Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Role Playing History : Patriots and Independence, part VI The Aftermath

Reading Assignment for the Week:

  • Read George Washington's World,  Genevieve Foster,  part VII When George Washington was President.
  • Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, pgs 310-313

Day 1: Valley Forge Writing Assignment

The winters of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and 1779-1780 at Morristown, New Jersey,  we're horrendous ordeals for George Washington 's soldiers. "These are the times that try men's souls..." Thomas Paine said in 1777. Imagine that you are in winter quarters with the soldiers. Decide how to best describe life in the winter camps using your choice of writing activities.  You could write a series of journal entries writing about the hardships you are facing while enduring the bitter cold, inadequate rations and clothing,  disease  and the heartache of being away from friends and family.  Or, you could write a letter to send to a friend or loved one from a winter encampment.  In whatever writing activity you choose, use lots of emotion to show your understanding of the ordeal of Valley Forge or Morristown for the Patriot soldier.
Valley Forge Trip, 2016
Optional: Field Trip to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Drill Procedure with and without weapons

Beginning drill procedures without weapons, 2009.
In February of 1778, in the depths of that bleak winter at Valley Forge,  Pennsylvania, Baron Frederick von Stuben arrived at the Continental Army's encampment. Baron von Steuben had fought with the Prussian Army for Frederick the Great during the Seven Year's War (1756-1763), and so was hired to be Inspector General for the American Army.
When Baron von Steuben arrived,  the American Army was starving,  ill clad, and low in morale. They were also poorly disciplined and inadequacy trained.  He immediately selected and trained 100 men in the drill techniques proven so effective in earlier wars. These soldiers returned to teach their comrades the new drill techniques.  By June, when they went again into battle, the  British faced a vastly improved Patriot Army. Pretend that you are among the 100 Baron von Steuben initially trained. Your teacher will act as Baron von Steuben and teach you drill techniques with and without weapons. You, in turn will teach the techniques to others just as the original 100 soldiers did.

Day 2

Hands-on Gunnery Drill

You serve on an American Privateer ship. As part of your continuing practice for battle, your watch must drill on effective gunnery techniques but first you must construct a cannon model. Gunnery drills begin by clearing the ship for action. Crew members extinguished all lanterns and cooking fires. The Tars drilled for hours until loading and firing became second nature. Learning to fire a large cannon quickly and safely took hours and hours of practice. Speed of loading and accuracy when aiming in a pitching sea spelled the difference between success and fortune,  or defeat and death.
All gunners stand around the cannon. Usually there were 6 people on each gunnery team. The gunnery captain stands at the back of the cannon. The powder monkey stood behind and to the right of the captain. The firer is on the left and loader is on the right, both at the rear area of the cannon. Toward the front of the cannon are two more gunners, one on the right and one on the left. When ready, the Captain gives the order to "Commerce Firing!" The Gun Captain gives the following commands. (When a gunner completes a task, he always returns to attention, facing the enemy awaiting the next command.):
"Run out your guns." The gunners at the front of the cannon pull back the gonna from the firing holes in the ship.
"Sponge your guns." Front left gunner sponged by ramming home the plunger twice and then calls, "Ready."
"Load" The gunner in the back eight position  gets the powder cartridge from the Powder Monkey, runs up to the front of the gun and places the powder cartridge inside the barrel. The front right gunner then rams home the cartridge to the back of the barrel. While this is happening,  the gunner in the back left position must close the vent with his thumb to prevent venting of the barrel, in case there are sparks left from the last firing.
"Shoot your guns." The front left gunner loads the cannonball into the barrel of the cannon. The front right gunner rams home the cannonball to the back of the barrel.  The rear left gunner continues to close the vent with his thumb.
"Run out your guns." The gunners pull the gun back up to the firing holes in the side of the ship.
"Prime" The gunner in the rear right position pushes a pick through the vent hole to break the powder bag inside the barrel.  The gun captain places a fuse inside the vent, then aims the gun, getting help from the gunners.
"Fire" The rear left gunner blows on the end of the linstock to get the match hotter, brings the end of the linstock to the vent hole and touched the fuse with the slow match, igniting the powder and firing the cannon.
Everyone covers their ears as the cannon fires and then the process begins again.

Jack Tars and Landlubbers Role Play

It is late October and the privateer ship Pilgrim lies anchored in the harbor at Salem, Massachusetts, twenty miles northeast of Boston. The much larger British Royal Navy has dominated the sea war with most of America's small official navy captured or destroyed. The Americans have had some success with privateers, private ships fitted out with cannon, that prey on British merchant ships. In one fierce battle, the now famous A John Paul Jones, with his ship the Bon Homme Richard defeated the British ship Serapis off the English coast.  His victory gave the Americans a needed boost. With both France and Spain entering the war on America's side, the British navy must now protect their possessions in the West Indies, as well as try to provision their armies on the continent. For the privateer captains, the fat convoys of British merchantmen offers a double opportunity - to capture and sell valuable British cargo, thereby making their fortunes and help the war effort against the British.
The scenario opens on board the privateering ship Pilgrim. We used the guidelines for ships from the Colonial Gothic Gamemaster Guide, which takes into account anything you might encounter on board a ship, including wind, weather, types of ships and their good and bad traits. It also covers how to handle combat aboard ships in a game setting, including visual aids that you can cut out and use for role playing. As far as the scenario goes, I let it play out naturally and my student -players gain some British cargo as well as get captured. They then figured out a means for escape back to America. All exciting and historically possible plot lines.


Day 3: Continental Army Roleplay

It is early June, 1778. The Continental Army is camped near the Schuylkill River at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. They have spent a terrible winter with little food and clothing, poor shelter and much sickness and disease. Many soldiers have perished, but somehow the army has survived. The spring gives them hope as the organization of the veteran Continental Army has vast improved. The quartermaster and commissary departments have been reorganized  so that more food and clothing is beginning to reach the soldiers. Enlistmens are up due to the bounties offered by the Continental Congress. The most remarkable change, however, is the new drill technique taught to the soldiers by the new Inspector General Baron Friedrich von Steuben. This drill makes the various complicated maneuvers of the army much easier and more streamlined. General Washington is confident that his reorganized army is ready to begin it's new campaign against the British, camped in and around Philadelphia. In this scenario, the student-players are able to participate in the secret attack of the Hessian soldiers after crossing the Delaware River. This is a great opportunity to create lots of  mood and tension for your student-players.

Day 4

Surrender at Yorktown Role Play

It is October 20, 1781. One day earlier Lieutenant General Lord George Cornwallis surrendered his army of over 7,000 British and Hessian soldiers to General George Washington's allied army of 16,000 Continental and French soldiers.
For seven long years,  the war of American Independence has largely been an exhausting and drawn-out series of small battles. During the past several weeks the combined American and French army maneuvered the British Army onto the York peninsula in southeastern Virginia. When the British fleet under  Admiral Graves was turned back by the French fleet led by Admiral de Grasse, the British Army was trapped on the peninsula.
After enduring a three week siege with the British army sick, short of food and almost out of ammunition,  Lord Cornwallis was forced to surrender his entire force to the victorious Allied army led by George Washington.  This disaster may well mean the defeat of British hopes of victory in America.
After yesterday's surrender of the British army,  the troops on both sides are resting. Though still wary of each other, soldiers from each army begin to talk and some even discuss the war. You are in a mixed group of soldiers near a small creek, about a mile behind the American lines at Yorktown,  Virginia. In this scenario, your student-players get to relax some and perhaps meet new non-player characters. 


Day 5: Negotiating a Peace Treaty

As a band played The World Turned Upside Down, General Benjamin Lincoln, second in command, accepted the British surrender at Yorktown on October 19, 1781. When news of the surrender reached London it was enough to convince Parliament to end activities in North America. Over 30,000 British troops remained in America and fighting continued for nearly a year, especially in the south where Loyalist -Patriot warfare turned savage.
On February 27, 1782 the British House of Commons voted against any further war in North America and authorized the crown to make a peace treaty with the Americans. The British sent representatives to Paris to start the negotiation process. Congress authorized four commissioners to negotiate with the British on the issue of recognizing the United States as a free and independent nation. The senior American Representative was Benjamin Franklin, who had been in Europe since 1776 arranging a French alliance.
You will now act as a member of the delegation sent to negotiate the Peace Treaty. You must first decide on proposals which are either the most important or ones the other side might agree to include in the final peace treaty. You might also want to consider the French and Spanish viewpoints on the situation. Spain,  for example,  was not an ally of the United States but was an ally of France and wants some sort of prize for its participation. Spain, who was already in Florida,  wanted that. The entire Mississippi Valley is also on their wishlist. The Spanish also want Britain to return strategically located Gibraltar to them as promised by France in the Franco - Spanish alliance. The British does not want the Franco - Spanish alliance to continue, so they may be inclined to align with the Americans with generous terms.
Your goal in the negotiations is to get your opponent to agree on your highest priority proposals without your opponent knowing exactly what that highest priority is. The final treaty must include at least 10 negotiated articles. You may, however   have to give up something to get something in return. Try to give reasons for your acceptance or refusal of the British's proposals.

"Let's put aside our differences for the cause of peace and consider my first proposal. .."

For the Teacher

Your goal is to steer, but not require your students to negotiate the proposals that we actually adopted, and drop the proposals that did not actually make it to the peace treaty.  In this way, you will be helping to facilitate their understanding of how we came to the peace treaty that was adopted. Here is the actual articles of the Peace Treaty of 1783.
His Britannic Majesty acknowledges that the United States are now free, sovereign and independent states.
Great Britain recognizes the boundaries of the United States as excluding Canada, to extend westward to the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, southward to the 31st parallel, and eastward all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
Americans have the right to continue to fish off the banks of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland,  a region considered to be one of the world's best fisheries.
All legal debts incurred during the war will be honored by both countries.
Americans will make strong efforts to cease persecution of Loyalists,  hopefully redress their grievances and restore lost property and assets.
Navigation of the Mississippi River (source to ocean) will be open to both American and British subjects.
All remaining British troops will evacuate from the United States.

Oath of Patriotic Loyalty  

(an excerpt based on a Rhode Island Oath)
"I (name), in the presence of Almighty God,  do swear that I will neither directly or indirectly assist the wicked instruments of tyranny and villainy, commonly called the King's Troops and navy, by furnishings them with provisions and refreshments of any kind.
Nor will I convey any intelligence,  nor any advice to the enemies described; and further I pledge to inform authorities immediately if I should get knowledge of such treason.
I do further swear that when asked I will take up arms and subject myself to military disciple in defense of the rights and liberties of America.
So help me God!

Don't want to sign this? Then prepare to lose your assets and your life
source: Wikipedia
Tory refugees going to Canada.

Tory Role Play

A Loyalist, also called a Tory after the Conservative political party in England, was often identified by reusing to take a patriotic oath, singing God Save the King, celebrating the King's birthday  (June 4th) and continuing to buy British goods and drink British tea. You are going to now explore what it was like for the Tories after the war. In your role-play scenario,  your students will meet with a Tory who is willing to pay you for protection. Josiah Thornton was the owner and editor of the Hartford Chronicle. At first, Josiah,  a Yale graduate, and his wife, Rebecca, tried to remain neutral observers, but  after the Boston Massacre,  it was impossible for him to be unmoved or unbiased   He began writing editorials in support of  Parliament ' s laws and acts and this rubbed the Patriots the wrong way. Josiah was upset by the propaganda used by the Patriots after the massacre, especially Paul Revere's engraving of the incident. In a series of editorials,  Josiah described the Boston mob to be inciting, unruly and clearly the cause of the outbreak of violence. After these editorial ran, Josiah's life became unbearable. At first the Patriot neighbors just harassed him, refused to include him socially. The young boys taunted their 10 year old son and the women refused to include Rebecca in their social activities. But as Josiah continued to support the King, things turned more violent.
On the night of June 3, 1770, Josiah was taken from his home, bound and gagged, and dragged to his newspaper office.  There he watched the whole destruction of his office   printing press, records and furniture. He was released but as he went home, he discovered that his wife's garden was destroyed, his six horses missing and anti-King slogans painted on the side of his barn. With his newspaper effectively shut down, he had to a job in a stable in a nearby town. He is appealing to you for your help as he has received several threats.

It is now October and he is now being asked to take the Loyalty Oath, with an angry mob following. What do you do to help him?
If you are unable to appease and disperse the angry mob then frustrated,  Josiah shouts, "It is better to be ruled by a so-called tyrant 3,000 miles away than by 3,000 tyrants one mile away!" This set off the mob and unless you are able to do something the mob holds you back, strips Josiah of his clothes, dislocating his arm in the process and then they pour hot tar and dumped feathers over his body. They then turn to you, accusing you of being a Tory and unless you can convince then that you are not, you find yourself being knocked out and wake up with Josiah five hours later alongside the road a mile from town.


  • Renaissance, Peter Cakebread and Ken Walton 
  • Patriots, A Simulation and Resource Notebook on the American Revolution, Bill Lacey and Terry Handy, Interaction Publishers 
  • Independence, A Simulation of the American Revolution, 1763-1776, Charles Kennedy and Paul DeKock, Interaction Publishers, Inc.
  • Colonial Gothic, Gamemaster Guide, Rogue Games


  1. What an awesome unit study. You always come up with the grandest lessons.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. This is such an awesome series you've put together. I love every single one of these ideas.


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