A Revolutionary October

Rock with 1620 on it

Oct 2, 1775

In 1775, Deborah Champion was the 22 year old daughter of Henry Champion, the Commisary General of the Continental Army.  A horsemen entered the family yard in New London with great distress and Deborah was sent to the store so she wouldn’t hear what he had to say.  When she returned, the rider was gone but her father was left agitated and walking the halls. He called Deborah in and laid a hand on her shoulder. This alone was very unusual for their family. He looked at her solemnly and said, “Deborah, I have need of thee. Hast thee the courage to go out and ride, it may be even in the dark and as fast as may be, till thou comest to Boston town?”  She was to deliver a message to General Washington and would be accompanied by the family slave as an escort. She answered readily, “Dare, father, and I your daughter? A chance to do a service for my country and for George Washington – I am glad to go.” She headed north up the Quinebaug Valley to Canterbury, then east to Pomfret and Boston. The papers were fastened under her bodice and she, disguised as an old woman,  evaded the British at the Boston checkpoint, then found friends who brought her to George Washington. She herself wrote the details of her adventure in a letter to her friend Patience on October 2, 1775. She proudly recalled that General Washington himself complimented her “both as to what he was pleased to call the courage I had displayed and my patriotism.”

Oct 1777


Rinker Rock is located in what is now known as Fairmont Park in Philadelphia. But it’s origins come from the very start of America; the rock actually helped the Patriot spies pass notes! And the faciliatator of the espionage was an unlikely old lady nicknamed  “Mom Rinker, who owned the nearby village inn. When the redcoats arrived in her town, they immediately saw her inn as their own. She had the unwanted job of serving them dinner and ale and cleaning up after them. Being around them so often, she began listening to what they were talking about, especially the officers.  One thing was in her favor. Because she was a woman, and considered too frail and incompetent to even think of such an undercover job, she was never suspected of any foul play. Little did they know that the Battle of Germantown was in part won because of this defiant woman. You can learn a lot listening to half drunk soldiers at the end of their shifts.  Late in the evening she would write down all the relevant tidbits she overheard onto strips of paper. She would set off each morning to her favorite rock where she would sit and knit socks for the rebel soldiers. As she neared the end of her ball of yarn, and often saw a horse and rider in the distance, she would casually lower the ball of yarn over the edge of the cliff behind her. Attached to the end was a small rock with those carefully written strips of paper wrapped around it.  The soldier approaching on horseback would simply hide behind the cliffs and wait for the “knitting” to be lowered. Once in hand, the soldier rode back to camp and placed the missives straight into George Washington’s hands. Mom Rinker would still be quietly sitting on the rock. If the Redcoats had paid more attention, they would have witnessed that she was in fact rolling up her ball of yarn instead of unravelling it, which is required when knitting. I wonder how many socks she actually made. And how did she let the rebels know she would do this in the first place?  We may not have these answers, but thankfully we have the story of one courageous woman and a jagged cliff that both served their country well.

4 – Battle of Germantown (1777)

7 – 25 The Stamp Act Congress (1765)

7 – Proclamation of 1763

7 – Battle of Saratoga at Bemis Heights (1777)

7 – Battle of King’s Mountain [1780)

9 – Battle of Yorktown (1781)

10 – Battle of Point Pleasant (74)

Oct 17, 1777 – Surrender at Saratoga

During the early days of October 1777, the colonial army was in much need of a victory. They had been slowly retreating ever since the British had captured Fort Ticonderoga in July. General Washington knew that after the loss of 1200 men at Brandywine in September, spirits were low and defeat seemed imminent.  General Burgoyne had conceived the plan to separate the New England states from the Southern colonies by wedging his men between the two and taking control of the Hudson River. They expected General Howe, who had just sailed his army to capture Philadelphia, to march north and join Burgoyne’s 11,000 men at Saratoga. They had lost all Indian support after their loss at Bennington, and he needed more men to push forward toward Albany. Washington, though receiving new recruits daily (for a change), was praying for one quick and decisive victory to renew the spirits of his men and once again change the course of the war. On October 17th, Reverend Smith, in Sharon, Connecticut, was preaching a sermon about the need for God in the war. He prophesied that a signal victory for the American army would soon occur. Before the service ended, a messenger arrived with news that British General Burgoyne had surrendered at Saratoga!  How was this possible? Where were all the men who were supposedly marching with General Howe? One problem was Lord North back in London. In his haste to leave on holiday, he forgot to send the dispatch to General Howe. The dispatch wasn’t found until years later in some army archives. So Howe didn’t even know to march his men. Further delays occurred as contrary winds kept the reinforcements on their ships for three months. The colonists saw this as a Providential victory and grew in confidence knowing the Lord was behind them. The Continental Congress proclaimed December 18th as a day for solemn thanksgiving and prayer, encouraging the people to repent of their sins and give God the recognition for such mercy.

28 – Battle of White Plains (1776)

Sometime in October 1620 – Mayflower Miracle

So many hardships and trials awaited the Pilgrims as they began their trek from Holland, and then England, to America. But many miracles are interspersed in their history also. One such was the story of John Howland. He was one of those 100 Pilgrims coming to the New World as a boy. He endured the storms and the disgusting food and the sea sickness. In one particular stormy night, the waves were ferocious and battered the Mayflower. Huddled below, the passengers wondered if they would see the next light of day. John Howland made his way up to the deck to see the storm full force.  A wave immediately knocked him off his feet and sent him hurling into the rolling waters below. Amazingly, in this brief moment of chaos and fear, he managed to grab onto a rope trailing behind the ship. He held on tight until someone finally spotted him and began to pull in the rope. The sailors used a boat hook to haul the young waterlogged boy to safety. He was freezing, ill, and shocked, but he was alive. On board that day watching the spectacle was a girl named Elizabeth Tilley. She ended up marrying John and went on to have 10 children and eighty-two grandchildren. Their numerous posterity includes President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the two President Bush’s, and Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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