Tampa Chapter

Sons of the American Revolution

October 2020

 

Contents

          Meeting announcement

          Dues are Due

          Revolution History note

          Program Schedule

          Color Guard Activity

SAR and events update          

          Misc. reminders and information

 

Meeting Announcement

It is hoped that everyone is healthy, safe, and coping with the current situation as best as they can.  We will have a virtual meeting on Saturday, Oct 17 at noon our usual day and time.  President Dave Bryant will send out a zoom link to everyone prior to the 17th so you can log on and participate.  We had a good experience with the Zoom meeting in September and we look forward to seeing more of you this Saturday.

 

Dues are Due

Dues for 2021 are coming due.  Dues are $80 as they have been for the past few years.  Of that $35 goes to National, $20 to Florida SAR and $25 stays in Tampa.  Send your

check or money order to Paul Ergler, Treasurer

                                      503 Surrey Lane

                                      Lutz, FL  33549

Paul says he can take PayPal, too, but you will need to contact him for that one at paulergler@hotmail.com. 

 

American Revolution Notes:

The Battle of the Capes

Naval action at the mouth of the Chesapeake.

 

          In August 1781, French Admiral de Grasse made the decision to take his fleet north from the Caribbean and make for the Chesapeake.  This decision prompted Washington to finalize his plans to move his army south to trap Cornwallis at Yorktown.

          When Admiral Rodney, commander of the British fleet in the Caribbean learned that De Grasse had sailed north, he dispatched 14 ships under the command of Admiral Hood to follow De Grasse and intercept him.

          Rodney took a more direct line to the Chesapeake and, as a result, arrived there before the French fleet.  Hood became concerned De Grasse might have headed for New York instead, and hurried north.  When he arrived, there were no French ships. He reported to Admiral Graves the over-all commander of the North American Fleet, that DeGrasse’s fleet was in American waters.  The British also learned that a smaller French fleet of 8 ships had sailed from Newport, Rhode Island heading south.  Graves and Hood combined their two fleets and headed south.

          Graves arrived at the mouth of the bay around 9am on Sept 5, 1781. De Grasse, meanwhile, had arrived at the Chesapeake and was unloading supplies and men.  He was unaware of the presence of the British fleet.  Likewise, Graves did not know the French had arrived.   They both, almost simultaneously, learned of the presence of the other. Several historians have noted that this element of surprise seemed to have confused both admirals.

          De Grasse quickly decided he needed to head out into open waters to do battle. However, this meant that several of his ships were undermanned due to the unloading that had been going on.  He ordered his fleet to proceed in line out of the bay.

                                         

         

This presented Graves and the British a golden opportunity to hit the French ships individually as they exited the bay. Instead, Graves ordered his fleet to wait until the French got properly lined up before attacking.  As they were doing that, he moved his most aggressive admiral, Hood, with his ships to the end of the line.  The result being that the squadron under command of Admiral Drake would do most of the fighting.  Once all were in position, Graves then gave two contradictory orders. One was line ahead, meaning the ships would proceed in a straight line and as the distance closed between the two fleets engage.  The other, close combat meant that ships were to turn and attack the enemy ship opposite them. 

          As the leading elements of both fleets closed on each other, the battle commenced.  Drake’s ships closed with enemy thus limiting their firepower to bow guns.  The French, meanwhile, due to the wind direction were able to open their bottom cannon ports.  French naval tactical doctrine was to shoot for the masts to disable the ships at first, rather than shoot for the water line.  This they did and damaged the ability to maneuver of several British ships.

          As the leading ships blazed away at each other, they become separated from the center and rear squadrons.  The French center hastened to close the gap.  Because Hood interpreted that the line ahead order superseded the close combat order, he did not engage. Because of this, the French center and rear were able to close the gap unmolested and assist the leading elements of the fleet.

          The center elements of both fleets did become engaged eventually to a minimal degree.  As the sun began to set DeGrasse ordered his leading ships to break away to allow the center of his line to take over the battle.  As they disengaged, the British did not follow and with the setting of the sun, the battle ended.

          Both sides did a damage assessment that night.  The British had suffered more damage and more casualties than the French.  While no definitive record exists, it is believed that Hood suggested to Graves that the British turn around and head back to the Chesapeake. Graves did not agree. It is further suggested that the two exchanged harsh words over the confused orders that kept Hood from engaging.

 Both fleets drifted south and east during the night.  At daybreak, Graves did not attack.  After two more days of drifting with no action, DeGrasse turned the French fleet back to the Chesapeake and Graves headed north back to New York.

This closed the trap around Cornwallis. It was now just a matter of time until the siege expertise of the French engineers and the combined artillery of the American and French armies forced Cornwallis to surrender.

When compared to other naval battles of the era (Trafalgar for example), the battle was short, about 90 minutes, and casualties and damage (by comparison) light.  However, in terms of significance, it looms large. It forced the surrender of Cornwallis and forced the British to the negotiating table, which won the independence of the thirteen colonies in North America.

The 239th anniversary of America’s decisive Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown will be celebrated on Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18, with a variety of events and activities at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Yorktown Battlefield and through-out Historic Yorktown.  The usual parade has been canceled for this year. 

 

Program schedule

Since we are unsure when we will actually have our next in person meeting, hopefully in November, there are no program particulars other than at one of our in person meetings, Compatriot Charles Krug will give a presentation on the port.

For your planning purposes, the dates for the fall are below.

 

Oct. 17

Nov. 21

Dec. 19 

Color Guard Activity

Most opportunities for Color Guard participation are being cancelled due to COVID-19.  At the Florida SAR Fall BOM, President David Bryant (see below) and Tampa Color Guard Commander Dick Young participated with the Florida Color Guard to Present the Colors at the opening of the BOM Banquet. 

    

 

On October 10, your Color Guard Commander Dick Young (see above) and his granddaughter, Luisa Mae Nicholson, participated virtually in the Point Pleasant Battle Memorial, representing both the Tampa SAR and the Fort Brooke Society of C.A.R.  This Memorial commemorated the October 10, 1774 Indian raid/battle with the local militia at Point Pleasant, Virginia (now part of West Virginia).  Some historians consider this to be the first battle of the Revolution as it is believed the British incited the Indians to attack.

 

We have been advised that the American Legion Post #5 will be holding some kind of Wreaths Across America ceremony on December 19 and our Color Guard has been invited to participate in some way.  COVID-19 cautions will be observed.  We will figure out how we will participate as we get closer to the event.  Mark the date and plan to be there. 

 

Other important dates

October 7, 1778      King's Mountain, SC: battle lasts 65 minutes. American troops led by Isaac        Shelby and John Sevier defeat Major Patrick Ferguson and one third of   General Cornwallis's army

October 11, 1776    Benedict Arnold defeated at the Battle of Valcour Island (Lake Champlain),

                                but delayed British advance

October 17, 1777     Burgoyne surrenders to American General Gates at Saratoga, NY

October 19, 1781    Cornwallis surrounded on land and sea by Americans and French and     surrenders at Yorktown, VA

November 11             Veterans Day

December 19            Wreaths Across America

 

 

SAR Events

The Fall Board of Management meeting of the Florida SAR was held in Kissimmee on October 2-3.  Your Chapter President David Bryant and past Presidents John Goolsby and Dick Young attended the BOM.  This meeting was help in-person with virtual participation for those who could not make it to Kissimmee.  Several national officers attended virtually. 

 

Various National SAR meetings continue to be held virtually.  At the September National Trustees meeting, the SAR adopted a new logo.  The new image cannot be used yet as they still must complete the process of protecting it through Trademark and Copyright protections.

The 2021 Congress is scheduled to be held in-person in Renton, Washington (Seattle) on July 8 – 14.  Information is available on the SAR website.  The 2022 Congress will in Savanah, Georgia.  The 2023 Congress will be held in Orlando.  Plans are being made and volunteers will be needed. 

 

Miscellaneous Reminders

The new face book page for the Tampa Sons of the American Revolution is

Tampa Sar. The password to add anything is American1776.  Please feel free to upload pictures or comments. Invite all your friends to take a look.

 

Chapter Website—remember you can find information about the chapter and programs on the chapter website.   http://www.tampasar.org/

 

One of the duties of the Chapter Chaplain is to send cards to our members that are sick. Another is to send a sympathy card to the family of a member who has passed away. If you know of anyone that should be the recipient of these cards please mention it to Chaplain Sessums or one of the other officers at our next meeting.

 

Chapter officers and committee chairman are encouraged to send any pertinent information they wish included in the newsletter to the editor.