Saturday, May 14, 2011
Tom was a very gracious host, taking us for a walk through his 250-year old red barn where some very friendly cats begged to be petted. He showed us the edge of the valley where the British under General Howe pursued Generals Sullivan, Stephen and Stirling, culminating in the bloody engagement in and around the nearby Birmingham Meeting House. The largest land battle in North America up until the Civil War raged late in the day as the Colonials were overwhelmed in intense fighting around the hillsides. Lafayette was wounded in the left leg nearby at Sandy Hollow and taken off the field. Casimir Pulaski gave support with his forces on horseback, becoming the Father of the U.S. Cavalry in this battle. By early evening on September 11th, Washington realized he'd been flanked and retreated to Chester, Pa. His quick and orderly retreat, saving his army from a potentially disastrous ending became his hallmark- a general who knew "when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em", surviving to fight another day.
With few supplies and a Continental Congress which was tardy at best in making appropriations, Lafayette came at the right time. As we hiked up the shady, tree-covered hill where he and the troops dodged musket balls and walked out into the bright sunlight, I could feel his presence... standing there late in the day, encouraging the troops to resist the attack as the battlefield changed hands five times. No marker stands where he was wounded- but as a light breeze blew the wildflowers in their early Spring repose, I heard his voice... and could sense his spirit... His heroism and monetary support- along with his undying loyalty to General George Washington- helped secure our independence, earning him the title "Founding Son" of the American Revolution.