October 2nd 1768 : The British troop ships arrive in Boston Harbor - beginning British occupation of the area. They initially encamped on Boston Commons, around the court house and at Faneuil Hall. While British officers blended easily into Boston society, their soldiers' demand for prostitutes and alcohol was seen as a flagrant affront by the highly puritanical leaning Bostonians.
Relations between British soldiers and Boston's citizens would reach a bloody crescendo 15 months later in the Boston Massacre.
October 2nd 1780 : British intelligence officer Major John André was accused of being a spy and hanged in Tappan, NY. He was a co-conspirator with Benedict Arnold and had helped plan Arnold's attempted surrender of the font at West Point. In André's boot stocking were 6 papers detailing the lay out of West Point and the means of taking it - all written in Arnold's hand.
October 3rd 1781 - During the Seige of Yorktown, French Brigadier General Marquis de Choisy leading Lauzun's Legion and John Mercer's Virginia Militia Battalion encounters British Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dundas and Banastre Tarleton's foraging party. Though initially bottled up by Marquis de Choisy's forces, the British retreat to their defensive lines, loosing 50 men in the process.
October 4th 1775 - Dr. Benjamin Church, the first surgeon general of the Continental Army is brought before an Army court martial. Though he was a active in Boston's Sons of Liberty, Church was also sending covert messages to British General Thomas Gage, via an old mistress. Upon deciphering one of Church's messages in what was ruled "criminal correspondence", it seems that the messages contained no pertinent troop information, but Church did reveal his undying devotion to the crown. Church was sentenced to life imprisonment, only to be released a year later as he became ill - Church later left Boston for Martinique on a ship was lost at sea.
Modern scholars have found messages in General Gage's files showing that earlier communication between Church and Gage yielded more significant intelligence on the movements of the Americans.
October 4th 1777 - An early morning attack on the British at Germantown, Pennsylvania goes awry for General Washington, causing the Continentals to be repelled and retreat. Both sides suffer heavy losses. The dense fog that morning is thought to have played a role in Washington's loss.
British 25th Regiment of Foot - one of the two Foot Guard battalions present at the Battle of Germantown
October 5th 1774 : The first Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia and together work to produce the Declaration and Resolves (finished Oct 14th), a document that insists American subjects have the same rights and liberties under the English constitution as citizens in England; that they should be allowed to live under English common law; and included a petition to the King for representation in Parliament.
October 5th 1780 : A Letter from Alexander Hamilton to His Future Wife, Elizabeth Schuyler -
[Tappan, New York, October 5, 1780]
I have told you and I told you truly that I love you too much. You engross my thoughts too entirely to allow me to think anything else. You not only employ my mind all day, but you intrude on my sleep. I meet you in every dream and when I wake I cannot close my eyes again for ruminating on your sweetness. ’Tis a pretty story indeed that I am to be thus monopolized by a little nut brown maid like you and from a soldier metamorphosed into a puny lover. I believe in my soul you are an enchantress; but I have tried in vain, if not to break, at least to weaken the charm and you maintain your empire in spite of all my efforts and after every new one I make to draw myself from my allegiance, my partial heart still returns and clings to you with increased attachment. To drop figures my lovely girl, you become dearer to me every moment...
October 6th 1780 : Henry Laurens, who served as president of the Continental Congress, is sent to the Tower of London. After serving as president of Congress, Laurens was sent to Amsterdam to solicit Dutch support in the Revolutionary War; upon his return voyage, the British frigate, Vestal, intercepted his ship, the Continental packet, Mercury. Laurens threw his dispatches overboard, but they were retrieved by the British, who found a draft of a possible U.S.-Dutch treaty. This prompted the Britain to declare war on the Dutch Republic (known as the 4th Anglo-Dutch War) - and caused Henry Laurens to be charged with treason, and imprisoned in the Tower of London for 15 months.
Laurens was the only American to be held prisoner in the Tower of London.
October 6th 1777 : The Battle of Forts Clinton and Montgomery (also known as the Battle of the Clintons).
General Sir Henry Clinton leads two (nearly) simultaneous attacks on the two forts on the West bank of the Hudson river. Defending the forts were two brothers, General George Clinton (also the governor of New York) and General James Clinton. Fort Clinton overlooked the Hudson River Chain, which spanned the river to prevent British ships from sailing further upriver - Fort Montgomery was still under construction at the time of the battle. The British landed 2,100 men and a small artilery piece on the west bank of the Hudson River; then divided their forces and attacked. Using a series of feints, Henry Clinton outsmarted Israel Putnam of the Connecticut Militia into withdrawing his men - men who were meant to reinforce the forts. The British took both forts, burned them to the ground and dismantled the river chain.
The Americans lost 300 men - half of their numbers. The British lost about 200 men.
October 7th 1780 : Loyalist and Patriot militias clash in South Carolina in the Battle of King's Mountain.
Patrick Ferguson had been recruiting troops in British-sympathetic South Carolina for his Loyalist militia. Upon challenging rebels to lay down their weapons or suffer the consequences, Patriot militias responded, led by Benjamin Cleveland, James Johnston, William Campbell, John Sevier, Joseph McDowell and Isaac Shelby. The Patriots surrounded Ferguson, who was unaware of their approach. Though the battle only lasted 65 minutes, the Loyalist losses were great: 290 killed, 163 wounded, and 668 taken prisoner. Ferguson himself was shot and dragged by his horse - upon freeing himself, he was confronted by a rebel officer who demanded his surrender. Ferguson's last act was to shoot the man, whereupon several Patriots responded by shooting Ferguson. By the time a Loyalist emissary bearing a white flag could be sent forward to ask for quarter, the battle had turned sour as Patriots shouted: "Give 'em Tarleton's Quarter!" and "Give them Buford's play!" (In response to the alleged massacre of Continental troops at the Battle of Waxhaws).
For several minutes the surrendering Loyalists were fired upon before the Patriot officers could get their men under control to accept the surrender.
October 8th 1778 : Lieutenant Colonel William Butler of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment being their Raid on Unadilla and Onaquaga. The two Iroquois towns became the target of the Continental army as retaliation for Joseph Brant's attack on German Flatts, New York (September 17th). The inhabitants of the town had fled in advance of the raiders, but Butler destroyed the towns, razing the houses to the ground. Butler described Unadilla as "the finest Indian town I ever saw; on the both sides of the River there was about 40 good houses, Square logs, Shingles & stone Chimneys, good Floors, glass windows &c."
Butler took 49 horses, 52 head of cattle and destroyed over 4,000 bushels of grain - making the inhabitants of the town homeless and without food for the winter.
These series of retaliatory raids would become more pernicious, as Joseph Brant with his British-Seneca-Mohawk would extract retribution for the destroyed towns in November, at the Cherry Valley Massacre, where soldiers and civilian families were killed.
October 9th 1769 : (Six years prior to the Revolutionary War) North Carolina's Anson County Regulators sign a petition concerning imposed taxes and fees.
The War of the Regulators or Regulator Movement took place in the Carolina colonies, where economic depression, polarized class structure and corruption among government officials were creating an overall adversarial relationship between the government and it's subjects. The Battle of Alamance was the first and last battle of the Regulator Movement and marked a turning point in the psychological fabric of society. Royal Governor William Tryon brought in over 1,000 men and officers to crush the force of 2,000 Regulators, gathered near Great Alamance Creek more as a show of power and not as a fighting army (the had no supplies and no leadership). In the aftermath of the battle, seven men were hanged (including militia officers who had joined the Regulators) and the rest of the Regulators swore allegiance to the crown in exchange for pardons.
The Regulator Movement was a catalyst for the American Revolution, as the common people came to see the actions of the representatives of the crown as tyrannical, corrupt and unjustifiable.
October 9th 1775 : Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams -
I have not been composed enough to write you since Last Sabbeth when in the bitterness of my soul, I wrote a few confused lines, since which time it has pleased the great disposer of all Events to add Breach to Breach --
"Rare are solitary woes, they Love a Train
And tread each others heal."
The day week that I was call'd to attend a dying parents Bed I was again call'd to mourn the loss of one of my own Family. I have just returnd from attending Patty* to the Grave. No doubt long before this will reach you, you have received a melancholy train of Letters in some of which I mention her as dangerously sick. She has lain 5 weeks wanting a few days so bad as that we had little hopes of her Recovery; the latter part of the Time she was the most shocking object my Eyes ever beheld, and so loathsome that it was with the utmost dificulty we could bear the House. A mortification took place a week before she dyed,nothing but duty and humanity could and renderd her a most pityable object. We have great sickness yet in the Town; she made the fourth Corpse that was this day committed to the Ground. We have many others now so bad as to dispair of their lives. But Blessed be the Father of Mercies all our family are now well, tho I have my apprehensions least the malignincy of the air in the House may have infected some of them, we have fevers of various kinds, the Throat Distemper as well as the Dysentery prevailing in this and the Neighbouring Towns.
*Patty was Abigail Adams's servant girl, who wanted only Abigail to tend her during her illness.
(Well, I missed a major incident already... So here's more for yesterday!)
October 9th 1781 : The Siege of Yorktown begins with bombardment by artillery.
The French and American guns were in place by October 9th - the French opened fire around 3PM, followed by the Americans at 5PM. Washington fired the first gun - later he wrote of the day in his diary:
. . . At 5 oclock an American battery of Six 18s & 24s; four Morters & 2 Hawitzers, began to play from the extremity of our right—both with good effect as they compelled the Enemy to withdraw from their ambrazures the Pieces which had previously kept up a constant firing.
Rochambeau and Washington giving their final orders (Siège de Yorktown by Auguste Couder)
Now for October 10th 1781 : The Americans spot a large house at Yorktown in which they believe Cornwallis has his headquarters - the owner of the house, Thomas Nelson, Jr. Nelson pointed to his own home and promised five guineas to any gunner who hit it. They quickly aim the guns and destroy the house. Little did they know that the house had been damaged the day before and Cornwallis was safely in an earthen bunker.
October 11th 1776 : the Battle of Valcour Island - one of the first naval battles of the American Revolutionary War.
In an attempt to keep the British from sailing further up the Hudson River, the Continentals fleeing Quebec burned or sank all ships on Lake Champlain - they also destroyed the sawmill connected to Fort Saint-Jean, in order to hamper British ship-building efforts. In the period leading up to the battle, there was a race by both sides to build a fleet large enough to dominate the lake. By the time the British fleet of 25 armed vessels and 50 unarmed supporting vessels appeared on Champlain, Arnold had the American's 15 armed vessels in a defensive line up off the northern tip of Valcour Island. During the battle on October 11th, General Guy Carleton directed the British forces under Captain Thomas Pringle, while Benedict Arnold was in command of the Americans.
In the end, the American's 15 ships were outgunned by just two of the British fleet (HMS Inflexible with 8 12-pounders; and HMS Thunderer withsix 24-pound guns, six 12-pound guns, and two howitzers). Unfavorable headwinds hampered the efforts of both sides - though at the end of the day, it was clear that the battle had gone against the Americans. That night the lake was covered with fog; in spite of poor visibility Arnold brazenly slipped his remaining ships in a 1 mile wide gap past the British fleet on one side and the bank covered with hostile Indian campfires on the other.
General Horatio Gates commented on Arnold prior to the battle: “General Arnold (who is perfectly skilled in maritime affairs) has most nobly undertaken to command our fleet upon the Lake, I am convinced he will add to that brilliant reputation he has so deservedly acquired.”
In a little over two years Benedict Arnold would be secretly negotiating with the British.