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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Battle of Monmouth Anniversary

Today, June 28, 2014, marks the 236th anniversary of the Battle of Monmouth, in New Jersey.  I have noted Monmouth in a couple of prior posts.  Today we look at the spot, marked by this sign, on Perrine Hill where General George Washington rallied and reformed Continental forces in view of General Charles Lee's retreat.

General Henry Clinton was moving the British forces from Philadelphia to Sandy Point to depart for New York.  Washington paralleled his movements to the north across New Jersey, and sought what he hoped would be a dispositive encounter with Clinton.  They came together at Monmouth.  A long battle, it resulted in the Americans retaining the field and Clinton continuing his withdrawal--in short, a draw, though often hailed as an American victory.

Putting all that aside, this is my favorite spot on the battlefield, because we are standing in the place where Washington took charge and regained control of the troop.  We can see him on his horse moving back and forth here, and we can see what he saw as he looked out over the battlefield.  It is one of those places that remains close to how it was then, and transports us across time to see and feel (and, on a hot day like today, especially) gain a sense of place.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Place, Things and Gaspee Point

I have focused often in this blog on the tangible pull of place, and the emotions and associations we make when physically standing on the site of an historic event.  Sometimes it is an artifact in a removed location that can have a comparable, if not the same, effect.

The Tribune Building in Chicago is a well-recognized Gothic structure.  At ground level, the building integrates stones, bricks and other components of famous sites.  On a recent visit, I noticed this:

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island was the site of an attack on a British customs ship on June 10, 1772 as it was seeking to enforce the unpopular British customs laws with regard to the packet boat Hannah.  After the Gaspee ran aground.  The Gaspee's captain, Lieutenant William Dudingston, was wounded and captured.  For William R. Staples' 1845 account titled Documentary History of the Destruction of the Gaspee, click here.

So while it is not the same as standing on the bank of Narragansett Bay and imagining the scene unfolding, nonetheless, the observant Chicagoan passing by can touch this rock and have a "one step removed" experience from this critical event that became part of the mosaic of the Revolutionary War.