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State Navies of the Revolutionary War

As we noted some time ago (See "Rhode Island Sweeps the Seas"), during the American Revolution eleven states supported their own maritime forces, only New Jersey and Delaware failing to do so.

The state navies mostly operated early in the war, when Congress was still getting its act together.  Most state navy vessels were small, frequently just coastal craft and row galleys, but some were bigger, and included actual ocean-going vessels, some even qualifying as frigates. 

As the war went on, and the Continental Congress became more effective, most of the state naval forces gradually merged into the Continental Navy, with some vessels (notably lacustrine, riverine, and coastal craft) passing under control of the army.  Nevertheless, a few state vessels remained active through to the end of the war.

This table summaries available information on the state navies.

State

Ships

Gllys

Boats

Unkn

Total

Connecticut

2

-

-

-

2

Georgia

1

3-4

-

-

4-5

Maryland

1

6

2

19

28

Massachusetts

15

-

-

-

15

New Hampshire

1

-

-

-

1

New York

4

2

-

40?

c. 46

North Carolina

3

2

?

-

5+

Pennsylvania

5

14

-

21

40

Rhode Island

4

3

-

-

7

South Carolina

12

<--12

-->

-

24

Virginia

?

?

?

72?

c. 72

Note: Documentation for some of the state navies is very poor.  Ships = sea going vessels, mostly small, with under 12 guns, but some with as many as 28; the Protector of Massachusetts, was sufficiently well-built that she was commissioned as a frigate in the Royal Navy.  Gllys (galleys) were largish oared warships, usually carrying one or two cannon, for operations in coastal waters.  Boats encompasses small vessels, with swivel guns or light cannon, for coastal waters, lakes, inlets, rivers, and covered waters, such as the Long Island and Carolina Sounds.  Unkn - unknown, size, type, often even name have not survived; some in this category may have been floating batteries, armed barges, etc. 

 

The Tsar Revises His Conscription Laws

On August 25, 1812, with Napoleon’s invasion of Russia into its second month, Tsar Alexander I decided to further strengthen his army.  Landowners, already required to furnish a certain quota of recruits for every 100 male serfs of military age on their estates, were asked to provide an additional man.  Since horses were also in short supply, the Tsar allowed landlords in certain provinces to substitute four horses for the required additional man.

On paper the new measure yielded over 20,000 mounts.  Due to various exemptions and concessions, the actual number of horses supplied was only a little over 10,000.  Despite this, the provision was deemed sufficiently effective that it was soon extended to about 40 percent of Russia’s provinces. 

As a result, by the end of 1813, the Tsar had acquired over 37,000 new cavalry horses, of which about 4,600 (12 percent) were suitable for the cuirassiers of the heavy cavalry, 13,400 (35 percent) for dragoon regiments, and about 20,000 (52 percent) for light cavalry, more than the total number of horses that Napoleon was able to procure in France in the same period.

 

"In America Peasants Have Cars?"

Ultra-patriotic citizens often charge that those who criticize American institutions, such as speaking out against poverty or racism, “hate America” or are deluded by Communism or Socialism or some other “ism,” or are perhaps even “traitors” for giving “aid and comfort” to the enemy.  This attitude was particularly common during the Cold War.

Of course, Soviet propagandists did use criticisms of America by Americans in their efforts to convince people they were the real good guys.  But the people suffering under Communist oppression usually saw these efforts in a very different light.

For example, John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath and the 1940 film version directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda were widely condemned by some super-patriots as “Communist propaganda.”  Stalin’s minions did try to use the book and film to their advantage, distributing them widely in the Soviet Union and elsewhere to “prove” how terrible life in America was.  But the workers in Stalin’s factories and the peasants on his collective farms didn’t react quite the way the Politburo expected.  A frequent response was, “In America peasants have cars?”, though presumably not within earshot of the local commissar.

Across the decades Soviet propagandists repeatedly made the same mistake.  For example, once during the 1970s, a Soviet film crew toured an impoverished African-American neighborhood, filming dilapidated housing and other scenes expected to inspire the “workers and peasants” back home to realize how good they had it.  But people back home noticed that the dilapidated houses were often less dilapidated than the ones they lived in, and moreover not only had televisions, indoor plumbing, stereos, and kitchens, but, wonder-of-wonders, held just one family.  

 


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