J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

“I am come to demand the author of the piece you printed”

Yesterday I described how the 18 Jan 1768 Boston Gazette published a critique of John Mein and John Fleeming’s Boston Chronicle that insinuated they were “Jacobite” traitors to the British Empire.

As a Scotsman, Mein was sensitive to that charge of disloyalty, so he went to speak to the printers of the Gazette, Benjamin Edes and John Gill.

Edes later published a detailed account of their discussion (which I’ve broken up into shorter paragraphs for easier reading):
In consequence of a piece signed Americus, published in the last Monday’s Gazette, Mr. Mein came to our office between 4 and 5 o’clock the same afternoon, and there being a number of persons present, he desired to be spoke with in private, accordingly I withdrew with him to another room—when he said, I suppose you know what I am come about.

I told him I did not.

Well then, said he, I am come to demand the author of the piece you printed against me; and if you will not tell me who he is, I shall look upon you as the author, and the affair shall be decided in three minutes.

In reply to which I said, Mr. Mein, above all persons in the world, I should not have thought a Printer would have ask’d such an impertinent, improper question; and told him that we never divulg’d authors; but if he would call on the morrow between 9 and 10 o’clock, being then very busy, I would let him know whether I would tell the author or not,—and added,—if we have transgress’d the law, it is open, and there he might seek satisfaction.

He said he should not concern himself with the law, nor enter into any dispute; but if I did not tell the author, he should look upon us as the authors, and repeated it, the affair should be settled in three minutes.

I then ask’d him, if what he said with regard to settling the affair in three minutes, was meant as a challenge or threat? which he declin’d answering, but said he would call at the time appointed, and then departed.
Already newspaper printers believed that they had the right not to divulge their sources—at this time, the sources of the articles they printed because they didn’t really do their own reporting. Mein, who hadn’t been in the newspaper business for long, viewed his dispute with “Americus” as personal.

We return to Edes’s story with what happened 250 years ago today:
Accordingly the next morning, I was at the office precisely at 9 o’clock, where I found Mr. Mein, who immediately after my entrance, and saying your servant, ask’d whether I would tell him the author of the above piece or no.

I told him I would not.

He then said he should look upon me and Mr. Gill as the authors.

I told him he might and welcome. I then ask’d him what he meant by saying the last night he would settle the affair in three minutes, whether as a challenge or threat?

He answered, if I would take my hat, and take a walk with him to the southward, he would let me know.

I told him I was not to be at every fellow’s beck, and did not regard him.

He then said, I shall look upon you as the author.

I reply’d, you may.

Your servant, and your servant.
On the one hand, the genteel civility of all those “Your servants.” On the other hand, two boys on the playground, taunting, “Oh, yeah?” “Yeah!” “Oh, yeah?” “Yeah!”

TOMORROW: Someone gets hurt—and it’s not Mein or Edes.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

“The most infamous and reproachful Invectives”

Talking about “The Liberty Song” and its parodies, all from the second half of 1768, gets us a little ahead of the Sestercentennial. Here’s what happened in Boston 250 years ago today.

Back on 21 Dec 1767, John Mein and John Fleeming had launched the Boston Chronicle, the town’s first new newspaper in years. Relatively recent arrivals from Scotland, those men promised to publish more material from Britain than competitors.

Their first issue also promised to be unbiased, but it included a snide remark about the Earl of Chatham, calling the former William Pitt “a miserable monument of wrecked ambition.” Pitt was a great hero to American Whigs, who weren’t aware of how his inaction was frustrating his colleagues in London. Almost a month later, the 18 January Boston Gazette carried a response signed “Americus”:
When I read the Proposals, for publishing the Boston Chronicle, I tho’t on the Plan with Satisfaction, hoping thereby much good would accrue to America in general, and to this province in particular; with Pleasure I also noted the judicious Advice given Messi’rs Mein and Fleeming by their Friends of Taste. . . .

But to the Surprize of many, how are they fallen off from their own Purposes, and the excellent Caution of their Benefactors—Instead of giving impartial Accounts concerning Affairs at Home, and the unhappy Disputes lately arisen between the greatest Men of the Nation; they have made Choice of, or printed under Guise of being taken from the London Papers, the most infamous and reproachful Invectives, that ever was invented against the worst of Traitors to their King and Country, and who are these that are thus censur’d? Why, men held in the highest esteem and veneration in the British Parliament. Patriots and Friends and Deliverers of America from Oppression. He who nobly vindicated her Cause, almost against the whole Senate, who cast behind him all Lucre of Gain, when it came in Competition with the Good of his Country, and sacrific’d his Family-Connections and Interest to the publick Welfare. He that through real Infirmities hardly stood, (not to cover his politic Schemes and Ambition as his Enemies would insinuate) but stood though tottering, and in the Cause of Liberty made that heroic Speech before the august House of Commons, in Opposition to the Stamp-Act, sufficient to eternize his Fame, and ought to be written in Letters of Gold to perpetuate his Memory.

Could the Sons of America be ingrateful, or countenance the greatest Falsities, rais’d only to prejudice their best Friends and Benefactors—God forbid! Let that Dishonor stain with the blackest Infamy the Jacobite Party—And though Invectives should be daily thrown out,  let us keep our Integrity to the Confusion of our Enemies; who, for a long Time have exerted their Power to shake the Props of our Constitution, and bring a free people into Bondage, thereby to satisfy their more than common Avarice, &c.
Those were fighting words! Well, one word in particular:
Jacobite
The Jacobites supported the Stuart claimants to the British throne rather than the Hanover line. The incursion of Bonnie Prince Charlie (shown above) in 1745 showed that the Stuarts’ strongest support was in Scotland. And Mein and Fleeming were from Scotland.

In sum, “Americus” was insinuating that the Boston Chronicle printers were disloyal to the British government because of their ethnicity.

TOMORROW: Mein couldn’t let that go.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Parody, and the Parody Parodized

“The Liberty Song” by John Dickinson and Arthur Lee (to music by William Boyce) became so popular in Boston after July 1768 that by the end of September two parodies were circulating.

That was already a busy summer. In June the Customs service seized John Hancock’s ship Liberty for alleged smuggling. In response, a waterfront crowd rioted, driving most high Customs officials to take shelter at Castle William.

Then came news that the London government had ordered troops into Boston. That decision had been made before the Liberty riot, but the violence made it a lot harder for locals to argue the Crown was overreacting. Nevertheless, the Boston Whigs invited all the other towns in Massachusetts to send delegates to an extralegal Convention of Towns to discuss how to respond.

Above a report that ninety towns were sending men to the Convention and an advertisement for Paul Revere’s dental services, the 26 September Boston Gazette broke this story:
Last Tuesday the following SONG made its Appearance from a Garret at C–st–e W——m.

Come shake your dull Noddles, ye Pumpkins and bawl,
And own that you’re mad at fair Liberty’s Call,
No scandalous Conduct can add to your Shame.
Condemn’d to Dishonor, Inherit the Fame——

[Chorus:]
In Folly you’re born, and in Folly you’ll live,
To Madness still ready,
And Stupidly steady,
Not as Men, but as Monkies, the Tokens you give.
And so on. This wasn’t labeled as a parody of “The Liberty Song,” but everybody could see that it was. A later verse hit an even more sensitive spot by warning, “Then plunder, my Lads, for when Red-Coats appear, / You’ll melt like the Locust when Winter is near…”

Ordinarily Edes and Gill would be the last printers in Boston to give space to such an attack on the Whigs. But in this case, they were riling up their base. Tying the poem to Castle William pointed to the Crown officials living there.

And word spread. On the Sunday night before that issue of the Gazette came out, an Admiralty Court official appeared at the print shop with a message:
Having been told that you intended to publish a Song in your News Paper, called a Parody on the Song of Liberty, under my name, as the Author of it, I think proper to forewarn you from publishing such a falsity, or any other thing under my name, without my authority; and if you persist in doing it in this, or any other instance, it shall be at your peril.

I am,
Your humble Serv’t.
Hen. Hulton.
Customs Commissioner Henry Hulton did write poetry, but he never took credit for those verses. Of course Edes and Gill declared they had never intended to print Hulton’s name.

A week later, the Boston Gazette had another set of verses to share, in a sort of back-and-forth rap battle between versifiers of opposing politics:
The following was publish’d in a Hand-Bill last Week.

The Parody parodized,
Or the MASSACHUSETTS Song of LIBERTY.

Come swallow your Bumpers, ye Tories! and roar,
That the Sons of fair FREEDOM are hamper’d once more;
But know that no Cut-throats our Spirits can tame,
Nor a Host of Oppressors shall smother the flame.

[Chorus:]
In Freedom we’re born, and like SONS of the brave,
Will never surrender,
But swear to defend her,
And scorn to survive, if unable to save.
And so on. That song went on to express confidence that George III was on the side of his American subjects: “When oppress’d and reproach’d, our KING we implore, / Still firmly perswaded, our RIGHTS he’ll restore…” American Whigs were still a long way from breaking with the king.

In August 1769 Boston’s Sons of Liberty banqueted in Dorchester. John Adams wrote that the entertainment included both “Liberty Songs”—“that by the Farmer [Dickinson], and that by Dr. Church, and the whole Company joined in the Chorus. This is cultivating the Sensations of Freedom.” Dr. Benjamin Church thus gets credit for the “Massachusetts Song of Liberty.”

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

John Dickinson’s “Song, to the Tune of Heart of Oak”

On 4 July 1768, John Dickinson, already a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress and the author of Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, wrote to James Otis, Jr., from Philadelphia:
I inclose you a song for American freedom. I have long since renounced poetry. But as indifferent songs are frequently very powerful on certain occasions, I venture to invoke the deserted muses. I hope that my good intentions will procure pardon with those I wish to please, for the boldness of my numbers.

My worthy friend, Dr. Arthur Lee, a gentleman of distinguished family, abilities and patriotism, in Virginia, composed eight lines of it.

Cardinal de Retz always inforced his political operations by songs. I wish our attempt may be useful. I shall be glad to hear from you, if you have a moment’s leisure to scribble a line to, dear sir, your most affectionate, most obedient servant…
For all of Dickinson’s diffidence about those lyrics, he had also sent copies to the printers of three Philadelphia newspapers, asking each to “insert the following in your next.”

“A Song, to the Tune of Heart of Oak &c.” duly appeared in the Philadelphia papers over the initial “D.” It began:
COME, join Hand in Hand, brave AMERICANS all,
And rouse your bold Hearts at fair LIBERTY’s Call;
No tyrannous Acts shall suppress your just Claim,
Or stain with Dishonour AMERICA’s Name.

[Chorus:]
In FREEDOM we’re BORN, and in FREEDOM we’ll LIVE,
Our Purses are ready,
Steady, Friends, steady,
Not as SLAVES, but as FREEMEN our Money we’ll give.

Our worthy Forefathers---let’s give them a Cheer---
To Climates unknown did courageously steer;
Thro’ Oceans to Desarts for Freedom they came,
And dying bequeath’d us their Freedom and Fame---
(The Pennsylvania Gazette rendered that last word as “Name.”)

Two days after sending his lines to Otis, Dickinson had second thoughts. He wrote again:
I enclosed you the other day a copy of a song composed in great haste. I think it was rather too bold. I now send a corrected copy which I like better. If you think the bagatelle worth publishing, I beg it may be this copy. If the first is published before this is come to hand, I shall be much obliged to you if you will be so good as to publish this with some little note, “that this is the true copy of the original.”

In this copy I think it may be well enough to add between the fourth and fifth stanzas these lines:
How sweet are the labors that freemen endure,
That they shall enjoy all the profit, secure—
No more such sweet labors Americans know,
If Britons shall reap what Americans sow.
In freedom we’re born, &c.
I am, dear sir, with the utmost sincerity, your most affectionate and most humble servant,…
Dickinson got that new verse into the Pennsylvania Chronicle publication of the song on 11 July. It went before one complaining about “Swarms and Placemen and Pensioners,” which he footnoted with the explanation, “The Ministry have already begun to give away in PENSIONS, the money they lately took out of our pockets, WITHOUT OUR CONSENT.” I think the Townshend Act actually provided salaries for royal appointees, not pensions, but Dickinson wanted to highlight the issue of taxation without representation and royal pensions already had a bad name.

The Boston Gazette published the original form of Dickinson’s lyrics on 18 July. Evidently his second letter didn’t arrive in time for Edes and Gill to insert the new verse. The Boston Evening-Post published the same version in August.

As Todd Andrlik traced, the Philadelphia and Boston publications were just the start. Dickinson’s verses, soon titled “The Liberty Song,” appeared in several more newspapers all over the American colonies.

TOMORROW: Dueling parodies.

Monday, January 15, 2018

“Hearts of oak are we still”

In 1759 the British Empire enjoyed a string of military victories, including the Royal Navy’s triumph over the French in the Battle of Quiberon Bay.

At the end of that year the theatrical star and empresario David Garrick celebrated those wins in a new show titled Harlequin’s Invasion: A Christmas Gambol. The play featured a bunch of British clowns, some outrageous French stereotypes, and the pantomime hero Harlequin speaking for the first time.

In the story, Harlequin tries to get into Parnassus but doesn’t come up to the standard of Garrick’s hero, Shakespeare. A handwritten script is in the collection of the Boston Public Library.

Among the play’s new songs was one that Garrick composed with William Boyce (1710-1779, shown above), sometimes referred to as Dr. Boyce since he received an honorary doctorate in music from Cambridge in 1749. That song was known as either “Come, Cheer Up, My Lads” for its first line or “Heart of Oak” for its chorus.

It begins:
Come, cheer up, my lads, ’tis to glory we steer,
To add something more to this wonderful year;
To honour we call you, as freemen not slaves,
For who are so free as the sons of the waves?

Chorus:
Heart of Oak are our ships,
Jolly Tars are our men,
We always are ready: Steady, boys, Steady!
We’ll fight and we’ll conquer again and again.
As “Heart of Oak” this tune eventually became the anthem of the Royal Navy. It was soon published in Britain’s American colonies and became a popular patriotic singalong.

On 3 April 1766 those colonies were celebrating the repeal of the Stamp Act and a new ministry in London. The Pennsylvania Journal published new lyrics to “Heart of Oak” supplied by “S.P.R.” They began:
Sure never was picture drawn more to the life
Or affectionate husband more fond of his wife,
Than AMERICA copies and loves BRITAINS sons,
Who, conscious of freedom, are bold as great guns.

Chorus:
Hearts of oak are we still,
for we’re sons of those men,
Who always are ready, steady, boys, steady,
To fight for their FREEDOM again and again.

Tho’ we feast and grow fat on America’s soil,
Yet we own ourselves subjects of Britain’s fair isle.
And who’s so absurd to deny us the name?
Since true British blood flows in ev’ry vein.
“S.P.R.” asked “the Sons of Liberty in the several American provinces to sing it with all the spirit of patriotism.” The lyrics were reprinted as far north as Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and as far south as Williamsburg, Virginia.

TOMORROW: The more famous American rewrite of “Heart of Oak.”

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Kitchen for James Hemings

Yet another story of a recent rediscovery comes from Monticello, where archeologists dug under a part of Thomas Jefferson’s estate where bathrooms had been built for visitors during the Bicentennial.

Megan Gannon of Live Science reports on the deep history of what they found:
And, finally, underneath the dirt, the team found the original brick floor of the kitchen where enslaved cooks working in the cellar would have made food to be delivered to the Jeffersons in the top story. The remains of a fireplace and the foundations of four stew stoves were also intact. . . .

Those four foundational compartments of the stew stoves would have been the clean-out, where the ash would have fallen. The actual stoves would have been about waist-high, Ptacek said. Each stove would have had a small hole for hot coals from the fireplace. An iron trivet would have gone above the coals to hold pans. Stew stoves were essential for making dishes that required slow heating and multiple pans. The setup was the equivalent of a modern stovetop, but it was uncommon in North America at the time because it required special training to use.

Stew stoves first became popular in 17th-century France, Neiman said. Previously, during the Renaissance, the cuisine of the rich in Europe involved heavy use of spices imported from far-flung parts of the world. But that changed when spice prices plummeted after European powers took control of resources and trade routes during colonial expansion across the Atlantic and into Asia.

“All the sudden, highly spiced foods are no longer the way you signal you’re wealthy,” Neiman said.

The new type of cuisine perfected by French aristocrats as a form of status competition was extremely labor intensive. Their “sumptuous multicourse meals,” Neiman, said, involved fresh veggies, fresh meats and slowly heated sauces based on cream, butter and eggs, without a lot of spice so that the natural flavors of the food could shine through.

Jefferson had an affinity for French cooking, and he likely first encountered stew stoves during his education at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was a frequent guest at the colonial governor’s palace in Williamsburg, which was one of the few places to have stew stoves at the time.

But Jefferson must have become much more familiar with this style of cooking when he served as the U.S. minister to France from 1784 to 1789. As soon as Jefferson took this diplomatic position, he wrote to his future secretary that he wanted to take then-19-year-old [James] Hemings to France “for a particular purpose,” which turned out to be having him trained in the art of French cooking. The archaeologists at Monticello think the stew stoves were likely part of a kitchen upgrade Jefferson made when he returned from Paris.
Jefferson liked Hemings’s cooking so much that he took the younger man to Philadelphia when he started to work in the federal government, and even to New England when he and James Madison went on a sightseeing and party-building tour.

In 1793 Jefferson and Hemings made an unusual deal: the cook would keep working at Monticello until he had trained his younger brother in that kitchen, and then become free. Peter Hemings in turn was the Monticello chef from 1796 to 1809 before becoming the estate’s brewer after President Jefferson brought Edith Fossett home from Washington, D.C. to those stew stoves.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Alexander Hamilton’s Love Letter Revealed!

Julie Miller of the Library of Congress recently wrote at Medium about the effort to read crossed-out lines in one of its Alexander Hamilton letters.

This is a 6 Sept 1780 letter from Hamilton to his fiancée Elizabeth Schuyler (“Betsey” in real life, “Eliza” in the musical), two months before they married. Most of the letter is about the American loss at the Battle of Camden (Gen. Horatio Gates “seems to know very little what has become of his army”). That material was first published in John Church Hamilton’s 1850 edition of his father’s writings.

In the twentieth-century edition of Hamilton’s papers, which make up part of Founders Online, editor Harold C. Syrett added a new detail about that document: fourteen lines of the first paragraph had been heavily crossed out and illegible.

Miller tells the next stage of the story:
When the Library of Congress recently digitized the Alexander Hamilton Papers, that letter, unedited, with its 14 obliterated lines, became visible to all for the first time. However, the lines were still unreadable.

To find out what lay beneath the scratchings-out, Fenella France, chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division, and preservation staff Meghan Wilson and Chris Bolser used hyperspectral imaging. A noninvasive analysis that employs light at different wavelengths to capture information not visible to the eye, hyperspectral imaging can determine the composition of inks and pigments, track changes in documents over time and reveal faded, erased or covered writing.
The article shows that process and what Library of Congress scholars now believe those crossed-out lines say. Most likely John C. Hamilton deleted them himself out of familial and Victorian embarrassment at his father writing to his mother about the couple anticipating “the unrestrained intercourses of wedded love.”

As Miller points out, that’s far from the biggest deletion from Alexander Hamilton’s correspondence. All the letters that Elizabeth Hamilton wrote to her fiancé and husband are gone, most likely destroyed by her own choice.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Saved by the Potato

Last year I got out of my comfort zone and looked into the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s for a public-history project. So I was primed when I saw a mention of this paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

It’s titled “The Long-run Effects of Agricultural Productivity on Conflict, 1400-1900,” and is written by Murat Iyigun of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Nathan Nunn of Harvard, Nancy Qian of the Kellogg School of Management.

The abstract says:
We construct a newly digitized and geo-referenced dataset of battles in Europe, the Near East and North Africa covering the period between 1400 and 1900 CE. For variation in permanent improvements in agricultural productivity, we exploit the introduction of potatoes from the Americas to the Old World after the Columbian Exchange. We find that the introduction of potatoes permanently reduced conflict for roughly two centuries. The results are driven by a reduction in civil conflicts.
In bold strokes, the potato staved off a lot of wars.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

“I will come and help you a second time.”

Yesterday I shared a story that the Continental Army veteran Jacob Francis told about Gen. Israel Putnam helping to build a fortification on Lechmere’s Point during the siege of Boston.

It’s a terrific story—compact, offering insight into Putnam’s character, and providing a neat little moral. Francis told that tale to the government in 1832 as he applied for a pension from his home in Flemington, New Jersey.

Seven years later, on 22 Oct 1839, the North American published in Philadelphia printed this story:
THE CORPORAL.—During the American revolution, an officer not habited in the military costume, was passing by where a small company of soldiers were at work, making some repairs upon a small redoubt.

The commander of the little squad was giving orders to those who were under him, relative to a stick of timber, which they were endeavouring to raise to the top of the works. The timber went up hard, and on this account the voice of the little great man was often heard in his regular vociferations of “Heave away! There she goes! Heave ho!” etc. The officer before spoken of stopped his horse when arrived at the place, and seeing the timber sometimes scarcely move, asked the commander why he did not take hold and render a little aid.

The latter appeared to be somewhat astonished, turning to the officer with the pomp of an Emperor, said, “Sir, I am a corporal![”]

‘You are not though, are you?’ said the officer; ‘I was not aware of it.’ And taking off his hat and bowing, ‘I ask your pardon, Mr. corporal.” Upon this he dismounted his elegant steed, flung the bridle over the post, and lifted till the sweat stood in drops on his forehead.

When the timber was elevated to its proper station, turning to the man clothed in brief authority, “Mr. Corporal,” said he, “when you have another such job, and have not men enough, send to your Commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you a second time.”

The corporal was thunderstruck! It was Washington.
The same story appeared in the Norwich Courier up in Connecticut the next day, which makes me think both those newspapers had picked it up from a common source without credit, as printers often did. But the North American is the earliest appearance I’ve found.

Many other newspapers reprinted the same story in the following months. It appeared in the Rural Repository magazine in 1850 and continued to pop up in publications through the end of the century. At some point an artist illustrated it, as shown above. I just found a few examples of blogs retelling the same tale and deriving valuable lessons about life from it.

Now this is obviously the same story that Jacob Francis had told in 1832, except the general is Washington instead of Putnam. Other details have changed, and the specified place and time have disappeared entirely. But the lines “Sir, I am a corporal!” and “I beg/ask your pardon, sir” appear in both Francis’s anecdote and in the newspapers, so the stories definitely seem to be related.

Given Gen. Washington’s emphasis on hierarchy, discipline, and military appearances, the anecdote doesn’t seem authentic to him at all. But it does fit what else we know about Gen. Putnam.

Jacob Francis told that tale as part of proving to the government that he really did serve under Putnam. It was therefore framed as a memorable anecdote revealing that general’s personality. I don’t think Francis would have made it up or adopted some anecdote that was floating around because the account of his military service he swore to had to be convincing or he wouldn’t get a pension. Francis’s tale went into a file in Washington, D.C., and wasn’t published until 1980.

Meanwhile, it appears that someone heard Francis’s story—perhaps while he was applying for the pension, perhaps at a Revolutionary War commemoration, perhaps while he was just telling stories. And that person recast it with a more famous general, restructured it to have a twist ending, and reinforced the moral to remove all subtlety.

In doing so, that storyteller not only replaced Putnam but also erased Pvt. Jacob Francis. (No African-Americans in the picture above, are there?) But now, with the publication of Francis’s pension application in John Dann’s The Revolution Remembered, his story is circulating as well.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Putnam and the Pretty Large Stone

In 1832, Jacob Francis told a story that’s been retold in many places since John C. Dann published Francis’s pension application in The Revolution Remembered.

The story isn’t about Francis. It’s about Israel Putnam during the siege of Boston:

I recollect General Putnam more particularly from a circumstance that occurred when the troops were engaged in throwing up a breastwork at Lechmere Point across the river, opposite Boston, between that and Cambridge.

The men were at work digging, about five hundred men on the fatigue at once. I was at work among them. They were divided into small bands of eight or ten together and a noncommissioned officer to oversee them.

General Putnam came riding along in uniform as an officer to look at the work. They had dug up a pretty large stone which lay on the side of the ditch. The general spoke to the corporal who was standing looking at the men at work and said to him, “My lad, throw that stone up on the middle of the breastwork.”

The corporal, touching his hat with his hand, said to the general, “Sir, I am a corporal.”

“Oh,” said the general, “I ask your pardon, sir,” and immediately got off his horse and took up the stone and threw it up on the breastwork himself and then mounted his horse and rode on, giving directions, etc.
It’s a great story. It fits with what we know from other sources about Putnam. And it’s set at a specific place and time, when we know Putnam’s division of the Continental Army was building fortifications.

TOMORROW: But that wasn’t the story that appeared in the press.