Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Appeal, As Jephtha Did, To Heaven
From Washington's General Orders, August 1, 1775:
The General thanks Major Tupper, and the Officers and Soldiers under his Command, for their gallant and soldierlike behaviour in possessing themselves of the enemy's post at the Light House, and for the Number of Prisoners they took there, and doubts not, but the Continental Army, will be as famous for their mercy as for their valour.
James Warren described the event to John Adams:
The most capital action was at the light house. You will recollect that we burnt it some time ago. They had for some time been very industrious in rebuilding it, and had it in such forward ness as actually to shew a light on Saturday night. About twenty- five whale boats and two hundred men, commanded by Major Tupper, set off last night, and arrived about daylight, attacked the guard and workmen, and one small tender soon carried it, after killing two or three, and wounding four or five more.
They took all the rest, burnt and destroyed the light house, took thirty six prisoners, and all their arms. Among the prisoners are four Marshfield Tories, and three or four others. The rest are marines and soldiers. One of the Whites of Marshfield is wounded, it is said mortally.
And Abigail's take:
I therefore will add a few lines tho very unfit. I have had a very Ill Night. Just recoverd from the rash, I went out yesterday to attend the funeral of a poor fellow who the Night before fell in Battle as they were returning from the Light house. (I catchd some cold.)
A Sabbeth Evening there was a warm fire from Prospect Hill and Bunkers Hill, begun first by the Riffel men taking of their Gaurds. 2 Men upon our side were kill'd, 5 of their guards were killd, 2 taken. I believe my account will be very confused, but I will relate it as well as I am able. A Sabbeth Evening a number of Men in Whale Boats went of from Squantom and Dorchester to the light house, where the General Gage had again fixd up a Lamp, and sent 12 carpenters to repair it.
Our people went on amidst a hot fire from 30 Marines who were placed there as a guard to the tory carpenters, burnt the dwelling house, took the Torys and 28 Marines, kill'd the Leiunt. and one Man, brought of all the oil and stores which were sent, without the looss of a man till they were upon their return when they were so closely persued that they were obliged to run one whale boat ashore and leave her to them.
The rest arrived safe except the unhappy youth whose funeral I yesterday attended, who received a Ball thro the temples as he was rowing the boat. He belong'd to Road Island. His name was Griffin. He with 4 wounded Marines was brought by Capt. Turner to Germantown and buried from their with the Honours of War. Mr. Wibird upon the occasion made the best oration (he never prays you know) I ever heard from him.
The poor wounded fellow[s] (who are all wounded in their arms) desired they might attend. They did and he very pathetacally addressd them; with which they appeard affected. I spoke with them. I told them it was very unhappy that they should be obliged to fight their best Friends. They said they were sorry—they hoped in God an end would be speadily put to the unhappy contest
Aug. 1st, Our people hoisted a liberty pole on Prospect Hill and a flag upon it. Fired a 24 pounder at the ship but did no damage.
Lt Paul Lunt wrote:
Tuesday, August 1, 1775. â€” Orders given from the general for scouting parties to fire at all times whenever they have opportunity. The same day raised the mast that came out of the schnoner that was burnt at Chelsea, for to hoist our flag upon, in the fort upon Prospect Hill in Charlestown, seventy-six feet high.
Presumably the flag in question was a Pine Tree Flag, as Lunt had described in July:
Our standard was presented in the midst of the regiments with this inscription upon it, " Appeal to Heaven ; " after which Mr. Leonard made a short prayer, and then [we] were dismissed by the discharge of a cannon, three cheers, and a war whoop by the Indians. Captain Derby arrived with our packet from England, and went to Congress.
Before adjourning on this date, Congress:
Resolved, That the sum of five hundred thousand dollars be immediately forwarded from the continental Treasury, to the paymaster general, to be applied to the use of the army in Massachusetts bay, in such manner, as General Washington, or the commander in chief for the time being, by his warrant, shall limit and appoint; and if the above sum shall be expended before the next meeting of the Congress, then that General Washington, or the commander in chief for the time being, be empowered to draw upon the continental Treasury, for the sum of two hundred thousand dollars, in favour of the paymaster general, to be applied for the use and in the manner above mentioned.
Resolved, that out of the powder belonging to the continent now in this city, five tons be sent to General Washington in the speediest and safest manner by the delegates of the colony of Pensylvania.
Still reading Abigail and John, slowly, and have been thinking about the great sacrifices they and others of the Founding Era made to bequeath a free republic to their posterity. I know all epochs and circumstances are different, but I admit to being more than a bit annoyed when I see people online suggest they are too busy to engage even a little in the political process as they complain about the state of our nation.
What if Colonel Washington had decided to just chill at Mt Vernon instead of raising a militia at his own expense? Abigail Adams had demanded John stay home to focus on his law practice and help maintain the farm? Were their lives any easier than ours today?
You don't have to join OWS and camp out somewhere for months on end, getting pepper sprayed by militarized police forces. But I think you gotta do something more than pay attention to politics (do we not live politics?) a couple months before spending a few minutes in a voting both. Unless you'd like things to stay the same...
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Appeal, As Jephtha Did, To Heaven:
Jephtha's plea ended very badly for his progeny.
Posted by: Tata | Aug 1, 2012 12:05:47 PM
There's some debate about the dominant interpretation! But of course, it was about sacrifice...
Posted by: NTodd Pritsky | Aug 1, 2012 12:18:55 PM
Debate about what? He made a bargain, he set the terms and his daughter paid for it. I hope we're not talking about what *he* lost.
Posted by: Tata | Aug 1, 2012 12:34:15 PM
Debate about whether there was an actual sacrifice involved. But that's really neither here nor there: the post title is a meta wrapped in allusion, with the Appeal To Heaven flag referring to Locke's allusion to Jephtha. I found it apt because even in appealing to heaven in the revolutionary context, our republic has required sacrifice of some sort by the founding generation's progeny all the way down the line...
Posted by: NTodd Pritsky | Aug 1, 2012 9:15:26 PM