Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Week at Graeme Park: 1777

In the winter of 1777-78, Graeme Park was taken over by troops of the American army. Major General James Armstrong went into winter quarters here during Christmas week, 1777, and on New Year's Eve was joined by General James Potter and his brigade. At one point there were nearly 2,000 men encamped on the grounds of Graeme Park. This number, however, decreased rapidly as enlistments ran out and the men went home in the New Year. Both officers were replaced by Brigadier General John Lacey, Jr., who arrived at Graeme Park in mid-January, 1778 to find conditions here "deplorable" with the equipment scattered and the 600 green recruits who remained in camp "confused, demoralized, and leaderless." By January 24, 1778 Lacey reported that there were only seventy men left at Graeme Park. When the troops finally moved out, much to the relief of Elizabeth and Betsy Stedman, the mess they left behind was extensive. Valuable timber had been cut down to buld log huts for the men; the parlor of the Keith House had been occupied as a guardroom, and most of the furniture usually on the first floor of the house had been moved upstairs to storage rooms on the third. Elizabeth was reimbursed only ₤106.4 for 2,360 pounds of beef slaughtered, and that not unitl the end of March. How the women survived after the army left is hard to imagine, no cattle or horses were left and the stored grains and other food must have been pretty well consumed by the army.
 (From The Most Learned Woman in America: A Biography of Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson, by Anne Ousterhout and The Valley Forge Winter: Civilians And Soldiers In War By Wayne Bodle).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...