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.

Follow by Email


Friday, December 19, 2014

“Nothing but the Horrors”

One measure of the poor reception for the American Heroes Channel’s American Revolution series among historians this week was how it drove Alex Cain to start a blog. His first post said:
…the Battle of Lexington, as depicted in “The American Revolution”, is woefully inaccurate and replete with factual inaccuracies. For the producers to say the Lexington militia were all armed with squirrel rifles, that the “minutemen” actually blockaded the Road to Concord, and that the battle took place in a random field outside of Lexington is unacceptable and grossly misleading.
Cain is the author of We Stood Our Ground: Lexington in the First Year of the Revolution, studying each soldier from Lexington, so he knows that particular patch of ground.

It looks like Cain’s second blog posting is an extract or excision from his new book, I See Nothing but the Horrors of a Civil War: The Rise, Fall and Ultimate Triumph of McAlpin’s Corps of American Volunteers, about a set of Loyalists from New York and “the Hampshire Grants,” now known as Vermont.

Here’s a bit from the blog about the wife of corps leader Daniel McAlpin, a retired British army captain who had settled near Stillwater, New York, until the war broke out:
Mary McAlpin described her family’s treatment at the hands of the rebels in vivid language. “From the day her husband left to the day she was forced from her home the Captain’s house was never without parties of the Rebels present. They lived at their discretion and sometimes in very large numbers. They destroyed what they could not consume. Shortly after the capture of the fleeing loyalists a group of armed Rebels with blackened faces broke into the McAlpins’ dwelling house. They threatened Mary and her children with violence and menace of instant death. They confined them to the kitchen while they stripped every valuable from the home. A few days after this, by an order of the Albany Committee, a detachment of Rebel Forces came and seized upon the remainder of McAlpin’s estate both real and personal.” Mary McAlpin and her children were taken to an unheated hut located in Stillwater and locked inside “without fire, table, chairs or any other convenience.”

Hoping that the hardship would eventually break Mrs. McAlpin and induce her to beg her husband to honorably surrender, the rebels kept Mary and her children in captivity for several weeks. Mary McAlpin refused to comply and instead responded her husband “had already established his honour by a faithful service to his King and country.” Enraged, rebels seized Mary and her oldest daughter and “carted” both of them through Albany. According to the Reverend [John] Munro, “Mrs. McAlpin was brought down to Albany in a very scandalous manner so much that the Americans themselves cried out about it.” A second account stated “when Mrs. McAlpin was brought from the hut to Albany as a prisoner with her daughter…they neither of them had a rag of cloaths to shift themselves.”
I See Nothing… is available in digital and print-on-demand formats.

1 comment:

Alex Cain said...

Mr. Bell,

Thank you very much for the kind post. I appreciate it! Looking forward to your posts and work in 2015!

Happy holidays!

Alex Cain