J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Princeton Battle Lecture in Arlington, Va., 4 Sept.

On Wednesday, 4 September, the the American Revolution Round Table of the District of Columbia will host an illustrated lecture by Wade P. Catts titled “As great a piece of Generalship as ever was performed: Reinterpretation of the Battle of Princeton, 3 January 1777.”

The group’s announcement says:
This illustrated lecture will present new information and in some cases, reinterpretation, of the battle of Princeton. The culminating battle of the “Ten Crucial Days,” Princeton was a remarkable military maneuver that had far-reaching results for the American cause, and a major setback for the Crown. Undertaken by the Princeton Battlefield Society and funded by a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program, the recently completed study utilizes historical records, maps, topography, GIS, and archeology to examine the battlefield.
Catts is historic preservation consultant based in Pennsylvania who served the Princeton project as a historical archeologist. He’s worked on many other Revolutionary War sites as well.

“Piece of generalship” was a popular eighteenth-century expression for what we’d now call a clever strategy. On 7 Jan 1777, Stephen Moylan, volunteering as one of Gen. George Washington’s aides after a short, terrible tenure as quartermaster general, wrote to Robert Morris describing the battle:
By Heavens, it was the best piece of generalship I ever read or heard of. An enemy, within musket shot of us [at Trenton], determined, and only waiting for daylight, to make a vigourous attack. We stole a march, got to Princeton, defeated, and almost totally ruined, three of the best regiments in the British service; made all their schemes upon Philadelphia, for this season, abortive; put them into such a consternation, that if we only had five hundred fresh men, there is very little doubt but we should have destroyed all their stores and baggage, at Brunswick, of course, oblige them to leave the Jerseys, (this they must do)…
The British didn’t leave New Jersey, but they withdrew to the north of the state for the rest of the winter. The Trenton and Princeton victories cheered American Patriots, especially after the bigger British victories around New York, and helped the new republic last into the new year.

The ARRT of DC meets at the Fort Myer Officers Club in Arlington, Virginia, four times a year. See the website for more information on attending or joining. In November, the group will welcome Don N. Hagist, author of British Soldiers, American War: Voices of the American Revolution, 1775-1781.

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