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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 12, 2020 12:03PM) (new)

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This is the Week Nine - non spoiler thread for the book The British are Coming: The War For America, Lexington To Princeton, 1775-1777 (The Revolution Trilogy #1) by
Rick Atkinson.

The British Are Coming The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 by Rick Atkinson by Rick Atkinson Rick Atkinson

Hello Everyone,

For the week of July 6th - July 12th, we are reading Chapter 19 and Chapter 20 .

The Week Nine reading assignment is: (pages 465 - 511

Week Nine: (July 6th - July 12th)

November–December 1776 - page 465

New Jersey
December 1776 - page 485

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other spotlighted books.

This book was kicked off May 10th

We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

Bentley will be moderating this selection. And Lorna will be my backup.




The British Are Coming The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 by Rick Atkinson by Rick Atkinson Rick Atkinson



It is always a tremendous help when you quote specifically from the book itself and reference the chapter and page numbers when responding. The text itself helps folks know what you are referencing and makes things clear.


If an author or book is mentioned other than the book and author being discussed, citations must be included according to our guidelines. Also, when citing other sources, please provide credit where credit is due and/or the link. There is no need to re-cite the author and the book we are discussing however.

Here is the link to the thread titled Mechanics of the Board which will help you with the citations and how to do them.

Also, the citation thread: (for Unreasonable Men - look at examples)

Introduction Thread:

Table of Contents and Syllabus


Remember there is a glossary thread where ancillary information is placed by the moderator. This is also a thread where additional information can be placed by the group members regarding the subject matter being discussed. In the case of this book we have two glossaries which are brought over from other selections (same timeframe) that we will add to.

Here are the links:


There is a Bibliography where books cited in the text are posted with proper citations and reviews. We also post the books that the author may have used in his research or in his notes. Please also feel free to add to the Bibliography thread any related books, etc with proper citations or other books either non fiction or historical fiction that relate to the subject matter of the book itself. In the case of this book, Rick Atkinson's primary sources start on page 703.
No self promotion, please.

Here is the link:

Book as a Whole and Final Thoughts - Spoiler Thread

Here is the link:

The British Are Coming The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 by Rick Atkinson by Rick Atkinson Rick Atkinson

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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Michael, here is Week Nine again. No idea what happened to this thread. I have resurrected it again. Somehow it got deleted.

message 3: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 2135 comments Mod
I loved the chapter about Benjamin Franklin making his way to Paris, having been dispatched by Congress to solicit the aid of King Louis XVI in the war against the British, accompanied by two of his grandsons. As Atkinson relates that French imaginations, even Marie Antoinette, were enthusiastic in their support for these New World insurgents against the transgressions of the British.

The work of Silas Deane, a former Connecticut congressman, was interesting as it is related how he was there in advance of Benjamin Franklin's visit to work with Beaumarchais and Vergennes to secure the needed supplies and weaponry. He also was running a recruiting office for European soldiers of fortune to join the American cause. Of those recruits one was Pierre Charles L'Enfant, not only an engineer but one who had studied art and architecture in Paris, and would go on to design the new capital in Washington, D.C.

It was only through Benjamin Franklin's patient perseverance that America was able to prevail.

message 4: by Andrea (last edited Jul 14, 2020 01:04PM) (new)

Andrea Engle | 1360 comments Lorna, I too enjoyed the part about Ben Franklin’s going to Paris! The families of the Founding Fathers sacrificed greatly so that they could further the foreign fortunes of their emerging country. The John Adams’s, the John Quincy Adams’s, the Jeffersons, etc., etc., all sacrificed to help their country in its need. The good thing about that is that it caused them to write tons of letters back home!

The Letters of John and Abigail Adams by Abigail Adams by Abigail Adams Abigail Adams
Letters of Thomas Jefferson by Thomas Jefferson by Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson

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The Week Nine reading assignment is: (pages 465 - 511

Week Nine: (July 6th - July 12th)

November–December 1776 - page 465

New Jersey
December 1776 - page 485

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message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 14, 2020 08:41AM) (new)

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"Portrait of Benjamin Franklin sporting his signature marten fur hat"

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The Philadelphia lawyer Joseph Reed, who served as Washington’s aide and adjutant general, was the commanding general’s closest confidant until the discovery in late November 1776 of his disloyal correspondence with General Lee. Reed later provided useful intelligence after leading a cavalry troop to capture British dragoons near Princeton.

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The Porcupine Coiffure of Paris

George BARBIER - Costumes parisiens. Manteau de Damas rose garni de renard bleu. Coiffure de paradis noir (pl.35, Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1912 n°19)

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message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 14, 2020 04:14PM) (new)

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England, circa 1780 Costumes; underwear (upper body) Hoop skirt or pannier, English, 1750-80. Plain-woven linen and cane.- Linen twill and baleen Center back length: 14 7/8 in. (37.7825 cm) Purchased with funds provided by Suzanne A. Saperstein and Michael and Ellen Michelson, with additional funding from the Costume Council, the Edgerton Foundation, Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer, Maureen H. Shapiro, Grace Tsao, and Lenore and Richard Wayne (M.2007.211.353) Costume and Textiles Also illustrated: Hoop petticoat or pannier, English, 1750-80. Plain-woven linen and cane. (M.2007.211.198) Chemise, English, 1775-1800. Plain woven cotton. (M.2007.211.428)

message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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Marie Antoinette in a court dress of 1779 worn over extremely wide panniers.

message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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Princess Dagmar of Denmark wearing a crinoline in the 1860s

message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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Cage crinoline with steel hoops, 1865 (LACMA)

message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 14, 2020 04:30PM) (new)

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"A gentleman being powdered by his valet. A cone protects the gentleman’s face during the process. Powder was made from starch, often wheat flour, or powdered white clay. The Toilette of the State Prosecutor’s Clerk, c. 1768 by Carle Vernet."


"Archaeologists at George Washington’s Ferry Farm have recovered a variety of hair care artifacts, including over 200 wig hair curlers. These baked clay curlers were used exclusively to curl wig hair, and formed part of the Washington family’s regimen of wig maintenance. The regimen included several practices that might seem strange or gross to us today.

George Washington, 1796, by Gilbert Stuart [Public Domain]. His own hair, not a wig, was pomaded and powdered by his personal valet to look as if he were wearing a wig.

message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 14, 2020 05:10PM) (new)

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When Paris’s Streets Were Paved With Filth

In Louis XIV’s capital, slosh from chamber pots mixed with mud, blood, and offal to form a sulfurous stew. What to do?


Paris in 1618. Until late in the 17th century, many streets were clogged with foul-smelling mud. (Visual: Harold B. Lee Library Maps Collection/Wikimedia Commons.)

Nicolas de la Reynie, Paris’s first police chief. (Visual: Wikimedia Commons.)

Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s minister of finance. (Visual: Philippe de Champaigne, 1655; Metropolitan Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons.)

Sources: Undark, Wikimedia

message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 14, 2020 04:59PM) (new)

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Not sure if this was Paris - but certainly similar (smile).

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A Blind Man from the Quinze-Vingts Hospital, 1738. Artist Caylus, Anne-Claude-Philippe de. (Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images)

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The Windmills of Montmartre

Before it became a world renowned centre of artistic repute, Montmartre was a working-class village, north of Paris. Centred around its Abbey and populated largely by peasants, the old village was also a hub for mills. Over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, 13 windmills were installed on the small hill.

The first record of Montmartre’s windmills dates back to 1622, although it is thought the mill was in operation from the 16th century. The windmill in question, the Moulin du Palais was a wheat mill for the production of flour. The other mills which were established over the course of the next century served a number of different purposes. In addition to flour, some mills produced plaster, ground grapes, pebbles, glass, pepper and even iris bulbs to produce perfume.


Source: Plug Inn

message 21: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 14, 2020 05:24PM) (new)

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Hotel des Ambassadeurs de Hollande

The firm in the hotel was affiliated with the American Revolution.

"The firm was, in fact, the government front recently set up for shipping military supplies to America without implicating Versailles or embarrassing Louis XVI.

"A tall, slender, elegant man said to be the Hortalèz managing director occasionally flitted down the rue Vieille du Temple, but he, too, was not what he seemed, and he never had been.

Pierre-Augustin Caron, better known as Beaumarchais, was among the most improbable figures affiliated with the American rebellion; with his celebrated gift for “oozing through keyholes,” he was also among the great characters of eighteenth-century France.

Now forty-four, born into a family described as “obscure, mais intéressante,” he had been apprenticed at age thirteen to his father, a Parisian watchmaker.

By twenty he was among the finest horologists in France, a reputation enhanced when he fashioned a tiny watch set in a ring for Madame de Pompadour, the previous king’s chief mistress. A gifted musician, he instructed the four daughters of Louis XV in the harp, for which he invented improved foot pedals.

He married a rich widow, shed his old name, then married well again after the first wife died."

Source: Atkinson, Rick. The British Are Coming (The Revolution Trilogy) (p. 472). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

Pierre Beaumarchais


Sources: Wikipedia, Wikimedia

message 22: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 14, 2020 05:34PM) (new)

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The Barber of Seville

Storm scene from near the end of Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville

The Barber of Seville, or The Useless Precaution (Italian: Il barbiere di Siviglia, ossia L'inutile precauzione [il barˈbjɛːre di siˈviʎʎa osˈsiːa liˈnuːtile prekautˈtsjoːne]) is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini.

The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais's French comedy Le Barbier de Séville (1775).

The première of Rossini's opera (under the title Almaviva, o sia L'inutile precauzione) took place on 20 February 1816 at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, with designs by Angelo Toselli.

Rossini's Barber has proven to be one of the greatest masterpieces of comedy within music, and has been described as the opera buffa of all "opere buffe". After two hundred years, it remains a popular work.

Remainder of article:

Source: Wikipedia

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The Marriage of Figaro. Mozart and Rossini would make him immortal by bejeweling the plays with music, but his inspired stage character—the versatile, roguish Figaro—embodied what one critic called “the gaiety, the intelligence, the lightness” of the French people. Without doubt he embodied Beaumarchais.

Source: Atkinson, Rick. The British Are Coming (The Revolution Trilogy) (p. 473). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 15, 2020 09:57PM) (new)

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And so we begin:

Chapter 19.
A Quaker in Paris

"The old gentleman had gone to sea once again, despite his resolve to remain on dry land for the rest of his days. In late November 1776, Dr. Franklin found himself aboard the heaving Reprisal, a triple-masted, hundred-foot-long American warship with a black hull trimmed in white, a splash of yellow across her stern, and the figurehead of a full-busted woman below the bowsprit. From her spanker gaff the vessel flew Continental colors: alternating red and white stripes with three overlapping union crosses in the upper canton.

A former merchantman, the Reprisal had been built for speed and rebuilt for battle, mounting eighteen carriage guns, twenty swivels, and eight wide-muzzled cohorns. She was not built for a septuagenarian’s convenience, and Franklin concurred with Samuel Johnson that ship travel was like being in jail without the comforts of jail.

Of the eight Atlantic crossings he would make, this was among the fastest, thanks to fulsome westerlies that kept the canvas billowing and the sea foam scudding. But it was also among the most miserable. Running seas “almost demolished me,” he would write, and a salt beef diet aggravated the boils and skin scurf that had plagued him during the Canada expedition the previous spring. “I am old and good for nothing,” he had told Benjamin Rush, his fellow congressman.

“As the storekeepers say of their remnants of cloth, I am but a fag end, and you may have me for what you are pleased to give.”

Source: Atkinson, Rick. The British Are Coming (The Revolution Trilogy) (p. 465). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

Discussion Topics and Questions:

1. Were you surprised that Franklin gave the OK to engage with the British ships while his grandsons were on board?

2. In this first chapter, we learn why France was keen on helping the American cause (in fact there were a few reasons)? What did the treaty of 1763 have to do with it? Were you surprised at the front that the French concocted to camouflage their assistance to the Americans?

3. With this chapter, one begins to feel some hope and a leap in faith that yes America might win this war after all. How critical was the assistance of the French, the Spanish, Beaumarchais and Silas Dean.? Were you enamored with the story of the head hunting done by Dean? Some were mismatches; but others would certainly hit their mark:

Marquis de Lafayette

Pierre Charles L'Enfant

4. Were you surprised that L'Enfant laid out the grid for the DC city plan? And almost designed the White House; but made it a bit to king-like for Washington's liking.

5. Why did Franklin have such a dim view of himself when in fact he was one of the most influential founding fathers - in assisting a fledgling country to gain the support that it needed from France?

6. How would you describe Beaumarchais and Silas Deane? How important was Beaumarchais to the American cause? Did you ROFL when you read the account of Beaumarchais allegedly incognito blowing his cover yet saving the day?

7. How important were spies to Washington, Franklin, Lord Stormont and King George?

8. What pressure was Britain trying to exert over the French? What political pressures did France have with its neighbors? Why was France trying to appear neutral?

9. What did Franklin hope to obtain in the short term and what were his long range goals as far as France was concerned?

10. What surprised you about the Paris of the American Revolution era?

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And so we begin:

Chapter 20
Fire-and-Sword Men


"The American army, threadbare and dying, trudged south from Newark in a pelting rain on Thursday, November 28. Muskets, discarded knapsacks, and other spoor littered the miry roads, described by one Maryland ensign as “intolerable bad.” The troops numbered 5,410, but desertion thinned the ranks hour by hour, and armed patrols sped ahead to New Jersey crossroads and the Delaware River ferries with orders to seize men who lacked proper papers or a bleeding wound. Night came on, and crowbait soldiers slept in circles with their feet toward the fire, like spokes on a wheel. Most wore rags and rummage, and even those few who owned regulation buff-and-blue uniforms had been reduced by now to “all buff,” as one wit observed. “You will wonder what has become of the good army of Americans you were told we had,” Captain John Chilton of the 3rd Virginia Regiment wrote his brother. “I really can’t tell. They were in some degree imaginary.”

Source: Atkinson, Rick. The British Are Coming (The Revolution Trilogy) (p. 485). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

Discussion Topics and Sources:

message 26: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaelbl) | 407 comments Benjamin Franklin fascinates me as a study in biography. He was such a multi-faceted person. As I was thinking about this comment it came to mind the number of personalities that had to come together at this point in history to found the United States. The founding fathers and the work they did form, in my opinion, a tipping point that would have not come again had this window in history been missed. Their abilities and thought processes seem to me to be lacking in leadership today. It was such a unique time in history and yet they were viewed by the powers that be in England as less than capable of governing anything.

message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 15, 2020 01:49AM) (new)

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Michael - he was - also rather eccentric in an endearing way.

Yes, this was the first point in the book where I felt that the colonists were getting their act together and knowing that they needed some assistance and also where to get it and who to send.

The British seemed to have a superiority complex as far as the colonists were concerned. I think in this chapter they are beginning to see that they are craftier than they first thought. You have to love Beaumarchais - what a character and so crafty and then there was the headhunter as I call him - Silas Deane. I can see them all being accused of skullduggery by Lord Stormont and absolutely denying it (lol) and then (the part where I was laughing aloud) was Beaumarchais getting the boats out early and then changing the names of the other boats and then reloading them secretly (you have to love these guys)!!!! And he had even blown his own cover (too funny).

And it was not just the French - the Spanish were getting into the act too. Even back then they never learned that when you sign draconian treaties or keep people down that they will rise up against you.

Back then - they had a different set of values - I hate to say it but there are many things bigger and vastly more important than oneself.

But Michael one thing that troubled me - Ben Franklin had his two grandsons on board - why was he giving the go ahead to go after British ships - the boys could have been endangered.

message 28: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 15, 2020 01:56AM) (new)

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Obviously a painting of Ben Franklin having seen his peruke maker- Detail, Benjamin Franklin - Charles Willson Peale - Independence National Historical Park


message 29: by Andrea (last edited Jul 15, 2020 06:40AM) (new)

Andrea Engle | 1360 comments Bentley and Michael, you’ve just got to love Ben Franklin. May I recommend (if you haven’t already, Bentley) his autobiography.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1896) by Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin

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Yes, Andrea - a long time ago (smile) but there was a lot to learn in it too.

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Chapter Overviews and Summaries

November–December 1776 - page 465

Franklin had resolved to stay on dry land for the rest of his days; but here he was aboard the heaving Reprisal in late November, 1776 on his way to France. He had told Benjamin Rush that he was old and good for nothing.

Yet now he was totally miserable eating salt pork and on his way to France with hopes of signing a treaty with King Louis XVI and getting munitions and other supplies from the King’s country. He would be descending on Versailles.

Temple and Benny, his grandsons accompanied their grandfather. Their father William was estranged from his father because of the Revolutionary War. William was the Royal Governor of New Jersey and would not renounce his loyalty to England and was arrested and jailed.

The British Navy was the most formidable; but Wickes and John Paul Jones who had seized some good cargoes were resourceful. Privateers inevitably competed with the Continental Navy (such as it was) for manpower, munitions, and booty. But privateering was more profitable.

Franklyn was private about the reasons for his travels; Paris was giddy over his arrival, yet in London - British stocks fell.

In describing the smells and sights - cinnamon ground pepper was sold in paper twists (and I almost fell off my chair) - when reading that the paper twist was sold “with a bit of dog dung mixed in to pad the weight”!!!! Yikes.

Atkinson describes Paris during this time period and France's other challenges. An old hotel was set up as a front to conceal the fact that France was assisting America in the Revolutionary War. The French were still upset over the treaty of 1763.

In fact, there were many reasons for assisting the colonists and
France was not alone; because some money funneled in from Spain.

Beaumarchais and France became America’s new best friends (also Spain) and Beaumarchais acquired an American collaborator named Silas Deane.

Franklin had arrived officially and was a celebrity in his own right. Franklin continued the full court press for a treaty with France. Lord Stormont and spies were watching his every transaction and reporting it to London. The French needed to be careful.

France was threatened; not just by the Britain, but also by an ascendant Austria and Russia and by Portuguese truculence that distracted Bourbon Spain.

Franklin knew that to get the support that they would need to win was more than critical; but to even be considered - it was also critical that they demonstrate that they were "winning" already - to even get any consideration.

New Jersey
December 1776 - page 485

The American army was threadbare, barefoot, bleeding and thinking of home. Most wore rags. The colonists arrived at Brunswick in the rain. Thomas Paine was among them; he had become General Greene’s aide de camp at Fort Lee in mid September. Paine donated the proceeds from the sale of Common Sense for the benefit of the Continental Army; so that they could all get mittens.

Cornwallis and his legions were just a few hours behind (10,000 strong).

Washington established his new headquarters in New Brunswick at Cochrane’s Tavern after loitering in Newark for a few days. "The state of affairs was alarming", he wrote to Hancock.

The New Jersey Assembly had fled from Princeton to Trenton to Burlington to Haddonfield; and it would soon dissolve leaving the state without a government. Princeton’s students had dispersed and its president was fleeing on horseback.

General Lee with 5000 men was MIA. Washington wanted to know Lee’s whereabouts and opened up a letter from Lee to Colonel Reed. He discovered the intrigue going on behind his back between one of his generals and one of his most trusted confidantes.

Congress was supposed to raise 60,000 men but Washington had not seen any of these enlistments yet; and the army was in dire straits. The militias felt that Congress could not even feed them properly so why should they remain. Captain Alexander Hamilton was one of New York’s gunners who covered the infantry’s flight to Princeton. Washington slipped away with Hamilton’s artillery train leaving only some burning tents, the Yankee dead and those too sick to move. General Howe had ordered Cornwallis not to pursue; but to stop at New Brunswick - since they had captured Northern Jersey.

Washington left a rear guard at Princeton under Stirling; while the remainder headed to Trenton. The wounded and supplies were shuttled via boat to the Pennsylvania shore. Washington got word that Howe had changed his mind and was in pursuit. Washington told Greene and Stirling to also retreat. The men ferried the troops across the Delaware to Pennsylvania.

Cornwallis and Howe finally arrive in Trenton. Washington established his new headquarters in Upper Trenton Ferry. Howe would return to New York for the winter; Cornwallis to England.

Howe had hoped that he and his army would be viewed as liberators but one loyalist said that the invading force was rife with fire-and-sword men. The British and Hessian troops looted everything - they burned over 650 houses and they purposely destroyed all of the colonists’ belongings that they did not steal. Women were raped in rural Trenton as young as ten and as old as seventy. Howe denied these allegations in London; but acknowledged problems with discipline.

Philadelphia moved its presses and plates to Baltimore so that the rebels could continue to print money. Washington left General Putnam to command the town. General Lee finally finds his way to New Jersey and Morristown. He is without his favorite horses and his dogs were sent to Virginia for safekeeping so he was very much alone and still complaining about Washington. Soon he would be captured by British troops.

Howe wrote Germaine that most of New Jersey and Rhode Island had returned to British control. General Clinton anchored in Weaver’s Point - north of Newport. Howe was living it up in New York with Betsy Loring. At this point in time - both the British and Continental Army were creating a Waste Land where they had been and the colonists whether revolutionaries or loyalists suffered tremendously.

Ethan Allen was paroled on Long Island after being shipped back to America from Cornwall. The prisoners faced unbelievable conditions, torture and humiliation with hardly and food; with most of the food being unedible. And the British were shockingly inhumane when the prisoners died. A very sad chapter, indeed.

message 32: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4354 comments Mod
I'm a bit late, but I did want to touch on some of these.

Regarding question 8, the British were obviously interested in stopping the shipment of French arms to the rebels. British spies would eventually find out about it, but the French would just express their "regret" and claim that they had no power over "private merchants."

The British would also be at a potential disadvantage if France entered the war since, this time, France wasn't distracted by a war on the European continent.

The French also tried to keep their aid secret, because they needed time to rebuild their navy before entering the war. Their later treaty with the Americans (in 1778) was also supposed to be secret, but, ironically, Ambassador Stormont reported on its existence to Whitehall on the very day it was signed (thanks to Edward Bancroft)

The French also faced some difficulties from their Spanish allies. The Spanish never made a formal alliance with America, because they doubted they would get much of a return, although they were interested in conquering British colonies. Spain only sent a small amount of subsidies to the Americans, which didn't have much effect.

message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 16, 2020 09:49AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Yes, thank you Jerome for your post. Spies were extremely well placed, busy and well paid. And nothing could remain secret in those days. And nobody nor any post are ever late - we are glad to have everybody post whenever they can.

I disagree in part with your assessment about Spain.

I agree that they were more secret; but they helped a great deal surreptitiously. Spain helped a lot. However, I do concede that France appeared to be more forthcoming and appeared to help "more". Also, I agree that France was running much more interference than Spain was.

Roderigue Hortalez and Company (the secret front company) was funded equally by France and Spain. Spain also provided financing for the final Siege of Yorktown in 1781 with a collection of gold and silver in Havana, Cuba. Spain was allied with France through the Bourbon Family Compact.

Spanish aid was supplied to the new nation through four main routes: from French ports with the funding of Roderigue Hortalez and Company, through the port of New Orleans and up the Mississippi River, from the warehouses in Havana, and from Bilbao, through the Gardoqui family trading company.

Spain made loans to the United States to be used to furnish war supplies through the House of Gardoqui, which "supplied the patriots with 215 bronze cannon - 30,000 muskets - 30,000 bayonets - 512,314 musket balls - 300,000 pounds of powder - 12,868 grenades - 30,000 uniforms - and 4,000 field tents during the war."

Smuggling from New Orleans began in 1776, when General Charles Lee sent two Continental Army (the army of the United States) officers to request supplies from the New Orleans Governor, Luis de Unzaga. Unzaga, concerned about overtly antagonizing the British before the Spanish were prepared for war, agreed to assist the rebels covertly.

Unzaga authorized the shipment of desperately needed gunpowder in a transaction brokered by Oliver Pollock, a Patriot (Revolutionary) and financier.

When Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez was appointed Governor of New Orleans in January 1777, he continued and expanded the supply operations.

As the American diplomat Benjamin Franklin reported from Paris to the Congressional Committee of Secret Correspondence in March 1777, the Spanish court quietly granted the rebels direct admission to the rich, previously restricted port of Havana under most favored nation status.

Franklin also noted in the same report that three thousand barrels of gunpowder were waiting in New Orleans, and that the merchants in Bilbao "had orders to ship for us such necessaries as we might want.

Additionally, "Even before fighting broke out at Lexington and Concord in 1775, Spain was providing arms and munitions to the American insurgents.

The Bilbao merchant Diego de Gardoqui, who had a long relationship with cod brokers in Marblehead and Salem, smuggled shiploads of muskets, shoes, uniforms, blankets, and gunpowder to New England. From New Orleans, Unzaga sent 10,000 pounds of much-needed gunpowder to the colonial troops at Fort Pitt (today’s Pittsburgh) to fend off British threats in the Western Theater.

Madrid also sent today’s equivalent of a half-billion dollars to France in order to fund another arms smuggling operation to the United States.

Americans desperately needed this materiel aid, for they had begun the war stunningly incapable of fending for itself. They had no navy, little in the way of artillery, and a ragtag army and militia that were bereft of guns and even of gunpowder.

The colonists knew that without the help of France and Spain, they could not hope to prevail against the superior British army and navy."


France and Spain during the American Revolution - C-Span

Source: Wikipedia, SAR, Teaching History,, Smithsonian, Caller Times

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Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
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message 35: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4354 comments Mod
Bentley wrote: "Yes, thank you Jerome for your post. Spies were extremely well placed, busy and well paid. And nothing could remain secret in those days.

I disagree in part with your assessment about Spain.

I ..."

That's true, Bentley. As I recall, the Spaniards' financial support never matched the scale of France's; I was just under the impression that the French aid was more significant in that area.

The significance of Roderigue Hortalez and Company is worth mentioning, of course. Along with money and war matériel, the funds laundered through that company helped support the Americans' currency (the Continental) and made it possible for the Americans to hire foreigners like Steuben, Pulaski and Kościuszko.

message 36: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 17, 2020 12:31AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I think that is true as far as the government. But remember they introduced Franklin and through these point people - there was a handshake with the rich Spaniards and through them a lot of support was initiated and supplied. Like I said I agree with you that the French government's formal aid was more than the Spanish "government's" formal aid. But they were both involved in the "front operation" together with the French.

There was big time money laundering going on. And Silas Deane was the headhunter (lol).

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