Skip to comments.Headed for Auction: Back-Channel Gloom on Revolutionary War
Posted on 03/23/2010 6:18:29 AM PDT by Pharmboy
Letters to and from Henry Strachey, secretary to the British commanders in chief, are being auctioned as the Copley Library sells its collection.
Despite King Georges boast that once these rebels have felt a smart blow, they will submit, back-channel messages from British generals and diplomatic officials in America during the Revolutionary War, some of them previously unpublished, turn out to have been decidedly more pessimistic.
As early as June 1775, after the Battle of Bunker Hill which the Redcoats technically won Gen. John Burgoyne pronounced British military prospects in America gloomy in what he called a crisis that my little read in history cannot parallel.
Such a pittance of troops as Great Britain and Ireland can supply will only serve to protract the war, to incur fruitless expense and insure disappointment, Burgoyne added in a letter in the collection that will be auctioned beginning next month by Sothebys in New York. Our victory has been bought by an uncommon loss of officers, some of them irreparable, and I fear the consequence will not answer the expectations that will be raised in England.
By the next summer, Henry Strachey, the secretary to Gen. William Howe and Adm. Richard Howe, the brothers who served as commanders in chief of the army and naval forces in the colonies until 1778, was also voicing despair. The Howes had been dispatched to New York to negotiate peace with the rebellious American colonies and, failing that, to wage war against them.
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I wonder what the auction estimates are, I would love to have one of those letters.
“a pittance of troops....will only serve to protract the war”
They make no mention of what the documents will open at. I would guess a 10k open per letter.
I would pay that in a heartbeat, the problem is that a lot of these auctions get out of control in a hurry and the final price is way more than it should be.
Does anyone have any recommendations for books about the Revolutionary War told from the British perspective? I’m not looking for British apologetics, but rather something that examines the debates in Parliament and among the king’s advisors about the war. Also something that examines why the British continued the war after losing an army at Saratoga, but agreed to peace after a similar loss at Yorktown.
We revolutionaries were tough cookies back then. Wonder if we can muster the same in any future days of tyranny.
But for the fact the author of the letters was British, I’m sure Obozo would be apologizing to him for the U.S causing his depression
It should be remembered that Washington, as a Colonel in the Virginia Militia, smoldered about the way he was treated by the Brits during the French and Indian War. He even traveled to Boston from VA in the winter of 1756 to complain to the Brit General Shirley.
Good grief, the New York Times quotes the “historian” Eric Foner. I thought that seditious old red had died years ago.
Yeah...funny you mention that. I bridled a bit when I saw his name. They just cannot help themselves when it comes to calling up commies. I guess since Howard Zinn is dead, they decided upon Foner.
The Battle of Bunker Hill which the “Redcoats TECHNICALLY won?” Yeah. With “victories” as costly as Bunker Hill, Britain would have been defeated years earlier!!! Leave it to the NY Times to root AGAINST America even 200+ years ago!!!!
Eric Foner, the Columbia University historian, said ... The British seem unable to understand the principles or ideals that motivated the Americans. They see the demand for independence as lunacy and cannot imagine that the colonists have legitimate grievances. Over all the letters offer a good indication of why a peaceful settlement wasnt possible.
You could easily substitute the attitude of most today's citizens pitted against the intransigence of the Democrat party. And the last line perfectly states where the battle lines are drawn today.
I took a tour of the Yorktown battlefield last Summer. The Park Service Ranger gave a marvelous presentation, largely based on letters from both sides. These sorts of letters are immensely valuable to historians. It is one thing to hear what the players said ten or twenty years after the fact when they succumbed to the all-too-human tendency to reconstruct and embellish. It is quite another thing to hear what they said at the time in private letters never intended for public consumption.
This is how the left advances, it passes people such as Foner off as scholars. I was looking in this article to see if religion was mentioned. The clergy preaching sedition from the pulpit was a normal complaint.Didn’t really expect the Times to quote a selection if Christianity were mentioned but when I saw Foner, I was knew if it were there, it would be not be quoted.
Well, they did take the ground back (Breed’s and Bunker Hills), but they had over half their force killed (over 1,000, including many officers) while we lost 400. A very costly “victory.”
Indeed...as you know, a case has been made that the Revolution may not have succeeded without the fiery Presbyterian minsters of the time. The Reverend John Witherspoon of Princeton University (at the time, The College of New Jersey) is one of my absolute favorites of the RevWar (it is interesting to note that the actress Reese Witherspoon is his direct descendant).
This sounds depressingly familiar with respect to the current, supposedly loyal, opposition.
While you're on the subject, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution by Bernard Bailyn. Based in part on the political pamphlets from then.
More patriots died (over 10,000)--typically of disease or starvation--on these floating Buchenwalds than died in battle...
Though over 225 years ago, it makes me angry thinking of it.
Fort Green Park Conservancy Prison Ships Martyrs' Monument:
“just could not figure out what we were so mad about.”
Gee, just like liberals today. And I mean, Joe Schmoe liberals.
Why would we be against “free” “health” (as opposed to medical?) care? Why would we be against seatbelt laws? Why would we be pro-gun? I mean, it’s all to make everything nice!
Over the years I have posted many times on the prison ships. The most common number usually given now is 11,000 dead.
On a personal note, I attended high school withing 500 yards of the monument.
I’d heard that there was some bitterness between loyalists and rebels even up into the 20th century! I see this a lot on “You Tube”, when reading the comments sections on some of the most innocuous videos.
Look on videos of some of the marching songs from GB and US. Also, look on other pages w/videos/songs like “The Battle Of New Orleans”, etc.. There are some battleaxes on there at times back and forth, and this 200 yrs. or more later!
Thanks Pharmboy. Nice pic of Burgoyne. Gentleman Johnny got the shaft not merely for his own silliness, but also by General Howe, who was supposed to move north in support and to link up, and decided to seize Philadelphia instead. He wound up getting recalled as a consequence of that.
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I’ve wondered why New York city just seems a bit....hmmmm....not TOTALLY American in my eyes. Of course it is (and has been) extremely left wing liberal, for a very long time, so that doesn’t help, in my view, in respecting someones American patriotism—but also the knowledge that is was early captured and totally controlled by the Brits during the War of Independence...and it was a hotbed of Tories, well, maybe that’s why I’ve never really liked the place.
I dunno. Perhaps my great-great-great-great-grandfather’s spirit influenced my attitude.
Thanks for your thanks...of course I didn’t do anything, and we only found this out recently from geneology. I hope my speculations on my personal distaste for NYC didn’t insult you.
I have a good friend originally from Brooklyn, and I know there are many fine people there.
Timely. Never quit!
BOTH sides committed atrocities. During and after the war.
Could you put me on the GGG list? Thanks.