Tampa Chapter

Sons of the American Revolution

February 2021

 

Contents

          Meeting Announcements

          Revolution History note

          New Members

          Program Schedule

          Color Guard Activity

          SAR Events    

          Valley Forge (revisited)       

          Misc. reminders and information

 

Meeting Announcements

The January meeting went well. We will meet virtually again this month at noon on Saturday, Feb.20th (our usual day and time).  President Dave Bryant will send out a zoom link to everyone prior to the 20th so you can log on and participate.  At the February meeting, we will again hear from an author about his work or works on certain aspects of the Revolution.  O C Stonestreet has written three books on battles or skirmishes occurring in North Carolina in 1780 – 1781 as Lord Cornwallis chased the “rebels” through North Carolina as he made his way to his resupply point in Yorktown.   Mr Stonesteet made his presentation as part of the virtual commemoration of the Battle of Cowan’s Ford, which was well received.  It will be another interesting meeting.

 

Revolution History Note

          Lord Dunmore’s War:  Last Colonial War or First Battle of the Revolution?

 

          In 1774 the colonial militia of Virginia under the command of the Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, fought a brief war against the Shawnee and Mingo Indians.[i] 

As Virginians began to move into the area south of the Ohio River, the Shawnee and Mingo tribes began to attack isolated groups and settlements.  The people on the frontier appealed to Lord Dunmore for protection. He went to the House of Burgesses which appropriated money for an expanded military force to deal with the problem.  Dunmore established a base at Ft. Pitt (modern day Pittsburgh) and marched west from Ft. Pitt to join another force of Virginia militia under the command of Andrew Lewis in what is now western West Virginia. Shawnee Chief Cornstalk attacked Lewis and his militia on October 10, 1774 near where the Kanawha River joins the Ohio River in present day West Virginia. Cornstalk hoped to defeat Lewis’ force before Dunmore could link up with him. In a day long battle the Virginians defeated the Shawnee.  Following the battle and some raids on villages by the Virginians, Chief Cornstalk and Mingo Chief Logan agreed to a treaty ceding the land south of the Ohio River—in what is now SW Pennsylvania., West Virginia and Kentucky---to Virginia.

 

    

 

Shawnee Chief Cornstalk attacked Lewis and his militia on October 10, 1774 near where the Kanawha River joins the Ohio River in present day West Virginia. Cornstalk hoped to defeat Lewis’ force before Dunmore could link up with him. In a day long battle the Virginians defeated the Shawnee.  Following the battle and some raids on villages by the Virginians, Chief Cornstalk and Mingo Chief Logan agreed to a treaty ceding the land south of the Ohio River—in what is now SW Pennsylvania., West Virginia and Kentucky---to Virginia.

Following the cessation of hostilities, some of the Virginia militia moved to Ft. Gower (located at present day Hockingport, Ohio). While there they received the news that the Continental Congress had passed a boycott resolution in response to the Coercive Acts. As a result, the militia at Ft Gower passed a set of resolves stating their loyalty to the King but also stating their resolve to defend their rights against England if necessary.

          It all sounds simple enough, so why the controversy?

          Within a year, the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord had happened. During that time, Dunmore ordered Royal Marines to remove the gunpowder from the Publick Magazine in Williamsburg. And, once Virginia mobilized to help the American cause, the same militia he had commanded a year before drove him from the colony. Additionally, Dunmore remained loyal to the crown and began to make overtures to the Shawnee to help the British. 

This led to two theories about Dunmore’s activities in 1774.  First, that he was negotiating with the Shawnee prior to the war and purposely exposed Lewis’ command in the hopes the Shawnee would defeat them. This would rid Dunmore of the bulk of the militia who would turn against him if the Americans did, indeed, rebel.  If you accept this theory, then you could call it the first battle of the War for Independence—American colonists fighting against British allies (the Shawnee).  And, by reading history backwards, you could use the Ft. Gower resolves as proof of the militia’s support for the nascent American rebellion.

          The second theory is that Dunmore created the war for political reasons. This theory suggests that he hoped the war would divert the attention of the Virginian’s from the policies of the Crown.

          There is no evidence to support either theory and it must be noted that the Virginians on the frontier thanked Dunmore for protecting them and supported him until events made that impossible.[ii]

          In the summer of 2007 issue and then again in the winter of 2009 issue, the Florida Patriot reprinted a report from the West Virginia State Board of Control about the Battle of point Pleasant.   West Virginia produced the report to get recognition for Point Pleasant as the first battle of the War for Independence: Colonist vs. British allies (the Shawnee and Mingo).  Therefore, it includes testimony from participants in the battle that assert that Dunmore had colluded with the Indians prior to the battle and exposed Lewis’ force.  The testimony that is presented all postdates the battle by a considerable number of years. [iii]

          This is a good example to illustrate what I wrote last month about reading history forward, not backward.  At the time of the Battle of Point Pleasant, the Virginia militia knew nothing of what was happening in Philadelphia or Boston.  They were colonial troops in the King’s service, under the command of a royal official protecting frontier inhabitants and enforcing a treaty that gave Virginia the disputed land.

          Only by reading backwards through the prism of the Ft. Gower resolves and what Dunmore did after the War for Independence began can you conclude it was a plot to destroy the Virginia militia and/or redirect the focus of the people of Virginia away from British colonial policy.[iv]

 

[1] No British regular forces were involved. This was the colony of Virginia vs the Shawnee and Mingo nations.  The Virginia troops were all militia that was raised or called up for the war.

2 An article in the National SAR magazine in 2017 also concludes that there is no evidence to support either theor 3 This illustrates the difference between recorded and remembered history.  A topic I may deal with some month.

4 During the summer of 1999 I attended a weeklong teacher institute at Colonial Williamsburg. As part of the week’s activities, we did a session in which we simulated the House of Burgesses debate about Lord Dunmore. Each teacher was given a “part” to play with accompanying info on what policy positions that character would hold.  I played a small farmer on the frontier—the area of the Indian raids and the war.   During the debate I supported Lord Dunmore. I explained that the small farmers on the frontier appreciated him coming to their defense.  I also added that the frontier farmers saw Dunmore as their friend in their political struggles with the large landowners of the Tidewater and Piedmont areas.  Of course, the Patriot faction won, but it was interesting. Until then I had never heard or read about Dunmore’s war or if I had, I gave it no particular notice.

 

New Members

Since last we met, two membership applications have been approved for the Tampa Chapter:

          Billy Martin

          John Brim

Congratulations and welcome to the SAR.

 

Three new membership applications have been submitted, all of which were approved by the Florida State Registrar and forwarded to National SAR. 

 

Program schedule

 

February 20 (Zoom)

March 20 (Zoom)

April 17   TBD

May 15    TBD

 

 

 

 

Color Guard Activity

Other Chapters and State Societies continue to hold virtual Color Guard events.  That information will be forwarded as it comes available. 

On the State level. the Florida Society C.A.R. has asked the Florida SAR State Color Guard to present the Colors at the opening of their Annual Conference Banquet on Saturday, February 20, in St Augustine.  The Florida Society DAR has asked the Florida State Color Guard to present the Colors at the opening of their Spring Conference Banquet on Friday, March 5, in Orlando.   These are both State Events for those of you counting points toward the Bronze SAR Color Guard Medal.  If you plan to attend either of these events, contact Dick Young at dyoung22@aol.com or 352-942-8688 as soon as possible.

 

Currently, there are plans to hold in-person Commemorations of the Last Naval Battle on Merritt Island on March 13, the Battle of Thomas Creek in Jacksonville on March 27.  The Pensacola Chapter recently announced that they would host a virtual commemoration of the Battle of Pensacola on May 8.  Registration forms for the Last Naval Battle and the Battle of Thomas Creek Commemorations are attached to same email used to send this Newsletter. These are National Events for purposes of counting points toward the Silver SAR Color Guard Medal and the SAR Von Steuben Medal for Sustained Achievement in the National Color Guard.    

 

Other important dates

February 20             Florida C.A.R. Annual Conference

February 22             George Washington’s Birthday

March 5                    Boston Massacre

March 5                   Florida DAR Spring Conference Banquet

March 13                  Last Naval Battle Commemoration

March 27                 Battle of Thomas Creek Commemoration

April 13                     Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday

April 19                     Battles of Lexington & Concord

May 8                       Battle of Pensacola Commemoration

 

SAR Events

 

The 2021 Congress is scheduled to be held in-person in Renton, Washington (Seattle) on July 8 – 14.  Information is available on the SAR website.  The 2022 Congress will in Savanah, Georgia.  The 2023 Congress will be held in Orlando.  Plans are being made and volunteers will be needed. 

 

Society of Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge

You may recall that our meeting last November was a presentation by Susan Gillette Meer, the current Commander-in-Chief of the Society of Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge (DVF), recognizing those patriot ancestors who served for any period of time at Valley Forge.  I am a member of the DVF and enjoyed the presentation.  I hope to visit Valley Forge someday.  One of the things C-in-C Meer told us was that the Valley Forge Muster Roll was not nearly complete, but included only those patriots proven to have served at Valley Forge. 

 

I had just recently prepared information on my patriot ancestors for my two brothers and realized one of them, Aaron Crain, served during a period that overlapped with the Encampment at Valley Forge.  Looking a little deeper, I discovered that his regiment was in Valley Forge, but as my ancestor enlisted in February 1778, I was not sure he was actually there.  I could find nothing that included his name and “Valley Forge”.  I did find muster rolls and payroll rolls that showed him serving under officers that were known to have been in Valley Forge in May and June 1778 and participating in the Battle of Monmouth that same June.  I sent this information to the Muster Roll Project at the Valley Forge Park Alliance.  I just heard that, using this indirect evidence, they not only approved Private Crain for inclusion in the Valley Forge Muser Roll, but also identified his brother Thomas as serving with him at Valley Forge.  Thomas will also be added to the Muster Roll. 

 

I tell you this to suggest you check your own ancestor’s service record to see when he served.  If it was anytime from December 1777 to June 1778, look further for proof he served at Valley Forge or served during that time in a unit that was stationed at Valley Forge.  Just look into the Muster Roll Project for the regiments that served, sorted by state, as well as a listing of the names of all known and proven patriots who were there.  Maybe you, too, can tell your children and grandchildren that their patriot ancestor was with General Washington at Valley Forge. 

 

Miscellaneous Reminders

The new face book page for the Tampa Sons of the American Revolution is

Tampa Sar. The password to add anything is American1776.  Please feel free to upload pictures or comments. Invite all your friends to take a look.

 

Chapter Website—remember you can find information about the chapter and programs on the chapter website.   http://www.tampasar.org/

 

One of the duties of the Chapter Chaplain is to send cards to our members that are sick. Another is to send a sympathy card to the family of a member who has passed away. If you know of anyone that should be the recipient of these cards please mention it to Chaplain Sessums or one of the other officers.

 

 Chapter officers and committee chairman are encouraged to send any pertinent information they wish included in the newsletter to the editor.