Saturday, June 4, 2011

Listen My Children and You Shall Hear the Midnight Ride of ..... Jack Jouett?

June 4th, 1781

A little more than 5 years after Paul Revere called the Minute Men to arms in what would be the "Shot Heard Around the World", another man would quietly save the revolution.

JACK JOUETT of VIRGINIA the "Other Ride"
Jouett was a Captain of Virginia Militia and was stationed in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. Late on the evening of June 3rd of 1781, Captain Jouett was asleep on the lawn in front of the "Cuckoo Tavern" (now a private residence). He was awakened by the sound of a large number of horsemen. Sitting up, he observed a large unit of the dreaded "White Coats", a nick-name given to the British Dragoons in Colonel Banastre (the Butcher) Tarletons regiment. Tarleton himself was leading the cavalry column. Jouett was quick to realize the objective of this force. The Virginia General Assembly was in session at Charlottesville, some forty miles from the Cuckoo Tavern, and Governor Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and many other notorious 'rebels' were there. They were virtually helpless, as most of Virginia's fighting men were up north with General George Washington, and the local Militia was ill-equipped and too few in numbers to stop Tarleton. The young General Marquis de LaFayette, who had been so successfully harassing the British, Tarleton in particular, was too far away to be of any assistance. The enormity of the situation sat squarely on Captain Jouetts broad shoulders.
Col Banastre Tarleton A.k.a "Bloody Bana" or "the Butcher" is the historical figure for which  Col. William Tavington from the 2000 film "The Patriot" is loosely based on.
Revere rode only 15 miles over good roads. Col. Tarleton certainly had advance scouts on the road to Charlottesville, hence that route was denied to Jouett. He had to go through the tangled Virginia backwoods.
No sooner had the hoofbeats of the British Dragoons faded into the night, when Captain Jouett saddled his horse and plunged into the dense woods.
I have stood in awe of Paul Revere's great deed most of my life, so I have to give props here. Jack had 40 miles between him and Charlottesville where Thomas Jefferson was staying at his Monticello.
With the first light of dawn he arrived at Thomas Jefferson's famous home, Monticello. He awoke Governor Jefferson and some of the Virginia Legislators who were staying at Monticello. Then, without hesitation, the exhausted Captain turned his horse and galloped to Charlottesville to spread the alarm. The Assemblymen at Charlottesville scattered, but only after voting to reconvene on June 7th at Staunton.

Shortly after Governor Jefferson received the warning, he dispatched his family, gathered his important papers and then, he too departed.
Imagine if the British had captured Jefferson on June 4th? Being one month before the 5th anniversary of the Declaration of Independance the loss of Jefferson would have been a serious blow to morale.

God Bless America. Truly the Home of the Brave!


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