I am heartily ashamed

I am heartily ashamed, Volume II: The Revolutionary War's Final Campaign as Waged from Canada in 1782
By Gavin K. Watt
With research assistance of James F. Morrison and William A. Smy .

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The second installment in Gavin K. Watt's Revolutionary War trilogy, I am heartily ashamed picks up where A dirty trifling piece of business leaves off. It's a new year with new challenges.

An incredibly fierce Canadian winter was endured before raiding was resumed against the enemy's frontiers. The rebels' Mohawk region defence soon fell into disarray when two colonels jousted for control.

Continued negotiations encouraged Vermont to not support the rebellion and the republic became a haven for loyalists escaping persecution. Vermont's adherents even felt free to militarily challenge New York.

After the poor results of Ross's October raid, Haldimand chose to alter his strategy. For years, his native allies had sent small war parties against the frontiers and, that summer, he gave command of large projects to First Nations leaders whose methods greatly challenged the rebels.

A new British ministry announced a cessation of arms in July, soon followed by peace talks. Despite the ceasefire, Washington ordered an attack on the new British post at Oswego, which failed miserably.

When Haldimand discovered that the treaty's articles threatened the security of Canada and made no provisions for the natives or loyalists, he confessed, "My soul is completely bowed down with grief I am heartily ashamed."

463 pages. Softcover (perfectbound) 6 X 9. Illustrated, maps, appendices, bibliography, endnotes, index.
Published by Dundurn Press, Toronto 2010
ISBN 978-1-55488-715-6

 

REVIEWS AND COMMENTS
Ontario Historical Society Bulletin. (Summer 2010)
With this, his second volume on the later period of the war, Gavin K. Watt concludes his meticulously detailed account of Canadian involvement in the American Revolution…. The Americans were the war’s winners – the real losers were the natives, abandoned in defeat by the British government. Haldimand, when he read the details of the final treaty with its failure to keep promises made to First Nations leaders, had good reason to be “heartily ashamed.”


Christian G. Cameron, Toronto. Amazon.com (2010)
I've read all of Gavin Watt's books, and every one of them is full of careful research on the forgotten corners of the American Revolution--most especially where the events of 1775-173 are about the loyalists--the men and women who fought for King George.

In the latest pair of books--"Dirty trifling Piece of Business" and "I am Heartily Ashamed," Gavin Watt explores the most forgotten period of the war--the time from the spring of 1781 to the campaigns in the north after the end of the siege of Yorktown--a period often lost or glossed over. Most importantly, Watt has captured the density of conflict, and the multi-ethnic, cross cultural nature of it--Native Americans, Black Americans, Scots, Germans, Englishmen, women, and children caught up in a desperate civil war. I cannot recommend these two books more highly, either for serious historians, for reenactors, or for students!


Peter W. Johnson, The Loyalist Gazette (2010)
Although probably best read as the follow-up to A Dirty, Trifling, Piece of Business,which covered the 1781 campaign, this new book can be read and appreciated on its own.

It is essentially the final year of campaigning in the North (1782), though dipping into 1783 for one more event of note. Even though the War was winding down to its unhappy conclusion, curiously there isn’t the same sense of gloom that pervaded the previous volume. There are likely a couple of reasons for this. Even though the tragedy of Yorktown occurred well south of the area, this looming disaster on both real and symbolic levels haunted the earlier book. By 1782 Yorktown was a bitter taste in the past and, although peace talks were underway and there was a cessation of raiding, the victorious Rebels had no more control of the Mohawk Valley in 1782 than they had in 1781, perhaps less.

Again there’s a cast of colourful characters. One who caught my attention, although he is mentioned just briefly, is Ebenezer Allen, 1752-1813, who was for a time in Butler’s Rangers and later became an Officer in the Indian Department. One of his several wives was Lucy Chapman whose extended family resided in the Genesee area after the War and who were among the earliest inhabitants in York (Toronto). Ebenezer is remembered in an entry in The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

At the close of the year Washington and Willett formulated a plan to send an invasion force to capture the British post at Oswego, despite a ceasefire. The force sallied forth in early 1783 and the expedition as Gavin notes, failed miserably. Among other things, the siege ladders were too short for the walls! The War may have been lost, but that was a nice touch.

It would seem we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Haldimand. The quotation in the title refers to his reaction to the peace treaty, his dismay that the British negotiators had ignored their Native allies, and that they had done little more for the Loyalists. Haldimand arranged for the settling of the Natives and Loyalists in what was then Western Quebec and retained the various upper posts on American soil as a buffer against any possible American post-war aggression. How different would this province be today, had he not done that?

For those who see this book as a beginning for more extensive research, there is a generous bibliography. Of course it is indexed and the whole package is fronted by a skillfully arranged photograph of period equipment and coats.
There’s a spot on your shelf for this book.


Norm Bollen, Fort Plain Museum (2010)
Again Mr. Watt has ignored the research of his own contributor, Jim Morrison to follow another path. The assertion that Fort Plain and Fort Plank is one and the same outpost is too ridiculous to be taken seriously by any competent researcher. Overwhelming evidence supporting the Fort Plain/ Fort Rensselaer story has existed for many years in the works of Benson Lossing and Jeptha Simms. While these men were not perfect they both made it a point to research and document the Fort Plain story. Contemporary research and archaeology conducted by the Fort Plain Museum also supports their conclusions. Watt's significant errors regarding Fort Plain/Fort Rensselaer make one wonder what other major flaws may exist in this work. I would urge anyone to be careful in utilizing this research. I am heartily ashamed?... you should be Mr. Watt.


Brian Mack, Fort Plain (2010)
Like volume 1, "Dirty Trifling Piece of Business;" volume 2 "I am heartily ashamed" the story line is confusing to follow. Mr. Watt chooses to use research that states Fort Plain and Fort Rensselear were two different forts when proper research and primary source documents have proven that they are one in the same. For the research of Fort Plain, Fort Rensselear, and Fort Plank used in this book, Gavin should have used the research assistance by James Morrison and not others. Mr. Morrison's work on the Mohawk Valley is what should be followed so when reading this book keep in mind that references made to the Mohawk Valley Forts are not those of Mr. Morrison but others.


Ken D. Johnson, Fort Plain, NY. (2010)
This is simply an amazing piece of scholarly research. Any serious student of the American Revolution would be well advised to include ALL of Mr. Watt's works in their personal libraries. Mr. Watt's two latest works, "A Dirty Trifling Piece of Business" . . ., and, "I am Heartily Ashamed" take the novice reader, as well as the avid researcher, on an interesting journey through the mindset of the British Military Command in Canada, as well as their American counterparts in New York, during the closing years of the American Revolution (1781 & 1782). This is accomplished through usage of records, most of military origin (generated by the forces, or resulting from combatant actions) compiled during the War, or in the short decades following. Each and every statement of fact is noted as to its original source. The illustrations, some previously unknown, are well-chosen and carefully explained. All of this said, if there were to be allowed a criticism of Mr. Watt's latest works, it would be that until one learns the patterning of Watt's footnoting technique, it can be difficult to ascertain the location of an original source document, but this is quickly overcome as the individual reader's learning curve widens. Overall one must say: Well done Sir, well done!!!


Carl Benn, Chair, Dept. of History, Ryerson University, Toronto. Amazon.com (2010)
This book explores the sad stories associated with the last year of fighting in the American Revolution on the frontier between Vermont, New York, and Quebec. Like its companion volume, ‘A dirty, trifling piece of business,’ Gavin Watt provides his readers with a highly detailed study, combining excellent descriptions of the large-scale tactical considerations of the leading participants with the immediate stories of the combatants and civilians who experienced this dirty war first-hand in 1782. It also considers the shame felt by so many on the loyalist side when news of the peace began to filter through to the frontier and they realized the border being drawn between the new United States and British North America was so generous that it did not recognize loyalist successes on the frontier or protect First Nations interests as they believed it ought to have done. As is typical of Mr Watt's several books on the revolution, this is a thoroughly research effort, marked by a mature analysis that corrects many misconceptions and errors and that will remain the standard assessment for years to come. Again as is typical of his larger body of work, ‘I am heartily ashamed’ presents readers with a nice range of helpful maps, evocative illustrations, and useful appendices.


Paul Lear, Site Manager, Fort Ontario State Historic Site, Oswego. (2010)
The View from Fort Ontario

In "I Am Heartily Ashamed" Gavin Watt provides a full and succinct narrative of the last two years of the Revolutionary War as waged from Canada. Watt's strong reliance upon primary documents and the actual words of the war's participants allows the reader to better comprehend its heavy cost in property, lives, and human suffering. In so doing, he provides useful insights into the thoughts, motivation, and concerns of those guiding and carrying out the final stages of a desperate civil war.

Gavin Watt presents an excellent account of the reconstruction of Fort Ontario and the Continental campaign against it in the winter of 1783. The author carefully guides the reader through this ill-fated and largely forgotten chapter of the war thus enabling one to understand the far reaching consequences of controlling Lake Ontario and its affect on westward expansion.

While preparing to review "I Am Heartily Ashamed" I was compelled to revisit Watt's three earlier books. As a result, I gained new appreciation for the author's significant contributions to our understanding of the northern theater of the War for Independence. I found the author's newest publication to be scholarly, readable, and informative and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Revolutionary War.


Heather Robertson
Author of "Walking into Wilderness: The Toronto Carrying Place and Nine Mile Portage", "A Terrible Beauty" and a great many other books.

I have been absorbed by Heartily Ashamed - a wonderful book, although I've often had to put it down to ponder the cruelty, duplicity, stupidity and suffering you recount in such compelling detail. I like your laconic tone, and sympathetic portrait of Haldimand. I hope your books are being bought by school libraries and that you have an opportunity to talk about the war to general audiences.


Harry Maher (August, 2016)

Gavin, I am still chasing my Parker, Claus, and Bauder families connections, I can't thank you enough for your help. I purchased your books through Barnes and Noble, and I promise you, when I finish "I am heartily ashamed", I will be sending in reviews to B&N that will claim your works are the definitive history of the American Revolution in the Mohawk Valley. I've read several, and yours are the best!


Harry Maher, Elk River, Minnesota – a Barnes & Noble review

"If the lover of history is looking for a detailed (almost day-by- day) history of the American Revolution in upper New York’s Mohawk Valley, he cannot go wrong with Gavin Watt’s four books:  (1) The Rebellion In The Mohawk Valley, The St. Leger Expedition of 1777, (2) The Burning of the Valleys, (3) A Dirty, Trifling Piece of Business, and (4) I Am Heartily Ashamed.  A Canadian himself, Gavin Watt still delivers a balanced work, presenting the view from loyalist, native, and rebel perspectives.  The terror of imminent attack and the tedium of the decimating winters of the northern valleys are felt.  When one’s ancestral roots are in the Mohawk and nearby valleys, these books strike close to home even when one is personally far away.  I loved every page, and I heartily recommend these books and look forward to new works by this author."

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