Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving and the Revolutionary War

A public day of thanksgiving was not always limited to the fourth Thursday in November, and not always related just to the Pilgrims.  Following the victory of the American forces over the British at Saratoga, the American commander in chief, George Washington, issued an order on December 17, 1777, setting aside the next day for solemnity (original spellings left intact):

"To morrow being the day set apart by the Honorable Congress for public Thanksgiving and Praise; and duty calling us devoutely to express our grateful acknowledgements to God for the manifold blessings he has granted us. The General directs that the army remain in it's present quarters, and that the Chaplains perform divine service with their several Corps and brigades. And earnestly exhorts, all officers and soldiers, whose absence is not indispensibly necessary, to attend with reverence the solemnities of the day."

Prior blog posts on the battles at Freeman's Farm and Bemis Heights are here and here.  Here is a view of the American river fortifications.

Washington, in his order, noted that "Altho' in some instances we unfortunately failed, yet upon the whole Heaven hath smiled on our Arms and crowned them with signal success; and we may upon the best grounds conclude, that by a spirited continuance of the measures necessary for our defence we shall finally obtain the end of our Warfare, Independence, Liberty and Peace."

An alternative set of thoughts, and a trip back in time, for this most American of holidays.

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