Wednesday, July 06, 2005

FMNNClip: Mourn on the Fourth of July, 2005


[T]he Battle of Fort San Carlos is considered the only Revolutionary War engagement fought west of the Mississippi. 1200 British, Canadian and native American troops of various tribes attacked the Spanish garrison and were repelled by 29 Spanish regulars and 281 militiamen under the command of Lieutenant-Governor Fernando de Leyba who, gravely ill, directed his forces from a litter.

The battle was not especially remarkable for its size, but it was of immeasurable importance to the future of America. Had the attack succeeded, the Mississippi Valley would have been laid open to British conquest all the way south to New Orleans ... and the Louisiana Purchase would likely never have happened. America as we know it would have stopped on the eastern bank of the Mississippi.

Across the river, Clark's 400 Virginians repelled a simultaneous British attack on Cahokia.

This was the norm west of the 13 colonies: Small forces of determined men beating incredible odds, sometimes in cooperation with unlikely allies.

What they got for their sacrifice was not material reward: Clark died bankrupt, having signed bills of credit to provision his troops ... bills which were never honored by the Virginia legislature. He cleared half a continent of British arms, and the legislature showed its gratitude with a ceremonial sword -- a second-hand one.

Click here for the whole thing.

Some after-notes:

- The weather cleared up, and we went to the top of the building where Tamara works to watch St. Louis's fireworks display. Very nice.

- Those who are interested in the story of George Rogers Clark -- or in the Revolutionary period in general -- will greatly enjoy the novel The Long Knife by James Alexander Thom. It's a wonderfully told, lightly fictionalized account of Clark's campaigns.

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