Sunday, June 15, 2014

Guest Post: January 1st, 1781 - Pennsylvania Line Mutiny ends the Revolt

A general uprising in the Continental Army began to take shape in the Winter Camp at Jockey Hollow near Morristown in New Jersey. History would simply record that the catalyst was the killing of three officers in a drunken rage, but emotions actually ran far deeper than that, in actual fact it was a revolt-within-a-revolt.

The Commander of the Pennsylvania Line was General Anthony Wayne. His considerable forces comprised eleven regiments of some fifteen hundred men, but the expense of their maintenance was the issue since their conditions were utterly deplorable, as candidly reported in letters exchanged between Wayne and his superior officer, General George Washington, commander of the entire Continental Army. In previous years, both generals had cited corruption and a lack of concern on the part of state governments and the Continental Congress in fostering the poor conditions. But their futile attempts to "manage up" had ended in failure, and on New Year's Day, they lost control and destiny was being taken completely out of their hands. 

After a raucous New Year's Day celebration, soldiers from several regiments had armed themselves and prepared to depart the camp without permission. Officers led the remaining orderly regiments to quell the uprising, but after a few warning shots from the mutineers, the rest of the regiments fell into line with them. Captain Adam Bitting, commander of Company D, 4th Pennsylvania Regiment, was fatally shot by a mutineer who was trying to kill a lieutenant colonel. General Wayne tried to convince the soldiers to return to order peacefully, but he was also killed in the confusion.

Several days later, an emissary from General Sir Henry Clinton, British commander in New York City, arrived with a guide he had acquired in New Jersey. The agent brought a letter from Clinton offering the Pennsylvanians their back pay from British coffers if they gave up the rebel cause. News of these negotiations triggered a further uprising from the "New Jersey Line." Unlike the more conciliatory figure of Wayne, Washington saw a threat to his personal authority and responded with extreme force, executing many of the mutineers. When he was also killed, the game was up. Even before the uprising, the number of Americans under British Command had started to approach the Patriot troop count.
 Addendum by Jeff Provine: By 1783, the "united states" had given up their rebellion outside of a few guerrilla warriors in the South. Britain reconstructed the region, hanging all but a few of the signers of the "Declaration of Independence", which had truly been their own death warrants. Wealthy Patriots were stripped of their merchant fleets and plantations.

The American colonies continued to have troubled days with the British Empire, arguing to maintain slavery and to expand into Indian lands. Britain soon went to war with Napoleon, causing a spur of enthusiasm for the mother country as was seen with the conquest of New Orleans in 1806.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Guest Post: British Permanently Seize Cuba

9th June, 1762 - British Seize Cuba
On this day British forces begin the Siege of Havana and capture the city. 

When the Seven Years' War broke out with Spain plans had been made in Great Britain for such an amphibious attack on Havana. The expedition was under the command of George Keppel, 3rd Earl of Albemarle, with Vice-Admiral Sir George Pocock as naval commander. This plan also called for Jeffrey Amherst to embark four thousand men from America to join Keppel and to assemble another force of eight thousand men for an attack on Louisiana. Being an important naval base in the Caribbean, this British victory dealt a serious blow to the Spanish navy, but it came at a very high price.

Because so many of her best quality veteran troops had died of yellow fever (irreplaceable losses causing a problem that would later bite during the American War of Independence), the negotiators of the Treaty of Paris were steadfastly unwilling to give up the island. Instead Spanish restrictions on trade, business, land were dropped, the economy boomed, slaves rushed in, and sugar production rocketed. 

In short British cashed in big time and Cuba, although majority Hispanophone, quickly became a prized asset of the Empire. Caribbean planters, local merchants and other members of the middle class profited also from this unspeakable human misery. But with an enlarged West Indian Lobby in Parliament the island elite had also created a beacon of slavery. Of course their negotiating position was every bit as stubborn as their counter-parts had been in Paris. And this insidious development would also have major consequences a century later when America's southern states declared their own independence. For the Book of Proverbs 1:19 says - "Such are the ways of all who get things by hurting others. Their desire for stolen riches takes away their own lives".


In reality Havana was subsequently returned to Spain under the 1763 Treaty of Paris that formally ended the war.

Addendum by Jeff Provine:

In the coming decades, the land-hungry Americans pushed south and west, gobbling up old claims from France to Louisiana and Spain to Florida. The British presence in Cuba was a constant threat with the Empire's naval superiority. The two nations faced all-out war time and again with tempers rarely cooled before "embers" fired up again.

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