The program for the November meeting was “Restoring the Bay City Doughboy Statue.” April 2017 will mark the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into WWI. The Doughboy Statue was erected in 1924 through the efforts of the Bay City Women’s Improvement Committee and the Bay City Commission. It has stood for nearly a century with little or no maintenance and the years have taken their toll. Michigan CAR President, Madden Brady, told us about his project to restore the statue to its original brilliance in time for the anniversary celebration.
Through the sale of pins and other donations Madden has already raised $9,000 of the $12,000 needed to do the restoration. The process is already underway and will be completed in time for the rededication ceremony planned for April 6, at Pershing Park on Bay City’s west side.
For the Oct. 18, 2016 BWC meeting, on the eve of the anniversary of the British surrender at Yorktown, members listened to an audio lecture by Gettysburg College History Professor, Dr. Allen C. Guelzo.
The American Continental Army led by George Washington along with a French force of 5,500 led by the Comte de Rochambeau had quietly left New York and headed south when they learned that the Comte de Grasse was bringing the French West Indies Fleet to the Chesapeake Bay where British Lord Cornwallis was commanding a force on the Yorktown peninsula.
Dr. Guelzo described the intricate movements of all these armies that led to Cornwallis’ army being trapped and besieged at Yorktown. When the Continental Army’s artillery managed to get in range, Cornwallis had no choice but to sue for terms. He requested the “Honors of War” which would have allowed the army to march out with flags waving, but Washington refused to grant the British honors that they had denied the Americans the year before at the Siege of Charleston.
Humiliated by the Americans, on the day of the surrender Lord Cornwallis was not well enough to attend the ceremony. In a further slight, his second in command attempted to surrender his sword to the French general. Refusing to accept it, Rochambeau pointed toward Washington. Washington then designated his second in command, Benjamin Lincoln to finally accept the sword.
"Gentn: The prisoners which will be delivered you with this, having been tried by a Court Martial, and deemed to be such flagrant and atrocious villains that they cannot by any means be set at large or confined in any place near this camp, were sentenced to be sent to Symsbury in Connecticut; you will therefore be pleased to have them secured in your Jail ..... so that they cannot possibly make their escape ..... Iam, &c George Washington"
The jail that General Washington was referring to was an abandoned copper mine that had been turned into a prison in 1773 and renamed New-Gate. It was the topic of the presentation for our September meeting. Compatriot James Wilton’s patriot ancestor was Captain John Viets, the jail’s proprietor. New-Gate operated as a prison until 1827 and today is a tourist attraction. Jim has visited the site and was able to give us a firsthand account of its history. It may have seemed to Connecticut authorities like a handy and secure place to store prisoners. Jim, however, was able to give us a sense of the dark and dismal prospects of being locked up below ground without daylight or fresh air.
Joe Conger, Past State President and current President of the Northern Michigan Chapter, dropped in for a visit to the September 13 meeting of the Blue Water Chapter. Joe was a Port Huron native and spent the first seventeen years of his life here. He has many fond memories, even recalling many times motorcycling past our meeting site, the Dorsey House Restaurant. Pictured above (L-R), Secretary Dr. Stephan Jankowski, Treasurer Robert Zimmer, Chapter President Robert May, BWC member Richard Conley, Northern Michigan President Joseph Conger, Chaplain John Minor, and Registrar Robert Eager.
Blue Water Chapter President Robert May presents the Sea Cadet Award to Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Redlawski at the Sea Cadet Corps Awards and Recognition Banquet held on February 7, 2016.