Musings from the Hill
I wonder if anyone ever ponders the fact that the months of September and October were crucial to our winning the American Revolution. Gen. George Washington decided it was useless to fight the Loyalists in New York and the surrounding vicinity. The hated Hessians occupied Trenton, N.J. Twas said they often nailed to trees and slowly killed American prisoners who were to be exchanged for British prisoners of war — as was the custom at the time. Washington was betrayed by Benedict Arnold who had become enamored with Peggy Shippen — known as one of the most flamboyant woman in history and as notorious as Marilyn Monroe of our time. It was a terrific blow to find out that his trusted friend, Arnold, had betrayed not only his country but his long personal relations with a trusted friend.
We often think of Washington in his later years and forget he also was a rugged explorer and surveyor at a young age. Often he slept near lone camp fires on frequent surveyor forays into unknown territories. He also was an excellent horseman and loved to dance the night away. Forget not that he well knew the folly of standing against the greatest army on earth. "Tis often said 'better to flee and run away and live to fight another day.'" His men understood the folly of “stand and be slaughtered.” Disappearing was a practice often employed by Gen. Marion, the wily Swamp Fox. Does anyone realize how many communities in the United States are named “Marion” in his honor? There is even a Marion, Kansas, just west of here.
After consideration, Washington decided to abandon the loyalists — many of German or English origin — and he decided to retreat to Yorktown on the Southern coast. They were joined by “over the mountain men,” as they termed themselves. A huge upset for British Tarleton occurred at the Battle of King’s Mountain. I have visited the site of the great victory. I was named for an ancestor of the Edmundson family, they contributed the largest number of family members in the decisive battle.
The British fleet was occupied in the north. We should always remember that it was the French who came to our aid. They sent their fleet to the south to give support to our new position. Later when German attacks threatened the French during World War I and World War II, we repaid the French by coming to their assistance. My father and my mother’s brother, enlisted in WWI. I well remember many of the songs from that period.
For example, “The first marine went over the top, Yankee-do. The French marine went over the top, parlez-vous. The Scottish marine went over the top, because he heard a penny drop. Inky-dinky, parlez-vous.” I need not explain the ‘over the top’ refers to the trenches of WWI.
Baker University even has a WWI connection. There are plaques honoring 13 Baker alums who lost their lives in WWI on the west side of Liston Stadium.
Any old-timers have any stories to contribute?
I wish to express my great thanks for the excellent book presented to me by Rosie and David Olmstead entitled "Victory at Yorktown" by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen. I would also like to thank Sarah Baker from Baker University for helping me with my column.