October 9th Colonial and American Revolutionary War History

Oct 9 1635; Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, was banished from Massachusetts because he had spoken out against punishments for religious offenses and giving away land that belonged to the Indians. Williams had founded Providence, Rhode Island as a place for people to seek religious freedom.

Oct 9 1701; The Collegiate School of Connecticut was chartered in New Haven. The name was later changed to Yale.

Oct 9 1774; while attending the First Continental Congress, Washington responds to a letter from Captain Robert Mackenzie, then in Boston. Mackenzie, a fellow Virginia officer, criticizes the behavior of the city’s rebellious inhabitants. Washington sharply disagrees and defends the actions of Boston’s patriots. Yet, like many members of Congress who still hope for reconciliation, Washington writes that no “thinking man in all North America,” wishes “to set up for independency.

Oct 9 1775; Lord Dartmouth orders British officers to North Carolina On this day in 1775, just a few short months after commanding British soldiers during the Battle of Bunker Hill, General Sir William Howe writes to the British-appointed secretary of state for the American colonies, Lord Dartmouth, to inform him of his belief that the British army should be evacuated from Boston to Rhode Island, where it “would be better connected, and the corps would act with greater effect.”  From there, British forces could move expeditiously to the southern colonies, without having to go around Cape Cod. As Lord Dartmouth had previously received reports that men were needed in the southern colonies from the likes of Josiah Martin, the royal governor of North Carolina, and John Murray, the royal governor of South Carolina, he ordered General Howe to send officers stationed in Boston to North Carolina to assist Martin in the southern campaign.

Martin had been directing Loyalist efforts in North Carolina from his ship Cruiser anchored in the Cape Fear River since a Patriot attack on his home in April 1775. When the residents of Mecklenburg County effectively declared their independence from the crown that May, Martin had sent a copy of their resolves to Britain, requested military supplies from Howe’s predecessor, General Thomas Gage, in Boston and plotted to arm the slaves of North Carolina to help put down any Patriot uprising.

Word of Martin’s intent to incite a slave rebellion mobilized a successful Patriot attack against Martin’s headquarters at Fort Johnston on Cape Fear on July 20, 1775. Following the attack, Martin moved the Cruiser off the coast of North Carolina, where he continued to arm the Loyalists with British supplies. On February 27, 1776, the Patriots managed to defeat the Loyalists at Moores Creek Bridge before the Loyalists reached the coast to await a scheduled rendezvous with Cornwallis. With the Loyalists routed, Cornwallis chose not to land his men, aborting his intended southern campaign. Instead, he traveled north to join the successful British Battle for Long Island in August 1776.

Oct 9 1776; The British ships, the Phoenix and the Roebuck landed in New York near Blommingdale, as reported in letter from Tench Tilghman: Passage of the enemy’s ships through the chevaux-de-frise.

A Letter from Tench Tilghman, by express, dated the 9th instant, was received, and is in the words following:

“Head-Quarters, Harlem-Heights, 9th October, 1776.

“GENTLEMEN: About eight o’ clock this morning the Roebuck and Phoenix, of forty-four guns each, and a frigate, about twenty guns, got underway from about Bloomingdale, where they have been lying some time, and steered on, with an easy southerly breeze, towards our chevaux-de-frise, which we hoped would have given them some interruption, while our batteries played upon them. But, to our surprise and mortification, they all ran through without the least difficulty, and without receiving the least apparent damage from our forts, which kept playing on them from both sides of the river. How far they intend to go up I don’ t know, but his Excellency thought fit to give you the earliest intimation, that you may put General Clinton on his guard at the Highlands, for they may have troops concealed on board, with intent to surprise those forts. If you have any stores on the water side, you had better have them removed a second time, boards especially, for which we shall be put to great straits if the communication should be cut off. The enemy have made no move on the land side.

“I am, gentlemen, your most obedient servant,

“TENCH TILGHMAN.

“Honourable Committee of Correspondence, State of New-York.

“Be pleased to forward this intelligence up the river and to Albany. The two new ships are put in near Colonel Phillips’ s. A party of Artillery, with two twelve-pounders and one hundred Riflemen, are sent up to endeavour to secure them.”

(note: chevaux-de-frise is a medieval defense system consisting of a portable frame (sometimes just a simple log) covered with many long iron or wooden spikes or even actual spears. An anti-ship version was designed by Robert Erskine as a means of keeping British warships out of the Hudson River during the American Revolutionary War. )

Oct 9 1776; A group of Spanish missionaries settled in what is now San Francisco, California.

Oct 9 1777; General Clinton receives General Burgoyne’s appeal for help but makes not attempt to fight through to Saratoga.

History:

On September 19, 1777 the Royal army advanced upon the American camp in three separate columns within the present day towns of Stillwater and Saratoga. Two of them headed through the heavy forests covering the region; the third, composed of German troops, marched down the river road. American scouts detected Burgoyne’s army in motion and notified Gates, who ordered Col. Daniel Morgan’s corps of Virginia riflemen to track the British march. About 12:30 p.m., some of Morgan’s men brushed with the advance guard of Burgoyne’s center column in a clearing known as the Freeman Farm, about a mile north of the American camp. The general battle that followed swayed back and forth over the farm for more than three hours. Then, as the British lines began to waver in the face of the deadly fire of the numerically superior Americans, German reinforcements arrived from the river road. Hurling them against the American right, Burgoyne steadied the wavering British line and gradually forced the Americans to withdraw. Except for this timely arrival and the near exhaustion of the Americans’ ammunition, Burgoyne might have been defeated that day. Though he held the immediate field of battle, Burgoyne had been stopped about a mile north of the American line with his army roughly treated. Shaken by his “victory,” the British commander ordered his troops to entrench in the vicinity of the Freeman Farm and await support from Clinton, who was supposedly preparing to move north toward Albany from New York City.

For nearly three weeks he waited but Clinton did not come. By now Burgoyne’s situation was critical. Faced by a growing American army without hope of help from the south, and with supplies rapidly diminishing, the British army became weaker with each passing day. Burgoyne had to choose between advancing or retreating. He decided to risk a second engagement, and on October 7 ordered a reconnaissance-in-force to test the American left flank. Ably led and supported by eight cannon, a force of 1,500 men moved out of the British camp. After marching southwesterly about three-quarters of a mile, the troops deployed in a clearing on the Barber Farm. Most of the British front faced an open field, but both flanks rested in woods, thus exposing them to surprise attack. By now the Americans knew that Burgoyne’s army was again on the move and at about 3 p.m. attacked in three columns under Colonel Morgan, Gen. Ebenezer Learned, and Gen. Enoch Poor. Repeatedly the British line was broken, then rallied, and both flanks were severely punished and driven back. Gen. Simon Fraser, who commanded the British right, was mortally wounded as he rode among his men to encourage them to make a stand and cover the developing withdrawal. Before the enemy’s flanks could be rallied, Gen. Benedict Arnold -who had been relieved of command after a quarrel with Gates- rode onto the field and led Learned’s brigade against the German troops holding the British center. Under tremendous pressure from all sides, the Germans joined a general withdrawal into the fortifications on the Freeman Farm. Within an hour after the opening clash, Burgoyne lost eight cannon and more than 400 officers and men. Flushed with success, the Americans believed that victory was near. Arnold led one column in a series of savage attacks on the Balcarres Redoubt, a powerful British fieldwork on the Freeman Farm. After failing repeatedly to carry this position, Arnold wheeled his horse and, dashing through the crossfire of both armies, spurred northwest to the Breymann Redoubt. Arriving just as American troops began to assault the fortification, he joined in the final surge that overwhelmed the German soldiers defending the work. Upon entering the redoubt, he was wounded in the leg. Had he died there, posterity would have known few names brighter than that of Benedict Arnold. Darkness ended the day’s fighting and saved Burgoyne’s army from immediate disaster.

That night the British commander left his campfires burning and withdrew his troops behind the Great Redoubt, which protected the high ground and river flats at the northeast corner of the battlefield. The next night, October 8, after burying General Fraser in the redoubt, the British began their retreat northward. They had suffered 1,000 casualties in the fighting of the past three weeks; American losses numbered less than 500. After a miserable march in mud and rain, Burgoyne’s troops took refuge in a fortified camp on the heights of Saratoga. There, an American force that had grown to nearly 20,000 men surrounded the exhausted British army. Faced with such overwhelming numbers, Burgoyne surrendered on October 17, 1777. By the terms of the Convention of Saratoga, Burgoyne’s depleted army, some 6,000 men, marched out of its camp “with the Honors of War” and stacked its weapons along the west bank of the Hudson River. Thus was gained one of the most decisive victories in American and world history.

Oct 9 1781; The last major battle of the American Revolutionary War took place in Yorktown, Virginia.
The Battle of Yorktown

Overview and results:

The Battle of Yorktown was the climax of the Revolutionary War. The combined forces of General Washington, General Rochambeau, Admiral de Grasse, and General Lafayette all converged on the greatest concentration of British troops in America. It took great amounts of planning, courage and skill to execute this attack. The opposing forces include Great Britain and the Hesse-Kassel againt France and the Americans. The British’s leader was Lord Charles Cornwallis with a force of 8,980 and the Americans and the French’s leader was George Washington with a force of 20,600. The British’s casualties included 309 men killed, 326 wounded, and 8,007 captured. The Americans’ casualties included 72 men killed, 180 wounded, and none captured.

In spite of the success of the Revolutionary Army in the years 1776 and 1777, the battles of 1780 were devastating to Washington’s army. British General Lord Cornwallis had defeated the southern Continental Army and captured Savannah and Charlestown. Many soldiers and officers were abandoning their hopes and deserting the Armysuch as General Benedict Arnold. In the autumn of 1780, the British cause did seem near triumph.

A crisis with respect to money then also came to a head. Fierce mutinies broke out because there was no money to provide food, clothing, or pay for the army.

At that critical moment, the King of France dispatched an expeditionary army of 5000 troups led by Jean Baptiste de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, to join the American Forces. The convoy sailed into Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island on July 11, 1780. The citizens of Newport celebrated the arrival of the French fleet with proper festivities. The French brought with them gold, and the New England merchants liked this relief from the Continental currency.

In 1781, after abandoning a plan to attach New York City, held by the British, the combined armies of Washington and Rochambeau began racing south to Virginia. The bombardment of Yorktown began on October 9, 1781. Lauzun’s men were masters of the battlefield. Though outnumberd by British forces under Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, they forced Tarlton to retreat behind earthworks near Yorktown in the first action of the battle.

On the morning of October 18, 1781, terms of surrender were negotiated. The formal surrender ceremony has become a legend unto itself. General Cornwallis was not present, but had remained at Yorktown claiming illness. He was represented by his second-in-command, Brig. General Charles O’Hara. O’Hara first attempted to surrender to French General Comte de Rochambeau, but Rochambeau refused and pointed him to General Washington. Washington’s only reaction was to ask him to surrender to his own second-in-command, Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln. An hour after the garrison at Yorktown had surrendered, about 1,100 Englishmen, Scotsmen, Welsh, Germans and loyalist Americans filed out of Gloucester (across the York River from Yorktown )and grounded their arms in front of “100 of Lauzun’s men and 200 men from the American militia.”

Lauzun sailed for France with the news of the victory. He had the honor of presenting this great news to the King of France, who was delighted.

Just over eight years after the Declaration of Independence, the United States of America was fully established as an independent nation.

On May 11, 1783, Lauzun, the 307 men left of his legion, and most of the remnants of the expedition sailed from Wilmington for Brest, France, where his ships docked June 11, 1783. Later, the French Revolution began. France declared war on Austria, and as the war went from bad to worse, the French Revolution turned on itself. Among the victims was Lauzun, who even though being a noble had initially welcomed the uprising. Despite faithful service in the Vendee, and in spite of the protest of his last words that he was faithful to the principles of the Revolution, some of which he had learned in America, Lauzun ascended the guillotine on December 31, 1793.

Oct 9 1812; During the War of 1812 American forces captured two British brigs, the Detroit and the Caledonia.