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#21 Reidy

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 10:39 AM

I'm a latecomer to the thread. The earlier remarks that the deists considered religion indispensable to morality reminds me of a Jacob Sullum column from the 2000 election season, when Lieberman was thumping his Bible and bringing up that famous George Washington quote. Briefly, Sullum says Washington valued religion as a way of keeping the lowlifes in line.

#22 George H. Smith

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 10:52 AM

I'm a latecomer to the thread. The earlier remarks that the deists considered religion indispensable to morality reminds me of a Jacob Sullum column from the 2000 election season, when Lieberman was thumping his Bible and bringing up that famous George Washington quote. Briefly, Sullum says Washington valued religion as a way of keeping the lowlifes in line.


Many Enlightenment skeptics believed that religion is necessary for the insensate masses who are incapable of understanding philosophy and who would run wild, morally speaking, without belief in Christianity, especially its threat of eternal damnation.

In the 17th century, Spinoza, who had demolished the factual basis of biblical accounts with devastating results, argued that biblical stories are nonetheless useful as a kind of Philosophy For Dummies.

In short, Washington's belief was very common at the time. It reminds me in some ways of a theory held by some ancient Greek skeptics, namely, that belief in the gods and an afterlife originated with rulers as a means to frighten their subjects to obey.

Ghs

#23 Brant Gaede

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 11:45 AM




I should also mention that there is a wider point here regarding Ayn Rand's view of history. Recall her comment in her 1964 PLAYBOY interview: "In any historical period when men were free, it has always been the most rational philosophy that won."

The failure of deism appears to disprove this theory.

More later.


Rand echoed an old theme in classical liberalism, one that was articulated by John Milton, John Locke, and many others. As Locke put it:

Truth would certainly do well enough, if she were once made to shift for herself. She seldom has received, and I fear never will receive, must assistance from the power of great men, to whom she is but rarely known, and more rarely welcome. She is not taught by laws, nor has she any need of force to procure her entrance into the minds of men.


Enlightenment theories of progress typically emphasized the progress of knowledge. It became commonplace during the 18th century to argue, as Paine did in Rights of Man, that "Truth...is always ultimately victorious," especially when freedom of speech and press are secure. Moreover, Paine articulated a common Enlightenment belief when he claimed that a significant truth, once it has been learned and widely understood by the general public, can never be unlearned.

Herbert Spencer held similar optimistic ideas, especially during his earlier years, so he had some explaining to do when the libertarian ideas of classical liberalism were quickly supplanted, during the last decades of the 19th century, by the welfare-state principles of the "New Liberalism." Spencer's explanation for this depressing transition was ingenious, if not very convincing. He argued that the "true" (i.e., classical) liberals, by calling for and bringing about the repeal of many onerous economic regulations earlier in the 19th century, had greatly improved the conditions of the lower classes in England.

But the masses, most of whom were totally ignorant of social and economic principles, understood only this: that the English government did something in earlier decades that had helped them -- it had repealed all the import duties on grain (the Corn Laws), for example -- but they failed to grasp the difference between the repeal of old legislation and the enactment of new legislation. Thus did the earlier economic reforms of free-market liberalism, by being widely misunderstood, serve to reinforce the belief in the efficacy of government in the economic realm.

Mises discusses the failure of classical liberalism near the end of Human Action. As I recall, Mises pinpoints the belief in the permanency of truth in social and economic matters as a primary reason for the ultimate failure of classical liberalism. Liberals believed that free market principles had been so definitively established in theory, and their practical benefits so clearly demonstrated in practice, that no alternative theory could seriously challenge them. This assumption caused many classical liberals to become complacent about their core doctrines, and they stood watching in amazement, virtually helpless, as many elements of classical liberalism were discarded and replaced with statist theories in a shockingly brief period of time.

Ghs

It's like I said when I said "People act on a religion, a religion doesn't act on people." Substitute "truth" for "religion." People obviously, in this formulation, act on truth for a variety of motivations, like a lust for power. Then there are truths and truths--there is that communist truth about the inevitability of history that couldn't be stopped but knowing this truth it would be immoral not to goose it along even to the point of mass murder. No need to talk about Nazi "truth" and all the rest of that. The hubris of totalitarian truth can easily overpower the hubris of Christian religious truth, because if you are equal before God it's harder to justify genocide amongst yourselves. Of course, the stronger a religion is the more dangerous it tends to be, but the denatured Christianity of the 20th Century didn't do much to stop mass murder by governments. Sure true truth will out, eventually, at the price of suffering that for most people is a way to education. The human race will keep bumping into reality which in turn must limit the extent of its collective ignorance, stupidity and apathy all the while continuing to make progress economically through what freedom it can grab hold of and technology, the ultimate definer of real and true: Does it work? There is a kind of ongoing liberation in that.

Now, let me tell you all about OBJECTIVIST TRUTH.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#24 George H. Smith

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 12:06 PM


It's like I said when I said "People act on a religion, a religion doesn't act on people." Substitute "truth" for "religion." People obviously, in this formulation, act on truth for a variety of motivations, like a lust for power. Then there are truths and truths--there is that communist truth about the inevitability of history that couldn't be stopped but knowing this truth it would be immoral not to goose it along even to the point of mass murder. No need to talk about Nazi "truth" and all the rest of that. The hubris of totalitarian truth can easily overpower the hubris of Christian religious truth, because if you are equal before God it's harder to justify genocide amongst yourselves. Of course, the stronger a religion is the more dangerous it tends to be, but the denatured Christianity of the 20th Century didn't do much to stop mass murder by governments. Sure true truth will out, eventually, at the price of suffering that for most people is a way to education. The human race will keep bumping into reality which in turn must limit the extent of its collective ignorance, stupidity and apathy all the while continuing to make progress economically through what freedom it can grab hold of and technology, the ultimate definer of real and true: Does it work? There is a kind of ongoing liberation in that.

Now, let me tell you all about OBJECTIVIST TRUTH.

--Brant


The "geometrical method" was very popular among 17th century philosophers (Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, etc.) because it promised to bring a certainty and a unanimity to philosophy that it had hitherto lacked. Thomas Hobbes in particular expressed frustration over the many differences of opinion in political philosophy, differences that had caused considerable bloodshed during revolutions, etc. Hobbes therefore proclaimed himself the founder of political "science" (not philosophy) and proceeded to present various fundamental definitions as axioms, claiming that these definitions, when combined with deductive reasoning, would yield conclusions in politics that are as incontrovertible as the conclusions of geometry. (His general conclusion was that we should obey the sovereign in all things, without resistance or revolution.)

Many 18th century philosophers looked to Newtonian mechanics for their methodological model, but they were no more successful than 17th century philosophers had been in achieving unanimity among philosophers.

These and other quixotic quests were based on the notion that the conclusions of mathematics and science, being perfectly demonstrable to every rational person, exclude irrational emotions from their domains and so enable people to agree about significant truths on the basis of reason alone.

The problem, of course, is that political theory is not an exact science. There will never be unanimous, or even nearly unanimous, agreement on most political measures. The same is true of ethics in general.

Ghs

#25 Brant Gaede

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 12:12 PM



It's like I said when I said "People act on a religion, a religion doesn't act on people." Substitute "truth" for "religion." People obviously, in this formulation, act on truth for a variety of motivations, like a lust for power. Then there are truths and truths--there is that communist truth about the inevitability of history that couldn't be stopped but knowing this truth it would be immoral not to goose it along even to the point of mass murder. No need to talk about Nazi "truth" and all the rest of that. The hubris of totalitarian truth can easily overpower the hubris of Christian religious truth, because if you are equal before God it's harder to justify genocide amongst yourselves. Of course, the stronger a religion is the more dangerous it tends to be, but the denatured Christianity of the 20th Century didn't do much to stop mass murder by governments. Sure true truth will out, eventually, at the price of suffering that for most people is a way to education. The human race will keep bumping into reality which in turn must limit the extent of its collective ignorance, stupidity and apathy all the while continuing to make progress economically through what freedom it can grab hold of and technology, the ultimate definer of real and true: Does it work? There is a kind of ongoing liberation in that.

Now, let me tell you all about OBJECTIVIST TRUTH.

--Brant


The "geometrical method" was very popular among 17th century philosophers (Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, etc.) because it promised to bring a certainty and a unanimity to philosophy that it had hitherto lacked. Thomas Hobbes in particular expressed frustration over the many differences of opinion in political philosophy, differences that had caused considerable bloodshed during revolutions, etc. Hobbes therefore proclaimed himself the founder of political "science" (not philosophy) and proceeded to present various fundamental definitions as axioms, claiming that these definitions, when combined with deductive reasoning, would yield conclusions in politics that are as incontrovertible as the conclusions of geometry. (His general conclusion was that we should obey the sovereign in all things, without resistance or revolution.)

Many 18th century philosophers looked to Newtonian mechanics for their methodological model, but they were no more successful than 17th century philosophers had been in achieving unanimity among philosophers.

These and other quixotic quests were based on the notion that the conclusions of mathematics and science, being perfectly demonstrable to every rational person, exclude irrational emotions from their domains and so enable people to agree about significant truths on the basis of reason alone.

The problem, of course, is that political theory is not an exact science. There will never be unanimous, or even nearly unanimous, agreement on most political measures. The same is true of ethics in general.

Ghs

The people who put this country together weren't this naive, as represented by the checks and balances of the Constitution and The Bill of Rights. I think George Washington, btw, was more monarchist than he let on.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#26 Brant Gaede

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 12:28 PM





This negative view of American courage and fighting abilities was largely owing to the performance of American militiamen during the French and Indian War (or the Seven Years' War, as it was known on a worldwide scale), which ended in 1763. American farmers were not enthusiastic, to say the least, about being dragged from their homes to fight the French in Canada, so many of them either deserted or played dead during battles, such as the Battle of Quebec in 1759. These actions led British commanders, such as Major General James Wolfe, to spread the word that cowardice was part of the American character. (The 1992 movie, The Last of the Mohicans, provides an excellent account of this problem.)

In short, the British parliamentary hawks did know their history, but they read it wrong. Hubris took precedence over commonsensical facts about human nature.
Ghs


George:

Exactly. Some of our colonial leaders did learn from the French and Indian War, for example, the infamous/famous [depends on which end of the musket you were on] Major Marion, the Swamp Fox, and like:

Most heroes of the Revolution were not the saints that biographers like Parson Weems would have them be, and Francis Marion was a man of his times: he owned slaves, and he fought in a brutal campaign against the Cherokee Indians. While not noble by today's standards, Marion's experience in the French and Indian War prepared him for more admirable service. The Cherokee used the landscape to their advantage, Marion found; they concealed themselves in the Carolina backwoods and mounted devastating ambushes. Two decades later, Marion would apply these tactics against the British.

Read more: http://www.smithsoni...l#ixzz1RFA8mRxR

Adam


Mel Gibson's character in The Patriot was supposed to be a blend of Francis Marion ("The Swamp Fox") and Daniel Morgan, who designed the brilliant tactics at the Battle of Cowpens. Indeed, the final scene in that movie was supposed to be the Battle of Cowpens, but it was so ineptly done that audiences unfamiliar with the Battle of Cowpens had little or no idea of what was going on.

Morgan, who was commanding a force composed of both militia and Contintental regulars, came up with the following plan:

Unlike some American commanders, who denigrated militiamen for not standing up to savage British bayonet attacks after they had fired their muskets, Morgan positioned the militia in front of a hill and told them to fire two, possibly three, rounds at the British dragoons (led by the hated Colonel Tarleton), after which they were to turn and run over the hill. The British dragoons, figuring that this was more American cowardice, broke ranks and pursued the militiamen -- but once they got over the hill they were greeted by rows of Continential regulars, who mowed them down.

This was a stunning defeat for Tarleton's crack dragoons -- who were, in effect, the special forces of the British army.

Ghs


George:

Correct.

The article I linked to above, makes your point about Gibson's portrayal in the film, explaining that:

The 2000 movie The Patriot exaggerated the Swamp Fox legend for a whole new generation. Although Francis Marion led surprise attacks against the British, and was known for his cunning and resourcefulness, Mel Gibson played The Patriot's Marion-inspired protagonist as an action hero. "One of the silliest things the movie did," says Sean Busick, a professor of American history at Athens State University in Alabama, "was to make Marion into an 18th century Rambo."

http://youtu.be/sfQ71QJk0T0

THE BATTLE PLAN

Morgan surveyed the area in and around Cowpens as his forces were making camp for the night. In the evening Morgan personally talked to all his troops and commanders and made sure they succinctly understood his battle plan. The first line would be made up of all militia and his orders to them were to allow the British to come within killing distance and fire two volleys, aiming for the British officers and sergeants. They would then go to their left and right and retreat back and join the second line of militia, commanded by militia Colonel Andrew Pickens. The second line would fire three rounds and then fall back while reloading. Then both the first and second lines would combine their firepower with the third line of Colonel John Howard's battle­ hardened Continentals. Lieutenant Colonel Washington and his cavalry would be out of sight behind the knoll. At Morgan's command sometime after the first line had retreated and the second line was about to fire, he would dispatch the cavalry to come around on the left and the right flanks of the British. Thus the British would be forced to not only defend their front, but also their flanks. Morgan told all the men to get a good night's rest and have a good meal for the next day they would do battle with Tarleton's British Legion.



The Wikipedia article on this battle is a must read. It was one of the decisive battles of the war leading inexorably to Yorktown and the most brilliant tactically of by either side. The war's most important American victory was at Saratoga. Also of supreme importance was the successful retreat from New York City to New Jersey.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede, 05 July 2011 - 12:29 PM.

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#27 Selene

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 01:51 PM

Brant:

Extremely critical battle. This is from British Battles.com

Follow-up:
This small battle had an effect disproportionate to its size. As seemed to be the case throughout the war British victories achieved little in the long term while every
American victory gave encouragement to the colonies.

Casualties:
The British lost 39 officers and 60 soldiers killed. 829 were captured. 12 Americans were killed and 60 wounded.
The Americans captured the British baggage and the colours of the 7th Foot.

What is most amazing about the battles in the Revolutionary War was how "light" the casualties were by comparison to other wars of the time.

Adam

"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#28 George H. Smith

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 02:35 PM

Brant:

Extremely critical battle. This is from British Battles.com

Follow-up:
This small battle had an effect disproportionate to its size. As seemed to be the case throughout the war British victories achieved little in the long term while every
American victory gave encouragement to the colonies.

Casualties:
The British lost 39 officers and 60 soldiers killed. 829 were captured. 12 Americans were killed and 60 wounded.
The Americans captured the British baggage and the colours of the 7th Foot.

What is most amazing about the battles in the Revolutionary War was how "light" the casualties were by comparison to other wars of the time.

Adam


One of the worst days for the British was the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major engagement of the American Revolution. Here is my account of the battle from the third of my four Knowledge Products tapes on the American Revolution, narrated by George C. Scott (with actors reading the quotations), and written in 1988.

Writing about battles was a new challenge for me, something far different than writing about philosophy. I was not (and am not) a military historian, so I researched this material meticulously. To have it narrated by an actor of the caliber of George C. Scott was a big thrill for me, especially since I was in the Santa Monica studio as he did so.

After Scott read this section, which is the last section of Tape #3, he made a comment which I relate below.

Generals Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne urged the cautious Gage to undertake a limited offensive. Boston was vulnerable to artillery bombardment from Dorchester Heights, hilly ground southeast of Boston. The British decided to seize and fortify Dorchester Heights before Americans used it to rain cannonballs on their positions.

British plans leaked to the Americans, who decided to fortify another strategic high-ground: Bunker Hill, the highest of three principal elevations on the Charlestown peninsula north of Boston.

On June 16th, New England militia gathered under the Elms of the Cambridge Common. An eyewitness described this assemblage of over 1000 men:

"To a man, they wore small-clothes, coming down and fastening just below the knee, and long stockings with cowhide shoes ornamented by large buckles, while not a pair of boots graced the company. The coats and waistcoats were loose and of huge dimensions, with colors as various as the barks of oak, sumach and other trees of our hills and swamps, could make them and theirs were all made of flax, and like every other part of the dress, were home-spun. On their heads was worn a large round top and broad-rimmed hat. Their arms were as various as their costume; here an old soldier carried a heavy Queen's arm, with which he had done service at the Conquest of Canada twenty years previous, while by his side walked a stripling boy with a Spanish fusee not half its weight or caliber, which his grandfather may have taken at the Havana, while not a few had old French pieces, that dated back to the reduction of Louisburg. Instead of the cartridge box, a large power horn was slung under the arm, and occasionally a bayonet might be seen bristling in the ranks. Some of the swords of the officers had been made by our Province blacksmiths, perhaps from some farming utensil; they looked serviceable, but heavy and uncouth."

At about 9 p.m., Colonel William Prescott led the New Englanders to the narrow neck of Charlestown peninsula. Here, for the first time, Prescott informed his officers of their mission: to fortify Bunker Hill. A debate ensued; and, for reasons never made clear, it was decided to erect the main works, not on Bunker Hill, but on Breed's Hill farther south. Although Bunker Hill was 35 feet higher than Breed's Hill and more easily defended, Breed's Hill lay closer to Boston -- just one-half mile across the Charles River.

About midnight, Americans began their pick and shovel work on Breed's Hill. Colonel Gridley, an experienced military engineer, had sketched the lines of a redoubt -- a square earthen fort about 6 feet high and 50 yards on each side. The Americans worked feverishly. Only four hours separated them from dawn, discovery, and cannonade from British warships anchored nearby.

Daybreak revealed the outlines of the redoubt to men aboard the British sloop Lively. It immediately opened fire. Other ships, and the artillery battery on Copp's Hill, soon joined in.

Fortunately for Prescott and his men, most of the cannonballs bounced harmlessly off the earthworks. But the roar of guns terrified many of the inexperienced American soldiers. Some of them left and never returned.

Exhausted and thirsty, the men on Breed's Hill had been promised relief by morning. None came -- no water, no food, no reinforcements. One young American, Peter Brown, felt betrayed by his officers:

"The danger we were in made us think there was treachery, and that we were brought there to be all slain, and I must and will venture to say that there was treachery, oversight or presumption in the conduct of our officers. And about half after 5 in the morn, we not having above half the fort done, they began to fire, I suppose as soon as they had orders, pretty briskly a few minutes, and then stopped, and then again to the number of about twenty or more. They killed one of us, and then they ceased till about 11 O`Clock and then they began pretty brisk again, and that caused some of our young country people to desert, apprehending the danger in a clearer manner than the rest, who were more diligent in digging and fortifying ourselves against them. We began to be almost beat out, being tired by our labor and having no sleep the night before, but little victuals, no drink but rum."

To reassure his men and keep them working, Colonel Prescott exposed himself to fire by walking atop the unfinished redoubt. Clad in a light linen coat, his bald head glistening with sweat, Prescott shouted encouragement and orders. When a cannonball finally killed one man working outside the redoubt, Prescott was asked what should be done. "Bury him!" was his terse reply.

While Prescott's men rushed to complete their redoubt, the British generals assessed the weak American position. British ships controlled the water which nearly surrounded Charlestown peninsula. And these ships could blast the only route for American reinforcement, supply, and retreat -- a narrow neck connecting Charlestown peninsula to the mainland.

In addition, the American left side was undefended, allowing the British to march up the east side of the Mystic river, safely beyond the range of American musket-fire. From there, part of the British force could outflank the redoubt and attack it from the rear, while other British soldiers executed a frontal assault. This became the British plan of attack.

General Howe was the British field commander. He lost precious hours waiting for high tide so he could land his 28 barges, containing 1500 soldiers, on the southeastern shore of Charlestown peninsula.

When Howe completed his amphibious landing at one in the afternoon, he realized the Americans had been greatly reinforced. Moreover, a breastwork extending from the redoubt now protected the American left, thereby rendering a British flanking movement more difficult. Howe decided to wait for 700 reserves.

General Howe hoped to turn the American left flank by overruning a low stone wall on the beach. For this he would use eleven companies of light infantry -- the elite among British soldiers. After breaking through, these light infantry would attack other fortifications from behind, while grenadiers and regulars attacked from the front. Howe assigned a strike force of some 1500 men to execute his plan.

So much for theory. The reality of the battle proved far different -- and far bloodier.

Howe assumed the Americans defending the beach would fire one inaccurate volley, perhaps two at most. Then, before they could reload, the light infantry's bayonets would cut them to pieces. This never happened. General Howe greatly underestimated the skill of the beach's defenders: Colonel Stark's New Hampshire militia.

Colonel John Stark positioned his men in three ranks, thus assuring a continuous fire. Excellent marksmen, Stark's men aimed low to compensate for the upward recoil of their muskets. Stark hammered a stake in the sand forty yards away, and he told his men, "Not a man is to fire until the first regular crosses that stake." In addition, Stark told his men to look for the distinctive ornaments worn by officers.

Fifty yards away, the British light infantry leveled their bayonets, let out a roar, and charged. They covered ten yards before Stark's men fired a withering blast of musket balls. The famed Royal Welsh Fusiliers leading the charge were decimated. Two-thirds of them dropped instantly. As the remaining fusiliers pushed forward, they met a second blast. Only six remained on their feet.

Next, the King's Own, a regiment steeped in tradition, surged forward over the dead and wounded. They got only 15 yards before a third volley from Stark's lines tore them apart. Then came the regulars of the Tenth Regiment, the soldiers who had fought at Lexington. They, too, charged into a fearsome volley, and again into another.

It was impossible for the light infantry to continue. 350 had attacked. Now, 96 dead littered the beach. Colonel Stark's comment was grim but to the point:

"I never saw sheep lie as thick in the fold."

When General Howe heard the terrible news, he refused to give up. He gave the order, "Attack all along the line." With this command, Howe committed to an unvarnished frontal assault.

Howe led the attack on the rail fence, while Pigot led the attack against the redoubt and breastwork. Again, the Americans had been ordered to hold their fire, to aim low, and to target officers. And, again, the British soldiers paid an enormous price.

Wearing heavy wool uniforms on a hot, humid day, and lugging over 100 pounds of equipment on their backs, British soldiers tried to overrun strongly fortified positions. They never got close. As front ranks were felled by American fire, they collapsed into the ranks behind them. Finally, mercifully, a retreat was ordered. And so ended the first phase of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

General Howe launched a second attack within fifteen minutes. The battle plan differed from the first attack, but the results were similar. An English soldier described the fighting:

"As we approached, an incessant stream of fire poured from the rebel lines. It seemed a continued sheet of fire for near thirty minutes. Our Light-Infantry were served up in Companies against the grass fence, without being able to penetrate-- indeed, how could we penetrate? Most of our Grenadiers and Light-Infantry, the moment of presenting themselves, lost three-fourths, and many nine-tenths, of their men. Some had only eight and nine a company left; some only three, four and five."

The British retreated a second time. Their losses were staggering. General Howe's officers urged him to stop the slaughter. But Howe was determined not to go down as commander of the most disastrous defeat in British history. He added 400 fresh troops, re-formed his lines, and ordered a third attack. This time he allowed his soldiers to remove their 100-pound packs.

Luck was on Howe's side at last. He didn't know it, but the Americans had nearly exhausted their powder. They managed one more deadly volley; then their fire sputtered out. It was over. The British stormed the redoubt and went to work with their bayonets. The Americans fought back with clubbed muskets and stones.

So ended the Battle of Bunker Hill – one of the bloodiest days of the American revolution. American losses were about 140 dead, 300 wounded, and 30 captured. British losses were 226 dead and 828 wounded -- a casualty rate of over 40 percent.

Officer casualties were especially heavy. Every man in Howe's personal staff was either killed or wounded. Indeed, of all British officer casualties during the Revolution, one-eighth were killed and an additional one-sixth were wounded during the battle of Bunker Hill.

Shortly after the battle, one British officer blamed the dreadful loss on General Howe and his frontal attack.

"We are all wrong at the head. My mind cannot help dwelling upon our cursed mistakes. Such ill conduct at the first out-set argues a gross ignorance of the most common rules of the profession, and gives us, for the future, anxious forebodings. I have lost some of those I most valued. This madness of ignorance nothing can excuse. The brave men's lives were wantonly thrown away. Our conductor as much murdered them as if he had cut their
throats himself on Boston Common."

Technically, the British had won. But, as General Howe said, "The success is too dearly bought." General Clinton agreed. "A few more such victories," he wrote, "would have shortly put an end to British dominion in America." " General Johnny Burgoyne, on the other hand, called it "a day of glory."


Immediately after finishing his narration of this section, Scott, referring to Burgoyne, quipped, "What an asshole!" I suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that we retain Scott's comment in the final edit, but I was overruled. :rolleyes:

Ghs

#29 Selene

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 03:30 PM

Very nicely written.

Where can I access the Scott reading?

Their stated casualties are a lot higher: The British suffered some 1,150 killed and wounded or nearly half of the force engaged. The American casualties were estimated at 450 killed and wounded.

Posted Image


The Battle of Bunker Hill 1775
Battle: Bunker Hill

War: American Revolution

Date: 17th June 1775

Posted Image
Battle of Bunker Hill

Place: On the Charlestown Peninsula on the North side of Boston Harbour.

Combatants: British troops of the Boston garrison against troops of the American Continental Army.

Generals: Major General Howe against General Artemas Ward and General Israel Putnam

Size of the armies: 2,400 British troops against 1,500 Americans.

Uniforms, arms and equipment: The British grenadiers, light infantry and battalion company men wore red coats, the headgear of the companies, bearskin fronted mitre caps, tricorne hats and caps, and were armed with muskets and bayonets. The British had light guns and were supported by the heavy guns of the fleet. The Americans were armed with muskets or whatever firearms they could obtain, a few bayonets and some light guns.

Posted Image
Battle of Bunker Hill

Posted Image
Giclee maps available to buy on-line including the Battle of Waterloo, Frederick the Great and the American Civil War

Posted Image
Uniforms of the American Revolution - CD buy on-line


Winner: While the British drove the Americans from the Charlestown peninsula it was with heavy loss. The battle was at the time considered to be an American defeat but has since been lifted to the ranks of a heroic stands against forces of oppression.British Regiments:
The flank companies (grenadiers and light companies) of the 4th, 10th, 18th, 22nd, 23rd, 35th, 59th, 63rd and 65th.


Posted Image
The British 5th Regiment of Foot (from Tim Reese’s CD Rom of 116 illustrations of British and American
Regiments from the Revolutionary War. For details on how to buy the CD click on the illustration).

5th Foot later Northumberland Fusiliers and now the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
38th Foot later the South Staffordshire Regiment and now the Staffordshire Regiment
43rd Foot later 1st Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and now 1st Bn Royal Green Jackets.
47th Foot later the North Lancashire Regiment and now the Queen’s Royal Lancashire Regiment
52nd Foot later 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and now 1st Bn Royal Green Jackets
Marines: now the Royal Marines

Posted Image
The Battle of Bunker Hill 17th June 1775
© Illustration by John Mackenzie 2009 - click to enlarge.

Account:
With the outbreak of the war General Gage, the British commander in chief, found himself blockaded in Boston by the American Continental Army, occupying the hills to the West of the city. Gage resolved to seize the Charlestown peninsula across the harbour. Before he could act, on the night of 16th June 1775 around 1,500 American troops of the Massachusetts regiments and Putnam’s Connecticut regiment occupied Breed’s Hill and Bunker Hill on the peninsula. The American troops began to build a redoubt on Breed’s Hill. The fortification was complete by the morning, after a night of frenzied work. The presence of the Americans on the peninsula was observed by His Majesty’s Ship Lively which opened fire on them.

Plans were hurriedly put in motion by the British to attack the Americans and drive them from their position. Major General Howe, one of the three generals sent from Britain to assist General Gage, was given the command. While the preparations were in train the Americans extended their fortifications from the redoubt to the sea shore, to prevent a flank attack. More American troops gathered on Bunker Hill but few of them could be persuaded to move to the forward positions on Breed’s Hill.

Posted Image
The death of the American General Warren at the climax of the Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull
Click here or on image to buy a Print

Howe landed with his force on the southern shore of the peninsular and directed the light infantry to attack the section of American line at the sea shore. Gage and Howe would have been well advised to have landed in the rear of the American position.. It is likely that the British senior officers discounted the ability of the American troops to resist a frontal attack and overestimated the ability of their own troops to make one.

Posted Image
British Grenadiers attack the redoubt on Breed's Hill. A highly stylised picture
that does not portray the reality of the turnout or drill of British troops of the time.

The light infantry column was repelled with heavy casualties. General Howe now launched a frontal assault on the redoubt with the main body of his troops. This attack was driven back with heavy loss, in spite of an American shortage of ammunition. During the attack the British left wing suffered from the fire of Americans in the town of Charlestown and the town was set ablaze.The attacks should have been preceded by a bombardment from the field artillery but it was found that the 6 pounder guns had been supplied with 12 pounder balls.

A second attack was launched along the length of the American entrenchments and was again driven back with heavy loss.

A final attack was made, concentrating on the redoubt and centre of the American position. The American ammunition was all but exhausted and this final assault carried the redoubt, forcing the Americans to retreat and leave the peninsula. They were not vigorously pursued.

Posted Image
The British attack on Breed's Hill

Casualties: The British suffered some 1,150 killed and wounded or nearly half of the force engaged. The American casualties were estimated at 450 killed and wounded.

Follow-up: The British took over the Bunker and Breed’s Hill positions and fortified them, holding them until they evacuated Boston at the end of the year. The battle was the first action for the Continental Army and showed how much work there was to be done in moulding an effective army. While most of the soldiers in the entrenched works fought tenaciously, the intended reinforcements on Bunker Hill refused to advance to the support of their comrades and there was the greatest confusion between the officers as to precedence.


"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#30 George H. Smith

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 03:42 PM

Very nicely written.

Where can I access the Scott reading?

Their stated casualties are a lot higher: The British suffered some 1,150 killed and wounded or nearly half of the force engaged. The American casualties were stimated at 450 killed and wounded.


Add up my numbers of killed and wounded and you will find that they are nearly the same as the figures given on the British Battles site. I used one of the same sources that this site used. I also consulted other sources that were more specialized, including the definitive book on the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The CD versions of the original KP tapes no longer appear to be available on Amazon, but inexpensive downloads can be purchased here .

My first tape (approximately 80 minutes) is the most interesting in some ways, since it discusses the revolutionary ideology in considerable detail.

Ghs

#31 Selene

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 04:16 PM


Very nicely written.

Where can I access the Scott reading?

Their stated casualties are a lot higher: The British suffered some 1,150 killed and wounded or nearly half of the force engaged. The American casualties were stimated at 450 killed and wounded.


Add up my numbers of killed and wounded and you will find that they are nearly the same as the figures given on the British Battles site. I used one of the same sources that this site used. I also consulted other sources that were more specialized, including the definitive book on the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The CD versions of the original KP tapes no longer appear to be available on Amazon, but inexpensive downloads can be purchased here .

My first tape (approximately 80 minutes) is the most interesting in some ways, since it discusses the revolutionary ideology in considerable detail.

Ghs


Thanks for the link.

I see how you did the casualties, I just did not do the math.
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#32 Selene

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 04:20 PM

Address to the Soldiers

http://www.masshist....soldiersmap.jpg

Edited by Selene, 05 July 2011 - 04:21 PM.

"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#33 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 07:37 PM



Objectivism is now trying to accomplish something similar to what Deists had hoped to do: provide a secular foundation for freedom and individual rights, thereby liberating capitalism from the philosophical contradictions that continue to tear it apart. For them, God was little more than a metaphysical principle comparable to 'existence exists.'


You are exaggerating the moral rationalism of most deists, many of whom agreed with Christians that morality would be impossible to justify without belief in God. Ethan Allen, for example, argued that the proper use of reason will enable mankind to "gain more exalted ideas about God and their obligations to him and to one another, and be proportionably delighted and blessed with the views of his moral government, make better members of society, and acquire many powerful incentives to the practice of morality...." As Thomas Paine put it in Age of Reason, "it is the fool only, and not the philosopher, nor even the prudent man, that will live as if there were no God."


Ghs


The deists were not ready to completely abandon God’s significance ethically, but they sure did break new theoretical ground and distance themselves from the view that God’s word (i.e., the Bible) was the ultimate source of values. They saw the rational character of the natural realm as a manifestation of God, which enabled them to identify reason with morality. That meant that moral values could be discovered independently of God. They felt that virtuous (i.e., rational) behavior was a way of paying trubute to (or worshipping) God. Rational virtue, not blind allegiance to some stone tablets. I see that as a huge step forward philosophically.

Franklin, for instance, believed that “the fulfillment of natural needs by a rational pursuit of one’s true interests in pleasing to God. . .” (Walters, p. 78) Ethan Allen “basically identified reason and rationality with virtue. . .”(p. 110) Paine believed that rational behavior is ethical behvior: “. . .To cultivate the one [reason] and avoid the other [superstition] is to live in a godly way, accomodating one’s will to the natural order ordained by the Divine Mechanic. It is, in other words, to live in accordance with natural principle, to conform one’s existence to the natural scheme of things. Such conformity . . .does honor to God by holding him up as the supreme standard of behavior. . .” (p. 140)

While Jefferson endorsed the teachings of Jesus, he did not endorse divine revelation as the source for those teachings. He held that ethical values could be directly apprehended through our innate moral faculty. Jefferson also rejected the view that the “love of God supports morality” (p. 167). And Jefferson strongly believed, with other deists, that reason was the dominant principle governing the universe.

Here is how Walters describes the ethical views of Elihu Pamler:

“Palmer’s starting point was the assumption that morality is a subset of natural science, founded upon naturalistic first principles derived from reason and experience. He denied that the scientific principles of a rational ethic were directly dependent upon divine command or supernatural revelation. Instead, morality ’rests upon the relations and properties of human life,’ and consequently can be deduced from a careful scrutiny of biological and psychological laws. An individual totally ignorant of the existence of the God of nature is capable, through rational reflection upon these laws, of discovering the ground of virtue.. .” (p. 198) Palmer also believed equality and liberty to be essential attributes of man.

Considering the cultural context, I think most deists were very rational in their approach to morality. God may have infused the universe with reason, but man was very much capable of taking it from there. Deists still gave God credit, but he was viewed as a watchmaker and teacher, not a despot imposing arbitrary moral decrees.

#34 George H. Smith

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 08:28 PM



The deists were not ready to completely abandon God’s significance ethically, but they sure did break new theoretical ground and distance themselves from the view that God’s word (i.e., the Bible) was the ultimate source of values. They saw the rational character of the natural realm as a manifestation of God, which enabled them to identify reason with morality. That meant that moral values could be discovered independently of God. They felt that virtuous (i.e., rational) behavior was a way of paying trubute to (or worshipping) God. Rational virtue, not blind allegiance to some stone tablets. I see that as a huge step forward philosophically.


Please don't misunderstand me: I am a big fan of the deists, at least during the 18th century. For over four decades, I have been writing about, praising, and stressing the historical significance of the deists. Indeed, in a talk on atheism that I recently gave for the Bloomington/Normal Freethinkers, I argued -- as I have argued many times in the past -- that early deists were far more effective in criticizing orthodox Christianity than were atheists.

The primary value of deists lay in what the 19th century historian Leslie Stephen called critical deism, in contrast to constructive deism. Critical deism refers to the highly effective popular critiques of revealed religion written by deists, especially the Bible. The rejection of all special revelation, in contrast to natural revelation, is the best defining characteristic of deism.

Despite this, I have never been much of a fan of constructive deism, including its ethical aspects. With rare exceptions, such as the moral theory of William Wollaston, deists had virtually nothing original to say about ethics. Indeed, most accepted what they regarded as the original ethics of Christianity in its pure form, as preached by the historical Jesus before his teachings had supposedly been corrupted by institutionalized Christianity. (Hence the famous "Jefferson Bible.")

As Thomas Paine (Foner, 506) put it: "The only idea we can have of serving God is that of contributing to the happiness of the living creation that God has made. This cannot be done by retiring ourselves from the society of the world and spending a recluse life in selfish devotion" This generic quasi-altruism, which I have often called "mushy philosophy," is very characteristic of the deists, early and late.

Deists are admirable for many reasons. Throughout the 18th century, for example, they were typically at the forefront of the battles for individual liberty, including free markets, liberty of conscience, etc. But I am less sympathetic to 19th century deists, such as Elihu Palmer, who sometimes became enthralled with utopian schemes for reforming American society. Some American deists were influenced by the communism of William Godwin and/or the socialism of Robert Owen; and, in my opinion, their various schemes for the "rational" restructuring of American society had a lot to do with the decline of deism during the 19th century.

Moreover, deists frequently attacked atheism as virulently as Christians did. Indeed, one of the worst indictments that Paine could think of making against Christianity was that it is a type of atheism. As Paine wrote in Age of Reason (Foner 486): "As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me a species of Atheism -- a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God."

Critical deism had done its job by the early 19th century. After that, the mushy philosophy of constructive deism came to the fore, as deists resisted the more radical atheistic rationalism of the freethought movements in England and America.

I have much more to say about this matter, but I will stop here for now. Thanks for your post.

Ghs

#35 daunce lynam

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:04 PM





As Thomas Paine (Foner, 506) put it: "The only idea we can have of serving God is that of contributing to the happiness of the living creation that God has made. This cannot be done by retiring ourselves from the society of the world and spending a recluse life in selfish devotion" This generic quasi-altruism, which I have often called "mushy philosophy," is very characteristic of the deists, early and late.


Ghs


It seems odd that a rational hedonist would consider this mushy. It sounds like you'd like to call it mystical, but not want to sound like an Objectivist.

#36 George H. Smith

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:10 PM







As Thomas Paine (Foner, 506) put it: "The only idea we can have of serving God is that of contributing to the happiness of the living creation that God has made. This cannot be done by retiring ourselves from the society of the world and spending a recluse life in selfish devotion" This generic quasi-altruism, which I have often called "mushy philosophy," is very characteristic of the deists, early and late.


Ghs


Ghs
It seems odd that a rational hedonist would consider this mushy. It sounds like you'd like to call it mystical, but not want to sound like an Objectivist.


No, Paine's remark is not "mystical" at all It is "mushy" in the sense of being vague and commonplace -- a kind of feel-good ethics for all occasions.

Ghs

#37 daunce lynam

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:48 PM








As Thomas Paine (Foner, 506) put it: "The only idea we can have of serving God is that of contributing to the happiness of the living creation that God has made. This cannot be done by retiring ourselves from the society of the world and spending a recluse life in selfish devotion" This generic quasi-altruism, which I have often called "mushy philosophy," is very characteristic of the deists, early and late.


Ghs


Ghs
It seems odd that a rational hedonist would consider this mushy. It sounds like you'd like to call it mystical, but not want to sound like an Objectivist.


No, Paine's remark is not "mystical" at all It is "mushy" in the sense of being vague and commonplace -- a kind of feel-good ethics for all occasions.

Ghs


So ethics are situational?

#38 George H. Smith

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:56 PM

Since I have criticized Thomas Paine several times on this thread, I want to add some balance by mentioning the tremendous admiration I have for Paine. I regard him as one of the greatest of the Founding Fathers -- and this despite his deistic attacks on atheism, his proposal for a mini-welfare state in Part Two of Rights of Man, and his rejection of private property rights in land in Agrarian Justice.

I first read Paine's Age of Reason in 1964, while I was sophomore in high school and over two years before I read anything by Ayn Rand. This was the first freethought book I had ever read, and it dissuaded me from my lingering Christian beliefs. Indeed, because of Paine's influence, I proudly proclaimed myself a "deist" for around a year before I embraced atheism. As I wrote in my autobiographical essay, "My Path to Atheism" (in Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies):

Paine, a writer of extraordinary power, had the greatest impact on me, and I was amazed to learn that one of America's founding fathers had written a scathing indictment of Christianity. Why hadn't I heard this before? More doubts surfaced, this time about my formal education.

In the first part of Age of Reason, Paine attacks the atheism of the French Revolution and defends Deism -- the belief in a god of nature, a creator who practices laissez-faire. That was my kind of god. I quickly embraced Deism and counted Paine, Jefferson, Franklin, and other founding fathers as my mentors....

It is difficult to recall when I abandoned Deism for atheism; certainly the transition was complete by the end of my third year of high school. The change occurred quietly and naturally as I read more freethought literature. My earlier transition from Christianity to Deism, if not traumatic, was at least difficult -- not so my ascent from Deism to atheism. The death of the personal god of Christianity who listened to my prayers (but usually said no) was far more disturbing than losing the deaf, dumb, and blind god of Deism.


Ghs

Addendum: When I mapped out the first tape series for Knowledge Products, "Great Political Thinkers," it was scarcely accidental that Thomas Paine was the only writer to receive two separate treatments -- the first being Common Sense (which was paired with Jefferson's Declaration of Independence) and the second being Rights of Man (which was paired with Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France).

I regard the Burke/Paine tapes as among the best manuscripts I ever wrote for KP.

Ghs

#39 George H. Smith

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 01:13 AM

The following, which I read just a few hours ago, doesn't merit a separate thread, but since it relates to 19th century American history, I thought I would include it here.

Below is an unintentionally funny quotation from the 19th century historian James Parton, in his Life of Andrew Jackson. It concerns the "Eaton Affair," a scandal that dominated the Jackson presidency during the first year of his first term (1828).

Peggy Eaton was the young and voluptuous wife of John Henry Eaton, Jackson's secretary of war in 1828. Peggy had a notorious reputation, being known for her many affairs before she married John. Because of this, the wives of other cabinet members refused to associate with Peggy in any manner, and this generated serious conflicts between Jackson and some of his cabinet members. Things got so bad that Jackson eventually fired his entire cabinet and started fresh.

The one politician who benefited from the Eaton Affair was Martin Van Buren, the savvy New Yorker who would succeed Jackson as President. Van Buren made a point of calling upon John Eaton and cultivating the friendship of Peggy, and this won him the favor of Jackson, who then chose Van Buren to be his successor.

Anyway, on the eve of the Civil War, Jackson's biographer James Parton had this to say about Van Buren's role in the Eaton Affair:

...the political history of the United States, for the last thirty years, dates from the moment when the soft hand of Mr. Van Buren touched Mrs. Eaton's knocker.

(Quoted in Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, Oxford, 2007, p. 339.)




As a point of historical interest, I wonder whether Van Buren's soft hand touched the left or right knocker of Peggy Eaton. :rolleyes:


Ghs




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