September 28, 2004

Battle of White Plains, 1776

If you've ever spent any time at all looking at the history of the Revolutionary War in this country, you know that it was a damn close thing. If Howe had taken Philadelphia that winter of 1776, if he had pushed across the Delaware and taken the city, that might have been the end of our Revolution. After all, Howe had chased Washington out of Long Island, off of Manhattan, and across New Jersey to Pennsylvania. In that time of loss after loss, not only battles and skirmishes, mind you, but supplies and wagon trains with clothes and food, there was only one bright spot -- the Battle of White Plains. There, the Continental Army stopped the British and the Hessians cold. The Army escaped intact with a victory, of sorts, under its belt and it retreated in good order. It was the first time in this campaign that the Continentals could claim a victory, even if they were driven from the field.

You can visit the battlefield, or parts of it, in White Plains, NY. Have you ever visited an historical battlefield before? It is a place that is made holy, consecrated by the deaths of the men who fought and died there. Sometimes they fought for good reasons and died simply because of the stupidity of the men who led them. Sometimes they fought and died because they had to. Either way, it is a solemn thing to visit a battlefield.

I took the kids and set off to find the last remaining Revolutionary War battlefield in Westchester County on Sunday. It was deserted. The children and I were the only ones there. It was located in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It is called, Miller Hill.


The actual monument plaque is:


I enjoyed the visit very much. It was transporting to stand in the the lines where our forefathers stood and waited for the Hessians to charge with bayonets fixed. The lines looked like this:


and like this:


There is something transformative about the laughter of children. Even the laughter of children at a former battle field. I was happy to leave the past behind to watch the Girl Child and the Boy Child chase each other around the sun dappled field, stopping to hold hands and share pretzels. I think the kids had a good time, even if they didn't really understand what happened there. In fact, for more information generally about the Battle of White Plains, go here. The Girl Child, thanks to some of the historical fiction I have lying around the house, is familiar with the concept of Dragoons and was not a little bit disappointed when she didn't see any at the field. The Boy Child was also disappointed, but that was because we ran out of pretzels, I think.

After we left the park, we stopped quickly by Gen. Washington's headquarters, a national historic monument and park. I snapped a quick shot of it through the fence (the place was closed):


All in all, it was a lovely way to spend a morning.

Posted by Random Penseur at September 28, 2004 09:02 AM

Lovely pictures! Sounds like a terrific time, too. I think it's wonderful that you're giving your kids an awareness of the history around them. You're providing them with a strong foundation with which to appreciate and respect their heritage. If more parents did that, more children would grow up to value their country and what it stands for.

Posted by: Mick at September 28, 2004 01:48 PM

Thanks, Mick. I think sometimes that my wife and I had kids so as to have a built in audience for lectures! :)

Posted by: rp at September 28, 2004 02:18 PM

Fabulous pictures, RP. I echo Mick's sentiments, too.

I thought I had kids so that I can embarrass them in public. I'll have to check the manual. Heh.

Posted by: Margi at September 28, 2004 03:18 PM

Getting into the outdoors is a great way to relieve some stress. It's also great to introduce your kids first-hand to the concept that history is all around us -- it's not just in a book somewhere. And even if your kids don't listen to your lectures, they are at least absorbing your enthusiasm.

Nice story, and I hope your coming week is better than last week!

Posted by: JohnL at September 28, 2004 03:27 PM

great pictures i agree.
i have never been there, but i think i will put it on the list of places to go.
thanks for the tip.
glad you had a good time.

Posted by: standing naked at September 29, 2004 08:29 AM
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