I’m way behind now. But I guess that is what happens when you are trying to take care of a newborn and working full-time, while trying to keep a blog and podcast going. Hang in there with me. I’m still going and I’ll keep going, I’ll just be a little behind. According to the schedule, I’m supposed to be on chapter 24 and I’m only on 17. I’ll get there. For previous post check out: Intro, Chap 1-3, Chap 4-6, Chap 7-9, and Chap 10-12. And now for more of Logan Beirne’s Blood of Tyrants…
Chapter 14: Between a Hawk and a Buzzard
We are not so different from our enemies or at least we weren’t during the first war of our country. The redcoats army were “…demographically similar to their American counterparts.” (p.115). They were most young farmers, “…lured by the promise of food, pay, and adventure.” (p.115). Beirne goes on to say that even their language wasn’t different. The accent that we Americans recognize as British didn’t get started until after the war,
“these nouveau riche Londers sought to distinguish themselves from fellow commoners. And so, they actively cultivated a non-rhotic accent to signify their new elite status.”(p.116).
As we discussed earlier General Howe was slow to crush the colonies army even though he could really at anytime. He continued to hope for a peaceful surrender. To further delay the war Congress sent a delegation to meet with Howe. It consisted of Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge. At the Staten Island Peace Conference they ate and drank well while they waited for Howe to show up. Howe came in and laid down the law saying that if they gave up now he would pardon them. However, he did have a secret list that contained patriots that would be punished and could not be pardoned. John Adams was on that list.
The conference was a bust. Congress had done its job though, in delaying Howe’s advance. Even with the failure of the conference Congress still forbade Washington to burn down Manhatten. They were sure the would recover the island if the British did overtake it. Washington had a great point, the place should be destroyed so that the redcoats would not be able to take advantage of the “…large loyalist population, great ports, ample housing, and plentiful sources for supplies…”(p.121).
Chapter 15: Onslaught
During the summer of 1776 the British landed on Manhatten without losing a single man and were greeted by enthusiastic loyalist who “hoisted the British troops onto their shoulders…” (p.124). When the British landed the American troops ran or surrendered. Hearing that the British had landed Washington leapt onto his horse and went into the action. “Honor required him to stand and fight.” (p.125) He “…ordered his troops to stand their ground…[and] struck several officers as they disobeyed. Mad with rage, he mounted his horse and charged at the invaders. Almost no one followed him.” He ran with “suicidal fury” right into the firing British troops. Only their poor aim and horrible weapons saved him. Realizing what was happening his aides grabbed the reigns of his horse and saved the General’s life.
Later on September 21, 1776 Washington got his wish. At several places within Manhatten fires broke out at all about the same time. There is no proof that Washington planned this, but there is nothing to show that he wasn’t behind it either. Either way Washington got his way, however on a lesser scale, only a quarter of the city burned down.
While some loyalist New Yorker’s were glad to see the British land there were some non-military American’s helping as well. Like Mary Murray who entertained some British troops for hours so that a small force of American’s numbering 3,500 could get around a huge group of 8,000 british using the same road. She was one brave 51 year-old quaker!
I’m glad that Beirne goes into more detail about some of the women that helped out the war effort. Like, Mary Hays McCauley, who cooked and cared for the soldiers as well as her husband. She became what was known as a “pitcher.” Someone who brought water to cool the cannon. Her husband manned the cannon that May helped cool, when he was injured she stepped in and helped to keep the firing going.
One story tells that
“a cannon shot from the enemy passed directly between her legs without doing any other damage than carrying away the lower part of her petticoat…”
(p.131). Thats one luck and brave woman! Some women even went as far as disguising themselves as men and enlisting. Thats what I like to call pulling a Mulan.
Washington was crushed by the loss of Manhatten. it was “…perhaps the lowest point in his life. He had failed his nation. He feared that the Revolution was lost.” (p.134).
Chapter 16: The Times that Try Men’s Souls
This is a very short chapter (p. 135 – 139). But there are some good stats and information in it. For example, we find out that after Manhattan Washington only had about 3,500 men. It is hard to believe that number was the whole of the American army. “The American war machine was less a machine than
a schizophrenic squirrel that jumped from one task to another without coordination.”
(p.135). Thomas Paine said of this time in the Revolution, “Theses are the times that try men’s souls.” Washington’s outlook was even more bleak. He confided privately to a friend, “I think the game is pretty near up.”( p.138).
Image Credit: Molly Pitcher