THE RICHARD HENRY LEE CHAPTER OF THE VIRGINIA SOCIETY SONS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION HELD ITS FIRST MEETING OF 2022.
Charles Belfield, decked in colonial attire, speaks to RHL members and guests about the early life of patriot James Monroe who would become our 5th President"
The Richard Henry Lee Chapter (RHLC) of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution (VASSAR) held its first meeting of 2022 on 8 March at the Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club (ICYCC). Thirty-seven members and guest attended the meeting chaired by RHLC president, Michael Rhodes.
Rhodes started the program by an explanation of a new initiative by VASSAR intended for its chapters to work more together. VASSAR has divided its 30 State chapters into 5 Regions. RHLC is in the Eastern Region (ER)along with six other chapters: Norfolk. Williamsburg, James Monroe (Westmoreland County), Nansemond Indian Patriots (Suffolk), Rappahannock (Tappahannock) and Thomas Nelson. Jr. (Newport News). Each Region has a chair as well as three vice-chairs (v/p): youth, membership, and community affair. Attending this meeting were Dr. Ken Hawkins, chair ER; Bob Bruce, president Norfolk chapter; Bruce Laubach, president Williamsburg chapter; Gary Hodges, v/p ER community affairs and Dr. Patrick Hannum, secretary Norfolk chapter, with his wife Penny.
Next Rhodes took time to remember the RHLC members who had died recently: David Bresett, Bill Burton, and Phil Purrington. Bresett and Purrington had served as RHLC presidents.
Then Rhodes announced the several awards RHLC earned at the VASSAR annual meeting this past February. The awards included a streamer for the Patrick Henry (PH) Leatherwood Project. The project seeks to find the location of the house PH built on a 10000-acre plantation that PH had bought with some family members called Leatherwood in Henry County. Members of RHLC had donated $750 for this project.
Rhodes called compatriot Jim Russell forward to present him with the VASSAR service medal for his role in the Patriot Chest (PC) program. The PC program brings history of the Revolutionary War to area young people. Two compatriots adorned in clothing of the age carry a chest to a classroom and use items in the chest to teach about the war.
Then Rhodes called for compatriots Bill Creager and Stu Kramer to present them with a thirty year and a ten-year service certificate award, respectfully, for their dedicated service to RHLC. Finally, Rhodes called compatriot Ammon Dunton forward to recognize him for the Community Service award he had received recently from the Cobbs Hill Daughters of the American Revolution.
Rhodes asked Compatriot Russell to introduce the speaker for the meeting: Charles Belfied, president of the James Monroe chapter in Westmoreland County. Russell noted that he and Belfield had been a team in the PR program in 2021 and that he had seen him enact many roles of people of the war over their ten presentations. Today he would assume the role of the early life of James Monroe our fifth president.
Belfield stepped forward in Revolutionary war attire and began a presentation with great feeling. The following use of “he” or “I” by Belfield are the words of James Monroe.
“I love the Northern Neck of Virginia because I was born here April 28, 1758, on a farm owned by my father near Colonial Beach. I loved my father and grew up wanting to be just like him. I remember when I was only eight sitting and listening to my father and his friends talk about difficulties we were having with Great Britain. They would talk about the Stamp Act and other things that were taking our freedom.
When I was eleven, I went to the only school in our area. But my mother died when I was thirteen and my father died when I was sixteen and I had to give up school to take care of the farm and my siblings.
Then my childless maternal uncle, Joseph Jones, stepped forward and assumed the role of our surrogate father. He took me to Williamsburg and enrolled me in the College of William and Mary. He also introduced me to Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and George Washington.
But in 1776 with war drums in my ear I dropped out of college and joined the Virginia 3rd Continental Infantry division. After some training, we had orders to move North and to join General Washington. We then commenced a 700-mile march to Pennsylvania with only the scantiest of uniform and provisions. Soon after our arrival, we participated in General Washington’s plan to cross the Delaware River and attack the Hessians at Trenton on Christmas Eve.
My unit commanded by William Washington, a relative of the General, was a spearhead of the attack. When we crossed the river, we turned to face Trenton. As daybreak occurred the Hessians awoke and were trying to mount a defense. We saw two 6-pound cannons facing us. William and I rushed the cannons to disable them which we did. But in the process William suffered gunshot wounds through both hands and I received a near fatal musket shot in my shoulder that had hit an artery. A doctor who was with us placed a thumb in the wound and stopped the bleeding and saved my life. Since that event I have carried a musket ball in my pocket and will so carry it to the day I die like the one in my shoulder to remind me of the many who risked their lives and fortune to bring us the liberty we now enjoy. We must never forget.”
This concluded the speech by Belfield, and he received a standing ovation. President Rhodes completed the meeting by giving Belfield a copy of a book. TO THE END of the WORLD by Andrew Waters; re Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and the Race to the Dan.
The next meeting of RHLC Will be on 12 April at ICYCC. If you are interested in learning more about the Sons of the American Revolution to include the Patriot Chest program please contact the Chapter president, Michael Rhodes at 1-804-929-1444 or at email@example.com.