Long Beard's Blog

17 Oct 2020

Educational Tools

Coins-United States | Long Beard

Commemoratives and medals. Two distinct sub-categories within the coin collecting hobby which eventually find a home in our collections. Produced to celebrate or honor a place, person, object or event, the primary focus of them becomes historical in nature. Which is largely the reason we as collectors pursue them. In discussing this week's topic, a hot one lately to be certain, and in no manner voicing an opinion one way or another, commemoratives and medals are rapidly becoming the last physical connection to our past. While both are produced for private ownership rather than public exhibition like monuments and statues which serve the same intent, one may no longer assume them safe from assault by those intent on altering or eradicating history. Without them, our past is forgotten. One may only wonder of future commemoratives and medals and how they shall be perceived. Enjoy!

With an earlier blog on the subject was intended, an "on this day in history" reference seems appropriate. October 17, 1781. From a personal perspective, this is one of the three most important dates of The United States. The Declaration of Independence on July Fourth of 1776, the final battle for independence 239 years ago today (although minor clashes ensued) and the true day of independence on September 3, 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris being the three. Regrettably, I have yet to find any which honor the Treaty of Paris. So on to the history commemorated in metal.

Following the battles of Concord and Lexington in Massachusetts, newly appointed Lieutenant-General Charles Cornwallis had been dispatched to America, arriving in the Carolinas in May of 1776. Having failed to take Fort Moultrie off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, Cornwallis decided to proceed north to engage the colonials since the majority of uprising was there. After a string of rapid victories, and Colonial General George Washington in retreat west into Pennsylvania, his sights again were set on South Carolina in early 1780. This despite Washington's move on Trenton, New Jersey and overtaking the Hessian troops defending the town on Christmas Day, 1779.

Now back in the south, Charlestown (as it was originally named) succumed to British rule after three months of fighting. With the Union Jack flying above the city, on August 16, Cornwallis defeated General Horatio Gates at the Battle of Camden. With heavy loss in the Carolinas threatening independence from Great Britain, the Continental Congress through General Washington forced Gates to relinquish command of the south to General Nathaniel Greene. In doing so, British fortunes were beginning to shift. Following a defeat at King's Mountain in October and then at Cowpens, South Carolina in January of 1781, Cornwallis faced the unthinkable retreat north. With the Colonial Army in pursuit under Greene and Gates and another smashing defeat at Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina, the British retreat halted at Yorktown, Virginia. With his back to the York River by late summer, intent on resupplying and refitting his depleted 9,000-man,General Cornwallisbegan preparations in defense of the city.

Whether by coincidence or fate, Washington had learned of the British intent through a French fleet which left the Caribbean at the same time. Originally destined to lay siege off of New Jersey in aide to a forth coming assault on New York City, this new intelligence prompted Washington to order the ships to the entrance of Chseapeake Bay. With the ship of 8,000 men and supplies diverted, Washington began marching 12,000 Colonial and French troops south from New Jersey. On September the Fifth, with the army still on the march, French Admiral Francois de Grasse engaged and defeated the British resupply forcing them into retreat. As a result of yet another stunning setback, with his back against an ocean and an army of equal size facing him, the isolation left Lord Cornwallis with few options. The best being fortifications around the outskirts of the city in hopes that the retreating ship would return in force. After a grueling month long march the Franco-American force arrived on the Twenty-eighth. The French took up positions on the left flank while the Colonials secured the right. Both immediately began digging trenches parallel to those of the British. On the afternoon of October the Ninth, a siege had begun.

With non-stop bombardment from land and ship, by the Eleventh, General Washington took the opportunity to move his lines forward by four-hundred yards thereby shortening the distance for artillery. Closer lines also change the perspective. It was now clear that an assault by force on redoubts #9 and #10 were required to force the British to submission. After nearly a week of continual bombardment day and night, on the evening of the Fourteenth, the army pressed forward.with four-hundred Colonial light infantry, lead by Alexander Hamilton, attacking redoubt #10 with fixed bayonets. Following the horrific hand-to-hand combat, the victorious Colonials surprisingly only suffered thirty-four casualties. Simultaneously, the French had similar success on redoubt #9 capturing it as well. Yorktown was now within sight as the remain British force pulled back into the city. With the unimaginable before him, Lord Charles Cornwallis, under white flag on the Fifteenth, terms of negotiations began at the Moore House in Yorktown. Two days later, roughly 8,000 British troops lay down their weapons. Victory, and in all likelihood Independence, was now the Americans. A ceremonial surrender would occur on October 19, 1781 with presentation of Lord Cornwallis' sword. Not by the man himself, rather a junior officer, Major Alexander Ross, perhaps out of shame.

While we each hold different reasons for collecting commemoratives and medals, I hope that this blog inspires you to not only reexamine and admire those of your own, but to from time to time use them in educating others. May these always be a reminder of who we are and where we came from. The good and the bad equally.



Level 4

Quite a history lesson. I enjoyed it and cannot wait to read the next one.


Level 6

Loved your blog! Beautiful medals! Thanks for sharing them ; )

Long Beard

Level 5

I am truly at a loss of words to describe the gratitude for all the kind replies. I try my best to switch things up from week to week, and while some get mixed reviews, it is those that drive me to improve both the topics and content. So speak your mind, good or bad. Thank you all. Hoping every one and their family remain healthy and safe, Mike


Level 7

I was taught that The Shot Heard Around the World Lexington and Concord was the first battle that changed us forever and lead us to an eight year battle for independence and the loss of 50,000 men. The Battle of Lexington was a skirmish but Concord was not . Hundreds died. It was our first battle of guerilla warfare.


Level 5

This was a great read, and really spoke to my love of history! Thanks! Cheers, NM


Level 5

Fantastic blog. Without our history, we wouldn't be the greatest country in the world. Were our forefathers perfect? No, but then neither are we.

Another great blog from an amazing time during the revolution. Imagine America today if this had happened differently, even if America existed at all.Thanks Long beard!


Level 5

When I was in my early 20s I lived within 15 miles of the Battlefield in York County. Great Coin and great history lesson. Thanks! I applaud you in your excellent choice of words, I tried to say it recently, but failed. You did not. Well said! Later!


Level 5

Great history. This reminds me to finish a book I started on the revolution. Amazing times. I have a few medals and commemoratives now.


Level 6

Nicely done. You should consider displaying or exhibiting these items.


Level 6

A fantastic perspective LB, I like to think that all our acquistions are for our own education but using our medals to educate others is even better.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

What an impressive work you have created for us here, thank you. After they get rid of the most public of images, it will sooner or later turn to our historic coins. It just hasn't dawned on them yet. We see calls to destroy certain world coins because of the imagry they display even here without regard to the fact if they don't exist we will forget the evil they represented. My fear is that once we forget, the cycle will repeat itself in some other manifestation and man's inhumanity to man will continue as it does today in certain parts of the world


Level 6

Well said. Your last sentence says it all. History can be painful. That's just the way it is. Learn form it. Don't make the same mistakes again. Excellent historic blog. Thank you! My favorite from you so far!!


Level 7

I don't believe you can eradicate history. History from the cave man till today will always be. They can hide statues take down pictures dishonor them. But history is just that history. They can do whatever they want. No matter what they do there are those who cherish it like me. We will always see that history is preserved. There are just as many who respect history than those who want to rewrite it. That's why Wikipedia is so inaccurate. I try to tell those who use it but a book. . Now I have to come back for the rest of your best blog.

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