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Saturday Stories ~ The Exploding Ship

Saturday-Stories-SDBoys of Liberty Collection 3- The War of 1812 Series

Stephen Decatur is said to have been the first national military hero after the War of Independence. Starting as a lowly midshipman in his late teens, he was promoted to the high rank of Commodore while still a young man.

Of the many adventures that advanced his career was an especially dangerous one that took him and his comrades right under the noses of enemy guns. It was in the midst of our conflict with the Barbary Pirates, a very early episode in our Read More…

Saturday Stories ~ A “Wasted” Ride

Saturday-Stories-WentworthWentworth Cheswell was a Patriot of mixed race. Although his appearance reflected that of his slave father, his mother was a free white woman. He grew up in New Hampshire prior to the War of Independence and is considered the first black American to hold public office.

Cheswell served his community and state in a number of ways and was well thought of in both church and community. One of his more exciting experiences was a midnight ride he took on the same night of Paul Revere’s famous trek, April 18, 1775.

Young Cheswell was a designated messenger for the local Committee of Correspondence in Exeter, New Hampshire. On the day of his adventure, word had come that the British intended to come around by sea and attack nearby Portsmouth. The town must be warned. Cheswell mounted his horse and took off.

It was a ride of several miles and several hours. Riding a galloping horse is dangerous in the dark and there was the added risk of running into a British patrol. But around dawn of the 19th, as the colonists faced the British at Lexington, Massachusetts the young messenger slid, exhausted from his horse in Portsmouth. Immediately the town was awake and frantically looking to her seaward defenses.

But the attack never came. In one of the dramatic twists of history, the British had settled on a plan to attack the colonists to the west rather than to the north of their headquarters in Boston.

Wentworth Cheswell was just one of several riders that night. As Paul Revere and William Dawes rode west from Boston to warn Lexington and Concord, others picked up the urgent message and galloped off in all directions. Responding to their message, hundreds of patriot minutemen picked up their muskets and hastened to Lexington to make it hot for the British as they retreated to Boston.

Paul Revere was the one made famous by a Longfellow poem (“Billy Dawes got on his hoss…” doesn’t have quite the right ring, I guess), but let us not forget the other heroes of that fateful night and following day. Some rode, some fought. One of them, Wentworth Cheswell went on to serve honorably in the war and then establish himself and his family as pillars of an early American community. You can read more about him and others in Profiles of Valor.

www.ProfilesOfValor.com

Lawyer for the Defense – Saturday Stories

Saturday-Stories-Boston-MassacreNo doubt you’ve heard of the Boston Massacre. By the title given to the event, you might imagine a huge bloodbath with hundreds of bodies littering the streets. Actually, five colonists were killed.

The confrontation came about because a gang of colonists were harassing a small group of British soldiers on guard duty. The Redcoats were hated in Boston as in many parts of the colonies because they represented the tyrannical grip that King George held on them. Some British soldiers had committed serious offenses, so the red uniform was looked upon with malice. Read More…

The First Prayer in Congress ~ Saturday Stories

Saturday-Stories-PrayerWe often hear about “separation of church and state.” This ­­­­­­term has been twisted to mean just about the opposite of what Jefferson meant when he used it in a letter to the Danbury Baptists. By the way, it’s not in the Constitution.

Such a concept would have been very strange indeed to the Founding Fathers. Their devotion to the Christian faith is the reason that most federal buildings in Washington DC have Scripture passages etched into their stone walls.

America started out as a Christian nation and her Founders intended that it should remain so. The very first Continental Congress, opening on September 7, 1774 set a most interesting and encouraging precedent.

The delegates had just received the news that Boston Harbor had been closed by the British navy, bringing to a sudden stop its bustling trade. Further, Britain was rushing more and more soldiers to keep a lid on the increasing American resentment of King George’s rude treatment of the American colonies. These were not the actions of a benevolent king.

So it was that representatives from 12 of the 13 colonies met in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia on September 6 to form a Congress and to discuss what measures to take in the face of such grave threats of tyranny. Someone suggested that the meeting must be opened with prayer. Others said such a move was inappropriate because several denominations of Christians were represented, and none must feel slighted if the minister chosen to pray was of another sect.

Then Sam Adams stood. “I am no bigot,” he pronounced. “I can hear a prayer from any man who is also a patriot.” He suggested the Reverend Jacob Duche, of whom he had heard a good report. Reverend Duche was summoned.

Next morning, the minister faced the assembled delegates and read from Psalm 35: “Contend O LORD with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.” He finished the Psalm and then launched into extemporaneous prayer. His words were so eloquent that some members remarked that it would have been worth a hundred-mile ride to hear him. When he finished the entire company, many on their knees, joined in prayer. The whole exercise continued for over 3 hours.

That spirit of dependence on God continued throughout the War of Independence and the founding of America as a free nation. Only in recent years has there been any serious question that America was intended to be born and continue as a Christian nation. To this day, Congress opens each session with prayer.

 

Walking Into a Mine Field ~ Saturday Stories

Saturday-Stories-DelioThe little group of American soldiers had been successful. The bridge Rommel used to conduct operations in North Africa had been blown sky high, along with nearby buildings and a considerable amount of stored war material. But now the Germans all around were swarming like bees and the Americans had ninety miles to go to return to their launching point behind friendly lines.

They split up into small groups to make their escape. Their leader, Lieutenant Dan DeLeo took five men and started out toward the American lines. They hid out by day and traveled by night. Talking over possibilities, they decided to commandeer a vehicle on a nearby road and try to drive as far as possible toward safety.

Holding a pistol behind his back, DeLeo flagged down a covered truck. When the driver stopped to ask what was the matter, the soldier stuck a pistol in his face and took charge. The rest of the Americans piled into the back of the truck while DeLeo sat beside the driver and assured him that he was a dead man if he gave away his passengers’ presence. He found a white cloth on the seat which he wrapped around his head in the manner of the neighboring Arabs.

The ride was a harrowing one. More than once the GI’s rolled right through groups of hostile German or Italian soldiers. Finally, the old truck broke down on a muddy road, still fifty miles from friendly forces. There was nothing to do but walk.

Three weeks after destroying the bridge, the exhausted commandos reached a friendly French encampment. As they gratefully approached the sentries, the noticed that the Frenchmen were yelling at them frantically in French. Seeing no sign of an enemy soldier, the GI’s were mystified at what had so upset the Frenchmen. They were soon to find out.

Upon reaching the French defenses, they found an officer who spoke some English. After talking to his sentries, he informed the Americans that they had just walked through a minefield!

 

 

His Signature Cost Him Everything – Saturday Stories

Saturday-Stories-HartJohn Hart of New Jersey was one of the most persecuted of the Signers by the British. Hart had gained his early education at home and apparently took it much farther by his own efforts, judging by the later offices he held.   But for the most part, he was a farmer and content to be one.

He and his wife had thirteen children, a large and happy family. Then Hart was selected Read More…