Journal of Captain Thomas Rodney - History

Journal of Captain Thomas Rodney - History

Battle of Princeton

Journal of Captain Thomas Rodney

January 3, 1777 As soon as the enemy's main army heard our cannon at Princeton (and not 'til then) they discovered our manouvre and pushed after us with all speed, and we had not been above an hour in possession of the town before the enemy's light horse and advanced parties attacked our parry at the bridge, but our people by a very heavy fire kept the pass until our army left the town.

Just as our army began our march through Princeton with all their prisoners and spoils, the van of the British army we had left at Trenton came in sight and entered the town about an hour after we left it, but made no stay and pushed on towards Brunswick for fear we should get there before him, which was indeed the course our General intended to pursue had he not been detained too long in collecting the baggage and artillery which the enemy had left be hind him.

Our army marched on to Kingston, then wheeled to the left and went down the Millstone, keeping that river on our left; the main body of the British followed, but kept on through Kingston to Brunswick; but one division of strong party of horse took the road on the left of the Millstone and arrived Ott I the hill, at the bridge on that road just as the van of the American army arrived on the opposite side.

I was again commanding the van of our army, and General Washington seeing the enemy, rode forward and ordered me to halt and take down a number of carpenters which he had ordered forward and break up the bridge which was done and the enemy were obliged to return.

We then marched on to a little village called Stone Brook or Summerset Court House about 15 miles from Princeton where we arrived just at' dusk About an hour before we arrived here 1 5o of the enemy from Princeton are so which were stationed in this town went off with 2o wagons laden with clothing and linen, and 400 of the Jersey militia who surrounded them were afraid to fire on them and let them go off unmolested, and there were no troops in our army fresh enough to pursue them, or the whole might have been taken in a few hours.

Our army was now extremely fatigued, not having had refreshment since yesterday morning, and our baggage had all been sent away the morning of
rhe action at Trenton; yet they are in good health and in high spirits.

From Colonel John Cadwalader

A very intelligent young Gentleman is returned, just now, from Prince Town—he left this yesterday Morng & got in about 12 or 1 O’Clock—He would have returned last Night but General Lesley, who commands, & Col: Abercombie would not suffer him to go off2—He made his Escape this Morng early, & informs, that from the best Information he could get, there were about 5000 men—consisting of Hessians & British Troops—about the same Number of each—I have made a rough Draught of the Road from this place the Situation of the Cannon & Works begun & those intended this Morng3—He thinks there are not so many as they report—He conversed with some of the offic[e]rs & lodged last Night with them (americans)—They enquired what were our Numbers he mentioned abt 16000, from the best accts—they did not beleive we had more than 5 or 6000—that many were forced into the Service, & that they were deserting in great Numbers every day—No Sentries on the back or East Side of the Town—They parade every Morng an hour before day—and some Nights lie on their Arms—an Attack has been expected for several Nights past—the men much fatigued, &, till last Night, in want of Provisions—when a very considerable number of Waggons arrived with Provisions from Brunswick—All their Baggage sent to Brunswick, where there are but few men—This confirms the Acct I sent you last Night4—About 50 light Horse at Prince Town, one half quartered at Scudders Mill, the other on the West of the Town—He enquired if any Troops were on the Road—they say there are none on this Side Brunswick—some Hessians arrived yesterday (tis said from Brunswic)—I suppose they were those that landed at South Amboy, as I cannot hear any thing of them in this neighbourhood.5

A Party of our light Horse brought in this Morng to Cranberry, about 30 Cattle, left by the Hessians—in general, poor—I recd your Letter last Night, by Express[.] Our Spy was near the Party of Chasseurs, when they were taken, & says an Assistant Qr Master Gen: or Commissary was with them—The Enemy had heard it6—Major Mifflin is just setting off with a Party of 200 from Cumberland.7 I am, Sir, with great Respect, Your Excellencys most obt hble Servt

Major Nicholas, of Marines, informs me that Col: Elisha Lawrence (late Sherriff of Monmouth) is now collecting men at Monmouth Court House—he has got together about 70 men—He has put ⟨2⟩o men into prison for refusing to bear Arms[.] The Person who brings the Intelligence flew—Major Nicholas is desirous of going after Lawrence’s Party—I think it is not an object at this Time, & have refused the application till I have your orders.8 yours &c. &c.

1 . For accounts of the march of Cadwalader’s division from Bordentown to Crosswicks on 29 Dec., see Rau, “Smith’s Diary,” description begins Louise Rau, ed. “Sergeant John Smith’s Diary of 1776.” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 20 (1933-34): 247–70. description ends 269 Thomas Rodney to Caesar Rodney, 30 Dec., in Ryden, Rodney Letters description begins George Herbert Ryden, ed. Letters to and from Caesar Rodney, 1756–1784 . Philadelphia, 1933. description ends , 150–52 and Rodney, Thomas Rodney’s Diary description begins Cæsar A. Rodney, ed. Diary of Captain Thomas Rodney, 1776–1777 . Wilmington, Del. 1888. In Papers of the Historical Society of Delaware , vol. 8. description ends , 25–26.

2 . Robert Abercromby (1740–1827), lieutenant colonel of the 37th Regiment of Foot, was appointed by General Howe on 23 Oct. 1776 to command the 1st Battalion in Brig. Gen. Alexander Leslie’s light infantry brigade (see Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers . 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society , vols. 16–17. description ends , 1:395). During the French and Indian War Abercromby had joined the British army in North America as a volunteer and had risen to the rank of captain in the 44th Regiment. He had become major of the 62d Regiment in 1772, and he had been promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 37th Regiment earlier this year. Abercromby commanded his light infantry battalion until he was captured with Cornwallis’s army at Yorktown in 1781. Promoted to colonel in 1782, Abercromby subsequently served with great distinction in India. In 1790 he became governor and commander in chief at Bombay with the rank of major general. He was made a knight of the Bath in 1792, and the following year he succeeded Cornwallis as commander in chief of all forces in India.

3 . This map (see fig. 2) is also reproduced in Bill, Campaign of Princeton description begins Alfred Hoyt Bill. The Campaign of Princeton, 1776–1777 . Princeton, N.J., 1948. description ends , facing p. 100. Johann Ewald, who arrived at Princetown on 30 Dec., says in his diary that “in the town there were about three hundred and twenty houses besides the college building, in which an entire regiment was quartered. Six redoubts were constructed and mounted with 12- and 6-pounders on the heights toward Trenton” ( Ewald, Diary description begins Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal . Translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin. New Haven and London, 1979. description ends , 44).

4 . This account has not been identified.

5 . Donop’s Hessians arrived at Princeton on 30 Dec., completing their retreat from the posts south of Trenton (see ibid.). Archibald Robertson, who was at New Brunswick where Gen. James Grant had his headquarters, says in his diary entry for this date that “at 11 at night an Express arrived, that the Rebels certainly intended to attack princetown, upon which General Grant gave orders for the two Battalions Grenadiers and one Battalion of the Guards and 3 Regiments of the 4th Brigade also a Regiment of Hessian Grenadiers to hold themselves in readiness To march in the Morning.” Robertson marched with that force on 1 Jan. “at day Break . . . and arrived at Princetown about 1 o’clock where we found the Troops Cantoned there (consisting of 3 Battalions Hessian Grenadiers, 1 Company Jagers, 2 Battalions Light Infantry, the 2d Brigade and 42d Regiment commanded by Brigadier General Leslie) drawn up with their Arms expecting Enemy as a small Skirmish had happened Close to our out Piquets when the Rebels lost 4 men Killed. In the middle of the Night Lord Cornwallis Arrived from [New] York and superceded General Grant in his Command. . . . The 42d and 3 Hessian Battalions of Grenadiers and Jagers Advanced about a mile from Prince Town and Bevak’d it, under Count Donop” ( Lydenberg, Robertson’s Diary description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780 . New York, 1930. description ends , 118 see also Ewald, Diary description begins Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal . Translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin. New Haven and London, 1979. description ends , 45, 48, and “Reed’s Narrative, 1776–77,” description begins “General Joseph Reed’s Narrative of the Movements of the American Army in the Neighborhood of Trenton in the Winter of 1776–77.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 8 (1884): 391–402. description ends 397–98).

6 . For the capture of the cattle on the night of 28–29 Dec. and the advance of some of Cadwalader’s troops to Allentown, N.J., on 29 Dec., see Rodney, Thomas Rodney’s Diary description begins Cæsar A. Rodney, ed. Diary of Captain Thomas Rodney, 1776–1777 . Wilmington, Del. 1888. In Papers of the Historical Society of Delaware , vol. 8. description ends , 26–27. For the capture of a British commissary with a foraging party near Clarksville, N.J., on 30 Dec. by a party of Philadelphia light horse led by Joseph Reed, see “Reed’s Narrative, 1776–77,” description begins “General Joseph Reed’s Narrative of the Movements of the American Army in the Neighborhood of Trenton in the Winter of 1776–77.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 8 (1884): 391–402. description ends 399–400 “Young’s Journal,” description begins “Journal of Sergeant William Young: Written During the Jersey Campaign in the Winter of 1776-7.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 8 (1884): 255–78. description ends 261 Collins, Ravages at Princeton description begins Varnum Lansing Collins, ed. A Brief Narrative of the Ravages of the British and Hessians at Princeton in 1776–77: A Contemporary Account of the Battles of Trenton and Princeton . 1906. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 30 and Wilkinson, Memoirs description begins James Wilkinson. Memoirs of My Own Times . 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1816. description ends , 1:133–34. The letter that Cadwalader received from GW the previous night has not been found.

7 . Brig. Gen. Thomas Mifflin says in the brigade orders that he issued on this date at Bordentown: “A party of 200 Men goes out this day to harrass the Enemy, commanded by Majors [John] Mifflin and [Adam] Hubley” ( Stryker, Battles of Trenton and Princeton description begins William S. Stryker. The Battles of Trenton and Princeton . 1898. Reprint. Spartanburg, S.C., 1967. description ends , 431). John Mifflin, brother of Thomas Mifflin, was appointed paymaster to the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment on 3 Sept. 1776.

8 . Samuel Nicholas (c.1744–1790), a tavernkeeper from Philadelphia, was appointed a captain of the Continental marines by Congress in November 1775, and he led the landing party that in March 1776 captured New Providence in the Bahamas, the marines’ first amphibious landing. On 25 June 1776 Congress promoted Nicholas to major. He spent the ensuing summer and fall in Philadelphia recruiting and training four battalions of marines, and late this month he joined Gen. Thomas Mifflin’s corps with about eighty men. During his tour of duty with the Continental army, Nicholas saw action in the second Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton. In March 1777 Nicholas returned to Philadelphia where he served as marine recruiter and muster-master until August 1781 when he retired.

Elisha Lawrence (1740–1811), who had been high sheriff of Monmouth County, N.J., in 1775, raised fifty-seven men for service with the British army and became a lieutenant colonel in the New Jersey Volunteers. Lawrence was captured by the Americans during a skirmish with Gen. John Sullivan’s troops on Staten Island in August 1777. After the war Lawrence moved to Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.

Guide to Revolutionary War Records

This guide, indicating and describing the scope of the Revolutionary War holdings at the Delaware Public Archives, will assist the researcher in finding both original and secondary source material.


A Guide to Revolutionary War Records in the Delaware Public Archives

This guide, indicating and describing the scope of the Revolutionary War holdings at the Delaware Public Archives, will assist the researcher in finding both original and secondary source material.

Revolutionary War Records

Military Pension Receipt Books

Revolutionary War Veterans Accounts

Proceedings of the Privy Council

Council of Safety Minutes

Proceedings of the Freemen . . . of the Government

Votes and Proceedings of the House of Assembly

Votes and Proceedings of the Council of the Delaware State

Auditor of Accounts Journal

Auditor of Accounts Waste Book

Proceedings of the Convention of the Delaware State

Delaware Public Archives Motion Picture Collection

Delaware American Revolution Bicentennial Commission

Department of Public Instruction Motion Picture Collection

General Reference – Biography

Delaware’s Role in the Revolutionary War

First settled in 1638, controlled in succession by the Swedes, Dutch, and finally the English, Delaware was a thriving colony in the years before the American Revolution. The “Lower Counties,” as Delaware was then known, were technically part of Pennsylvania, though after 1704 the two colonies had separate legislatures. Delaware’s loyalty to Great Britain was tested when Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765 and the Townshend Acts in 1768. Delaware avoided the violence that occurred in other colonies, while joining in resistance against the acts. The colony refused to use stamps, held protest meetings, sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress, and boycotted British goods. Committees to ensure compliance with boycott agreements were also formed.(1)

The Stamp Act was repealed in 1766, and the Townshend Acts in 1770, except for the tax on tea. As the “imperial crisis” continued, the “Whig” opposition to Parliament’s policies pushed forward in the colonies. This was true in Delaware as well. A Committee of Correspondence was formed in October 1773 to communicate with other colonies. Its members included Thomas McKean, Caesar Rodney, George Read, John McKinly and Thomas Robinson. After the Boston Tea Party and the closing of the port of Boston, the Committee raised subscriptions for the relief of Boston. Committees of Correspondence throughout the colonies strengthened opposition to British policies embodied in measures like the “Intolerable Acts,” passed in the aftermath of the Tea Party.(2)

In 1774, Rodney, McKean, and Read were selected by the Assembly to represent Delaware at the Continental Congress. This Congress asked each colony to establish Committees of Inspection to enforce the boycott of English goods. Delaware’s Committees of Inspection also reported on suspected cases of speculation, discouraged dissent against the American cause, and encouraged the production of native goods such as wool. Each of the counties, New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, formed such a committee.

The committees were kept busy throughout the Lower Counties. A number of Delawareans, no matter how much they disliked taxation, remained loyal to Great Britain. These loyalists, or Tories, opposed the Whig cause. New Castle County’s Committee of Inspection, the first organized in Delaware, vigorously pursued such dissent. In May 1775, Kent County’s committee took action when the Pennsylvania Ledger published a letter from county resident Robert Holliday questioning Kent County’s revolutionary fervor. The committee “persuaded” Holliday to sign a statement disavowing his letter. In July 1775, the Sussex County Committee of Inspection suspected Thomas Robinson of expressing Tory sympathies. Robinson refused to appear before the committee, which warned revolutionaries not to deal with him but seems to have taken no other action.(3)

On 15 June 1776 the Assembly separated the Lower Counties from the British government and essentially from Pennsylvania as well. In August and September of 1776 a convention specifically arranged for that purpose drafted a constitution. Approved on 20 September, the document created the Delaware State. The government it formed consisted of a bicameral legislature, consisting of the Legislative Council and House of Assembly, with a president and four-man Privy Council, both selected by the legislature, serving as the executive. In this arrangement, similar to that of other new states, the legislative branch was more powerful as well as choosing the executive, it also nominated justices of the peace.(4)

With the coming of war and changes in government, loyalists in Delaware moved beyond letter-writing and verbal comment. This was especially true in lower Delaware where the area’s isolation and conservatism, the influence of the Anglican Church, and the presence of British ships offshore kept many loyal to the Crown. In June 1776, an attack on Whigs in Kent County was narrowly averted. At the same time in Sussex County, loyalists were reported as gathering in large groups in an attempt to seize control of county government, with at least five British warships sitting in Delaware Bay. Confronted by Whig militia on at least three different occasions, the loyalists eventually dispersed.(5) Throughout the war, bands of armed loyalists organized on several occasions, only to be dispersed by the militia or Continental troops. During and after the war many major loyalist leaders left the state to join British forces or go to England or Canada.

In September 1775 leaders from the three counties formed a Council of Safety to confirm the appointment of militia officers, draft militia regulations, and raise and supply troops, as requested by the Continental Congress. Colonel John Haslet first commanded the Delaware Continental regiment. Many soldiers and officers were drawn from Delaware’s militias. The Delaware “Blues,” as the regiment was sometimes known, some 750 soldiers, took part in the campaign for New York in the summer of 1776. They first saw combat on 27 August, in the Battle of Long Island. Haslet’s men fought bravely at Brooklyn Heights that day, although the American forces were defeated.(6)

In June 1776, Congress ordered that a “flying camp” be established “in the middle colonies” to protect the middle and southern colonies from attack. Ten thousand men were requested, but no more than a few thousand were ever on hand. By October Delaware had supplied roughly 460 out of a requested 600 men, commanded by Colonel Samuel Patterson. Based near Perth Amboy, New Jersey, forces from the camp, including the Delaware contingent, saw some action in the New York campaign. On 1 December 1776, the end of their enlistment, Patterson and his men returned home.(7

In October 1776, as fighting continued around New York, the Delaware regiment was chosen to engage the “Queen’s American Rangers,” a Loyalist force camped at Mamaroneck, New York. Haslet and his men managed to capture thirty-six men and a collection of weapons and blankets. On 25 October 1776, the roughly 280 men still fit for duty in the regiment took part in the battle of White Plains. Haslet’s men defended Chatterton’s Hill, retreating only as the American forces did. After the loss of Forts Washington and Lee in November, the American army withdrew from New York into New Jersey, with British troops in pursuit. Haslet’s men again guarded the rear of the army as the Americans crossed the Delaware into Pennsylvania.(8)

Few in the Delaware regiment took part in Washington’s attack on Trenton, or in the battle of Princeton. Many went home during the retreat through New Jersey on 22 December, along with eight officers, 92 men were present and fit for duty. On 31 December, the end of the enlistment term, only six men, officers included, remained. A separate group of Delawareans led by Thomas Rodney were present at the battle of Princeton on 3 January 1777. Colonel Haslet was killed in the fighting. The “first” Delaware regiment was no more.(9)

More men was not long in coming. In the early months of 1777 two Delaware companies joined Washington’s army. With Haslet’s death, Colonel David Hall was given command. In 1777 the British shifted their attention to Philadelphia. Landing at the Head of Elk in Maryland, British forces marched through Delaware. On 3 September 1777 they were met at Cooch’s Bridge on the Christina Creek, just south of Newark, by about 700 American troops led by Brigadier General William Maxwell. The Americans were forced to retreat. Cooch’s Bridge is said by some to mark the first display of the Stars and Stripes in battle. On 8 September, the British marched through Newark enroute to Philadelphia. The Delaware regiment took part in the battle of the Brandywine on 11 September as well as the battle of Germantown on 4 October 1777. Colonel Hall was wounded at Germantown.(10)

The war had come to Delaware. During September and October, the British occupied Wilmington. The British captured Delaware’s president John McKinly and seized many public records. From the autumn of 1777 through June 1778, the British purchased supplies in New Castle and Port Penn. During that time, the Delaware militia defeated loyalist forces in Kent County. Rioting between Whigs and Tories postponed October 1777 elections in Sussex County. A test act requiring a loyalty oath to the state government was instituted in 1777. As a number of loyalists left Delaware at this time, much of their property was seized. Loyalists remaining in the area staged raids on the Delaware coast, even as the British attacked area shipping.(11)

1778 saw the American army ending its winter encampment at Valley Forge with a new sense of discipline and purpose the British evacuated Philadelphia, shifting their focus to the south. Captain Allen McLane’s company of dragoons recruited in Delaware, and gained a id for themselves, whether on horseback or as infantry. Serving under “Light Horse Harry” Lee, McLane and his men participated in the bayonet charge at Paulus Hook on 19 August 1779. Charging at four in the morning, the Americans won without firing a shot. The Delaware Blues also continued their service. In June 1778 the regiment participated in the Battle of Monmouth Court House, as well as at Stony Point and Paulus Hook in the summer of 1779. The Blues saw little action the remainder of 1779 and they wintered at Morristown, New Jersey.(12)

A regiment of Delaware militia was called into service alongside the Continental Army in the summer of 1780. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Neill, the regiment served in northern New Jersey and along the Hudson River, serving as a garrison at Dobbs Ferry on the Hudson. Although they did not participate in any battles, members of the Delaware militia unit witnessed the hanging of Major John André on 2 October 1780. André, the British officer engaged in negotiations with Benedict Arnold, had been captured by American militiamen and hung as a spy. Completing their service at Dobbs Ferry on 7 October, Neill’s men were sent home from Philadelphia on 22 October. Their term of service ended 3 November 1780.(13)

In the spring of 1780, the Delaware Continentals were sent to the southern theater. At the Battle of Camden in August 1780, the Blues and troops from Maryland saved the Continental Army from destruction. After Camden, the Delaware regiment was reorganized on two different occasions first being divided into two companies, then being divided into three companies of light infantry with troops from Maryland. The Third Company, commanded by Captain Robert Kirkwood of the Blues, consisted mainly of Delawareans.

The Americans regrouped and in a series of battles turned the tide against the British. At the battle of Cowpens, 17 January 1781, Kirkwood’s men and their comrades played a crucial role in the American victory. In February, at the battle of Guilford Court House, 15 March 1781, the Delaware troops held their own against the British. In September 1781, after the battle of Eutaw Springs, British general Cornwallis retreated to Yorktown, where Washington and his French allies besieged the British forces. Delaware troops were present here as well. On 19 October Cornwallis surrendered. Delaware’s veterans were ordered home toward the end of 1782. They arrived in Delaware on 17 January 1783.(14)

During the war, the Delaware Assembly struggled to govern the state. The enlistment, provisioning, clothing, and payment of troops proved a constant concern. One source of revenue was the seizure and sale of estates belonging to Loyalists. Matters were not helped by inflation. Despite measures to control currency depreciation, the national extent of the problem did not allow for easy solutions. The Assembly did not recognize Continental or state currency as legal tender after 1781.(15)

An important state responsibility during and after the war was establishing pensions for veterans. Men enlisting for the duration of the war were guaranteed a pension. When a soldier became too old or disabled he would request his pension. As years passed family members and relatives also became eligible for a pension. The compensation of soldiers was a concern due to the collapse of the currency system. Taking into account rank and length of service, auditors estimated how much each soldier should receive, issuing depreciation certificates because the currency had been devalued so severely.(16)

Despite Delaware’s small size, small population, and divided citizenry, the state played an important role in the struggle for independence. Its soldiers participated in many of the important battles of the war, and fought with bravery. At the same time its farmers, businessmen, and sailors provided supplies to keep the American army in existence. Delaware’s contributions to American independence did not end with the war. Delaware played an important role in the formation of the United States of America, being the first to ratify the new federal constitution.

RG 1800.099 Delaware Archives (A series of 13 manuscript boxes, 1 volume of original records and 3 published volumes)

This record series contains various types of Revolutionary War records, including companies’ muster rolls, accounts, lists of pensioners, depreciation records, correspondence, pay rolls, returns, indictments for treason, and petitions. Muster rolls may contain such information as a soldier’s name, rank, age, birthplace, residence, occupation, enlistment date and location, muster-in date and location, mustering officer, term of enlistment, pay dates and amounts, and transfer and promotion data. The rolls may also list deserters and killed, ill, or discharged soldiers. Amounts spent for clothing or provisions for companies or the regiment as a whole are among the items found in accounts. Depreciation certificates were issued to soldiers to be redeemed at a later date, as Continental currency by 1780 was worthless. Correspondence includes missives from Delaware’s Council of Safety, military correspondence, a list of loyalist prisoners taken by Haslet’s regiment at Mamaroneck, New York, reports on the course of the war from officers to various Delaware officials, and communications between Delaware leaders. Lists of pensioners detail the name, rank, amount of pension, and residence of the pensioner. Pay rolls and regiment returns list the name, rank, and time of service of soldiers and officers. Petitions include officers requesting payment, former President McKinly’s request for reimbursement, and persons convicted of treason seeking leniency.

The vast majority of items are published in the first three volumes of the Delaware Archives: Military. Volumes IV and V of the Archives, dealing with the War of 1812, are not listed here. The sixth volume listed here, containing miscellaneous Revolutionary War items, was collated but remains unpublished. Another volume, also not published, “Pension Rolls and Correspondence,” contains information on pension applicants.

Volume I: Military (1775-ca. 1794)

Instructions for enlisting men, signed enlistment form, muster rolls, officer lists, regiment returns, receipts, muster rolls, subsistence accounts.

Military History Journal Vol 1 No 4 - June 1969

Cadets, as a school activity, came to King Edward VII School in 1905, some three years after the foundation of the school. The Cadet Movement had only been thought of in 1904 and was the brainchild of Col. R. P. Macdonald, DSO, who became Staff Officer and Commandant, Transvaal Cadets of the Transvaal Volunteers.

Exactly what degree of influence cadets have had on King Edward VII School, cannot be expressed in precise mathematical terms yet their influence has been great. It still is.

The spirit and tradition of the particular cadet training which pupils received while they attended this school, helped to make the contribution of Old Edwardians fighting for their country, one which is out of all proportion to their numbers. Let facts and figures speak for themselves. When the Great War broke out in 1914, the school was still very young, only twelve years old. Yet 474 Old Edwardians are known to have gone on active service. Of these 66 did not return and 45 were decorated. The decorations included:
OBE -- l DSO -- 5 DFC -- 6 (and 1 bar) DSC -- l MC -- 25 (and 1 bar) MM -- 3 French Croix de Guerre -- 1 Belgian Croix de Guerre -- 3 Italian Military Cross -- 1 Italian Naval Medal -- 1. One of those to receive the award of the Distinguished Service Order was Lieut. G. R. McCubbin, of the Royal Flying Corps, who was responsible for bringing down the famous German air ace, Immelmann.

During the Second World War, over two thousand Old Edwardians and masters were in the fighting forces: 178 made the supreme sacrifice. The list of over 100 decorations included: CBE -- 2 OBE -- 10 MBE -- 14 DSO -- 9 DSC -- 2 MC -- 17 DFC -- 37 (and 4 bars) AFC -- 3 DCM -- 1 George Medal -- 1 DSM -- 1 MM -- 4 DFM -- 3 Bronze Star (U.S.A.) -- 2 DFC (U.S.A.) -- 1 French Croix de Guerre -- 1. These achievements of the School were honoured by a special broadcast by the B.B.C., when it was said that the Roll of Honour of King Edward VII School, for the Second World War, was the highest in the Commonwealth for one school.

Neither does the story end there. At present, former pupils of this school still hold responsible positions in the South African Defence Force. Major-General G. T. Moll, SM, DSO, is the Republic's Air Adviser to the Chairman of the Defence Production Board. Brigadier J. N. Robbs, SM, DFC, is O.C. Tactical Group and Colonel J. H. Eccles is Head of the S.A. Air Force College. In 1956, Comdt. S. J. W. Inglesby, at present Staff Officer Flight Safety at Air Force Headquarters, became the first pilot to go through the sound barrier over South African soil. Until the 8th Field Regiment S.A.A. was absorbed into another unit, Col. F. W. Stegmann was their Hon. Col. The present Hon. Comdt. of the Transvaal Scottish, Comdt. I. Mackenzie, DSO the Hon. Col. of the Kaffrarian Rifles, Col. L. H. Bailie, MC (and Bar) and Col. C. Metcalfe, ED, Hon. Col. of the Durban Light Infantry, are also former pupils of King Edward's.

The close links that have always existed between the Transvaal Scottish and the School Cadet Detachment have played their part in forging a worthwhile tradition and giving the Detachment standing in the eyes of observers. Parent regiment and affiliated cadet detachment have grown up together. The long association began in 1906 when Sgt.-Maj. Donald Macleod, DCM, of the Transvaal Scottish Volunteers, was Cadet Instructor. He later became Lieut-Col. D. M. Macleod, DSO, MC, DCM, who commanded the 4th S.A.I. (S.A. Scottish) through Delville Wood and after the war took command of the Transvaal Scottish.
In 1920, the Detachment was officially allied to the Transvaal Scottish. On 5th May, 1920, Lieut.-Col. Macleod inspected the Detachment and explained its relation to the parent Regiment. He presented cadets with the unit flash (diamond-shaped, divided vertically into two white and red halves, worn on the upper arm). Lieut.-Col. Macleod pointed out that cadets who wore the flash were under obligation to maintain the traditions of the Transvaal Scottish and further to join that Regiment on leaving school. Since then, six ex-pupils have commanded battalions of the Regiment.

Cadet training has always been taken seriously. Field-days were in fashion in the 1900's. In those days, until 1914, the Transvaal Cadets wore a slouch hat, stylishly cut khaki barathea-type tunic with silver buttons, green collar and three-pointed cuffs, riding breeches, the long puttee and a leather bandolier over the shoulder. Cadet camps were held frequently and, after the Great War, they continued until the late twenties. During that period, the Detachment sometimes went on manoeuvres with the Transvaal Scottish.

The success of the practical aspect of Cadet training at the school was made possible by the visiting Permanent Force Cadet Instructor, Sgt.-Maj. "Jock" Chalmers, DCM. His association with the Detachment (66th Detachment Union Cadets) began in 1911, and in 1926 on retiring from the Defence Force with the rank of captain, he joined the School Staff as Cadet and P.T. Instructor. Cadet training at the school was in his hands until his retirement in 1944. This man, who had won the DCM at Spioen Kop, during the South African War of 1899-1902, was the making of many a soldier - not only from his work in the cadet field, but also while he was P.F. Instructor to the Transvaal Scottish. Their debt of gratitude to "the greatest Jock of them all", as the R.S.M. of the Transvaal Scottish put it, spontaneously showed itself soon after his death, when a clock to his memory was presented to King Edward VII School. Contributions had come, not only from his comrades of the Transvaal Scottish, but from Old Edwardians belonging to Regimental Associations of all four provinces. In 1921, when the Transvaal Inter-School Efficiency Platoon Competition was instituted, the Efficiency Platoon of King Edward VII School won the competition for the first time. In 1930, when the school withdrew, it had carried away the Efficiency Shield for seven out of the ten years it had competed. On the other three occasions it was placed second. These successes were largely attributable to the patient training of Captain Chalmers. An Inter-Company Competition, which was based on the Transvaal Efficiency Platoon Competition, is still an annual feature of Cadets at King Edward's.

Today is an age of uncertainty in the field of Cadet training. Few Cadet officers who saw service in the Second World War remain. Some quarters feel that now, with the introduction of National Service, Cadets, at school, are redundant. Yet there is positively no substitute for the opportunities of leadership, responsibility and co-operation that Cadets gives the schoolboy. Cadet training conducted efficiently by the school concerned, can make all the difference to a trainee's adaptation to army life during his military training and, of course, can accelerate his promotion. Boys' schools which do not have, or do not support school Cadet detachments, can have no experience of the inestimable value of the Cadet training movement in the development of the character, of the independence, of the self-confidence and the loyalty to country, of the youth of the nation. The older schools which have maintained Cadet detachments, with their wide experience before, during, and after two world wars, are best equipped to bear testimony to this. It would indeed be a tragedy if the Cadet movement were to be discontinued.

King Edward VII School, Johannesburg

THE WORLD WAR 1939-1945

EDITOR'S NOTE: It will be noted that rank and regiment are not shown against D. G. Davis and N. H. Tayler. Information in this regard would be welcomed from readers.

REDAKTEURSNOTA: Daar sal opgelet word dat rang en regiment nie gewys word teenoor D. G. Davis en N. H. Tayler nie. Informasie in hierdie verband sal verwelkom word van lesers.


Since the advent of democratic government in 1994 cadets no longer exist at South African schools, however the Memorial Service remains an important event on the School Calendar.
The Grade 11 learners are allowed to participate and practice for months before the Service of Remembrance which is held in the Quadrangle on the Sunday morning closest to 11 November each year.

The following photographic record was compiled by MJC Marsh on 11 November 2007:

Guard of Honour enters the quadrangle . followed by the Pipe Band.

Guard of Honour in place behind Cenotaph in quadrangle. Close-up of Flag and officers.

A pigeon alights on the top of the Cenotaph watched by the crowd in the gallery.

The service includes the school choir leading the hymns.

The Headmaster, Mr M Fennell, reading the Roll of Honour.

The Head Boy, D Rimmer, laying a wreath on behalf of the boys.

Wreath-laying on behalf of the Transvaal Scottish.

The reading of the Roll of Honour continues as more wreaths are placed in memory of the fallen.

The ceremony completed, the guard of honour marches out of the quadrangle.

--> Rodney, Thomas, 1744-1811

Member of the Continental Congress, judge for the Mississippi Territory.

From the description of Treatise on Florida and Louisiana [manuscript], 1810. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647840343

From the description of Treatise on Florida and Louisiana, 1810. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 31448217

From the description of Letter, 1798, Mar. 26 : Dover, Delaware. (Duke University). WorldCat record id: 35297804

Continental Congressman from Delaware justice of the Delaware Supreme Court federa judge for the Mississippi Territory younger brother of signer Ceasar Rodney.

From the description of For the D[elaware]-G[azette]- [manuscript], 1796? (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 648015703

Judge, Continental Congressman, brother of Caesar Rodney. He organized and commanded a company of Delaware militia from 1775 to 1777.

From the description of ALS : Prison, to Abraham Pryor, 1791 Sept. 18. (Rosenbach Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122347817

Thomas "Tommy" Rodney was an American lawyer and politician from Kent County, Delaware and Natchez, Mississippi. He was a Continental Congressman from Delaware, and a member of the Democratic-Republican Party. Rodney served in the Delaware General Assembly as Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, and as federal judge for the Mississippi Territory. He was the younger brother of Caesar Rodney, Revolutionary President of Delaware.

From the description of Travels : manuscript diary, 1790. (Peking University Library). WorldCat record id: 156052136

Talking Politics

T he next day Thomas Rodney, a Revolutionary War veteran whom Jefferson had appointed to adjudicate land claims in Mississippi Territory, "Visited Captain Lewess barge." 1 Lewis demonstrated his air gun, which Rodney admired as "a curious peice of workmanship not easily discribed."

Later that day he returned to "Captain Lewes's barge to eat watter millons." They talked the next morning also, according to Judge Rodney. Even though both France and the United States had already signed off on the Louisiana Purchase, the territory was still under Spanish control, so Lewis delivered the "official" interim story he and Jefferson had agreed upon:

Captain Lewes's object is to assend the Misisipi and to visit the Lake of the Woods, to assertain accurately its lattitude and longitude and as well as the head of the Misisipi, and then to return to or cross over to the Misouri and explore those parts and branches of it that are yet unknown and the country of Louisiana west of the Misisipi.

Lewis nevertheless strongly hinted that there was more he could not discuss. He merely emphasized that British commercial enterprises in upper Louisiana "may in future be the cause of dispute and trouble between the United States and G. Brittain unless early prohibited."

The judge was somewhat doubtful of the expedition's success. "Captain Lewes is a stout young man but not so robust as to look able to fully accomplish the object of his mission, nor does he seem to set out in the manner that promises a fulfilment of it." For one thing, the barge was too heavy, and its draft too deep, to make it up the Mississippi "and other rivers." Lewis had told him about the makings of a portable iron-framed boat he had brought, but Rodney thought Lewis should have "adopted the long experience of the Canadians and used the bark canoes that are used by them in their northern trade." Clearly, Rodney didn't know there would be no birch trees along the Missouri suitable for such a purpose. But how did Lewis know that? No one knows for sure, but the irrepressible jawbone journals, like the moccasin telegraph, spread news of all sorts faster than printing presses.

From Discovering Lewis & Clark from the Air
Photography by Jim Wark

Text by Joseph Mussulman
Reproduced by permission of Mountain Press

1. Dwight L. Smith and Ray Swick, A Journey Through the West: Thomas Rodney's 1803 Journal from Delaware to the Mississippi Territory (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1997), 50-52.

This site is provided as a public service by the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation with cooperation and funding from the following organizations:

Journal excerpts are from The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Gary E. Moulton, 13 vols. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983-2001).

©1998&ndash2021 by Discovering Lewis & Clark ®

Pirate tale unearthed by amateur historian from Warwick

James Bailey, armed with a metal detector, found Colonial buckles, pewter spoons, miniature cannonballs and one slim coin in a Middletown field that he said connects a spectacular Red Sea pirate heist directly to a ship that brought the first enslaved Africans to Rhode Island.

MIDDLETOWN &mdash The first documented arrival of a ship bringing enslaved people direct from Africa to Newport, in 1696, was not a scheme by a Rhode Islander seeking his fortune in the slave trade. It was a scheme by a pirate who already had a fortune &mdash an emperor's fortune &mdash that he needed to hide in plain sight while crossing the Atlantic.

An amateur historian from Warwick, James Bailey, 52, arrived at this conclusion by way of historical research and his metal detector, which helped him find Colonial buckles, pewter spoons, a 1-pound cannonball and one slim coin, about the size of a dime. It&rsquos a dime on which a part of accepted Rhode Island history turns.

The coin, he said, is proof that the ship carrying abducted Africans to be sold in Newport was not only a Rhode Island first, but also the getaway plan for a spectacular Red Sea pirate heist.

The unusual coin is inscribed in Arabic. It lay in a Middletown field for three centuries, passed over by livestock, plows, storms and seasons at what is now Sweet Berry Farm, a pick-your-own-fruit destination with specialty foods, a gift shop and dining areas indoors and out.

The coin, dug up by Bailey in 2014, became the first dot in a line that led to the arrival in late May 1696 of a slave ship direct from Africa, and before that to the ransacking by pirates of the flagship of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, ruler of the entire Indian subcontinent. The attack jeopardized Britain's trade relationship with India, and Rhode Island officials were suspected of hiding pirates, which they were. British trade authorities discussed revoking the colony's charter.

The dots also connect to a mutiny in Spain, an entire ship and crew abandoned at sea, the deliberate sinking of the pirate ship that had plundered Aurangzeb's flagship, and the escape of the most wanted man on Earth, who disguised himself, his ship and his crew as slavers. The guise got Henry Every from an island east of Madagascar, around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, across the Atlantic, into the Bahamas, where he changed ships, and on to Newport without being captured.

Having carried off the plunder from one of the most successful, although brutal, pirate attacks in history, Every disappeared after he reached Ireland. Some say he lived out his life in luxury. Others say he was cheated and died penniless. The fates of at least five pirates, however, are known. They were hanged. Many others disappeared into Colonial landscapes, unloading their telltale coins, sometimes swapping them for land or asking silversmiths and artisans to transform them into statements of wealth.

Some of the small coins, however, entered circulation. In recent years, 12 silver coins like the one found in Middletown have turned up in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Hobbyists with metal detectors found most of them, but Connecticut's state archaeologist, Brian Jones, reported that one turned up in a dig last August at the Lt. John Hollister archaeological site, in Glastonbury. As Jones wrote in the September 2018 Newsletter of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut: "Many of these pirates used Newport, Rhode Island as a safe haven, and the coins were eagerly picked up by colonists for whom currency was in very short supply."

As he waved his metal detector over the ground at Sweet Berry Farm in 2014, James Bailey heard the signal change slightly. He pried up a clump of sod and inspected the hole. Nothing. His smaller, handheld wand indicated that an object was inside the clump. A curved edge proved to be a coin.

Bailey emailed photos to an expert in Islamic coins and learned it was a comassee. Issued by a ruler in Yemen, it bore the ruler's name and words that translate to: "may his victory be glorious, struck at al-Hadra in 1105.&rdquo The Islamic year converts to 1693 on the Gregorian calendar, Bailey said.

By itself, the coin is small change. "It's just 12 grains of silver," about a third the weight of a dime. But because matching coins from Yemen keep turning up, he has concluded that "that coin tells a story unknown for more than three centuries."

Bailey works in security at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, occasionally bringing his metal detector to scan the prison yard for weapons.

His hobby is hunting for artifacts. He studies early maps to find promising sites. In 2004, he saw on a map from the late 1700s where a house once stood in Middletown. He asked the Sweet Berry Farm owners, Jan and Michelle Eckhart, for permission to hunt there with his detector. They granted it.

"He's an amateur, but he's really professional, if you ask me," said Jan Eckhart, stopping by two tables where Bailey had spread out maps, photos and portable display cases to talk about his findings.

Bailey keeps his best coins in a safe deposit box. They include the comassee, an Oak Tree shilling and an Oak Tree two pence, both issued by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, as well as a Spanish half real (a crude silver coin worth about 6.25 cents), issued in 1727. He found all four on the farm.

He also brought his article, published in August 2017 by The Colonial Newsletter, a numismatics research journal, about tracing the comassee, the oldest Arabic coin found in North America, and discovering that it linked the slave ship with pirates.

"This story could never have been told 30 years ago," Bailey said, referring to the rise of the internet and advances in metal detectors.

Bailey, who confines himself to primary source documents, painstakingly studied vital records, letters, court testimony and other digitized materials.

One was a proclamation by King William III, offering a reward for the capture of Every and some of the other pirates by name. A deed for land showed that a Rhode Island sheriff gave his daughter and pirate son-in-law a place to live and hide on Long Island. Bailey kept following the trail and eventually connected Newport to the greatest pirate heist of the 1600s. The documented arrival of the Seaflower in Newport, he found, coincided with Every's disappearance for three weeks after sailing from the Bahamas on a ship named the Seaflower, and before his arrival in Ireland on a ship by the same name.

Keith W. Stokes, a seventh-generation Newporter involved in historic preservation, community planning, and early African and Jewish American history, is vice president of the 1696 Heritage Group, named for the year the first enslaved Africans arrived. The group manages the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society and celebrates African and African American perspectives on Newport history. Stokes was asked what he thought of Bailey's conclusion that the first documented slave ship in Newport was primarily a disguise to help a notorious pirate escape the wrath of a king, an emperor and a shipping conglomerate.

"What's most important to me is the 47 enslaved African human beings" in the ship's hold, Stokes said. "That's what I care about." Unfamiliar with Bailey's research, he said that if Bailey's conclusion holds up, it will serve as further evidence that at the time, nearly every government, institution and ethnicity "exploited African human beings." Every's using living people as a disguise was just as exploitative as buying and selling them, which he also did.

Stokes said he wants Rhode Island children to be proud of their African heritage. "There is so much deep, rich, documented history of the Africans," he said. To survive, they had to be strong, resourceful and creative.

The infamous robbery in 1695 of Aurangzeb's flagship Ganj-i-sawai (called Gunsway in English) came as Caribbean piracy was dying out and pirates were finding more lucrative targets in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

Every, a lifelong mariner who had served in the Royal Navy, became first mate on the 46-cannon Charles II, rising to captain after he and the crew commandeered the ship in a mutiny off the coast of Spain. They renamed it Fancy and sailed along the western coast of Africa, practicing piracy and taking on volunteers eager for Red Sea riches.

He stopped at Bioko, off the coast of what is now Nigeria, to have the barnacles scraped from Fancy's bottom and its profile streamlined for speed. Once around the southern tip of Africa, he made for Madagascar to resupply, then rested for a while in the Comoro Islands before taking a position at the mouth of the Red Sea. He joined forces with five other pirate ships, one from Delaware and four from Rhode Island, including the Amity, whose captain, Thomas Tew, had brought home Red Sea plunder on a previous voyage.

Every took command of the small armada. The plan was to ambush merchant ships loaded with gold and silver as they returned to India from dual-purpose trips, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and trading luxury goods along the Red Sea.

As the pirates lay in wait, Bailey said, the merchant/pilgrim fleet slipped past them in the night. The Fancy caught up with two stragglers, the emperor's flagship Gunsway, and the Fateh Muhammad, a wealthy merchant's ship. The pirates attacked and plundered the Fateh Muhammad first, then overtook the Gunsway just before it reached home on the west coast of India.

Accounts of the battle say that luck favored the pirates. A cannonball from the Fancy broke the Gunsway's main mast. One of the Gunsway's cannons exploded, and defenders of the ship were distracted by fire and carnage. Soldiers, crew and passengers fled below decks as the pirates swarmed aboard.

Ultimately, about 230 pirates prevailed over the ship's more than 400 armed soldiers. The emperor's ship carried 600 passengers, and the pirates spent days torturing them to learn where they hid their valuables. Devout Muslim women, fresh from the spiritual journey to Mecca, were raped. Some killed themselves with daggers or jumped overboard.

Each pirate's share of the take amounted to £1,000 sterling in silver and gold. Officers got a share and a half and Every got two shares. Some of the ships missed getting a cut. Tew, captain of the Amity, was killed by a cannonball from a ship he was chasing, and his crew gave up the pursuit. Thomas Wake, captain of the Susanna, and his crew looted a small ship but were wiped out by an illness. The Dolphin and its captain, Richard Want, and the Pearl and its captain, William Mayes Jr., were given shares and Joseph Farro, captain of the Rhode Island-based Portsmouth Adventure, and four of his men were taken aboard the Fancy and given shares. Every enlisted them as getaway drivers, and they abandoned their ship and crew off the west coast of India.

As the pirates exchanged bulky bags of silver for smaller bags of gold, Mayes and the crew of the Pearl were caught clipping their coins to cheat the Fancy crew. Every confiscated all coins on the Pearl and returned just enough to provision the ship. Mayes kept up Red Sea pirating for two more years, Bailey said, then returned to Newport, eventually taking over his father's business, the White Horse Tavern, which still operates at 24 Marlborough St. and proclaims itself the nation's oldest restaurant.

East of Madagascar, Every stopped to acquire a disguise at what is now the French island of Reunion. He bought enslaved people from Madagascar, known as Malagasy, so he could pass as a slave ship.

Rounding the Cape of Good Hope again, the Fancy reached the Bahamas in April 1696. The governor, Nicholas Trott, proved amenable to bribes but wouldn't take the Africans. Trott was given the Fancy, which he stripped of its cannons, tackle, gunpowder and stores. Then he scuttled it. The Fancy pirates bought two ships, the Seaflower and the Isaac, with the Isaac going straight to Ireland.

The Seaflower made history when it landed in Newport at the end of May. Reports at the time mentioned neither Henry Every nor his alias of Henry or Benjamin Bridgman, only Thomas Windsor, an agent from Boston who had charge of the Africans. Fourteen of the unfortunate captives were sold in Newport, and Windsor had to take the others overland to Boston because Every, in a hurry to reach Ireland before the law caught up, couldn't risk another stop.

Because he was never caught and the take from the Gunsway was enormous, estimated at £325,000 sterling when sailors earned about £18 a year, Every entered legend with titles such as King of Pirates or Arch Pirate. He is credited with inspiring Blackbeard and the next generation of pirates in their choice of career.

King William III issued a proclamation in August 1696 that called for the arrest of Henry Every and any of his accomplices, some of them by name, or those who may be "known and Discovered by the Great Quantities of Persian and Indian Gold and Silver which they have with them."

One of the named associates was William Downs, a member of the Charles II crew since before the mutiny. Downs and Thomas Jones were among the 70 or so pirates who settled in the Colonies. As the fugitive fleet exchanged ships in the Bahamas, one set out for Fishers Island off the coast of Connecticut and another for the Carolinas.

Rhode Island authorities arrested and jailed Downs in 1698 for his part in the big heist, but security was lax at the jail operated by Sheriff Thomas Townsend. Townsend had a soft spot for pirates his daughter had married a pirate named Jones. Downs fled 15 miles north to Bristol, where he married the great-granddaughter of Pilgrims who had come over on the Mayflower.

Those 15 miles were "just far enough," said Scott Fisher, 64, of Salt Lake City, Utah, who says he is descended from the first child of William Downs, a pirate from the Seaflower, and Elizabeth Gorham, a Puritan from the Mayflower.

Fisher invited Bailey to be on "Extreme Genes," his syndicated national radio show on family history.

"It's one of the rare times I've had someone on my show to tell me about my ancestor," Fisher said. (To hear or read episode 248, segment 3, visit

"Jim has found information that no one else has put together," Fisher said of Bailey's work.

When Fisher discovered his Mayflower roots in 2011, he knew that his seven-times-great grandfather might have been a pirate. Now, because of a tiny coin, he's certain.

Way’s Packet Directory, 1848–1994 Passenger Steamboats of the Mississippi River System since the Advent of Photography in Mid-Continent America

“This is not a reading book, but rather a reference work. Even so, the marvelous introduction, the lengthy captions in the photo collection, and the various letters and special notes in the boat bios are captivating and enlightening.”

Seaways‘ Ships in Scale magazine

“The 620-page book attempts to list the history of every packet that traveled the Mississippi River system from 1848 to the present…. The book is a 69-year labor of love…. Fred Way is the world’s foremost authority on river life.”

The Marietta Times

“The number of steamboats ending their careers by disaster is startling in our current safety-conscious era on nearly every page there are boats wrecked or destroyed by exploding boilers.”

Ohioana Quarterly

Way’s Packet Directory is the most useful research aid that anyone studying the steamboats of the western rivers could ask for. (It) is a sine qua non and that is putting it mildly.”

The Filson Club Historical Quarterly

The first Mississippi steamboat was a packet, the New Orleans, a sidewheeler built at Pittsburgh in 1811, designed for the New Orleans-Natchez trade. Packets dominated during the first forty years of steam, providing the quickest passenger transportation throughout mid-continent America. The packets remained fairly numerous even into the first two decades of the twentieth century when old age or calamity overtook them. By the 1930s, the flock was severely depleted, and today the packet is extinct.

Containing almost 6,000 entries, Way’s Packet Directory includes a majority of combination passenger and freight steamers, but includes in a broader sense all types of passenger carriers propelled by steam that plied the waters of the Mississippi System. Each entry describes its steamboat by rig, class, engines, boilers, the shipyard where and when built, along with tidbits of historical interest on its use, demise, and/or conversion.

Captain Frederick Way, Jr., was born in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, in 1902, and grew up in the adjacent village of Edgeworth near the Ohio River. Early on, he became fascinated with steamboats, and particularly with the freight-passenger packets still prominent on the river in the early 1900s.

While he was attending the University of Cincinnati, the “call of the river” caused Fred Way to leave after one year to take up the life of a riverman, and from 1925 until 1932 he operated the packet Betsy Ann between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, becoming a licensed pilot and master. In the early months of the Great Depression, he lost his boat, and shortly after he began to write the story of the seven-year struggle to operate a packetboat in Log of the Betsy Ann, the first of his many publications.

Captain Way was also the originator and publisher for thirty-two years of the Inland River Record, an annual compilation of boats operating on inland waters. And in 1983 he compiled Way’s Packet Directory, 1848–1983: Passenger Steamboats of the Mississippi River System since the Advent of Photography in Mid-Continent America (Ohio University Press), one of the seven books he wrote on American rivers and the history of steamboats and their crews, and subsequently revised with a new foreword by Joseph W. Rutter.

Jemima Warner

Jemima Warner was a camp follower with the Continental Army in the early days of the American Revolutionary War and, according to the Women's Memorial in Washington D.C., she is the first American “military woman killed in action." [1] [2] [3]

Nothing is known about Jemima's early childhood, but she probably lived in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania before joining the army when she was seventeen. Her husband, James Warner, was a private in Captain Matthew Smith's company of Colonel William Thompson's 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, and she accompanied him on Colonel Benedict Arnold's expedition to Quebec through the Maine wilderness in the fall of 1775. [4] [5] [6]

On November 1, 1775, her husband fell ill, and Jemima stayed with him while the rest of the battalion continued without them. [7] After James died, Jemima buried him with leaves and journeyed some 20 miles through the wilderness alone to catch up with the rest of the battalion. Many soldiers were surprised to see her emerge from the wilderness days (or even weeks [8] [9] ) later, carrying her husband's rifle. [10] [11]

During the invasion of Quebec, Jemima was commissioned by General Richard Montgomery to deliver a letter containing his conditions of surrender to Governor Guy Carleton, but she was refused admittance into the city. On her second attempt, however, she dressed more formally and was allowed in, but Governor Carleton tore up the letter, imprisoned her, and drummed her out of the city the next day. [12] [13]

Though two women, Jemima Warner and Susannah Grier (wife of Sergeant Joseph Grier of Captain William Hendrick's company), are mentioned by name in John Joseph Henry's journal of the expedition through the Maine wilderness, neither of them is mentioned by name in soldiers’ journals during the invasion of Quebec. There are reports of four women on the American side killed during the siege, one by grapeshot in December 1775, [14] [15] one by burning in December 1775, [16] one shot accidentally by an American soldier in April 1776, [17] and one by lightning in June 1776. [18] [19] It is often assumed that Jemima Warner was the one killed by grapeshot while standing with the rest of the American soldiers. [20]

February 1st, 2013 Headsman

On this date in 1816, four British sailors on the HMS Africaine were hanged for buggery. One other crewman suffered 200 lashes a second, a 17-year-old sentenced to 300, had the flogging stopped at 170 stripes by a surgeon who feared the youth’s life was in danger.

“The Africaine had a reputation as a ‘man-fucking ship’ long before evidence of sodomitic practices came to the attention of Captain [Edward] Rodney,”* Arthur Gilbert explained in his seminal study published in the very first (volume 1, issue 1 — 1976) edition of the Journal of Homosexuality. “There were several reports of ‘uncleanliness’ on the ship early in 1815 and, on one occasion, two seamen were punished for ‘lying on a chest together one night’.”

Late in 1815, Captain Rodney determined to crack down on the man-fucking and by threatening them with “dreadful consequences” coerced two of the crew into implicating themselves and a great many others in a buggery ring. As the Africaine made its way back to Portsmouth that autumn, it was scene to an ever-widening investigation.

Out of about 220 to 230 men aboard, some 50 members of the crew would ultimately be involved in the investigation, 23 of them charged or implicated with a wide variety of riffs on “the unnatural crime”: one Raphael Seraco was seen “with his yard actually in the posterior of John Westerman” another sailor “placed his yard between [my] thighs and in that position effected an emission” still another had “his yard against the backside of the boy Christopher Jay and … in quick motion as if he was committing the unnatural crime” one of the ship’s boys “being much hurt sung out ‘Oh'” during an attempted rape and someone had been rogered “on the flag stones of the Galley.”

While seabound sodomy was hardly unheard-of, the practitioners among the Africaine‘s crew had seemingly grown unusually (and dangerously) bold about practicing it without a modicum of concealment, “copulating in plain view like dogs.”

“God must put it into men’s heads to commit the unnatural crime of buggery,” an accused boatswain’s mate had allegedly declared. “If God was to put it into his head to fuck a man, [I] would as soon do it as fuck a woman.”

The sheer number of men rolled up in accusation and counter-accusation made across-the-board death sentences inconceivable. And among those implicated, it was extremely difficult to ascertain truth when fear and favoritism and innuendo were so thick in the air — “terrified as we were,” as one accused man later recounted, “in the idea of being prosecuted for the horrible crime imputed to us, dismayed and alarmed … in the duress of our situation, our minds and feelings every moment distorted by hope and fear without a friend to counsel us.”**

Blackstone had long before noted that the witch-hunt potential of a charge of sexual deviance demanded “that the accusation should be clearly made out.” To Rodney’s credit, he didn’t start stringing people up from the yardarm while the Africaine was at sea.

In port, Captain Rodney gave the matter over to the Admiralty with what one imagines was probably no small relief. In the grand tradition of prosecutorial discretion, the court-martial board proceeded to break down the many accused into those who would be charged and those who would cut deals to implicate the charged.

Seraco and Westerman, mentioned above, were the first sentenced to death, and then Seraco again condemned along with another partner, John Charles. (Seraco had been implicated by several people during Captain Rodney’s seaside inquiry, and Seraco in turn had accused no fewer than 14 of his mates in a vain attempt at self-protection.)

One of the other (uncharged) seamen giving against Seraco offered this juridically damning and sociologically interesting testimony:

Seraco put the question to me whether I would let him fuck me. I told him I did not much mind. He connected with me forward on the Starboard side. He entered my backside — I did the same with him three times. John Charles the prisoner was the first who mentioned the thing to me or I should never have had such a thought in my head.

Testimony of this nature, Gilbert says, posed a problem of jurisprudence: this was evidence not directly bearing on the charge that the defendant committed a specific act of sodomy with the other defendant. Legally, unless the Seraco-Charles liaison had been the charge at the bar, this testimony was extraneous. The Attorney General opined that, in a like civilian trial, he would have advised against executing a death sentence that had been obtained with such evidence — and that fact may have helped procure a pardon for a sailor named Joseph Tall.

Raphaelo Treake (Troyac), condemned with Tall, got the same favor — but Treake was immediately re-tried for a different act of buggery and re-condemned. Treake was another Italian, and Albert notes that their common crime was popularly euphemized as le vice Italien and considered a characteristically Mediterranean indulgence. “All the scandalous behavior in the Africaine has been owing to Treake and Seraco. They are the origin of the whole of it,” another crew member — a Spanish Morisco — testified.&dagger

As January 1816 unfolded, several others went before the court martial and received prison sentences (or in the odd case, acquittal) as the great sodomy-and-uncleanliness audit proceeded.

By month’s end, it was all finished but the noosings.

On February 1, the four condemned “died truly penitent acknowledging the justice of their sentences and admonishing their shipmates to take warning from their unhappy fate not to be guilty of such detestable practices.” The ship’s clipped log entry tersely recorded that unhappy fate.

a.m. Fresh breezes and cloudy … employed getting ready for punishment. At 9 made signal [with] a gun. At 11 executed Seraco, Westerman, Charles, and Treake [for] a breach of the 29th article of war, and punished alongside [John] Parsons … with 200 lashes and [Joseph] Hubbard with 170 lashes for a breach of the 2nd article of war as sentenced by a court martial.

p.m. … sent the bodes of the executed to the hosptal. Read articles of war to the ship’s company.

On that same date as the poor buggers of the Africaine suffered their various corporal punishments, the Portsmouth commander Admiral Edward Thornborough appointed three captains to lead an inquiry into whether this floating Sodom was the fault of Captain Rodney’s soft discipline. The investigators heard good testimony all around among the ship’s junior officers to the conduct of Captain Rodney, and within days exonerated all the higher-ups, only pausing to complain that there could have been more frequent religious services and readings of the Articles of War.

And that was that … even for the ship itself. By mid-February, the HMS Africaine was being stripped down at a Thames dock. She would be officially decomissioned and broken up that year.

How exceptional were the Africaine sodomites in the British navy as the 18th century gave way to the 19th?

Dr. Richard Burg, author of Boys at Sea: Sodomy, Indecency, and Courts Martial in Nelson’s Navy as well as a 2009 Journal of Homosexuality article on the Africaine case (see &dagger), was generous enough to offer his insights into this elusive subculture.

I’d like to start with a question about the historiography. Arthur Gilbert brought this incident to wide public view in the 1970s, and you’ve written about it much more recently. How has the scholarly sense of homoeroticism in the British navy, or in western militaries generally, evolved in the past forty years or so?

Its evolution has paralleled the gay rights movement that began with the Stonewall riots. Generally, scholars have come to realize that homoeroticism in the ranks is more than an isolated phenomenon. Most research on the matter, however, has centered on the persecution of gay service members or the rights of gays to serve openly: can it be allowed, what problems would it create, how military personnel and the public might deal with it, etc. Scholarly interest in the historical dimension of military homoeroticism has been confined to an isolated handful of researchers. Most scholars are dealing with more contemporary and more relevant aspects of the subject.

How widespread were same-sex trysts in the Royal Navy at this time?

No idea. This is, of course, what everyone wants to know, and there is simply no data that even suggests a guess let alone an answer.

What was it about the case of the Africaine that resulted in this sizable court-martial and multiple hanging, when at least some other incidents of “buggery” and “uncleanliness” over the years appear to have been dealt with quietly or discreetly ignored?

What made the Africaine different? The number and conspicuousness of the Africaine business meant it had to be dealt with. All other known incidents that produced courts martial or even summary punishment involved only pairs of mariners. Admittedly, some mariners were involved with multiple partners, but the relationships were dyadic rather than involving multiple partners simultaneously.

Do we know if men who engaged in homosexual behavior within the navy also did so on terra firma, or is that an “identity” most took on specifically to adapt to their confined all-male environment at sea? Is there any connection or analogue we can speak to between these cases and the simultaneous molly culture?

I have only run across mention of one or two navy sodomites who took their proclivities with them on land. This does not mean it didn’t happen. It is just that it is almost impossible to follow sailors once they leave their ships. They leave almost no evidence of their individual activities when not signed on board navy ships. No, I see no parallels or connections to eighteenth-century molly culture.

This is a a tangential point, but I was struck by your remark relative to the Italian Rafael Seraco that “sodomy, Popery, and Italy were inseparably linked in the minds of eighteenth-century Englishmen.” Why was that?

Sodomy, Popery, and Italy were linked in the minds of Englishmen long before the eighteenth century. Sodomy arrived in England as an Italian import according to popular views prevalent at least since the early seventeenth century, and probably earlier. The pope and the Catholic Church were also considered the handmaidens of sodomy at the same time. Part of this is due to raging anti-Catholicism in England dating from the Reformation of Henry VIII. Another part of it is the human tendency to blame the “other” for real or perceived ills: Jews, Communists, Fundamentalists, Liberals, whoever is handy. Catholics and sodomites were easy targets for Englishmen from the sixteenth century onward.

* Captain Rodney was the youngest son of Admiral George Brydges Rodney, a famed commander during the American Revolution. It’s thanks to Admiral Rodney’s career that the name Rodney became popularized as a first name.

** Midshipman Christopher Beauchamp. This was his explanation for why he had (falsely, he said) confessed to the lesser offense of (non-penetrative) “uncleanliness”.

&dagger Quoted in B. R. Burg, “The HMS African Revisited: The Royal Navy and the Homosexual Community,” Journal of Homosexuality, 56:2 (2009).

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