He Fought for His Freedom in the Revolution. Then His Sons Were Sold Into Slavery – HISTORY

Jude Hall was one of the most revered black veterans of the American Revolution. That didn’t stop kidnappers from targeting his boys.
— Read on www.history.com/

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Day 2 – 12/14/1777 — Hardship plagues the Continental Army at Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills

On December 14, 1777, the condition of the 11,000 members of the Continental Army at Gulph Mills and Rebel Hill was one of extreme hardship.  The soldier’s tents were not to arrive for two more days.  There was little, if any food.

Dr. Albigence Waldo, Surgeon General to the Continental Army and a member of a Connecticut Brigade wrote, “Prisoners and Deserters are continually coming in. The Army which has been surprisingly healthy hitherto, now begins to grow sickly from the continued fatigues they have suffered this Campaign. Yet they still show a spirit of Alacrity and Contentment not to be expected from so young Troops. I am sick and discontented–out of home–poor food–hard lodging–weather cold, fatigue–nasty clothes. What sweet felicities I have left at home — a charming wife — pretty children — good cooking all agreeable — all harmonious.  Nasty Cloaths – nasty Cookery – Vomit half my time – smoak’d out my senses – the Devil’s in’t – I can’t Endure it – Why are we sent here to starve and Freeze -Here all Confusion – smoke and Cold – hunger and filthyness – A pox on my bad luck. There comes a bowl of beef soup – full of burnt leaves and dirt, sickish enough to make a Hector spue – away with it Boys – I’ll live like the Chameleon upon Air. Poh! Poh! crys Patience within me – you talk like a fool. Your being sick Covers you mind with a Melancholic Gloom, which makes every thing about you appear gloomy.   See the poor Soldier, when in health – with what cheerfulness he meets his foes and encounters every hardship – if barefoot, he labours thro’ the Mud and Cold with a Song in his mouth extolling War and Washington – if his food be bad, he eats it notwithstanding with seeming content – blesses God for a good Stomach and Whistles it into digestion. But harkee!  Patience, a moment:  there comes a soldier — his worn out shoes, his legs nearly naked from the remains of an only pair of stockings.  His breeches not enough to cover his nakedness, his shirt hanging in strings, his hair dishelveled, his face meagre, his whole appearance pictures a person forsaken and discouraged.  He comes and cries with an air of wretchedness and despair: — ‘I am sick, my feet lame, my legs are sore, my body covered with a tormenting itch, my clothes are worn out, my constitution broken.  I fail fast and all the reward I shall get is — ‘Poor Will is dead!’  People who live at home in Luxury and Ease, quietly possessing their habitation, Enjoying their Wives and families in Peace; have but a very faint idea of the unpleasing sensations, and continual Anxiety the Man endures who is in Camp, and is the husband and parent of an agreeable family.  These same People are willing we should suffer every thing for their Benefit and advantage, and yet are the first to Condemn us for not doing more!!”

General Washington continues to issue orders to help get his troops settled.  And, he writes to the President of Congress about the army’s movement in to “the Gulph” and the army’s December 11 skirmishes with the British in Whitemarsh and the Gulph.

From General George Washington:

GENERAL ORDERS Head Quarters, at the Gulph, December 14, 1777.

Parole Raritan. Countersigns Schuylkill, Delaware.

The regiments of horse are to draw provisions of any issuing Commissary, lying most convenient to them, upon proper returns therefor.

Such of the baggage as is not absolutely necessary for the troops, and all the Commissarys and others stores, are to remain on this side of the gulph.

To THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS

Head Quarters near the Gulph, December 14, 1777.

On Thursday morning we marched from our Old Encampment and intended to pass the Schuylkill at Madisons Ford [Matson’s Ford],where a Bridge had been laid across the River. When the first Division and a part of the Second had passed, they found a body of the Enemy, consisting, from the best accounts we have been able to obtain, of Four Thousand Men, under Lord Cornwallis possessing themselves of the Heights on both sides of the Road leading from the River and the defile called the Gulph, which I presume, are well known to some part of your Honble. Body. This unexpected Event obliged such of our Troops, as had crossed to repass and prevented our getting over till the succeeding night. This Manoeuvre on the part of the Enemy, was not in consequence of any information they had of our movement, but was designed to secure the pass whilst they were foraging in the Neighbouring Country; they were met in their advance, by General Potter with part of the Pennsylvania Militia, who behaved with bravery and gave them every possible opposition, till they were obliged to retreat from their superior numbers. Had we been an Hour sooner, or had had the least information of the measure, I am persuaded we should have given his Lordship a fortunate stroke or obliged him to have returned, without effecting his purpose, or drawn out all Genl Howe’s force to have supported him. Our first intelligence was that it was all out. He collected a good deal of Forage and returned to the City, the Night we passed the River. No discrimination marked his proceedings. All property, whether Friends or Foes that came in their way was seized and carried off.

On to Day 3…

Read more about these momentous six days in my novel, Becoming Valley Forge, and my nonfiction ebook, Six Days in December: General George Washington’s and the Continental Army’s Encampment on Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills, December 13 – 19, 1777.  #RevolutionaryWarRealness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we go again…Six Days in December begins — Day 1, 12/13/1777–The Rebel Hill Encampment with George Washington and the Continental Army Begins

Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills, early 1900s.

Today is Day 1 of the Six Days in December: General George Washington’s and the Continental Army’s Encampment on Rebel Hill, December 13 – 19, 1777.  That’s the day that 10,000 members of the Continental Army descended on and encamped at Rebel Hill, in Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania, some eight miles away from Valley Forge.  The army stayed there until December 19, 1777, when they marched to Valley Forge.  Those six days have largely been overlooked, so in 2011, I set out to change that.  I grew up on Rebel Hill, and I felt that it was time that Rebel Hill’s amazing history was told and retold.

So, in 2012, I published an e-book titled, Six Days in December: General George Washington’s and the Continental Army’s Encampment on Rebel Hill, December 13 – 19, 1777.     It’s available on Amazon by clicking  here.    I also talk about those six days in my novel, Becoming Valley Forge, from the perspective of the people who lived on Rebel Hill and woke up one day to find 10,000 soldiers on their hill.  The novel, which covers The Philadelphia Campaign, from the Battle of Brandywine on Sept. 11, 1777 through the Valley Forge Encampment, answers the question–what happens when the war comes to your back yard? You can read more about it here.

I’ll be blogging about these six days up through December 19.  I will provide day-by-day coverage to the important activity that occurred during those six days, including the army’s celebration of the first Thanksgiving as a new nation and Gen. Washington’s decision to move to Valley Forge for the army’s winter quarters. These six days are the thrilling story about the threshold to Valley Forge and what happened when the war came to the backyard of the residents of Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills.

So, here we go…

Late in the evening of December 12, 1777, in a blinding snowstorm, General George Washington and 10-11,000 of his hungry, tired, and barely-clothed Continental Army, spent from a December 5 -7 encounter with the British during the Battle of Whitemarsh and a Dec. 11 skirmish known as the Battle of Matson’s Ford, started the march from Swedes Ford, in Norristown, to Gulph Mills. One soldier writes, “We are ordered to march over the river. It snows–I’m sick–eat nothing–no whiskey–no baggage–Lord-Lord-Lord–. Till sunrise crossing the river cold and uncomfortable.”

At 3 a.m. on December 13, 1777, Washington and his army marched into Gulph Mills, where Rebel Hill is located. “…at 3 a.m. encamped near the Gulph where we remained without tents or blankets in the midst of a severe snow storm.”

Several historians believe that Washington was going to make Gulph Mills the Continental Army’s winter headquarters because if he had decided on Valley Forge, it would have been easier to march his tired army straight to Valley Forge, rather than detour them several miles to Gulph Mills. Some of the letters from members of the army bear that out.  Soldier Timothy Pickering wrote, “the great difficulty is to fix a proper station for winter quarters. Nothing else prevents our going into them…it is a point not absolutely determined.”

Because of their elevation, Rebel Hill and the hills of Gulph Mills provided an advantageous view for miles around. The army could have easily seen the British advancing from Philadelphia to the east, where the British had established winter headquarters. Also, Rebel Hill gave the army great access to the Schuylkill River, particularly the crossing points of Matson’s Ford and Swede’s Ford. Finally, Rebel Hill was friendly territory–it is believed to have gotten its name because the people who lived there were definitely rebels and patriots supporting the Continental Army.

In any event, General Washington had to get his army, which had no tents to shield them from the elements, settled. He issued these orders:

GENERAL ORDERS December 13, 1777.

Head-Quarters, at the Gulph,

Parole Carlisle. Countersigns Potsgrove, White Marsh.

The officers are without delay to examine the arms and accoutrements of their men, and see that they are put in good order.

Provisions are to be drawn, and cooked for to morrow and next day. A gill of Whiskey is to be issued immediately to each officer, soldier, and waggoner.

The weather being likely to be fair, the tents are not to be pitched. But the axes in the waggons are to be sent for, without delay, that the men may make fires and hut themselves for the ensuing night in the most comfortable manner.

The army is to be ready to march precisely at four o’clock to morrow morning.

An officer from each regiment is to be sent forthwith to the encampment on the other side Schuylkill, to search that and the houses for all stragglers, and bring them up to their corps. All the waggons not yet over are also to be sent for and got over as soon as possible.

Mr. Archibald Read is appointed paymaster to the 8th. Pennsylvania regiment, and is to be respected as such.

On to Day 2…

Day 6, Dec. 18, 1777 — George Washington’s Army celebrates the new nation’s first Thanksgiving at Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills and prepares to set up camp at Valley Forge

Day 6, Dec. 18, 1777 — George Washington’s Army celebrates the new nation’s first Thanksgiving at Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills and prepares to set up camp at Valley Forge

https://becomingvalleyforge.com/2017/12/18/day-6-dec-18-1777-george-washingtons-army-celebrates-the-new-nations-first-thanksgiving-at-rebel-hill-and-gulph-mills-and-prepares-to-set-up-camp-at-valley-forge-3/
— Read on becomingvalleyforge.com/2017/12/18/day-6-dec-18-1777-george-washingtons-army-celebrates-the-new-nations-first-thanksgiving-at-rebel-hill-and-gulph-mills-and-prepares-to-set-up-camp-at-valley-forge-3/

Day 6, Dec. 18, 1777 — George Washington’s Army celebrates the new nation’s first Thanksgiving at Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills and prepares to set up camp at Valley Forge

Day 6, Dec. 18, 1777 — George Washington’s Army celebrates the new nation’s first Thanksgiving at Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills and prepares to set up camp at Valley Forge

https://becomingvalleyforge.com/2017/12/18/day-6-dec-18-1777-george-washingtons-army-celebrates-the-new-nations-first-thanksgiving-at-rebel-hill-and-gulph-mills-and-prepares-to-set-up-camp-at-valley-forge-3/
— Read on becomingvalleyforge.com/2017/12/18/day-6-dec-18-1777-george-washingtons-army-celebrates-the-new-nations-first-thanksgiving-at-rebel-hill-and-gulph-mills-and-prepares-to-set-up-camp-at-valley-forge-3/

A true patriot, 98 year old John James, becomes a lieutenant after 76 years

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Lt. James in full uniform.

Happy Independence Day! Today we celebrate the revolutionary values of resistance and freedom that led to the founding of our nation.

This blog today links those revolutionary values and those revolutionary patriots to last week’s revolutionary righting of a wrong that occurred 76 years ago for an African American man whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. That man is now known as Lt. Colonel John Edward James, Jr., a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and Sons of the Revolution because of his ancestors Revolutionary War service.

Lt. James attended officer’s candidates school in 1942 after he was drafted into the United States Army in 1941. The day before James was to receive his officer’s commission as a lieutenant, his commanding officer told James that he would not be receiving his commission because the African American soldiers were not allowed to be officers over white soldiers. He told James to get his gear and go to wherever his commanding officer sent him.

Fast forward to 2001, when James’ daughter, Dr. Marion Lane, found a picture of James with the other 200 men in uniform. Lane asked her father what the picture was. James never talked about this with Lane as she was growing up. But, now that she had seen the picture, he told Lane about how he was denied his commission because of racism.

Lane is a fighter and not one to let an injustice go. In 2015, she set about trying to right the wrong and get her father his commission. She researched records and found that some of the most important documents were lost in a fire of the Army Archives many years ago. She ultimately enlisted the help of Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey after the Army twice turned down James’ request because of an alleged lack of documentation. Finally, with the help of Sen. Casey and others, the Army agreed that James earned his commission.

There was a commissioning ceremony for James on June 28 at the Muserum of the American Revolution (MAR) in Philadelphia. James was given the oath of office by General John Jumjper, four star general retired and Chair of the Board of the MAR. So many people were close to tears seeing this proud and humble man getting the commission that he should have gotten 76 years ago.

The wrong and its righting was covered by the New York Times, CBS News, and a host of local Philadelphia news media.

I’ve included a photo gallery of that wonderful day.

James comes from a long line of patriots. His ancestor Isaac Brown, born c. 1759 in Charles City County, Virginia, served as a Sergeant in the 7th, 11th, and 15th VA Regiments. He endured the Valley Forge Encampment. James descendant Abraham Brown, born c. 1745 in Charles City County, Virginia, furnished supplies to the patriots during the American Revolution. Both are buried at Old Elam Cemetery in Charles City County, Virginia. Other James ancestors served in the War of 1812, the Civil War, and World War I.

James daughter, Marion Lane, wrote about her ancestors Revolutionary War service in her children’s book, Patriots of African Descent in the Revolutionary War. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and former President of the Descendants of Wshington’s Army at Valley Forge, and the first African American to be inducted into The Heritage Society, which is composed of the presidents of the heritage groups like DAR.

So, as we celebrate the founding of our country today, the revolutionary values of resistance, freedom and justice are alive and well in people like Second Lieutenant John E. James, Jr. his daughter Dr. Marion Lane–true patriots who worked and fought to make our country live up to its ideals.

Peace–SV

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Dr. Marion Lane and Brenda Watts, daughters, pin lieutenant bars on Lt. James

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Gen. Jumper administers oath of office to Lt. James while his daughters look on

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Lt. James’ 1942 Officer Training Class

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Lt. James (bottom rt.) at Officer Training School

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General Jumper, Senator Casey, Lieutenant James and Dr. Marion Lane

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Curtis Cheyney, Esq., General President Emeritus, Sons of the Revolution, who helped with securing the commission, congratulates Lt. James

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Lt. James in 1941

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Lt. James with fellow members of The Sons of the Revolution

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Lt. John Edward James, Jr., US Army