James Forten’s Decision
James Forten was a free African American at the time of the American Revolution who faced an interesting choice at one point in the war. He was born to free parents in 1766, and attended a Quaker school for free black children for two years of his childhood, while also working to help support his family. Forten was 14 years old when he joined the crew of an American warship in 1781. When his ship was captured by the British, he was sent to a prison ship where the captain was impressed by Forten and offered to send him to England and educate him, rather than have him remain a prisoner. What would you have done if you were James Forten?
James Forten was an American and a patriot. He refused the captain’s offer, feeling that to accept it would be a betrayal of his country. He then spent seven months on the British prison ship Jersey, infamous for brutal conditions and daily deaths from hunger and disease. Forten survivedP and was exchanged after seven months. Upon release, he walked from Brooklyn to Philadelphia and took up a job as a sailmaker’s apprentice. In time he invented a mechanism that made handling ship’s rigging easier, and the profits from this invention helped him to open his own sail loft on the Philadelphia waterfront.
For the rest of his life Forten used his money and influence to benefit humanitarian and moral causes such as abolition of slavery for all African Americans, women’s rights and temperance. He contributed major funding to William Lloyd Garrison’s publication, Liberator. Although the causes he supported were controversial, Forten continued to prosper and was respected by black and white citizens alike. He was not only the most affluent black man in Philadelphia, he was one of the wealthiest Americans of his time, with holdings estimated at $100,000. His decision in 1781 to stay in America yielded great benefits to the causes he supported, particularly the cause of abolition. He died in 1842, just 18 years before the outbreak of Civil War and 20 years before Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
James Armistead Lafayette – Hero and Spy
James Armistead was an enslaved African American in New Kent County, Virginia, when British forces invaded Virginia in 1781. When James learned that General Lafayette had arrived in Virginia to oppose and harass British forces, he volunteered to join Lafayette’s Light Infantry. His owner, William Armistead, consented.
James was first sent by General Lafayette to conduct espionage in the British camps. He soon gained the confidence of General Benedict Arnold, who had by this time changed his allegiance to the British cause. Acting as a double agent, James pretended to relay important information about movements of American forces to General Arnold, while he was in fact gathering information for the Americans from General Arnold and later General Cornwallis. He gained the trust of both men, who believed in his pose as a runaway slave. He was allowed to move easily between camps, and British officers spoke openly about strategy in front of him. James documented the information he gained in the British camps in written reports that were then passed on to other American spies and carried to General Lafayette. His accurate and detailed reports to Generals Lafayette and Washington were vital to the American victory at Yorktown in October of 1781.
After the war James Armistead returned to his owner and slavery in New Kent County. Manumission laws that granted freedom to slaves who were sent to fight in their masters’ place did not apply to him. However, in 1786 he petitioned the Virginia Assembly for his freedom. He was supported in his petition by his owner and a letter from the Marquis de Lafayette describing James’ important role in victory at Yorktown. He wrote, “His intelligences from the enemy’s camp were industriously collected and most faithfully deliver’d. He properly acquitted himself with some important commissions I gave him and appears to me entitled to every reward his situation can admit of.” His petition was granted, and he gained his freedom on January 9, 1787. He then took the last name Lafayette in honor of the Marquis.
James Armistead Lafayette lived as a farmer near Richmond, Virginia, for the rest of his life. He had a wife and children and at one time owned several slaves. In 1818 he applied to the state legislature for financial assistance and was granted $60 immediately plus an annual pension of $40 for his service during the Revolutionary War. In 1824 the Marquis de Lafayette visited the United States and was honored as a hero of the American Revolution in Richmond, Virginia, with a parade and festivities. As the Marquis rode along the parade route he reportedly recognized James Armistead Lafayette, halted the procession, dismounted from his horse and warmly greeted and embraced his old comrade.
Frisia Leads the Way in Recognizing U.S. Independence
Soon after the American Revolution began, the Continental Congress recognized that it was imperative to establish diplomatic relations with the nations of Europe, and over the course of the war Congress sent envoys to every major European power. The results of these diplomatic missions were mixed at best. France was American diplomacy’s big success story, with that nation becoming America’s most important ally in the war. Spain, although it helped America unofficially, refused to extend formal diplomatic recognition to the U.S. Prussia, a longtime British ally, offered America neither recognition nor help, although it did trade with the new nation in a limited fashion.
Of the remaining nations of Europe, Americans saw the Netherlands as their best remaining prospect for recognition. In 1780 future American president John Adams took charge of negotiations with ”The Republic of the Seven United Provinces,” as the Dutch Republic was called. However, the negotiations moved slowly because of the Dutch Republic’s federal structure. Each of the seven provinces had to be persuaded separately to support recognition, and some provinces were less than enthusiastic about the idea.
Finally on February 26, 1782, the province of Frisia or Friesland in the northern part of the Netherlands decided to act. Frisia was and is linguistically and culturally distinct from the southern provinces of the Dutch Republic, and often chose to go its own way. Frisia’s recognition of the U.S. was an event that had significance in internal Dutch politics as well as in the field of international affairs. Support for the ideals of the Revolution was widespread in the Netherlands, but the conservative oligarchs who dominated some of the provinces feared that encouraging revolution abroad might also encourage revolution at home.
At the end of the day, Frisia’s action tipped the scales in favor of recognition, and on April 19, 1782, the United Provinces accepted the credentials of John Adams as the first U.S. minister to The Hague. Most Dutch citizens seem to have supported this decision with enthusiasm. The Leeuwarden Citizen’s Society for Liberty and Glory had a silver medal struck commemorating Frisia’s historic action. The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation has acquired one of these 1782 medals and will be placing it on exhibit in the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown galleries, planned to open in 2016.
The iconography of the medal is anything but subtle. The face of the medal shows three allegorical figures. The central figure is a Frisian warrior who holds the hand of an Indian princess representing America. The warrior turns his back to the other female figure, who is the goddess Britannia, a symbolic representation of Great Britain. Below the figure of the Indian princess is a set of broken shackles. Below the figure of Britannia is a snake in the grass. The burghers of Leeuwarden clearly believed, as many in continental Europe did, that the American Revolution was not just a dispute between Britain and her American colonies. In their eyes, as in ours, the Revolution was part of a larger moral struggle between liberty and tyranny.
Mary Katherine Goddard – An American Printing Pioneer
The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, but it would take seven months for the signers’ names to be officially acknowledged. Early copies of this treasonable document were printed without names. After the American victories at Trenton and Princeton in January 1777, however, Congress ordered an authenticated printing, complete with the signers’ names. Congress was in session in Baltimore, Maryland, at the time, and local printer Mary Katherine Goddard offered the use of her press, in spite of the risks involved in being associated with this controversial document.
Who was this woman printer, Mary Katherine Goddard? Born in 1738 to Dr. Giles Goddard, postmaster of New London, Connecticut, she was well educated by her mother, Sarah Updike Goddard. In 1762 she and her widowed mother moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where her younger brother, William, had opened a printing office, the first in the colony. Mary Katherine took a keen interest in the business of printing the Providence Gazette and worked as typesetter, printer and journalist. William traveled a great deal, so Mary Katherine and her mother became the real publishers of the paper. They added a bookbindery and printed almanacs, pamphlets and books on occasion.
At the age of 30, Mary Katherine and her mother followed William to Philadelphia to help run a new printing office and newspaper, The Pennsylvania Chronicle and Universal Advertiser. After her mother’s death in 1770, Mary Katherine kept the paper running, as William travelled and pursued other interests. An erratic man, William departed again in 1773, this time to Baltimore, and soon Mary Katherine followed. William started Baltimore’s first newspaper, The Maryland Journal and the Baltimore Advertiser, but by 1775 “M.K Goddard” was on the masthead, a sign that she was the true editor and publisher of the paper.
Mary Katherine Goddard reported the beginnings of the war at Lexington and Concord. On several occasions, she received threats and raids on her printing office from disgruntled readers trying to stifle what she printed, leading her to complain to the Baltimore Committee of Safety, which defended her right to freedom of the press.
In 1775 Mary Katherine became the first female postmaster in the United Colonies. In this position she often received and was able to publish news faster than her competitors. Increasingly, newspapers were becoming an important vehicle for spreading ideas and reporting on the conflict with Great Britain. A conflict with her brother was the probable cause for her leaving the printing business in 1785, but she stayed on as postmaster of the Baltimore Post Office for four more years. In 1789 Mary Katherine was forced out in favor of a male appointee. The only reason given was that she was a woman and could not handle the travel the position required. Mary Katherine appealed to Congress and to George Washington about this injustice, and more than 200 Baltimore businessmen endorsed her petition, but nothing came of it. Her later years were spent running a bookstore. Mary Katherine died in 1816 at 78, leaving behind a reputation as a sound businesswoman and pioneer in the American printing trade and postal service.
George Washington – Two Christmases
In 1759 George and Martha Washington spent their first Christmas together at Mount Vernon. They had been married less than a year. A list of presents George Washington intended to purchase for stepson John (Jacky), age 5, and stepdaughter Martha (Patsy), age 3, shows a heartfelt appreciation for the joys of childhood. His list reads:
A bird on Bellows
A turnabout Parrott
A Grocers Shop
A Prussian Dragoon
A Man Smoaking
A Tunbridge Tea Sett
3 Neat Tunbridge Toys
A Neat Book fash Teas Chest
A box best Household Stuff
A straw Patch box w. a Glass
A neat dressed Wax Baby
The items on the list would have likely been handmade and imported from Europe. Many mechanical and hand-carved toys of this period were produced in the cities and towns of northern Germany, such as Hamburg and Hannover. Although we can’t be sure what each one looked like, several were fairly common. The bird on bellows, cuckoo, turnabout parrot and “smoaking” man were probably mechanical toys made of metal. The bird and parrot would have contained whistles and may have had flapping wings. The grocer’s shop also likely was made in northern Germany, where elaborate miniature toy room settings were crafted and sold. The Prussian dragoon was probably a metal toy soldier, and the wax baby doll would have been made of poured, tinted and painted wax, a common method for doll construction in the 1700s. The three Tunbridge toys were probably made in Tunbridge, Kent, England. They may have been puzzle boxes, yo-yos or small decorative chests, made in the Tunbridge fashion, of many small pieces of wood glued together to create a mosaic effect. The tea set and tea chest may have been toys or could have been for a dowry for Patsy. The patch box contained small cloth patches to apply to the face as beauty marks. Were these for Patsy to play with, or meant as a present for Martha? If even half these things were purchased, it must have been a jolly and exciting first Christmas at Mount Vernon.
Contrast this with the events of George Washington’s Christmas in 1776. He was then Commander-in Chief of the Continental Army, encamped along the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. His army was ill-supplied, exhausted from marching, and suffering from poor morale after a series of defeats. In addition, many of his men had enlistments that would soon run out. In a desperate move to rally support for the Patriot cause and seize the initiative, Washington, with a cadre of able officers and about 2,400 men, planned and carried out the successful Christmas attack on Hessian forces wintering in Trenton, New Jersey. Washington’s forces secured the surrender of the infamous Colonel Rahl of the Hessians, with only four Americans wounded and no fatalities on the American side. This remarkable Christmas Day victory revived the spirits of the Continental Army and renewed support for the Patriot cause.
Dogs of [the Revolutionary] War
“There are three faithful friends – an old wife, an old dog, and ready money” – Benjamin Franklin, 1738
“He that lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.” – Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richards Almanack
During the 18th century in Western Europe a gradual change occurred in the relationship between people and their dogs. Canines began to appear as characters in literary works as individuals with emotions and feelings, and increasingly they were depicted alongside their masters in portraits. In England, George Stubbs painted likenesses of various dog breeds that vividly captured their personalities on canvas. American colonists also began including dogs in family portraits. For example, in 1735 William Byrd II of Virginia had his daughter Anne depicted alongside her devoted canine companion. Given this increasing interest, it should come as no surprise that references to dogs frequently show up in sources relating to the American Revolution. Dogs enriched the lives of many leaders, beginning with George Washington.
Washington was a lifelong dog lover and owned numerous dogs of many breeds. He gave them very interesting names such as Captain, Duchess, Drunkard, Juno, Jupiter, Pilot, Rover, Searcher, Sweet Lips, Truelove, Tippler, Taster and Vulcan. An avid foxhunter, Washington built kennels at Mount Vernon and worked to create a new American breed of foxhound, one that would be taller and faster than its English cousins. Washington’s fondness for dogs, as well as his keen sense of gentlemanly honor, was evident after the battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania, in October 1777. During the confusion of the fighting, British General William Howe’s dog, Lila, ended up with the Continental Army. Identifying its owner from a tag on the collar, Washington returned Lila to General Howe under a flag of truce “with his compliments.”
Numerous advertisements taken out in the loyalist press in New York City during its occupation suggest that many lower-level British officers (or units) also kept dogs of various breeds as companions or as guard animals. These ads for lost or found animals mention Pointers, Spaniels, Terriers, Setters and Newfoundland breeds – most are described in detail and promise a reward. Some of these dogs seem to have been greatly loved: “Lost, about ten Days ago, an old brown-colored Bitch, with a white Neck, white Feet, and bad Eyes, particularly her right Eye; answers to the Name of Jean.” In 1777 the Sergeant Major of the 6th Regiment promised a significant reward of ten shillings for information on this elderly dog. Lord Cornwallis is said to have owned two Great Danes named (appropriately enough for a General) Mars and Jupiter. Banastre Tarleton and his British Legionnaires apparently enjoyed fox hunting, since in 1778 he requisitioned a barrel of oatmeal “for the Fox Hounds.”
Numerous officers in the Continental Army also were attached to their canine companions – perhaps none more so than the bizarre General Charles Lee, an eccentric, British-born officer who at one time was second in command to Washington. Lee was notorious for his “strange passion for dogs,” who accompanied him wherever he went – even on the battlefield. One of his favorites was a Pomeranian named Spado or Spada. In 1775 Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John, that at a dinner party Lee insisted she shake hands with “Mr. Spada,” who was seated in a chair! Abigail was very fond of her own dog Juno, writing to her granddaughter, “If you love me … you must love my dog.” Baron von Steuben was accompanied throughout the Revolution by his beloved and much indulged Italian Greyhound, Azur, a large dog with an enormous appetite. The Marquis de Lafayette is credited with introducing Basset Hounds to America when he presented a pair to George Washington. It seems that dogs begin to show up everywhere – but references to “Revolutionary” cats are very rare!
Finally, there is one dog story from the Revolution that is amusing and another that is disturbing. According to Joseph Martin, an American soldier at the siege of Yorktown in 1781, there was an especially large British Bulldog that frequently chased after the cannon balls fired toward the American entrenchments. Martin observed that “our officers wished to catch him …, but he looked too formidable for any of us to encounter.” Another dog made the ultimate sacrifice during the winter of 1775 during Benedict Arnold’s march across the frozen wastelands of Maine to attack Quebec. General Henry Dearborn had a large black Newfoundland. He later wrote, “My dog was very large and a great favorite. I gave him up to several of Capt. Goodrich’s company … they killed and divided him among those who were suffering most severely with hunger.”
Please share your stories of dogs in the American Revolution. We’d love to hear them.
Thanks to Bob Selig for his suggestions.
Long Island of the Holston
I immediately transmitted your Excellencies Dispatches to the Chiefs of the Cherokees.
— General Joseph Martin
On December 13, 1780, General Joseph Martin wrote a letter to Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson from Long Island, describing his negotiations with the Cherokee Indians. Was Martin writing to Jefferson from New York?
In actuality, Martin was not on Long Island in the state of New York. He was writing from his headquarters on Long Island in the Holston River of eastern Tennessee. A few years earlier, Virginia’s Governor Patrick Henry had commissioned Martin to serve as Virginia’s agent for Indian Affairs. Martin previously had served in the army during the French and Indian War and then gained experience on the colonial frontier as a trapper, fur trader and land agent. In 1769 he established a trading settlement called Martin’s Station in extreme southwest Virginia. During the American Revolution Martin fought in the Virginia militia against frontier Indians who were encouraged by the British.
When Martin became Virginia’s agent for Indian Affairs, he conducted diplomatic affairs on Long Island between the Cherokee Indians and settlers who encroached on Indian lands. The Cherokee had laid claim to the island, but colonists defeated the Indians in the Cherokee War of 1776. In the Treaty of Long Island in July 1777, the Indians relinquished their claims to the land occupied by whites in east Tennessee. As the official government diplomat to a foreign nation, Joseph Martin established his headquarters on Long Island. He negotiated with the Cherokee to keep peace between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Indians living in Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. Because of its strategic location, Long Island quickly became the base for the settlement of central Tennessee and Kentucky. Daniel Boone began carving out his Wilderness Trail at Long Island of the Holston. Today, four-mile-long Long Island is heavily industrial with a small park at one end that includes three acres given to the Eastern Band of Cherokee in 1976.
A European Encounters American Slavery
Hundreds of soldiers who fought in the American Revolution – American, British, French and German – kept some sort of diary or journal of their experiences. Most only entered brief descriptions of the weather, how far they had marched, or occasionally some unusual or noteworthy event. Such diaries seldom include the detailed descriptions or analytical commentary that historians look for. One exception is the journal of Captain Johann Ewald, an officer with an elite Jaeger, or German rifle corps, which fought with the British Army in North America. Beginning in 1776 when he arrived in New York, Ewald was involved in many of the major campaigns of the Revolution. His perceptive comments (often critical of his British allies) and detailed descriptions of military operations provide rare insights into the conduct of the war, but his observations of encounters with enslaved African Americans may be the most valuable aspect of his writings.
As early as 1780 Ewald observed that some enslaved people, who had escaped from their owners, were being employed by the British to construct fortifications in South Carolina. After he arrived in Virginia early in 1781, Ewald began mentioning these unusual “camp followers” more frequently. Left in charge of a post at Norfolk in May, he noted, “Because I lacked some cavalry and the little at Portsmouth could not be spared, twelve Negroes were mounted and armed. I trained them as well as possible and they gave me thoroughly good service, for I sought to win them by good treatment, to which they were not accustomed.”
After he rejoined the main British army under Cornwallis near Richmond in June, Ewald described his astonishment at the chaotic scenes he encountered. During his absence hundreds of enslaved African Americans had left their owners to follow the British. “Behind the baggage followed well over four thousand Negroes of both sexes and all ages. Any place this horde approached was eaten clean.” According to Ewald every officer had four or more of these refugees, including women serving as cooks and servants. “I can testify that every soldier had his Negro, who carried his provisions and bundles . . . These people were given their freedom by the [British] army because it was actually thought this would punish the rich, rebellious-minded inhabitants of Carolina and Virginia. They had plundered the wardrobes of their masters and mistresses, divided the loot, and clothed themselves piecemeal with it. … When I first beheld this train I could not grasp it, and I wondered as much about the indulgent character of Lord Cornwallis as I admired him for his military abilities.” Ewald’s description anticipates by 60 years the numerous “contrabands” that escaped to the Union Army in the 1860s.
When Cornwallis decided to establish a base at Yorktown in August, he left most of the women and children at Portsmouth, taking the able-bodied men with him. When provisions ran low during the siege in mid October, the British turned most of these refugees out of their lines. In one of his journal entries Ewald wrote, “I would just as soon forget to record a cruel happening . . . we drove back to the enemy all of our black friends, whom we had taken along to despoil the countryside. We had used them to good advantage and set them free, and now, with fear and trembling, they had to face the reward of their cruel masters.” Coming across some of these starving “unfortunates” during a night patrol, he noted, “we should have thought more about their deliverance at this time.” Other observers mentioned that many of these people were also dying of smallpox, but only Ewald displayed any real expression of guilt and dismay at the injustice of their plight.
The Alexander Scammell Affair
This was the severest blow experienced by the allied army throughout the siege: not an officer in our army surpassed in personal worth and professional ability this experienced soldier. — “Light Horse Harry” Lee
As the allied American and French army approached the outskirts of Yorktown in late September 1781, a little-known incident occurred that exposed the bitter feelings many American soldiers felt toward their opponents. About sunrise on the morning of Sunday, September 30, Lt. Colonel Alexander Scammell of New Hampshire led a scouting party to reconnoiter the British outer defenses. Somehow Scammell got separated from his picket guard and found himself surrounded by a group of Banastre Tarleton’s loyalist dragoons.
Exactly what happened next may never be known. By his own account Scammell surrendered and was being led away when another dragoon rode up, drew a pistol and shot him from behind. By afternoon Cornwallis’ surgeons had treated his wound and released him on parole. Scammell was taken to the American hospital at the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg, but there his condition worsened. Scammell died on October 6, the highest-ranking officer killed during the Siege of Yorktown. Even if he had been an obscure lieutenant, the news of his “treacherous” shooting would have caused outrage, but Scammell was no ordinary officer.
Scammell was a veteran of all of the major campaigns in the north and had established a reputation as a brave and inspiring leader of men – at Yorktown he was in command of a detachment of light infantry. He also was a member of George Washington’s inner circle, having once served him as an aide-de-camp, and was one of the few officers who could make Washington laugh with one of his humorous stories. To the Americans, his shooting was one more example of the British behaving as villains. When he published his memoirs some years later, Tarleton denied that Scammell had been wounded after surrendering but claimed instead that Scammell was “attempting to retreat.”
Had he not been shot, it is possible that Scammell, one of Washington’s favorites, would have been selected to lead the storming of British Redoubt No. 10 on October 14, not Alexander Hamilton. The taking of Redoubts 9 and 10 enabled the Allies to quickly complete their second siege line, which forced General Cornwallis to surrender on October 19, 1781. Without the resulting glory and fame gained from this dramatic action, Alexander Hamilton might not have gone on to become such an important figure in the new nation’s history.
Witness to War: Writings of Baroness Frederika Charlotte Riedesel
I saw the whole battle myself, and, knowing that my husband was taking part in it, I was filled with fear and anguish and shivered whenever a shot was fired….
These words, written near Freeman’s Farm, New York, by Frederika Charlotte Riedesel on September 19, 1777, come from a journal that chronicles the Battle of Saratoga and other experiences of a German baroness during the American Revolution. Frederika was the wife of Major-General Friedrich Riedesel, Baron of Eisenbach and commander of German troops from the duchy of Brunswick hired by the British to fight the rebellious colonies.
What was this German noblewoman doing near the front line during the American Revolution? “It is the duty of a wife to forsake all and follow her husband,” she wrote. So in May 1776, accompanied by her four-year, two-year and ten-month-old daughters, this irrepressible woman left Brunswick for England and then Quebec to join her husband.
In August 1777, Friedrich was attached to the forces of British Lieutenant-General John Burgoyne. Burgoyne had devised a plan to gain military control of the strategically important Hudson River valley and divide New England from the southern colonies, making it easier to end the rebellion. Burgoyne’s forces successfully crossed Lake Champlain from Quebec, captured Fort Ticonderoga, and confidently advanced toward Albany, New York.
Frederika and her children joined other officers’ wives who followed at some distance behind the first line of advance. Frederika wrote about Burgoyne’s small tactical victory at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm in September and his retreat at the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7, a turning point in the American Revolution. She also documented her own harrowing experiences in her journal.
When we marched on I had a large calash [light carriage] readied, with room for myself and the three children and my two maids; thus I followed the army right in the midst of the soldiers, who sang and were jolly, burning with the desire for victory.
It was a terrible bombardment, and I was more dead than alive … Little Frederika, was very much frightened, often starting to cry, and I had to hold my handkerchief over her mouth to prevent our being discovered.
The greatest misery and extreme disorder prevailed in the army. The commissary had forgotten to distribute the food supplies among the troops … more than thirty officers came to me because they could stand the hunger no longer.
My children lay on the floor with their heads in my lap. And thus we spent the whole night. The horrible smell in the cellar, the weeping of the children, and, even worse, my own fear prevented me from closing my eyes.
Eleven cannon balls flew through the house, and we could distinctly hear them rolling about over our heads. One of the poor soldiers who lay on the table, and was just about to have his leg amputated, had the other leg shot off by one of these balls … I was more dead than alive …
My husband often wanted to send me to the Americans, in order to put me out of danger, but I told him it would be worse than anything I had had to bear heretofore to be with people to whom I should have to be polite while my husband was fighting them.
I was the only one among all the women whose husband had not been either killed or at least wounded, and I often said to myself, ‘Should I be the only lucky one?’
I tried to divert my mind by busying myself with our wounded. I made tea and coffee for them, for which I received a thousand blessings.
On October 17 the capitulation went into effect … while driving through the American camp I was comforted to notice that nobody glanced at us insultingly, that they all bowed to me, and some of them even looked with pity to see a woman with small children there.
After Burgoyne’s surrender on October 17, 1777, Frederika and her children accompanied Riedesel into captivity. When the war officially ended in 1783, they returned home to Brunswick. Encouraged by her husband, Frederika published her journal and letters about the American expedition shortly after his death in 1800. Her engaging journal reveals the life of a compassionate, courageous, and resourceful woman and provides a unique glimpse into the American Revolution.
Source: Barnoness von Riedesel and the American Revolution. Translation and introduction by Marvin L. Brown, Jr. with assistance of Marta Huth. Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg, Virginia, by The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 1965.
A new Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation video explores women’s roles during the American Revolution: