Sunday, August 14, 2016

Alone Yet Not Alone Movie Review: Part 2

Alone Yet Not Alone
Released 2013
1 hour 43 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

In my previous review (which can be read at, I dealt with the first half of Alone Yet Not Alone, with Natalie Raccosin in the leading role. The second half begins when Kelly Greyson takes the role of Barbara.

A title announces “Many years later” as the camera pans across the Indian village of Moschingo. But the “many years” they refer to is only 3 years later, in 1759. The movie itself gives multiple clues to confirm this date. In council, the chief mentions that Fort Duquesne has been captured by the English. The Indians decide to form a war party and join the French to retake Fort Duquesne. This points to some time later than 1758, for the British captured Fort Duquesne in November of that year. Yet it cannot be much beyond 1760, as all French troops surrendered in September of 1760. This fixes the date between 1758 and 1760.

Barbara is informed that the warrior Galasko wants to marry her. She determines (after some prodding by her friend and fellow-captive Marie) to escape. Her escape is facilitated by the fact that all of the Indian warriors (except the formidable Hannawoa) have gone to Fort Duquesne to aid the French in defeating the English. 

Again, this is another clue as to an early 1759 setting. The French evacuated Duquesne in November of 1758, so it is no surprise that this distant village of Delaware Indians has not yet learned of its abandonment.

Four English captives—Barbara, Marie, Owen, and David—steal a canoe and paddle away. But Hannawoa remains at the village, realizes that they have escaped, and embarks in pursuit of them. Through forest and stream, waterfall and rock, pursuer and pursued run. At last the foursome are within sight of Fort Pitt, a British outpost on the site of Fort Duquesne (which had been destroyed by the retreating French).  

In his travels, Hannawoa had come across his brother Galasko’s warband. Galasko follows Hannawoa in his pursuit, which irritates Hannawoa so much that he tomahawks his brother in the back. Coldly stealing his weapons (a musket and tomahawk), Hannawoa continues his pursuit of Barbara.

As the captives signal and shout at the fort for assistance, the British and colonists prepare to shoot them down. Fortunately for them, a British officer orders a halt while he asks permission to reconnoiter in a boat.  Several British regulars under Captain Thomas row across to determine whether these escapees are attempting to lure the garrison of Fort Pitt into an ambush. Barbara’s fluency with both English and German persuades them, and they quickly disembark—only to be challenged by Hannawoa.

Hannawoa’s first shot drops a Brit, while the British return volley succeeds in missing him entirely. The British then foolishly run at Hannawoa one by one (without bayonets!), and are hit by his tomahawks. Owen and David attempt to fight back, but one is quickly eliminated.  Captain Thomas, draws a pistol with historically accurate sangfroid and shoots Hannawoa in the shoulder. Yet again the Britisher is sent sprawling on the turf.

Moments from death, Barbara fumbles in Captain Thomas’s belt, draws another pistol and shoots Hannawoa, who is then skewered by a conveniently arriving Redcoat. This scene is undoubtedly the worst in the entire movie. Its historicity is not accurate; in fact, I wrote an entire blog post analyzing this one scene (read it at

The four captives are escorted into Fort Pitt, where they have supper and receive lodging for the night. Next morning, Captain Thomas (whose pistol Barbara borrowed) suggests that Barbara and Marie would like a warm bath and a soldier’s wife is quick to oblige. The soap used at Fort Pitt must be extremely strong, as it quickly strips the black dye from Barbara’s hair, returning it to blonde again. A dress worn by Colonel Mercer’s daughter conveniently fits Barbara to a T.

Escorted by the obliging Captain Thomas, Barbara and her friends enter Philadelphia, where she is reunited with her mother and brother. In the 5 years that follow (from 1759 to the end of 1763), the Leininger family raises good crops and becomes quite well-off. Barbara accepts a man named Fritz in marriage and on Christmas Eve of 1763, the entire family gathers together—with the poignant exception of Regina.

A knock pounds on their door, and rather than look out the large glass windows to identify the unexpected visitor, Fritz cocks a musket and points it at the door. When it is opened, it discloses the terrified face of the local Pastor Muhlenberg. Pastor Muhlenberg brings exciting if inaccurate news: “Colonel Armstrong and the Royal Americans have defeated the Ohio Indians!”

The battle that the Reverend refers to is the Battle of Bushy Run on July 3, 1763. There, a force of British and colonial troops defeated an Indian force in a two-day battle. Colonel Henri Bouquet commanded the British, and outfought the Indians with a cunning ambush and feigned retreat. Colonel Armstrong was not a part of the victory and only 16 men of the Royal Americans were part of Bouquet’s force! Actually, the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment and Montgomery’s 77th Highlanders comprised 390 men of Bouquet’s force, while the 60th Royal American Regiment (referred to by Pastor Muhlenberg) furnished only 16 men. (1)

Pastor Muhlenberg tells the Leininger family that Colonel Armstrong (it should be Colonel Bouquet) has insisted on the return of all English captives still left in the Indians’ towns as part of the peace treaty. They will be gathered at Fort Carlisle, and Mother and Barbara decide to journey there to find Regina.

They search through endless lines of captives and ask Colonel Armstrong for help. He inquires if Regina had any birthmarks, nicknames, or scars—anything that could identify her. This gives Mother Leininger an idea. Through the lines of captives she walks, singing a German hymn “Alone yet not Alone.” When Regina hears it, she recognizes the song and her mother and is reunited with them. The movie ends with a stirring performance of the song by Joni Eareckson Tada.

The second half of the movie is much weaker than the first. While the first half had good acting, many of the actors in the second half are flat, including Barbara, Owen, and David. However, some actors are good, such as Mother Leininger and Colonel Armstrong.

My score for the second half is 1/5 stars. The ending fight sequence and flat acting make this half much weaker than the first. The best part of the second half is Joni Eareckson Tada’s rendition of the hymn Alone Yet Not Alone.

My overall rating of Alone Yet Not Alone is 2/5 stars. I would recommend this movie for the scenery, some French & Indian War action, and some good performances by some of the actors. Perhaps the best commendation I can give it is to say that when I had finished watching it for the first time, I was eager to paint some French & Indian War figures and recreate this pivotal era for myself. (2)

Would you like to hear the song Alone Yet Not Alone? This video shows Joni Eareckson Tada's performance, as well as some of the best scenes of the movie.


(1) pg. 90, Through So Many Dangers: The Memoirs and Adventures of Robert Kirk by Robert Kirk, Ian McCullough, and Timothy Todish

(2) To see some of my painted soldiers, visit my other blog Red Coats and Ruffles at

Monday, August 1, 2016

Alone Yet Not Alone Movie Review: Part 1

Alone Yet Not Alone
Released 2013
Length: 1 hour 43 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

When this movie was first announced, I was excited. It was a movie set in one of my favorite eras—the French and Indian War! Perhaps it would include the indomitable James Wolfe, the courtly Marquis de Montcalm, or the daring Robert Rogers. Hopefully redcoated British regulars, blue-clad provincials and green-jacketed Rangers would clash with French regulars and painted Indians in epic battles! My sister disagreed with my hopes for the movie. She believed it would be a heart-stirring drama of two sisters who attempt to rebuild their lives in the midst of a war that turns their world upside down.
We were both wrong. Alone Yet Not Alone turned out to be neither what my sister nor I expected. This review will go through the movie’s story as well as a little of the history behind it. Because the movie naturally divides itself into two parts, I will divide my review the same way.

The year is 1755 and the Leininger family has immigrated into the colony of Pennsylvania. There they purchase land and begin a new life for themselves in the wilderness. They quickly plant crops and erect a house.

But trouble is brewing not far away. The pompous British General Edward Braddock dismisses his Indian allies, (against the advice of his superior aide named George Washington) claiming that the British will drive away the French without them. Understandably disturbed, the Indians switch alliances from the British to the French. The history portrayed here is simply absurd. Braddock did not drive away the Indians with his arrogance (for more on this subject, see my series called “The Trial of Edward Braddock” at  The Indians did not join the French because they were rebuffed by Braddock; instead the French had built relationships among the Indians, mainly through the fur trade.

The Delaware warrior Galasko examines the grotto where
Barbara and her sister are hiding
In council, the Delaware Indians decide to take up the hatchet against the British settlements. Two brother warriors named Galasko and Hannewoa descend on the Leiningers’ home when the mother and two brothers are away at town. In a brief fight (the most convincing in the entire movie), the Indians kill the father and the last brother before burning the house and crops to the ground. The Leinginers’ two daughters, Barbara and Regina, flee down the creek into a rocky grotto, but the Indians follow in a canoe and succeed in capturing the two sisters.

Barbara and Regina are marched through Pennsylvania to Fort Du Quesne, but they are separated when the war party they are travelling in breaks up. Regina is sent with one group of Indians while Barbara remains with another group. Barbara is heartbroken, so when an opportunity to rejoin Regina appears (in the shape of a horse), she takes it. Headlong she plunges through thickets in a vain attempt to find her sister. But she is quickly recaptured and sentenced to death. Help arrives from an unexpected source when Galascow intervenes, praising her courage.

Alone Yet Not Alone's portrayal of Fort Duquesne

The Delaware Indians make a journey to a French fortress called Fort Du Quesne. The scenes in Fort Du Quesne are some of the most visually beautiful in the entire movie. Compagnies Franches de la Marine and French militia garrison the fort as war parties of Indians pass through its gates. The year is 1756, a year of success for the French and Indians in their war against the British. Eventually Galasko and his band leave Fort Du Quesne and settle into the village of Kittanning.

Unbeknownst to Barbara and the Delawares, the Pennsylvania Assembly has finally voted to raise money to fight the French and Indians. The Quakers had not wanted to raise money for the military, so a band of irate Scotch-Irish and German settlers marched on Philadelphia. A circumlocution is introduced into the militia bill, agreeing to appropriate money “for the King’s use”. Because the Quakers are not voting to raise money for war, they reluctantly agree, and the bill is passed.

This account is true, but Pennsylvania also suffered from taxation issues: the Assembly wanted to tax the lands of the Penn family, while the Governor (who was their representative) could not agree to it. Eventually the situation was ironed out with a “gift” from the Penn family of 5,000 pounds to help pay for the militia. (1)

John Armstrong is appointed to command the militia of Pennsylvania (at least those west of the Susquehanna River) (2). Their first target is the Indian settlement of Kittanning Village.

Colonel Armstrong (center) prepares to advance
Colonel Armstrong (not Captain; he was promoted in March of 1756) and his raid on Kittanning are true pieces of history; however, they are poorly portrayed in this movie. First of all, Kittanning Village was a collection of about 30 log cabins, rather than the birch-bark wigwams shown in the movie. The raid actually began shortly after dawn, rather than in the afternoon. The Pennsylvania militia is shown as suffering most of their casualties from hand-to-hand fighting. Actually, the Indians positioned themselves in their cabins and engaged in a firefight with the militia. In his report, Captain Armstrong observes that "they seldom missed of killing or wounding some of our people." (3) The tables finally turn for the Pennsylvanians when they light the cabins on fire, causing them to explode because of the large amounts of gunpowder stored within. That would have made an interesting scene for the movie!

As Kittanning Village burns, one of the captives named Lydia attempts to escape with two captive children. She is caught (but the children are found by the Pennsylvanians) and sentenced to die by being burnt at the stake. Some time afterward, a French officer and his men arrive on the scene. This officer is attempting to conduct this war honorably, and torturing a prisoner is dishonorable. 

French lieutenant of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine
He is an important character in the movie, for he provides a counterpoint to the official in Fort Duquesne who is buying scalps. One conducted the war savagely, the other honorably. Yet the character of both were represented in the French military during the French & Indian War. To cite merely one example, Governor-General Vaudreuil meticulously counted the number of scalps brought in by Indians and sent that information to the Minister of Marine in France, while General Montcalm risked his life to save the English (his enemies) from the Indians (his allies) during the Fort William-Henry massacre.

Galasko, Hannawoa, Barbara and the rest of their Indian band return to Galasko’s village of Moschkingo. There Barbara and her friend and fellow-captive Marie settle into the ways of life there.  

Some characters that I believed did an excellent job in their roles include Lydia the English captive. She is an excellent motherly presence to this group of captured children. Barbara’s scene where she attempts to escape on a horse is another well-acted scene. The French lieutenant is devout and honorable, while Galasko and Hannowoa provide an interesting contrast to each other.

Lydia attempts to escape from Kittanning Village

The movie makes a natural break here, as young Barbara (Natalie Raccosin) becomes Barbara (Kelly Greyson). I would rate the first half of the movie 3/5 stars. Lydia and Fort Du Quesne are some of my favorite parts, but the erroneous portrayal of Braddock and the Kittanning raid bring the score down to 3/5. 

My next post will tackle the second half of the movie, with Kelly Greyson in the lead role.

(1) A fuller account of the financial wrangling in Pennsylvania can be found in Francis Parkman's classic Montcalm and Wolfe. Read it for free at (search for Chapter 13)

(2) pg. 18, Military Uniforms in America: The Era of the American Revolution 1755-1795 (San Rafael, CA: Presidio, 1975)

(3) pg. 258, Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. This source contains Colonel Armstrong's report to the Governor of Pennsylvania on the success of his raid. Available at:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Trial of Edward Braddock--Part Fourth and Last

This is the fourth and last part of a series defending Edward Braddock against his detractors, specifically the movie Alone Yet Not Alone. Part 1 in the series can be found at:

Part 2 can be found at:

And Part 3 can be found at:

In Part 3, Charles Stuart charged Edward Braddock with slighting the Delaware Indians by insulting and self-confident language. Stuart’s narrative claims to be taken from the words of the Delaware chief Shingas, whom Stuart met while a captive. But what do other eyewitnesses say about Braddock’s interaction with the Delaware?

Captain Robert Orme was an aide-de-camp (assistant to General Braddock). Because of this position, he would have known much about any interactions the General had with others. This is how he describes the meeting:

“Some Indians arrived from the Delawars [sic], with whom the General conferred, and to whom he made presents. They promised to join him with their Nation upon the March, which they never performed.”—Captain Robert Orme

An important source of Braddock’s campaign is a journal known as the Seaman’s Journal, which was kept by Midshipman Thomas Gill. Haynes chronicles this meeting with the Delaware Indians thus:

“On the 28th:-- At 11, the Delawares met at the General’s tent, and told him that they were come to know his intentions, that they might assist the Army. The General thanked them and said he should march in a few days towards Fort De Quesne [sic]. The Indians told him they would return home and collect their warriors together, and meet him on his march.”—Seaman’s Journal, kept by Midshipman Thomas Gill

Not only does Gill make no mention of any altercation between the British and the Delaware, but he specifically states that Braddock thanked the Indians for their assistance.
The two previous authors were British, but this next testimony comes from a colonist named George Croghan. Croghan knew many Indians well; in fact, he was appointed Captain of Indians for Braddock’s expedition. These are his words regarding the conference:

"The general had a conference with these chiefs in company with those 50 I had brought with me and made them a handsome present, and behaved as kindly to them as he possibly could during their stay, ordering me to let them want for nothing. The Delawares promised in council to meet ye General on the road, as he marched out, with a number of their warriors, but whether the former breaches of faith on the side of the English prevented them, or that they had before engaged to assist the French, I cannot tell: but they disappointed the General and did not meet him.”—George Croghan (1)

Croghan specifically states that the General “behaved…kindly” towards the Indians. These three testimonies are powerful confirmation that Braddock did his best to establish good relations with the Indians. For more information on the real Braddock, and his interactions with the Delaware and other Indian tribes, check out the book Braddock’s Defeat by David L. Preston.

Why is this important? Edward Braddock met with some Indians. So what? Proverbs 17:15 states that “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.” This series has been written to right the record, to defend Braddock’s reputation against those who seek to distort and destroy his character.

(1) All of these eyewitness testimonies can be found in Winthrop Sargeant’s History of Braddock’s Defeat. This book can be read, for free, at:

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Did Cornwallis "Arrogantly Underestimate" Lafayette in the 1781 Virginia Campaign?

“He invaded Virginia but arrogantly underestimated the 23-year old Marquis de Lafayette, wasting valuable time by attempting to engage Lafayette’s forces in pitched battle. Failing to do so, he retreated to Yorktown…”

This quotation describes the 1781 Virginia campaign which ended in the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. Obviously, the authors are not impressed with Cornwallis’ record in Virginia. He is alternately accused of not regarding Lafayette’s army as a threat (underestimating), and then overestimating its effectiveness (wasting valuable time to rid himself of it) in a single sentence! These two charges are contradictory, but a this scathing critique of George III’s best fighting general justified?

In June of 1781, Lord Cornwallis had arrived in Virginia from South Carolina. Cornwallis had about 7,000 British and Hessian soldiers in his army. (1) Many of Cornwallis’ British soldiers were the elite of the British army in North America. The 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, the 33rd Regiment, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of Light Infantry, and Banastre Tarleton’s British Legion were all fearsome troops. Each of these units had gained battlefield victories, despite being outnumbered by the rebels. These were true veterans. But the rest of Cornwallis’ army in Virginia was not comprised of second-rate troops. The 76th and 80th Regiments, though not as experienced in battle, would gain a victory at the Battle of Green Spring.

While Cornwallis’ army numbered 7,000 trained soldiers, the Marquis de Lafayette (the American commander in Virginia) had about 5,000. Some of these were excellent troops, such as his three Light Infantry battalions, as well as the three Pennsylvania regiments. But almost 2,000 men of his army were poorly-trained Virginia Continental or militia soldiers. (2)

In Virginia, then, Cornwallis enjoyed both superiority of numbers and superiority of quality against Lafayette. He used this to carry out two lightning-fast raids against Charlottetown and Point of Fork. Lafayette was not able to counter these raids, and Cornwallis could be pardoned had he not regarded Lafayette’s army as a threat. But Cornwallis was too shrewd to do that.

Learning that Lafayette was following him towards the Virginia coastline, he set an ambush for him at Green Spring. In the ensuing battle, Lafayette’s force barely managed to escape defeat, thanks to Lafayette’s caution and timely darkness. The battle took place on July 6. Since Cornwallis fought and won against Lafayette, how can he be accused of failing to engage him in battle?

While Cornwallis did not arrogantly underestimate Lafayette, did he waste “valuable time” chasing him around Virginia? The assumption seems to be that had Cornwallis entrenched at Yorktown earlier, his fortifications would be more complete, the siege would have been slower, General Clinton would have sent British reinforcements from New York City, and Yorktown might not have been captured by Washington and Rochambeau.

Firstly, this is a precarious chain of events. There are no guarantees that more time entrenching would have changed the outcome of the battle. Had Clinton sent British reinforcements, they would likely have been defeated by the powerful fleet of Admiral de Grasse, prowling in the Chesapeake Bay with his French fleet.

Secondly, Cornwallis was hampered by contradictory orders from his superior, General Clinton. This resulted in a waste of time in marches and counter-marches around Virginia. Clinton and Cornwallis had different ideas on how to win the war. Clinton believed in fortifying key positions; Cornwallis preferred finding and defeating rebel armies.

In conclusion: did Cornwallis’ character faults doom him to defeat at Yorktown? Certainly not. Cornwallis was a wise general—probably the best Britain had in the American Revolution. His actions in the Virginia campaign against Lafayette were wise, not hampered by arrogant underestimation.

For more about the 1781 Campaign and the siege of Yorktown, check out my lecture: “A Providential View of the Battle of Yorktown.” It is available at:  While I gave the lecture, I do not make any money off its sale.

(1) Number of Cornwallis' troops taken from  pg. 37 and pg. 76 of Yorktown 1781 by Brendan Morrissey (Oxford: Osprey, 1997). It should be noted here that Cornwallis only had about 4,500 of these troops at the battle of Green Spring; the rest garrisoned points in Virginia.

(2) Lafayette's numbers are taken from pg. 34 and pg. 37 of Yorktown 1781 by Brendan Morrissey (Oxford: Osprey, 1997). Previously, Lafayette's forces had been much smaller; he entered Virginia in the spring of 1781 with about 1,200 Continentals.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Guest Post-Why Modern Readers Should Care About History

About a month ago, my friend Schuyler M., who blogs over at Lady Bibliophile ( asked me if I would like to guest post for her blog and I accepted.  She suggested the topic "Why Modern Readers Should Care About History."  I wrote it and it was published on her blog today. 

To read it, go over to  Do be sure to check out the rest of her blog, which is filled with book reviews and advice for writers.  I'm looking forward to more news on her World War I novel...

Monday, July 4, 2016

Behind the Scenes of the Declaration of Independence

Today marks the signing of America's Declaration of Independence.  This is a short article I wrote about the history behind the Declaration and a few of Jefferson's paragraphs that didn't make it into the final Declaration. 

For example, did you know that the original Declaration listed the raising of the 71st Highlanders as one of George III's crimes against the colonies?  I did not know that until I began researching for this article.

Also, check out my paper soldiers on CurrClick at

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Tale of Two Authors: A Reflection

Every person sees a different facet of the world. Others see things which I cannot; and conversely, I see things others do not. Working as a vendor with Through All Ages LLC* allows me to see people in a way that customers are not able to.

Now in the merry month of May, Through All Ages was attending the annual Information Network for Christian Homes (abbreviated INCH) Convention. As I am the company president—actually the only employee at Through All Ages—I went to INCH.

When I arrived, I set up my booth and took stock of my neighbors. To my right was the end of an aisle and to my left was a well-known educational book supplier. It was staffed by three friendly ladies who spent most of their off-duty time chatting with each other. They were very friendly to me when we met.

Across the aisle, facing my booth, was an author who will be referred to as Mr. A. Next to him was an association to teach young children about God’s Word. Beyond them was another author, Miss B. Next to Miss B. were some of my friends, selling lotions and soaps. This was as far down the aisle as I could see, although there were other booths.

As the conference began, few people came through the vendor hall. Traffic was sporadic and the rest of my family were attending lectures. This left me plenty of time to think, to observe, and to read. Unfortunately, the book I had brought was busy supporting a display of products. Bother.

Now INCH is a two-day conference, and I arrived bright and early for the second day. Because I was a vendor, I could enter the vendor hall earlier than the shoppers. I scrutinized my booth, making certain it displayed my products in a visually appealing way. When I was satisfied, I sat down and waited for customers when the doors opened at 9:00 AM. With no customers inside, the vendor hall was quiet and any sound would carry a long way.

While I waited, Mr. A’s daughters entered the hall. He began barking at them because they had not arrived earlier. One of his daughters offered that her mother was overworked and unable to arrive sooner. After hearing this, Mr. A growled that if his messages had been followed, everything would have worked out smoothly.

In a few minutes, the vendor hall opened and everyone looked out eagerly for customers. No one was shopping for my paper soldiers, and as I glanced down the hall, I saw Mr. A asking a passerby if she had anyone interested in novels. He was smiling as though he was good-nature itself, and looked polite as she answered in the negative. I was repulsed—no, to be more accurate, I was sickened. Here was a man whom I had seen angrily barking at his daughters fifteen minutes earlier, now looking pleasant and gentlemanly to the customers. He was a man with two faces: one for his family and one for his customers. Yet I daresay that few of his customers ever suspected he had been berating his daughters not a quarter-hour earlier.

Now there was another author I watched: Miss B. She had no family at her booth; yet whenever I saw her in a lull between customers, she had a pleasant and amiable face. I talked with her and she seemed a kind lady. What a contrast between these two authors!

I came away from INCH thinking about what I had seen. How often are we kinder to strangers, whom we have not seen before, than to our families, who love us? I am not speaking from an ivory tower; I too am a fellow-struggler in this area. Hopefully this tale of two authors will cause us all to be kinder--both to our families and strangers.

“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”—1 John 4:20-21

*More information about Through All Ages LLC can be found at