Congratulations on a great year, Will!

This post contains all of the Patriots of the Round Table. A great learning experience for members and seniors!

April 19, 2023

State President Will Elston announces the twelfth Patriot of the Round Table:  John Parker.

April 14, 2023

State President Will Elston announces the eleventh Patriot of the Round Table:  Anna Smith Strong.

February 10, 2023

State President Will Elston announces the tenth Patriot of the Round Table: Cato Varnum

This month (February 2023), America celebrates Black History Month.  African Americans, both free and enslaved, played an important role in the American Revolution.  The Round Table already has two Black Patriots:  James Lafayette and Billy Flora.  James Lafayette spied on behalf the Patriots at Yorktown, and Billy Flora stood bravely at the Battle of Great Bridge to defend it against a British advance. 

This month, we recognize one of the members of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, perhaps the most famous regiment that included African Americans during the American Revolution.  The 1st Rhode Island Regiment was an integrated unit composed of African American, Native American, and white soldiers, who served together from 1778 through the end of the war in 1783.

Cato Varnum was a 16-year-old boy who, in March 1778, enlisted in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment and served to the end of the war.  He participated in the siege of Yorktown in a light infantry unit.  Despite his youth, he served bravely and with dedication to the Patriot cause.  Very little is known about his life before or after his military service, but we honor him as one of many African Americans who fought on behalf of freedom and liberty.

For more information on Varnum and the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, check out the Cato Varnum Fact Sheet.    

January 9, 2023

State President Will Elston announces the ninth Patriot of the Round Table: Kate Moore Berry

This month (January 2023), we commemorate the 242nd anniversary of the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina – a Patriot victory that historians consider to be a significant turning point in the American Revolution.  As we continue to recognize some of the lesser-known patriots without whom the Victory at Yorktown would not have been possible, it is fitting that the January Patriot of the Roundtable was known as the “Heroine of Cowpens.”

Berry helped the Patriot cause in a variety of ways throughout the war, but her single greatest contribution came in the days leading to the Battle of Cowpens, when she provided intelligence to the Patriots in the area and warned neighbors of British troop movements. The Americans defeated the British at Cowpens, killing 110, wounding 200 and capturing 500 British soldiers.  The Continental Army casualties were only 12 dead and 60 wounded, although the total number of casualties may have been closer to 128, including militia.

For more information on Berry, or to discover why the Battle of Cowpens was a pivotal event on the road to Yorktown, check out the Kate Moore Berry Fact Sheet 

December 1, 2022

State President Will Elston announces the eighth Patriot of the Round Table:  William “Billy” Flora.  

On December 9, 1775, the 2nd Virginia Regiment and rebel militia units, including the Culpeper Minute Men, were guarding the “Great Bridge” across the southern branch of the Elizabeth River on the only road leading south from Norfolk to North Carolina. British troops and loyalist forces were camped just to the north of the bridge to defend Norfolk, then the seat of royal government and a loyalist stronghold, against the Patriots ordered to march on Norfolk by the General Assembly. The order to attck Norfolk was a response to the November 1775 proclamation by the royal governor, Lord Dunmore, imposing martial law on the colony and offering freedom to enslaved Virginians who would fight with the British. Among the Patriot militia troops at the Great Bridge was a 20-year-old free black man serving as a sentry at the north end of the bridge: William “Billy” Flora.

Drawing of a view of the Great Bridge.

Fearing that delay would allow the Patriot troops to gather strength and attack Norfolk, Lord Dunmore and the Britsih commander decided to attack first. As the British advanced toward the patriots, Flora fired eight times on the enemy.  He was the last sentry to leave the bridge.  According to one account, Flora even removed the last board of the bridge, preventing the British from attacking the retreating patriots.  Flora is credited by historians with slowing the British advance and allowing patriot forces more time to prepare for battle. His valiant actions were lauded by his comrades and even by a newspaper of the time.

As a result of the Battle of Great Bridge, Lord Dunmore and other loyalists were no longer safe in Norfolk, and they retreated to British warships. Although he tried to regain a foothold in Virginia several times to reassert royal authority, by August 1776 Lord Dunmore had left for New York never to return.

Flora was born in 1755 in Portsmouth, Virginia.  His parents were free African Americans who owned a livery stable in Portsmouth.  He fought throughot the Revolution in various Patriot units. He died in 1820, having received a pension and a land grant for his service in securing America’s independence. He was an ulikely hero in an unlikely battle that effectively ended 150 years of royal government in the first permanent Englisg colony in the Western Hemisphere.

Check out the Billy Flora Fact Sheet for more information and discussion questions for your local society meeting.

November 1, 2022

State President Will Elston encourages all Virginia C.A.R. members to give thanks for their Patriot Ancestors during November and announces the seventh Patriot of the Round Table in this video.

The victory at Yorktown would not have been possible without contributions, great and small, from people throughout the colonies and beyond.  This month, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday with its roots in the survival of the first English colonists in the 1600s.  After the Revolution, when George Washington had become president, he issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation, setting aside the last Thursday of November in 1789 as a national day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” to thank “that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be,” for, among other things, “his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation.”  Proclamation of October 3, 1789.

As a nation, we continue to set aside the last Thursday of November to give thanks.  Last year, President Biden’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation described Thanksgiving as “a time to reflect on our many blessings — from God, this Nation, and each other.”

This November, Virginia C.A.R. members and seniors will take time to give thanks for their many blessings.  One of those blessings all members share is a direct link to the men and women who worked so hard to achieve independence from Great Britain and create this exceptional country.  We all have a patriot ancestor who was an important part of getting to the victory at Yorktown.

So, during this month of gratitude and reflection, pause to remember these individuals, many of whom do not appear in history books or a Google search. 

Welcome to the Round Table . . . Your Patriot Ancestor! 

What did your Patriot Ancestor do?  Post about your Patriot Ancestor on the VSCAR Facebook page.  Share your ancestor’s name and a brief description of the own personal story.  Or, even better, post a video telling your ancestor’s story!

Prizes will be awarded at the State Conference in February to the local societies with (1) the most original Facebook post about a Patriot Ancestor during November and (2) the greatest number of Facebook posts about a Patriot Ancestor during November.

Check out the Your Patriot Ancestor Fact Sheet for more ideas for your local society meetings.

October 19, 2022 – Yorktown Victory Day

Espionage was a factor in a number of successful Patriot efforts during the Revolutionary War, and the Siege and Battle of Yorktown was no exception. James (later known as James Lafayette) was a classic double agent who provided important intelligence during the months leading up to the Victory at Yorktown.  And he was an African American slave.

In 1781, with his master’s permission, James volunteered to join the Continental Army to fight in the American Revolution. James served under the Marquis de Lafayette, who employed James as a spy, rather than as a soldier, in the hope of gathering intelligence regarding enemy movements. James infiltrated the headquarters of Lord Cornwallis by posing as a runaway slave hired by the British to spy on the Americans.

Able to travel freely between both British and American camps, James relayed information to Lafayette about British plans and provided false information about American forces to the British. Using the details of James’s reports, Lafayette and General George Washington were able to prevent 10,000 British reinforcements from getting to Yorktown. The American and French blockade in the Chesapeake Bay surprised British forces and left them with no alternative but to prepare for a siege. Following the Battle of Yorktown, the British surrendered on October 19, 1781.  It would be the last major battle of the Revolution. Would the result have been different if Lord Cornwallis had an additional 10,000 men? Thanks to James Lafayette, we’ll never know.

After the war, James returned to life as a slave. He eventually petitioned the Virginia legislature for his emancipation, which was granted in 1787. Lafayette assisted him by writing a recommendation. In gratitude, James adopted Lafayette’s surname.

James Lafayette is just one of the many African American Patriots who helped to secure American independence and a reminder that the legacy of the Revolution belongs to all Americans of every race.

To learn more about James and see possible discussion questions for your local society meeting, download the Patriots of the Round Table James Lafayette Fact Sheet.

Historic marker at the New Kent County Courthouse honoring James.

September 1, 2022

State President Will Elston announces the fifth Patriot of the Round Table:  Mercy Otis Warren.  

The victory at Yorktown would not have been possible without the Declaration of Independence, and the Continental Congress would not have declared independence if the people did not favor independence.  Beginning in 1772 and continuing through the war, Mercy Otis Warren wrote plays, poems and pamphlets that influenced others to support independence from Great Britain and the Revolution.

Mercy Otis Warren was born in September 1728 near Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1754, Mercy Otis married James Warren, a merchant and farmer, who served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, as president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and as Paymaster-General of the Continental Army. Mercy Warren supported her husband’s political activities, and their Plymouth home was often a meeting place for local politicians and revolutionaries, including the Sons of Liberty. After her brother James was brutally beaten by colonial revenue officers in 1769, Mercy Warren was increasingly drawn to political activism and hosted protest meetings at her home.

Early in the revolutionary movement, Mercy Warren wrote two popular anti-British plays that helped kindle the spirit of revolution.  Following the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, she wrote a poem celebrating the event – The Squabble of the Sea Nymphs – at the request of John Adams, who had it published on the front page of the Boston Gazette. 

After the war began, and victory was not quickly achieved, public support for the revolution ebbed, and Mercy Warren picked up her pen again.  She wrote an anonymous political poem, “The Genius of America Weeping the Absurd Follies of the Day,” which appeared in October 1778 in the Boston Gazette. The poem was designed to instill courage into wavering patriots and chastise those who put personal gain above the cause.

Warren was one of the most convincing writers during the Revolution, and her works inspired others to become Patriots. Her work earned the congratulations of numerous prominent leaders of the Revolution, including George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.

Mercy Warren’s plays and other writings helped prepare the people of Massachusetts and the other colonies for independence and the war necessary to achieve it. She was the 18th century equivalent of an “influencer,” convincing others that the country could and should be independent.  The people who went to her plays or read her words were inspired to support the patriot cause, to believe that it was a righteous cause, and to endure the sacrifices required to achieve independence.  She is rightly known as “the Conscience of the Revolution” and counted among the Founders of the United States.

To learn more about Mercy Otis Warren and see possible discussion questions for your local society meeting, download the Patriots of the Round Table Mercy Otis Warren Fact Sheet.

August 1, 2022

State President Will Elston announces the fourth Patriot of the Round Table:  Anna Maria Lane

The victory at Yorktown would not have been possible without the contributions of countless women.  During the Revolutionary War, women managed businesses and farms while men were away at the front lines.  They served as nurses and as spies.  Some followed the Continental Army, mending uniforms and cooking meals.  A few even fought in battle.  While perhaps not as famous as Deborah Sampson or Molly Pitcher, Virginia’s own Anna Maria Lane is an example of such a woman. 

Originally from New England and born sometime in the 1730s, historians believe that she became a “camp follower” when her husband, John, enlisted in the Continental Army in 1776.  At some point, she decided to put on a man’s uniform and serve as a soldier.  She reportedly fought in battles in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Anna Maria was wounded in the leg on October 4, 1777, during the Battle of Germantown in Pennsylvania.  This injury left her with a permanent disability. 

Despite this injury, Anna Maria continued fighting alongside her husband when he re-enlisted in the Virginia Light Dragoons. She was with him when he was wounded in the Siege of Savannah in 1779.  They both served until the end of the major fighting in 1781.

In 1808, at the request of Governor William H. Cabell, the Virginia General Assembly awarded her a veteran’s pension, and she became one of only three women in the United States to receive a pension for service during the Revolutionary War.  Her pension record explains: “In the Revolutionary War, in the garb, and with the courage of a soldier, [she] performed extraordinary military service at the Battle of Germantown.”  The details of this “extraordinary military service” are lost to history, but they must have been impressive.  She was awarded a pension of $100, 2 ½ times more than the typical pension for veterans.  She continued receiving the pension until her death in 1810. 

To learn more about Anna Maria Lane and see possible discussion questions for your local society meeting, download the Patriots of the Round Table Anna Maria Lane Fact Sheet.

July 1, 2022

State President Will Elston announces the third Patriot of the Round Table:  Peter Francisco.  He was known as “the Virginia Giant.”

Peter Francisco (c. 1830).

Peter Francisco was a Portuguese-born American Patriot and soldier who fought for the 10th Virginia Regiment in several important battles during the Revolutionary War.  George Washington reportedly stated that without him, the Patriots would have lost two major battles and perhaps the war, calling him a “One Man Army.” 

Kidnapped and taken from his family in the Azores at the age of five, little Pedro Francisco was found alone on a dock in Virginia. When he was sixteen, in 1776, he enlisted in the Continental Army.  He spent time at Valley Forge and fought in many battles throughout the war, including Brandywine, Germantown, Stony Point, Camden and Guilford Court House.  These later battles were a part of the “Southern Campaign,” which led directly to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown, which Francisco witnessed. 

Peter Francisco is another example how the American Revolution and the cause of freedom and liberty belong to people of all backgrounds, races, and nationalities.  To this day, Portuguese-American groups commemorate Francisco’s deeds in annual celebrations.

If George Washington said we might have lost the war without him, who are we to argue?

To learn more about Peter Francisco and see possible discussion questions for your local society meeting, download the Patriots of the Round Table Peter Francisco Fact Sheet.

June 1, 2022

Watch as State President Will Elston reveals the second Patriot of the Round Table, Jack Jouett

A quick-thinking 26-year-old, Jack Jouett saved Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Thomas Nelson Jr., and other members of the Virginia General Assembly in a single night.

In 1781, Jouett was a captain in the 16th Regiment of the Virginia Militia.  Late on the evening of June 3, 1781, Jouett was asleep on the lawn in front of the “Cuckoo Tavern” when he was awoken by the sound of a large number of British horsemen passing by.  The soldiers were from Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s cavalry regiment. Jouett overheard their conversations and learned that they were on their way to Charlottesville to capture the Governor of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson. The soldiers also hoped to capture members of the Virginia Legislature who were with Jefferson.

The local militia unit was ill-equipped and too few in numbers to stop Tarleton’s calvary.  Jouett knew nobody else would be able to help Jefferson and the Virginia lawmakers before Tarleton’s forces arrived at Monticello. He knew the task to warn Jefferson was his to carry out. Mounting his best horse, he began the 40-mile ride across the backroads of Virginia in an attempt to make it there under the cover of the night ahead of Tarleton’s cavalry. At about 4:30 am on June 4, he reached the foot of the mountain on which Monticello sits. At Monticello, Jouett woke Jefferson and his guests including Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, and Thomas Nelson. Jouett then remounted to ride two miles further to warn the town of Charlottesville.

As Jefferson left Monticello, he could see British soldiers on his property. It was a a narrow escape.

Imagine how our nation’s history would have been different if Jefferson and Henry had been captured and hanged as traitors in June 1781.

To learn more about Jack Jouett and see possible discussion questions, download the Patriots of the Round Table Jack Jouett Fact Sheet.

May 1, 2022

This year, the Virginia C.A.R. will celebrate some of the lesser-known Patriots without whom the victory at Yorktown would not have been possible.  State President William Elston will introduce you to a new Patriot each month.  Watch as Will reveals the first Patriot of the Round Table, Polly Cooper.

“Allies in War, Partners in Peace” commemorates the alliance between the Oneida Indian Nation and the United States during the American Revolution.  The Oneida Indian Nation donated the bronze statue to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.  In the sculpture, George Washington stands alongside the Oneida diplomat, Oskanondonha, or Skenandoah, and Polly Cooper.

Polly Cooper was an Oneida woman from the New York Colony who took part in an expedition in 1778 to aid the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The Oneida Indian Nation supported the American cause throughout the war and had a great relationship with George Washington and his army. In 1777-78 Washington’s exhausted troops struggled to survive the harsh conditions in Valley Forge. Thousands of soldiers lacked proper clothing and food supplies. So, on April 25th, 1778, a group of forty-seven Native American men and Polly Cooper, sent by the Oneida chief Skenandoah, left New York carrying bushels of white corn to assist Washington at Valley Forge.

When Polly Cooper and her fellow Oneidas arrived, the soldiers residing there tried to eat the corn uncooked. The Oneidas stopped the soldiers, knowing that if they ate the raw corn it would swell up in their stomachs and kill them. Since white corn takes careful preparation before it can be eaten, Cooper taught soldiers and their families how to properly cook it. She also cared for sick soldiers as she was skilled in medicine as well as cooking. After the war, the Continental Army tried to pay Polly Cooper for her service, but she refused any compensation, stating that it was her duty to help her friends in their time of need.

To learn more about Polly Cooper and see possible discussion questions, download the Patriots of the Round Table Polly Cooper Fact Sheet.

April 25, 2022

Welcome to the beginning of a new C.A.R. year!  Yesterday, National President Cagle Kaough of Louisiana and Virginia State President William Elston were installed along with the other national, state, senior national and senior state officers in a grove near the tomb of George Washington at Mount Vernon.

To learn about the new State Theme and State Project, click on the “Theme and Project” tab above.

Members who are interested in joining Will on this year’s epic quest to Yorktown to discover the identity of the Virginia C.A.R. Patriots of the Round Table by serving as a state chairman should fill out and return as soon as possible a State Chairman Application Form, which can be found by clicking the “Announcements and Forms” button under the “Member” tab above.