- Revolutionary War Almanac
We all make mistakes. There is an embarrassing blooper in one of my books that I was unaware of until a reader, a poet with a passion for history, informed me of it. When we met we had a good laugh. No such leeway, however, is allowed compilers of reference books, for the rest of us are dependent upon them for basic facts.
Mr. Fredriksen has divided his work into two sections: a chronology of events, 1763-1783, and an historical dictionary, mostly of people, but also events. In addition to the bibliography, there are "Further Readings" following each entry in the historical dictionary, of which more later.
The author is very proud of the illustrations he has gathered, yet many are commonplace, although a few are rarely seen and are of interest. What a pity, then, that the alleged image of the great Creek leader, Alexander McGillivray (p. 507), of whom no known image exists, is in fact a 1790 John Trumbull sketch of one of McGillivray's bitter enemies in the Creek Nation, Hoboithle Mico. The [End Page 563] purported portrait of the British officer Patrick Ferguson (p. 364) is a 1970 painting by a modern artist, yet the source, King's Mountain National Military Park, also holds a contemporary image of Ferguson.
Other errors abound, but space allows me to list only a few. Sir William Howe began landing troops on Staten Island on 2 July 1776, not 3 July. Sir Henry Clinton, not Howe, discovered the American weak point at Jamaica Pass prior to the Battle of Long Island. The Arnold expedition to Quebec sailed from Newburyport, Massachusetts, on 19 September 1776, not 6 September. General Burgoyne's army was at Fish Creek near Saratoga, not Fishkill, a village in the southern Hudson Valley. In 1780 the British expeditionary force invading South Carolina landed on Simmons (now Seabrook) Island, not Johns Island, to which it crossed later. American survivors of the Battle of Camden joined Horatio Gates three days later 120 miles northward at Hillsboro, North Carolina, not Charlotte, sixty miles northward, where Gates made a brief stop. The Battle of King's Mountain did not begin "early in the morning" (p. 462), as the Rebels arrived at the base of the ridge at 3:00 p.m on the day of the battle. And the battle could not have stripped Cornwallis of "his best light infantry" (p. 190), since the only light infantry of the 1000-odd men under Major Patrick Ferguson were about eighty soldiers of the American Volunteers, a Tory provincial unit. The overwhelming loss of light troops came at the Battle of Cowpens, where Mr. Fredriksen gets it partially right. (His problem, I believe, is confusing militia with light troops.) Nathanael Greene took command of the Southern Department on 3 December 1780, not 2 December, the day he arrived in Charlotte. Greene did not send Daniel Morgan "on a sweep of North Carolina" (p. 404), but across the Catawba river to establish a presence in western South Carolina. At the Battle of Cowpens, Colonel Otho Holland Williams could not have "ordered his men to meet a body of Highlanders" (p. 339), for at the time he was about 100 miles away. Lieutenant Colonel John Eager Howard, who did command the regulars at Cowpens, which the author gets right under Howard's entry, did not mistake Morgan's orders and begin a withdrawal, which actually came about when a subordinate officer mistook Howard's order. The chronology, however, has another version, in which the regulars "suddenly feign a retreat" (p. 196). The Battle of Guilford Courthouse was fought on 15 March 1781, not 19 March (p. 404), although the author has the date right on p. 409. Isaac Huger was a general, not a colonel, at Guilford Courthouse, yet under Huger's entry Mr. Fredriksen gives the correct date of his promotion to general. The intrepid commander of Cornwallis's 33rd Foot, Lieutenant Colonel James Webster, was not killed in...