Thursday, August 16, 2018

Lafayette's First Command: Gloucester #2

This popped up on the internet:

Thousands of drivers pass by the Kings Highway spot where Haddon Heights, Audubon and Mount Ephraim converge at Haddon Lake Park, oblivious to the Revolutionary War battle that occurred there.  That history involves a victory by one of the most famous generals of the war, the Marquis de Lafayette, during a battle overlooked by most history textbooks: the Battle of Gloucester, which was fought across six towns from Gloucester City and Bellmawr to Haddonfield in what is now known as Camden County.

There are park and town signs but no historical markers today at the two Haddon Lake Park entrances on both sides of Kings Highway. It was there and in an area extending a few hundred yards to the east that the Frenchman Lafayette scored a skirmish victory on Nov. 25, 1777, in the midst of the two day Battle of Gloucester that led to his full commission in the Continental Army under Gen. George Washington. - Carol Comegno, Cherry Hill Courier-Post Published July 15, 2018 

I refer to this battle that was so important to the young Frenchman in A Buss from Lafayette this way:

I laughed along with the men, then asked shyly: “I still do not understand why Lafayette is thought to be such a hero, sir. I heard he won no big battles.” 

The veteran shrugged. “That is true enough, my girl, but he did very well when he was finally given men to command.” 

I listened closely as the man explained that Lafayette’s actions at Brandywine had so impressed General Nathanael Greene that had he sent the young Frenchman on a reconnaissance mission commanding a few hundred men. Lafayette had led them on a surprise attack on some Hessians near Gloucester, in the Jerseys. Though outnumbered, it was said that Lafayette and his men “fought like demons,” and it was not until the British commander, Cornwallis, sent out some grenadiers from the main camp that Lafayette withdrew. 

The stranger took another gulp of the rum. “Greene said afterwards that Lafayette ‘seemed to search for danger.’ High praise indeed for such a young man in his first command.” Mr. Towne explained that after that, Washington put Lafayette in command of a division, so he was no longer a major general without any troops.

Jensen, Dorothea. A Buss from Lafayette (pp. 47-48). Boutique of Quality Book Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 

And here is my rhyming version:

Greene put him in command to watch Cornwallis' armed forces
To see how many men there were, and armaments, and horses.
Near Gloucester, in the Jerseys, lurked a Hessian company
Outnumbered, the Marquis attacked, and won a victory.
 Greene said he "searched for danger", when the facts of this were known.
And Lafayette was given a division of his own.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

What did drummer boys wear in the Revolution?

This article caught my eye, as it gives some details about what drummer boy "regalia" would have been like.

Here's what it says about drummer boy uniforms:

Trying to outfit each soldier with the same uniform was a hard task at the beginning of the war. States that assembled men to fight may have just worn what they had available until the colonies got the money and materials to get uniforms to all soldiers. Once this happened, musicians would wear the opposite colored coat that a fighting soldier would wear. If a continental soldier fighting in the war had a blue coat with red cuffs, a musician would wear a red coat with blue cuffs. They did this so that they could be easily found by a commanding officer and on the battlefield, it told the enemy that they were not carrying any weapons and were not a threat

I didn't actually know this when I wrote about drummer boys in The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, many years ago!

“We need drummer boys, Geordie. Join us, as Owens here has done.” He threw these words over his shoulder as he strode from the room. Jealously, I glanced at Owens. How much I wanted to take up the drum—and how impossible that I do so!

 * * *

When the applesauce was done, I started into the hut with the kettle. Just then, a shadowy form appeared behind me. “Geordie?” “Aye?” I was so startled, I nearly dropped the kettle “I’ve been ordered to show you about.” This time it was my jaw that nearly dropped to the floor. It was Ned Owens, still as pudgy as ever, though now dressed in the full regalia of a drummer boy. His nose wrinkled in disdain at the smell of sickness and smoke permeating the hospital hut. His disdain gave me back my tongue. “Ned Owens. How is it you look so stout in the midst of this near starvation?” “Let’s just say I know which side my bread is buttered on.”

Jensen, Dorothea. The Riddle of Penncroft Farm (Great Episodes)  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Giveaway: Buss Audiobook!

I am giving away one download of my audiobook of A Buss from Lafayette on June 16.
(This is a nearly $20 value.) Rafflecopter is running this for me, and will be doing the random "drawing".

Click on the following link to sign up for a chance to win! (You sign in with your e-mail address, then click something like "join A Buss from Lafayette mailing list", then click enter.)

A Rafflecopter Audiobook Giveaway

The Izzy Elves want me to put the link here for buying their audiobooks, too. I'll do it just to minimize whining.

Here's the link for those!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Rats! My Buss Bubbles have Burst!

For the last two and a half years, I have been writing interesting bits about A Buss from Lafayette on the website, It has been great fun, thinking and writing about the source of my ideas as I wrote the story, or giving more background information about subjects that come up in the book. I believe I wrote several hundred of these "Book Bubbles". Unfortunately, I did not back up what I wrote, believing it as safely stowed on

In April, I had reached 125,125 hits. Just before everything disappeared (!), I saw that my total had hit just under 130,000 hits.

Here's what the total is now:

The people at Bublish say this has never happened before. I was editing the book description, to let people know that the audiobook of A Buss from Lafayette is now available. As I was typing, the screen, the book itself, all its bubbles and something like 70,000 hits disappeared.

I am not happy. And I am feeling really stupid for not making copies of all the bubbles.

Oh, well.

That's the way the Bubbles burst!



Proclaiming Lafayette Day (in Massachusetts)

Recently I had the honor to read the official proclamation issued by Governor Baker of Massachusetts declaring Lafayette day in that commonwealth. This was during the annual Lafayette Day meeting of the Massachusetts Lafayette Society, at the Atheneum in Boston.

Here is am with the dignitaries. (I'm on the left end of the table.)

(If you are watching on a mobile device and cannot view this, check it out here on Youtube.)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Riddle of Penncroft Farm: Decade-Old Deletions!

My first historical novel for young readers, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, was published by Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich in 1989 and has been in print ever since. Yesterday, I went by an apple orchard in bloom up on top of the hill where I live in New Hampshire. "Ah," thought I, this reminds me of the passage in Riddle in which Aunt Cass talks about how beautiful it was when the apple trees were blossoming on Penncroft Farm, and how wonderful it smelled.

Because of this, I stopped to take a movie of the scene, which is below:

When I got back home, I got out Riddle to find the descriptive passage I was thinking of.
You may imagine my surprise when I discovered that it is not in the book! The HBJ editor must have removed it when I wasn't looking! Here is all that's left:

 (Aunt Cass is showing Lars around Penncroft Farm)

"Here's the orchard. It doesn’t look like much now, but generations back it was a working orchard with more than a thousand fruit trees— apples and pears and peaches.” 

“Are these Seek-no-further apple trees?” I asked. Aunt Cass sighed. “No, those all died and were hopped up for firewood years ago."      -The Riddle of Penncroft Farm © 1989 by Dorothea Jensen

I cannot believe that I didn't notice this was gone for almost thirty years. Oh well. Enjoy the video and imagine Aunt Cass describing it to Lars.

Sunday, April 8, 2018


For more than twenty years, I have been reading (and writing) about General Lafayette's life, role in the American Revolution, and Farewell Tour of 1824-5. (In preparation for writing A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE, of course.)

Up until now, I have never found any indication that any of my ancestors went to see him when he came through Massachusetts in 1924 or 1825. Most of my ancestors on my father's side lived near Worcester. Lafayette did make a stop there, so I figured some of them might have been around for that visit.

However, recently I was nosing around the internet looking for information regarding Lafayette's visit to Sturbridge, Massachusetts, in preparation for writing a play. Among the articles that turned up in my search was the following:

 Here are some snippets from that article:

But wait, wait, there's more!

When I read this, I remembered that one of my direct ancestors was named John Wesson Johnson, born in 1822.  Hmmm, I thought. I checked to see if I might therefore be related to this guy Silas Wesson.

The answer?? Yup, I am! 

John Wesson Johnson's mother was Jemima D. Wesson, born in 1794. She and her husband, John Johnson (the Johnsons don't seem to have been very imaginative about names), lived not far from Westborough, where the Wesson Tavern was. The Silas Wesson who owned this establishment was her father's younger brother.

I really, really hope that this means she and/or her husband or son, went to meet Lafayette that day. The son, John Wesson Johnson, was only a toddler at the time, but Lafayette did routinely kiss babies, so maybe I have a familial "buss" from Lafayette in my own family tree.

On the other hand, I can find no mention of this stop by Lafayette in any of the accounts I can find of his journey.

Also, if you read the whole article linked above, you will see some pooh poohing of the whole thing included there, as well.

I choose to believe it, just because I want to. I'll keep searching for proof of "disproof" and keep you posted.  

Wish me luck!

Proud Descendant of a Person who Possibly Met Lafayette