North American History - Red George MacDonnell

by cofty 11 Replies latest social current

  • cofty

    Greetings to the colonies

    I have come across this individual in the course of some local history research - back in the late 18th C his aunt and her husband owned the estate where I now live and his parents settled nearby. He gets credit for a victory at Ogdensberg in the War of 1812.

    Is 'Red George MacDonnell known to the average American/Canadian or is he an obscure figure?

    Here is a link to Wiki...


  • humbled

    I didn’t know about the guy-

    It isn’t US custom to study the heroes of other countries—especially those who hand us our own ass in a sling. MacDonnell didn’t exactly overstep his commander’s orders it seems. He indulged in creative interpretation of carrying them out.

    The wiki says he was not well recognized for this action. A bias against Mcdonnell may have been afoot as one source said the credit sometimes was assumed by a Lt.Col. Thomas Pearson. Since MacDonnell was born in Newfoundland l wondered if Pearson was born in the motherland. If so , bias against Mcdonnell may have been afoot if the credit was held back in favor of Pearson.

    I favor native-born MacDonnell as the initiating the action. Certainly colonial boys both sides of the border were noted for innovative tactics, more likely to buck authority and seize the moment ahead of orders (for better and worse) But politics, snobbery can play out in the military and not give credit where due.

    Interesting bit of history. Somebody kicked US ass back then.

  • cofty

    Turns out he has a pub named after him in Ontario...

  • GrreatTeacher

    ...with vegetarian and vegan options. Sounds like the kind of place Red George would have loved!

    With all seriousness, Americans are likely to know nothing of the man. We don't tend to talk about defeats.

    Now, I can tell you all about the battle of Baltimore, though, where Francis Scott Key was held prisoner aboard a British ship in the harbor through the night, just straining for a peek at the flag that flew over Fort McHenry in the dawn's early light. (Spoiler alert: it was the stars and stripes!)

    That is totally cool history, though! How neat is it that you've traced him from your neighborhood across the Atlantic! Have you found where he was buried? It seems he was back in Britain before he was age 40.

  • humbled

    He is well remembered after all. Few soldiers could wish for better recognition than a pub where friends gather. But hope the beer isn’t gluten-free. Just 🍺🍻have a cider instead.

  • cofty

    George died at Wardour Castle in Wiltshire. I have no idea how he ended up there. His father's last military posting was as Captain of the regiment as the barracks in Berwick-upon-Tweed before retiring to Edinburgh.

    I am working on a history of the estate where I live. So far I have made it from the Norman Conquest to 1800. Fascinating stuff. The Earl of Bothwell who murdered Lord Darnley and married his widow Mary Queen of Scots took refuge here for a few nights in 1562. One wall of the room where he stayed is still standing as part of a walled garden.

  • humbled

    Do you find these things in church records, obscure histories, collected letters? The land records go back—how far? The estate was very large/important?

    Unraveling history of a person or place is a good study in how a narrative of a life dips and dives in and out of sight. Good luck on finding out how George died in Wardour Castle. No clues, eh?

  • cofty

    A lot of old records are available online.

    The estate was once part of an enclave belonging to the 'Prince Bishops' of Durham. Going back to medieval and post-medieval period there are a lot of archives held at Durham Cathedral and transcribed for viewing online.

    Post-Conquest it belonged to a nobleman who had land on both sides of the Scottish border and who fell out with Edward I because of his allegiance to Robert Bruce. It then passed to the family of Robert de Manners whose ancestors came over with William the Conqueror. It stayed in that family for many generations. He was a classic English Knight who fought in many of the Scottish - English wars including Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge.

    It was a village in the Middle Ages with a decent population but was repeatedly sacked by raiding Scots and fell into decline for a while. There was a tower here which was later replaced by a Tudor Mansion which is now no more than a couple of walls that are part of a walled garden and replaced by a Georgian House which still exists a short distance from the cottage I live in (I was creeping around it with a torch and big metal bar in the early hours last week when the alarm went off during the night - false alarm thankfully)

    After the Reformation the family who owned the estate remained Roman Catholic and maintained a secret Chaplaincy. They fought for King Charles in the English Civil War and for Edward Stuart and Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite rebellions. One son of the family was hanged at York for his rebellion. The woman for whom the current house was built was called Jacobina - her father was a Jacobite who took part in the Battle of Culloden. Always on the losing side of history!

    I have permission to metal detect around the estate and have artefacts that link to all parts of the recorded history. I have been researching on and off for a few years - my account is about 50 pages so far full of colourful characters and incidents, I'm going to print it off and give copies to the current landowners as thanks for the permission to detect on the estate.

  • Dunedain

    Very interesting stuff. I am a self proclaimed history scholar myself, with the American Revolution, Civil War, and WW 2, being my top indulgences.

    I have interesting Revolutionary War history, both in where i grew up/born and raised, and where i currently live, only 20 minutes away, but in another state.

    Where i grew up was in one of the boroughs of NYC, specifically on Staten Island, and more specifically in the southern most point of Staten Island and NYC, an area called Tottenville. Well it just so happens that Tottenville has an old building called the Conference house, which was only a few minutes from my own home growing up.

    This house was built in the early 1700s, and was one of the only homes on the Island during the time of the American revolutionary war. At that time it was called the Billop house. Its name later got changed to the Conference house, because during the height of the war, both Washington, and Jefferson, and some of the top military brass, had an impromptu war meeting, while being chased by the British army.

    This house now sits, mostly untouched, name "The Conference House", and on a city park. Interestingly, its right on the water, and acroos this body of water is Perth Amboy NJ. The British chased the Americans over this water, into NJ, all the way down to Monmouth NEW Jersey, where the battle of Monmouth courthouse happened.

    Whats funny, is i now live in New Jersey, and only 20 minutes from that battle site. I definitely grew up, and lived right in the heart of where the roots of the American nation were formed.

  • cofty

    That's brilliant Dunedain! I love being able to connect local history to national events.

    It has also been really interesting to discover the everyday life of ordinary people who lived here centuries ago. While metal detecting I find artefacts that were last seen and held by men and women who lived right here yards from my house hundreds of years ago. Always gives me a buzz.

    A classic example of what I mean is lead 'spindle whorls'. These turn up all the time around here. They were attached to the end of stick and used by young women 'spinsters' to make woolen yarn medieval times before the invention of the spinning wheel. Every time I find one I think about who lost it maybe 6 or 7 hundred years ago. What was their home like? Their clothes and food and possessions?

    Here is one example of 20 or more I have found within a few fields around my house (the white colour is lead oxide)

    Edited to add - The diameter is about 40mm

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