Kinsearching March 6, 2011




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     For Texans, today is an important date since it marks the 175th anniversary of the fall of the Alamo. Although the mission’s defenders were defeated, the San Antonio site’s name remains the best known battle of the revolution that gained Texas’s independence from Mexico.

     Just as numerous residents of the Lone Star State attempt to trace their ancestors back to the fight for Texas’s freedom, many genealogists try to link their forebears to participants in the American Revolution. A little-known aspect of the War of Independence from Great Britain is covered in Richard Lee Baker’s new book, “VILLAINY AND MADDNESS” WASHINGTON’S FLYING CAMP.

     Most researchers are probably asking the question: “What was the Flying Camp?” In May of 1776, the Continental Congress authorized the formation of a force of 10,000 militiamen to serve as a short-term “mobile reserve.” The men would both defend the army’s garrisons in the “Middle” (Mid-Atlantic) States and spread alarm among the British. Although the majority of the participants were to come from Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, some individuals came from Connecticut and Delaware. An idea conceived by General George Washington, the “Flying Camp” proved unsustainable and barely survived the year; the New York and New Jersey campaigns proved that Washington needed a reliable, organized, and substantial Continental Army.

     In his new book, Baker tells the full story of Washington’s Flying Camp for the first time. Scouring through original sources, especially the correspondence of the Continental Congress, state committees of safety, and George Washington’s papers, he fills in gaps in the history of this episode of the American Revolution that has previously eluded historians. He covers all aspects of the subject—from its beginnings in Washington’s mind and the dispatches of the new Congress asking the Middle States for specified numbers of militiamen to the logistical difficulties in achieving the plan’s objectives and the actual service of members of the Flying Camp. Separate chapters devoted to Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey delineate each state’s response to the call for a Flying Camp contingent, the difficulties assembling the forces in a timely manner, and the persistent problems of militiamen returning home to tend to their crops following their abbreviated terms of service.

     At the same time, the author tells about the important role played by Flying Camp members in the 1776 campaigns of Long Island, Trenton, and Princeton. Throughout the narrative, genealogists will find references to individuals as well as a few biographical sketches. Included in the work is a list of the commanders and officers. The data may help descendants of these men find the proof they need to join the DAR or SAR organizations.

     Researchers who are interested in the American Revolution will want to read “VILLAINY AND MADDNESS” WASHINGTON’S FLYING CAMP. Baker is to be commended for bringing this obscure part of the American Revolution to light.

     The 115-page publication has soft covers and contains an introduction, illustrations, maps, an appendix, a five-page bibliography, and a full-name index. To the book's price of $19.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order 9062) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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