A Noble Train of Artillery: The Knox Expedition

“We shall cut no small figure in going through the Country with our Cannon, Mortars, etc., drawn by eighty yoke of oxen”   ~~Henry Knox in a letter to his wife, December 1775

General George Washington arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts on July 2, 1775. He had been led to believe by the Continental Congress that he would find 20,000 battle-tested provincial soldiers. What he found was not a proper army. In his opinion, it was a mob of dirty and nasty “puritanical savages”. Further, on his arrival, he was assured that the army had 308 barrels of gunpowder. It was actually only 90 barrels. A lack of heavy weaponry, made offensive operations virtually impossible.

What was Washington, who  was intent on ending the Siege of Boston in one decisive stroke, to do?

Enter a twenty-five-year-old former book seller with militia and battle experience, an interest in artillery, and a talent for building fortifications: Henry Knox.

HenryKnox
Henry Knox

Henry impressed Washington with his energy, ingenuity, determination, and knowledge. Which man brought up the cache of artillery at Ft. Ticonderoga in upstate New York is unknown, but Henry volunteered to travel the 300 miles to Ticonderoga and bring the artillery back to Cambridge.

Washington issued the order, backed Knox financially, and wrote to General Philip Schuyler asking him to assist Knox in the endeavor.

Leaving on horseback and accompanied by his nineteen-year-old brother, William, and an expeditionary force, Knox reached Ticonderoga on December 5, 1775. The plan was to transport over 60 tons of artillery by scows from the northern tip of Lake George thirty-two miles to Ft. George on the southern tip of the lake.

Henry had prayed for warm weather, and until that point, the weather had remained mild, but the wind picked up and forced Knox’s freezing men to row into an icy gale. One of the scows fetched up on a rock and filled with water. As long as the scows gunnels remained above the water line, the boat could be floated. With heroic effort, they finally succeeded in getting all the cannon to the southern end of the lake just as it began to freeze over.

Knox Route from Ft Ticonderago to Boston-8x6

On December 17, Henry wrote to Washington, “I have had made forty two exceedingly strong sleds & have provided eighty yoke of oxen to drag them as far as Springfield where I shall get fresh cattle to carry them to camp. . . . I hope in 16 or 17 days to be able to present your Excellency a noble train of artillery.”

Henry began earnest negotiations with local Stillwater (Albany-area) native George Palmer for the expected oxen and sleds. Per Henry’s journal, Palmer walked off in a huff after General Schuyler complained he was charging too much for his services. Thus, Knox relented to using mostly horses to pull the laden sleds.

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General Philip Schuyler

While William Knox remained at Ft. George to procure the needed sleds, Henry went ahead to the Hudson River, where he and his men took steps to strengthen the river ice in anticipation of the artillery’s arrival and crossing.

Once the horses and sleds (and some head of oxen) were secured, the Noble Train of Artillery left Ft. George and moved along a difficult and exceedingly slow route following the Hudson River, with the crews forced to cross the frozen Hudson four times before reaching Albany.  On January 5, from Albany, Henry wrote Washington: “The want of snow detained us some days, and now a cruel thaw hinders [us] from crossing [the] Hudson River, which we are obliged to do four times from Ft. George to this town.”  

When the train was able to move on, Henry was forced to break up his caravan into smaller groups of sleds due to logistics. On crossing the Hudson east to Massachusetts, cannon broke through the ice and crashed into the water. With the help of locals, they recovered the cannon. On January 9, the last of the cannons had crossed the Hudson.

Crossing and recrossing the Hudson had proved difficult, but the hills and mountains of western and central Massachusetts were just as challenging. On the down slopes, the huge heavy sleds threatened to run ahead of the teams that were pulling them. They were plagued by lack of snow. Another “cruel” thaw left them stranded in Westfield.

In Westfield, Henry entertained the locals, many who had never seen cannon, by firing a mortar that became known as “Old Sow”. It was here that Henry learned that John Adams and George Washington had named him to succeed the ailing Richard Gridley as colonel of the Regiment of Artillery. (Gridley’s artillery regiments had been an embarrassment at Bunker Hill.)

In the last week of January, 1776, the first of the noble train arrived in Framingham, Massachusetts. Henry Knox was back in Cambridge by January 25.

Knox’s journey provided the Continental Army with a windfall of artillery that ultimately led General William Howe to evacuate his British troops from Boston, taking thousands of loyalists civilians with them, and effectively ending the Siege of Boston without a single shot fired on either side.

Colonel Henry Knox was eventually promoted to major general and remained loyal to Washington throughout the war.

The grit and determination it took to complete the expedition is truly amazing, admirable, and inspiring. Men (and women) like them, who believed they could do anything if they put their minds, hearts, and bodies to the task, gave us the freedom to think for ourselves and express those thoughts without fear of our personal liberties being taken away.

The Henry Knox Noble Train re-enactment begins at Fort Ticonderoga on December 9, 2017 in Ticonderoga, New York.

The-Noble-Train-Begins-01-850x567

Resources:

 

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Bunker Hill A City, A Siege, A Revolution. 2013: Penguin Books, New York, NY.

http://www.derekbeck.com/1775/info/noble-train-2/

http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=29

Portrait of Major General Philip Schuyler from the John Trumbull miniature by Jacob H. Lazarus (1822-91) in 1881. The painting is on display at the Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Albany.

Painting of General Henry Knox by Charles Willson Peale, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

10 Quotes About Angels

#10 “No, I never saw an angel, but it is irrelevant whether I saw one or not. I feel their presence around me.”

Paulo Coelho, Brazilian Novelist

#9 “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo

#8 “Beauty, the eternal Spouse of the Wisdom of God and Angel of his Presence thru’ all creation.”

Robert Bridges, English Poet

#7 “Who would not rather be a rising ape than a falling angel?”

Terry Pratchett, English Author

#6 “In heaven an angel is nobody in particular.”

George Bernard Shaw, Irish Dramatist

#5 “An angel has no memory.”

Terry Southern, American Writer

#4 “The angel of mercy, the child of love, together had flown to the realms above.”

Fanny Crosby, American Musician

#3 “I accept the fact that angels are great heavenly beings, and I think some people give me the feeling that I’m with an angel.”

Benjamin Clementine, English Artist

#2 “Each angel that God created was in himself a masterpiece. Each one possessed his own degree of intelligence and his own beauty.”

Mother Angelica, American Educator

#1 “In the Christian world… it is believed that angels were created at the beginning, and that heaven was formed of them.”

Emanuel Swedenborg, Swedish Scientist

 

 

Why I Write Historical Fantasy

A few weeks ago I had an epiphany about why I write historical fantasy.

Historical fantasy is a messy business. Those who lean more toward the historical aspect tend to complain if the story suddenly leans closer to the fantasy aspect, and vice versa.

I don’t watch much TV, Netflix, etc. What I do watch is always in danger of developing into an obsession, to the point that, I become a fanatic (which used to be reserved ONLY for my NFL team, the Oakland Raiders). Somewhere along the line I become “overly involved”.  I think it’s because I started writing historical fantasy in 2005 without realizing the genre I was headed for.

The first sign of my mania manifested itself in 2010 with my discovery of the TV series Supernatural, which was already in its fifth season. Yes, Sam and Dean Winchester are hot brothers, but more importantly, I like the characters.

I stopped watching The Walking Dead in season 3 because I couldn’t stand some of the characters. Several years later, I learned of Negan’s first appearance in the season six finale.  The actor who portrays Negan is Jeffery Dean Morgan. He portrayed John Winchester, the Winchester boys’ father in the first season of Supernatural (2005). Now, suddenly, the world knew who Jeffery Dean Morgan was, while the cultist fans of Supernatural remembered him as the ruggedly handsome, John Winchester! I had people ask me if I watched The Walking Dead, and my thoughts on Jeffery Dean Morgan. My response: “You’re eleven years late.”

Supernatural is renewed for season 13, which will premier in October 2017.

So what does this have to do with my epiphany? This year I lost two of my favorite TV shows.

After 8 seasons, I lost The Vampire Diaries. The series finale aired March 10, 2017. I own every season of this YA type show on DVD, and I’ve watched those collective seasons more than once. I loved the characters, and the show brimmed with vampires, werewolves, witches, hybrids, and doppelgangers.  But there was one other important aspect about this show that I loved. It flashed back often to the mid-1800’s, which was when the Salvatore brothers became vampires. And there were numerous flash backs to the 10th century, when the original vampires were spawned.

Historical Fantasy? Yes!

On Saturday, August 12, 2017, after 4 years, I lost another adored TV series, the historical drama, TURN: Washington Spies. The series was based on the non-fiction book by Alexander Rose, “Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring”. Of course, this is referring to the Culper spy ring that was formed in 1778. The producers of TURN (Alexander Rose was among them) and the actors excelled in authenticity, thus, the inaccuracies sometimes necessary to tell a smooth tale, were largely forgiven by the show’s  dedicated audience.

As an aside, the female portion of TURN’s audience found the actor who portrayed Major Ben Tallmadge, Seth Numrich, too hot to handle in his Continental Army uniform of the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons.  turn-S4-cast-ben-numrich-700x1000

Historical Fantasy? Yes!

The final episode of the series induced a sobbing goodbye among the fans. The cast of the show immediately reached out to their grieving fans. It led us to participate in many Tweets and Facebook groups that discuss all things TURN and the Revolutionary War.

TURN’s finale was more than my heart could handle. I’ve spent the past year dedicated to understanding the philosophies (British and American) that led to the American Revolution, the people who played a part, and the military aspect of the first six months of the war, as I wrote the first book in my novel series Angels & Patriots, due to release Fall 2017.

I ordered the first three seasons of TURN: Washington Spies on DVD so I can watch it obsessively and stay in the mood of the time period while I’m writing Angels & Patriots book two.

One last thing about the conclusion of TURN; this beautiful observation was made by General George Washington:

 “Our country owes its life to the heroes whose names it will never know.”

10 Favorite Sons of Liberty

ThomasYoung
Dr. Thomas Young

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#10. Family physician of John Adams. He was an active organizer of the Boston Tea Party and participated in the Continental Congress.

IsaiahThomas
Isaiah Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#9. Printed a radical rebel newspaper in Boston, the Massachusetts Spy and founded The American Antiquarian Society.

BenjaminEdes
Benjamin Edes No Known Likeness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#8. Edes published the antagonist Boston Gazette, a newspaper which financed the Boston Tea Party and printed anti-British propaganda.

benjamin church
Dr. Benjamin Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7. Became a spy for General Thomas Gage, first Surgeon General of the Continental Army, character in the video game Assassin’s Creed III.

benedict arnold
Benedict Arnold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#6. Arnold, along with Ethan Allen and his boys, won control of Ft. Ticonderoga for its aging artillery. Gave $500 to Joseph Warren’s orphans.

William Dawes
William Dawes

#5. April 18, 1775, Joseph Warren dispatched Dawes to Lexington to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams, & the militias, of British movement.

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Paul Revere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4. April 18, 1775, Joseph Warren dispatched Revere to Lexington to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams, & the militias, of British movement.

john hancock
John Hancock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3. Hancock used his wealth to support the colonial cause. Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, and Hancock were the ultimate triumvirate for liberty.

 

samadams
Samuel Adams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2. “Father of the American Revolution” because of his early stand against the tyranny of Great Britain. Failed in business and monetary matters.

warren3_medium
Dr. Joseph Warren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1. Handsome idolized leader of the rebellion April – June 1775, Major General, killed at Bunker Hill at age 34, America’s first martyr.

If you’re looking for a little end of the summer reading, visit my website Salina B Baker to download free books. Thank you! Happy Reading!

 

 

Ten Best Historic Movies

I don’t watch movies about WWII or Vietnam. So, if you’re expecting Schindler’s List or Apocalypse Now, you won’t find it. Share your favorites!

#10 The Ten Commandments
A classic that airs every Easter.
It’s been remade several times, but nothing compares to this epic. 10commands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#9 The King’s Speech
Despite centering on King George VI and his speech therapist, I saw it as 2 friends helping one another succeed.
kingsspeech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#8 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Must I say more? If I must, then you’re too young to remember these former heartthrobs.
butchandsundance

#7 Gangs of New York
Set in 1863, this great period piece takes place in New York’s Five Points district. Gangs

#6 North and South (Miniseries)
Set before, during and after the American Civil War, this is a classic tale of friendship and love that traverses a forbidden division. NorthSouth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5 Tombstone
Centered around western legends Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and “Doc” Holliday (Val Kilmer) and Virgil Earp (Sam Elliot).   tombstone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4 The Miracle Worker
I’ve loved this film since I was a little girl. Annie Sullivan’s quest to teach Helen Keller to communicate is heartrending. miracle worker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3 Braveheart
Who cares about the historical inaccuracies? I don’t. I read a biography on Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. Freedom!!!!! braveheart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2 The Patriot
The story points out that not everyone in Colonial America wished to voluntarily participate in the Revolutionary War.
thepatriot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1 Gone with the Wind
An epic tale of a civilization gone with the wind…….  GWTW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a little end of the summer reading, visit my website Salina B Baker to download free books. Thank you! Happy Reading!

Six Movies about Angels & Demons

#6 Michael The Archangel Michael is sent to Earth to do various tasks and take a vacation. This movie is tolerable it stars John Travolta. 41RuAiYH3RL

#5 Stigmata An atheist is afflicted with the stigmata after acquiring a rosary owned by a dead priest who also suffered the stigmata. stigmata-5494b20adfae8

#4 Angels & Demons Symbologist Robert Langdon discovers the revival of an ancient brotherhood, the Illuminati and tries to foil their plot against the Catholic Church
angelsanddemons

#3 Meet Joe Black Death asks a man to teach him about life on Earth, and falls in love with the man’s daughter. Brad Pitt held my interest. Meet_Joe_Black-_1998

#2 Constantine Demon hunter John Constantine has a ticket to Hell when he dies unless he can earn absolution to ascend to Heaven. Yay KR! 3q28_8267

#1 Devil’s Advocate Satan takes the form of a NY lawyer. Twists and turns. I wondered if I was following the plot. The end stunned me. 9d0e27ec1c7da6058233d414b331e1fc--buy-movies--movies

If you’re looking for a little end of the summer reading, visit my website Salina B Baker to download free books. Thank you! Happy Reading!

Six Best Book Boyfriends

I have never been the type of girl who was easily swept off my feet by a book boyfriend. Most of them are predictable and mundane. My best book boyfriend list, of course, is my opinion (and shows my age).

You may have a very different list. If so, please share it!

 #6 The Notebook – Noah Calhoun
Nice looking, patient, faithful, torrid

noah

#5 Star Wars – Han Solo
Handsome, exciting, bad boy, first mate is Chewbacca

leiaandhan

#4 The Vampire Diaries (novel series) – Stefan Salvatore
Hot, chivalrous, vampire, loving, hot brother

stefan

#3 Love Story – Oliver Barrett
Hot, athletic, passionate, wealthy, smart

lovestory

#2 Twilight (novel series) – Edward Cullen
Hot, sparkly, chivalrous, vampire, loving

edwardandbella

#1 Gone with the Wind – Rhett Butler
Dashing, debonair, handsome, wealthy, chivalrous

rhettandscarlet

If you’re looking for a little end of the summer reading, visit my website Salina B Baker to download free books. Thank you! Happy Reading!