“Loyalist Trails” 2017-53: December 31, 2017

In this issue:
UELAC Conference 2018: “Loyalist Ties Under Living Skies”
It’s Not 1776 Anymore, by Stephen Davidson
JAR: Book review: The Revolutionary War Lives and Letters of Lucy and Henry Knox
Ben Franklin’s World: Freedom and the American Revolution
Battle of Stony Point: July 16, 1779
Spanish and British Action of January 8, 1780
Henry Laurens
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Editor’s Note


UELAC Conference 2018: “Loyalist Ties Under Living Skies”

UELAC Conference 2018: “Loyalist Ties Under Living Skies”

June 7-10, 2018 — Temple Garden Hotel and Spa, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Hosted by: London & Western Ontario Branch and Grand River Branch

Are you ready to become an honourary Moose Javian June 7-10, 2018 at the Annual UELAC Conference and AGM?

Did you know:

  • In 1917, a group of local residents banded together and purchased enough automobile parts to build 25 cars. These were to be manufactured under the name Moose Jaw Standard. Each member of the group was able to receive a car, but no further buyers were found, and production did not continue.
  • The Earl of Wessex (Prince Edward) became Colonel-in-Chief of the Saskatchewan Dragoons of Moose Jaw on visiting Saskatchewan in 2003, when he congratulated the regiment on its “contribution to Canada’s proud tradition of citizen-soldiers in the community.” And he also inaugurated the Queen’s Jubilee Rose Garden
  • In 1977 Saskatchewan credit unions developed the first ATM?  Members could access their accounts for 18 hours a day and withdraw up to $200.
  • Chances are the mustard you use comes from Saskatchewan?  Since the 1950’s the area has been responsible for 75% of all mustard grown in Canada.
  • Mac the Moose” created in 1984 stands 30 feet high?
  • There are more than 45 murals in the downtown core?
  • CFB 15 Wing is the eighth busiest airfield in the country controlling more than 146,000 aircraft movements per year, controlling over 124,432 Km2 of air space?
  • Moose Jaw Airfield trained more than 1,200 pilots from around the Commonwealth during WWII?  It’s proximity to Europe and sparsely populated training areas made it ideal for this purpose.

And speaking of flying, there will not be a discount available from either Westjet or Air Canada! Both companies assure me that their seat sales are worth more than the discounts.

If you are the person who will represent your Branch at the Genealogy meeting or Membership meeting, you need to know that those meetings will run on Thursday morning (genealogy) and afternoon (membership) so please plan your arrival accordingly.

Rooms are filling fast but you still have time, book yours now by calling 1-800-718-7727 and quote “UELAC – Saskatchewan Branch 124551.” Keep an eye on the our website as we expect to have our registration form available soon.

Happy New Year from the Saskatchewan Branch!

As more details become available, they will be added to the conference pages.

It’s Not 1776 Anymore

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Rather than being “three kings”, the wise men of the Christmas story are generally regarded by biblical scholars to have been astrologers. The magi looked at the sky for signs of prophecy and significant events. During the American Revolution, patriots and loyalist alike consulted the heavens for navigational guidance, using the positions of the constellations and planets to guide them over the land and sea. It is difficult – if not impossible – for our 21st century eyes and minds to use the stars as either a natural global positioning system or a means to see into the future.

What did the American colonists of the 18th century know about the universe? How did their understanding differ from our own? How did chemistry, astronomy, geography and technology change within the life times of the loyalists? The answers are rather interesting.

Loyalists and patriots only knew of six planets – the ones that could be picked out by the naked eye or viewed through a telescope. Bearing the names of Roman gods, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter were the five planets that could be seen from Earth. The solar system’s seventh planet was only identified during the course of the American Revolution.

The first planet to be discovered with the aid of a telescope was a gas giant beyond the orbit of Saturn. William Herschel, the British astronomer who discovered the new planet in 1781, initially called it the “Georgian star” in honour of King George III. The name was not universally favoured.

Patriots of a scientific bent would be uncomfortable knowing a new planet had been named for a much despised king. In France, it was referred to as “Herschel”. Other astronomers suggested the name Neptune to commemorate the British navy’s victories in the American Revolution (no doubt a favourite choice of any loyalist sky-watchers). In 1850, almost seventy years after its discovery, the new planet was finally given the name Uranus in honour the Greek god of the sky.

While the years of the American Revolution saw the “growth” of our solar system, they were also years of important discoveries in chemistry. Only twenty-two elements were known to science before 1776: copper, sulfur, silver, tin, antimony, gold, mercury, lead, bismuth, phosphorus, carbon, iron, platinum, nickel, cobalt, magnesium, nitrogen, oxygen, manganese, chlorine, hydrogen and chromium.

During the last three years of the American Revolution, scientists in Europe discovered three “new” elements. In 1781, Swiss chemist Peter Jacob Hjelm identified molybdenum, an element found in beans, whole grains, pork and lamb. Austrian mineralogist Franz-Joseph Muller von Richenstein discovered tellurium, a toxic substance now used to create solar cells, in 1782. Tungsten, which has the highest melting point of any metal, was discovered in the following year by a Swedish-German chemist named Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Loyalist and patriot scientists would be surprised to learn that ninety other elements were yet to be identified between 1783 and the present.

Much of planet Earth was yet to be explored and mapped after the American Revolution. The loyalist geographers who had time to keep up on recent discoveries would have been amazed to hear of Captain James Cook’s voyage of 1776-79. Cook’s third and last voyage was undertaken in the hope of finding a northwest passage around North America.

In 1778, Cook became the first European to establish contact with the Hawaiian Islands. The captain gave the latter the English name of the Sandwich Islands in honour of John Montagu, the fourth earl of Sandwich and the first lord of the admiralty during the American Revolution. (Sandwich’s decision to keep the bulk of the Royal Navy in Europe while only maintaining naval bases in a few strategic ports along the eastern seaboard was later cited by some as leading to the loss of the thirteen colonies.)

Cook then sailed for the north-western coast of North America, staying in Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island for a month. As the HMS Resolution headed north to the Bering Strait, Cook mapped the entire coastline for the first time.

So much of the world remained to be explored! Europeans began their settlement of Australia five years after the American Revolution. It would be ten years before any white man would cross the Rocky Mountain range. No one knew of the Antarctic until 1820; it would take twenty more years to prove that it was a continent. In 1826, the first European would reach Timbuktu. Twenty-two years later Johannes Rebmann saw Mount Kilimanjaro. David Livingstone named the Victoria Falls in 1856, the same year that Mount Everest was recognized as the highest peak in the world.

Within the lifetime of the children who fled to modern day Canada with their loyalist parents, some would experience amazing advancements in technology. Some of those who had evacuated New York in the wake of British defeat in 1783 would one day travel by train, send a telegram, and have their photographs taken. While the political ramifications of the American Revolution would have the greatest impact on the loyal American refugees, much of their world – and the skies above – would also be far different than what they had known in 1776.

To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

JAR: Book review: The Revolutionary War Lives and Letters of Lucy and Henry Knox

by Phillip Hamilton (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017)

Review by Nichole Louise, 29 November 2017

When we think of famous couples of the American Revolution, we often first think of John and Abigail Adams. Their correspondence was one of wit and intellect, spanning the crucial years of the war and early Republic. The Revolutionary War Lives and Letters of Lucy and Henry Knox by Phillip Hamilton, however, sheds light on the less popular, but wholly devoted and loving marriage of Gen. Henry Knox and Lucy Flucker Knox.

Lucy Flucker, the daughter of a prominent Boston Tory family, was just seventeen when she married a Whig bookseller, the twenty-three-year-old Henry Knox. Lucy would go against her family’s wishes with this course of action, setting in motion an early marriage of loneliness and feelings of abandonment. Thomas, Lucy’s father, served as Royal Secretary of the Province of Massachusetts. The rest of the Flucker followed Loyalist suit, but Lucy had other plans. Her decision to marry the Sons of Liberty sympathizer created a rift that would never be fully mended. Soon after the outbreak of war, the Fluckers fled the country, leaving newlywed Lucy behind without a word.

The Revolutionary War Lives and Letters of Lucy and Henry Knox is an extraordinary primary source of military movements and life, social customs, economic changes and hardships, and domestic life during the American Revolution. Henry and Lucy wrote to each other in an accessible and easily understood manner, making comprehension easier as well as helping the reader relate to this married couple–not so different from married couples of today. Historical letters often bring humanity and emotion to the cold facts of history. Furthermore, Phillip Hamilton adequately provides historical context to the letters and their writers, as well as offering insight and interpretation of Lucy and Henry’s words. Not only will this rich historical record aid researchers, but also historical fiction authors looking to capture the flavor of language and society during this time.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: Freedom and the American Revolution

Christopher Cameron, an associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and author of To Plead Our Own Cause: African Americans in Massachusetts and the Making of the Antislavery Movement, joins us to discuss how Phillis Wheatley, Cesar Sarter and other black revolutionaries grappled with the seeming paradox of American freedom as they fought to end slavery during the American Revolution.

Listen to the podcast.

Battle of Stony Point: July 16, 1779

The Battle of Stony Point took place on July 16, 1779, during the American Revolutionary War. In a well planned and executed nighttime attack, a highly trained select group of George Washington’s Continental Army troops under the command of Brigadier General “Mad Anthony” Wayne defeated British troops in quick and daring assault on their outpost in Stony Point, New York, approximately 30 miles north of New York City.

The British suffered heavy losses in a battle that served as an important victory in terms of morale for the Continental Army. While the fort was ordered evacuated quickly after the battle by General Washington, this key crossing site was used later in the war by units of the Continental Army to cross the Hudson River on their way to victory over the British.

Source: RevWarTalk and Wikipedia. Read more.

Spanish and British Action of January 8, 1780

One of Spain’s principal goals upon its entry into the American Revolutionary War in 1779 was the recovery of Gibraltar, which had been lost to England in 1704. The Spanish consequently planned to retake Gibraltar by blockading and starving out its garrison, which included troops from Britain and the Electorate of Hanover. The siege formally began in June 1779, with the Spanish establishing a land blockade around The Rock. The matching naval blockade was comparatively weak, and the British discovered that small fast ships could evade the blockaders, while slower and larger supply ships generally could not. By late 1779, however, supplies in Gibraltar had become seriously depleted, and General George Eliott appealed to London for relief.

The Action of 8 January 1780 was a naval encounter off Cape Finisterre between a British Royal Naval fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney, and a fleet of Spanish merchants sailing in convoy with seven warships of the Caracas Company, under the command of Commodore Don Juan Augustin de Yardi. During the action the entire Spanish convoy was captured. Rodney’s fleet was en route to relieve Gibraltar, and this action took place several days before Rodney’s engagement and defeat of a Spanish fleet at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent.

Source: RevWarTalk and Wikipedia. Read more.

Henry Laurens

Henry Laurens (March 6, 1724 [O.S. February 24, 1723] — December 8, 1792) was an American merchant, slave trader, and rice planter from South Carolina who became a political leader during the Revolutionary War. A delegate to the Second Continental Congress, Laurens succeeded John Hancock as President of the Congress. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and President of the Continental Congress when the Articles were passed on November 15, 1777.

Laurens had earned great wealth as a partner in the largest slave-trading house in North America, Austin and Laurens. In the 1750s alone, this Charleston firm oversaw the sale of more than 8,000 enslaved Africans.

Laurens was for a time Vice-President of South Carolina and a diplomat to the Netherlands during the Revolutionary War. He was captured at sea and imprisoned for some time by the British in the Tower of London.

Henry Laurens’s forebears were Huguenots who fled France after the Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1685.

Laurens served in the militia, as did most able-bodied men in his time. He rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel in the campaigns against the Cherokee Indians in 1757–1761, during the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years War).

In the fall of 1779, the Congress named Laurens their minister to the Netherlands. In early 1780 he took up that post and successfully negotiated Dutch support for the war. But on his return voyage to Amsterdam that fall, the British frigate HMS Vestal intercepted his ship, the continental packet Mercury, off the banks of Newfoundland. Although his dispatches were tossed in the water, they were retrieved by the British, who discovered the draft of a possible U.S.-Dutch treaty prepared by William Lee. This prompted Britain to declare war on the Netherlands, it becoming known as the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War.

The British charged Laurens with treason, transported him to England, and imprisoned him in the Tower of London (he is the only American to have been held prisoner in the Tower). His imprisonment was protested by the Americans. In the field, most captives were regarded as prisoners of war, and while conditions were frequently appalling, prisoner exchanges and mail privileges were accepted practice. During his imprisonment, Laurens was assisted by Richard Oswald, his former business partner and the principal owner of Bunce Island. Oswald argued on Laurens’ behalf to the British government. Finally, on December 31, 1781 he was released in exchange for General Lord Cornwallis and completed his voyage to Amsterdam. He helped raise funds for the American effort.

Source: RevWarTalk and Wikipedia. Read more about Henry.

His son John Laurens, a colonel in the Continental Army and officer on Washington’s staff, believed that Americans could not fight for their own freedom while holding slaves. In 1779, he persuaded the Continental Congress to authorize the recruitment of a brigade (3000 men) of slaves, who would be given their freedom after the war. However, when he presented it to them, the South Carolina Provincial Congress overwhelmingly rejected the proposal, and instead voted to use confiscated slaves as payment to recruit more white soldiers. John Laurens was killed in a skirmish in South Carolina in 1782.

Source: RevWarTalk and Wikipedia. Read more about John.

Region and Branch Bits

From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.

  • New Year’s Levee at the Manitoba Legislative Building. Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon invites all Manitobans to attend the annual New Year’s Levee at the Manitoba Legislative Building. This traditional event will take place on Monday, Jan. 1 between 2:30 and 4 p.m. Members of the Manitoba Living History Society and the United Empire Loyalists Associations will attend in heritage costume. Read more…

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Christmas Superstitions: A Festive Survival Guide. Entire books have been written on the subject, yet most of us observe Christmas superstitions without even thinking of the meaning behind them. Explore more about decorations up, decorations down, Christmas pudding, presents, the Yule log and love. Read more…
  • Christmas in 17th-Century England and Virginia. Exploring English customs and the Lord of Misrule. A Colonial Christmas. Along with their friends and relatives in England, the Englishmen who came to Jamestown in 1607 considered Christmas to be one of the most special times of the year. In England, the season lasted about two weeks, from December 25 to Twelfth Day, January 6. During this period, festivities abounded and little work was accomplished. Jamestown settlement. Read more…
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 30 Dec 1775 Washington permits recruiters to discuss enlistment with free blacks, reversing earlier policy.
    • 29 Dec 1778 In the First Battle of Savannah, Georgia, militia and Continentals are defeated by British forces.
    • 28 Dec 1781 Lt. Col Henry Lee plans attack on British troops on John’s Island, SC; plan fails due to high water.
    • 27 Dec 1776 News of Washington’s victory at Trenton reaches Philadelphia, raising spirits.
    • 26 Dec 1776 Patriot forces rout Hessians at Trenton, giving the rebels a crucial victory over the British.
    • 25 Dec 1776 Washington crosses into New-Jersey from Pennsylvania, exploiting Hessians’ Christmas celebrations for surprise attack on Trenton.
    • 24 Dec 1776 Washington’s army issued three days’ provisions in preparation for march to banks of the Delaware.
  • American New England Long Fowler owned by Phineas Sawyer. Detailed description of this firearm.
  • Townsends: Digging Deeper into Colonial America – Q&A. Researching history may seem like a daunting task, but anyone can do it!
  • A lathe turned, wooden canteen.  It has a carving on the side, and measures around 4.5″ high and 14.75″ in diameter.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:

  • Rogers, Richard – (volunteer Jo Ann Tuskin)

Editor’s Note

Another year in the history books – well, almost. It was a good one for us as we saw more of the world and learned new things most every day. We hope you too had a good year.

However you celebrate, a little or a lot, enjoy this turning of the calendar.

I wish you health, happiness and good fortune in the year ahead.