Watched the premiere last night, and it was pretty good. It didn’t grab me by the lapels and yank me off my feet, but I’ll definitely be tuning in again. I like the fact that it conveys the uncertainties and disruptions the war presented to civilians caught between the two armies. The impact of the armies’ behavior on civilians’ attitudes and allegiance in the Revolution has long been an interest of mine.
My main criticism at this point is probably the portrayal of British officers. The haughty, snotty Redcoat officer is something of a stock character in films about the Rev War. One of the great things about cable drama is the room to develop full, three-dimensional characters. In Game of Thrones, just about everybody wears a gray hat instead of a white or black one. Of course, any show which features American spies as its protagonists is bound to have British officers as bad guys, but it would be nice to see a little more subtlety and complexity in the way they’re depicted. But we’re only one episode in, so we’ll see where things go from here. So far it’s not bad.
The guy who plays Captain America can claim patriotic ancestors going all the way back to the Revolutionary War, according to Ancestry.com. Morgan Cryer, a South Carolinian whose pension application you can read here, was his fifth great-granduncle.
Hey, maybe Robert Downey, Jr. is descended from John Ericsson.
Remember when we looked at the tradition that Patrick Ferguson was keeping two mistresses called “Virginia” in his camp at King’s Mountain, and that one of them died in in the battle and was buried with him?
Well, it seems that George Hofstalar, a veteran of the battle, referred to her in his pension application: “There was also a woman killed & lay by his side & said to [be] his kept mistress.”
So there’s an eyewitness account corroborating the archaeological evidence of a second burial in Ferguson’s grave. Pretty neat!
The U.S. ambassador to Britain, puzzled by a plaque marking Benedict Arnold’s last residence in London, wondered why it refers to Arnold as an “AMERICAN PATRIOT.”
NBC News has found the guy who got it put there: a distant relative named Peter Arnold.
“I think he was a good guy, you see. I don’t see him in the same light as so many Americans do,” Arnold told NBC News, explaining that he didn’t mean to upset anyone with his plaque — or create a diplomatic incident.
Arnold said he has received telephone death threats — gruff American voices telling him he’s a traitor just like his ancestors. But he’s amused by them and used to other interpretations of Benedict Arnold and his deeds.
“His heart was in America and he felt that what he was doing was in the interest of America as a country and the people who lived there. And at the end of the day he didn’t think we should be divorced from England and the king,” he said. “So somebody loved us!”
I’m not sure I share Peter Arnold’s appraisal of his distant kinsman. Benedict Arnold was an extraordinarily brave man, one of the most enterprising and gifted officers in the Continental Army. If we’re going to remember Benedict Arnold as an “American Patriot,” we should do so for his exploits from 1775 through 1777. His eventual decision to offer his services to the British wasn’t exactly an act of pure principle, as Peter Arnold seems to indicate.
Having said that, I find it downright bizarre that Americans are apparently taking the trouble to contact Peter Arnold by phone and threaten him over something that happened more than two centuries ago. I’m more interested in the Rev War than most people, but there is such a thing as being a bit too emotionally invested in a subject.
If you were planning to watch some reenactors do their thing at Minute Man National Historical Park this year, you’re out of luck.
A few days ago, some idiot drove through Battlefield Memorial Park in Savannah, GA and did $25,000 worth of damage to the Soldiers Stone Monument, which commemorates one of the Revolutionary War’s bloodiest engagements. The Coastal Heritage Society is offering $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of whoever’s responsible, so if you know something and you’d like to pocket a grand, give them a call.
Check out this chart of the American Revolution, with the causes depicted as the roots of a tree, various milestones listed along the trunk, and branches for each year of the war sprouting into smaller limbs for the important battles.
As the writer for Slate notes, it’s a little weird to see Arnold’s treason listed on the trunk alongside the two Continental Congresses, Washington’s assumption of command, and the French alliance. Arnold’s treachery was a big deal, but consider everything that was happening on southern battlefields that same year.
It’s also interesting to see the adoption of the U.S. flag listed on the trunk. And take note of what isn’t there—the creation of the navy, for example. Too bad the chart doesn’t have a publication date.