Aug 082018
 

British and German troops ran into stubborn American resistance in Hubbardton on July 7, 1777. After nearly four hours of intense fighting, Crown forces would win the day, but this contest would ultimately contribute to turning the tide for the Patriot cause.

In the fields and hills around Hubbardton, a tenacious American rear guard of about 1200 men derailed British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne’s plan for a quick march to Albany. Hubbardton was also the first close action heavy fighting between a combined British and German expeditionary force and the American northern army during Burgoyne’s campaign, a plan which had three British armies converging on Albany to split the Colonies by controlling the Hudson River.

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Join us on Monday, May 20th was we welcome Dr. Bruce M. Venter who will be speaking about his book The Battle of Hubbardton: The Rear Guard Action that Saved America .  Our meeting place is now Scoogi’s  Italian Resturant at 738 Bethlehem Pike in FlourtownFeel free to arrive early and eat in the back room where our meetings are held.  A short business meeting will start around 7:15pm. The presentation will start at 7:30pm. We encourage you to join our membership for the very small and reasonable tax deductible amount of $30.  Don’t forget to our book raffle too.  Each meeting we raffle off a number of American Revolutionary themed books.  You can purchase tickets for the book raffle, $1 per ticket, or $5 for 6 tickets.  They money raises goes to pay the room fee and speaker expenses.

Burgoyne’s Redcoats won a tactical victory, but they suffered precious, irreplaceable losses. Patriots under Col. Seth Warner, 34, with his Green Mountain Boys along with troops from New Hampshire and Massachusetts left the British and Germans bloodied, but in control of the field.

Three months later, again after more heavy fighting, Burgoyne and his weakened army surrendered at Saratoga on Oct. 17, 1777, paving the way for a French alliance. Burgoyne’s defeat at the hands of a “rabble in arms” would eventually usher in American independence four years later at Yorktown.

After capturing Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence on Lake Champlain on July 6, with nary a shot being fired, Gen. Burgoyne ordered a pursuit of the retreating, demoralized Continental Army under Maj. Gen Arthur St. Clair.

Burgoyne penned an excited note to the Secretary of State for the colonies, Lord George Germain claiming that he would be at his objective, Albany in a matter of weeks. When King George heard the news, he shouted at his wife, “I have beat them! I have beaten all the Americans!” A few months later his tune would change.

Crown forces under Brig. Gen. Simon Fraser, 48, were dispatched after the fleeing Americans over the Mount Independence-Hubbardton military road, while Burgoyne pursued another contingent down Lake Champlain to Skenesborough (present-day Whitehall, New York.)

About 850 Redcoats under Fraser, representing the flower of Burgoyne’s army, elite grenadier and light infantry battalions departed from Mount Independence before dawn on July 6. In his haste, Fraser marched without artillery, extra ammunition or food (except what was carried in the soldiers’ haversacks.) Surgeons and medical supplies were also left behind.

Fraser would be followed by 1,100 Brunswickers, hirelings from German principalities under Maj. Gen. Baron Frederick von Riedesel, a veteran of the Seven Years War in Europe.

As St. Clair’s rear guard commander, it was not Warner’s intention to fight a battle with the pursuing British at Hubbardton. But he thought it best to rest and feed his stragglers, disabled men and his Continentals overnight, then march first thing the next day.

At dawn, however, on July 7, American pickets fired on the advancing British column. Fraser immediately deployed his troops. Warner would have to stay and fight

Dr. Bruce M. Venter is president of America’s History, LLC, a tour and conference company best known for its annual conference on the American Revolution. He is the author of The Battle of Hubbardton: The Rear Guard Action that Saved America. Bruce is also 1st vice president of the American Revolution Round Table of Richmond and frequently lectures on the Revolutionary War, including at Fort Ticonderoga’s American Revolution Seminar. He is also known for his character portrayals of General John Burgoyne and Charles Earl Cornwallis.  Venter holds a B.A. in history from Manhattan College, and a doctorate in educational administration from the University at Albany.

Aug 072018
 

December 1777. It is 18 months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and some 12,000 members of America’s beleaguered Continental Army stagger into a small Pennsylvania encampment 23 miles northwest of British-occupied Philadelphia. The starving and half-naked force is reeling from a string of demoralizing defeats at the hands of King George III’s army, and are barely equipped to survive the coming winter. Their commander in chief, the focused and forceful George Washington, is at the lowest ebb of his military career. The Continental Congress is in exile and the American Revolution appears to be lost.

Yet a spark remains. Determined to keep the rebel cause alive through sheer force of will, Washington transforms the farmland plateau hard by the Schuylkill River into a virtual cabin city. Together with a dedicated coterie of advisers both foreign and domestic—Marquis de Lafayette, Baron von Steuben, the impossibly young Alexander Hamilton, and John Laurens—he sets out to breathe new life into his military force. Against all odds, as the frigid and miserable months pass, they manage to turn a bobtail army of citizen soldiers into a professional fighting force that will change the world forever.

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Join us on Monday, June 24th as we welcome award winning author Bob Brury who will be speaking about his book Valley Forge .  Our meeting place is now Scoogi’s  Italian Resturant at 738 Bethlehem Pike in FlourtownFeel free to arrive early and eat in the back room where our meetings are held.  A short business meeting will start around 7:15pm. The presentation will start at 7:30pm. We encourage you to join our membership for the very small and reasonable tax deductible amount of $30.  Don’t forget to our book raffle too.  Each meeting we raffle off a number of American Revolutionary themed books.  You can purchase tickets for the book raffle, $1 per ticket, or $5 for 6 tickets.  They money raises goes to pay the room fee and speaker expenses.

Valley Forge is the story of how that metamorphosis occurred. Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, the team behind such bestsellers as The Heart of Everything That IsThe Last Stand of Fox Company, and Halsey’s Typhoon, show us how this miracle was accomplished despite thousands of American soldiers succumbing to disease, starvation, and the elements. Here is Steuben, throwing himself into the dedicated drilling sessions he imported from Prussian battlefields. Here is Hamilton, proffering the shrewd advice that wards off his beloved commander in chief’s scheming political rivals. Here is Laurens, determined to integrate the Continental Army with freed black men and slaves. Here is Lafayette, thirsting for battlefield accolades while tenaciously lobbying his own king for crucial French aid.

At the center of it all is George Washington, in the prime of his life yet confronting crushing failure as he fends off political conspiracies every bit as pernicious as his incessant military challenges. The Virginia planter-turned-general is viewed by many as unqualified to lead the Continental Army after the humiliating loss of Philadelphia, and his detractors in and out of Congress plot to replace him. The Valley Forge winter is his—and the revolution’s—last chance at redemption. And, indeed, after six months in the camp, Washington fulfills his destiny, leading the Continental Army to a stunning victory in the Battle of Monmouth Court House. The momentum is never again with the Redcoats.

Valley Forge is the riveting true story of a nascent United States toppling an empire. Using new and rarely seen contemporaneous documents—and drawing on a cast of iconic characters and remarkable moments that capture the innovation and energy that led to the birth of our nation—Drury and Clavin provide the definitive account of this seminal and previously undervalued moment in the battle for American independence.

New York Times bestselling author and Military Correspondent Bob Drury is the author/coauthor/editor of nine books. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Men’s Journal and GQ.

Bob has been nominated for three National Magazine Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. He has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, and Darfur among other sites. His books include the New York Times bestselling Halsey’s Typhoon, Last Men Out and The Heart of Everything That is. Bob’s The Last Stand of Fox Company was the recipient of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s 2010 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award for nonfiction.

He lives at the Jersey Shore.

His latest book is “Valley Forge.” The #1 New York Times bestselling authors of The Heart of Everything That Is return with one of the most inspiring—and underappreciated—chapters in American history: the story of the Continental Army’s six-month transformation in Valley Forge. Available at bookstores and Amazon.

Jul 192016
 

Presentation Date: March 27, 2017

In the darkest days of the American Revolution, Francis Marion and his band of militia freedom fighters kept hope alive for the patriot cause during the critical British “southern campaign.” Like the Robin Hood of legend, Marion and his men attacked from secret hideaways before melting back into the forest or swamp. Employing guerrilla tactics that became commonplace in later centuries, Marion and his brigade inflicted losses on the enemy that were individually small but cumulatively a large drain on British resources and morale.

Although many will remember the stirring adventures of the “Swamp Fox” from the Walt Disney television series of the late 1950s and the fictionalized Marion character played by Mel Gibson in the 2000 film “The Patriot,” the real Francis Marion bore little resemblance to either of those caricatures. But his exploits were no less heroic as he succeeded, against all odds, in repeatedly foiling the highly trained, better-equipped forces arrayed against him.Francis Marion

Join us on Monday, March 27th as we welcome John Oller who will talk about his new book “The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution“.  A short business meeting will start around 7:15pm. The presentation will start at 7:30pm. MaGreks Pub and Grill will be running a 1/2 price special on burgers that night. We encourage you to join our membership for the very small and reasonable tax deductible amount of $20.

In this action-packed biography we meet many colorful characters from the Revolution: Banastre Tarleton, the British cavalry officer who relentlessly pursued Marion over twenty-six miles of swamp, only to call off the chase and declare (per legend), that “the Devil himself could not catch this damned old fox,” giving Marion his famous nickname; Thomas Sumter, the bold but rash patriot militia leader whom Marion detested; Lord Cornwallis, the imperious British commander who ordered the hanging of rebels and the destruction of their plantations; and “Light-Horse Harry” Lee, the urbane young Continental cavalryman who helped Marion topple critical British outposts in South Carolina. But most of all Francis Marion himself, “the Washington of the South”—a man of ruthless determination yet humane character, motivated by what his peers called “the purest patriotism.”

The Swamp FoxIn this, the first major biography of Marion in more than 40 years, John Oller compiles striking evidence to provide a fresh look at Marion the man and how he helped save the American Revolution.

John Oller, a lawyer, is the author of five books, including, most recently, The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution (Da Capo Books, 2016).  His American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate Chase Sprague—Civil War “Belle of the North” and Gilded Age Woman of Scandal, was published by Da Capo in 2014. It has been praised by Pulitzer prize-winning author Debby Applegate as “a terrific work of historical research and reconstruction” which tells “the story of the Civil War and its scandalous aftermath—its assassinations, impeachments and sexual hijinks—from an entirely fresh perspective.” His first book, Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knew (Limelight Editions, 1997), was lauded by film critic Leonard Maltin, who called it “an exceptional piece of work” and “an outstanding biography . . . among the best I’ve read in years.”

Born in Huron, Ohio, John is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a B.A. in journalism (summa cum laude), having written and edited for the daily student newspaper, the Lantern, and interned as a reporter for such newspapers as the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Rochester Times-Union. His undercover exposé on the infiltration of the Ohio State campus by the “Moonies” religious cult led to his selection as a congressional journalism intern in Washington, D.C., where he wrote press releases for a Michigan congressman.

John Oller

John Oller

After college he obtained his law degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. (magna cum laude), and joined the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York as an associate in the litigation department.  For many years he represented Major League Baseball in many high-profile cases, including the celebrated George Brett “Pine Tar” case and the Pete Rose gambling case. As a partner in the firm, he went on to specialize in complex commercial and securities litigation, and was a principal author of the Audit Committee Report for Cendant Corporation (at the time, the most massive fraud in American corporate history); the New York Times called the report a definitive case study in the area of accounting irregularities and fraud. He taught legal writing as part of his firm’s continuing legal education program for many years, and is the author of One Firm – A Short History of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, 1888 –  (2004). He holds the record as a four-time winner of the firm’s annual golf tournament in Florida.

At the end of 2011, John retired from active legal practice to concentrate on his writing career.  Since then, in addition to The Swamp Fox and American Queen, he has published an e-book, An All-American Murder, a true crime story of an unsolved cold case murder in Columbus, Ohio in 1975. It led to the reopening of the case and a renewed investigation by Columbus Police that identified the killer as someone other than the man accused 40 years earlier.  The e-book has been called “a tragic, fascinating story well-told,” and “an exceptionally well written, insightful look into the angst that people can carry for decades when the criminal justice system is unable/unwilling to provide closure.”

John is a member of Biographers International Organization and the Dramatists Guild.

When not writing, John pursues his hobbies of golf, theater, film, museums, aimless walking, and travel (especially France and Italy, in close competition for his favorite). In the US, he divides his time between New York City and a home in California wine country.