Short stories from the Revolutionary War
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"INDEPENDENCE DAY SALUTE: UNHEARD STORIES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
July 4, 2011
Happy Fourth of July! I hope you have fun today celebrating the birth of our great nation and all that it stands for. I love history and our country, so I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite stories from the American Revolution. I found them in a book I dearly love called The Wonder of America by Derric Johnson. I’ve had it since I was about 12 years old and it still remains one of my all-time favorites. So, I’ve picked out 6 short stories for you this Independence Day.
#1 He’d been teaching school for two years when the war began. He was only 21 years old, a little above average height, with fair skin, blue eyes, and light hair. And, he was involved in the Long Island campaign that was just this side of disastrous. We were facing the enemy across the East River not knowing what their plans might be. Fearing surprise more than anything, General Washington wanted someone to sneak over the lines and get information.
Spying is a dirty job, and nobody wanted it; so Nate volunteered. There is something about taking on a job that’s got to be done that’s the custom of American heroes. Dressed like a Dutch schoolmaster he ventured through the enemy lines. He got what he went after and was on his back when the British found the information on him he admitted he was a spy, and they hanged him the next morning.
Before he died, he wrote a few letter home, but the British destroyed them so that “the rebels should not know they have a man who can die so firmly.” In his last moment, though, they let him say what he wanted to.
He was just a young who had no time to do anything memorable but die. So he and told them his rank, Captain, his name, Nathan Hale, and then he added:
“I only regret that I have bur one life to lose for my country.”
In so doing he showed the world what Americans are made of.”
#2 It’s one of the oldest popular songs around, dating back to 1500. Farmers sang it in Holland. And English version poked fun at 1 of England’s military leaders – Oliver Cromwell. The Italian made light of the men’s clothing style of the day.
When the British came to fight the Indians in the mid 1700’s, the Colonist sent local forces to help. A professional British army surgeon took 1 look at the strange garb of the American forces and wrote a poem. The men from America seemed so untrained. They couldn’t resist poking some fun. The words had a rhyme to them, and with a little experimenting, British regulars were able to put the new words to that same old tune.
But the Yanks liked it too. Americans, with the gift to laugh at themselves, started singing it, and soon the whole country was humming or whistling that simple tune. Then, when the Revolutionary War came, American soldiers made it their song by using it in the camps, on the march , and before going into battle.
Written by the British as a joke, it became a song they regretted. One British General in the midst of war said, “I hope I never hear it again.”
But they did! In particular, they heard it at Yorktown during the surrender of the British army to General Washington. And, as the Americans played that one song “Yankee Doodle”, over and over, a defeated enemy stacked their arms.”
#3 “Beyond the trenches, the allied armies formed 2 long lines: the French on 1 side, the Americans on the other. At 1 o’clock the British, marched out. Every 1 of them kept his eyes riveted on the French troops, as if trying to blot out those Colonials on the other side of the road.
Marquis de Lafayette snapped an order, and the American band exploded with Yankee Doodle. As if on a string, every British head was jerked around the sound, and they stared, unwillingly, into the eyes of their ex-subjects.
“Done in the trenches before Yorktown in Virginia, October 19, 1781.” The British surrendered!
One of Washington’s aides, Tench Tilghman, was given the honor of carrying the victory report to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and I suppose the story of his trip is the best possible illustration of the narrow margin between American victory and defeat.
When Tilghman arrived, he asked Congress to give him a draft of money to pay for the expenses of his trip. They couldn’t do it!
There was not 1 cent left in the National Treasury so each Congressman contributed a dollar out of his own pocket.”
#4 While he as in office, he was one of the most unpopular presidents to ever serve the United States. He was ridiculed in public print, accused of being power mad, and called a tyrant by a leading newspaper editor of the day. Some said he used the office of President just to gain favor and become rich, and critics didn’t even like the parties he gave. On and on it went.
His Secretary of State resigned in disagreement over foreign policy. 2 of his Cabinet members quit and formed an opposing political party to fight him. There were riots in the streets, and congress refused to give him an army to enforce the law. Everyone felt the United States was on the brink of a full-scale civil war. Predictably, scores of newspapers and many American patriots demanded his immediate resignation.
He ultimately declared: “I would rather be in the grave, than in the Presidency.” Sound familiar? No, it is not who you think it is.
This man was the man on whom later was conferred the highest honor possible: the undying title, the Father of his country. That’s right: George Washington.
Feelings may vanish with vision, and misunderstandings rise to cloud issues, but if God ordained this nation, then it didn’t come into existence to fail.”
#5 Every Congressional session begins with a religious moment that is unique in the governing of modern nations. Activity pauses as the chaplain, chosen by congress themselves, comes to the platform to the House to pray with and for the legislators. Many times the piety and skill of the chaplain determine the effectiveness of the day’s prayer. The impact of the singular message of each day’s prayer is less important, however, than the unchanging power of the tradition of the moment.
It all began when the first Continental Congress met to establish a United States of America, and it has continued through the centuries as we struggle to preserve our nation. One day the session was going badly. A clack of unity among the representatives was threatening to break up the anticipated union of the states.
Benjamin franklin spoke up that day: “Mr. President, I have live, sir, a long time. And the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? Except the Lord build a house, they labor in vain that build it. I therefore move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven be held in this assembly every morning.”
It has been so ever since. And so may it ever be.”
#6 “It was at Valley Forge, almost 200 years ago, that the people of the United States proved that they had the courage to be a nation. Valley Forge is known as one of America’s finest hours, but the only battle ever fought there was the battle of hunger and cold and despair.
You see the plains of Valley Forge and Pennsylvania were the last citadels of a dissipated American army. After two disastrous defeats at the hands of the British, General George Washington had led his discouraged troops in retreat to Valley Forge for the winter.
The winds blew across the plains, and temperatures dropped far below zero in one of the worst winters in history. The General himself wrote “There are men in the camp unfit for duty, because they are barefoot and naked.”
The soldiers lived in small huts built of logs and clay. Many sat up all night by the fire because there were not enough blankets. There was near famine in the camp; men went for weeks without meat. But Washington provided strict discipline for strength, and his wife Martha tempered it with tenderness as she moved among the men daily, praying for them.
When spring arrived they took count. One third of the army had died and another third of the army had quit and gone home. The remaining third simply marched out and won the Revolutionary War.
The United States of America was born.”
Happy Independence Day! I hope you enjoy it and appreciate the country you are fortunate to live in."