Thursday, May 27, 2010

Allen and Arnold 5

30 Days to Glory: May 1-3
Previous: April 27 - April 30
Next: May 4 - May 8

Monday, May 1:

Edward Mott is in Salisbury, Connecticut, where he increases his party to 16. He notes, “we concluded it was not best to add any more, as we meant to keep our business a secret and ride through the country unarmed.” After crossing into western Massachusetts, two men are dispatched “to go to Albany in order to discover the temper of the people in that place.”

That evening, Mott’s party arrives in Pittsfield where they meet Colonel James Easton of the Massachusetts militia, and the attorney John Brown. Although Brown had recommended the seizure of Fort Ticonderoga to Samuel Adams and John Hancock, he has not contributed to the planning. Easton and Brown warn that there is “a great scarcity of provisions in the Grants, and as the people were generally poor, it would be difficult to get a sufficient number of men there.” Easton and Brown convince Mott that they should be allowed to recruit local militia and accompany the expedition. Easton then gathers 36 men from his regiment.

Tuesday, May 2:

Mott and Easton set out, ahead of the Massachusetts militia, for the New Hampshire grants. Some of the Connecticut men now further ahead send back a rider back with news that the British were “reinforced at Ticonderoga, and were repairing the garrison, and were every way on their guard.” This information comes from a man who claimed to have recently been at the fort and who warned “it was best for us to dismiss the men we had raised, and proceed no further, as we should not succeed.” Alarmed, Mott questioned the rider. “I asked who the man was, where he belonged, and where he was going," but the rider has no answers. Mott therefore “ordered that the men should not be dismissed but that we would proceed.”

The Albany Committee of Correspondence meets with the two men Mott dispatched on May 1. The committee records that they were “sent in consequence of a resolution of their provincial council [not true] founded on information that the garrison at Ticonderoga was furnished with several pieces of brass cannon or ordnance and many fine stand of arms, a quantity of gun powder and other military stores—They say that of the council that gave them the orders and directions was composed Messrs. [John] Hancock, [Samuel] Adams, [Robert Treat] Paine and others.” The two men claimed “their instructions were in writing but they have destroyed them for fear of discovery, and upon suspicions that we might be unfriendly to their project.” The committee notes “their determination in attempting this enterprise [even] should we discourage it.”

The Albany committee privately assures the two men they support their actions, but that they cannot accede to their request for help. The committee complains of “the many applications [for help] that have been and are daily made from the eastward" [i.e., New England]. “We are very scant of powder etc…. and the city is in a very defenseless situation, not a piece of artillery in it.” However, they also decline to provide provisions, which is within their means. The committee does not want to be held responsible for bringing New York into the war.

In Massachusetts, Joseph Warren is having second thoughts about having deferred to New York on a proposal to lead an expedition against Fort Ticonderoga. Warren meets with Artemas Ward about the proposed expedition, and evidently comes away deciding that immediate action should be taken. When the Committee of Safety meets later in the day, Benedict Arnold is given the rank of colonel and “appointed, to a secret service.” The committee votes him “one hundred pounds, in cash; and also order two hundred pounds of gunpowder, two hundred weight of lead balls, and one thousand flints, and also ten horses.”

Joseph Warren also takes time to respond to Governor Trumbull’s letter of April 28 to General Gage. Although the letter is unlikely to produce a reconciliation, Warren leaves no doubt where Massachusetts stands. He expresses “uneasiness on account of one paragraph in your letter, in which a cessation of hostilities is proposed. We fear that our brethren of Connecticut are not even yet convinced of the cruel designs of administration [i.e., the British government] against America, nor thoroughly sensible of the miseries to which General Gage’s army have reduced this wretched colony… Our people have been barbarously murdered by an insidious enemy, who under cover of the night have marched into the heart of the country, spreading destruction with fire and sword. No business but that of war is either done or thought of in this colony; no agreement or compact with General Gage will in the least alleviate our distress, as no confidence can possibly be placed in any assurances he can give to a people whom he has first deceived in the matter of taking possession of and fortifying the town of Boston, and whom he has suffered his army to attack in the most inhuman and treacherous manner. Our only relief now must arise from driving General Gage with his troops out of the country…”

Wednesday, May 3:

General Gage composes a long and dignified response to Governor Trumbull, in which he presents Britain’s view of events, but offers no concessions. There will be no rapprochement.

The governor of Rhode Island remains loyal to the British crown, and he similarly tries to dissuade his colony from the path to war. Writing to the Assembly, he pleads that “The prosperity and happiness of this colony is founded on its connection with Great Britain, ‘for if once we are separated, where shall we find another Britain to supply our loss? Torn from the body to which we are united by religion, liberty, laws, and commerce, we must bleed at every vein.’” He warns of “that ruin and destruction which, in my opinion, some of the orders of the late Assembly must inevitably involve them in, if they are not speedily repealed; for, besides the fatal, consequences of levying war against the King, the immense load of debt that will be incurred… will be insupportable, and must unavoidably bring on universal bankruptcy throughout this colony.”

The Rhode Island Assembly, far from backing down, names the officers that will lead its new army. Nathanael Greene will head the force. Ezra Stiles records in his diary that “The day has been melancholy.” “Governor Wanton affects to be ill and stays at home here in Newport; and so do all or most of the deputies of this [town]… intimidated by the threats of the Men o’ War [i.e., British ships]… However the [Newport] Light Infantry above 40 of them appeared in their uniform, made a very fine appearance, and marched all over the town; and in the afternoon a considerable large body of people appeared at the courthouse and on the parade.”

The province of New York is also steadily slipping out of British control. From New York City, Lieutenant-Governor Cadwallader Colden sends a litany of bad news to William Legge, Secretary of State for the Colonies: “The accounts which I have now to give will almost entirely destroy the expectations you have had reason to entertain of the conduct which this province would pursue… The certainty of losing all the debts due from the other colonies, which are very considerable, and every other argument of private interest that could influence the merchants or anyone, was industriously circulated. The minds of the people in the city were kept in constant agitation by riots and attempts to prevent the transports from loading here with stores, provisions etc. for the army… Several incidents combined to depress all legal authority and… which seemed to vanquish every thought of resistance to popular rage. In this unfortunate situation of the city the first accounts of an action between the King’s troops and people near Boston [i.e., Lexington and Concord] was published with horrid and aggravating circumstances. The people were assembled and that scene of disorder and violence begun which has entirely prostrated the powers of government and produced an association by which this province has solemnly united with the others in resisting the Acts of Parliament.”

In Connecticut, Silas Deane sets off for Philadelphia. The second Continental Congress will convene in one week.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Brigade of Guards

Coming off the workbench at the moment are the battalion companies of the British Brigade of Guards. I have primarily used the Minfigs' American Marines pack to depict British this unit. The minis come with the cut-down round hats turned up on one side, like those worn by reenactors portraying this unit (cf. Brigade of Guards' picture gallery). The only problem is that these minis come with a backpack/blanket roll configuration that is not accurate to this unit.

A Completed Battalion (click to enlarge)

The Guards saw extensive service throughout the war, beginning with the invasion of New York. The Guards participated in the battle of Long Island (August 27, 1776), and served in a reserve capacity at the subsequent battles of White Plains (October 28) and Fort Washington (November 16). In the following months, the brigade saw service in New Jersey, most notably at Short Hills (June 26, 1777). The brigade also participated in the 1777 invasion of Pennsylvania and the 1778 retreat through New Jersey. During these campaigns, the brigade was instrumental in breaking the American line at the battles of Brandywine, (September 11, 1777), and Monmouth (June 28, 1778). The last major battle in which the brigade served in the northern theater was Springfield, New Jersey (June 7, 1780). The following year, the brigade was active in the southern theater, most notably at Guilford Courthouse (March 15, 1781) and Yorktown, where it was captured (October 19, 1781).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Allen and Arnold 4

30 Days to Glory: April 27-30
Previous: April 23 - April 26
Next: May 1 - May 3

Thursday, April 27:

A Connecticut officer, Gurdon Saltonstall, writes Silas Deane, a delegate to the Continental Congress, about the situation at Boston. He notes that the Americans are encamped near Cambridge, Charlestown, and Roxbury, and he imagines the strategy by which the Americans might be able to take Boston: “from Charlestown batteries [i.e., American artillery placed on Bunker’s Hill], I imagine they can annoy the ships” which would permit the Americans to make “a descent on Boston.” He imagines that enough “flat-bottomed large flatts may be soon constructed, to transport ten thousand men at one embarkation, and be brought out of the adjacent towns on carriages, at an appointed hour.” Then, “batteries at Dorchester [i.e., Dorchester Heights, near Roxbury] may annoy the [British] ships so that troops may land at Boston on [the] south side, at [the] same time.” Of course, the Massachusetts provincials have few cannon, but it may be possible to obtain “battering cannon from Providence [Rhode Island], New Hampshire, and Salem [Massachusetts], soon, and in a month from even Crown Point.” This last point implies that he and Deane have already discussed raiding the British lake forts for cannon. However, Saltonstall doesn’t wish to commit too much information to paper, and notes, “Edward Mott will give you a delicate account of the maneuvers.”

Meanwhile, a meeting is underway in Hartford to organize an expedition against the British forts. The ringleaders are Silas Deane, Samuel Parsons, and Samuel Wyllys. Other persons brought into the planning are Christopher Leffingwell, Thomas Mumford, Samuel Bishop, Noah Phelps, and Bernard Romans. At the end of the meeting, Phelps and Romans are dispatched to organize the attack. The two men will travel first to Salisbury, in the northwestern corner of the province, and then head north to the New Hampshire Grants. Once there, they will enlist the Green Mountain Boys to carry out the actual attack. This plan makes use of a military force that already exists. It also allows Connecticut to distance itself from whatever political fallout will follow. The Americans have so far taken up arms only in self-defense. The expedition against the British forts entails an invasion of a neighboring colony (New York) and an attack on unoffending British troops.

Friday, April 28:

From Hartford, Governor Jonathan Trumbull writes Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage on behalf of Connecticut. He begins by complaining of the build-up of British military power in Boston and alleged British atrocities during the battle of Lexington and Concord: “It is feared… that we are devoted to destruction, and that you have it in command and intention to ravage and desolate the country. If this is not the case, permit us to ask, why have these outrages been committed? Why is the town of Boston now shut up? And to what end are all the hostile preparations that are daily making, and why do we continually hear of fresh destinations of troops for this country? The people of this colony, you may rely upon it, abhor the idea of taking arms against the troops of their sovereign, and dread nothing so much as the horrors of civil war; but, at the same time, we beg leave to assure your Excellency, that as they apprehended themselves justified by the principle of self-defense, so they are most firmly resolved to defend their rights and privileges to the last extremity.”

He then asks, “Is there no way to prevent this unhappy dispute from coming to extremities? Is there no alternative but absolute submission, or the desolations of war? By that humanity which constitutes so amiable a part of your character, and for the honour of our Sovereign, and the glory of the British Empire, we entreat you to prevent it if possible. Surely, it is to be hoped that the temperate wisdom of the Empire might even yet find expedients to restore peace, that so all parts of the Empire may enjoy their particular rights, honours, and immunities. Certainly this is an event most devoutly to be wished; and will it not be consistent with your duty to suspend the operations of war on your part, and enable us on ours to quiet the minds of the people, at least till the result of some further deliberations may be known?”

Meanwhile, Edward Mott rides into Hartford, bearing Saltonstall’s letter. He first encounters Christopher Leffingwell who asks him how he thought the people of Boston could be relieved. According to Mott, “I told him I knew not, except we went and took possession of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, which I thought might be done by surprise, with a small number of men.” Encouraged by this response, Leffingwell brings Mott into the conspiracy, and has him meet Silas Deane and Samuel Parsons. According to Mott, “They told me they wished I had been there one day sooner; that they had been on such a plan, and that they had sent off Messrs. Noah Phelps and Bernard Romans.” Mott, who is to be a captain in Parson’s 6th Connecticut Regiment, is evidently trusted. When he offers to assist, they give him a letter to take to Phelps and Romans so that we may help “in conducting the affair and laying out the money.”

Saturday, April 29:

A reinforcement arrives at Fort Ticonderoga in the form of Lieutenant Jocelyn Feltham and 10 men of the 26th Foot. According to Feltham, the fort’s commander, Captain William Delaplace, asked for assistance “in the course of the winter… as he had reason to suspect some attack from some circumstances that happened in his neighborhood.” Feltham's detachment is the second to reach the fort. Another was led to the fort some days earlier by William Dunbar, who is Town-Major for Quebec. Dunbar then set off to confer with Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage in Boston. He is now, however, a captive of the Americans, having run into their forces near Cambridge. The British in Canada and upstate New York are unaware that war has begun.

In Connecticut, a final meeting of conspirators takes place before Edward Mott sets off for the New Hampshire Grants. Among those present are persons from three different groups that have taken an interest in Ticonderoga: Samuel Parsons (who spoke about Ticonderoga with Benedict Arnold), Silas Deane (who appears to have independently developed the idea with Gurdon Saltonstall), and Samuel Adams and John Hancock (who appear to have gotten the idea from John Brown). [see Note 1]

Outside of Boston, Benedict Arnold’s company arrives at the American camp. Although he has marched without orders, his arrival is welcomed and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety orders that the commissary-general “provide suitable quarters” for his company.

The Massachusetts Committee of Safety also tallies up the meager number of cannon on hand. The colony can field a mere six 3-pounders that are in good condition and have ammunition. Seventeen other useless guns “will be taken out of the way.”

Sunday, April 30:

Arnold attends a meeting of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety -- most likely resplendent in the scarlet coat and buff facings worn by the Governor’s Foot Guard. Arnold asks to speak and reports “that there are at Ticonderoga eighty pieces of heavy cannon, twenty pieces brass cannon, from four to eighteen-pounders, and ten or twelve mortars; at Skenesborough, on the South Bay, three or four pieces of brass cannon; the fort [Ticonderoga], in a ruinous condition, is supposed to have about forty or forty-five men, a number of small arms, and considerable stores. A sloop of seventy or eighty tons [is] on the lake.” [cf. New York: May, 1775].

The news causes a stir, and the chairman, Joseph Warren, asks Arnold to submit a report in writing. Warren then writes the New York Committee of Safety: “It has been proposed to us to take possession of the fortress at Ticonderoga. We have a just sense of the importance of that fortification, and the usefulness of those fine cannon, mortars, and field-pieces which are there; but we would not, even upon this emergency, infringe upon the rights of our sister colony, New-York.”


Note 1: Other persons alleged to have been at this meeting include Robert Treat Paine of Massachusetts, and Governor Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut.

Whether John Brown developed the idea to attack Ticonderoga on his own is an open question. Some writers have argued that the idea was suggested to him when he passed through the New Hampshire Grants in March.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Allen and Arnold 3

30 Days to Glory: April 23-26
Previous: April 19 - April 22
Next: April 27 - April 30

Sunday, April 23:

News of the battle of Lexington and Concord reaches New York City. A resident recorded that “this whole city was in a state of alarm; every face appeared animated with resentment. Soon after the news arrived by express, many citizens went to two transports loaded with bread, flour, etc., for the troops [i.e., provisions for the British army in Boston], and they were speedily unloaded… Many persons of influence, who have been thought inimical to the cause [i.e., Tories], now come out boldly and declare their sentiments worthy of themselves.” The city’s Sons of Liberty soon seize the city arsenal.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress is busy placing the colony on a war footing. A resolution is passed approving of an army of 30,000 men to defend Massachusetts, with 13,600 to be raised by the province and the remainder to come from neighboring colonies.

Monday, April 24:

Samuel Adams and John Hancock arrive in the town of Worcester. They are making their way to join the second Continental Congress (scheduled to begin May 10, in Philadelphia). They have been out of contact with the Massachusetts authorities since April 19, when they were nearly captured at Lexington and Concord. They complain to the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, we “find no intelligence from you and no guard… How are we to proceed? Where are our brethren? Surely we ought to be supported…” The men are especially anxious to obtain a reliable account of the battle and of what has happened since to the American militia.

Tuesday, April 25:

Samuel Adams and John Hancock have lunch with one James Jeffrey, a Massachusetts-born resident of Quebec. Adams and Hancock have a special interest in Canada. The two men formed part of a special committee “to correspond with the inhabitants of Canada.” They sent one of their number, an attorney named John Brown, to stir up support for the American cause. At the end of March, Brown wrote from Canada to say: “One thing I must mention as a profound secret. The fort at Ticonderoga must be seized as soon as possible, should hostilities be committed by the king’s troops. The people on New-Hampshire Grants [i.e., the Green Mountain Boys] have engaged to do this business, and, in my opinion, are the most proper persons for the job. This will effectually curb this province [Canada], and all the troops which may be sent here.” Jeffrey met Brown the day after this letter was written and he accompanied the bearer of the letter part of the way back to the American colonies. Jeffrey was at Ticonderoga from April 6-10, and he can provide a detailed description of the fort and its garrison.

John Brown’s Canadian trip was not a success. He travelled to Montreal where he met with various American sympathizers and distributed pamphlets, but he was unable to convince the Canadians to send delegates to the Continental Congress.

Brown has since returned to his western Massachusetts home of Pittsfield, where he has joined the local committee of correspondence. Brown and the other members (James Easton and Thomas Allen) are concerned that the Tories in nearby Kinderhook, New York will strike against his community. The committee writes to the Albany Committee of Correspondence for support. The following day, Albany demurs, noting that “we look upon [the threat] as entirely groundless.”

In Rhode Island, the danger that the Rose might bombard Newport does not prohibit the province's Assembly from convening and acting in support of Massachusetts. A resolution is passed that states “At this very dangerous crisis of American affairs; at a time when we are surrounded with fleets and armies, that threaten our immediate destruction; at a time when the fears and anxieties of the people throw them into the utmost distress, and totally prevent them from attending to the common occupations of life… it is thought absolutely necessary that a number of men be raised and embodied, properly armed and disciplined, to continue in this colony, as an Army of Observation; to repel any insults or violence that may be offered to the inhabitants; and also, if it be necessary for the safety and preservation of any of the colonies, that they be ordered to march out of this colony, and join and co-operate with the forces of our neighboring colonies.” It is widely assumed the 1,500-man army called for by the resolution will be sent to Boston.

Wednesday, April 26:

The frigate Rose seizes an American vessel as soon it as leaves Newport. The vessel, commanded by one John Brown (not the Pittsfield attorney), is carrying hundreds of barrels of flour to Providence to be used by Rhode Island’s “Army of Observation.” Brown is soon sent to Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage in Boston.

In Connecticut, the Assembly meets and requests that the governor open communications with British Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage. The mood, however, is warlike, and following the lead of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the Assembly also authorizes an army.

Benedict Arnold, who is marching with his company of Governor’s Guards towards Boston, is appointed captain of the fifth company of the newly authorized 1st Connecticut Provincial Regiment. His colonel is David Wooster, with whom he clashed before setting out. At the moment, this organization exists only on paper as it will take some time to recruit and supply the men.

The Massachusetts authorities are unable to adequately supply the thousands of men from their own colony that have taken up arms outside Boston, much less those from neighboring colonies. One Connecticut officer notes that his troop “were not wanted at present” and that “[I] now find that most of the Connecticut troops are on the return.”

Arnold’s company remains on the march. On the road he meets Samuel Parsons, newly appointed colonel of the 6th Connecticut. Parsons complains of the lack of heavy cannon to drive the British from Boston. Arnold describes to him the weak state of Fort Ticonderoga and the large number of brass cannon that can be obtained there. Parsons will soon share this tidbit with others.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Allen and Arnold 2

30 Days to Glory: April 19-22
Previous: Introduction
Next: April 23 - April 26

Wednesday, April 19, 1775:

At dawn, fighting breaks out between British regulars and Massachusetts militiamen at Lexington and Concord. Before the day is out, word rapidly spreads throughout the countryside, and into neighboring colonies, that war has begun. That night an ad hoc army of militia begins assembling around the British base in Boston.

Thursday, April 20:

Initial reports disseminating throughout New England are lurid and frightening. Rhode Islander Ezra Stiles learns that the regulars “are now actually engaged in butchering and destroying our brethren there in the most inhuman manner.” He records in his diary that “upon receipt of this news the town [Newport] was thrown into alarm and all went into preparation.” The British frigate Rose is in the harbor, and a rumor circulates that “if any march from hence” the captain “will fire upon the town and lay it in ashes.”

In Massachusetts, the call goes out to reconvene the Provincial Congress. Meanwhile, Joseph Warren, writing on behalf of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, writes Governor Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut for assistance. In it, he lays out Massachusetts' account of the battle, in which (crucially from a public relations standpoint), British regulars started the battle:

“On Wednesday, the 19th instant, early in the morning, a detachment of General Gage' s army marched into the country to Lexington, about thirteen miles from Boston, where they met with a small party of minute-men exercising, who had no intention of doing any injury to the regulars. But they fired upon our men without any provocation, killed eight of them the first onset, then marched forward to Concord, where they destroyed the magazines and stores for a considerable time. Our people, however, mustered as soon as possible, and repulsed the troops, pursuing them quite down to Charlestown until they reached a place called Bunker's Hill, although they received a very large reinforcement at Lexington, from General Gage. As the troops have now commenced hostilities, we think it our duty to exert our utmost strength to save our country from absolute slavery. We pray your Honours would afford us all the assistance in your power, and shall be glad that our brethren who come to our aid may be supplied with military stores and provisions, as we have none of either more than is absolutely necessary for ourselves. We pray God to direct you to such measures as shall tend to the salvation of our common liberties.”

Artemas Ward takes command of the ad hoc army and calls the first council of war. Among the pressing concerns are the need to guard the roads to Boston, throw up earthworks, obtain gunpowder, and arrange for food and other supplies to reach the thousands of militia now on hand. According to one estimate, 7,000 men are in the Cambridge area, 4,000 are at Roxbury, and 4,000 are near Charlestown.

Boston Area: April-May, 1775 (Click to enlarge).

Friday, April 21:

The Massachusetts Committee of Safety takes up the need for artillery to support its forces. The committee sends for Colonel Richard Gridley, who will be appointed chief engineer for the province, and later, head of its regiment of artillery. They also send orders for "one field-piece with every implement necessary for action," and to have others brought into a "thorough state of preparation."

Connecticut is formulating a response to the outbreak a fighting. A problem is that some of the news that is circulating is unreliable and it's unclear where the Massachusetts authorities can be found. The governor's son is sent in search of John Hancock. He bears a message from the Connecticut Committee of Correspondence stating, “We have many reports of what is doing with you, the particulars we cannot yet get with precision. The ardour of our people is such that they can' t be kept back. The colonels are to forward part of the best men and most ready, as fast as possible, the remainder to be ready at a moment's warning.”

Saturday, April 22:

In Boston, Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage completes his official report on the action at Lexington and Concord. He and his staff are ill-equipped to win the public relations battle now underway with the various American legislatures and committees of safety or correspondence.

The Massachusetts Provincial Congress reconvenes and promptly establishes a committee to take depositions “from which a full account of the transactions of the troops, under general Gage, in their route to and from Concord, etc., on Wednesday last, may be collected, to be sent to England, by the first ship from Salem.” Although it will take some time to gather this information, Massachusetts will succeed in getting its account of the battle of Lexington and Concord published first in England. As for the other colonies, Massachusetts' version of events will likewise reach the public more quickly and circulate more broadly.

In Connecticut, Benedict Arnold, who is captain of the 2nd company of the Governor's Foot Guard, begins marching his men to Boston. According to Reverend William Gordon, an early historian of the war, “No sooner did the Lexington news reach him, that he called his company together, and asked them whether they would march off with him the next morning for the neighbourhood of Boston, distant 150 miles.—They agreed; and at the proper time paraded before the tavern where a committee was sitting. He applied to the gentlemen for powder and ball; they demurred supplying him, as he was not duly authorized. The captain, in haste to fly to the help of his suffering brethren, proposed procuring the supply by force if needful, to which the volunteers consented. He then sent for the committee, and informed them what he was determined on. Colonel [David] Wooster came out, and would have persuaded him to wait till he had received proper orders; to which captain Arnold answered, "None but God Almighty shall prevent my marching." The committee perceiving his fixed resolution, supplied him; and he marched off instantly...”

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Allen and Arnold: 30 Days to Glory

Allen and Arnold: 30 Days to Glory
Part 1: Introduction
Next: April 19 - April 22


Before I write about the American invasion of Canada, I’m going to spend some time with the series of events that set the stage for that invasion: the American seizure of Fort Ticonderoga (among other sites) in May, 1775. The seizure of Fort Ticonderoga is one of the more-frequently described events of the war. The present account differs from others in two respects. First, many histories have argued that the idea to attack Ticonderoga originated with either Benedict Arnold or Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys. This account shows that the idea originated independently among at least three different individuals or groups of individuals. Second, this account is written in the form of a day-by-day synopsis of events taking place from April 19, 1775 (the battles of Lexington and Concord), to May 19, 1775 (the conclusion of the first, abortive invasion of Canada). Not only are the actions of Allen and Arnold described, but also those of their contemporaries. In this way, the account contextualizes the Ticonderoga campaign in terms of the wider British and American response to the start of the war.

Note: Quoted passages will be altered to bring them in line with modern standards for spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. I won’t be listing the sources used in each post (as I have laboriously for past projects), but in brief I am drawing upon Peter Force's American Archives, a number of journals and collections of correspondence, and Benedict Arnold’s regimental memorandum book. The interested reader who would like to know more about the sources is invited to leave a question in comments.

Links to posts in this series:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New York: May, 1775

Below is a listing of British forces in New York's strategic Lake Champlain - Hudson River corridor in early May, 1775. Letters in bold refer to labels on the accompanying map (click to enlarge).
  • A. Lake Champlain: The sloop Betsey.
  • B. Crown Point: A ruined fort with a large number of cannon. Garrison: 1 sergeant, 12 rank and file of the 26th Foot.
  • C. Fort Ticonderoga: A ruined fort with a large number of cannon. Garrison: Captain Delaplace and forty some men of the 26th Foot and the 4th battalion of the Royal Artillery.
  • D. Skenesborough: Estate of Philip Skene. Garrison: Andrew Philip Skene, lieutenant in the 43rd Foot and brigade-major, several cannon, the schooner Katherine (or Catherine) and a number of former soldiers and other residents.
  • E. Fort George: A ruined fort that serves as a way station for correspondence between New York and Canada. Garrison: Captain Nordberg, a retired officer of the 60th regiment who lives "in a little Cottage as a Hermit," and two caretakers.
  • F. New York City: Garrison: 5 companies of the 18th Foot (about 100 men) and the sloop Kingfisher.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On Photography

Since I began blogging, I've been taking pictures of the miniatures using a table with several lamps arrayed around it. I haven't been terribly happy with the resulting images. My chief complaints have been with uneven lighting, and the inevitable glare off the varnished figures.

Friday night I took the picture below for a recent post on the Green Mountain Boys. I found it especially bad, and as the weather was pleasant here on Saturday, I brought the same group of miniatures outside to see what difference natural light would make.



I much prefer the outdoors image. I was frankly surprised at how much better the colors appear under natural light. To prevent glare, I placed a paper shield above the miniatures. (Unrelated to where the picture was taken: I also used for the second picture a grass mat that better complemented the minis).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Green Mountain Boys

The Green Mountain Boys was a paramilitary organization in the New Hampshire Grants (today's Vermont) on the eve of the American Revolution. The New Hampshire Grants was a disputed territory that was settled in the mid-18th Century by New Englanders, but concurrently claimed by New York leading to competing land claims and occasional outbreaks of violence. A low point of this dispute was the "Westminster Massacre" of March 13, 1775, in which four Vermonters were shot by "Tories."

The Green Mountain Boys' first contributed during the American Revolution by seizing British assets on Lake Champlain, including Fort Ticonderoga (May 10, 1775), and Crown Point (May 12). Prior to the war and during the Lake Champlain campaign, the regiment was led by Ethan Allen. Subsequently, the regiment reformed under Congressional approval and Seth Warner was elected to head the regiment. They were uniformed in coats made of "coarse green Cloth," faced red.

Warner's regiment participated in the American invasion of Canada, where they served at the siege of Fort Saint-Jean and helped repulse a British relief force at Longueuil (October 30, 1775). The Green Mountain Boys also played a prominent role during the Saratoga campaign, especially at the battles of Hubbardton (July 7, 1777) and Bennington (August 16, 1777), and in the final encirclement of the British army at Saratoga. In later years, the regiment continued to serve on the northern frontier, including in defense of Fort George (October 11, 1780).

Below is a group of 15mm miniatures by Musket Miniatures and Stone Mountain Miniatures painted to represent the Green Mountain Boys.

For more on the Green Mountain Boys, see the website of the recreated Warner's regiment, and John E. Goodrich (1904). The State of Vermont: Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783.

For 28mm-high versions of the Green Mountain Boys by fellow bloggers, see here and here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What's Next?

Recently, I concluded my Thomas Sumter project, which began last summer. I spent some time recently looking back at this project and doing some minor editing. I now have a better grasp on the facts of this campaign than when I started, and I was able to detect and correct some minor errors made in the early posts (e.g., several times I called Joseph Graham a captain, when he was in fact an adjutant).

Moving forward, I intend to follow a looser format rather than spend all my time with a single topic.

One topic that I will continue with for the seeable future is the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution. I've painted quite a few minis specifically for this phase of the war, and I'm slowly working towards being able to cover the big battles in miniature. In the interim I expect to cover a mid-size battle or two.

A new topic that I will be writing about is the American invasion of Canada in 1775. Eventually I plan to cover each of the significant events of this campaign, beginning with the seizure of Fort Ticonderoga (May 10), and ending with the assault on Quebec (December 31). Below are Minifigs Canadian militia that are works in progress: unpainted metal on the left, nearly completed figures on the right.

Finally, because I find the whole of the war interesting, I expect there will be digressions from time to time on other topics of interest.