Tuesday, February 24, 2015

History Lesson - for me at least

So this past summer and into fall I would look up each specific day on-line and then started posting a few daily historical events along with certain famous birthdays, a few deaths and some lesser known holidays and observances on Facebook every day. It was fun to do and along the way I would learn a few things here and there. I ended up stopping posting them on FB but I still try and read them several times a week if not more. Some times I find events that catch my eye and I click on it to read more about it - which may lead to either boring or interesting facts. Yesterday, I came across one of them that I found interesting and read more - and then even more about it. I ended up doing some research on more specific parts about this day, and this person, in history. It involved a man who help shape the Revolutionary War and beyond. So, ultimately I decided to write about it! Ok, sorry if this reads like a class project about writing about a famous historical figure, but I like doing this - especially when I'm not actually IN school :)

For many years leading up to the Declaration of Independence every colony acted independently, some agreeing with British rule and British policy while others wanted to have their own rules. In 1774 during the first Continental Congress it was almost agreed upon that they would agree with and follow King George's rule. America was to become a Grand Council of Britain and a President General would be appointed to represent the King. It was the few radicals like John Adams who wanted independence from British and wouldn't declare loyalty to England, and this was brought into action at the second Continental Congress one year later in 1775. This led to the King declaring America in a rebellion, which, among other things him hiring of 300,000 German Hessian's as 'mercenaries.' These were not what we may think of today's standard mercenaries, they were well trained in warfare and were German soldiers who were bought to help England control the American colonies. The Continental Army was created in 1775 and George Washington was named Supreme Commander, where he requested to not take a pay and soon would become the Commander of Chief of the Continental Army. Over the next couple years America made an alliance with France and then, of course the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The America's were not favoring well overall and needed to step up their military power as well as a lift to the morale of the colonists.

Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben arrived at the military camp of the American Continental Army at Valley Forge Pennsylvania on February 23, 1778. Steuben, a born German, spoke no English but drafted a drill manual in French where a few people like Alexander Hamilton would translate. These drills were more advanced than those of most European nations and far superior to those of the relatively untrained Americans. Steuben began training of our mainly shoeless Patriots in schooling of soldiers. He implemented rows of and for command before perfecting the actual fighting such as reloading and firing of weapons and combat with their bayonet's which were until then primarily used as a tool or for cooking. An honor guard was formed by Steuben of 120 men and was selected for George Washington specifically. Steuben incorporated many specific standards to assist in the development of the military including separating the 'bathroom' area on one side of a camp, which the waste would travel down a hill, from the food on the other side camp. With Washington's recommendation, Steuben was appointed Inspector General of the Army with the rank of Major General. He helped to write formal books to be kept, which would keep records of things like  necessities of supplies, clothing, men, hygiene and weapons as well as tactics, drills and military disciplines that were used by the new United States until 1812, many of which lasted well into the 1900's.
With the great deal of help from von Steuben accompanied by French and Spanish assistance, the now much better trained, and of course fighting for a higher cause, American's forced the British out and after the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, the war was over. Less than 20 years later, Congress agreed upon their first foreign war, as President Thomas Jefferson sent our military over North Africa and the Mediterranean because he refused to pay for high cash demands by these people. These groups of people were also hijacking and enslaving American ships and its men. A group of Marines would help turn the tide in this First Barabry War which would be an enormous boost of morale for our nation as well as the Navy and other parts of the military. I put this part in here now, because a lot of this same type of shit is going on, again, today. One day ago I was going over historical events on February 23, mainly for fun, and over a day and a half later I learned a lot. I don't want this to get into a political rant about what America should or should not do, but I do believe that with the help of our Founding Father's, and even others like Steuben, helped shape and win America, gain our Independence and make the U.S. the great nation it should be.

I have always found history interesting, in particular that of our United States. Growing up, and even later than I would like to admit, I thought that during the signing of the Declaration of Independence George Washington either was, or soon became President of the U.S. When actually Washington became President in 1789, 13 years after the signing of the Declaration and a year after the U.S. Constitution was adopted into government. It amazes me how young we are as a nation. I just hope that we are a smart one as well. Hope you enjoyed todays lesson, lol.

P.S. No not all of this came from Wikipedia, I searched many other places like History.com, as well as two books of reference. I know not everything may not be 100% accurate, which in part is why my dates were years instead of specific dates, and left out, of course many, many events over the time before, during, and after the war.


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