Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top 5 Blog Posts of 2016

As 2016 draws to a close and we prepare to enter 2017, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite blog posts of this year. 

In position #5 is Unmerited: Movie Review, available at:
The recreated Edinburgh City Guard
Unmerited is a little gem of a movie, chronicling the story of two estranged brothers who meet after the American Revolution.  Since it is free to watch on Youtube or Vimeo, I would recommend taking ten or fifteen minutes to watch it.  Its message of forgiveness and love is a powerful reminder as we enter the new year.

Next is Uniforms of Catriona from Contemporary Pictures.  This is an illustrated study of the uniforms worn by the characters, major and minor, of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel.  Did you know that the Edinburgh City Guard carried Lochaber axes and appears in the book?  Read this post at:

Historical studies is my favorite subject matter to tackle, and The Flag of Banastre Tarleton's British Legion is one of the best I have written.  Analyzing that cryptic background flag in Sir Joshua Reynolds' famous painting, the case is made that this was based on an actual flag carried in the American Revolution.  Was this controversial?  You bet!  Check it out for yourself at:

While Defending the Legacy usually focusses on history, I do interject some modern anecdotes from time to time.  In A Tale of Two Authors, I  recount an experience which happened to me at a homeschool convention.  A businessman manning a table (like I do with Through All Ages LLC, gets to see other business owners in a different way than the customers do.  Two authors were observed--and contrasted.  Read it at:

I enjoyed writing all four of the above blog posts and interacting with my readers through them.  But my favorite is one that deals with a lesson I was taught at a conference.  No lecturers or acquaintances showed it to me: instead three complete strangers were brought by God to help me learn a lesson I had been resisting.  What was it (and why is it important)?  Read it at:

This post has covered my top five blog posts, but there is another one which I wrote for a friend's blog.  Why Modern Readers Should Care About History is my look at why history is important, and building a case why all people, and especially Christians, should study it.  Read it at:

I hope that you all had a good 2016!  Did you have any favorite posts, either on here or on your own blogs?  Let me know.  As always, reader interaction is crucial for bloggers. 


Monday, December 19, 2016

With Truth and Grace Short Story

This is a short story which I wrote for a contest one year ago.  Because it is a Christmas story (and because it is also one of my favorite writing projects), I wanted to republish it this year.  The narrator's growth through the story is written from first-hand experience, as I went through a very similar process.

With Truth and Grace by Jordan Jachim

“He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness
And wonders of his love.”

Isaac Watts’s carol Joy to the World had long been a favorite of mine.  But as I stood singing it in church, my mind was disturbed by a paradox.  How could these people be singing that Christ ruled the world with truth when they did not live like it?  Some of the churchgoers voted for ungodly politicians who stole money and persecuted those who followed the Bible.  Others did not interact with God’s children as they rushed out of church at the last “Amen” to watch a sports event.  The few who did remain were not interested in discussing important spiritual matters but only the latest novel they were reading.

But the thoughts passed from my mind as soon as we were dismissed from church on Sunday afternoon.  They only returned on the following Saturday evening while my sister practiced Joy to the World on the piano.  I began thinking once again about the problems I saw in the church.  First I enumerated them in a long list; then I thought about remedies.  But every remedy that entered my head required a strong leader to carry it out.  And who was better fitted to become that leader than me?  In a few months I would graduate from high school and could then move on to leading a church.  Under my leadership, it would flourish, modelling God’s uncompromising truth, and becoming a leading voice for reform in our country.  I went to bed that Saturday night, hopeful of the grand changes I would initiate.


I seemed to be ascending into the sky, filled with hopeful and optimistic thoughts.  The higher I climbed, the higher I wanted to climb.  Finally I reached a height where I could look down on the earth.  The orange sunset filled me with a sense of satisfaction as I contemplated the dark world below me.  How high I had come!  While I might not have attained the heights a few had reached, yet I was far above the world of darkness.  Surveying my achievement, I realized with a start that I was not alone.

“It is good to see you.”  The voice came from a woman in white with thick golden hair.  Her eyes were kind but sad as she looked at me.  “I have heard that you are discontented with your church.”

“How can I be content when they do not follow God’s ways?”

“Do you follow God’s ways?”

“I try my best, even if I sometimes fail,” I evaded.  “But the others do not.  If only I could lead them to living in God’s truth!  They need a strong leader.”

“Living in God’s truth is the desire of every true Christian.  But that desire cannot come from another person leading them.  It must come from God.”

Photo Prompt #1
“As a leader, I would be God’s instrument,” I shot back.

She sighed, and I thought it was a sigh of weariness.  “You must follow me, for I will show you something.”

Without warning, she stepped forward.  She fell towards the earth and after a few seconds of indecision, I followed.  We passed the atmosphere, and continuing our course, landed softly at the corner of Washington and Lossberg.

“That’s my church,” I said incredulously.  “Why were you sent to show me that?”

She made no answer, but opened the door and motioned for me to enter.  Attendance was smaller than I remembered and something seemed different.  Perhaps it was that no usher greeted me, or that no one smiled at me as I sat down.  Everyone’s head was down, fixed on their Bibles, and each wore a grave face.  Perhaps they were just being reverent, I mused.

But my thoughts were diverted when the minister opened a side door and walked onto the platform.  I noticed his icy blue eyes, shaded by expressive eyebrows that moved up and down to emphasize his texts.  His face was very somber, at least what was not hidden behind a black mask.  Why did he wear a mask in church?  But I had no time to ponder this since he began his sermon.

His sermon dealt with many of the same evils I had noticed in my church before.  He thundered against money-thieving politicians and unjust laws.  Next, he outlined the lack of spiritual community in his church.  When he finished, the people filed out of the door until I was the only one left.  The masked pastor came up to me and greeted me.

“I am glad that you came to our church.  And you did not run out of the door after my last prayer.”

“I want to have fellowship and be edified by our conversation.”

His face broke into a smile. “I am glad that is the case for you.  You will likely make an excellent addition to our church.  But you need a few lessons from me first.  After all, you voted for Ryan Jenkinson.”

“And why should I not?” I asked in surprise.

“His HB.5067b could strike against religious freedom in this country.”

“That bill—I read it—merely exempts churches from certain regulations pertaining to their tax-exempt status.  There wasn’t a word about more regulation for churches.”

Photo Prompt #2
“Have you read anything besides HB.5067b recently?” he asked quickly.

“I just finished Wolf’s Best Friend.  It’s a novel about a man and a wolf who become friends.”

“Reading fiction is an ungodly and pernicious pastime.  All orthodox church leaders have spoken out against it.”

“I agree that many novels should be used as fuel for bonfires, but this one was written from a Christian perspective.  It was an allegory, filled with the beauty of God’s creation.  Why,” I added, “I’ve even written several short stories to illustrate Christian truths in a—”

“All fiction is expressly designed to help the reader escape into fantasies rather than pursuing God’s kingdom.”

“What about John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress?  That illustrates Christian truths and was written by an orthodox church leader.”

“If you hope to remain a part of this church,” the pastor’s eyebrows lowered, “you must not waste your time in these frivolous activities.”

“This is absurd!  You are free to share your concerns, but you are attempting to claim lordship over my conscience with your rules.  That is reserved for God alone.”

“I am not claiming lordship over your conscience.  You are.”

“No, I am not,” I fired back.  “I claim that for God alone.”

“In attacking me, you have attacked yourself.”


Photo Prompt #3
For answer, he untied the black ribbon that fastened his mask and let it drop to the floor.

“Who am I?” he demanded.

My face froze as I contemplated the man sitting across from me.  Now that the mask was removed, there could be no doubt of his identity.

“Yes,” he said, in answer to my baffled look.  “I am you.  I follow your rules; I implement them with your zeal.  The only difference between us is that I have power!  I am in the position of church leader.  This is what you will become!”

I sank my face in my hands as the world seemed to whirl around me.  When I finally raised my face, my guide stood before me.  Of the pastor there was nothing.

“Why was I such a fool?” I groaned.  I was now anxious to make atonement for my misguided zeal and made a promise that I would never hold convictions and tell them to others.

“One cannot compromise truth for peace if one is a believer in the word of God,” she said gently.

“Then how can I share my convictions without becoming like—like what I have seen?”

“What song brought this train of thought originally?”

This was an odd question, but it shifted the current of my thoughts and I replied, “Isaac Watts’s Joy to the World.”

“Yes.  In the fourth verse, it is stated that Christ rules the world with truth and grace.  These are the two virtues you need to interact with others.  Because you believe in Christ and his word, you have truth.  But it must be shared with grace.  That is what Christ did to you before you believed in him.  He blessed you with health, life, the love of your family and friends, while telling you of his free gift of eternal life.  Follow Christ’s pattern.”

“Thank you,” I said with feeling.  “Looking at it now, I see that I needed this lesson.”

“But do not compromise the truth under a guise of ‘grace.’  For that is not grace, but a license to sin.  The apostle Paul writes well of it in the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.”

“Thank you again.”

“You needn’t thank me,” she replied.  “I am just a servant of God, as you are.  May God bless you.”

As she turned to go, she looked at me, and said with a smile, “When sharing truth, you might start by telling others of truth and grace.  Look in John chapter 1, verse 17.”

She, the church building, and finally my consciousness, slowly faded into blinding white light…

“It’s Sunday morning!  Time to get up and get ready for church!”  I heard my mother call cheerily.

So it was all a dream, I mused.  But to me, this was unlike any dream I had ever had.  The important truths and the vivid way they had been taught stayed with me.  And I realized that it had been accurate.  I had been too forceful when sharing my convictions with others.  But God in his mercy had taught me this lesson: to share truth seasoned with grace.  That was why Christ had come, so stated the Apostle John.  The law was from Moses, but Jesus had brought truth and grace when he came to earth that first Christmas day.  That Sunday morning I went to church with a new-found love of Christ’s love, determined to share it with others—with truth and grace.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Free Major John Andre Paper Soldier

I run a business called Through All Ages LLC (  For Through All Ages, I create historical posters, postcards, and paper soldiers.  Would you like to assemble one of our paper soldiers for free?  Just visit to download a free paper soldier and his base.  This figure is the Adjutant-General of the British Army and spymaster Major John Andre.  His face is copied from a portrait of Major Andre, and his uniform is carefully researched.  The page also includes a short biography of Andre, as well as assembly instructions.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Michigan in the American Civil War part 3

Don’t Yield an Inch

By the end of the first day of Gettysburg (July 1), both commanders had realized that a battle was going to be fought on this ground. The Union forces were deployed in a “horseshoe” shaped formation on high ground around Gettysburg. The Confederates were determined to break through the “horseshoe.” They quickly realized that one point overlooked the Union positions: a large rocky hill known as Little Round Top. The Union generals knew that they had to send soldiers to occupy Little Round Top. A courier was sent with an order to redistribute troops to this critical spot. Colonel Strong Vincent met the courier and asked where he was going. He replied that he was going to ask General Barnes to send a brigade to occupy Little Round Top. “I will take the responsibility of taking my brigade there,” replied Colonel Vincent.

Colonel Vincent distributed the four regiments of his brigade on Little Round Top just before a heavy Confederate assault crashed against his position. Vincent’s men held their ground against one and then two heavy attacks. But another regiment of Confederates arrived and a third assault was launched—this time against the 16th Michigan, which did not contain nearly as many men as it was supposed to. Colonel Vincent knew that these men had to hold their position. He climbed on top of a boulder and shouted “Don’t yield an inch or all is lost!” Shortly after, the colonel was hit by a bullet. But the 16th held on long enough for the 140th New York to come to their assistance and secure Little Round Top.


The Civil War was an important era in the history of our nation. Heroes were revealed both from the Blue and the Gray. Every state sent troops to one army or the other (a few sent troops to both sides!) I chose Michigan for a number of reasons. I was born in Michigan and have lived there my entire life. But more importantly, I have at least one ancestor that served in a Michigan unit during the Civil War. His name was Joseph Stadler, and his unit was the 16th Michigan—the same 16th Michigan that held Little Round Top.

His family had emigrated from Germany in 1852. Joseph Stadler enlisted on January 27, 1864, to serve either 3 years or the duration of the war, whichever was shorter. His service included the dreadful Battle of the Wilderness, the brutal siege of Petersburg, and, ultimately, the surrender of Lee’s army. Following his honorable discharge, he served against the Indians in the 2nd United States Cavalry. His discharge papers from the 2nd U.S. Cavalry contain a short description of his character while on service: “Good conduct.”

Is not a commendation like that what we as Christians should be striving for? Yet this does not usually come by one great act. Instead it consists of many small acts—in short, doing the duty set out for you. Sometimes this daily service is more difficult than anything else. But we are looking for the commendation: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Michigan in the American Civil War--part 2

A painting of the 24th Michigan at Gettysburg by the renowned artist Don Troiani

The Iron Brigade


At the battle of Gettysburg, the Union Army of the Potomac was made up of soldiers from the East Coast, except for one brigade of foot soldiers from the West.  Known as the “Iron Brigade” for their determination, they comprised the 2nd Wisconsin, 6th Wisconsin, 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, and 24th Michigan.  On the first day of the battle of Gettysburg, the Iron Brigade bore the brunt of the Confederate attack.  The 26th North Carolina, an excellent unit (commanded by the youngest colonel in Lee’s army, and recently issued with new uniforms) attacked the 24th Michigan.  The Carolinians pushed the 24th Michigan back to McPherson’s Woods.  There the Michigan men made their stand.  The two regiments engaged in a furious firefight, shooting it out at short range.


The 24th Michigan finally brought the equally gallant 26th North Carolina to a standstill.  During the night of July 1-2, the Iron Brigade was withdrawn from its old position to rejoin the main Federal army.  A newspaper of the time stated: “It was to the Iron Brigade more than any other that the nation owes its salvation at Gettysburg, and we say not more than history will verify, that of all the heroic regiments which fought there, the Twenty-fourth Michigan stands preeminent for its devotion and valor.  Against the overwhelming hordes of the enemy, it stood for hours, a wall of granite, which beat back, again and again, the resolute but baffled foe.”

Monday, November 14, 2016

Freedom of Speech Threatened

The Federal Government (in the form of the National Park Service) is attempting to abridge this Christian tour company's freedom to guide tours through historic sites in this country. This, my friends, is threatening the right of freedom of speech. If we are fined for guiding tours in federal parks (which are supposed to belong to the people!), it is only a matter of time before we cannot speak on any federal property...and from there, to any private property. Please read the article found in the link below.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Michigan in the American Civil War--Part 1

“Thank God for Michigan!” said President Abraham Lincoln, shortly after the American Civil War broke out. Michigan had been asked to provide four regiments of troops to defeat the newly-formed Confederacy, but they sent seven. Throughout the war, Michigan continued to contribute to the Union cause. I can only highlight just a few of the deeds of heroism performed by Michigan soldiers.
Custer and the Michigan Wolverines
Born in Ohio, George Armstrong Custer and his family moved to Michigan when he was young. He joined West Point, but did not distinguish himself in its classes. When he graduated, the Civil War had recently broken out and he was appointed to the 2nd United States Cavalry. Now a lieutenant, Custer was the first person to capture a Confederate flag. Just before the battle of Gettysburg, Custer was promoted from captain to brigadier-general of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade. He was a flashy cavalry officer, sporting a red necktie. Eventually, his cavalry brigade all sported red neckties in his honor.
On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate General J.E.B Stuart determined to circle around the Union infantry, hitting them hard from behind as George Pickett’s infantry attacked them from the front. Stuart’s troopers rode to a farmhouse owned by the Rummel family, where they encountered dismounted Union cavalrymen from the 5th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry. Stuart tried to brush them away and keep riding, but the Michigan troopers had excellent Spencer repeating carbines, which could fire 20 rounds a minute. Stuart’s men charged them and scattered the troopers, only to receive a counter-charge from George Custer. “Come on, you Wolverines!” Custer shouted as he led his men of the 7th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry into the charge. His cavalry halted the forward movement of the Confederates for a little while.
More Confederate horsemen were hurried forward to break Custer’s resistance and they succeeded. Confederate General Wade Hampton was sent forward with his cavalry to finally break the Union cavalry. Only one Union reserve was left to counter him: the 1st Michigan Volunteer Cavalry. Their colonel, Charles Town, ordered the advance. “Draw saber! Remember men be steady, be calm, be firm! Think of Michigan! Forward March!” The Union troopers attacked the center of the Confederate cavalry.
Seeing this, the New Jersey cavalry hit Hampton’s men from the left. The retreat of Hampton’s cavalry meant that J.E.B. Stuart’s original plan was impossible to carry out now. The Confederate troopers retreated and the battered Union cavalry did not chase them. The Michigan cavalry had played a decisive role in stopping—for the first time—the brilliant Southern cavalry leader.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Review of Bonnie Dundee: For King and Conscience by Magnus Linklater and Christian Hesketh

Bonnie Dundee: For King and Conscience by Magnus Linklater and Christian Hesketh

Among those who know the name of John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, there are two vastly different perspectives on the man. It would not be too much to say that they are as different as black and white, light and shadow. Among those of a Covenanting or Presbyterian persuasion, he is a wicked persecutor of the true Church, enforcing a tyrant king’s edicts with vicious glee. But among Jacobites (both past and present), he is “Bonnie Dundee”, the gallant Scottish defender of James II against the usurper William of Orange.  

One man, two views. Was Claverhouse a villain or a hero? Books have written on both sides of the controversy, but Linklater & Hesketh’s Bonnie Dundee: For King and Conscience is a balanced look at one of the most remarkable Scots of the late 17th century.

This biography covers Claverhouse’s life from his service under William of Orange to his death at the Battle of Killiecrankie. All the facets of his life are covered in 17 chapters. The book opens with a foreword, describing his two differing reputations. 

The first chapter sets the stage for the troubled times in which Claverhouse lived, as the Archbishop of Saint Andrews is assassinated by nine Covenanters. This spurred the King of Scotland (1) to more strict enforcement of his laws. And one of his enforcers was John Graham of Claverhouse.  The next chapter follows Claverhouse through his birth and service with William of Orange in the French-Dutch wars. Claverhouse saved William’s life by mounting him on his own fresh steed, when William was near capture by the French. Ironically, the two men would be fighting each other 15 years later! 

A chapter introduces the group known as the Covenanters, who had signed the National Covenant and/or the Solemn League and Covenant. Upon his return from William’s Dutch army, Claverhouse was appointed a captain of Horse (2), with the responsibility of enforcing the King’s laws. He began his patrols in the Scottish countryside—only to meet defeat at the battle of Drumclog.  The Battle of Drumclog was his first and last defeat, where he ran into a stronger group of armed Covenanters who beat him back to Glasgow. This rebellion in Scotland brought an influx of English troops, who decisively defeated the Covenanters at the battle of Bothwell Brig.

With the suppression of this rising, Claverhouse turned his attention to courting Helen Graham of Menteith. He was ultimately unsuccessful, but quickly made a new friend in the person of James, Duke of York, who set up court in Edinburgh.  But all was not well for Claverhouse, however, and he clashed legally with Sir James Dalrymple over who ruled what jurisdiction. After confrontations, Dalrymple was brought to trial in late 1682. When the verdict was rendered, Claverhouse was praised for his enforcement of the King’s laws and Dalrymple was (briefly) confined to Edinburgh Castle for his false accusations against Claverhouse.
Shortly after, Claverhouse began to court another young lady, Jean Graham of Cochrane. Her family was Presbyterians and some in it were even Covenanters, in contrast to Claverhouse, who was a good Episcopalian. Apparently, Claverhouse’s church attendance convinced one Presbyterian lady who “could not believe a good thing of any person of his persuasion, till his conduct rectified her mistake.” But in an answer to those who whispered that his marriage would hinder his effectiveness for Charles II, Claverhouse wrote: “…let the world see that it is not in the power of love, nor any other folly, to alter my loyalty.” Claverhouse married Jean Graham, but their wedding day was disturbed by a report of armed Covenanters clashing with the King’s troops, forcing Claverhouse to mount and search the countryside for them.

Policing Scotland in search of illegal activities would take up much of Claverhouse’s time for the next two years. This book tackles Claverhouse’s actions in shooting John Brown, Andrew Hislop, and Matthew Meiklewraith. These have been used to blacken Claverhouse’s reputation, and the authors examine them closely.

Changes were brewing in 1688, for William of Orange—the same man whose life Claverhouse had saved—invaded England to take the crown from James II. Claverhouse, who had now been promoted to Viscount Dundee, supported James and opposed William. Dundee travelled to England, then back to Scotland, where he attended a convention convened to sort out the difficult situation. With James in Ireland and William a foreigner, who should be king? The convention decided on William and Dundee escaped to raise an army in support of James.

His army, the first Jacobite one ever assembled, was mainly raised among the Highland clansmen. Dundee guided them through Scotland, raiding enemy outposts and confusing his opponent, General Hugh Mackay. At last Dundee saw his chance, and he attacked Mackay at the Pass of Killiecrankie. In the ensuing battle, the Highlanders defeated Mackay’s infantry, but their daring leader John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, was killed.

Dundee’s last council of war (before Killiecrankie) contains a request that defined the character of the man: “…I beg leave of you, to allow me to give one ‘Shear-darg’ [a harvest-day’s work] to the King, my master, that I may have an opportunity of convincing the brave clans that I can hazard my life in that service as freely as the meanest of them. You know their temper, gentlemen, and if they do not think I have personal courage enough, they will not esteem me hereafter, nor obey my commands with cheerfulness.”

This is a well-written and balanced biography of an important Scottish character.  5/5 stars.

(1) Charles II of Scotland. This king was also known as Charles II of England. Scotland was not at this time ruled by England; instead Scotland and England were united in a personal union because they shared the same monarch. In much the same way, George I united Great Britain and Hanover in a personal union, and William III did the same with England and the Netherlands. Scotland would remain independent until the 1707 Act of Union incorporated it into Great Britain, with its capital in London, England.

(2) Heavy cavalry, not to be confused with dragoons. Dragoons were mounted infantry, riding to a battle and dismounting to fight. Horse (heavy cavalry) were trained to charge and skirmish on horseback. Since Claverhouse often commanded dragoons in battle, he is erroneously identified as a Captain of Dragoons.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Uniforms of "Catriona" from Contemporary Pictures

Since I analyzed the uniforms of Robert Louis Stevenson’s popular novel Kidnapped, it is time to tackle the uniforms described in his sequel, Catriona.

The first time we encounter a soldier in this book (aside from a few unnamed privates arresting James More MacGregor) is in the character of Lieutenant Hector Duncansby, who challenges David Balfour to a duel with the intention of killing him. It is not stated what regiment Duncansby belongs to, so this makes it difficult (if not impossible) to determine his uniform.

The fact that Duncansby is specifically mentioned as a “Highland boy” could suggest an association with the 42nd “Black Watch” Highlanders. However, it is also stated that he clasped his hands under his coat’s skirt, and the Black Watch’s coat was specifically cut short (that is, without skirts) and designed to be worn over a kilt. It is likely that Duncansby belongs to the 1st Royal Scots Regiment, which also recruited Scottish personnel. Its coat skirts were of a conventional length and its officers carried smallswords, rather than the broadswords of the 42nd Highlanders. The illustration shows two British officers dressed in a conventional 1750s uniform.

After his run-in with Lieutenant Duncansby, Balfour arrives at Lord Advocate Prestongrange’s house. He spies some halberds tucked away in a corner and suspects that his arrest is near. These “halberds” are the polearms now known as Lochaber axes, and they were carried by the Edinburgh City Guard, who served as a police force for that city. Evidence for their unusual weaponry is found in the 1704 “Act For Regulating the City Guard.”
The re-created Edinburgh City Guard.

"That the Captain of the Guard cause two men of the best qualified in their guard walk nightly through the streitts with a large batton or poleaxe in their hand, who are hereby appointed to give notice immediately to the firemasters and guard in case of fire, and the said Captain is to take accompt of the diligence each morning and the Captain of the guard is always to keep a list of the firemasters and ane accompt of their dwelling places." (1)

Halkett's Regiment in Dutch service
David Balfour is not arrested by the Edinburgh City Guard, but is later kidnapped by a band of wild Highlanders and imprisoned on the Bass Rock. There, Andie Scougall tells a tale of his father Tam Dale, who served as a soldier on the Bass when it was a prison for Covenanters. The Bass Rock was garrisoned by an independent company (2), that is, a company that is not part of a regiment but serves on its own. The deputy-governor of the Bass Rock was Charles Maitland, later 4th Earl of Lauderdale (3).

Balfour is eventually reunited with his friend Alan Breck Stewart, who mentions that he has a cousin who serves in the Scots-Dutch Brigade, in Halkett’s Regiment. The Scots Brigade was a unit of 3 Scottish regiments who had served in the Dutch Army since 1572. Halkett’s Regiment was a unit in that brigade and its uniform is illustrated in the picture above.

Near the climax of the book, Balfour again meets Captain Hugh Palliser, who is an actual naval captain from history. (4) This picture (left) is an actual portrait of Captain Palliser in the uniform of a captain of the Royal Navy. The ship in the background (which also features in Catriona) is Palliser’s frigate the Sea Horse.

At the very end of the book, a company of French infantrymen manning Dunkirk’s garrison is mentioned. The illustration above shows French infantrymen’s uniforms of the 1750s.  The vast majority of French infantrymen wore grey-white coats.

This concludes our two-part study of the uniforms of Kidnapped and Catriona. Perhaps soon I will analyze the uniforms of another novel set in the 18th century.

(2) pg. 57, The History of the Uniforms of the British Army, volume 1, by C. C. P. Lawson.
(3) pg. 267, Memorials and Letters of John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, volume 2, by Mark Napier.
(4) pg. 69, Braddock’s Defeat by David Preston

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Yorktown Paintings by David R. Wagner

On this day in 1781, Lord Cornwallis surrendered his army of 8,000 British, Hessian, and Loyalist troops to Continental General George Washington and French General the Comte de Rochambeau.  Yorktown is regarded as the last major battle in the American Revolution, for while there would still be other battles, Yorktown convinced the British government to come to terms with their rebellious colonies.

Painter David R. Wagner has painted a comprehensive series of paintings, tracing the routes of Rochambeau's French army from their initial encampments at Rhode Island to ultimate victory at Yorktown.  These can be viewed at  With detailed historical research and a wise use of color, I greatly enjoy all of these American Revolution paintings.  Because his "Revolutionary Route Series" contains over 50 paintings, I have spotlighted those that deal specifically with the siege of Yorktown.  All descriptions are from his website.
Sabre Au Clair
The flanking charge of Lauzun's Legion during The Battle of the Hook on October 3, 1781 at Gloucester Point, Virginia.

Virginia Militia Battle Tarleton
On October 3, 1781, Lauzun's legion clashed with British forces headed by Tarleton. The battle took place across from Yorktown on the Gloucester side of the York River. After a protracted engagement, in which the Virginia Militia were involved, the forces under Tarleton were forced to withdraw. It was a preview of the surrender of Cornwallis just 14 days later, bringing the war to an unofficial end.

Night Assault on Redoubt #9
On the night of October 14, 1781, attacks against Redoubt #9 and Redoubt #10 were ordered. The assault on Redoubt #9 was a French undertaking, with American forces assaulting Redoubt #10. The French Royal Deux Ponts and Gatenois Regiments took on the Hessian Erbprinz Regiment. Because it was dark, and both the French and Hessian troops wore dark blue coats, many were killed by "friendly fire" as they could not be easily identified as friend or foe.

Assault on Redoubt #10
Although the Rhode Island Regiment was consolidated into a single unit in May 1781, the contingent of black troops was still called the "1st Rhode Island" and were commonly referred to as "Olney's Batallion." After dark on October 14, 1781, three days before the surrender of Cornwallis, the column moved forward in silence, muskets unloaded, bayonets fixed, in good order. Leading were eight pioneers with axes with the forlorn hope to be first through the cleared breach. With one man per company, then Col. Gimete (French officer) with five young officers in advance; next was Olney's Company and then the rest of the force. "When we came under the first of the abattis (logs and brush), the enemy fired a volley of musketry. The British continued to shoot, but aimed high. The pioneers then cut through the abattis. Olney moved past them, climbed the outer wall of the Redoubt, stepped on to the parapet between the two palisades. Twelve of his men followed closley. He called out, "Capt. Olney's company, form here." Six or eight British bayonets pushed at him. Some scaled his fingers, one pierced his thigh, another stabbed him in the abdomen just above the hip bone. Two of his men had loaded their muskets and came to the aid of their Captain, firing at the enemy soldiers attacking him. With this the redcoats ceased their assault; some ran away, some surrendered. The rest of the American force now entered the redoubt without opposition. The redoubt was taken in ten minutes. Lafayette praised very well known personages for their performance in the assault, but made only a cursory reference to Olney -- a situation occuring in all wars where the wrong people get the credit. Afterward, Gimete, the French officer, visited Olney in the hospital to say that Lafayette needed to rectify his omission; but the veteran Continental answered, "Let it go, the day is past." It was eventually brought to Washington's attention and the Rhode Island flag was ordered to be flown above the Redoubt through to the surrender a few days later.

And the Guns Fell Silent
In October at Yorktown, a young British drummer boy was ordered to the parapet to beat the call for a parley. No one knows the boy's name nor where he stood when the guns fell silent as he began to beat his drum. Behind him followed a British officer waving a white handkerchief, thus signalling, for all practical purposes, the end of the American Revolution.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Once to Every Man and Nation

As October gives way to November, interest is heightened about the Presidential elections of the United States. Yet as citizens make ready to choose their Chief Magistrate, I have sensed much fear at the possible results. Some are concerned with the appointment of Supreme Court justices, others worry about economic policies and their effect on the nation. Could the church of America be forced to celebrate actions God condemns as sin? Or will the United States be controlled by “experts” from the United Nations? Perhaps all of the above will happen, and then what will our country be?

This fear is very real as I know from first-hand experience. I shudder when I think what life could be like for my children…or even in 8 more years. But God in Isaiah 51:10 states: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Because He knows that we are prone to fear, God promises us that He will be with us through all our trials. But we need to keep following God and not fear what men can do to us. (see also Jesus’s words in Matthew 10:28). Furthermore, if we desert our principles to fear, how can we expect our leaders to do any differently? For leaders are a reflection on the kind of people that they rule. 

A hymn called “Once to Every Man & Nation” captures the trust we should have in God while facing danger. Below are the first and fourth verses:

Once to every man and nation,
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision,
Offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever,
’Twixt that darkness and that light.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above His own.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Patrick Ferguson at the Battle of Brandywine

Captain Patrick Ferguson
A slim captain dressed in a short green coat slipped through the forest. He looked quickly left and right, visually checking that his corps was in position. They had an important task: spearheading the advance of General Knyphausen across the Brandywine River. Captain Patrick Ferguson concealed himself in the brush and checked that his weapon was ready for action. This was no ordinary musket, but a highly-sophisticated breech-loading rifle. Ferguson held a patent for it and had even demonstrated it before King George III.

The British realized the importance of Ferguson’s rifle, and ordered him to form a unit of riflemen to aid them in their war against the American rebels. 100 men were put into Ferguson’s Riflemen, and since their guns could fire 6 shots a minute, they were a formidable asset to General Knyphausen’s column.

As Ferguson watched the countryside, he noticed two riders come slowly toward his ambush. One was unusually dressed in a hussar uniform, while the other rode a bay horse and wore a large cocked hat. Ferguson ordered three of the best shots in his corps to come and shoot down these officers, but countermanded the order. To deliberately target officers like this was not civilized warfare.

The hussar made a circuit away from Ferguson, but the other came within range. Slipping out of the brush, Ferguson called, ordering him to stop. The rider looked back and slowly continued on his way, heedless of Ferguson’s deadly rifle. Again Ferguson motioned for him to halt, but the rider’s back was turned and he kept on.

What an opportunity! Patrick Ferguson, one of the best marksmen in the British army, could have shot this rider, who was obviously a general officer, in the back. Yet as he fingered the trigger, a thought flashed through his mind. It is not pleasant to shoot an unoffending individual in the back, he mused, especially while this individual is only attempting to do his duty. Ferguson lowered his rifle and the man rode away.

Minutes later, a musket ball slammed into Ferguson’s right elbow. He was helped to the field hospital, where the bullet was extracted. As he was recovering, he told this story to other wounded British officers. One of the surgeons, who had been attending the wounded Americans, heard it.   He informed Ferguson that the officer he had earlier refused to shoot was none other than the rebel commander-in-chief, General George Washington.

God’s hand of Providence had clearly kept George Washington safe at this battle of Brandywine.
"Washington's Encounter Along the Brandywine"
Painting by Pamela Patrick White.

Ferguson's own account of the battle is as follows:

A member of Ferguson's Rifles, as illustrated by Don Troiani
"We had not lain long...when a rebel officer, remarkable by a hussar dress, passed towards our army within a hundred yards of my right flank, not perceiving us.  He was followed by another, dressed in dark green or blue, mounted on a bay horse, with a remarkably large cocked hat.
I ordered three good shots to steal near...and fire at them, but the idea disgusted me.  I recalled the order.  The hussar in returning made a circuit, but the other passed again within a hundred yards of us, upon which I advanced from the woods towards him.
On my calling, he stopped, but after looking at me, proceeded.  I again drew his attention and made signs to stop but he slowly continued his way.  As I was within that distance at which in the quickest firing I could have lodged half-a-dozen of balls in or about him before he was out of my reach, I had only to determine.  But it was not pleasant to fire at the back of an unoffending individual, who was acquitting himself very coolly of his duty, so I let him alone.
The day after, I had been telling this story to some wounded officers who lay in the same room with me, when one of our surgeons, who had been dressing the wounded rebel officers, came in and told us they had been informing him that General Washington was all the morning with the light troops and only attended by a French Officer in a hussar dress, he himself dressed and mounted in every point as above described.  I am not sorry that I did not know at the time who it was."

Monday, September 26, 2016

Unmerited: Movie Review


Official Description: “Two brothers estranged after a tragic accident, meet unexpectedly years later.”

The concept for this movie is taken from Ezekiel 16:64 "That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD."

My Review: (beware, spoilers ahead)

The American Revolution has broken out and Charles Rosse is serving as a Continental private. When his unit engages in battle against the British, Charles’ comrade is shot and killed. This stirs painful memories for Charles, as he remembers that his younger brother Henry fell from a ship’s rigging and died.

With the end of the American Revolution, Charles Rosse returns to his home town. He stops at the harbor, looking at a merchant ship being unloaded. A gentleman sits nearby, tallying the stores. The gentleman looks at Charles, and Charles moves away. Despite his service in the war, no one greets him kindly. Townsfolk pass on their way, and the landlady refuses to rent him a room because he can only pay in worthless Continental paper dollars. Disconsolately, Charles walks down the street until he is accosted by a young girl about 9 years old. She cheerfully informs Charles that her father would like to see him. After some hesitation, Charles decides to follow her.

Much to his surprise, the girl’s father is familiar—in fact, he is none other than Charles’ long-dead brother Henry! The accident was not fatal, even though Henry was crippled in one leg. For 15 years Charles had not seen Henry, because he fled from his family. Charles is certain that his father despises him, until Henry informs him that their father died, wishing for Charles’ return.

Reluctantly, Charles informs his brother that the accident on the rigging was deliberate. Charles felt slighted because of his younger brother, so he deliberately caused Henry to fall from the rigging, breaking his leg. Yet even with this news, Henry states that he forgives his brother. But Charles does not believe him and prepares to wander away to another town. As Charles makes ready to exit the graveyard, Henry calls after him “I still forgive you.” This finally convinces Charles that Henry still loves him. He turns back and the two brothers are reunited.  Henry owns a merchant ship (he was the gentleman tallying stores) and he offers Charles a position as skipper.
(Spoiler warning ends.)

My Thoughts

This is a little gem of a movie. Less than 10 minutes long, it packs both an important message and impressive visual shots. Its message of forgiveness and love in the face of suffering is one that we should never tire of (see also my Lessons Learned from the Noah Conference at

As well as an important message, this movie also contains lavish visuals. From the colonial town that Charles wanders through, to the battle between companies of Continentals and Redcoats, this movie’s sets and costumes are top-notch.

My conclusion: Impressive scenery, sets, and a ship combined with a powerful story of love and forgiveness make this movie worth watching. 5/5 stars.

See it here!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lessons Learned From the Noah Conference

My booth with Through All Ages LLC
[Author’s note: This is an extremely different piece from any I have ever written. This is a true account of events that happened to me. I put it here in the hope that it will bless or encourage someone. JCJ]

When first hearing of Generations’ Noah Conference in the late spring/early summer, I was not interested. We had been to two of their previous “Family Economics” conferences and I saw no reason to be interested in a third. But then an irresistible bait was presented before me: an opportunity to sell my paper soldiers at the conference. (For more information about my paper soldiers, please visit my business site at A chance to sell my wares in a part of the country that was not previously aware of Through All Ages LLC! Leaving nothing to chance, I even prepared a new book of ACW Confederates since I was headed south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The first day, I set up my booth and did a somewhat brisk trade in paper soldiers, posters, and postcards. When business slowed in the late morning, a lady came to my table. She was interested in my historical products and explained that she was here, helping some friends run their table. What did they sell? They were an informational booth for a WWII event in south-central Tennessee called Remembering WWII (

Even though I am an American Revolution buff, I had heard of this event before through several Facebook friends. They had attended in various capacities and their photos looked impressive. After all, how many towns in the USA turn themselves into a provincial village in 1940s France? But, despite an interest in WWII, I had little desire to find out more about this event—not just because south-central Tennessee is far, far away. The truth is, I avoided this event as a means of protecting myself from hurt.

Remembering WWII Promotional Postcard

At one point in my life, I had been hurt by a few members of a group of people I thought I belonged to. Even though only a few had actually hurt me, I bitterly regarded the entire group for what I considered their betrayal of me. And now this friendly WWII lady was a part of the same group (though she had never hurt me, or even previously known of my existence). Could I regard her bitterly, or at least put on a coldly formal mask to protect myself?

In the Bible, the prophet Ezekiel (under God’s direction) addressed this very issue: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” (Ezekiel 18:20) This was exactly what I was failing to do: I was blaming the righteous for the wickedness of the wicked. This was the lesson God was going to teach me at this conference, and this friendly reenactor had given me the first piece of it.

Before leaving my table, she invited me to check out her table down the hall. It would have been easy to coldly dismiss her invitation, but she had been very friendly to me—and also had begun to dismantle the misconceptions I had sheltered behind. I wanted to learn a little more about this reenactment (and see the photographs), and God had the second piece of His lesson for me waiting at their table.

My love of history (and lack of customers) drew me through the vendor hall and to Remembering WWII’s table, where I leafed through a scrapbook of pictures. Veterans and reenactors, tanks and motorcycles, singers and civilians were all displayed in photographs. But one page made a deep impression on me. When asked what important lesson he wanted to leave with the attendees, one of the WWII veterans stated: “Forgive everyone.” The text informed me that this man had survived a concentration camp and was left for dead in the Bavarian Alps. Yet with all he had suffered, he advised his listeners to forgive everyone.

Ouch. Here was a man who had been treated brutally, yet knew the power of forgiveness. I had never been treated like this, yet I was refusing to forgive. I needed to forgive and this lesson was becoming more apparent to me as the day had gone on. God had given me two pieces of the lesson and the third piece was on its way.

In the afternoon, customers were elsewhere, and I was left with little to do. Wandering up and down the vendor hall proved uneventful and I drifted back to my booth, only to notice a young lady studying my products. A customer! I hurried over and we got to talking. Our talk quickly diverged from paper soldiers and postcards into Christianity and ethics—specifically how Christianity should impact the actions we perform and the positions we hold to.

This is not unfamiliar territory for me, as I strongly believe that my faith should influence my actions. But I had been scarred because of the use of this concept as a club against myself. In one way, this was ultimately beneficial to me, as I saw that I had done the same thing to others (see my short story “With Truth and Grace” at Unfortunately, I had also shied away from the concept—yet another wall to protect myself.

The conversation tailed off and she went on her way. I am certain that she did not realize the impact this one conversation would have on her listener. After she had walked away, God opened my eyes to a truth that I had been avoiding for too long: I had been building walls to keep others out and protect myself from hurt again. But I could not do this. I had to begin to break down these walls and reach out to others.

I could never have guessed that at this conference, I would learn the importance of forgiveness from three who were not advertised on my conference program. But God knew, and He had planned all this out. I am grateful to those three people for their lessons, and more than that, for the politeness and friendliness of the two whom I met. They could not have known that their friendliness would be used by God to show me the error of my ways and allow me to forgive others. But most of all, I am grateful to God, who kindly—gently—taught me what I needed to learn.

As Paul put it in his Epistle to the Philippians: “Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:20)