Friday, January 29, 2016

New "About Me" Page

Me at Fort Michilmackinac 2012
Defending the Legacy is fast approaching its sixth birthday (May of 2016), but in all that time I have never put up an "About Me" page.  At last, that is remedied (better late than never)!  I hope that this helps you my readers get to know me and this blog a little bit better. This page includes:

1. A brief overview of my love of history
2. Why I chose the name Defending the Legacy
3. The blog's journey over these 6 years

To read more, please click below:

Friday, January 22, 2016

Review of Montcalm's Crushing Blow by Rene Chartrand

“The year 1755 saw the rivalry between Britain and France in North America escalate into open warfare as both sides sought to overcome the other's forts and trading posts. Lord Loudoun and the Marquis de Montcalm were sent out to lead their forces and Montcalm was soon tasked with capturing the formidable Anglo-American post at Oswego. Montcalm's 3,000-strong force surrounded the forts at Oswego and soon forced the defenders to surrender - an outstanding French success.”

The cover of Montcalm's Crushing Blow
               Canadian author Rene Chartrand begins by covering the situation on Lake Ontario when Fort Oswego was originally built by the English to trade with the Indians.  But the French did not intend to let the British establish themselves there and built other trading posts/forts in the vicinity, like Fort Toronto.

               When the Seven Years’ War broke out, Mr. Chartrand covers the reinforcements from Europe that were sent to North America.  He then illustrates the situation in 1756, where Fort Oswego threatened to be the focal point for an Anglo-American drive deep into Canada.

               But Oswego had a weakness: all its supplies had to come from distant Albany.  In March 1756, the French and Indians struck at one of the posts in Oswego’s supply chain, Fort Bull.  The defenders and their gate held off the French for a while, but the French broke in and began destroying British supplies.  Then flames began to spread through Fort Bull, igniting the powder magazine in an explosion.

               When General Montcalm arrived in Canada, he and Governor Vaudreuil quickly decided to strike against Fort Oswego.  3,000 French and Indian soldiers were ferried across Lake Ontario to attack the British fort.  More incredibly, the voyageurs transported 20 cannons.

               The French built batteries to bombard Fort Oswego, and the artillery duels are chronicled here as well.  The British artillerymen put up a gallant defense, but were forced to surrender on August 14, 1756.  This was Montcalm’s first victory in the French & Indian War.

               In addition to his engaging text, Mr. Chartrand also includes sidebars with interesting historical facts.  One provides an order of battle for Montcalm’s Oswego expedition, while another lists the British prisoners, cannons, and flags captured. 

Interestingly, the information on Oswego’s flags also clears up a small mystery I chronicled on my blog  5 flags were captured by Montcalm: 2 of Shirley’s 50th, 2 of Pepperell’s 51st and 1 of the New Jersey “Jersey Blues”.  Those from the 50th and 51st were hung up in Quebec’s Cathedral and were later recovered by General Amherst in 1760.  But the flag of the Jersey Blues was not.  Instead (according to a letter written by General Montcalm’s wife), it was sent home to Montcalm’s family as a trophy of victory.

Mr. Chartrand seamlessly weaves together French and British sources to create his narrative, while paying tribute to the bravery of the soldiers on all sides.  His information and writing is excellently done.  Nor does he stop at the end of 1756, providing additional information on the main characters later on, as well as the development and current state of the Fort Oswego area.  The book is finished with a long list of sources for further reading.

Maps are an important part of conveying the story of history, and again this book excels.  The maps are plentiful and appear at their parts in the narrative.  One of the most interesting (to me) was a map tracing the route of the French and Indians as they went to raid Fort Bull where every night’s campsite is marked.  Other maps show the French lines during the siege and the supply route from Fort Oswego to Albany, NY.

My photograph of Montcalm & his men inspecting Fort Oswego.
Figures by Frontline Figures and W. Britains
Osprey’s books are known for their carefully reconstructed original artwork and Montcalm’s Crushing Blow is no exception.  The cover is an animated study of General Montcalm and Engineer Desandroins attending a battery bombarding Fort Oswego.

               Inside, there are 4 paintings by the excellent painter Peter Dennis, divided into two uniform studies and two battle scenes.  Mr. Dennis’s paintings have an excellent balance between accurate detail and compelling action.  The first painting is a uniform study of an officer and enlisted man of the New Jersey “Jersey Blues” Provincial Regiment with almost a whole page of descriptive text.  The next one is of an officer and enlisted man of the French Canadian militia, again with a page of text.

               The first battle scene shows the Canadian militia storming Fort Bull’s main gate.  Some of them are firing through the loopholes into the fort, while a party of Canadians under an officer use a log to batter in the gate, a detail expressly noted in the account of a French officer, Chevalier de la Pause.

               The second battle scene depicts the Royal Artillery defending Fort Oswego from the French cannons.  Lieutenant-Colonel Mercer is inspecting the defenses as a French cannonball flies through the air.  One second later, Mercer would die when he was hit by the cannonball.  This plate even shows the pork barrel casks that were used to create a new defensive wall.

While Osprey’s books are known for their original artwork, they also contain other illustrations as well.  In this area again, Montcalm’s Crushing Blow does not disappoint.  This book is filled with uniforms worn by the soldiers, original French and British maps of the area, and portraits of the main characters like the Marquis de Montcalm and Colonel Peter Schuyler.  Every illustration is captioned, giving extra information on the dimensions of bateaux or Montcalm’s Irish soldiers.

If you have any interest in the French & Indian War or Early America, this book is highly recommended.  Rene Chartrand’s detailed yet easy-to-read text is well matched with Peter Dennis’s lively and detailed artwork.  My overall rating is 5/5 stars.

Friday, January 15, 2016

William Washington vs. Banastre Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens

On January 17, 1781, at the Battle of the Cowpens, British Colonel Banastre Tarleton was decisively defeated by Continental General Daniel Morgan.  Tarleton’s British regiments gained ground until they were confronted with an unexpected counterattack and disintegrated.  Now the American troops were pushing across the battlefield, capturing surrendering British soldiers and fighting artillerymen who were defending their cannon.  The artillery and baggage was in danger, and Tarleton was determined not to let the enemy get it.  He was, after all, a cavalryman who excelled in headlong charges against numerically superior enemies.


Unfortunately for Tarleton, his British Legion cavalry refused to charge.  Gathering together a few cavalrymen, Tarleton returned to the battle and collided with William Washington’s troopers of the 3rd Continental Light Dragoons with some mounted militia. (1) Upon seeing the British commander, Washington shouted “Where is now the boasting Tarleton?” (2)


Tarleton, who was escorted by two other British officers, slashed at Washington.  Raising his saber, Washington deflected the first slash.  Tarleton cut again at the Continental colonel and the blade of Washington’s saber snapped off, leaving him holding only the hilt.


To add to Washington’s danger, Cornet Patterson (2) of the 17th Light Dragoons had ridden around the duo and was prepared to attack Washington.  But Washington’s 14-year-old trumpeter and orderly named Gillie (3) drew a pistol and shot Cornet Patterson.


While this was happening, another British officer made a slash at Washington.  But Sergeant-Major Perry (3) blocked it and wounded the British officer with his own sword.  Meanwhile, Tarleton had drawn his pistol from its holster and fired it at Washington.  The shot missed Washington but wounded his horse.  With this, the three British officers rode away.  Tarleton could thus claim the distinction of firing the last shot of the Battle of Cowpens.  It was small comfort for a man who had lost 1,100 of Cornwallis’ elite light troops.  This loss would be evident nine months later at a small port named Yorktown.



(1) This anecdote was related by a few eyewitnesses of Cowpens. From  “A running encounter between Washington and Tarleton (described by Col. Howard and later by Justice John Marshall and a few pensioners) would eventually be dramatized in four nineteenth century paintings (1845-1898)!”


(2) Cornet Thomas Patterson of the regiment was killed on this occasion*, and Lieutenant Henry Nettles wounded; several private soldiers and troop horses were also killed and wounded.

*During the action the American Colonel Washington called out, "Where is now the boasting Tarleton?" CORNET PATTERSON of the SEVENTEENTH was riding up to attack him, and was shot by Washington's orderly Trumpeter. Anecdote by Lieut.-General Sir Evan Lloyd, who served with the regiment in America. (History of the Seventeenth Light Dragoons by John W. Parker, available at

(3) Col. Washington caught up to Tarleton, who turned with two officers and charged Washington. Washington slashed at the officer on Tarleton’s right, only to have his sabre snap at the hand guard. The British officer was about to strike down Washington, when his 14 year old Negro servant, Gillie fired his pistol, striking the Officer in the shoulder. Sergeant Major Perry then rushed in and saved Washington by deflecting the saber of the other officer and wounding him. Tarleton then fired his pistol, hitting Washington’s horse, turned and fled.—(

Friday, January 8, 2016

Behind the Scenes of With Truth and Grace

This is an interview that I did with Amara of Castles in Clouds ( It shows some of the "behind-the-scenes" behind my short story With Truth and Grace.

Amara, of Castles in Clouds: Hi Jordan, it’s great to have you here.
Jordan, of Defending the Legacy:  Hi Amara.  I’m glad to be here on your new blog!

Amara: You entered a story for a contest.  How did you hear about the contest?
Jordan: A book-loving friend of mine named Schuyler M. announced it on her blog at  At that time, I had not written a short story for five years, but this gave me a push to get started.

Amara: What gave you the idea for your story?
Jordan: The story was supposed have a Christmas/winter theme and needed to include at least one of the picture prompts that were provided.  The first picture I saw showed a mask, and I debated if I should write a story of the 1775 American invasion of Quebec.  Then I saw the picture of a figure falling from the sunset to a city below.  This picture gave me a challenge because of its surreal nature (because I write mostly historical nonfiction), but I eventually fashioned the concept of a messenger sent to change the main character’s wrong ideas, much like A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life.

As for the main character’s journey, that was written from first-hand experience [laughs].  Once, I believed that with enough power, I could remake the world into a better place.  But just like the character in the story, I came face-to-face with the disaster this type of power could have.  To write this story, all that I needed to do was to take these real-life lessons and turn them into an enjoyable story.

One of the most important plot points in my story is Isaac Watts’s Christmas carol Joy to the World.  I was four years old when I first heard the carol’s 4th verse, which states that Christ rules the world with truth and grace.  That verse has always been a favorite of mine and I was able to use it to set up both the story’s conflict and its resolution.  Because of the story’s theme and that verse, it seemed appropriate to call it With Truth and Grace.

Amara: How long did it take you to write?
Jordan: I began writing the first draft on November 9 (as soon as I had determined the outline for my story) and finished it a week or two later.  Then it was proofread several times, polished for clarity and finally submitted on December 5.

Amara: Have you written any other short stories previously?
Jordan: I have written quite a number of them.  One of my earliest self-directed writing endeavors (as opposed to writing assignments for homeschool) was a story about space exploration.  This was written in 2002-2003.  In 2007, I entered a short story verbosely named The Great Adventure of a Mouse and Toy Soldiers for our library’s contest.  Next year I entered the contest again with Sir Christopher and the Dragon.  A few more stories intervened before 2010, when I wrote one that I still consider a gem: Lay Down Your Life (which can be read at  This was my last short story until 2015, when I wrote With Truth and Grace.

Amara: That’s great.  Do you have plans for any other stories?
Jordan: I certainly do.  One that I hope to write soon is called The Homeschool Spaceship.  This is (very loosely) based off my original 2003 story of space exploration.  I am looking forward to sharing it with you all in the near future.

Amara: Thank you for taking time for this interview, and I look forward to more stories from you!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Defending the Legacy--Plans for 2016

As the new year dawns, I want to write 50 blog posts (about one a week) here on Defending the Legacy.  By December 31, 2016, I hope to have written:

  • At least 12 book reviews (including one of King by J. Aaron Gruben)
  • At least 4 movie reviews (including a review of Alone yet not Alone)
  • 6 short stories (including The Homeschool Spaceship)
  • At least 6 photo galleries of painted soldiers (including the grenadier and center companies of the 80th Regiment, Royal Edinburgh Volunteers)
  • An "About Me" page (to introduce myself more personally)

The remaining 31 posts will mainly include the same things that usually appear here: painting galleries, historical quotes and articles.