by Walter Mow
Most American Colonists considered themselves Loyal British Subjects but were none the less disturbed by the actions of the Crown; actions that often abrogated many of the freedoms that the colonials had previously been afforded.
These are but a few of the actions noted in the year before the formation of “These United States”.
1774 was a bad year for relations between the American Colonies and Great Britain. A number of actions taken by the crown had driven relations to an impasse. Much would change over the next few months but the first 12 weeks of 1775 would be the lull before the “Storm”.
March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry would shatter this calm in his epic declaration, “Give me Liberty or give me Death”. Less than a month later, April 18, 1775 Paul Revere and Richard Dawes would make the ride that would enshrine them in American history.
April 19, 1775, “the shot heard round the world”; the Battles of Lexington and Concord would culminate in the 11 month siege of Boston that lasted from April 20, 1775 till March 19, 1776.
April 20, 1775 Patrick Henry would lead a militia effort to keep Gov. Dunmore from moving a powder store to a British warship off shore.
May 9, 1775 Lt. Samuel Herrick occupied the town of Skenesborough, New York (present day Whitehall) a port on Lake Champlain. The next day May 10, further up the lake the Green Mountain Boys were securing Fort Ticonderoga; even further up the lake on May 11 elements of the Green Mountain Boys captured the Fort at Crown Point without a fight.
May 10 the Second Continental Congress began meeting in Philadelphia.
May 27 &28 in the Battle of Chelsea Creek American militia would destroy HMS Diana.
June 11 & 12 the Battle of Machias, described as the first naval engagement, Loyalist Ichabod Jones would lose two merchant vessels while the British Navy would lose not only the armed sloop HMS Margarette but her commander, Midshipman James Moore to his wounds.
June 14, 1775 the Second Continental Congress would establish the Continental Army and decided it would be commanded by General George Washington.
July 2, 1775 General George Washington arrived to take command of the Continental Army.
July 6, 1775 the 2nd Continental Congress issued the “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms.” John Rutledge would write the first draft, be re-written by Thomas Jefferson only to be written lastly by John Dickinson. Citing a list of abuses by the Parliament and asking these issues be addressed, the members of the 2nd Continental Congress proclaimed fealty to the Crown.
July 8, the “Olive Branch Petition” was sent to King George III.
A minor skirmish dubbed the Battle of Gloucester occurred on July 8 or 9, 1775; The Gloucester Militia thwarted a British Naval effort to capture two vessels returning from the West Indies; this small engagement would have further repercussions.
August 14 the “Olive Branch Petition” reached London; King George refused to even read the Petition and declared the American Colonies in a “State of Rebellion” August 23, 1775.
The siege of Fort St. Jean September 17 to November 3, 1775 led by American Brigadier General Richard Montgomery opened the way for the ensuing battle for Montreal.
September 24th & 25th the Battle of Longue Pointe was an abortive effort to capture Montreal, Colonel Ethan Allen and his small detachment were captured by British forces led by General Guy Carelton.
October 13, 1775 the Continental Navy was established; General Washington had been operating his “Secret Navy” during the “Siege of Boston” to interdict the supply line to the besieged British in Boston.
October 18, a British Navy fleet under the command of Royal Navy Captain Henry Mowat burned the town of Falmouth claiming it was in retaliation for the failed Battle of Gloucester.
November 10, the Second Continental Congress creates the Continental Marines.
November 13, American forces under the command of Brigadier General Richard Montgomery captures and occupies Montreal.
November 15, the “Battle of Kemp’s Landing” pitted local militia against well trained Loyalist troops. In an effort to keep powder from being confiscated the untrained militia opened fire prematurely ending any chance they had at defeating the better trained troops.
November 19-21, an attempt by Loyalist troops to place a group of patriots under siege at Ninety Six, South Carolina collapsed as both commanders ran the risk of running out of powder to continue the battle.
Early November Paul Revere is dispatched to Philadelphia to investigate the possibility of erecting a powder mill in Massachusetts. At the time there is but one powder mill in the colonies. The Continental Congress wrote a letter of introduction dated November 21, 1775 for Revere to the owner of the sole mill, one Oswald Eve. Eve was devious and tried to hide certain elements from Revere, but Revere’s own chemical knowledge allowed him to learn enough to be able to build a new powder mill at Canton Massachusetts.
November 16, 1775, Henry Knox is dispatched to Fort Ticonderoga to assemble and transport the artillery from Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point. Knox would arrive at Ticonderoga December 4th and order oxen and sleds at Fort George December 11, 1775.
December 17, Virginia and North Carolina militia will join forces and burn Norfolk.
December 22, Patriots under the command of Colonel Thomson capture a band of Loyalist militia in the Great Canebrakes, South Carolina.
December 30-31, 1775 forces under Benedict Arnold are defeated at Quebec.
As Washington contemplated the year gone and the one ahead, he must have wondered where Henry Knox was; unbeknownst to Washington, Knox was held up by good weather and warm temps. His mission would eventually consume 56 days to complete, but complete his mission he did with 59 pieces of artillery and supplies for a total of sixty tons. He would not know until January 26, 1776 that his commission as a Colonel in the Continental Army had been granted.
Addendum: Independence was not declared for another 6 months, blood had been shed on both sides; historians often portray 1776 as the year that defined the beginning of the American Revolution, but in retrospect, much the same can be said for the “Storm” that erupted in “1775”.