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Colonel Robert Magaw
Jun 16, '13

Just doing the Magaw Baillie timeline comparison and!!! Last time I came to Pennsylvania was 1991 which is 1775 in Roberts life. And 1865 in Baillie Kell's life. So as I surrender ed in Hillsboro North Carolina I was signing up with Thompson's Pennsylvania Rifles !!! That's how it works. Continuous flow a dance through time. Amazing. 2007 New York was the year after his death. I suddenly had a new lease of energy in 2006. Got my last full time teaching post as head of Science and I felt a lot better. I had been in decline with kidney problems from 2000 to 2006. Gradually getting better. Ten to one he had Lyme Disease which was affecting his kidneys! So as his soul was freed of that physical body mine improved. As it wasn't draining my immortal battery any longer!

So as the 5th Georgia Cavalry duties ends - 5th Pennsylvania Battalion in another life beckons. Perfect Symmetry!

I've looked at pretty much every George Washington portrait with my artists eye for detail and I concluded that the portrait I sent to you is definitely of Robert Magaw and has been wrongly labelled by history due to him "borrowing" Washington coat with the 3 stars. It would have been lying around Charles Willson Peale's studio much like those meet the ancestor photo booths. He would have said "hey stick this on" Robert would have remembered being a General the life before as William Baillie so would have not worried. After death. People sorting through his effects would naturally have assumed it was George Washington due to the uniform and superficial resemblance! So history got that one wrong often happens. Baillie Kell's tombstone had September 30, 1913 on it!!! When it should have been September 30, 1912. What was worse no mention of his war service with the 5th Georgia Cavalry!!!! He now has a veterans grave stone with his service and the correct dates on. Courtesy of the Federal Government. Took a non tax paying Brit to get that done!

Alice and Andrew Blake explained that this was quite common as the board would have been wood and relations replacing it in stone couldn't quiet remember the correct date. History is littered with mistakes like that. A major one being Boudicca who was wrongly called Boadicea due to a medieval monk in the 12th century copying her name wrong from a previous script!!!! It has now been corrected.

It's historical Chinese whispers! I'm perfectly happy to publish this opinion as I'm not out to scientifically prove this case so I'm quite happy to stick my neck out. Maybe down the line a better portrait will be found. Magaw and Washington were known to each other and Robert Magaw was defending Washington's honour and the confidence of the Fledgling Continental Army by not sure ending without a fight. Something Robert des Armoises did not do and was damned for it throughout his life. Sooo it was also a chance for "me" to atone for that error. It was indeed the Alamo of the American revolution. Which is why I paid so much attention as an 8 year old in Darien Georgia to the events unfolding in a little Texas mission in 1838. Even in this life I played Davy Crockett aged 2! In 2001 I got to go to the Alamo with Dr Norman C Delaney my past life brother who lives in Corpus Christi, TX. It was the first thing we did after I landed!!! Remember the Alamo and Remember Fort Washington in the same breathe! Democracy must be defended against all tyrants!!! ;)))

My initial reaction was, "That's my sister and indeed it does look like her which was my first thought when seeing it. My sister and I are very alike and she has the longer grey hair worn in that style. For me it is the eyes. The portrait has the asymmetry of the left eye. Washington doesn't. His mask taken from real life shows his right eye to be asymmetrical. Mines the left in all my historical portraits. So either Charles Willson Peale used a camera obscurer and hence a reversed mirror image was painted of Washington or it is indeed Robert Magaw if painted from a live sitting... Interesting....

Colonel Robert Magaw attended the Academy of Philadelphia and received his degree as a lawyer, becoming the first attorney admitted to practice in the Bedford County Courts. He made his home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In 1774, Robert was importantly a member of the Committee of Safety in Philadelphia, a body designed to discuss the problems, protect the community and control the local militias. Later that year he was a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Convention – this body, together with similar groups in the other 12 founder States of The Union, would ultimately forge The Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776 – the most important date in the history of The United States of America.

The American War of Independence was a revolution by the settlers against the authority of The British Government and Crown – King George III. ‘We have carved an existence out of the wilderness here in The New World and we do not want to be dictated to by distant rulers’, would have best described the mood of immigrants from everywhere in today’s Europe. The British Government sent more troops to quell the uprising, little realising that a bloody war and struggle would ensue. In 1775, Robert Magaw as commissioned as a Major in Thompson’s Battalion [1] of Riflemen. Ulster born Colonel William Thompson formed the 1st Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion, the first major unit of what is now the U.S. Army. He gave outstanding service on many battlefields, and the famous Pennsylvania Line were almost entirely men from the North of Ireland. In fact, almost half the regulars of the American Army were Scots-Irish immigrants and they dressed more like frontiersman or rangers. They were renowned for their marksmanship, accuracy at distance, selecting a target rather than blindly firing at a mass of men, and they used the slower loading long rifle rather than the musket. The first shots were fired near Boston with the Battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill, both causing considerable loss to the English Armies. In January 1776, Magaw was promoted to the rank of Colonel in Command of the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment. Later in March, when General Howe abandoned Boston with his English Army and travelled north to Halifax, Magaw was with General George Washington as the American Army left for New York and he engaged in strengthening the fortifications of Fort Washington.

On July 4, 1776, these new Americans claimed their independence from Britain and Democracy was born. By signing the Declaration of Independence, the British citizens amongst immigrants risked being tried and hanged for treason. It therefore celebrates the most important date in America’s fight for national self-determination and the concept of being America “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Americans pledge allegiance to their flag and to the Republic for which it stands – “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” – a great statement.

In the campaign that followed General Howe eventually returned south with ten thousand men to confront the Americans at Fort Washington, which was located at Harlem Heights the northern end and highest point of Manhattan Island. General Nathaniel Greene appointed Robert Magaw Colonel Commandant and our Patriot was personally charged by General George Washington with the duty to defend this position, enabling The American Army to make a strategic withdrawal to Fort Lee on the opposite side of the Hudson River from Fort Washington.

On 16th November 1776, Robert Magaw had three thousand ill-equipped Americans, largely clad in civilian attire, divided into three detachments posted in a ring around the fort. It was the Alamo of the American Revolution and they faced an army of about 9,000 men, including British Redcoats under the British General William Howe and Hessian troops dressed in Prussian blue; these were German mercenaries commanded by Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen. This vastly superior force made their assault attacking all three American detachments simultaneously. Magaw is quoted as saying ‘Actuated by the most glorious cause that mankind ever fought in’ and his thoughts must have reflected on the Declaration of Independence that he himself had been a party to formulating a few months earlier. Can you imagine the pride and honour to defend the principles of the American Flag with its stripes and thirteen stars [2] flying above the Fort? Heavily outnumbered Magaw’s men were forced to retreat from their open earthwork defenses into the fort after three hours of close fighting. After defending the fort all day they were overrun by superior numbers, and Magaw realizing the hopelessness of his position was forced to surrender.

The Freeman’s Journal of 10 December 1776 said, of the surrender of Fort Washington by Colonel Robert Magaw, “The commanding officer of the fort is a gentleman of great courage, and would have defended it as long as a single soldier remained to support it, had it been capable of defence. The highest honours are due to his gallant officers and the brave soldiers who were under his command.”

Despite the overwhelming odds, the British and Hessian losses were 67 killed, 335 wounded and 6 missing. The Americans faired even worse: 54 killed, 100 wounded and 2,858 captured with the great loss of valuable supplies of stores, weapons and ammunition. Captured regular soldiers suffered cruel beatings and the badly wounded were given little assistance. They were marched to lower Manhattan and transferred to the notoriously inhumane prison ships stationed in New York harbour. The 100 officers, including Magaw, faired better and were sent to the provost jail in New York City to await exchange with officers of similar rank. Sometime later Magaw was paroled on his own recognisance, agreeing not to leave the city until he was exchanged. He spent much of this time in Gravesend.

Whilst on parole in Gravesend Magaw met and courted Marritje Van Brunt (1762-1803) of Kings County, New York. She was the daughter of Rutgert Van Brunt, listed as a Colonel in The New York Militia in 1776, and her mother was Altie Cortelyou. Magaw and Marritje married in April 1779, and would later have two children, Elizabeth and Van Brunt.

Robert Magaw was held in prisoner status until 25 October 1780, a total of 1420 days, and he was finally exchanged, together with General THOMPSON, for a Hessian major general and allowed to return home. Together, with his young wife Marritje, they returned to Carlisle to live and he continued his law practice. He is mentioned many times as attorney and witness for the wills made by his neighbours of the Cumberland Valley. He served two years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1781-1782) and was for many years a trustee of Dickinson College, which was founded in 1773 and became the first college to be chartered in the newly-recognized United States. He remained listed as a Colonel in The Philadelphia Line of Riflemen in 1787 but he was never recalled to active duty after his ordeal. He was awarded 500 acres of land [3] at Carlisle, Pennsylvania on 16 July 1789 as a reward for his service to the new Nation and his brother William Magaw, Surgeon to The Pennsylvania Regiments, was also awarded 300 acres for his services.

Robert Magaw died aged 52, 7 Jan 1790, and was buried at The City Cemetery in Carlisle. After his death, Marritje returned to live with her father in Gravesend, New York, taking her children Elizabeth and son Van Brunt Magaw, the latter taking both family names as his mother Marritje was the last in the Van Brunt line. Marritje died later in 1803 and was buried with her husband. She was cited as being Col. Cmdt N.Y. Lady Patriot P.A.

Readers can download a free electronic copy of. 1915 book on Colonel Robert Magaw here:
Jun 16, '13
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