[To order a hard copy of Perry's Recollections click here.]
The information presented below is the result of 30 years' research using reputable sources.
There are incorrect reports in circulation misusing David Perry's words: online, on-the-air, and in printed matter.
ince September 11, 2001, stories have circulated which grossly misrepresent the events
of September 11, 1814, and Capt. David Perry's words in his memoir, Recollections of an Old Soldier, published in
1822. Perry's near-death experience (1762) and his description of
the Battle of
Plattsburgh and Lake Champlain (1814)
have, in some instances, been flagrantly misquoted,
often in conjunction with a reported reminiscence of one Anthony Sherman which was printed in a newspaper in 1880.<1>
The following points should correct some of these errors:
(1) David Perry was not one of George Washington's "closest friends and soldiers." In Recollections, Perry mentions Washington only in passing. There was no close association or personal connection; Perry was not at Valley Forge (winter of 1777-78) and probably never met Washington. They only "crossed paths" at the Siege of Boston when Washington took command of the troops in July, 1775; Perry had been there since May. Perry later recalled Washington's maxim "United We Stand: Divided We Fall" -- a maxim which was in common use at that time and was possibly used in a pep-talk to the troops. These are the only words of Washington's that David Perry mentioned. The only vision Perry referred to was his own; it was part of his near-death experience in 1762 (an experience he kept private for nearly thirty years). The official records say David Perry was discharged in Sept. 1775. Although pressed to take a captain's commission in the Continental Army, he declined because of his family's poverty. He did not serve again until Dec. 1776, in the Connecticut State Militia, and was stationed in Providence, R.I. "without any occurrence of importance." That term of service ended in March 1777. In 1779, Perry moved his family to New Hampshire, where he was prominent in town affairs and accepted a captaincy in the New Hampshire militia; 18 years later he moved to Vermont. He wrote his memoirs in 1818-19.
(2) With respect to 9-11, the date was remembered by Americans then for much different reasons than today. Furthermore, Perry did not refer to it as a "'dreadful and fearful day'."<2> On the contrary, calling it "that ever-memorable eleventh of September," Perry describes it as a day of victory and great rejoicing, a day when "the Lord stood by us and put our enemies to flight in a marvellous manner, and wrought wonders for us as a nation." He was talking about the Battle of Plattsburgh and Lake Champlain during the War of 1812 -- a war the U.S. had declared after years of friction. On Sept. 11, 1814, the American fleet won a decisive victory against the British naval forces on Lake Champlain; and the British army -- composed largely of veterans of the Napoleonic Wars — was in retreat, although they far out-numbered the American defenders at Plattsburgh. America's northern frontier towns had been saved from a powerful invasion force which, there was good reason to believe, would have left them in ruins. The events of Sept. 11th marked a turning point in the War of 1812. That the Americans should win against Wellington's seasoned soldiers was remarkable. Even more so was that an American fleet should defeat a British one at a time when the Britain ruled the seas on a global scale and the British Empire was spreading. The only negative thing about the day was the conduct of Governor Martin Chittenden (which was part of a larger problem of party politics and sectionalism in New England during the war).
(3) Perry's account was published for him without cost by a respected printer because "it bears the impress of simplicity and truth." It was not, as some have stated,<3> written for sale to the government (although the Library of Congress has had a copy in its holdings since 1867). It was written in his own hand, for his descendants -- the only treasure Perry possessed to leave to his posterity. Because he lacked the means, he asked a printer to print it for free in order that it might be preserved, and the printer generously did so. It was not "successful as a book" on the market. It is doubtful even a 100 copies were printed. His motive was not to create a stir.
RULE 1 : Never believe everything you hear or read. THINK things through yourself and weigh the information.
RULE 2: "Consider the source." Is it reputable? Trustworthy? Reliable? What is its quality? All sources are not of equal merit. Use common sense.
RULE 3: Question any person or any publication quoting someone by name without giving bibliographical references. If references are given, "go to the source" and judge its quality before deciding how much credence to give it. If they are not given, look for other sources that identify the quotation, preferably in context, to verify the material yourself.
RULE 4: Always look for a site's sources before judging its accuracy. Bear in mind that the quality of someone's research depends on the quality of sources he used.
RULE 5: Educate yourself. Ask questions; and look in reputable sources for answers. Be willing to admitt mistakes. Keep learning.
Few who are guilty of erroneous paraphrasing will list their references. It is our responsibility
as readers to check for references (then go to the source), and to get opinions from other sources,
in order to determine what is fact and what is fiction.
--by D.G. Jones © 2003-2013
"Evaluating Sources of Information." Online Owl Writing Lab. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
<1> Glenn Kimball, on Coast to Coast radio (9-11-2003) and in his own publications, wrongfully cited David Parry's[sic] Reflections[sic] of an Old Soldier, saying:
"MOST CRITICAL: Two of George's closest friends and soldiers Anthony Sherman and Capt David Parry[sic] were with George at Valley Forge when George had his fully conscious vision of the future. George told them both in detail about the vision and both of them wrote about it in their separate books published before 1830...David Parry[sic] said in his book 'Reflections[sic] of an Old Soldier' that when George emerged from his tent that he said 'the eleventh of September' is to be a 'most dreadful and fearful day.'[sic]" (Kimball; see also Recap)
This simply never happened. Perry said nothing of the kind. He was not there.
He does not mention any vision by Washington whatsoever.
Perry never uses the phrases "Son of the Republic" or "most dreadful and fearful day,"
or the words "dreadful" or "fearful" in any context.
His account in no way corroborates Anthony Sherman's tale.
On Anthony Sherman's reliability as a source, see "Washington's Vision"
at Historic Valley Forge (1998-2003, ushistory.org. [13 Sept. 2003]).
Sherman's account "as printed in the U.S. war veterans' paper The National Tribune, in December 1880. The National Tribune became, "The Stars and Stripes", and this article was later reprinted in that publication."
Bill Knell, in an internet posting on 20 August 2003,
stated incorrectly that:
"Anthony Sherman and David Perry...had both known Washington and mentioned an odd event which occurred at Valley Forge in 1777." (Knell)
With respect to Perry, at least, this is not true. (Back to text.)
Comparing the events of 11 September 1814 and 2001, another writer stated:
"It is chilling to think that exactly 187 years before, to the hour, foreign forces intent on disrupting the new nation of the United States invaded New York State from the same direction." (Fitz-Enz)
Peppered with inaccuracies, the article disregards the fact that, in 1814,
September 11th was a day of triumph for Americans, a turning point in a war they had
declared on Britain as a last resort in 1812.
Using a traditional invasion route,
the British forces were intent only on gaining a foothold in the Champlain Valley
in order to have more bargaining power in the peace process. Peace talks were already under way.
What is more, it was the British navy only, not the army, that could possilby be said to have invaded
on the the 11th of September in 1814 (although the fleet had previously crossed into American waters).
The invading army was already encamped at Plattsburgh, New York. They had crossed the Canadian-American border on August 31st and, by Septebmer 6th, had occupied the north and west sectors of Plattsburgh. From September 6th through 10th, they built batteries and awaited the arrival of their fleet -- under the eyes, as it were, of the American squadron anchored and ready for action in Plattsburgh Bay.
This waiting period gave American defenders on land time to strengthen their defenses and receive reinforcements. The Americans knew that the British fleet would arrive on the scene within days. It did, sailing into view around Cumberland Head at eight o'clock in the morning on Sepbember 11th. A general engagement opened between the fleets at nine o'clock. On land, enemy batteries followed suit and the the British army began crossing the Saranac River admid brisk American fire. Two hours and twenty minutes later, the British fleet had surrendered, and the invading army was in hasty retreat. On both sides of the lake, American specators cheered the victory of their navy and "praised the Power that had preserved them" (Francis Scott Key, "The Star-Spangled Banner," paraphrase). The naval battle was one of the most brilliant ever fought in the history of sailing ships.
Although circumstances differ, there are a few justified parallels that can be drawn between the War of 1812 and events surrounding 9-11-2001:
1) Extreme party politics divided the nation in the years before war (and during it, in the case of the War of 1812);
2) The safety of American citizens was an issue prompting America’s declaration of war;
3) Mainland America was attacked (the War of 1812 saw numerous such attacks);
4) In both 1814 and 2001, September 11th was the date of enemy action (but the former was not unexpected);
5) The president was forced to flee Washington (Madison in August 1814; Bush in Sept. 2001) because of attack;
6) There was a subsequent period of renewed political unity and national patriotism (at the end of the War of 1812; at the begining of the War on Terrorism).
Any other parallels should be considered with caution, particularly those which tend to
downplay the victory of 9-11-1814 or exploit the tragedy of 9-11-2001.
Sensationalism should always be recognized and avoided.
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<2> e.g., both Glenn Kimball and Bill Knell claimed Capt. David Perry used this exact phrase, which they set off with quotation marks. Knell said:
Although the account given above of Washington’s experience is taken from Anthony Sherman‘s memory of the event, Captain David Perry adds to it in his book by describing “the eleventh of September” as a “most dreadful and fearful day.” (Knell)
The phrase "dreadful and fearful" was not used by Capt. David Perry; again, these words do not appear in Perry's book in any context.
Since both Kimball and Knell cite David Perry as the source, one has to
conclude that someone made it up.
Curiously, Knell posted his information 20 days before Kimball's interview,
spelled Perry's name correctly and referred to "his book."
Based on dates, it is possible that Kimball was transmitting Knell's information;
however, Knell did not give the book's title. Kimball did -- after a fashion -- but
spelled Perry's name wrong. Also, by the time Kimball was interviewed on the radio, he
had made and was selling an audio CD on the subject ("George Washingtion's Prayers and Visions").
It is unlikely that both Kimball and Knell would use identical misquoted words unless one was quoting the other. Have either Kimball or Knell read David Perry's book? Or they are both quoting a third, "unidentified" source along with its errors? Or is someone fabricating? Understandably, Perry did not identify the wars he was talking about, except in contemporary terms; it is possible that someone drew faulty conclusions upon reading Perry's book -- but then why not quote its title exactly? Since Perry's Recollections of an Old Soldier has been online since 1999, there is no excuse for making such blatantly erroneous statements; people making money off such statements could be suspected of fraud.
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<3> Knell (ibid.) stated: "Those who could, wrote or had written for them accounts of their experiences during the war and later sold the material to the government. Some of the publications were also successful as books available for sale to the general public." He also states erroneously that:
In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, a number of Revolutionary War Veterans took advantage of an Act of Congress which called for the purchase of books, maps and other materials related to that war for the sake of securing the history of it for the future.
He includes David Perry in this group. One only has to read the printer's Advertisement/Preface
to Perry's Recollections and Perry's copyright notice
with its link to the Act for a correct understanding
of both Perry's reason for writing, and for the Act's purpose (which was not for purchasing books, etc.).
Another recently posted web page said: "During the years 1815-1830 there were an awful lot of writers in both Canada and in the USA who were contacting Revolutionary War soldiers to record their stories for posterity."*
This is incorrect information. There is no historical foundation for such statements, whether general in nature or specific to David Perry. It is possible they were conclusions or generalizations based on pieces of out-of-context information.
For example, Hezekiah Niles (1777-1839) compiled a book called Principles and acts of the Revolution in America, or, An attempt to collect and preserve some of the speeches, orations, & proceedings: with sketches and remarks on men and things, and other fugitive or neglected pieces, belonging to the men of the revolutionary period in the United States (Baltimore: Printed and published for the editor, by W.O. Niles, 1822; Sabin microfiche 55312).
Such a book, however, hardly has bearing on the gathering or preserving of the life histories of everyday soldiers. Citizens and soldiers, particularly in New England, habitually kept such records as diaries, journals, daybooks, and commonplace books -- not with the intenet to publish, but rather to improve themselves and keep track of accounts. They could read and write well enough not only to understand orations in congress (published in local newspapers) but also to write their life histories and reminiscences themselves, if they chose to. If one judges by Perry's writing, it is evident that the literacy of the general reading public was higher 200 years ago than it is today. (See Fred Anderson, A People's Army, 29, 66; and Donald R. Hickey, War of 1812, endnotes).
Perry wrote his history himself, in his own words, by his own hand. (Both the flow of the writing, and the printer's preface confirm this.) Perry contaced the printer personally with the desire to pass on his record to posterity, aware that many of his unique military and personal experiences were "no-where else recorded" and knowing that the press was the only way his story could be preserved. Not possessing the financial means to pay for its printing, this honest soldier and citizen, who had served his country conscientiously for over 60 years in both war and peace, was forced by circumstances to humble himself to ask the printer if he would print the manuscript for free.
Perry was not solicited for his story. There was no writer who wrote it for him. Simeon Ide, a young and relatively obscure printer, generously printed the manuscript because of its quality. Ide included an advertisement in the front of Perry's book letting veterans know that: "The profits of [Perry's Recollections] (if any)" would be "reserved to defray the expenses of printing memoirs of other Revolutionary Soldiers" if any came forward.* None did.
The Library of Congress has, in its rare book collection, a first edition of Perry's Recollections which was acquired in 1867 and subsequently microfilmed for preservation (I have consulted this microform). The LOC also holds a third edition (Abbatt, 1928) and fourth edition (Polyanthos, 1971). (Editions are listed in "Appendix A.")
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Notes by D.G. Jones © 2003-2013
Anderson, Fred. A People’s Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years’ War. Chapell Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press., 1984; Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia. [A People’s Army, which is still available on Amazon.com has numerous references to David Perry, whose Recollections is one of Professor Anderson's sources.]
Carey, Matthew [1760-1839]. The Olive Branch: or, Faults on Both Sides, Federal and Democratic. A Serious Appeal on the Necessity of Mutual Forgiveness and Harmony. Seventh Edition, enlarged. Wiggins, Mississippi: Crown Rights Book Company,  2000. Sabin 10875. (Facsimile reprint of Tenth Edition, Improved. 1 June 1818. Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1969. Select Bibliography Reprint Series.
Connecticut Adjunct General’s Office. Record of Connecticut Men in the Military and Naval Service during the War of the Revolution: 1775-1783. Henry Phelps Johnston, ed. Hartford, 1889. Hartford: 1889, p. 57, 325, & 424.
Everest, Allan S. The War of 1812 in the Champlain Valley. Syracuse NY: Syracuse University Press, 1981.
Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783. Reprint of the New, Revised and Enlarged Edition of 1914 with Addenda by Robert H. Kelby, 1932. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1967, pp. 14-19, 437.
Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana, IL: University of Chicago Pres, 1989.
Horsman, Reginald. The War of 1812. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969.
Macdonough, Rodney. Life of Commodore Thomas Macdonough, U. S. Navy. Boston: The Fort Hill Press, S. Usher, 1909.
Mahon, John K. The War of 1812. Gainsville, FL: University of Florida Press, 1972.
Perry, David. Recollections of an old soldier: the life of Captain David Perry, a soldier of the French and Revolutionary Wars, containing many extraordinary occurrences relating to his own private history, and an account of some interesting events in the history of the times in which he lived, no-where else re-corded / written by himself. Jones, Denise G., ed., 1998, combined electronic editions. Originally pub: Windsor, Vermont: Republican and Yeoman Printing-Office, 1822.) See Recollections of an Old Soldier online © 1999-2013.
Tucker, Glenn. Poltroons and Patriots: A Popular Account of the War of 1812. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1954. 2 vols.
Glenn Kimball. "George Washingtion's Prayers and Visions." Books: List Of Glenn Kimball Books: George Washington Audio CD. No date. www.ancientmanuscripts.com. (accessed 24 Sept. 2003, 3 February 2009). See http://www.ancientmanuscripts.com/books/audio_cd2.htm. (accessed 24 Sept. 2003 and 6 March 2006)
[Distorted and erroneous information on David Perry.]
"Recap: Angels and the Undead." Coast to Coast with George Noory. Summary of Interview with Glenn Kimall. 11 Sept. 2003. http://www.coasttocoastam.com/shows/2003/09/11.html. (accessed 23 Sept. 2003.)
[Distorted and erroneous information on David Perry.]
Bill Knell. [User name.] "George Washington’s Encounter With The Unknown." 20 Aug. 2003. www.paranormalnews.com. http://www.paranormalnews.com/eyefriendly.asp?articleID=710. (accessed 13 Sept. 2003.). Also at: http://www.paranormalnews.com/article.asp?articleID=710 (accessed 6 Jan. 2004.)
[Distorted and erroneous information on David Perry, on his memoir, and on the Act of Congress, 1790, which was the first copyright law..]
Col. David Fitz-Enz. "September 11 1814" History Feature From Military Illustrated. September 2002. The History Mart. http://www.thehistorymart.com/historyfeatures/2002sept11/2002sept11.html. (accessed May 2003. No longer online.) His book featured was The Final Invasion: Plattsburgh, the War of 1812's Most Decisive Battle by David G. Fitz-Enz (Hardcover - Sep 25, 2001) (In 2008, another of his books was published, called Redcoats' Revenge: An Alternate History of the War of 1812 by USA (Ret.) Col. David Fitz-Enz [Hardcover - Nov 30, 2008].)
[Some misrepresentation and alteration of facts.]
Bible Talk: Non-denominational for Christians & Jews. www.bibleprobe.com. Also at: http://bibleprobe.com "The Near-death Experience of David Perry in 1762." http://www.bibleprobe.com/perryNDE.htm. (Original accessed 18 Oct. 2003; revised accessed 29 Oct. 2003 and 6 March 2006.) The page could, as of 6 March 2006, still be reached through http://www.bibleprobe.com/nde.htm. [NOTE: As of 8 March 2006, the links have been changed (see below) after I addressed the unresolved issue of plagiarism by posting at BibleProbe. My posting along with the page it was on has since been deleted.]
Ironically, BibleProbe's page, online from 18 Oct. 2003 - 6 March 2006, was originally an unathorized, verbatim, truncated copy of the text, stripped of identifiers,
of the Captain David Perry Web Site's excerpt The Near Death Experience of David Perry (1762),
with footnote numbers still present and the introduction exactly duplicated -- an obvious "cut and paste" job. Due to notification of breach of copyright by e-mail in October 2003,
BibleProbe revised it by removing the footnote numbers, paraphrasing the introduction, and interspersing
information gleaned from The Captain David Perry Web Site without any citation naming it or its excerpt as source
and with the following incorrect information:
"During the years 1815 -1830 there were an awful lot of writers in both Canada and in the USA who were contacting Revolutionary War soldiers to record their stories for posterity." (Source.)
This is simply not true. There is no historical foundation for this statement. Rather, it appears to be incorrect conclusion
apparently based the printer's "preface" to Perry's Recollections perhaps by another source and used by BibleProbe.
Perry's record is unique; Fred Anderson, in his highly acclaimed book A People's Army,*
stated that such a memoir as Perry's is rare. Few recorded their life histories and accounts of experiences late in life, and no
one solicited them.
And still, as of 6 March 2006, BibleProbe refused to give credit or to request permission to use lengthy quotes, while still continuing to use information obviously gleaned from this site's original page, on both BibleProbe's "NDE of David Perry" page and the parent page: http://www.bibleprobe.com/nde.htm. This was an issue of blatant plagiarism, a form of stealing. Although BibleProbe cited the bibliographic information for one edition of Capt. David Perry's Recollections, they refused to name the Combined Electronic Edition which is the copyrighted source they used. This one I completed in 1998, meticulously comparing -- word for word, punctuation mark for punctuation mark -- all editions, the 1822 through the 1971, and there is no other text quite like it. It is the source of the text of Recollections used in creating The Captain David Perry Web Site, online since 1999. The information on this site is the result of over 30 years' research into the life and times of Capt. David Perry.
No one has the right to consider that which is on the internet as free or in the public domain or to treat it as such. The same copyright laws hold as for books. My page includes information on how to cite my pages and I never give permission for lengthy quotations or for translation without the stipulation of citing my site as source.
Post Script: On 8 March 2006, Steve Keohane at BibleProbe
changed the link on their parent page http://www.bibleprobe.com/nde.htm
to line to
this site's original page.
He also re-routed the URL of "their" page (http://www.bibleprobe.com/perryNDE.htm)
to automatically redirect to the original page on this site.
Instead of simply citing their source properly as this site, BibleProbe will, Keohane writes, keep "their" copy of the page to upload at a future date if they find it necessary.
Their redirect went back to their page's original link shortly after. However, the fact that they have linked one page to come to this site is appreciated. — DGJ, 2 February 2009
TO CITE THIS PAGE:
Jones, D.G. "FACT OR FICTION: References to Capt. David Perry's Words." 2003. Excerpts from Recollections of an Old Soldier: The Life of Captain David Perry. Combined electronic edition, 1998. (Derived from first edition, Windsor, Vermont, 1822, and subsequent other editions.) The Captain David Perry Web Site. 1999. http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~dagjones/docs/facts.html. (in parentheses, date page was created or modified [see bottom of page], OR date last accessed by you).
To cite a page or article in "Excerpts" pages:
Jones, D.G. "(put the name of the page or article here)." Excerpts from Recollections of an Old Soldier: The Life of Captain David Perry. Combined electronic edition, 1998. (Derived from first edition, Windsor, Vermont, 1822, and subsequent other editions.) http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~dagjones/docs/. (in parentheses, the date page was modified [see bottom of page], OR date accessed).
To quote David Perry's words from "Excerpts":
Perry, David. "Recollections of an Old Soldier: The Life of Captain David Perry." Jones, D.G., ed. Combined electronic edition, 1998. (Derived from first edition, Windsor, Vermont, 1822, and subsequent other editions.) The Captain David Perry Web Site. (put title of the page you are quoting from in quotation marks here). http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~dagjones/captdavidperry/captdavidperry.html. (in parentheses, date page was modified [see bottom of page], OR date accessed).
For further information, see How to Cite this Cite on the The Captain David Perry Web Site home page.
For further information on citing internet sources, see:
which gives also the following information:
" 'Ethics, copyright laws, and courtesy to readers require authors [of web sites, papers, or printed material of any kind] to identify the sources of direct quotations and of any facts or opinions not generally known or easily checked.' --
Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press), p. 594"
"Whenever you quote or base your ideas on another person's work, you must document the source you used. Even when you do not quote directly from another work, if reading that source contributed to the ideas presented [by you], you must give the authors proper credit. ...By following these guidelines, you avoid plagiarism." A good working definition of plagiarism is:
" '...the use of intellectual material produced by another person without acknowledging its source. This includes, but is not limited to:
(a.) Copying from the writings or works of others into one's [own publication or web site] without attribution, or submitting [or publishing online or in print] such work as if it were one's own;
(b.) Using the views, opinions, or insights of another without acknowledgment; or
(c.) Paraphrasing the characteristic or original phraseology, metaphor, or other literary device of another without proper attribution.' "
Source: "Style Sheets of Citing Resources (Print & Eletectronic): Examples & General Rules for MLA, APA, & Chicago & Turabian Styles". http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Style.html (2006) Accessed from "Tutorial Table of Contents UC Berkeley - Teaching Library Internet Workshops." http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/FindInfo.html University of California. http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ (c2004)
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