ARP183Doan Brothers & Crooked Billet
Thank you for joining the american revolution today. Episode one eighty three the dough and brothers and crooked billet by this spring seventeen seventy eight. General washington had fought off the political attempts to replace him and was ready to put the training of his new army which had drilled under general von all winter to challenge their british in occupied philadelphia. The news had already arrived in april that france had joined. The war against britain hopes ran high. That perhaps french supplies and soldiers would soon arrive to assist the continentals as a result. Washington did not want to risk his army in an all out assault on philadelphia. Like at germantown. Many wanted to wait and see if the french would arrive to supplement an attack that would have a greater chance victory if the british remained in philadelphia until the french fleet arrived at the delaware. The british might be trapped at that point a combined. American and french attack on the city would have far more impact but until the french arrived. That couldn't happen at the same time. Washington was not a man to sit around and do nothing. British supplies in philadelphia were dwindling. Washington focused on efforts to prevent people from the countryside from selling food or other supplies to the british in philadelphia. If the americans could cut off food supplies from land and a french fleet in the delaware could block off supplies from water. They might even be able to starve out the british. The americans deployed small units all around areas near the city to interdict any attempts to bring food or anything else into the british lines. Much of the control of these soldiers around philadelphia fell to the local militia. The continentals were struggling to survive out at valley forge. The local militia knew the area better. And where most useful in such missions as blocking civilians rather than going into combat against the british the man in charge of the pennsylvania. Militia north of philadelphia was general. John lacey the young militia general. A quaker from bucks county was not very experienced. He had only been twenty years old when the war began. Shortly after fighting broke out in lexington lacey had set aside his quaker principles to join the local patriot militia. Coming from a pacifist community. There was little enthusiasm for the military nor much of a militia. Tradition in january of seventeen. Seventy six lacey raised a company of sixty four men from his community and that was enough to confer upon him. The rank of captain lacey's company served in regiment under the command of then. Colonel anthony wayne the regiment joined the continental army and lacey received a continental commission as an officer. He served under wayne during the quebec campaign as the americans were forced to retreat back to new york. It's not clear exactly what happened. But lacey and wayne had some sort of dispute and lacey ended up resigning. His commission and returning to pennsylvania there lacy took a position as lieutenant. Colonel in the local militia. The war returned to the area as general began his philadelphia campaign at the end of the summer. Seventeen seventy seven colonel. Lacey took command of a regiment of militia draftees to go to the support of the state pennsylvania raised about three thousand militiamen for the campaign lacy fought germantown and in some of the smaller skirmishes that fall another militia commander general john armstrong led the militia army during this campaign. You may recall that. Armstrong had command of one of the four divisions that washington deployed at germantown lacey also fought under armstrong at white marsh. At the end of the fighting season after the continentals retreated to valley forge. Armstrong received an appointment to serve as one of the pennsylvania delegates to the continental congress. He turned over command of the militia. To general james potter general potter served as commander for only a few weeks before he requested to leave to go home and care for his sick wife. A potter's decision to return home was not unusual. Militia were not expected to remain in the field after an immediate danger had passed. That was what the continentals did with the british now in their winter quarters in philadelphia and the continental settled into valley forge the pennsylvania militia mostly went home for the winter. This made perfect sense. There was no food or shelter to keep an army in the field. The officers and men could return home. Rest up over the winter and feed themselves then turn out again in the spring when the fighting season began again even so some militia needed to remain in the field during the winter in january. Seventeen seventy eight. The pennsylvania executive council promoted john lacey to brigadier general and put him in command of the militia. Lacy was just twenty three years old. At the time there was however not much of a militia army to command the militia dwindled. Down to about six hundred by the time lacy took command and the primary mission of those still on-duty was interdicting. The supplies that civilians were attempting to take into philadelphia for sale lacey. Received word of his promotion got word from general potter to report to his camp by the time lacy arrived in camp potter had already left for home with no one in charge. There were only sixty men in the camp guarding the guns and equipment for an army of three thousand lacey took command and received instructions from general washington to focus on interdicting commerce into the city. The state had promised lacey that he would receive another one thousand militia to support these efforts. Those promised reinforcements never came. Lacey's total force of about six hundred actually fell to under two hundred and fifty over the next few weeks. In addition to interdicting food lacey's militia had to deal with emboldened tories who still roamed through the greater philadelphia area. Although the british army did not venture up into bucks county many loyalists who lived in the area. Assume that the arrival of the british would mean that the patriots would soon be gone. Many of these stories were either out for revenge for the way they had been treated or were seeking benefits from the british first showing their loyalty. Some good examples of this was a group known as the doan gang. Almost every element of the dolans story is disputed. Some tend to view them as heroic robinhood types while others portray them as bloodthirsty outlaws as with many things. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. I want to tell their story because it is interesting but my version is simply based on reading the versions of others many of which have a rather sketchy providence. So please don't take my interpretation as definitive. There were five. Brothers moses aaron levi may line and joseph as well as a cousin who formed the core of what became known as the doan gang before the war in seventeen. Seventy moses got into a fight with his father left the family farm in bucks county pennsylvania for some time after that he lived with a indian tribe and there he learned to live off the land and got to know the unsettled areas of the county rather well. According to doane family lure the father of the family joseph doan was a quaker and a loyalist when the patriots took control of pennsylvania. They demanded that he pay taxes to them. Doan refused to recognize the taxing authority of these rebels and would not pay as a result the patriots through the family off of their land and reduce them to poverty others dispute this story saying that pennsylvania records show that it did not seize the farm until near the end of the war however it is possible that the eviction took place years before and the paperwork was filed much later whatever. The cause moses opposed the patriot cause and enlisted his brothers and his cousin into a group that would wreak havoc against the patriots in july of seventeen seventy six. Shortly after the british landed at staten island moses and his brother levi met with general howe on staten island and offered their services as spies by some accounts. It was moses who discovered the failure of the americans to secure the jamaica pass on long island and provided the british with that intelligence. This allowed the british to move behind the continental lines and easily flank them at the battle of brooklyn. The british nicknamed moses as eagles spy for the accuracy of his intelligence. Another story says that moses learned of washington's crossing of the delaware on christmas night. Seventeen seventy six and rode out to see hessian colonel role at trenton. The colonel refused to see who instead left it. Note for him about the attack. According to that story raw put the note in his pocket and continued playing cards. The dolans also may have worked to free. British prisoners after british prisoners began disappearing from lancaster. And we're not found again. The americans put an officer into the prison pretending to be a captured british prisoner after several weeks. He was spirited away from the prison traveling at night and hiding in the secret rooms of loyalists during the day the officer identified the leader of this escape mission as abraham doan as the group prepared to cross the delaware river back into british occupied new jersey. Abraham confronted the officer whom he suspected of not being a real prisoner. The two men fought and the officer escaped later. The undercover officer identified the safe houses and arrested fifteen people who cooperated in the escape of the british prisoners. The dolans once again escaped capture. In addition to serving as scouts and for the british the dolans mostly made a living by engaging in home invasions and stealing horses. There are stories of the gang breaking into houses at night then beating and threatening the homeowner to give up whatever gold he had hidden on the property. those who want to portray the dolans as louis heroes say. They only went after the property of known supporters of the patriot cause and particularly targeted tax collectors. Others save their attacks were more indiscriminate. Whatever the truth. The and developed a reputation among locals in pennsylvania as ruthless outlaws after the british took philadelphia. The group focused primarily on stealing horses to sell to the british by some accounts. The group stole over two hundred horses in the region. The dolans whose faces were well known to locals tended to move only at night and spent days le'veon caves or other remote sites where they could avoid detection in february seventeen. Seventy eight officials in bucks county raised a posse to capture the doan gang. The posse however came up empty. The group was to effective in avoiding detection. There are many stories that paint moses doan as a local hero one story from this time says moses doan came across a woman from philadelphia who had snuck out of the city to purchase some flour for her starving family. Her husband was a patriot. Who was serving in valley forge at the time as she was returning to the city. She encountered moses doan and explained her plight despite the fact that she was the wife of a patriot. Moses gave her a purse full of money and warned her that a british guard was just up the road. Although the woman tried to avoid the british guard he discovered her and attempt to confiscate the flour dough and then reappeared and appealed to the soldier to let her go with her flower when the soldier refused doan grabbed him by the throat and told the woman to run when she was out of sight. He shot the soldier in the head with a pistol and disappeared back into the night. The death of the soldier brought out guard to hunt down the killer. Doan allegedly killed another pursuing soldier and an officer that night as he made his escape. Another story puts sto- more of a mixed light. The gang engaged in a home invasion. Although the dolans made up the core of their group many times the group grew as large as several dozen men on this night one of their company was a man by the name of foxy joe as the group threaten the life of the homeowner demanding that he turned over his gold. Foxy joe made advances on. The man's wife presumably in an attempt to rape her moses discovered. The man beat him nearly to death and threw him down a flight of stairs afterward. Moses apologized to the husband for the incident. His men were thieves not rapists. The doan gang continued to harass the people of bucks county for years after the british left the area as i said some considered them to be loyalists simply stuck on the wrong side of the war. Others saw them as nothing more than brutal criminals taking advantage of the chaos of war but the legend of the dolans is one that remains a part of local history. The dolans of course. We're not the only tories in the area. While there were many pacifist quakers. there were others. Who were willing to resort to violence for the cause of canned country a key target of the loyalists or the patriot leaders and their families. When john lacy became commander of the state militia loyalists threatened to attack his family and burn his farm lacy hedge project not only his own family but those of other prominent patriots as well as other potential targets. Captain richard hoven who had raised a loyalist group. Called the philadelphia. Light dragoons rated a million bucks county in february. The group stole or destroyed material. That was expected to be made into about five hundred uniforms for the patriot. Army the rate also led to the death or capture of several dozen continental soldiers who were guarding the mill. Hoven dan would go on to serve under bannister tarleton. During the southern campaign. general lacey's lack of experience contributed to his problems. There's one letter from general washington advising the young general lacy to keep on his guard and stay on the move and not be stationed in any one fixed location. Doing so would give the british and easy target and would also allow smugglers to know to avoid specific locations on another occasion. Lacey had to write washington to inform him that his men had accidentally mishandled some cartridges leading to an explosion which destroyed six or seven thousand cartridges and injuring. Five of his men. Also during his first week says general. The militia continued to return home. Lacy reported that at one point he had only one hundred sixty men left for duty in the entire region and this was not entirely lacey's fault not only did bad weather keep them at home. Pennsylvania had failed to pay the militia that had turned out the prior. Fall this failure to provide any compensation did nothing to encourage the man to turn out again for additional winter duty. The man who did continue to serve got most of what they needed from the goods. They confiscated from the people smuggling goods into the city. This of course also led to a complaint that men were claiming goods that were being smuggled that they simply stole from local farms. You may recall that back in episode one seventy eight. I talked about general wayne and commodore barry distracting the british in new jersey so they could drive a herd of cattle back to valley forge as that heard pass through bucks. County lacy was directed to provide a guard. He did not have the manpower and failed to do so. The british under captain hoven denied. Royal royalty greunen's manage to steal most of the hurt and redirected to the british in philadelphia by spring lacey. At least had a few months of experience and the militia were beginning to return to duty in greater numbers. On april twenty-seventh general lacy was in command of about four hundred militia which encamped near the crooked billet tavern. This is near the present town of hat borough which is about sixteen miles north of philadelphia. It was close enough to the british lines to invite an attack. The british frequently rated into this area over the winter despite this lacy kept his militia in camp for several days. Local tories informed the british of their location. And lieutenant. Colonel john graves. Simcoe of the queen's loyal rangers organized an attack party made up primarily of lowest militia but also included some regulars simcoe divided an attack force of about eight hundred and fifty men. The two groups marched out of philadelphia. On the night. Of april thirtieth. Simcoe plan to attack from the northeast while the second group under lieutenant. Colonel robert abercromby would attack from the south west. The militia had put out pickets. Who discovered the attackers just before dawn. On may first. The pickets refused to fire a warning shot instead hiding to avoid capture themselves. The two groups descended on the main militia. Camp opening up a ruthless attack on the surprised militia. Lacey attempted to mount a defense but quickly realized that his men would not stand the majority of the outnumbered and surprise militia fled into the woods abandoning everything to their attackers. The militia lost about twenty percent of its force with about twenty six killed eight wounded and fifty eight captured. According to the americans the british massacred many of the wounded including setting men on fire and watching them burn to death after the battle. Washington ordered an investigation in the murder of the prisoners and wounded in order to make a complaint against general. How the lieutenant who had been in command of the pickets was discharged for failure to follow orders a little over a week. After the battle general potter return from his winter at home. Relieving general lacy of command lacy continue to hold his militia title as general but did not seem to serve in any active capacity. After that a year later lacey would return to politics and served the last three years of the war as the bucks. County representative to pennsylvania's supreme executive council battle of crooked billet became forgotten just another example of the incompetent local militia defeated by professionals about a week after the attack at crooked billet. The british sound out another small expedition across the delaware river into new jersey. The americans still had several ships and smaller boats up river in bordentown new jersey. They also had some small supply. Depots there on the night of may seventh. The british sent a small rating party up river landing at whitehill new jersey today called fields borough who landed the next morning. This was a search and destroy mission. The british burned any boats that they found as well. As the houses of several leading patriots. As identified by local loyalists americans got word the raid and thinking the british might be capturing boats rather than destroying them scuttled several boats themselves in order to prevent them from falling into british hands. The local new jersey militia also turned out and face. Down the british raiders as they marched north toward bordentown. According to local accounts the militia fired one volley then turned and ran. The british continued on into bordentown there. They burned several more houses including that of joseph borden. Son of the town's namesake as well as any ships and boats that the patriots had not already destroyed having satisfied themselves that they destroyed any enemy property that they were going to find the british returned to their ship and sailed back to philadelphia before the end of the day. The bordentown raid sometimes called the battle of crosswalks. Creek was another minor raid. That simply showed that militia could not stop the regulars but they were still not afraid to turn around and take a few potshots at them next week. The british through a going away party for general how and general. Lafayette almost gets captured at the battle of barren hill. Hey thanks for joining the american revolution podcast after show my thanks to alexander. Hamilton club members on patriotic train. Aunts george davis and louis wait thanks also to lee. Crm at the robert mora circle level and welcome to christopher nugent at the standard bearer level. Also thanks to my longtime supporters. David rice thomas heath and chris roy. Everyone should remember that you can help. Support this podcast for as little as two dollars a month by signing up on patron thanks also to matt williams. Paul cowan burger james deer and virginia starks. For one time gifts the paypal for those of you who want to help out with no ongoing commitment pay pal is a great option. Visit amriyev podcasts. Dot com for more details. And as always. I am grateful for everyone who can help out. I also have a couple of corrections. this week. A couple of weeks ago. I talked about thomas matching an engineer. Who worked on defenses at west point. I noted that he was an english engineer who came to america shortly before the war that he participated in the boston. Tea party and bunker hill. Jail bell pointed out to me shortly after the episodes relief that the history accorded from was ridden in the early nineteenth century. And that it is complete. Bs there's no evidence that any of matches claimed engineering work in england is correct. There's no evidence that he was at the boston tea party. There is a chance that he was at bunker hill but not defending it if he was there. He was charging up the hill with his fellow. Regulars it turns out that matching was a british regular who deserted from boston in july. Seventeen seventy five years after the war someone put out a shall we say less embarrassing history. That did not involve fighting for the enemy and desertion. In addition to being an excellent fact checker all things revolution jail. Bell is the author of a book called the road to concord. Which of course is a passbook recrimination of the week. He also rates daily plug called boston. Seventeen seventy five. Which i've also recommended before if you search for matching that's mac h. I. n. You can read where. Mr bell debunked matching story in several blog articles. Back in twenty thirteen by thanks to mr bell for setting the record straight in the after show for that same so i went on to rant about j. store keeping all its articles behind a paywall. I failed to notice that sometime in the past few months. J. store changed. Its policy so that you could actually read up to one hundred articles per month at no charge. The limit used to be only three articles. So you still have to register for a free account and you still can't download any view articles so there are some annoying limitations but i am pleased that the public does have better access to these great academic articles all right so this week we heard about the doe and gang which still has local legendary status as long as in the bucks county area moses doan was killed in a shootout near the end of the war to other jones were hanged as outlaws and the other two fled to canada. The two that were hanged levi and ham are buried at the plummeted meeting house in doylestown pennsylvania. The meeting allowed them to be buried there but because they were outlaws had them buried just outside. The cemetery was today. you can still visit their gravestones. Which mark them. As outlaws moses doa is buried in plumpton township on what used to be the farm of his uncle israel doan there's also a local legend about the thousands of pounds of the gang robbed from local treasuries some say their buried treasure still lies undiscovered somewhere in bucks county in many ways. The story of moses doan reminds me of jesse james and his gang of outlaws both started out on the losing side of a war doe in in the revolution and james in the civil war both refused to make peace and turn to outlawry eventually being shot down both had brothers who had fought with them but who survived and lived out their natural lives. Anyway the dolans live on in local lore. I heard that a doan gang. Distillery recently opened in quakertown taking its name from the famous outlaws. If you enjoy these sorts of local histories my book recommendation. This week is hidden history of bucks county by jennifer rogers. It was published in two thousand. Nineteen if you're looking for more indepth discussion of today's topic. This is not the book want hidden. History is a relatively short book under two hundred pages and covers a wide range of stories from bucks county. there is a chapter on general john lacey and another chapter on the doan gang but all of the many stories covered in the book are just a few pages long each but if you like learning stories that are not part of the mainstream history. I think this book is an interesting read. I may be biased. Because my family has lived in bucks county for nearly three centuries so i have a biased interest in these local histories. The author is a local historian. Who lives in bucks county. believe this is her first book if it sounds interesting to you checkout hidden history of bucks county my online recommendation. This week is a more in-depth book about the dough and gang. It's an online book from archive dot. Org called the doan outlaws or bucks county cowboys in the revolution by john. Rogers i have no idea if john rogers is in any way related to jennifer rogers the author of this week's book recommendation but the doan outlaws was published in eighteen ninety five although the work is listed on archive as a book of over four hundred pages. It appears to have been published originally as a newspaper column in the doylestown democrat. It appears that someone simply cut out the newspaper columns each week and pasted them into the pages of this book that said it is clearly an in depth and detailed. Look at the doe and gang so if you want to read more about the dolans check out the doan outlaws on archive dot org as always you can search for yourself or go to the blog entry for this week's episode for a direct link it's at blog dot com rev. Podcast dot com. Well that's offer this week. I hope you will join me again next week. For another american revolution broadcast.