, the local French Canadian militia that garrisoned Fort Sackville immediately abandoned their posts and submitted to the British force under Hamilton.  Captain Leonard Helm, who Clark had left in command of the fort, had no choice but to surrender and become a British prisoner of war.  Once again, Vincennes changed hands without any bloodshed.

Given the onset of winter, Hamilton remained in Vincennes, reaching out to local settlements and tribes to receive oaths of loyalty to the king.  He did not engage in any major acts of retribution for those who had signed loyalty oaths to Virginia.  He did not want violence to push the local population into backing the Americans.  Hamilton’s goal was to use his presence as incentive to get the locals to change their minds back to supporting Britain.  He planned to wait until spring to take back Kaskaskia and return all the land north of the Ohio River to his control.  Then, Britain could resume attacks on American settlements in Kentucky.

Clark Counter-Attacks

At the time Hamilton recaptured Vincennes, Clark was in Kaskaskia, making plans for a spring and summer campaign for 1779.  The government in Williamsburg was thrilled with his success the previous summer.  He received a promotion to full colonel and was authorized to raise an army of 500 men. 

Surrender at Vincennes
Virginia’s political leaders had given its full confidence to Colonel Clark, who was still just 25 years old.  Officials left to his discretion whether he wanted to spend the next summer subduing the Indian tribes that had been leading attacks against settlers in Kentucky, or whether he wanted to engage in an assault to take Fort Detroit.

Hamilton retaking Vincennes disrupted all that, and threatened to undo all the work Clark had done to bring the locals into the American camp.  Clark realized he could not wait until spring.  He needed to evict the British from Vincennes as quickly as possible.

Clark assembled a force of 172 Americans and local French-Canadian militia to retake Vincennes, leaving Kaskaskia on February 6.1779.  The winter was not a terribly cold one, but the nearly 200 mile trip through driving rain created its own difficulties.  The force did not reach Vincennes until the evening of February 23, by which time it had run out of food.

Once again, the locals did not seem to care much about which side was in control.  They mostly wanted to avoid suffering the vengeance of the winning side.  The Americans were able to enter Vincennes that evening without anyone in town alerting the garrison in Fort Sackville.  Governor Hamilton did not realize an attack was coming until the Americans opened fire on the fort.  Clark built a barricade opposite the fort’s main gate and began to lay siege.  Hamilton asked for terms.  Clark demanded unconditional surrender, which Hamilton refused.

The following day, a group of French Canadians and natives returned to Vincennes, unaware that the Americans occupied the town.  After a brief fight, the Americans captured two French Canadians and four Native Americans as the remainder fled.  Clark released the Frenchmen, but not the natives.  

He lined up the four natives in full view of the fort. He then proceeded to have his men tomahawk the prisoners, killing them, scalping them, and throwing their dead bodies into the river. It was intended to send a message to the fort occupants.  It was almost certainly in part in revenge for the many Indian attacks the settlers had endured over the prior years.

After one day and two nights of siege, Hamilton realized his situation was hopeless.  The French Canadian militia was unwilling to support him.  His Indian allies had returned home for the winter, and the few dozen regulars were no match for the attackers.  Over the first day of the attack, the British has suffered eleven killed and five wounded.

Hamilton surrendered the fort on the morning of February 25, 1779.  The Americans renamed Fort Sackville, Fort Henry, after Governor Patrick Henry, and once again raised the stars and stripes over the fort.  Lieutenant Governor Hamilton became a prisoner and was sent back to Williamsburg in chains.

Virginia reasserted its claims to all of the Northwest Territory, from Pittsburgh to the Mississippi River, and as far north into what is today Canada.  George Rogers Clark was widely celebrated and took command of what Virginia’s leaders now called Illinois County, Virginia.

Next week, we head back to the area around New York City as the Continental Army settles in for the winter at Middlebook, New Jersey.  

- - -

Next Episode 211 Winter at Middlebrook 


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Further Reading

Websites

Henry Hamilton: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/hamilton_henry_4E.html

Sheehan, Bernard W. “‘The Famous Hair Buyer General’: Henry Hamilton, George Rogers Clark, and the American Indian.” Indiana Magazine of History, vol. 79, no. 1, 1983, pp. 1–28. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/27790676

“Patrick Henry in Council to George Rogers Clark, [12 December] 1778,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-01-02-0092

Gov. Patrick Henry’s Secret order 1/2/78 (image) https://indianamemory.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16066coll31/id/31

Shepherd, Joshua “George Rogers Clark at Vincennes: 'You May Expect No Mercy'" Journal of the American Revolution, Feb. 17, 2015: https://allthingsliberty.com/2015/02/you-may-expect-no-mercy-george-rogers-clark-at-vincennes

Shepherd, Joshua “Stern Measures: Thomas Jefferson Confronts the ‘Hair Buyer’” Journal of the American Revolution, August 22, 2016: https://allthingsliberty.com/2016/08/stern-measures-thomas-jefferson-confronts-hair-buyer

Vincennes: https://www.battlefields.org/learn/revolutionary-war/battles/vincennes

Free eBooks
(from archive.org unless noted)

Barnhart, John D. Henry Hamilton and George Rogers Clark in the American Revolution, with the unpublished Journal of Henry Hamilton, Crawfordsville, Ind. R. E. Banta, 1951. 

Butterfield, Consul Willshire History of George Rogers Clark's Conquest of the Illinois and the Wabash Towns 1778 and 1779, Columbus: F.J. Heer, 1904. 

Clark, George Rogers Col. George Rogers Clark's sketch of his campaign in the Illinois in 1778-79, Cincinnati: Robert Clarke, 1907. 

English, William Hayden Conquest of the Country Northwest of the River Ohio, 1778-1783 : and, life of Gen. George Rogers Clark, Indianapolis: Bowen-Merrill Co. 1897. 

Esarey, Logan A History of Indiana from its Exploration to 1850, Indianapolis: B.F. Bowen & Co. 1918. 

Henry, William Wirt Patrick Henry, Life,  Correspondence and Speeches, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2, New York: Scribner, 1891. 

James, James Alton (ed) George Rogers Clark Papers, Springfield, Ill., Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library, 1912. 

Law, John The Colonial History of Vincennes, Under the French, British, and American Governments, Vincennes, IN: Harvey, Mason & Co. 1858. 

Quaife, Milo Milton (ed) The Conquest of the Illinois, Chicago, R.R. Donnelly & Sons Co. 1920. 

Starkey, Daniel B. George Rogers Clark and his Illinois Campaign, Milwaukee: E. Keogh, 1897. 

Thwaites, Reuben Gold How George Rogers Clark Won the Northwest: and Other Essays in Western History, Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co. 1903. 

Books Worth Buying
(links to Amazon.com unless otherwise noted)*

Evans, William A. (ed) Detroit to Fort Sackville, 1778-1779: The Journal of Normand MacLeod, Wayne State Univ. Press, 1978, or borrow at Archive.org.

Harrison, Lowell H. George Rogers Clark and the War in the West, Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1976. 

Nester, William R. George Rogers Clark: I Glory in War, Univ. of Okla Press, 2012. 

Van Every, Dale A Company of Heroes: The American Frontier, Morrow, 1962. l

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Sunday, July 18, 2021

ARP209 Arnold and the Radicals


We last left Philadelphia in Episode 201, where I talked about Benedict Arnold taking command as military governor of the region and setting himself up in the Governor’s mansion, recently vacated by British General William Howe.

Benedict Arnold

Arnold had shut down all exports and trade within Philadelphia in order to prevent property of the British Army from being removed, or the property of local Tories that the revolutionary government might want to seize.

Arnold profited from his position by making deals that allowed favored parties to purchase and sell goods that the government had locked down.  This, of course, led local merchants to see the lock down as a way for a few top military officials to profit at the expense of the merchants.

Much of the lockdowns were ordered by Congress and Washington to protect against the loss of British property that could be seized.  However, when Arnold allowed a Tory ship, the Charming Nancy to leave port anyway, and it was discovered that he had received a financial interest in the ship, locals saw the shutdown as a way for Arnold to shakedown locals for a cut of profits.  If you wanted to move goods in Philadelphia, you had to pay to play.

James Mease Partnership

Shortly after Arnold had taken command of the city in the summer of 1778, two men met with him to form an agreement.  The men were James Mease, Clothier General of the Continental Army, Mease’s deputy William West, Jr.

Both men had been Philadelphia merchants before the war.  We don’t know much about Mease’s politics before the war.  He seems to have been focused more on his business.  In January 1776, Congress had tapped Mease to serve as a commissary for the Pennsylvania regiments that Congress was raising to send to Boston.  Mease also served as a paymaster general for the army.

Pennsylvania State House, 1778
In December of 1776, while Washington’s nearly naked army was fleeing the British advance across New Jersey toward Philadelphia, Washington called on Congress to appoint a Clothier General and to centralize a concerted effort to get clothing for his soldiers.  Washington appointed Mease, who served with the army as a civilian.  

Mease’s efforts proved less than effective.  Over the following year, the army continued to suffer from unacceptable shortages of just about everything they needed.  Mease seems to have done little to succeed in his role.  Washington had asked him to be present with the army, but Mease remained in Philadelphia, sending assistants to follow around the army.  Congress had told Mease to appoint local purchasing agents in each state, but Mease does not appear to have done that either.  

It would be unfair to blame Mease or his assistants entirely for the complete failure to provide the soldiers with adequate clothing.  Congress refused to come up with adequate funds to buy the clothes.  When an agent in Massachusetts purchased some materials at market prices, and taking into account that he had to buy it with depreciated Continental Dollars, Congress put a halt to his efforts because he was spending way too much money.  Congress also would not provide funds for wagons to get the supplies from the warehouses to the army.

Mease’s leadership, however, was not impressing anyone, including Mease himself.  In December of 1777, when Washington was at Valley Forge, Mease submitted his letter of resignation, citing poor health.  He agreed to stay on until a replacement could be found.  Neither Congress nor Washington found a replacement.  More than six months later, as the army was leaving Valley Forge and the British were evacuating Philadelphia, Mease was still serving as Clothier General.

Washington had written to Congress calling for his replacement and noting that he was unfit for his office.  Congress formed a committee to investigate, but did not take any action.  A frustrated Mease sent a copy of his original letter of resignation, arguing that he agreed he should no longer hold the office.  Even so, Congress did not act to replace him.  So, in the fall of 1778, with Arnold in command at Philadelphia, Mease still served as Clothier General of the Continental Army.

Part of Mease’s job was to go through all the stores left in Philadelphia.  If the goods were found to be the property of the British Army, or of a Tory merchant, he had authority to seize the goods.  If they were owned by a patriot merchant, he had authority to take the goods and to compensate the merchant with Continental dollars, which would be paid at the amounts valued by Congress.  Merchants had no choice not to sell.  They had to take what they were given, even if their goods would be worth many more times that amount on the private market.

By all accounts, Mease did his job with regard to acquiring whatever goods might be of use to the army.  There were also, however, a great deal of goods that were not of use to the army.  Mease and his assistant formed a partnership with Arnold.  The three men agreed to purchase these goods not needed by the army, at cost, then turn around and sell them on the private market for a huge profit, which the three men would divide among themselves.

Mease and his assistant would do all the work of strong-arming merchants into selling their goods at below market cost.  Arnold would continue to keep the shops closed and continue the ban on any exports from the city in order to give his partnership a monopoly on all sales.

To the modern ear, all of this sounds rather shady.  And to many people at the time, it sounded pretty shady as well.  But it was all being done under the authority of the Continental Congress, and there were no specific laws barring the practices being employed.  

Arnold had seen more senior generals, particularly Philip Schuyler, mix military assets with private business in order to make a profit.  To Arnold, this just seemed like his turn at the trough had finally come.  He could receive his financial reward for all of the sacrifice and suffering that he had made in the early years of the war.

Of course, to the merchants of Philadelphia who were being exploited, this just looked like corruption and abuse of power.  Local officials began to complain loudly.  Arnold, as the man in charge, became the target of their wrath.

Living like a Tory

Arnold did not seem to pay attention to the criticism.  He viewed the complaints as the buzzing of insects, annoying but to be ignored.

In addition to his profiteering, Arnold rather quickly took other actions which incurred the wrath of local patriots.  One, was his ostentatious display of wealth.  The military governor began riding around town in a fancy coach with livery servants, and furnishing his residence in the Penn Mansion with some of the finest furniture and decor that could be found, much of which was acquired through his partnership with Mease.

Arnold’s other offensive behavior involved his close association with the local Philadelphia loyalists.  Many of the wealthiest people in town, who had remained in Philadelphia during the British occupation, had worked with the British in order to maintain their property and keep their businesses going.  As I mentioned in an earlier episode, many local patriots wanted them to pay for their collaboration.  In the fall of 1778, local courts convicted and hanged several collaborators.  Others wanted these wealthy families who collaborated with the enemy, at least, to lose their property and possibly be expelled from the state.

Peggy Shippen

Arnold, instead, seemed to spend most of his time socializing with these very same people.  After all, they were the upper class of the town.  With his new-found wealth, powerful position, and prestigious title, Arnold had entrรฉe into the top of Philadelphia society.  He wanted to take full advantage of that.

Arnold made clear his position as a moderate early in his administration.  Joseph Galloway had been the civilian leader under British-occupied Philadelphia and was probably considered the top collaborator who had not been arrested prior to British occupation.  He had not been arrested before the occupation because he had fled to British-occupied New York where he assisted General Howe with the Philadelphia campaign.

Galloway had wisely fled the city with the British Army and had returned to New York.  Galloway and his daughter Betsy would take a ship to London, never to return.  However, his wife, Grace Galloway, remained in her family mansion just north of town.  Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council seized her home as the property of a loyalist.  Mrs. Galloway refused to leave, and locked herself in the mansion.  

The Supreme Executive Council ordered Arnold to remove her from the property and throw her in the street.  Arnold had sent guards to protect Mrs. Galloway from violence, but had to comply with civilian orders, but sent an officer to convince Galloway to leave voluntarily, and gave her access to a coach to take her to relatives.  This relatively kind eviction upset the radicals. After Galloway’s eviction.  Joseph Reed moved into the mansion for use as his personal residence.

As much as the radicals despised Arnold’s behavior, much of Arnold’s behavior was in line with what he thought Congress and Washington wanted him to do.  Arnold had received orders to heal the city and to encourage the locals who had worked under British rule to get back to work and start being productive in a way that would help the American cause.  Congress wanted a productive city that would show a return to normal, and which would provide more goods and services to benefit the war effort.  Engaging in acts of petty revenge would not serve that end.  

Arnold’s display of wealth was not necessarily out of line either.  The people of his generation had not fully adopted the egalitarian values that later generations would display to the public.  Flashy exhibitions of wealth were expected from leaders.  Washington did much the same thing.  Arnold’s attempts to live extravagantly were expected by someone in his position.

Even so, Arnold’s high living only highlighted the fact that he was raking in tens of thousands of pounds from his private commercial dealings.  Those were only possible because of his position as military governor, and which were directly contributing to the suffering of many locals.  His socializing with loyalist families only increased local anger as his actions seemed to benefit rich loyalists at the expense of hard-working patriots.

Courting Peggy Shippen

Rather than focus on the optics of what he was doing, Arnold’s attention was also focused on love.  As I mentioned already, he began dating Peggy Shippen, the 18 year old daughter of a wealthy Philadelphia merchant who many suspected of loyalist tendencies.

Arnold’s first wife had died in 1775.  For a time, Arnold focused on the war, leaving his sister to raise his children.  A little over a year later, Arnold fell in love with a 15 year old Boston girl, the daughter of a loyalist, named Betsy Dublois.  He wooed her for about two years, but the parents would not allow the relationship. 

In Philadelphia, Arnold had moved on to an older woman, the then 17 year old Peggy Shippen. Again, the loyalist father Edward Shippen was reluctant about the relationship, but allowed it to continue.  Arnold and Peggy were seen riding around town in his carriage and walking together at Bartram’s Garden.  Within a few months, and after Peggy’s 18th birthday, Arnold proposed marriage.  Her father reluctantly agreed, but asked the couple to wait until the following spring.  So much of Arnold’ attention was focused on his upcoming wedding and how to support his new wife in style.

Arnold vs. Reed

Meanwhile, radicals focused on Arnold’s activities and made him a target.  Joseph Reed was elected President of Pennsylvania in December 1778 and made ending Arnold’s military rule one of his top priorities.

Joseph Reed 

One of the first changes that Reed and the Executive Council made was to get the Continental Congress to take away Arnold’s power to issue passes to civilians.  This was in response to passes Arnold had issued to move some of his personal property through the city at a time when no one else could do so.

Of course, an issue arose where a woman named Hannah Levey was trying to get a pass to get out of town.  Levey was a relative of Major David Franks, who was Arnold’s top aide.  Major Franks’ uncle was a wealthy Philadelphia merchant who had thrown parties for General Howe and other top officers during the occupation and was considered a collaborator.

Arnold requested a pass for Miss Levey, but the Council denied it.  She was related to a suspected loyalist and the Council was in no mood to do any favors for General Arnold.  Instead, Arnold gave Levey a personal note instructing soldiers to allow her to pass.  When Reed found out and confronted Arnold about this effort to ignore the council’s rules, Arnold told Reed that Levey was on a military mission for him.  The matter was secret and he would not disclose its purpose to Reed or the Council.

On another occasion, Major Franks ordered the sentry at his home to go fetch a barber.  The sentry, Pennsylvania Militia Sergeant William Matlack, was not happy about leaving his post to run personal errands for the officer and asked if this was the way soldiers were treated.  He told Franks that he would go if directly ordered to do so by the officer, but would also lodge a complaint.  Franks cursed out the soldier and slammed the door in his face. The sergeant did go to Arnold with the complaint.  Arnold said he would look into it, but did nothing. 

Sergeant Matlack, the man who made the complaint, also happened to be the son of Timothy Matlack who served on the Supreme Executive Council and was friends with Joseph Reed.  Soon newspaper editorials were complaining about the use of soldiers as servants.  This also played into attitudes that Arnold and his fellow officers were acting more like loyalists and refusing to respect the rights of patriotic Americans.

Another issue that caused Arnold and Reed to butt heads was the case of the Active, a British sloop.  In the summer of 1778, the ship had captured several Connecticut fishermen, including a man named Gideon Olmstead, who were out at sea, and impressed them into service.  The ship sailed to Jamaica and then was headed back to New York. While still at sea, Olmestead and his fellow captives managed to lock the crew below decks and take control of the ship.  After considerable struggle, they managed to bring the ship into Egg Harbor, New Jersey.  As they approached the harbor, another ship, the Convention, owned by the State of Pennsylvania boarded the ship and claimed it as a prize.

Olmstead and his men said they were already in control of the ship and that the prize was theirs.  The case went to the Supreme Executive Council which ruled in favor of the State and kept the money.  Olmestead then turned to Arnold for justice.  Arnold agreed to front some money to Olmstead and his shipmates and also provide some legal assistance in exchange for a share of the winnings.  

Reed was outraged that the military governor was involving himself in this state matter involving property rights.  The Continental Congress set up an investigative committee and ruled in favor of Olmstead.  Despite the ruling, Reed and the Pennsylvania courts refused to turn over the proceeds from the sale of the ship.  The two sides would continue the legal battle for decades, long after Arnold had died.  The US Supreme Court finally resolved the matter in Olmstead’s favor more than 30 years later in 1809.

Charges

In February 1779 all of the fighting between Arnold and his officers with Reed and the local politicians went to the next level.  Arnold made plans in January to visit General Philip Schuyler in New York.  Schuyler was working on a land scheme to take possession of thousands of acres of land confiscated from loyalists in upstate New York.  Arnold was to get a chance to buy in and become a partial owner of land that would certainly be sold at a huge profit.

Arnold left Philadelphia in early February, headed for upstate New York.  Along the way, he stopped in Middlebrook, New Jersey to spend a few days with General Washington, bringing him up to date on events in Philadelphia and discussing future plans.  Washington welcomed his old friend and invited Arnold to stay with him.  The two generals spent several days catching up.

While with Washington, a courier came looking for Arnold to inform him that the Supreme Executive Council had brought eight criminal charges against Arnold.  The charges were 1) granting an unauthorized pass to a Tory ship leaving port, 2) closing down all shops while making purchases for his personal benefit, 3) imposing menial services on militia (the Matlack incident), 4) taking a financial interest in the legal dispute over the ship Active 5) Using state wagons to transport Tory property for private gain, 6) granting passes to civilians after Congress assigned that power to the state, 7) treating the Council with disrespect after it inquired about the use of the wagons, and finally a more general charge 8) “cold and neglectful treatment of Patriot authorities, both civil and military, with an entirely different line of conduct toward adherents of the King” by which they meant local Tories.

Not only had Reed and the council brought these charges against Arnold while he was away from the city, they also published them in the local newspapers.  Arnold discussed the matter with Washington, who seemed to support Arnold in this matter.  At least that is what Arnold wrote in a letter to Peggy Shippen at the time.  Washington suggested that Arnold seek a military court martial to clear his name.

Arnold cancelled his travel plans and returned to Philadelphia, demanding an immediate hearing on the charges.  The Council refused to hold a hearing right away, while Reed was seeking to have The Continental Congress suspend Arnold from his command until the matter was resolved.

Congress formed a committee to look into the matter.  Arnold defended himself on the charges at a hearing in March.  Congress threw out six of the eight charges, allowing only two to proceed: granting an unauthorized pass for the Tory ship, the Charming Nancy, to leave port, and for closing down the shops while benefiting from personal purchases of goods

Arnold seemed happy with the outcome and was confident that the remaining charges would also be dismissed after the hearing.  On March 19, he resigned his position as military governor of Philadelphia.  He was still a major general, but did not have any command.  He and Peggy continued their plans for a wedding in April.  As a wedding present, Arnold purchased a large estate known as Mount Pleasant.  

This, of course, only outraged Reed and the radicals even further.  They questioned how Arnold could afford such a purchase, other than through his corruption.  Of course, Arnold had heavily mortgaged his purchase, based on the expectation that Congress would repay the debts they still owed to him for personal outlays while in the field.

We will have to pick up that story in a future episode.  But we will end on the happy note that Arnold and Peggy were married on April 6, 1779 and looked forward to a lifetime of happiness together.

Next week, we head out west as the Americans attack the British at Fort Vincennes in what is today Indiana.

- - -

Next Episode 210 Fort Vincennes 


 Contact me via email at mtroy.history@gmail.com

 Follow the podcast on Twitter @AmRevPodcast

 Join the Facebook group, American Revolution   Podcast: https://www.facebook.com/groups/132651894048271

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American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account. You may also donate via Venmo (@Michael-Troy-20), Zelle, or popmoney (send to mtroy1@yahoo.com)


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Further Reading

Websites

Organization of the Clothing Department: www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/revwar/risch/chpt-9.htm (for the full book see Supplying Washington’s Army, listed below under “free ebooks”).

Werther, Richard J. "Grace Galloway - Abandoned Loyalist Wife" Journal of the American Revolution, March 12, 2018: https://allthingsliberty.com/2018/03/grace-galloway-abandoned-loyalist-wife

Betsy DeBlois, The Girl Who Got Away From Benedict Arnold: https://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/betsy-deblois-girl-got-away-benedict-arnold

“To George Washington from James Mease, 16 December 1777,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-12-02-0563

“From George Washington to Joseph Reed, 9 February 1779,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-19-02-0160

Mount Pleasant Mansion: https://househistree.com/houses/mount-pleasant-mansion

Free eBooks
(from archive.org unless noted)


Bancroft, George Joseph Reed; a Historical Essay, New York, W. J. Widdleton, 1867. 

Hill, George Canning Benedict Arnold. A Biography, Boston: E.O. Libby 1858. 

Reed, William Bradford Life and Correspondence of Joseph ReedVol. 1 & Vol. 2, Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1847. 

Risch, Erna Supplying Washington’s Army, Center for Military History, 1981 (from US Army Center for Military History).

Books Worth Buying
(links to Amazon.com unless otherwise noted)*

Randall, Willard Sterne Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor, William Morrow & Co. 1990.

Rappleye, Charles Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution, Simon & Schuster, 2010. 

Thompson, Ray Benedict Arnold in Philadelphia, Bicentennial Press, 1975. 

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.