The First Battle of the American Revolution

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by Gary Spina

We are coming up on the 239th anniversary of the skirmish at the old North Bridge in the Battle of Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775, and the “Shot Heard Round the World” that marked the beginning of armed conflict in the American Revolution.

But history can be complicated and confusing. Margaret Gage was a pretty woman back then. Trust me, I know. She was the New Jersey born wife of British General Thomas Gage, Military Governor of Massachusetts. Evidence seems to indicate that Margaret warned the rebel leaders of the April 19 attack just in time to get Sam Adams and John Hancock safely out of Boston. That’s a whole ’nother story, as they say.

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Margaret Gage

And some historians trace hostilities back to the French and Indian War which began when a 22 year old Lieutenant Colonel named George Washington led a company of Virginia militia in an attack against French soldiers — and killed the French ambassador in the process. Opps, sorry about that.

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This portrait of Washington was painted in 1772 by Charles Willson Peale, and shows Washington in uniform as a colonel of the Virginia Regiment. The original hangs in Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. It is the earliest known depiction of Washington.

From there, events take us to Daniel Boone and the torture-death of his son James by a mixed band of Shawnee and Cherokee Indians, and directly to Lord Dunmore’s War of 1774. A convoluted, serpentine cause-and-consequence linking of events brings us to October 10, 1774, and the Battle of Point Pleasant in what is now West Virginia, and what may actually have been the first shots fired in the American Revolution.

At Point Pleasant, six months prior to Lexington and Concord, 1,000 Virginia militiamen managed to hold their ground and eventually prevail against a Shawnee and Mingo attack that had them outnumbered 2 to 1. Shawnee Chief Cornstalk led the attack against Colonel Andrew Lewis and the Virginia Militia in the greatest battle of Lord Dunmore’s War. The carnage lasted many hours, eventually becoming hand-to-hand before nightfall when the Indians withdrew.

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Militia Man

The Virginians suffered 75 killed and 140 wounded. The actual number of Indians killed could not be determined since the Indians carried away most of their dead, but the next morning the Virginians found the bodies of about 35 Indians including Pucksinwah, the father of Tecumseh.

Historians have speculated that John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore — Lord Dunmore — governor of Virginia, conspired with the Shawnee and Mingo Indians to attack and destroy Virginia’s militia before hostilities broke out between the colonists and the British. And sure enough, after Lexington and Concord six months later, that same militia drove Lord Dunmore and the British out of Virginia.

There is no actual evidence to support the assertion that Lord Dunmore had attempted to have Colonel Lewis and the Virginia militia wiped out by the Indians. History, again proves elusive. However, according to Wikipedia:
On February 21, 1908, the United States Senate passed Bill Number 160 to erect a monument commemorating the Battle of Point Pleasant. It cites Point Pleasant as a “battle of the Revolution”.  The bill failed in the House of Representatives.

Nevertheless, the Battle of Point Pleasant is honored as the first engagement of the American Revolution during “Battle Days,” an annual festival in modern Point Pleasant, now a city in West Virginia.

It is said that with our modern computers and our Internet, we live in the “Information Age.” You have heard me argue just the opposite – that with the lies upon lies that are published worldwide, with malfeasance, manipulation, mischief, and intrigue rampant in our own government, with demagoguery, propaganda, and indoctrination well on its way from Washington to Kansas before the truth even gets out of bed each morning — we live in the “Misinformation Age.”

I think about our own history, what we are living today, and I wonder how much truth will be left intact – maybe 200 years from now – when future historians uncover the record of tyranny of America’s government against its own people. Of course, America as we know it will be gone by then. But that’s not saying much. America as I knew it as a boy is already gone.

I wonder how history will record last week’s Battle of Bunkerville, Nevada, with rancher Cliven Bundy and a militia of armed citizens facing down a minor army of high-handed Bureau of Land Management thugs out of Washington, D.C. Even our news reports today are getting the facts wrong. Fox News’ Neal Cavuto and his panel of financial experts and Bret Baer and his panel of political experts have on separate shows argued the fine points of the stand-off — conceding in their commentary that Bundy in fact owes the federal government grazing fees for allowing his cattle to graze on federal land. Neither Cavuto nor Baer nor anyone on their learned panels mentioned that Bundy has offered to pay the state of Nevada the grazing fees he owes, because in fact the land belongs to the state, not the federal government. The other news outlets are even more inaccurately reporting the government’s side of the conflict — distorting history even as we are living it.

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The Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle were released by the Bureau of Land Management back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. on April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jason Bean)

All these years after “the shot heard round the world,” the common citizen is still being oppressed by a powerful, corrupt government. Maybe two hundred years from now, historians will be free to name names — and with America two hundred years deceased by then, they may even attach the word “traitor” to the politicians in Washington today — Obama, Holder, Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, and the Democrats – Boehner, Cantor, McConnell, McCain, Issa, and the Republicans. So many of our representatives and every single one of our federal agencies – and I mean every one of them – have been corrupted by power – until Washington is an open sewer awash with traitors and those who pretend outrage against those traitors.

Will history be true to what America was and what it stood for when it was clean and free and thriving? Will history name the names and shame those who deserve shame — and record the thousand little treacheries, the personal corruption that brought it all to ruin – until all of what was America was lost forever? History is an elusive mistress.

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