It has been a terribly long time since I posted any of my updates for this book. Here is what happened. First about 6 months ago my wife gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Emily. Anyone who has a newborn knows that this means your personal times goes to zero. And that is exactly what happened to me. While I still had time to do a blog post here and there, I didn’t have time to read and highlight as I went through Blood of Tyrants by Logan Beirne. When a little free time did crop up I realized that while I was enjoy this books content, I wasn’t enjoying read it as if for a book report, which is pretty much what these blog posts are. But since I have started this I want to finish it. So I will continue to do these posts, but it will take me long to get them done. I hope you all can bear with me. Here is a list of the other review posts I have done for this book:
- Chapters 13-14
- Chapters 10-12
- Chapters 7-9
- Chapters 4-6
- Introduction through chapter 3
- Before Reading
Chapter 17: Reevaluation
Howe made no preparations to invade Philadelphia that winter of 1776 to 77. He was content to enjoy the winters of Manhattan partying with Mrs. Loring. The author goes on to say if any of the continental congress were captured they would surely be hanged as traitors. Thats why they scattered. Adams and Jefferson back to their homes. Franklin went off to seek more help from the French. Since everyone was hiding, there was often not enough people to have quorum. Congress was upset that the people were spreading horrible rumors that they were all in hiding. So they asked Washington to set people straight. Washington knew better and said the he would take “take the liberty to decline” (p.141).
Congress finally reconvened in Baltimore, even further from Howe’s troops than before. And in a ground breaking resolution they voted that “General Washington be possessed of full peer to order and direct all things relative to the department, an the operations of war”. How nice of them!
These powers didn’t last long and when they ended Nathanael Greene went to Congress and asked for them to be given back to Washington. Congress did give Washington more powers as Greene had asked. In fact, maybe too much. “Many believed that those expanded peers “constituted him in all respects a military Dictator.” Someone in the British house of commons even named him the “dictator of America”.
John Adams tried to clear things up later saying, “Congress never thought of making him dictator of of giving him a sovereignty.” (p.148).
Chapter 18: Victory or Death
By the winter of 1776 things looked very bad for Washington’s army. And the enemy figured his goose was cooked. It was bad too. For example on December 31 Washington’s soldiers contracts were up. Would you re-enlist for a war that looks like its done for? His troops were “almost naked, dying of cold, without blankets, and very ill supplied with provisions.” (.151).
Washington decided he needed to do something drastic. So he did , on December 26 he mounted a surprise attack on Trenton. His army almost didn’t make it. They were freezing in 28 degree weather making the march without shoes. Two of them froze to death. But the cold did have one advantage. The German guards were not at their posts. Once the attack began the “Hessian commander needed to be summoned three times before he put on his clothes and ran out into the storm. (p.152)”
For the most part it worked even though the American’s guns frozen and malfunctioned for some. The Hessians surrendered in large groups and Washington’s troops secured a ammunitions and prisoners at very little costs to his army. Washington proclaimed “it is a glorious day for our country.” (p.153) He was stoked to say the least.
Things went so well that Washington was able to give those that re-enlisted in January a 67% pay increase. Many did reenlist.
Of course Howe was pissed! He sent in Lord Cornwallis to New Jersey to go after the Americans. Cornwallis was a really smart guy and one of the few members of the British House of Lords that wanted to stop taxing the colonies before the war started. He sympathized with the American’s, but he would do what he was ordered to. He helped crush the American’s in New York and was now focusing on Washington again.
He was a short fat man, but very smart, with a strong temper. He was respected for his work in the Seven Years War and seen as a shrewd by madman. Cornwallis had 8,000 well fed, well trained, and equipped men, against Washington’s 5,000.
As the red coats marched toward Trenton, the American’s employed guerrilla tacts. They had sharp shooters taking out as many as they could when the marched past their positions. When the real fighting started Washington made sure to stay at the front lines so he was sure his men would not retreat. They replied three attacks.
Again Washington made a bold move. At night he had his army flank the British in Princeton and in the morning surprised them. A little too cooky Washington himself was almost shot down from his horse. He later wrote to his brother that, “I had 4 bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me, and yet escaped unhurt” (p.158). The Americans won the battle amazingly. They caused 500 enemy loses and captured over 200, while losing only a few dozen f their own ranks.
Chapter 19: Idolatry
Idolatry, the worship of a physical object as a god. Frederick the great described Washington’s great record in fighting as “the most brilliant of any record in the annals of military accomplishments.” (p.160). I think this might be a bit much, but the fact that Frederick the Great had even heard of his accomplishments is a pretty big deal. Beirne says that this is “extremely high praise from a man of such military acclaim—and the praise was justified” (p.160). It is high praise, but justified I’m not so sure. I’m not saying he wasn’t doing a good job, but the most brilliant, really?
As for General Howe, he was, as usual, in no hurry. He was satisfied to wait for New Jersey until after winter had passed. After all Mrs. Loring was keeping him company. Although, from the picture that I found of her she doesn’t look all that hot.
Again, as previously discussed GW can do no wrong. Congress reaches out and tells him he is “not bound by their opinion, but ought finally to direct every measure according to his won judgement.” (p.160-161). They are giving him the power again, lets see if they take it away again like they have before.
Meanwhile, GW is not all the impressed with Congress. They may have given him authority over his troops and the war, but the states won’t listen to him. They won’t support him with food, clothing, supplies or men for his army.
Now something really interesting happens. General Howe makes it known that he will take anyone leaving GW’s army into his own and will give them amnesty. This is really bad because it still didn’t look like the states had a chance not matter what Fredrick the Great thinks. To counter this GW makes his men take an oath, that basically says we won’t defect.
To make sure anyone who takes the oath adheres to it he also makes this decree, anyone “who may neglect or refuse to comply with this order, within thirty days from the date hereof will be deemed adherents to the King of Great Britain and treated as common enemies of the American States”. (p.164). Washington never informed this order, but he never recanted it either.