Sunday, November 25, 2018

Episode 072 The Siege of St. Jean





When we last looked at Fort Ticonderoga Col. Benedict Arnold and Col. Ethan Allen captured the fort in May, 1775.  They then occupied all of Lake Champlain, as far north as St. Jean at the northern end of the lake, in Canada.  There, Arnold captured the British dockyard and commandeered the largest ship on the lake.  He sailed it back to New York before British General Guy Carleton could get his regulars to recapture St. Jean.

Guy Carleton
(from Wikimedia)
Following that success, the politicians and armchair generals in Philadelphia, Cambridge and New Haven, sent a series of confusing and contradictory orders on what to do next.  At one point, they ordered the patriots to retreat return the fort to the British, and abandon Lake Champlain.  They also sent bureaucrats to audit Arnold’s expenses and a more junior Colonel, Benjamin Hinman to take command of the area with 1000 Connecticut Militia.  Arnold ended up leaving in disgust and returning east to see about getting reimbursed for the personal money he spent to finance the campaign.

Col. Hinman held command of the region for most of the summer.  Unlike Arnold or Allen, Hinman was content to sit around and simply occupy the region.  He made little effort to improve defenses, use the ships Arnold had captured, or do much of anything else.  He spent most of his time complaining that he did not have enough money, food, supplies, or other resources to do anything.  Unlike Arnold, Hinman was not inclined to spend his own money or use his own credit to get things done and then hope to be reimbursed later.  If Hinman did not have the resources, nothing happened.

In June, Congress appointed Philip Schuyler of New York to command the region as a major general in the new Continental Army.  Brigadier General Richard Montgomery served as his second in command.  They would be tasked with organizing the military in New York.

Philip Schuyler

Schuyler came from a Dutch family that had lived in New York since before the colony was called New York.  He was not an obvious choice for major general.  He had no combat or command experience to speak of.  During the French and Indian War, he has served as a quartermaster in the New York militia.

At the outbreak of the Revolution, he held a colonelcy in the New York militia, but was mostly a politician.  Schuyler had served for years in the New York Assembly while living a comfortable life as a wealthy gentleman farmer in upstate New York.  He was also a committed patriot and was a NY Delegate to the Continental Congress at the time of his commission.  His appointment may have had more to do with the fact that Congress wanted to include a New Yorker among the military leadership and Schuyler was the best they had at hand.

Taking Command

After getting his commission in June, Major-General Schuyler headed out to Albany to take stock of things out there.  He finally arrived at Fort Ticonderoga on July 18.  What he found did not impress him.  His first impression of the Fort was finding a single guard who did not properly confront him, and then left him alone while wandering off to find some other sleeping guards.  Schuyler later commented that he could have taken down the guard and destroyed the Block House with a pen knife had he been so inclined.  The fort commander, Col. Hinman who had by this time received a commission in the Continental Army, had done nothing to train his soldiers, improve fort defenses, or even keep the camp clean.

Philip Schuyler
(from NY State Museum)
At the same time, Schuyler learned that the British under General Carleton were hard at work improving defenses at St. Jean and also building two new sloops with which to conduct raids or possibly an invasion.

Schuyler immediately set about whipping the army into shape and engaged the men in a ship building effort.  The continentals built ten small gunboats, each capable of mounting one cannon and carrying about 30 men.  These, along with the Enterprise and the Liberty which Arnold had left him, would constitute his invasion fleet for an assault on St. Jean.

Schuyler did not hang around all summer to oversee the project.  He sent Gen. Montgomery to Ticonderoga so he could return to Albany.  There, Schuyler would negotiate to keep the Iroquois from joining with the British in the upcoming fight.  He also to deal with a host of other military matters since he was responsible for all of New York.

Richard Montgomery

While Schuyler was not much of a combat officer, his pairing with Richard Montgomery helped to overcome that deficit.  Montgomery came from a prominent family in Northern Ireland.  His father, brother, and cousin had all served as officers on the British army and in the Irish Parliament.  When the Seven Years War began, Montgomery’s father bought him a commission as an ensign.

Richard Montgomery
(from Wikimedia)
In 1758, Ensign Montgomery led an assault force at Louisburg, landing his men in ships under fire from the French.  Impressed with his action in battle, his commander gave him a field promotion to Lieutenant.  Montgomery participated in the successful British assault against the French at Ticonderoga a month later.  He then participated in a series of combat missions resulting in the capture of Montreal.  After the fall of French Canada, Montgomery deployed the Caribbean where he saw more combat.  He return to New York after the war in time to play a role in Pontiac’s Rebellion.

Promoted to captain, Montgomery returned to London after the war, to recruit for his regiment.  There, he hung out with radical whigs like Isaac Barre and Edmund Burke.  He also got engaged to a girl from a prominent British family.

Then, in 1771, his life took an interesting turn.  His fiance had cheated on him and they broke off the marriage plans.  He also got passed over for a promotion.  Montgomery sold his commission, and moved back to New York.  There, he would become a gentleman farmer.  He bought a farm a few miles north of New York City.  He also got reacquainted with a young girl named Janet Livingston, from the wealthy New York patriot Livingston family.  The two soon married and settled down.

Montgomery became a moderate patriot, serving in the New York Provincial Congress.  Based on his military experience, the Continental Congress commissioned him a brigadier general, though it appears he accepted reluctantly.  Once he accepted though, he threw his full effort into the job and began working with Gen. Schuyler on plans to invade Canada from New York.

Attacking St. Jean, Again

In late August, Montgomery grew concerned that the British would soon launch the two ships they were building at St. Jean and use them to attack Ticonderoga.  Rather than wait for an attack, Montgomery took about 1000 men up Lake Champlain in his small makeshift fleet to attack the enemy.

Map of Lake Champlain region (from Wikimedia)
Schuyler returned to Fort Ticonderoga a few days after Montgomery left, with 800 reinforcements and some field artillery.  Schuyler rushed up the lake to catch up with Montgomery, leaving his reinforcements to make their way a few days later.  They established a base of operations at Île aux Noix, an island near the mouth of the Richelieu River, about 12 miles south of St. Jean.

On September 6, 1000 Continentals landed on shore just below St. Jean.  Schuyler had been in command, but a fever and bout of rheumatism forced him to turn over command to Montgomery.  Although they had hoped to surprise the British at St. Jean, Montgomery led his men into an ambush of about 100 Indians led by British officers.  After a short firefight that left over a dozen dead or wounded on each side, the Indians withdrew back to St. Jean.

Realizing that he had lost the element of surprise, Montgomery also withdrew back to his landing point.  There, the patriots received intelligence from a local that the British would be ready to launch one of their new ships, named the Royal Savage, within days, and that the British had also spent the last couple of months building up defenses at the Fort.  After a council of war, Schuyler and Montgomery fall back to Île aux Noix and awaited the 800 reinforcements and artillery before assaulting the fort.  There, they built a blockade across the river to prevent the British from running their new ship past the patriot forces and onto Lake Champlain.

By September 10, the reinforcements had arrived and Montgomery prepared to lead a combined force of about 1700 men against Fort St. Jean.  Montgomery divided his force into two columns, and launched a night raid.  He hoped to hit the British defenders at night from two different directions.  Unfortunately, his inexperienced officers and men were not capable of such a maneuver.  The two columns ran into each other in the dark and began firing on one another.  This alerted the British who also began firing with grapeshot from entrenched positions at the two columns. The confused and frightened Continentals fell back almost immediately and fled the field.

Montreal Campaign Map, 1775 (from revolutionarywar.net)
Montgomery hoped to attempt another assault the following day, but his troops refused.  They feared the Royal Savage would launch and get down river before they could stop it.  Montgomery thought this was simply an excuse to retreat out of fear.  He attempted to rally the men.  They would have none of it though.  Montgomery finally accepted they would not attack.  He later attempted to court martial some of the soldiers for refusing to obey orders, but they refused to testify against one another and the charges never stuck.

After a few days at Île aux Noix and no sign of the Royal Savage, Montgomery finally convinced his army to make another attempt on the fort.  The British sent a scouting ship down river and ran into the patriot base camp.  A lucky cannon shot sank the small British boat with all aboard.  This helped raise spirits for another attack.  Terrible thunderstorms delayed the third attempt until September 16.  When the weather cleared, Schuyler was still too sick.  He returned to Fort Ticonderoga and left Montgomery to lead the attack.

The delay gave the British time to reinforce their position as well.  Gen. Carleton only had about 600 regulars in all of Canada.  During the first two assaults, he had only about 200 regulars at Fort. St. Jean, along with 100 Indians and a few artillery.   After the first attacks, Carleton went all in to defend the fort.  He sent almost all his regulars, along with nearly 200 local militia, bringing the total number of defenders to about 750.  He deployed another 83 regulars just north at Fort Chambly to cover a possible retreat.  The commanding officer at Fort St. Jean was Major Charles Preston, who had once been Montgomery’s commanding officer in the Regular army.

Schuyler continued to send reinforcements for Montgomery, but illness had reduced his fit for duty force to about 1400.  Both sides had hoped to recruit more Canadians to their side, but the locals were reluctant to commit to either side.

The Siege Begins

On September 18th Montgomery deployed his main forces on the south side of the Fort, while sending a smaller force of 134 men under Maj. Jean Brown to the north to block any retreat or prevent any supplies from reaching the Fort.  Brown almost immediately discovered a supply train of eight wagons about to enter the Fort and attacked.  Inside the fort, Preston saw his supply train come under attack and deployed 200 regulars from the Fort to attack the attackers.

Fort St. Jean (from Wikimedia)
Brown’s men began to flee, only to run into Montgomery.  He was leading 500 soldiers toward the sound of gunfire.  Montgomery’s force now took the offensive against the 200 regulars who had to retreat back to the fort.  The British had to give up their wagons, but mostly escaped back to the safety of the Fort.  When Montgomery’s men came within range the fort opened up on them with its artillery, forcing them to take cover.

Montgomery’s forces entrenched all around the fort.  They had a larger force, but did not have enough artillery to take down the fort walls.  Both sides settled into a waiting game.  Preston hoped that Gen. Carleton could raise more Canadians to form a relief force.  Montgomery waited for Schuyler to find more cannons to send to him to take down the fort walls.

Return of the Green Mountain Boys

As the two sides settled into their siege, Montgomery made use of the Green Mountain Boys, whom Schuyler had sent to the field to be of assistance.  The Boys were now under the command of Lt. Col. Seth Warner, who had been Ethan Allen’s second in command during the assault on Fort Ticonderoga.  The Boys had decided to ditch Allen for Warner after Allen’s reckless assault on Fort St. Jean back in May almost got them all killed or captured.  Allen, however, remained with the group as a volunteer scout.

On September 21, three days into the Siege, Montgomery deployed Warner and his men to move north and capture two outposts near Montreal: La Prairie and Longueuil, about 25 miles north of St. Jean.  From there, the Patriots could monitor any attempts to send reinforcements to St. Jean.

Capture of Ethan Allen

Allen tagged along with the Green Mountain Boys, but decided to act on his own.  He somehow got it into his head that he could almost single handedly capture Montreal and make himself, once again, the conquering hero.  Allen collected about 110 volunteers.  He appears to have felt confident that the local Canadians in Montreal would rise up and join him as soon as he began his assault.  Allen also later claimed he expected part of Warner’s force under Major Brown to join in on the assault, though Brown stated later that he never had any idea of what Allen was planning.

Capture of Allen
(from Revolutionary War and Beyond)
On the night of September 24, Allen crossed the St. Lawrence River, landing just north of Montreal.  Even though he only had 110 men, he only had a few canoes to make the crossing meaning multiple crossing took most of the night.  Early the next morning, a force of about 40 British Regulars, more than 400 Canadian militia, and a few Indians, came after Allen’s men.  His volunteers almost immediately broke and ran, but with only a few canoes, only a small number escaped.

Allen and about two dozen volunteers stood and fought against the nearly 500 attackers, who quickly overwhelmed them.  Allen finally turned over his sword and surrendered.  As soon as he handed his sword to a British officer, an Indian attacked him.  Allen grabbed the officer and used him as a human shield to fend off the Indian attack until some Canadians got the attacker under control.

As a prominent prisoner of war, the British shipped Allen back to Britain, presumably for trial as a traitor.  He spent most of the next year aboard prison ships.  Fortunately, for Allen, the Patriots had captured several prominent British officers by this time.  They threatened that if the British executed Allen, the Americans would execute an officer of equal rank in retaliation.  King George decreed that rather than try him for treason, he should be held as a prisoner of war.  The British shipped him back to British controlled America, where he spent another two years in captivity.  Finally, in 1778 Allen would be traded for a British Colonel.

Capture of Fort Chambly

Although Allen was captured, Warner successfully held the outposts just outside Montreal.  By October, 1775 Gen. Schuyler also succeeded in getting several cannons to Montgomery so that he could begin lobing larger shells into Fort St. Jean.  They were also able to sink the Royal Savage before it ever left port.  Still, there were not enough continentals to break the siege.

While waiting out the siege at St. Jean, Montgomery deployed another force under James Livingston, a local farmer who also happened to be a relative of Montgomery’s wife, and who was able to raise several hundred militia in favor of the patriots.

Livingston acquired two cannons from the patriots and floated them downriver to attack the 83 man British outpost at Fort Chambly.  After a two day bombardment, the British commander surrendered, most importantly without destroying his munitions or supplies.  The patriots captured about 120 barrels of gunpowder, as well as a large supply of arms and food.

British Relief Force Fails

By the end of November, Gen. Carleton had assembled a force of nearly 1000 men, mostly militia from throughout Canada.  He planned to crush Warner’s outpost just outside Montreal, then move upriver to relieve the Regulars at St. Jean.  It did not go as planned though.  When the 1000 militia attacked Warner’s outpost of less than 200 men on October 30, they were met with cannon fire, from artillery Warner had taken from the captured Fort Chambly.  Most of the militia broke and ran, leaving frustrated British officers to retreat from the field.  There would be no relief force for St. Jean.

Surrender of St. Jean

In late October, the patriots received another 500 reinforcements under Gen. David Wooster.  Although battle casualties were light during the siege, the Patriots had lost hundreds of men to illness over the two month siege.

On Nov. 1, Montgomery sent a British soldier under a flag of truce into speak with Major Preston and ask for surrender.  The soldier had been part of the relief force meant to relieve St. Jean.  Suspecting a trick, Preston sent his Captain and several other officers to meet with Montgomery.  Montgomery allowed the British officers, who included a young Lieutenant named John André, to speak with several other prisoners from the relief force and convinced him that this was no trick.  St. Jean would not be relieved.  Finally convinced, on November 3, Preston surrendered Fort St. Jean.  Over 500 Regulars and another 100 Militia became prisoners of war.

Fall of Montreal

With St. Jean captured, Carleton pull back with his few remaining soldiers, abandoning Montreal and retreating to Quebec.  Montgomery marched into Montreal unopposed on November 13.  The patriots captured his fleet along the river.  Carleton was forced to don civilian clothes and pretend to be a French Canadian in order to make his way through enemy lines and return to Quebec.

Aftermath

The Patriots celebrated the fall of St. Jean and Montreal as an important victory.  Congress promoted Montgomery to major general, though (spoiler alert) he would die before he received news of the promotion.  The Capture of Montreal opened up the path for an assault on Quebec, which would mean the fall of British Canada.

- - -

Next Episode 73 Siege of Boston, Autumn Edition

Previous Episode 71 Britain Prepares to Crush a Rebellion


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Further Reading:

Websites:

Philip Schuyler: http://www.nndb.com/people/005/000049855

Richard Montgomery: http://www.revolutionarywararchives.org/montgomery.html

Battle of Fort St. Jean: http://www.myrevolutionarywar.com/battles/750918-st-jean.html

Free eBooks
(from archive.org unless noted)

Allen, Ethan A narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen's Captivity, Washington: H. Johnson & Co. 1838 (First written in 1779).

Caldwell, Henry The Invasion of Canada in 1775, Quebec: Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, 1887.

Chipman, Daniel Memoir of Seth Warner, Middlebury: L.W. Clarke, 1848 (Also in the same volume is The Life of Ethan Allen by Jared Sparks).

Cullum, George Biographical sketch of Major-General Richard Montgomery, [Publisher unknown], 1876.

Force, Peter American Archives, Series 4, Vol 2, Washington: M. St. Clair Clarke & Peter Force, 1837.

Kingsford, William The History of Canada, Toronto: Rowsell & Hutchison, 1887.

Lossing, Benson The Life and Times of Philip Schuyler Vol 1,  and Vol 2, New York: Sheldon & Co. 1872-73.

Smith, Justin Our Struggle for the Fourteenth Colony: Canada, and the American Revolution, Vol. 1, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907.

Sparks, Jared American Biography, Vol. 2, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1902 (Includes Life of Richard Montgomery, by Richard Armstrong).

Tuckerman, Bayard Life of General Philip Schuyler, 1733-1804, New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. 1903.

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

Beck, Derek The War Before Independence: 1775-1776, Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks, 2016.

Hatch, Robert Thrust for Canada, New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1979.

Phillips, Kevin 1775: A Good Year for Revolution, New York: Viking Penguin, 2012.

Randall, Willard Ethan Allen: His Life and Times, New York: W.W. Norton & Co.1992.

Shelton, Richard General Richard Montgomery and the American Revolution: From Redcoat to Rebel, New York: NYU Press, 1994.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Episode 071: Britain Prepares to Crush a Rebellion




For the last few weeks I’ve been talking about how all the colonies rose up almost simultaneously after the battles of Lexington and Concord, threw out the royal governors, and took over their colonies.  Officials in London observed the events of 1775 with increasing astonishment and frustration.

Lord North (from Wikipedia)
Everyone was telling King George, Prime Minister Lord North and Secretary of State Lord Dartmouth that putting a little military pressure on the colonists would force them to back down and return everything to normal.  That was what former Massachusetts Gov. Hutchinson saying in London.  That was what the current royal governors in the colonies were telling them.  That was what Gov. General Gage had told everyone in 1774 before he left for America.  That was what Generals Howe, Burgoyne, and Clinton had said in early 1775 before they left for America.  That was the consensus of the overwhelming majority in Parliament, and the officer corps as well.  Yet every attempt to apply military pressure only resulted in the colonists raising their level of defiance.

There were, of course, some radical whigs in Britain who supported the colonies and said that military force was folly.  You may recall John Wilkes from Episode 31.  He was the expelled member of Parliament who went to jail for criticizing the King. By 1775, Wilkes was the elected Lord Mayor of London.  His council sent a petition to the King calling for reconciliation and an end to the military occupation in America.  The King, of course, responded with disapproval.  It would be unfair to the law abiding members of his Empire to compromise with the poorly behaved American colonists.  The overwhelming consensus in the government was that they could not allow the colonies to get their way by firing on regulars.  That sort of opposition had to be met with punishing military force.  Otherwise colonies all over the world would start demanding more rights and privileges of their own.

So if the answer was military crackdown, the ministry needed to spend the fall and winter putting the necessary changes in place for a spring offensive.

Gage Gets the Boot

The only significant military actions of 1775 were Lexington & Concord, and Bunker Hill.  In both battles, Gen. Gage had achieved his nominal objectives, but at an unacceptable cost.  Further, he did not seem to be doing anything to take decisive military action against the rebels.  He was supposed to have spent 1775 crushing dissent in Massachusetts and the rest of New England, and arresting the most troublesome leaders of the opposition.  Instead, he sat in Boston, crying over his difficult situation and demanding more and more soldiers.  Meanwhile sedition spread through all the colonies as political protest turned to armed warfare.

Bunker Hill was the final straw for the ministry.  On August 2, three days after receiving Gen. Gage’s report on Bunker Hill, Lord Dartmouth ordered his recall to London and put Gen. Howe in charge of the army at Boston.  The language for the recall was a return for consultation.  Conceivably they might have considered sending him back.  But that was not going to happen.  Howe’s command would become permanent the following spring.  Gage would never have a field command again.  He would remain Governor of Massachusetts, though that was mostly because there was no point in appointing a replacement until Britain had restored control of the colony.  Gage would later receive a promotion to full general, so officials did not consider his service a disgrace.  But it was time to give another general a chance to resolve this crisis.  Gen. Gage was done.

Preparing for a Larger War

Bunker Hill, also made it increasingly clear that the regulars in Boston were not going to be able to break out of the city, at least at current strength.  The ministry officials had to choose whether they would consider a political compromise, or up their military game to crush the rebellion.  The King clearly favored the latter.  In July, the King wrote a letter to Lord Sandwich, the First Lord of the Admiralty: "I am of the opinion that when once these rebels have felt a smart blow, they will submit; and no situation can ever change my fixed resolution, either to bring the colonies to due obedience to the legislature of the mother country or to cast them off!" Lord North and the rest of the ministry seemed to agree.

Buckingham House (later Buckingham Palace)
purchased by George III in 1761. (from Fine Arts America)
The ministry spent most of the summer and fall preparing to send a massive army to America the following year.  The problem was, armies were expensive.  The whole point of taxing the colonies in the first place was to pay off the huge debts from the last war.  Now the administration was going to spend far more on military than the colonial taxes ever would have collected.  This was exactly what the Whigs in Parliament had been saying all along. This fight had moved beyond money though.  It was setting precedent about who was really in charge.

The British navy began raising and renovating ships for large numbers of troop transports and for sending supplies across the Atlantic to support the larger army they would have in 1776.  Military recruiters also spread over England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, raising new regiments and training them for the following year.

Throughout the fall, the Ministry took additional steps to get on a war footing with America.  It ordered Admiral Graves to search all ships coming to America for flintstones, commonly used for ballast.  It ordered the navy to dump any flintstones in deep water to prevent their use in flintlock muskets.  They did not want the colonists to be with the Flintstones, and have a gay old time. Sorry, showing my age with that joke.  Kids, ask your grandparents to explain it.

Less than a year earlier, Secretary of State Dartmouth had pretty much laughed at Gage’s request for 20,000 soldiers.  Now the ministry was gearing up to send well over 30,000.  They all accepted the premise that they needed to hit the colonists with overwhelming force, or this fight could go on for years.

The plans went through several tweaks over the course of the fall but generally, they planned to send two-thirds of the troops to New England and one-third to control the colonies to the south. On September 24, the Ministry announced its intention to "carry on the war against America with the utmost vigour; and to begin the next campaign as early as possible in the spring. The outlines of the plan to be pursued, are, an army of eighteen thousand men to be employed in New-England, and another army of twelve thousand men are to act in Virginia and the middle Provinces."

King Declares Colonies in Rebellion

As part of London’s attempt to ratchet up the war efforts, On August 23, the King issued a Royal Proclamation declaring the colonies in rebellion.  The King accused colonists of disturbing the peace, obstruction of lawful commerce, oppressing their fellow subjects and now levying war against the British government.

The proclamation made clear to the colonies that the King was not ignoring out of control Ministers.  The King backed the actions of his government and would not tolerate the continued colonial attempts to resist government policy.  The proclamation also declared it unlawful for loyal subjects to communicate with the rebels, thus outlawing any backchannel correspondence between the colonies and Britain.

Olive Branch Rejected

About a week later, Pennsylvania Gov. Richard Penn on behalf of the Continental Congress, and Arthur Lee, the colonial agent in London, presented Lord Dartmouth with Congress’ Olive Branch Petition.  You remember, the one I discussed a couple of weeks ago where Congress told the King he certainly could not be supporting the violations of rights and liberties perpetrated by the current ministry, and could he please set things right.

Since the King had proclaimed the week before that he was in full support of the ministry’s actions, the success of the petition did not look good.  Of course, it did not even get as far as a rejection on the merits. The King refused even to receive the petition, not recognizing the legitimacy of the Continental Congress as a legal body that could petition the King.

London 1775 political cartoon critical of the King.
(from Education Library of Virginia)
These actions made clear to everyone on both sides of the Atlantic that neither the King nor his government had any inclination to compromise with the rebels in the colonies.  The two bodies were effectively at war and the colonies would now feel the full military impact of their rebellion.

On October 27, the King reaffirmed this view in an address to the new session of Parliament.  He noted that, despite vague expressions of loyalty to the King, the colonies had created an army and navy and formed their own colonial government independent of royal authority.  Their clear intent was to create an “independent empire.” That was unacceptable.  The King noted the “moderation and forbearance” of Parliament to resolve ongoing disputes and the colonial refusal to accept reasonable compromises.  He would now use “decisive force” against the colonies until the “unhappy and deluded multitude, against whom this force will be directed, shall become sensible of their error.

In other words, the gloves were coming off.  If the colonies wanted a war, they would get a war.  No more discussion.  No tolerating colonial defiance of the King or Parliament’s authority.

British Support for the Colonies Falters

With the King publicly in favor of war, most British subjects supported their King.  In earlier disputes with the colonies, many British manufacturers and workers sided with the colonies if only to end trade stoppages that were putting people out of work.  The patriots were counting particularly on the working people of England to stand with them once again, if only for their own economic self-interest.

In the intervening years, though, the economics had changed.  In 1774, the Russo-Turkish War ended, opening a huge market for British manufactured goods in eastern Europe.  As a result, British workers were not feeling the pain of colonial boycotts against British products.  Added to that was the fact that many in Britain were simply tired of colonial complaints.  Tories had done a better job in recent years of painting the colonists as spoiled babies who actually had it better than most British commoners.  Support for the colonial cause among the British people plummeted as a result.

Germain Replaces Dartmouth

A large majority of Parliament supported the plan to take decisive action against the colonies, especially now that the King and spoken directly and unequivocally on the matter.  Still, a significant minority thought this plan was the wrong way to go.  Among this minority was Lord Dartmouth, who as Secretary of State for the American Department, would be a key minister in implementing the new policy.  Dartmouth decided he could not do this and resigned his post on November 10.  In the typical British way, Dartmouth would not be shunted out of power entirely. Rather he received a new position as Lord Privy Seal, which was still in the cabinet but not directly involved in the war with the colonies.

George Germain
(from Wikimedia)
In Dartmouth’s place, Prime Minister North appointed George Germain, who had previously been Lord Sackville.  The new Secretary of State came from a prominent aristocratic family, well established in British society.  His godfather was King George I.  But as the third son of a Duke, he was not in line to inherit a title or lands.  So as a young man, Germain entered the military, where he served honorably in the War of Austrian Succession. By the beginning of the Seven Years War, he was in line for a commission as major general.  The leadership even considered granting him the command of North America, the position that ultimately went to Gen. Braddock.

Although passed over for command in North America, Germain served as a general in the European theater.  During the Battle of Minden, Gen. Germain refused the orders of the allied commander, the Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, to send his cavalry to attack the retreating French.  The allegation is that Germain did not want the cavalry commander to gain glory for winning the battle.  Although the Allies won the battle and protected Hanover from French invasion, Germain’s refusal to obey orders in battle resulted in him being cashiered and sent home in disgrace.

If he had been more astute, he probably would have let the matter drop and begin trying to rebuild his reputation in other ways.  But Germain could not let the matter go and demanded a court martial.  The court not only affirmed his dismissal, but declared he was  "unfit to serve his Majesty in any military capacity whatsoever."  To really bury his reputation, the Court then ordered its verdict to be read to every regiment in the army.  King George II struck Germain’s name from the Privy Council.

That could have ended his public life forever.  Fortunately, when George II died the following year, his successor George III tended to like anyone that his grandfather disliked.  Germain, still serving as a member of Parliament slowly built favor with the new King and his ministers, including Lord North.  In 1769, a distant relative died and left Germain some land.  This was when he changed his name from Lord Sackville to Lord Germain.

Germain’s positions in Parliament consistently favored taking a harder line against the colonies.  Now that the North Ministry was ready to take a very hard line, Germain seemed like a good candidate to oversee the Ministry’s war in America as Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs.

Renting an Army - the Hessians

With Germain now in place as Secretary of State, the Ministry pushed forward with its plans to raise and deploy 30,000 soldiers in America.

The wealthy aristocrats running the government were ready to compel obedience whatever the cost, but the British people were in no mood to pay higher taxes to build the necessary army.  High debt from the last war would make loans more difficult and more expensive.  Even so, it had to be done.  In August, King George began looking at the option of hiring German armies to supplement recruiting from home.  Renting German troops would actually be cheaper than raising British troops since German soldiers received even lower pay than the poorly paid British soldiers.  German princes, eager to raise cash and give their armies something to do in peacetime, were willing to make a deal.  The King began negotiations in Europe for a rented army.
Hessian Soldier (from Kokomo Herald)

During the late summer and early fall of 1775, the King reached out to Russia, but Empress Catherine would not assist him.  The King finally struck a deal with the German State of Hesse-Kassel.  Hesse-Kassel was a neighbor of King George, who was still the Elector of Hanover.  The Prince of Hesse-Kassel was a son-in-law of King George II, although his wife, George III’s Aunt Mary, had died a couple of years earlier.  Hesse-Kassel was a small but heavily militarized state.  All boys had to register for service, beginning at age seven, and could be drafted as early as age 16.  All males had to serve in the military and drill a few weeks each year, unless they received an exemption from the Prince.  If you were unemployed or got into legal trouble, you would quite likely find yourself enlisted in the army.

The single largest source of revenue for the state was renting out soldiers as mercenaries.  Like the British army, discipline was brutal and pay was terrible.  But civilian pay for unskilled laborers in Hesse was even worse than military pay.  Also, families of soldiers in Hesse got certain tax breaks and other benefits.  These encouraged families to enlist some of their children in the army.  The State also instilled the value of militarism in its people, who took pride in the state’s military reputation.

In November 1775, King George informed Lord North that he had contracted to have 4000 Hessians sent to America to supplement British troops.  These were the first of nearly 30,000 Hessians and other German speaking mercenaries who would come to America over the course of the Revolution.

France Takes an Interest

With the Britain’s political dispute with the colonies erupting into all out war, the French government began to perk up and take notice.  France was still smarting from its loss to Britain in the Seven Years War, just over a decade earlier, where among other things it lost Canada.  France was still recovering from that war and was in no mood to start another one with Britain.  At the same time, if France could do anything to make life more difficult for Britain and force the British to expend men and resources in America, France would be happy to facilitate that.  It was not only payback, keeping one’s enemy weak helped to prevent that enemy from starting a future war against you.

Charles Gravier,
comte de Vergennes,
(from Wikimedia)
In August 1775, French foreign minister the Comte de Vergennes sent 26 year old Julien-Alexandre Achard de Bonvouloir to America to look at the colonists and see if they could really become a thorn in Britain’s side.  Bonvouloir had more than simple authority to observe.  He could make contact with the Continental Congress and set up some covert diplomatic relations.  Of course, all of this was quite informal.  France could not recognize the colonies independently of Britain, nor engage in open diplomacy with them.  It certainly could not openly provide military assistance.  Any of that would result in Britain declaring war on France, something the French really did not want at this time.  If the British discovered Bonvouloir in America, the French government would deny he had any authority.

Bonvouloir made his way to Philadelphia.  There he began to assess the state of the rebellion. He made contact with key members of Congress and hinted that France might be willing to provide some form of covert assistance.  Bonvouloir’s reports to Paris created the opening that would eventually establish an alliance between France and America that was critical to winning the war.

Outwardly, France was making no moves that would incur British wrath.  Paris issued a ban on the sale of any war munitions to American merchant vessels.  Despite this ban, American merchants covertly purchased French munitions at the French colony of Hispaniola, what is today Haiti.  By banning the trade and then turning a blind eye to violations of the ban, France could avoid war with Britain while still providing some assistance to the new rebellion.

Prohibitory Act

As 1775 came to an end, the North Ministry prepared to ship its armies off to America so that they would arrive in time for an early spring offensive.

Britain had already banned the colonies from trading with any entity other than Britain, and the colonies themselves had already imposed a trade ban on Britain in protest of the Coercive Acts.  So effectively the two sides had already outlawed all trade.  In December though, Parliament passed the Prohibitory Act, which barred all commerce and trade with the North American Colonies.

Unlike earlier trade restrictions, the new law authorized the navy to capture any colonial ship just as they would any ship belonging to a wartime enemy.  Ships and cargo would be seized, taken to Admiralty Court, and if found to be involved in colonial trade, sold at auction.  The ban also applied to ships of other countries that traded with the colonies.  In essence, the British navy planned to blockade the entire coast of North America.  So with all this in place, Britain prepared to start its war in earnest the following spring.

- - -

Next Episode 72 The Siege of St. Jean

Previous Episode 70: Ousted Governors and Bermuda Powder Raid


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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.
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Mike Troy


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Visit http://www.amrevpodcast.com for a list of all episodes.

Visit https://pod.amrevpodcast.com for free downloads of all podcast episodes.

Further Reading:

Websites

Proclamation of Rebellion Aug. 23, 1775: http://www.britannia.com/history/docs/procreb.html

King’s address to Parliament, Oct. 27, 1775: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/amrev/shots/address.html

George Germain: http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1754-1790/member/sackville-lord-george-1716-85

The Hessians: http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/hessians

Rupper, Bob "Reconciliation No Longer an Option" Journal of the American Revolution, 2014: https://allthingsliberty.com/2014/11/reconciliation-no-longer-an-option

The unlikely Spy (Bonvouloir): http://www.ushistory.org/carpentershall/history/french.htm

Free eBooks
(from archive.org unless noted)

Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts Report on the manuscripts of Mrs. Stopford-Sackville, of Drayton House, Northamptonshire Vol. 2, Hereford: Hereford Press, 1910 (includes Germain’s correspondence related to America).

Cumberland, Richard Character of the late Lord Viscount Sackville, London: C. Dilly, 1785.

Donne, W. Bodham (ed) The correspondence of King George the Third with Lord North from 1768 to 1783, Vol 1, London: John Murray, 1867.

Force, Peter American Archives, Series 4, Vol 2, Washington: Clarke & Force, 1837.

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

Beck, Derek, Igniting the American Revolution 1773-1775, Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks, 2015.

Beeman, Richard R. Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776, New York: Basic Books, 2013.

Brown, Gerald Saxon The American secretary: The colonial policy of Lord George Germain, 1775-1778, Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1963 (book recommendation of the week).

O’Shaughnessy, Andrew Jackson The Men Who Lost America, New Haven: Yale University Press, 201

Phillips, Kevin 1775: A Good Year for Revolution,  New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

Watson J. Steven & George Clark The Reign of George III 1760-1815, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960.

Whiteley, Peter Lord North: The Prime Minister Who Lost America, London: Hambledon Press, 2003.



Sunday, November 11, 2018

Episode 70: Ousted Governors & Bermuda Powder Raid




Last week, I talked about how the southern colonies had all chased off their Royal Governors during the summer and fall of 1775.  It then occurred to me that I ought to do the same for the rest of the colonies to make clear the entire continent was up in arms.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts, of course, was the epicenter of the rebellion.  I’ve already discussed that colony’s situation in past episodes. The siege of Boston that bottled up the regular army, also restricted the head of that army, Gen. Thomas Gage, who was also Governor of Massachusetts.  When the orders from London arrived in September to recall him, the Governor left, never to return.  I will talk about that more next week.   The bottom line is that outside of Boston, Britain had no control in the colony and the Governor had to leave.

New Hampshire

Gov. John Wentworth
(from Wikimedia)
In New Hampshire, Gov. John Wentworth faced increasing hostility from the local patriots.   He kept a low profile after Lexington and Concord.  On June 13, a mob surrounded his house in search of a loyalist militia officer.

After that, Wentworth and his family moved to the relative safety of Fort William and Mary.  Remember, that’s the fort which the militia had little problem capturing twice in one week the year before.  I discussed that back in Episode 51.

 It still had a small military garrison but also now had the backing of a Navy ship just offshore.  By August, the fort seemed threatened anyway, Wentworth sent his family to London and joined Gen. Gage in Boston.  The fort garrison left in September, leaving New Hampshire completely under patriot control.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island had an elected Governor, not appointed by the King, which assured some local popularity.  Even so, Gov. Joseph Wanton of Rhode Island was a Quaker and deemed too loyalist for the patriot population.

Wanton won reelection in May 1775, just weeks after Lexington and Concord, though his new Lt. Gov. Nicolas Cooke was a committed patriot. Wanton refused to raise an army to fight against the British in Boston, nor commission militia officers.  The patriot controlled Assembly did not impeach him.  It simply decided he was not Governor anymore and allowed Cooke to assume the duties of Governor.  Wanton remained in Rhode Island, maintaining a strict neutrality.  He continued to live in the colony as a private citizen until his death in 1780.

Connecticut

Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull was also elected.  Unlike Gov. Wanton in Rhode Island, Trumbull gave his full support to the patriot cause.  Several of his sons joined the Continental Army and he worked hand in hand with the patriots in his colony to further the patriot cause.  As a result, he continued in office for another decade.  He would be the only colonial governor to transition to state governor.  There was however no royal authority in the colony.

New York

New York was a little more complicated.  Although the patriots had largely taken over in the days following Lexington and Concord, the Royal Navy maintained a large presence in New York Harbor.  Several hundred regulars also remained in New York City. Royal Governor William Tryon had taken a trip to London in 1774.  He was still away when patriots took control of the colony. Unlike New England, New York still had a vocal and active loyalist faction during the summer of 1775.  Gov. Tryon returned to a divided New York City on June 25 1775.  That same day, Gen. Washington also arrived in the city, on his way to Boston to take command of the Continental Army.  Both men received separate welcoming committees.

New York City (battery at far left)
(from Library of Congress)
Tryon realized he had lost all political control, but attempted to serve the King as best he could.  He remained in the city, but under the constant protection of a small detachment of regulars.

On July 20, patriots under the command of radical New York leader Isaac Sears seized the contents of the Royal Armory at Turtle Bay.  They removed the munitions to Connecticut for use in the patriot cause.  The raid was an embarrassment to the Royal Navy still sitting in New York Harbor.  The British went on alert for future patriot efforts to size munitions.

On August 23, a raiding party under orders from the NY Provincial Congress, attempted to take control of twenty-one canon from the battery stationed at the southern tip of Manhattan.  British troops exchanged fire with one British regular killed.  The navy ship Asia fired several broadsides at the raiders.  The cannon fire damaged several buildings in Manhattan, resulting in many New Yorkers fleeing the city.  They feared it would become more of a battlefield in the future.

About that same time, the Continental Congress ordered the arrest of any royal officials who refused to support the patriot cause.  The NY Provincial Congress, however, refused to arrest Gov. Tryon.  Although patriots controlled the city, they feared the navy would level the city if they kidnapped the Royal Governor.

Gov. Tryon stuck it out until October, when he finally accepted that remaining in the city was just too risky.  On October 19, Tryon boarded the British sloop the Halifax.  He remained on board, attempting to perform his duties as Governor, and receiving guests.  He would sit in New York Harbor until the British invasion the following year.  At that point, he could return to the city with the tens of thousands of British regulars that occupied New York.

New Jersey

New Jersey patriots formed a Provincial Congress in May 1775.  Like New York, the State had both strong patriot and loyalist factions.

The Royal Governor William Franklin remained in the colony throughout 1775 as did the loyalist, or at least more moderate General Assembly.  It may be because Franklin’s father was the famous patriot Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin might be able to lure his son to the patriot cause.  Gov. Franklin, however, remained a committed loyalist.

NJ Gov. William Franklin
(from Wikimedia)
In November, the NJ Assembly considered sending its own petition to the King seeking a peaceful solution.  The Continental Congress, which had already received the King’s rejection of its own Olive Branch Petition, sent a rebuke to the New Jersey legislature for attempting its own petition.  Without context, New Jersey’s effort might have seemed reasonable to many.  The King rejected the Olive Branch Petition because it did not recognize Congress as a legitimate entity.  But the King would have no such reason for rejecting a petition from the Royal Government in New Jersey.  The King though, had also made clear he was in no mood for diplomacy by this point.  The Continental Congress sent a delegation to the New Jersey Assembly, headed by John Dickinson, to talk them out of a petition.  Dickinson the moderate delivered the message that the time for talk was over and we had to fight now.  He argued the King had declared war and that New Jersey sending a petition at this point would make the colonies seem weak and divided.  Dickinson also carried the implied message that the Continental Congress would take the exclusive power of negotiating with London for the protection of colonial rights.  So this was a big step, and a surprising one for a man like Dickinson.  He did, however, convince the Assembly not to send a petition.

The New Jersey petition attempt indicated that the colony was not solidly on board with the patriot cause.  It may be another reason NJ patriots allowed the Royal Governor to remain in power.  That finally came to end early the following year when the New Jersey Provincial Congress finally put the Governor under house arrest in January 1776.  Later, they moved him to a prison in Connecticut.  Eventually, the patriots turned over the Governor to the British as part of a prisoner exchange.

Pennsylvania & Delaware

Pennsylvania, with an elected assembly, had a relatively smooth transition to the patriot cause.  The Penn family held the office of Proprietor, which acted as Governor, since the colony’s founding.  The King made no appointments.  The Penn family simply owned the colony.

Proprietor Thomas Penn, son of founder William Penn, died in London in March 1775. His nephew, John Penn had been running the colony in his father’s name for years.  John Penn seemed to support the patriot cause generally.  He carried the Olive Branch Petition to the King in 1775.  Penn stayed in London after delivering the petition.  He remained governor in name only until independence in 1776 ended the proprietorship of the Colony.  Delaware also fell under the control of the Pennsylvania Proprietor until its independence in 1776.

Maryland

Maryland Royal Governor Robert Eden had been born in England, but he had married the daughter of Maryland’s proprietor and was well respected in the colony.  He had been supportive of colonial rights since taking office in 1769, but as governor could not support armed opposition to the King.

Sir Robert Eden
(from Wikimedia)
The patriot-backed Annapolis Convention took effective control of the colony in 1775, and asked Eden to step down. Though he refused to resign formally, he took no steps to prevent the Assembly from running the colony as they saw fit.  When the Continental Congress ordered his arrest in the fall of 1775, the Assembly refused, allowing him to remain as the nominal governor.  Eden stuck it out until June 1776, before finally boarding a British navy ship and returning to England.

Ok, so with that, the thirteen colonies that would found the United States were entirely or mostly under patriot control by the end of the summer of 1775.  It is not necessarily that the majority of Americans in each colony supported the patriot cause.  It seems more that the patriot factions were more active and organized in each colony.

Florida

I have not discussed the southernmost British colony in North America, Florida.  East and West Florida had become British at the end of the French and Indian War.  Spain gave the Floridas to Britain as part of the price of getting back Cuba.  Although the Spanish had a colony at St. Augustine for over 200 years, the European population of East Florida was tiny, about 3000 Europeans, 2000 of which lived in St. Augustine.  West Florida (capital Pensacola) had a population of about 6000, but was far more removed from the rest of the colonies.

Gov. Patrick Tonyn
(from Swanbourne History)
The British army kept one regiment at St. Augustine as its southern command.  But really no one was flocking to the colony in any great numbers.  Floridians did not seem to share the outrage of their fellow colonists to the north.  They had willingly paid the Stamp tax and other taxes that had created showdowns in the other colonies.  The small population of planters showed no interest in being a part of any rebellion.  The Royal Governor Patrick Tonyn served without interruption until the end of the war.

As a result, Florida remained firmly in the loyalist camp.  Over the course of the war, many loyalists, particularly from the southern colonies would flee to Florida, increasing its population to around 17,000.  But in 1775, Florida was a tiny backwater.  Gen. Gage even ordered part of the single regiment left in Florida to provide reinforcements for him in Boston.  As a result, the British military presence in Florida sunk to a token level of a couple of hundred men.

In addition to being a destination for fleeing loyalists, St. Augustine served as a prisoner of war camp during the Revolution.  Later in the war, the Spanish would begin looking at ways to recover Florida.  That is a topic for future episodes.

In 1775, Florida remained pretty quiet.  One exception to this came on August 7 when an armed sloop from Georgia called the Commerce discovered a British transport vessel named the Betsy was sailing to St. Augustine with a large supply of gunpowder.  The Commerce spotted the Betsy at night and came alongside her with only a few black crew members remaining above deck.  The watchman on the Betsy assumed it was a cargo ship run by slaves and did not alert the sleeping crew.  Once alongside, the Georgians captured the crew and unloaded around 170 barrels of gunpowder before making their escape.

The only other North American colony under British control was Canada.  I’ll get into more details about that when I discuss the invasion of Canada.  But for now, I’ll just say that like Florida, Canada remained pretty solidly in the loyalist camp.

Bermuda Gunpowder Raid

Britain also had a few island colonies in the area.  Today, I only plan to talk about one of them, the small island of Bermuda, where patriots conducted a raid over the summer of 1775.

As I mentioned in an earlier episode, Washington arrived in Cambridge to find that his army had almost no gunpowder at all, not even enough to fight one significant battle.  He immediately began a desperate search for powder anywhere he could find it, while trying to keep the shortage a secret.  If the British discovered the shortage, the regulars in Boston might simply march out and route continentals, who would probably be unable to shoot back for very long.

Bermuda (from Jrnl of Am Rev)
Washington was able to scrape up some munitions from other colonial stockpiles, and smugglers were making every effort to bring back powder from Europe.  But getting more powder was slow, and supplies acquired were small.  You can really feel for Washington’s position when your read some of his letters at this time.  He practically begs anyone to send anything.  The search for powder went anywhere in the world that could serve as a possible source.

Bermuda was a small relatively isolated British colony to the north of the West Indies.  It is a tiny island, actually a group of islands, totaling about 20 square miles of land.  Bermuda as a colony had developed on trade, well actually piracy for most of its history, hitting French and Spanish ships in the West Indies. Today we would call the pirates of the Caribbean.  The island also developed a strong ship building trade and became a major exporter of salt.  Much of the salt was collected from shallows on the nearby Turks Islands, which Bermuda had been disputing with the Bahamas for decades.

Bermuda’s governor George James Bruere, a former British Army officer had governed the Island for more than a decade.  Like any royal governor, he strongly supported the King and the government in London.  Gov. Bruere’s son, Lt. John Bruere died while storming Bunker Hill in June. Another son, Lt. George Bruere was wounded in the same battle.  This probably did nothing to endear Gov. Bruere to the colonial cause.

Slaves made up a majority of the island population.  The remainder were mostly British colonists who tended to support the patriot cause.  The colonists on Bermuda had gone through most of the same annoying attempts at taxation that had raised the ire of their fellow colonists in North America.  Bermuda also had close relations to the North American colonies for trade.  Bermuda Council President, Henry Tucker had two brothers living in Virginia, both of whom sided with the patriots. He was especially sympathetic to the cause.

The problem for Bermuda was one of geography.  Even though many on the island supported the patriots, they could not join the patriot cause because the British Navy could very easily cut off the entire island.  The island was completely dependent on outside trade for food. Bermudans imported nearly 90% of the food that they ate.  Almost all of this food came from the North American colonies.

Henry Tucker (Sr)
(from Bernews)
Once the Continental Congress banned all trade with the British West Indies, Bermuda had to find another source of food or face massive starvation.  Most of the other islands in the West Indies were also net-importers of food since they mostly grew cash crops.  So trading with other British islands wasn’t an option, and trade with anyone outside the British Empire was also banned.

Tucker had his brother in Virginia start a correspondence with Thomas Jefferson about the problems the island faced without trade.  Eventually Tucker’s father, also named Henry, travelled from Bermuda to Philadelphia to meet directly with Congress on the issue.  In informal discussions with Benjamin Franklin and Robert Morris on the Secret Committee set up to secure munitions for the Continental Army assured Tucker that if he could smuggle munitions to the patriots, they would be permitted to trade for food to bring back to Bermuda.  In July, the Congress passed a general rule stating that ships bringing munitions would be exempt from the trade embargo.  They did not single out Bermuda because they did not want to bring attention to them, but it was clearly done in response to Tucker’s negotiations.

Bermuda, of course, could not simply send the powder to the Continental Congress without getting in big trouble with London.  Instead, the two groups appear to have concocted a sham “raid” where the Continentals would take the powder while Bermuda officials closed their eyes, then provide secret compensation later.

The exact details of the raid are unclear.  But Bermuda had a powderhouse with over 100 barrels of gunpowder.  Like most powderhouses, it was built on a relatively isolated area near the coast since no one liked living near a building that was packed with explosives.  On the night of August 14, a group of men broke into the powderhouse and removed most of the barrels.  As this was thousands of pounds, it would have taken a large number of men to pull it off in matter of hours.

Harbor at St. George Bermuda
(from Wikimedia)
A ship with a Virginia registry The Lady Catherine took the powder back to Philadelphia, and presumably left the locals who had assisted with a supply of food or other items of value in trade.  Later, Henry Tucker’s brother, St. George, admitted that he had been among the crew that had seized the powder for the Patriots.

The Governor reported that both The Lady Catherine and another ship from South Carolina were spotted in the area, but neither had landed at a port on the island.  Presumably the crew used smaller boats to move the powder out to the ship at sea.  It turned out the South Carolina ship had nothing to do with the raid, but is mentioned in many of the contemporary accounts.

The raid was such a secret that even George Washington did not know about it.  For several months after the raid, Washington corresponded with the Governor of Rhode Island trying to develop plans for a raid of his own on Bermuda.  He even wrote a letter to the patriots in Bermuda in September asking for their cooperation in getting their powder to his army in Cambridge.  He did not know that the armory was by that time pretty much empty due to the successful raid by the crew of The Lady Catherine and that most of the powder was already on its way to his army.

Henry Tucker clearly was involved in the raid, but never got in trouble.  Possibly the fact that he married the Royal Governor’s daughter encouraged everyone to sweep the incident  under the rug.  After these events, Bermuda accepted that it had to side with Britain.  The Navy’s control of the seas meant that it would not get regular food imports unless the British allowed it.  As a British colony, many loyalists immigrated to the island during the war, tilting the population more to the loyalist side.  Later in the war, Bermuda made a fortune as a base for privateers raiding American merchant vessels.

- - -

Next Episode 71 Britain Prepares to Crush a Rebellion 

Previous Episode 69 The South Joins the War


Click here to donate
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.
Thanks,
Mike Troy


Click here to see my Patreon Page
You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option for people who want to make monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.  Thanks again!



Visit http://www.amrevpodcast.com for a list of all episodes.

Visit https://pod.amrevpodcast.com for free downloads of all podcast episodes.



Further Reading

Websites: 

NYC 1775: https://www.varsitytutors.com/earlyamerica/early-america-review/volume-7/new-york-city-during-the-revolution

East Florida as a Refuge of Southern Loyalists 1774-1785, by Wilbur Seibert:  http://www.americanantiquarian.org/proceedings/44806786.pdf

British East Florida, 1763-1783: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00025122/00008/1x

The Bermuda Gunpowder Plot: http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/the-bermuda-gunpowder-plot.html

The Bermuda Gunpowder Raids, by Hugh T. Harrington, Journal of the American Revolution (2014): https://allthingsliberty.com/2014/11/the-bermuda-powder-raids-of-1775

Free eBooks
(from archive.org unless noted)

Dawson, Henry B. (ed) New York City during the American Revolution : being a collection of original papers (now first published) from the manuscripts in the possession of the Mercantile Library Association, of New York City, New York: Mercantile Library Association of the City of New-York, 1861.

Kaye, John Life And Corresponding Of Henry St.George Tucker, by John Kaye (1872).

Mayo, Lawrence Shaw John Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire, 1767-1775, Cambridge: Harvard Univ Press, 1921.

Stuart, I.W. Life of Jonathan Trumbull Sen., Governor Of Connecticut, Boston: Crocker and Brewster, 1859.

Trumbull, Jonathan Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut, 1769-1784, Boston: Little Brown & Co. 1919 (author is the great great grandson of the subject).

Whitehead, William A Biographical Sketch of William Franklin, NJ Historical Society, 1849.

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

Bliven, Bruce Under the Guns: New York, 1775-1776, New York: Harper & Rowe, 1972

Ketchum, Richard Divided Loyalties: How the American Revolution Came to New York, New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2002.

Marsh, Michael The Defining Story of Bermuda's Great Gunpowder Plot 1775, Yellow Toadstool Press, 2016 (book recommendation of the week).

Phillips, Kevin 1775: A Good Year for Revolution, New York: Viking Penguin, 2012.

Ryerson, Richard The Revolution Is Now Begun: The Radical Committees of Philadelphia, 1765-1776, Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1978.