Ever wonder what a difference ten years can make? When it came to the years of 1765 to 1775, it made all the difference in the world.
Ever wonder what a difference ten years can make? When it came to the years of 1765 to 1775, it made all the difference in the world.
The residents in and around Boston thought it might happen. But they didn’t realize just how bad it would be.
Rumors and secret meetings abounded in Lexington, Concord, Menotomy Village and other small towns nearby the British-held port city. Quiet talk of war permeated conversations, increasing the anxiety of the colonists as they knew conflict approached closer every day. When it exploded into full scale skirmishes on April 19, 1775, the dye had been cast. The American Revolution had begun.
The British regulars first left Boston, then travelled west through Charlestown before they marched in the dead of night through Menotomy Village, MA. As the local residents awakened to the vibration of soldiers marching down the main road on their way to Concord, bells sounded the alarm and residents seized their muskets, prepared to make their stand. These lands were their homes and they intended to defend their families and farms to the death, if need be.
The first shots were fired on the Lexington town green. The color of the spring lawn was watered with the red blood of the local men and boys who had risen before dawn to defend their town. Eight patriots were killed and several wounded. One British soldier was also injured.
The British forces proceeded towards Concord, where gunpowder and arms were rumored to be hidden for use by the colonists against the regulars. Wise patriots had actually moved the weapons elsewhere before the enemy troops arrived. But that didn’t stop the confrontation immortalized in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, “Concord Hymn.” Two British soldiers were killed in the battle at the Old North Bridge. Their graves near the bridge are decorated with flowers to this day, courtesy of the British Embassy.
As the exhausted British troops retreated down the road toward Boston, colonists who had learned to fight behind trees and stone walls, picked off numerous red-coated soldiers along the way. In the meantime, reinforcements for the Brits were on the way down the main road from Boston. Once they joined forces west of Menotomy Village, the battle grew even uglier. By the time the conflict reached the Jason Russell farm in Menotomy, the fiercest battle of the day—and the deadliest for both sides—occurred at the Russell House.
Menotomy Village is today called Arlington, Massachusetts. When I grew up there, I frequently walked by the Jason Russell House. It was now designated a historical site with a sign out front and, as a young girl, I wondered what had occurred there. It was not until I grew up that I learned the full story of this major incident, hidden from most history books. I was so moved by what I learned, I determined to write about it in novel form. I wanted to bring the characters alive on the page through words that would help my readers understand that these were living, breathing humans who sacrificed so much for the birth of America.
I’ve written this story in the multi award-winning Fields of the Fatherless. You can purchase the book on either e-book or paperback. I hope that reading about this little-known battle will help you appreciate our ancestors who shed their blood to create a free America.
April 19 is now a public holiday called Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts and Maine. In Wisconsin, schools are required to teach students about the events and notable people of the American Revolution.
It is regrettable that most of these United States do not commemorate the first day of the war that birthed America. We should never forget. I will do my part to help Americans remember.
To purchase Fields of the Fatherless in Paperback, click here.
In E-book, click here
Author Janet Grunst won the Selah Award in 2016 for A Heart Set Free, and now the much-anticipated sequel, A Heart for Freedom, has released! Here is the back cover information:
Matthew Stewart wants only to farm, manage his inn, and protect his family. But tension between the Loyalists and Patriots is mounting. When he’s asked to help the Patriots and assured his family will be safe, he agrees.
In Scotland, Heather Stewart witnessed the devastation and political consequences of opposing England. She wants only to avoid war and protect the family and peace she finally found in Virginia. But the war drums can be heard even from home in the countryside, and she has no power to stop the approaching danger.
When Matthew leaves for a short journey and doesn’t return, Heather faces the biggest trial of her life. Will she give up hope of seeing him again? Will he survive the trials and make his way home? What will be the consequences of his heart for freedom?
A Heart for Freedom by Janet Grunst is a historically-accurate novel that depicts the quandary of the colonists in 1776. While many Americans desired freedom from England, an equal number desired to remain loyal to the King. What is often missing from historicals during this time period is the other third of the colonists—those who desired freedom yet desired peace as well. Their simple lives as farmers and merchants were about to be turned upside down by war and they knew the consequences would be life-changing. They could no longer ride the fence of indecision.
This novel is a riveting look at the rippling effects of events that force the main characters to choose one side or the other. They long for peace that can no longer be, as the discontent of the Patriots and the military response of the King’s Army force the issue.
In A Heart for Freedom, a sequel to A Heart Set Free, Ms. Grunst shares the lives of Heather and Matthew Stewart, who struggle to remain neutral as farmers and owners of an ordinary (a Colonial era hotel). They, along with their children and their circle of friends, become impacted by the Revolution in ways that disrupt their peace of mind and challenge their faith. A compelling read that makes me look forward to Book 3 in this series!
Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Free was the 2016 Selah Award winner for Historical Romance. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader.
You can read Janet’s blog here
Available on Amazon here
My journey to Rhode Island was off to a rough start. First, there was a maintenance issue with my flight, followed by a reschedule onto a different airline. But foggy conditions prevented a timely takeoff, necessitating another flight change. My layover was at first to be in Newark, NJ, then was rescheduled for Chicago, finally scheduled once again, this time for Charlotte, North Carolina.
So, after hanging out at the airport for most of the day and having to go through security twice due to the change in airlines, I was finally on my way to Providence, Rhode Island. I definitely thanked Providence for my arrival, safe and sound!
It’s a good thing I love research. 😉
My friend Cherrilynn picked me up and we hugged and visited for hours. We spent the next day drinking tea and coffee, and planning our agenda for the first trek to Portsmouth, Bristol, and Newport, the areas featured in my manuscript, “Scarred Vessels.” I’d spoken with a couple of historians on our planning day to set up meetings in Portsmouth and Bristol. Our first venture on Friday morning was the site of the Battle of Rhode Island.
To see the landscape now, one would never know the island known as Aquidneck was the site of this major battle in August of 1778. While many historic sites around the country are preserved to appear as they were during the American Revolution, much of the island is now businesses and farms. But fortunately, for the sake of preserving this heritage, the area where the actual battle took place on Butts Hill in Portsmouth is so covered in shale rock as to be worthless for agriculture. By benefit of its geological formation, Butts Hill still bears the marks of the battle site.
Although tree growth is abundant, the general outline of the fort that was originally built in 1777 by the British, can still be envisioned. One of the local historians assured Cherrilynn and I that the fort was undoubtedly created by the forced labor of the local colonists who were conscripted to bear the load of digging through the hard dirt and unforgiving shale to create the ramparts that would protect the British from the American Army.
But by 1778 when the American regiments arrived at Portsmouth on flat boats from Bristol Ferry, the British Army had by then abandoned the fort, propping up straw-filled “soldiers” dressed in red coats to appear from a distance to be actual troops.
This was their starting point to take back the city of Newport, held by the British, on the southern tip of Aquidneck island. It was approximately seven miles south to that city and thousands of American troops traversed the island and set up camp, thinking they would attack the fort and take it back from the British. But multiple circumstances forced an evacuation of the American troops back to Butts Hill in Portsmouth and that is where the stand-off took place.
Gloria Schmidt, a local historian, did the honors of showing us the fort area and answering our many questions. She was a delight and so very helpful.
As I stood on top of the earthen fortress built so long ago and envisioned the sweat, the fear, the ear-splitting sounds of gunfire and cannon fired on that sweltering day in 1778, I was truly moved by the sacrifice of these men. It was sad to realize that, with support from the community, this fort could be restored in some manner as a memorial to the bravery of the soldiers who fought here. But the technicalities of declaring a place a historical site affects local communities in far-reaching ways that often cause towns to shy away from such a commitment. While it is sad, it is also understandable.
A volunteer at the Portsmouth Historical Society, John Watts, showed us an area on the edge of the fort where the local militia in Portsmouth had rallied together to help the main body of troops returning from Newport. When the militia discovered the British had sent a unit to attack the Americans as soon as they’d arrived at the fort, this militia engaged that British regiment and prevented the slaughter of the Americans soldiers.
In 2005, a monument to the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, comprised of nearly 200 black soldiers, was erected to honor the men who fought so valiantly in this battle. Every name of every soldier in the regiment is etched on the long stone wall. It’s a fitting tribute to honor the black soldiers who signed on to earn their freedom, in a country that had yet to declare all black people free.
Next week will be the historical visit to Bristol, Rhode Island, home of my main characters in “Scarred Vessels.”
In celebration of Prince Harry’s wedding to an American, it seems an appropriate time to remember another British Prince who married an American—in 1779.
This wedding was far less well known, far less exotic, and, while this Prince was not in fact British royalty, his name was Prince. Daniel Prince.
Both men were veterans of war. Prince Harry served two deployments in Afghanistan. Daniel Prince sailed across the Atlantic to serve in the King’s Army and fought at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. Sadly, for Daniel Prince, he was on the losing side and became a prisoner of war. Taking matters into his own hands, he slipped out of the line of prisoners leaving for POW camp and escaped into the Massachusetts wilderness.
The details lie hidden in history concerning the circumstances of their first meeting. But somewhere in western Massachusetts, Daniel Prince met Mary Packard. And somewhere amidst the beautiful woods of that romantic countryside, love blossomed.
Daniel and Mary married in far humbler circumstances and perhaps shrouded in fear, as the Revolutionary War raged on. Was the wedding held in secret? The King’s Army would have considered him a deserter. Did he try to hide his identity from some? Again, these details are hidden in history.
What is known is that Daniel and Mary remained married until death parted them. While they lived and loved, Mary birthed eight children. Her third pregnancy birthed twin sons, Daniel Jr. and James.
While this marriage went unnoticed by most, in some ways it seems far more romantic to me. Perhaps because Daniel Prince was my 4th Great-Grandfather. I am descended from Daniel, Jr.
Although Mary passed away in 1816 and Daniel in 1828, there is an actual monument to them in Williamsburg, MA. I had the joy of visiting this monument in 2009.
It’s difficult to express the emotions I experienced when standing on the same ground trod by my ancestors. I suppose I can sum it up by saying, I felt like I’d come home.
While I am happy for the upcoming nuptials of veteran Prince Harry, the wedding of the veteran Daniel Prince holds far more meaning to me. My Prince is also my Grandfather.
My first novel, Road to Deer Run, is loosely based on my ancestors, Daniel and Mary. It was a joy to write and, I hope, a joy for you to read.
To read more about this book you can read the description at Amazon and purchase if you like. Click here.
I’m so thrilled to announce a new upcoming historical fiction series for which I’ve recently signed a contract. My new publisher will be Burnett Young Books and I am Over-The-Moon excited! This series is set along the Long Island Sound coast of Connecticut in 1779-1780. There was a lot going on there during the American Revolution!
Book 1 is complete and should be released in 2018. More details to come.
Thanks for all your support of my books and I will keep you all updated on this new series. Be blessed!
Mocha helps me with my historical research of New Haven, Connecticut. 😉
To contact Elaine Marie Cooper for speaking engagements, interviews or questions about her books, click here to fill out the form on her contact page.