Recent Posts

Friday, December 6, 2013

Completion of The Guide to the American Revolutionary War collection

Busca, Inc. is pleased to announce the completion of The Guide to the American Revolutionary War collection. The six-volume set intends to provide comprehensive coverage of the confrontations of the American War of Independence and to serve as a guide to the sites. The most extensive list of engagements previously totalled 1,330. Norman Desmarais, professor emeritus and former acquisitions librarian at Providence College, has compiled more than 4,000, most of which do not get covered, even in the most detailed history books. The text identifies the location of the sites as best as can be determined, provides the historical background to understand what happened there, indicates what the visitor can expect to see and identifies any interpretive aids. It includes URLs for websites of various parks and tourist organizations. These URLs are correlated with various battle sites and events. The many photographs have descriptive captions to identify details of historic buildings, monuments, battlefields, and equipment. The glossary provides definitions of 18th-century military and historical terms. The books also contain a bibliography and an index.

The appendices (alphabetical and chronological lists of engagements) as well as a complete bibliography and color photos are available at the publisher’s website within each title's page at:

A set of interactive Google Earth maps for all volumes can be accessed at:

Maps can be viewed as a Google or Yahoo cartographic or topographical map with cartographic, aerial, or hybrid views. Google Earth maps can be zoomed to a variety of detail levels. There is a composite map for all volumes, a composite map for each volume, and quadrant maps corresponding to those in the volumes. These quadrant maps show the corresponding page numbers in the books.

Moving the cursor over each marker on the map displays the abbreviation for the state and the location name. Clicking on the marker reveals the dates of the action(s) there in mmddyy format along with an abbreviation for the volume which covers them and the page numbers. There’s also an option to enter your address or zip code to get driving directions.

The collection includes:

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in Canada and New England: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. Ithaca, NY: BUSCA, 2009. $21.95

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in New York: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. Ithaca, NY: BUSCA, 2010. $22.95

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in New Jersey: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. Ithaca, NY: BUSCA, 2011. $22.95

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. Ithaca, NY: BUSCA, 2012. $29.95

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in South Carolina: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. Ithaca, NY: BUSCA, 2012. $37.95

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in the Deep South and on the Frontier: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. Ithaca, NY: BUSCA, 2013. $29.95

The books are available individually or as a set.
Buy online at and save 10%


Norman Desmarais
Professor Emeritus
Providence College

Friday, November 22, 2013

Revised: Titles in the Battlegrounds of Freedom series

Titles in the Battlegrounds of Freedom series
by Norman Desmarais

Battlegrounds of Freedom: A Historical Guide to the Battlefields of the War of American Independence. 2005. This fascinating travelogue invites readers to re-enact each battle with maps and photos, well-written text, abundant notation of websites, and many other useful references. This work covers Maine to Georgia as well as western territories, listing all the major battles and many minor ones. 262 pages, 19 maps, 109 photos. Paperback. 0-9666196-7-6. $26.95.

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in Canada and New England: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. 2009. Follow along as the author retraces every encounter of the Revolutionary War in Canada and New England along geographical lines. 262 pages, 8 maps, 49 photos. Paperback. 978-1-934934-01-2. $21.95.

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in New York: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. 2010. Follow along as the author retraces every encounter of the Revolutionary War in New York along geographical lines. 284 pages, 4 maps, 37 photos. Paperback. 978-1-934934-02-9. $22.95.

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in New Jersey: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. 2011. Follow along as the author retraces every encounter of the Revolutionary War in New Jersey along geographical lines. 286 pages, 3 maps, 44 photos. Paperback. 978-1-934934-04-3. $22.95.

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. 2011. Follow along as the author retraces every encounter of the Revolutionary War in Pennsylvania and several South Atlantic states along geographical lines. 356 pages, 7 maps, 62 photos. Paperback. 978-1-934934-05-0. $29.95.

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in South Carolina: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. 2013. Follow along as the author retraces every encounter of the Revolutionary War in South Carolina along geographical lines. 404 pages, 4 maps, 48 photos. Paperback. 978-1-934934-06-7. $37.95.

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in the Deep South and on the Frontier: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. 2013. Follow along as the author retraces every encounter of the Revolutionary War in the Deep South and on the frontier along geographical lines. 342 pages, 9 maps, 45 photos. Paperback. 978-1-934934-07-4. 29.95.

All titles available at or from book vendors everywhere
Busca, Inc. Ph: 607-546-4247
P.O. Box 854 Fax: 607-546-4248
Ithaca, NY 14851

New Release: The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in the Deep South and on the Frontier: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes

PDF flyer

November 2013

Busca, Inc., P.O. Box 854, Ithaca, NY 14851
Ph: 607-546-4247  Fax: 607-546-4248

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

During 2013, Busca has been making good progress in its collaborative relationship with ebrary©.  Although we have been generating some sales over several years, in the last number of months we have been pleased to observe a steadier flow of such e-book ordering activity. We would like to thank all out customers as well as ebrary© & it's parent, ProQuest staff in helping smooth that process.

When you let us know you would like to order ebrary titles, we contact ebrary and find out if you already have an ebrary account. If you do, usually you'll only need to sign an updated PAOA to authorize us. If you don't already have an account, we would also send you a Technical Profile form. ebrary also checks on your behalf to see if you might belong to a group that allows you to order under their umbrella.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Review of The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in South Carolina

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in South Carolina, Battles, Raids, Skirmishes is a VERY good book. South Carolina was the ground of more battles and skirmishes of the American War for Independence than any other colony/state with the possible exception of New Jersey. There were literally hundreds of incidents of note. The author makes no attempt to categorize any particular incident as a “battle” or “skirmish” and definitions may vary, but that is not the purpose of this book.The purpose is to be a travel guide, with good commentary of the relevance and context of the incident being described whether it’s an attack on a remote farm/plantation by the Cherokee or the Battle of Camden and other skirmishes like Fishing Creek that was in its immediate aftermath.

It’s a very user-friendly travel guide with descriptions of the area as it appears today and directions on how to find the site along with landmarks and other helpful aids to finding it. The accompanying text tells about the soldiers and, in many cases, civilians involved in each action, often in their own words, and how it was a part of the big picture of the southern campaigns. It is well illustrated with photos and maps, though I must say that many people will need a magnifying glass to read the maps, and the table of contents is a bit tedious. The index is quite thorough and is probably a better resource for finding a specific action. Footnotes are extensive, as is the bibliography. This isn’t the kind of book that one sits down to read cover-to-cover like a novel or conventional history, but is the kind that you want on your shelf to pull down for a good overview of specific actions. The book is divided into regions, making it easy to plan a route within a certain area of the state. Various fights within that region are listed chronologically, with some concentrations around major centers of activity, like Charleston.

While it does not read like a novel, the volume of quotes from great men and small makes it interesting and does whet the appetite for more information on even obscure events. I was particularly pleased to see his treatment of the various Cherokee expeditions and actions—a very little-known aspect of the brutal fighting in upcountry South Carolina (in which some of my collateral ancestors suffered greatly). It was fascinating to simply browse through—stop at a page and just see what was on it! This is one that I’ll use frequently when I’m driving through South Carolina and I’m sure that every trip will be more meaningful just because the American War for Independence will come more alive as a result of the knowledge that the author has collected and provided in such an easily accessible form. I enjoyed the book. I’ll continue to enjoy it. You will as well.

Jay Callaham

4th Company, Brigade of Guards

Desmarais, Norman. The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in South Carolina, Battles, Raids,
Skirmishes. Ithaca, NY: Busca Inc. ISBN: 978-1-934934-06-7 © 2012. $38.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

ACRL, Indianapolis Conference 2013

ACRL, Indianapolis Conference 2013-started off wet and warm then ended cold and damp. There were 239 exhibitors in 398 booths, which made this the largest exhibition in ACRL Conference history. ACRL 2013 offered over 300 thought-provoking sessions. Official Attendance unknown. The higher education librarians came to ACRL for promoting, advancing, supporting, and the values of their libraries being represented. The new and improved ACRL conference brought forth an array of webcasts, panel/roundtable discussions, papers presented poster sessions, keynote speakers, and innovative technology. Not to mention, meeting up with old colleagues and making new acquaintances. ACRL, continues to bring together librarians from all professional levels, all sizes and types of libraries that represent various institutions, from across the US and world. I personally met a librarian from Trinidad.

- Loren, Busca, Inc.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Busca, Inc. at ACRL 2013 in Indianapolis

Please stop by and visit us at Booth #241 where we will be sharing space with Basch Subscriptions. Our Multi-talented magniloquent Midwestern Rep, Loren Hirsch. will be glad to answer any questions about our specialties, including e-book replacement projects for your missing hard copies.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

New Release: The Guide to the American Revolutionary War In South Carolina

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War In South Carolina:  

Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes

American Revolutionary War in SCAuthor: Norman Desmarais
ISBN: 978-1-934934-06-7
Publisher: BUSCA, Inc.
Soft Cover
Price: $37.95
Buy online and save 10%: $34.16

Busca Publishing is proud to present the next title in Norman Desmarais' compelling series of the American Revolutionary War.  Order your copy today from the Busca Publishing online store.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Now on Kindle - Guide to the American Revolutionary War In Pennsylvania , Delaware , Maryland , Virginia , and North Carolina

Busca, Inc is proud to present Norman Desmarais' The Guide to the American Revolutionary War In Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, And North Carolina: 
Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes

This is the fourth in a planned six volume comprehensive guide to the location of thousands of military actions of the American Revolution-from the great and well-known battles through the many intermediate and less well known engagements to the almost numberless obscure skirmishes, raids, ambushes and chance encounters that were little noted at the time and which today are virtually unknown, even to many professional historians.

This is a truly monumental undertaking. But it is an undertaking in which the author appears to have been successful click here to read more...

Order your Kindle edition now from

Monday, February 11, 2013

Interview with Norman Desmarais author of "The Guide to the Revolutionary War In South Carolina: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes"

Library Marketplace — Interview with Norman Desmarais

Professor Emeritus, Providence College and Author of Battlegrounds of Freedom: A Historical 
Guide to the Battlefields of the War of American Independence  

Column Editor: John D. Riley (Eastern Regional Sales Manager, BUSCA, Inc.) 

Congratulations Norm on your retirement  as acquisitions librarian at the Providence  College Library and also upon your Emeritus  Professor status there. But you haven’t  slowed down a bit in your retirement. You  have always been famous for your many  projects, such as writing for CD-ROM Professional,  CD-ROM Librarian, CD-ROM  World, Against the Grain, and other periodicals  as well as for your CD-ROMs and  books on HTML and other subjects. In your  spare time, you also devote a lot of energy to  American Revolutionary War history and reenactments.  That passion has now become a  full time project for you (other than spending  time with your grandson Lucas). I think the  Against the Grain audience will be fascinated  to find out more about your transition from  librarianship to full time scholar, author and re-enactor. 

You are now the author of six books on   the Revolutionary War and you have covered  all the major and minor battles from Canada  to Florida. You have personally participated   in many of the re-enactments of those battles   giving you a unique perspective as an author.  Was it much of a transition from your library   work to working full time on your writing and   publishing? 

Norm: No it wasn’t. I have been involved  in writing almost my entire career as a librarian.  During my last sabbatical, I devoted  myself full-time to writing and completed two  volumes of my Guide to the American Revolutionary  War. Toward the end of that sabbatical,  I estimated that it would take me another  20 years to complete the rest of the set while  continuing to work full-time as a librarian. I  decided to retire and write full-time and I can  now see the proverbial light at the end of the  tunnel. I expect to finish the final volume by  the summer of 2013. However, that doesn’t  mean I’ve exhausted the subject. During the  course of my research, I found a number of  topics that I want to research further and write  about in journal articles.

How did you first become interested in the history of the Revolutionary War? 

Norm: I've been interested in the Revolutionary War since I was in junior high school.  When I was editor of CD-ROM World, I did  some consulting for a publisher who asked me,  in a casual conversation during dinner, if I had  all the funding and necessary resources at my  disposal, what topic would I cover and how  would I go about it. I responded immediately  that I would create a multimedia CD-ROM  on the Revolutionary war because nobody  was writing about it at the time and it’s the  period that gave birth to our nation. After a  series of technical difficulties I re-thought the  project and decided to produce it in traditional   book format which is the project I’m currently  working on. During the 225th anniversary  cycle, I attended several reenactments where  I overheard people asking “what happened  here?” That gave me the idea to write a history  in the form of a guidebook. There had been no  guidebooks published since the Bicentennial  and those books only covered the major sites.  There was nothing that covered minor sites  and places that should be listed on the National  Register of Historic Places but are not.

What did you learn from re-enacting that helped you in your writing? 

Norm: First of all, I became intimately  familiar with the lifestyle, clothing and equipment  of the common soldier of the Revolutionary  war period which helps in understanding  why they did things the way they did. For  example, military strategy depends on the  technology of weaponry. Secondly, reenacting  on an actual site gives you a better appreciation  for the events that occurred there. It’s one thing  to visit a site as a tourist and quite another to  do so as a re-enactor. Climbing a hill at a leisurely  pace on a sunny afternoon is one thing.  Attacking that same hill on a hot, humid day,  carrying all your gear and under gunfire is quite  another. We all know that we’re only firing  black powder but the emotions and feelings  are as real as if it were live ammunition. It’s  somewhat analogous to playing video games.  Studies have shown that the player has much  the same emotional and physical experience  as a participant.

When we go to a historic site which has  a visitor center or a museum, we often get a  behind-the-scenes tour or a more thorough tour  than is available to the public. These tours  are generally given by the site director or top  personnel after the site closes to the public.  The staff know they have a very knowledgeable  audience and the quality of the questions  sometimes engenders interesting discussions.  Information we learn can help us interpret  sources by viewing the terrain and comparing  it with the written documentation.

We also get a better understanding of and  appreciation for the physical rigors our ancestors  endured. When selecting a location from  multiple possible sites, some can be ruled out  simply by physical constraints, such as how  far a person can reasonably travel in a certain  period of time. Some historians seem to attribute  decisions to what amounts to a whim of  the commander when in reality physical conditions  are the deciding factor. For example,  when the French fleet arrived, they expected  to go to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. However,  when they arrived, they found that their ships  could not get over the sandbars and could  be trapped in the harbor at low tide; so they  went to Newport, Rhode Island instead. Some   historians make that decision appear as though  the French were afraid of being attacked by the  British in New York.

How realistic do you and your fellow re-enactors try to get in your battles? 

Norm: When we re-create an actual historical  event, we try to be as historically accurate  as possible. Sometimes, we’re even able  to re-create an event at actual scale. At other  times, we do what we call a tactical weapons  demonstration. We create a scenario and play  it out like a war game. Some scenarios are more  thoroughly “scripted” than others. At these  events, one side wins one day and the other  side wins the next day. Others are open-ended  and, as in real life, the outcome is determined  by how the action is played.

Many of us own original weapons that we  use for demonstration, talks or school presentations  but we use reproduction weapons for reenactments.  Our clothing is all documented but  that’s not to say that it’s authentic to a particular  engagement. Uniforms changed considerably  during the course of the war. Most of us have a  few different sets of clothing that we can use for  early war or late war or for civilian or military  impressions. Clothing is also determined by  location. For example, a frontiersman impression  would not be appropriate for an urban or  a marine engagement.

Our appearance is much cleaner and less  ragged than that of the soldiers back then.  We’re also concerned about our health and  safety so we can return to work on Monday  morning and continue enjoying this hobby.  More men died from disease than from battle  but that’s something we don’t portray. We  don’t want to suffer from the same illnesses  or jeopardize our health.

We’re usually constrained by site rules  and modern safety regulations. For example,  national parks prohibit casualties and don’t  allow face-to-face firing. So we have to make  accommodations that are satisfying for the  participants and that appear realistic to the  public. Our weapons also have some safety  modifications to protect us and the people  around us. Artillery also has to wait 2 to 3  minutes between shots instead of firing as  rapidly as possible.

You mentioned safety and casualties. 
Would you elaborate on that? 

Norm: This is theater on a grand scale and  it’s an inherently dangerous hobby so safety  is a prime concern. We usually have rescue  vehicles on standby at major events and some  of our members are medical personnel: doctors,  nurses, EMTs etc. The organization I  belong to has an excellent safety record as far  as weapons. It set the standards for the care  and handling of weapons and black powder that  other organizations have adopted.

If anybody notices a safety violation, he can  raise his hat on a musket or a sword and the action  will stop immediately. This is an instance  where a private can overrule and officer’s command.  Sometimes we have a field hospital to  demonstrate 18th-century medical practices.  The surgeons often look for people to portray  patients. Occasionally, they’ll get somebody  with a real wound and treat them with modern  medical techniques.

How do you know when to “die?” 

Norm: When your weapon misfires two  or three times in a row or when you run out of  ammunition, it’s a good time to die. Sometimes  you’re tired and just want to rest or you want to  go down to watch the rest of the battle from a  good vantage point. Sometimes an officer will  say that we need casualties. At other times, the  circumstances demand it. For example, one  time this summer, a company of redcoats had  just discharged their weapons and took cover  behind some bushes. My company pursued  them, anticipating capturing them before they  reloaded. As we came around the bushes, most  of them had reloaded and fired at us. Most of  us went down. I think we surprised them as  much as they surprised us. Usually when we  go down, we alert the people aside of us so that  nobody thinks we’re a real casualty.

You are also working on compiling background documentary databases utilizing diaries and other firsthand documents. How much of that have you released and would you tell us more about that project? 

Norm: I've compiled over a thousand published  diaries and personal accounts. Many of  these were quite difficult to locate and obtain.  I thought that if I, as a professor and academic  librarian, encountered these obstacles, it would  be next to impossible for the average researcher  to get access to much of this material without  spending a small fortune on travel.

That convinced me to digitize these accounts  to help me in my own research and  to benefit that of others. About half of these  accounts are available on thematic CD-ROMs  from I also have  more than 100 that are covered by copyright  and will not be publicly available.

How does your work differ from the many histories of the Revolutionary War? 

Norm: Most historians only cover the  major engagements, those that were strategically  important. I also cover the forage wars,  raids, and skirmishes. While many of these  engagements are not strategically important,  they did result in casualties on both sides and  significant property damage that also had an  impact on local communities and the civilian  population. Some historians are using my  work as the basis for their research in creating  social histories, such as how the war affected  the towns in the Hudson River Valley or the  Mohawk Valley.

The most comprehensive published list of military engagements I found totals 1,330 actions.  I’ve compiled more than 3,000. The extensive  notes also document these events with  primary and secondary sources. In addition to  learning about individual actions, the reader  can get a sense of how the war affected a given  community or region. Some people are also  using my work for genealogical research.

Did you learn anything that surprised you? 

Norm: Yes. There were many events that  I discovered as I pursued my research. I found  that many professional historians and museum  curators also know nothing about them. One  event that surprised me was Paul Revere’s  court-martial for treason. (That’s going to be  the subject of one of those articles I mentioned  that I plan to write.) There were also a number  of ironies of war that I found interesting. One  of these involves the terms of surrender at  Yorktown. They are identical to the terms of  surrender the British imposed on the Americans  at Charleston the year before. Another is  that Patrick Ferguson had an opportunity to  shoot General Washington at Brandywine.  He thought it inappropriate to do so because  Washington was unarmed at the time. Had  he done so, the British might have won the  war after only two years. Another is the story  of a free black man who enlisted in the army,  was captured as a prisoner of war and sold into  slavery. He managed to regain his freedom and  rejoined the army — only to be captured and  sold into slavery again. There were quite a few  human interest stories that I learned about and  included in the books.

You mentioned that there are a number of  British historians who study and write about  the Revolutionary War from a British perspective.  Does their narrative differ very much  from the American historical record? 

Norm: The American War for Independence,  which the British referred to as “the  Troubles,” was not as important to them as  the war in India. The most important British  book on the war, in my opinion, is Christopher  Hibbert’s Redcoats and Rebels: the  American Revolution through British eyes.  Other historians include Jeremy Black (War  for America: the fight for independence),  Brendan Morrissey (Yorktown 1781: The  World Turned Upside Down), Armstrong  Starkey (European and Native American  Warfare, 1675-1815) and David Syrett (The  Royal Navy in American Waters, 1775-1783).  A contemporary history written by one of the  participants is Charles Stedman’s The history  of the origin, progress, and termination of the  American war. There are also many diaries  and memoirs of British officers such as Frederick  Mackenzie, Anthony Allaire, Banastre  Tarleton, and Henry Clinton. The papers of  General Charles Cornwallis have also been  published recently.

The facts remain the same. How different  authors interpret them is what changes  and what’s important. History is written by  the victors so it’s rare to get contemporary  accounts from the losers or accurate casualty  totals. This war is one of those rarities. Not  only do we have many diaries from the British  and French perspectives, we are getting more  and more from the Hessian perspective as well,  particularly thanks to Bruce Burgoyne who  has translated several Hessian diaries.

What other books and authors do you  think are important in studying the American  Revolution? Which ones have influenced  you the most? 

Norm: Mark M. Boatner’s Encyclopedia  of the American Revolution is the single most  valuable source and is considered the Bible by  anyone studying this war. Harold E. Selesky  revised it and published it in a much more  expensive updated version in 2007. Another  good alternative is The Encyclopedia of the  American Revolutionary War: a political,  social, and military history (5 vols.) edited by  Gregory Fremont-Barnes and Richard Alan  Ryerson. The Naval Documents of the American  Revolution (11 vols.) is a very valuable set.  The title may mislead people into thinking it  only covers the major naval battles. It covers  almost anything involved with watercraft. If  somebody crossed a river in a canoe to attack  an enemy camp, it’s likely to be covered in  this set. Since the British didn’t venture very  far from the water, there are primary sources  for a large number of engagements. Thomas  Fleming and David Hackett Fischer are  also favorite authors. I posted a 119 page  bibliography online at:

If you could be a personage from the  Revolutionary War who would you choose?  When you are in a re-enactment who do you  normally play? 

Norm: We usually portray the common  soldiers of the Revolutionary war. Of course,  when we do a historical action, we know the  names of the officers. The people selected  to portray them are usually selected from the  officers of the participating units. They may  be an officer this weekend and a private next  weekend.

Several years ago, we were interpreting  General George Washington’s visit to  Kingston, Rhode Island. I was standing guard  at the entrance to the old statehouse when I  learned that the person who was supposed to  play Washington had gotten injured the day  before and was unable to come. I was asked  to portray His Excellency but I didn't have the  proper uniform and accoutrements on such  short notice. I kept saying that you've got to  love this army. You’re a private standing guard  one moment and half an hour later you’re Commander- in-Chief.

If I could pick a character to portray, I’d like  to interpret Joseph Plumb Martin; but I’m too  old to do so now. He lied about his age to join  the army at the age of 15. He fought almost the  entire war from Bunker Hill to Yorktown. He  was illiterate when he joined. We know that because  his early pay records, now in the Library  of Congress, were signed with his mark. They  were also authorized by Gen. Washington.  Martin learned to read and write while in the  army and became a sergeant, a position which  required the ability to read and write. He wrote  one of the most fascinating, and probably the  most republished diary of the war. It has a  variety of titles such as Private Yankee Doodle,  A narrative of some of the adventures, dangers  and sufferings of a Revolutionary soldier, and  Uncommon Courage.

When I do the Boston Tea Party, I usually  impersonate Benjamin Edes, the printer of the  Boston Gazette. A printer in the 18th century  is more akin to a publisher today.

I sometimes reenact with the Regiment  Bourbonnais which was the senior Regiment  of Count de Rochambeau’s army and was commanded  by his son. Occasionally, I’ll portray  their chaplain, l’abbĂ© Robin. That gives me  an opportunity to portray incidents that are  never seen at reenactments. We use French  commands on the field and for drills but most  of the people who portray the French do not  speak the language. I think many people know  that and bait us. When someone greets me  in French, I respond accordingly and engage  them in conversation, sometimes catching them  completely by surprise.

Who are some of the neglected figures  from that time?
What don’t most of us know  about the War? 

Norm: There are many neglected figures.  Sgt. Elijah Churchill, Sgt. William Brown,  and Sgt. Daniel Bissell are totally unknown to  most people. They are the only three known  recipients of the Badge of Military Merit that  most people think was the forerunner of the  Purple Heart. Rather, it’s more equivalent to  the Congressional Medal of Honor. Daniel  Bissell was also a spy. The contributions of  Washington’s spy network are usually ignored.  James Rivington, printer of Rivington’s  Gazette, a Loyalist newspaper, was actually a  double agent. He provided Washington with  the British Navy signals prior to the Battle of  Yorktown. After the war, Washington visited  him. Nobody knows what they discussed but  Washington entered with a bag of money and  came out without it.

There are many other nationally important  people like Alexander Hamilton, John Knox,  Casimir Pulaski, James Mitchell Varnum,  Elias Boudinot and local heroes like Elias  Dayton, William Moultrie, Joshua Huddy,  Joseph Borden.

One man I’ve come to appreciate more,  believe it or not, is Benedict Arnold. I think  he could have been one of our greatest generals.  Arnold despised the French but, had he  not disobeyed orders at the battle of Saratoga,  we most likely would’ve lost that battle which  was the major factor in the French joining the  war. Without the assistance of the French,  it’s not likely we would have won the war.  There are several factors that contributed to  Arnold’s treason. One of them is the refusal  of the French to help him with his constant  money problems. I covered that topic in an  article entitled Arnold’s Treason: The French  Connection which is in the Providence College  digital depository.

Most people think the revolutionary war  was fought to obtain independence. That  was the end result but there was no talk of  independence for the first year of the war. The  colonials were British citizens and wanted  to redress their grievances with Parliament.  When news arrived, in February 1776, that  King George III proclaimed the colonies in  rebellion, the people abandoned that hope  and soon began to talk about independence.  Rhode Island became the first state to declare  its independence on May 4 two months before  the rest of the country.

We usually talk about the war being between  the British and the Americans. In reality,  it was a world war. The British were allied with  the Hessians and the Americans were allied  with the French and, later, the Spanish and the  Dutch. There were also attempts to get Russia,  Sweden and Denmark involved.

The war was also a civil war, particularly in  the South. People sometimes took the opportunity  to get revenge on their neighbors. Some  colonies had sharply divided loyalties and  people would take any opportunity to “punish”  people of the opposite political persuasion.

The Hessians are often referred to as mercenaries.  They were professional soldiers who  fought for their prince. The financial arrangements  were agreed to by the rulers. It didn’t  make any difference to the soldiers whether  they were fighting at home or abroad. They  were paid by their prince who got paid by  Britain. Consequently, you have to interpret  casualty reports differently. Any incident that  draws blood is considered a wound, whether  that wound was a cut from a flint or a stab from  a bayonet or a bullet wound.

Could you tell us more about the crucial  part that Charleston played in the Revolutionary  War? 

Norm: Charleston was America’s fourth  largest city in the 18th century after Boston,  New York, and Philadelphia. The city doesn’t  capitalize on its Revolutionary war history;  but focuses on its Civil War history instead.  Battery Park, for example, is full of Civil War  era cannons but does not have a single revolutionary  war cannon. Fort Moultrie glosses over  its contribution to the defense of Charleston  in the revolutionary war and focuses more on  the period of the Civil War and later. The Old  Exchange and Provost Dungeon is about the  only building which Charleston promotes with  ties to her revolutionary war history. It is one  of the nation’s three most important buildings  from the Revolutionary War, ranking with  Faneuil Hall in Boston and Independence Hall  in Philadelphia.

The British made two unsuccessful attempts  to capture Charleston from the sea, once in June  of 1776 and another in December 1779. The  following year, they attacked by land. They  laid siege to the city for three months before  they captured it. General Benjamin Lincoln  surrendered with 5,466 men on May 12, 1780.  It was the third largest surrender of Americans  in history, after Bataan in World War II and  Harpers Ferry in the Civil War.

The Francis Marion Hotel is right on that  battlefield. In fact, across the street, on the  King Street side of Marion Square, is a small  section of tabby wall which is all that remains  of the city’s defenses. The fort the Continental  Army defended was on what is now Marion  Square. The British besieged the city from the  north but urban development has obliterated  any traces of both lines and the parallels the  Crown forces dug as they moved closer to the  Continentals. Generals Henry Clinton and  Charles Cornwallis made their headquarters at  Rebecca Motte’s house, on King Street, during  the occupation of Charleston in 1780.

There’s a tragic story to tell about that  surrender. When the British collected all the  captured weapons, they were warned that  some were still loaded and should be handled  carefully as they put them in wagons. The  wagons were then driven to a warehouse which  contained 4,000 pounds of ammunition. Another  powder magazine, only 200 paces away,  contained 10,000 pounds of black powder. As  the troops began tossing the weapons into the  warehouse, there was an explosion that blew  debris and body parts about 0.3 miles and set  fire to several nearby buildings. Between 200  and 300 people died in the explosion and fire,  almost as many as were killed during the 3month  siege of Charleston.

Could you tell us more about Francis Marion the “Swamp Fox” of Charleston fame? 

Norm: While Francis Marion saw action  at Charleston, that’s not where he gained  his reputation as the Swamp Fox. That was  Ox Swamp on November 8, 1780. Banastre  Tarleton chased him about 25 miles “for seven  hours, through swamps and defiles.” When  Tarleton abandoned the pursuit, he supposedly  told his men, “as for this damned old fox, the  devil himself could not catch him.”

Tradition says that Marion used Snow  Island as his camp from August 1780 to March  1781 because it gave him command of the rivers  and made his camp inaccessible except by  water. Recent archaeological research is questioning  that location as very few Revolutionary  War artifacts have been found there and there’s  no evidence of a camp. The camp may have  actually been at Goddard’s plantation, a large  site across the river from Snow Island. Many  artifacts and burned remains of an 18th century  camp found there seem to agree with the description  of the raid on Marion’s camp.

There’s a legend that a British officer  came to Marion’s headquarters under a flag  of truce to discuss an exchange of prisoners.  Marion entertained him at a dinner that  consisted entirely of sweet potatoes baked in a  campfire. The officer was astounded that men  were willing to fight for a cause that provided  such meager rations. When he returned to  Charleston, the officer supposedly resigned  his commission, saying that the British could  never defeat an army that would endure such  hardships. Whether true or not, there must be  a kernel of truth for the legend. Nevertheless,  the story is part of Marion’s mystique and  illustrates his influence and the respect he had  from his men and fellow countrymen. John  Blake White illustrated the story in a painting which later became a Currier and Ives  engraving.

When will your next book be available? 

Norm: The next book, which will be the final one in the series, will cover the deep South   and the frontier: Georgia, Florida, west to the  Mississippi and north to Michigan, including  the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. When completed,  the work will cover Canada and all the  states east of the Mississippi River.

Thank you Norm for your time in this  interview and for your dedication to reviving  and reliving the Revolutionary War experience  for all of us armchair enthusiasts. 

Select Bibliography: 

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in South Carolina: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. In press at Busca, Inc.

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. Ithaca, NY: BUSCA, 2012.

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in New Jersey: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. Ithaca, NY: BUSCA, 2011.

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in New York: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. Ithaca, NY: BUSCA, 2010.

The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in Canada and New England: Battles, Raids, and Skirmishes. Ithaca, NY: BUSCA, 2009.

Battlegrounds of Freedom: A Historical Guide to the Battlefields of the War of American Independence. Ithaca, NY: BUSCA, 2005.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Interesting Literary News from China

James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" has been translated into Chinese and it is a great hit, even getting advertising space on highway billboards!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Visit Busca at ALA Midwinter in Seattle

We hope you can stop by Booth # 0542 where you will find us sharing space with Basch Subscriptions Inc.
Michael Cooper, CEO of Busca, Inc. can also be found at many of the ALCTS meetings. Busca will be happy to discuss our growing partnership with EBrary , our expanded website, and our interfaces with all of the current ILS modules.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Friends in China

Michael Cooper (President of Busca, Inc.) & He Jiang/Charles
 (a PhD student in Literature from Shanghai)