I am Shawn MacIntyre, and I grew up with a love of history. When most kids were watching cartoons I was watching documentaries. After a long career in public safety, I chose to return to college to seek a new career path bringing history to the public. In April 2019. I graduated from Point Park University with a Bachelor's Degree in History, Magna Cum Laude. My new path is to make learning history fun, exciting and accessible to everyone. I invite you to join me on my journeys to historic destinations, learn interesting facts about the past, and spark a love for history!
Over the next few weeks, you will see some changes in the blog and the Facebook page. In June, I started graduate school and maintaining the Blog and Facebook page has been difficult. Moving forward, I will be inviting some new writers and content producers to help me continue to bring articles and content about history to you. I am hoping these changes will give you all more reading material and allow you to make new discoveries about history. As I continue a great deal of writing for my Master’s Degree in American History, I will be sharing some of my school writing on the blog as well.
Thank you all for subscribing and I look forward to starting this new stage of the blog!
Over 100 years before the American Revolution and nearly 80 years before the French and Indian War (Seven Years War) English Settlers and Native forces clashed over the English expansion of the colonies in what is now Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The war itself was the local native groups last-ditch effort to avoid recognizing English authority and stop English settlement on their native lands. The war is named after the Wampanoag chief Metacom, later known as Philip or King Philip, who led the fourteen-month bloody rebellion. Metacom was a Wampanoag Sachem who had been educated by English Settlers at Harvard, with his education came a better understanding of the English and their plans for expansion throughout the region. King Philip (Metacom) led his tribe and a coalition of the Nipmuck, Pocumtuck and Narraganset tribes in an uprising against the colonists and their allies, the Mohegans and the Mohawks, that lasted 14 months. The following videos offer a succinct explanation of the war in which the English settlers lost nearly every single battle but came to victory due to disease and starvation of the native groups. The videos are by Atun-Shei Films whose owner is dedicated to researching the history of King Philip’s War and other historical events.
As I have noted in many prior articles on my blog, living history bring a nuance to understanding parts of history. Living historians play a role of someone living in the time period in which the persona would have lived. Many of these living historians take on personas that are difficult, imagine if you will being an African-American and willingly working or portraying a slave persona. You are knowingly researching the living hell that your ancestors went through so that you can portray what life was like as a slave in the colonial period and early United States. I have attached several videos below of African-American living historians. These living historian work at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and other historic sites to help people better understand slavery in America.
This first segment is from George Washington’s Mount Vernon, it is a panel discussion with Living Historians from several sites.
The next segment is from Townsends & Sons who do regular work with portraying living history on their YouTube channel, this segment is an interview with Brenda Parker who portrays a slave at Mount Vernon, Washington’s Estate. Brenda gets rather emotional during this segment.
This is also Brenda Parker, interviewed by the staff at Mount Vernon and school students.
The world has been interesting over the last several weeks, and while I love to bring you regular stories about history, my current full-time job is in the emergency medical services. While the EMS service that I work for in Western Pennsylvania has not been particularly busy during the pandemic it is a difficult time and frankly the limited social interaction myself and my coworkers get right now is at work. Often our days include conference calls with updates from the state, local hospital systems and our local government.
I am currently doing some research on the Battle of Bushy Run, during Pontiac’s Rebellion and as soon as I get finished with it, I will get it posted. I have been a little more active on the Magical History Tour Facebook page sharing fun and informative videos and recent history related articles. When life returns to normal I look forward to sharing more adventures and history with you!
Finally, I ask you to support your local EMS and healthcare workers, while they are dealing with the stress of work, they are also dealing with the stress that the rest of you are dealing with. Add into that the fear of bring the virus home to their families. It is and will be a very stressful time for healthcare workers for a while.
Below is a video from Townsends about the memoir of Joseph Plumb Martin, who was a revolutionary war soldier, in his memoir, he writes about being quarantined with many other soldiers so that they could receive the Smallpox inoculation. The video uses some outtakes from the book, and I have also supplied a link to the book for your reading pleasure.
The topic of quarantine and social distancing is not new to United States history, or history in general. It is a part of our history and the current pandemic will also be an important part to history that will be shared in history classes in our future. Everyday something historic happens, the current nCovid-19 outbreak will be an important topic in the future as it is a news story today. While I continue to work my regular job as an EMT, I will continue to write articles he on the blog and be posting historic videos and fun history videos on my Facebook page.
I hope you all are taking care of yourselves and your family, friends and neighbors and that you all stay healthy.
The television show “The Big Bang Theory” and Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s “Fun with Flags” vlog is sort of my inspiration for this post. I have always been very interested in the various flags I have seen from the American Revolution on the continental side. It is also interesting to see how those flags have developed into the flags that the people of the United States continue to use today.
The British Red Ensign was approved and adopted by Queen Anne in 1707, though it was largely used as a naval ensign it became the flag for Great Britain and the colonies. When General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, this is the flag he surrendered to Washington. In Washington’s surrender to the French at Fort Necessity, the French allowed washington and his forces to leave with the Red Ensign flying.
The flag below is known as the Bedford Flag, the picture on the left is the original flag, known to be the oldest complete flag known to exist in the United States. The photo on the right is a flag carried by the Massachusetts Bay Colony Militia during the French and Indian War. It was also carried by the Bedford Minutemen in the Battle of Concord Bridge on April 19, 1775. The inscription “Vince Aut Morire” means Conquer or Die.
As the sentiment against the british taxes on the colonies began to grow, a Liberty Pole was raised in Schenectady NY, on that pole was a blue silk 44×44 inch flag with the word “Liberty” sewn into it. This Liberty Flag quickly became a symbol for those opposed to British taxation and acts against the colonies. This same flag was reportedly carried into battle by the First New York Line Regiment, the unit was largely from Schenectady. The Liberty Flag is the first known Revolutionary flag.
The First Flag of New England, shown above, shows the pine tree in the upper left left hand corner becomes a common theme in flags in the rebelling colonies. The pine tree symbolism comes from the Penacook Native American tribe that lived along the coast of the areas that are now Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Southern Maine. The Penacook were credited with the survival of the Mayflower colonists in the first Thanksgiving story. The Penacook name comes from Algonquin meaning, children of the pine. This flag, and many like it were carried into battle during the revolution by some rebel units, and was made into several other variants that you will see below.
Very similar to the Flag of New England above is the Continental Flag was also called the Trumbull Flag. A flag carried at the Battle of Breed’s Hill (Bunker Hill), The British soldiers only recalled seeing a red flag flown, but recollections from the rebel side account the pine tree on the Continental flag. The reason this flag is also called the Trumbull flag is because it appears in a painting by John Trumbull who fought one the rebel side at the Battle of Breed’s Hill. The painting, called “The death of General Warren” shown below has caused some confusion over the years, as the painting has aged, the flag appears to be blue with the pine tree in the corner, The British Ensign is also discolored and appears green. This confusion caused later production of the Continental Flag to be made of blue cloth with the pine tree in the upper left corner.
Other flags with the Pine Tree portrayal range from several different areas. In 1775, George Washington outfitted six schooners to patrol along the coast, these ships were called Washington’s Cruisers, They were armed with a single cannon (likely a 3 pounder) and small arms, these ships were meant to harass and evade, drawing fire away from land attacks by the British naval vessels. The Cruisers flew a simple flag, a Pine Tree on a white background with “Appeal to Heaven” in black letters. Massachusetts also used the Pine tree as the ensign for its own Naval Militia.
Why the Pine Tree? In 1722, the British had depleted healthy forests with thick mast trees for their navy, so a proclamation was listed that any white pine tree measuring 24 inches in diameter was now the property of the Crown and furthermore, any White Pine measuring 12 inches in diameter could not cut down. Colonists were also forbidden from selling these “Mast Trees” to anyone else, including colonial shipbuilders. While this order from the Crown did not have much descent at the time, in 1772, with other taxation orders like the Stamp Act and the Tea Tax, the Mast Preservation Clause became yet another reason to fight the power of Britain. Sawyers and Millners began to refuse to cut the trees for British ships leading to the Pine Tree Riots (future article teaser) and making the Pine Tree a symbol of liberty.
The next group we’ll call “The Snake Flags,” flags developed very likely from the “Unite or Die” political cartoon that was published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, to get the colonies to unite against the French during the Seven Years War ( French and Indian War). The Snake became a symbol of unity an the onset of disagreements with the British government. The Culpeper Flag was carried into battle in Colonel Patrick Henry’s unit, the Culpeper Minutemen. The Culpeper flag feature a coiled snake with a bannerline “The Culpeper MinuteMen” and also “Liberty or Death” and “Don’t Tread on Me” in letters around the coiled snake. The flag the gets a little more notoriety is the Gadsden Flag, the Gadsden Flag was made as a naval ensign for the new United States Navy designed by South Carolina Congressman Christopher Gadsden. The design featured a yellow flag with a coiled snake on grass and the words “Don’t Tread on Me” along the bottom. The Navy Jack soon became a standard on U.S. naval vessels, it featured an uncoiled snake across thirteen red and white stripes and the words “Don’t Tread on Me” on the lowest white stripe.
The next group we’ll call the Stars and Stripes group, these flags were largely what inspired the modern U.S. flag. The first of these would be the Sons of Liberty flag, the Sons of Liberty were a rebel group initially based on Boston. The Sons of Liberty were known to gather under a tree that was called the Liberty Tree in Boston, when the British found out about the Liberty Tree, they had it cut down. The Sons of Liberty placed a pole at the site of the tree which would then be called the Liberty Pole at the top of that pole flew a flag of thirteen simple red and white stripes, this flag became the flag of the Sons of Liberty. The Grand Union Flag was the original United States Flag kept the British Union Jack in the upper left hand corner and the stripes of the colonies throughout the rest of the flag, some historians believe that it was a way to show respect to the Crown and hope for a peaceful ending and a reasonable outcome with self rule and remaining British Subjects. The Grand Union Flag was replaced on June 14, 1777 (which became Flag Day). Legend says that George Washington, Robert Morris and George Ross took a drawing to Betsy Ross, asking her if she could create a flag from a paper drawing. The Betsy Ross Flag followed with thirteen horizontal red and white stripes and a blue field with thirteen five pointed stars in a circle. The Betsy Ross Flag would be the model for all future U.S. Flags.
The Thirteen Star Flag is the flag that was actually approved by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777 as the United States Flag, the Congress however never specified the layout of the stars in the blue field. The Green Mountain boys flag had a simple layout, a green flag (the shade of green varied a bit based on who made the flag) and in the upper left corner a blue field of thirteen, five pointed stars. The Green Mountain Boys were the New Hampshire Militia led by Ethan Allen and Seth Warner who took Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Crown Point during the revolution. The Bennington Flag was carried into the battle of Bennington by Nathaniel Fillmore. The flag has the usual 13 stars and stripes, but is unique because the stars have seven points and the stripes are white on the outer edges instead of the familiar red, and also displays the number “76” for the year of the Declaration of Independence. The Guilford Courthouse Flag was carried into the Battle of Guilford Courthouse as a member of the Granville County, North Carolina militia. The Flag had thirteen eight pointed blue stars on a white field and thirteen red and blue stripes. The Serapis Flag was made out of necessity, when John Paul Jones captured the HMS Serapis in a sea battle, he lost his flag the USS Bonhomme went down sank during the same battle. Jones sailed the Serapis into the dutch port of Texel, the British immediately wanted the ship returned to British custody and jones hanged as a pirate. Benjamin Franking who was serving as the U.S. Ambassador to France sent a Crude description of the new U.S. flag via courier the Serapis Flag was quickly made and raised on the now U.S.S Serapis was able to leave the Port of Texel.
This is not the only flags that existed in the development of the United States during the revolution. It shows the individuality of the flags and an idea of their history and a new avenue to explore.
On May 2nd, 2020, I will be presenting at History Camp – Philadelphia. My topic will be “Slavery, Abolition and Seeking Freedom in Pittsburgh.” The Pittsburgh area has an interesting history in regards to Slavery and Abolition, and while it wasn’t a major place of Underground Railroad activity, there are some important figures from the Pittsburgh Area.
History Camp began in Boston in 2014 and over the past several years has expanded into a non-profit organization called, The Pursuit of History. With the founding of the non-profit and the expansion of History Camps to several places throughout the United States, The Pursuit of History is attracting adults to learn, think and connect more to history.
Nestled on a long curve on the Allegheny river roughly 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh is the town of Kittanning, Pennsylvania. The town’s name come from the name of a Leni Lenape (Delaware) village that was established on the same land in 1730. This village would be the site of a small but memorable battle in the late summer of 1756. The battle gets little mention in the grand campaign of the French and Indian war, but has some importance in the attempt to control the waterways of what is now Southwestern Pennsylvania.
The Battle of Kittanning, as it is referred to in history books was part of the Armstrong Expedition, the namesake Lieutenant Colonel John Armstrong was sent forth in response to multiple British losses in the French and Indian War. The French capture of the Forks of the Ohio (Fort Duquesne) essentially gave the French control of the Allegheny River. Raids by the Leni Lenape and other native peoples had killed many British soldiers and militia in the region and taken captive women and children, taking and killing livestock as well.
The Pennsylvania colonial government was angered to see settlers deserting its western frontier due to the raids and French encroachment. Pennsylvania have a large Quaker representation in the colonial government tended to reserve any use of militia as a purely defensive posture. This posture ended when Fort Granville was attacked in July of 1756 (Near Lewistown, Mifflin County PA). The militia at the fort to protect settlers in the area was manned by on 24 soldiers, the rest of the garrison had traveled to Juniata county to help protect settlers there, during the harvest. Lieutenant Edward Armstrong, John Armstrong’s brother, was left in charge of the 24 man garrison at Fort Granville. The fort was attacked by Leni Lenape and French soldiers believed to have come from Kit-han-nee.
The Lieutenant Governor Robert Hunter Morris, was greatly angered by the continued attacks on settlers and the attack on Fort Granville. Morris enlisted John Armstrong to end the attacks with a raid on Kit-han-nee. A former captive from Kit-han-nee, John Baker advised Armstrong on the defenses and build of the village. Baker also accompanied Armstrong as a guide. At Kit-han-nee was also believed to be Shingas and Tewea (Captain Jacobs) who were believed to be some of the leaders in the Granville attack. After the attack, a reward was placed in the Pennsylvania Gazette for the heads (literally) of Shingas and “Captain Jacobs.” After a nine day march to the west, Armstrong and his 300 man unit arrived on the hills east of Kit-han-nee.
On the morning of September 8th, Armstrong attacked the village, taking the Delaware by surprise. In the disarray inside the town, Captain Jacobs rallied Delaware warriors to fight back and fire upon the Pennsylvania Militia, using their cabins as cover. As the Delaware began to shoot back Armstrong was struck by a bullet and a number of his men were struck and killed. Armstrong realized that continuing to fire upon the Delaware who were well covered was futile. As he was taken for medical attention after being shot in the shoulder, he ordered that the village be burned. As the village began to burn, many of the Delaware began to flee and were shot and killed by the Pennsylvania Militia. As they ran, Jacobs and his wife and children were killed. There were also multiple explosions due to the fact that the French had delivered gun powder to the town days before.
When Armstrong received intelligence that a large group of Delaware along with French soldiers were approaching from the west, he ordered the Militia to retreat, as they returned to where they had camped the night before, they came across members of Lieutenant James Hoggs Detachment. Hogg and his men had been ordered to attack a Delaware encampment that had been spotted the previous evening. Hogg and his men were to begin the attack at roughly the same tie the attack began on the village. Hogg’s detachment had found a much larger detachment than was expected. Hogg and five others were killed in the attack and the retreating men, met in confusion of Armstrong’s men retreating from the attack on the village. The fleeing Pennsylvania Militia did not even take the time to recover the items from their encampment from the night before the battle. It took four to ten days for all of the militia soldiers to return to Fort Littleton.
Upon his report to the Lieutenant Governor, Armstrong reported seventeen of his mean dead, thirteen wounded, and nineteen missing. Armstrong also reported that it was difficult to know how many Delaware had been killed. Armstrong estimated that there were no less than 30 to 40 killed. Armstrong’s managed to also free several captives from the village, though a few of them were lost in the hasty retreat.
Armstrong was greeted as a hero upon his return to Philadelphia. Armstrong was given 600 pounds for the bringing Captain Jacobs head back to Philadelphia with him and was also given a commemorative medal for his attack on Kit-han-nee. A fort would be built at the site of the battle and called Fort Armstrong. In 1800, Pennsylvania created a new county which today encompasses Kittanning, the county would be named for Armstrong as well.
Barr, Daniel P. “Victory at Kittanning? Reevaluating the Impact of Armstrong’s Raid on the Seven Years’ War in Pennsylvania.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 131, no. 1 (2007): 5-32. Accessed January 18, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20093915.
On the banks of the Ohio River in what is now Baden, PA (Beaver County), 15-18 miles northwest of Pittsburgh PA, once stood a town of as many as 80 structures called Logstown. This small town would host visitors from British and French as well as meetings between native tribes and representatives from the French and British governments. Logstown is believed to have been established in the early to mid 1740’s.
In 1748, Conrad Weiser, a German settler from Eastern Pennsylvania visited Logstown. Weiser was a well known interpreter of Native American languages. Upon Weiser’s arrival he was greeted by the natives firing muskets in the air to welcome him. Weiser worked as a diplomat and negotiator between the Native nations and the Pennsylvania colony. Weiser’s visit was to bring gifts and maintain the friendship between Penn’s British Colony and those who lived at Logstown including members of the Leni Lanape (Delaware), Shawnee, Seneca-Cayuga, Miami, Mohawk, and Wyandot. After the arrival of Europeans, many tribes were pushed to the west and many other died from diseases that came with the Europeans that previously had not existed on the continent.
In 1749, Ensign Celeron de Blainville led a French Military expedition down the Allegheny River and onto the Ohio River to explore and map the area as French territory. In their travels, Blainville buried lead markers marking the areas his group explored as French Territory. Blainville was not happy to find British traders present at Logstown, nor was he happy to find that the native people within the camp were also loyal to the British whom they had been trading with. Blainville and his men, including a Jesuit priest named Joseph Pierre Bonnecomps stayed at Logstown for three tense days, then continued on their journey.
In 1752, Treaty Negotiation were held between British representatives including Christopher Gist who was well known to the people at Logstown and was there representing the Ohio Company, Colonel Joshua Fry, James Patton, and Lunsford Lomax representing the Virginia Colony. Andrew Montour attended as a translator for the Virginians. Tanacharison also known as Half-King spoke as one of the representatives of the Iroquois Confederacy. Tanacharison stated his people did not consider that the 1744 Anglo-Iroquois Treaty of Lancaster had ceded the colonists any land beyond the Allegheny Mountains, but he promised the Iroquois would not molest any English settlements southeast of the Ohio River. Tanacharison also formally requested a fort to be built at the Forks of the Ohio. Construction of which was started by Captain William Trent of the Ohio Company in February of 1754. The limited parts of the fort that had been built were taken by the French in April of 1754. There is a great deal of information on the treaty and negotiations here.
Logstown was much more than a trading post along the Ohio River. The rivers were the highways of the time period, each of these stops whether they were native, settler or military were important to trade and travel. Logstown became very important to diplomacy in the colonies.
On New Year’s Day in Philadelphia a very grand parade happens. The costumes for those in the parade are extravagant, some can even put Mardi Gras costumes to shame. The Tradition in Philadelphia began January 1 , 1901. The purpose of the parade is to welcome in the new year.
Philadelphia’s Parade has five different divisions and can have several groups in each of those divisions. The “Fancy” category is just that, the costumes are colorful and sometimes outrageous with sequins, feathers and structures to make the costumes larger than life. The” Comic” division is all about clowning around, The mummers can dress as modern cartoons, poke fun at politicians, or just about anything to get a laugh. The “Wench Brigade” division is an offshoot of the comic division, these groups tend to have painted faces, decorated umbrellas and wear bloomers as part of their costume, They are also known for having Brass Bands that accompany them. The “String Band” division is made up of costumed musicians with a unique sound, Most of the music is composed by the group themselves and the instruments include; banjos, cellos, violins, fiddles, drums, glockenspiels and saxophones. The last division is the “Fancy Brigade,” who perform in competition after the parade is over at the convention center and have elaborate routines and costumes to go along with their presentation each year.
The Mummer traditions however did not start in Philadelphia however, Mummery has a very long history and comes in many different forms. Mummery or Mumming simply means to wear a mask. The traditions of modern mummery and the modern theatre are based in ancient mummery which by some has been traced back to the second century BCE in in North Africa and Europe. Actors were known to dress up and reenact religious events at festivals celebrating various gods or epic battles to celebrate a king, emperor or chieftain. Mummery would also spread to other important European Pagan festivals prior to Christian influence like: Yule (Winter Solstice), Mid Winter/Imbolc (fertility celebration, February 1) Spring (Mayday/ Beltane), Midsummer Summer Solstice (June 21-22), Lughnasadh/ Lammas (August 1, The harvest of wheat), Samhain/Halloween/ All Souls Day (October 31, The end of the Harvest).
During the spread of Christianity the Pagan traditions were often adopted as part of the Christian Holy Days that were placed at the times of prior Pagan celebrations. Much of the modern tradition of mummery comes as part of modern holidays/holy days.
Mumming in Ireland has many traditions usually done in and around the Yule/ Christmas season. Hanner’s Chronicle describes King Henry III’s celebration of Christmas in Dublin in 1172 as “…the sport, and the mirth, and the continual musicke, the masking, the mumming and strange shewes, the gold, the silver, and plate, the precious ornaments, the dainty dishes….” At Christmas time in Ireland, Mummers sometime perform plays or sometimes go door to door looking for food or drink, they are usually accompanied by musicians. The come to the door and sing a song much like this one:
Here we stand before your door, As we stood the year before; Give us whiskey; give us gin, Open the door and let us in.
Cure I can for a noble fee, From your complaint, I’ll set you free. I can cure by day and night I can diagnose by sight. The plague it is no pague to me Get it, kind sir, and I’ll set you free.
God bless the master of this house Likewise the mistress too, May your barns be filled with wheat and corn And your hearts be always true. A merry Christmas is our wish Where’er we do appear; To you a well-filled purse, a well-filled dish And a happy, bright New Year.
Strawmen and Straw-women are another interesting part of Irish mummery. These mummers go out at all times of the year, but only to weddings. Taking their name from their disguise Straw-people are an ancient wedding tradition the origins of which are unclear. Straw-people are recognisable by their uniquely shaped conical straw hats and dress and, despite their title, nowadays comprise both men and women.
In England, Mummer tend to come out at Christmas time. It is common for the mummers to reenact the battle between St. George and the Dragon, but also plays of winter and rebirth following the traditional yule mummery.
In Scotland Mummery is popular for New Year’s Eve (Hogmanay) and Beltane/ Mayday. Hogmanay rose after Oliver Cromwell banned celebrations on Christmas because Cromwell felt that Christmas should be a more pius holiday. So the Scots began to celebrate the new year with mummery, bonfires and giant celebrations. On Beltane there are fire festivals with rather extravagant mummery during the festival.
In Wales, between Yule and the new year you may get visited by the Mari Lwyd (The Gray Mare). the Mari Lwyd is thought to be a pre-Christian tradition believed to bring good luck. The strange and frightening horse-figure, that in the past was often made from a horses skull, but now mostly artificial, was mounted upon a pole. Accompanied by a group of singers the Mari Lwyd knocks on the door and the first verse of a traditional song is sung. This would in turn be answered in song by the person in the house. After a number of verses had been exchanged, the Mari Lwyd singers would then be invited into the house and provided with food and drink before leaving with a farewell song.
Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada also have a strong tradition of mummery around the Christmas holiday. Mummers will go door to door ask if they are allowed to come in and sing a song for the homeowner, have a drink and move on to the next. In St. John’s Newfoundland there is a large parade of mummers making music and walking in strange costumes.