Thursday, July 03, 2008

Have a great Fourth of July

The first shots of the Revolutionary War in Lexington and Concord were on April 19 1775. The colonists took the prestigious British Army by surprise with their untrained militiamen fighting against tyranny. Things went well for the colonists for awhile, but the huge, professional British army with the help of the German Hessian troups, soon outnumbered and outmaneuvered General Washington's army.
In the winter of 1776 General Washington's army was in terrible shape. Many of the soldiers enlisted in the army during the summer, thinking they would beat the British and they would be back to their homes in time for the fall harvest. They were wrong and ill prepared for the winter, in their summer clothes and shoes. During the winter of 1776, the colonists lost battle after battle and had to keep retreating from one fort to another, until there were no longer any American forts to defend. It was then, the first part of December that General Washington's frozen, beaten, sick, starved, continental army retreated across the state of New Jersey with the British and Hessians close behind, across the freezing Delaware River into Pennsylvania. They were safe from the British army on the other side of the river since every boat within 35 miles upstream and 35 miles downstream had been destroyed or used to take the Continental army across, and cannon and musket fire could not reach them.
The army rested in the snow on the Pennsylvania side of the river for the first time in months. One recent enlistee of General Washington's Continental Army that made the drive across New Jersey was a writer by the name of Thomas Paine. He had written a pamphlet earlier in the war called Common Sense that got many patriots riled up and ready to fight the British for the freedom every man deserves. He joined the army to fight against tyranny, but also to witness first hand the sacrifices and hardships the Continental Army soldiers were facing in the the fight for freedom from England. Many of the men had no shoes, they tied ragged strips of blankets around their bleeding and frostbitten feet, they used old blankets for coats and pants, they ate cabbage soup or a greasy gruel for their meals, they slept in the snow with a blanket and their musket, and many fought with the knowledge that they were doing the Almighty's work by killing other men in war.
In the snow beside one of many campfires, Thomas Paine wrote another article on the top of a drum, called The American Crisis I long into the night. He was touched by the loyalty and the bravery of the men making up the Continental Army. After spending a short time with General Washington's army, Thomas Paine went to Philadelphia and had The American Crisis I printed in the Philadelphia Journal on December 19th 1776. He had some copies expressed by horseback to General Washington along the Delaware River the same day. Washington was touched by the words he read, and had the newspapers distributed to the officers of his army.
General Washington was planning on a brave move to retake the town of Trenton, with much needed stores for his army, on the New Jersey side of the river presently being held by German Hessian troups. Paines article gave him the courage and resolution he needed to go through with the plan for his broken army. General Washington had the article read to his troups before they successfully retook Trenton in an amazing Christmas battle. It was the first major American victory in over a year and a half.

When I read Thomas Paine's words they touched me also, just as they did General George Washington and his patriot soldiers. Here is just a little snippet of The American Crisis I.

"These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman ... we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: - 'Tis dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to set a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated."

I love to think about the part that says "the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly." How very true that is, with everything in our lives. Think about that for me. Think about that concerning our lives every single day and also about how true it is with this great country we live in. How very blessed we are that the forefathers of this nation had the courage to sign that Declaration of Independence those many years ago on July 4th 1776. They and all the early patriots battled and sacrificed so much for us and we should not forget that. They do deserve our thanks. We are still battling today as a nation and we need to be patriotic and love this great country and those that defend it. They deserve our thanks also.


ourhaskellfamily said...

I had heard some of that quote before, but didn't know what it was from. It does really make you think about how blessed we are. Not just in freedom, but in everything about our lives. Hope to see you guys this weekend.

Camille said...

Thanks for the history about our nation. I never was much of a history person, so it's good to be reminded of a few of the details and makes me appreciate what we have here in America.

Krista said...

That is a great quote. Thanks for that! I am a huge US history buff and love to learn new things. Hope you enjoyed your 4th!

Kellee and Courtney said...

Great post. I recently read "Washington's Crossing" which told about crossing the Delaware. If you like history I highly recommend it. Gave me a new appreciation for those who fought for independence.

Rachel said...

I need to read that one, I have heard good things about it!


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