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Tag: American Revolution

Great Game Previews In History: 17 October 2014

by J.R.

800px-Surrender_of_General_BurgoyneToday In History

Earlier, we explored some of the lesser-known martial exploits of the Burgoyne family — specifically that of John Fox Burgoyne at Sevastopol.

Today, though, is the 237th anniversary of the Burgoyne’s most infamous failure: Big John capitulating to the American upstarts in Saratoga, turning the tide of the Revolution to the Patriots.

One of the great misconceptions about Saratoga is that it was one single battle that ended with Burgoyne turning his sword over to Horatio Gates. In fact, it was a series of lengthy battles, almost six weeks long. Americans needed a win, particularly in the North. Gates had taken over the Northern Department after the surrender of the (thought-to-be-impenetrable) Fort Ticonderoga. He was able to raise armies, restructure the militias and start to very slowly encircle Burgoyne, who was losing supply lines because General William Howe had decided to send the occupying army from New York City south to attack Philadelphia rather than north to reinforce Burgoyne in Albany.

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Great Game Previews In History: 9 October 2014

by J.R.

800px-Panorama_dentroToday In History

In 1854, the Siege of Sevastopol begins during the Crimean War, as the French sapeurs begin digging trenches around the capital of the Crimea.

After the Allied fleet — which included the British and Ottomans along with the aforementioned French — landed in September with 50,000 men at Eupatoria, the intention was to march to Sevastopol with ease.

It didn’t quite go as planned. The Russians scuttled the fleet and began firing on the assembling Allies. The battle was won by the Allies nearly a year later, but at great cost: 128,000 casualties for the Allies, 102,000 for the Russians, which included civilians, many of whom died of disease in the encircled city.

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Great Game Previews In History: 23 March 2014

by J.R.

Today In History

312px-Parliament_Stamp_Act1765On March 22, 1765, King George III gave the Royal Assent to “An act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties, in the British colonies and plantations in America, towards further defraying the expences of defending, protecting, and securing the same; and for amending such parts of the several acts of parliament relating to the trade and revenues of the said colonies and plantations, as direct the manner of determining and recovering the penalties and forfeitures therein mentioned.”

We just call it the Stamp Act of 1765. It was unpopular among the colonists, who argued they were being taxed without their consent, and instead of raging blindly, they set up committees of correspondence and congresses and you know the rest (“The rest” is “America owns”).

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Great Game Previews In History: 6 February 2014

by J.R.

Today In History

528px-Franklin1877The fledgling United States scores big diplomatically when two treaties — the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce — between the U.S. and France are signed in Paris on 6 February 1778.

The Second Continental Congress had been seeking allies for the fight against the British and France — England’s ancient enemy — was the obvious choice. The French initially balked, but charmed by Ben Franklin’s funny hat and impressed by the American victory at Saratoga, they eventually came around.

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Great Game Previews In History: 27 January 2014

by J.R.

Today In History

791px-SiegeofbostonartilleryIn 1778, Henry Knox’s expedition to move heavy weaponry to American fortifications outside Boston arrived in Cambridge.

The so-called “noble train of artillery” was 60 tons of cannon and other heavy artillery captured at Fort Ticonderoga. It was moved “by boat, horse and ox-drawn sledges, and manpower, along poor-quality roads, across two semi-frozen rivers, and through the forests and swamps of the lightly inhabited Berkshires to the Boston area.” It is regarded as one of the most incredible logistical feats of 18th century warfare.

Knox’s arrival helped the Continental Army break the siege of Boston, sending General William Howe out of the city with a clutch of Loyalists to Halifix, Nova Scotia.

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Great Game Previews In History: 3 January 2014

by J.R.

Today In History

800px-USA-Washington_Circle_ParkAmerican forces led by General George Washington defeated Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Princeton January 2, 1777.

The victory capped Washington’s winter campaign through New Jersey, solidifying the American hold on what would become the Garden State.

The Americans were in early danger of being overrun, but the arrival of Washington turned the tide. He famously rode to the front of the ranks, waving his hat to and fro to rally the troops even as his warhorse trembled due to the charging British behind him — the scene was the inspiration for the statue of Washington in his eponymous circle in his eponymous capital city.

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Great Game Previews In History: 30 November 2013

by J.R.

Today In History

800px-PreliminaryTreatyOfParisPaintingThe Treaty of Paris was agreed upon and signed by the dignitaries at the Hotel d’York in 1782, wrapping up the American Revolution.

It was exceedingly generous to the American Colonies, prompting the French minister Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes, to say that “The English buy peace rather than they make it.”

British forces would withdraw and the western border of the new country was set at the Mississippi and, as such, included what would become Nashville and Chicago (but not St. Paul or St. Louis, only just barely). Benjamin Franklin couldn’t get the English to cede what is now Quebec (for better or worse). America also got certain fishing rights around Newfoundland.

In exchange, the Americans agreed to honor private debts and stop seizing Loyalist property.

And the world was given the greatest gift: America.

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Great Game Previews In History: 13 November 2013

by J.R.

Today In History

400px-Chappel_Montgomery_full_lengthOne of the earliest defeats of the Flortheast came November 13, 1775 when forces led by Richard Montgomery seized Montreal during the invasion of Canada.

There was no glorious battle to be had here. Montgomery’s forces had put Fort St. Jean under siege in mid-September. The garrison held out, but eventually superior American guns wore down the soldiers within and the fort surrendered to Montgomery Nov. 3.

That essentially left the road to Montreal undefended. Montgomery’s forces marched to the city and Guy Carleton, the British general in charge at Montreal, fled. Montreal surrendered without a single shot fired.

Eventually, Montgomery’s forces would march to Quebec City, joining with the still-loyal Benedict Arnold. Montgomery was killed at the Battle of Quebec, but Carleton — acknowledging the respect of Montgomery by Patriot and British forces — ordered a full military funeral “but without much fanfare.”

Montgomery is buried in Quebec City. Just waiting.

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Great Game Previews In History: 3 November 2013

by J.R.

Today in History

GGeneral_George_Washington_Resigning_his_Commissioneorge Washington issued his farewell message to the men of the Continental Army via a message printed in the Philadelphia newspapers November 3, 1783:

[T]he singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the United States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.”

The general would later appear to Congress, sitting in Annapolis, to resign his commission:

Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”

Washington pushed for a peacetime force, but Congress was cold to the idea, especially the members from New York, who feared that a Massachusetts-dominated force would side with their home state in a pending land dispute in what is now western Massachusetts.

Eventually, of course, there was a peacetime force and Washington didn’t “take [his] leave of all the employments of public life” permanently.

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