Ancestral Notes

My Family History blog

COG #69 – What if….the British won the Revolutionary War?

What if…Moses Doan’s message was read by Colonel Rahl, instead of being stuffed into his pocket to be read later…would Washington have surrendered?

“Doan and the British suspected that Washington might attack Trenton but they had no idea when, and felt confident that the British and the Hession reinforcements there would prevail. Moses and Abraham were in Newtown on Christmas Eve day and noticed that preparations were underway for marching the troops. They also noticed ferry barges assembling near McKonkey’s Ferry (Washington’s Crossing, PA). Actually, in the weeks prior, General Washington had ordered that all the boats North and South of the ferry to be confiscated for their use or destroyed. Moses sent Levi with this news to General Grant via New Brunswick and then returned to his Jericho Mountain cave and planned to scout the rebels the following day. That morning he disguised himself as a local farmer and took Old York Road. towards New Hope. He passed the Buckingham Friends and eventually took the Ferry Road to Coryell’s Ferry. It was here that Moses saw that the troops and usual sentinels were gone and preparations were being made to dismantle the fortifications. He rode to Bowman’s hill where the main rebel encampment was and realized that something very big was happening. At this time a Nor’easter had begun to blow and sleet and snow were falling. Moses suspected that the rebels were heading for Trenton and knew his only chance to help the British was to warn them himself. He went north past Coryell’s to Howell’s Ferry which was run by a loyal Tory. There he crossed the ice choked river in what had become a raging storm.. Securing a horse, he rode south into the near blizzard. The howling wind, the pounding of the river and cracking of the ice floes was incredible as was the near zero temperature but he kept on. He encountered no one on the road and considered turning back, thinking he may have been wrong about the Americans’ intentions.

In an incredible historic moment, as he passed the embankment across from McKonkey’s (now Washington Crossing), he heard and saw the rebel barges filled with soldiers pushing through the blizzard towards the Jersey side. He was now sure that their objective was Trenton. Moses Doan was, at that moment, in possession of one of the greatest secrets of the war.

There are several versions of what happened next. Historians agree that Moses made it to Trenton and requested to see Colonel Rahl who was in command. The Colonel was playing cards and reportedly did not want to be disturbed. Moses wrote a note and asked that it be immediately brought to Rahl who simply put it into his vest pocket unread. It was found on his person the next day. The note read: “Washington is coming on you down the river, he will be here afore long. Doan”. The versions differ mainly on how and from whom Rahl got the note. Most historians agree that a more attentive commander may have utilized Moses Doan’s note to prevent one of the Colonial Army’s greatest moral victories.

the whole article: The Plumstead Cowboys

What if the British had stopped Washington at Trenton? Would the rebels have conceded defeat? Who would have been president? General John Graves Simcoe, Bart.? If that were the case, then the 1st first lady would have been Lady Elizabeth Simcoe, who is famous on her own as a watercolour artist, creating beautiful watercolours of her travels and sights she saw.


How much of the history would have changed? Would slavery have even been an issue in Lincoln’s time, or would it have been history? Would there have been a civil war? I know the war of 1812 wouldn’t have occurred. What else would have changed?

Moses Doan would have been honoured as a national hero, not shot dead in a tavern. His brother Levi, and cousin Abraham wouldn’t have been hung in 1788, just after the Gov’t signed an agreement not to punish crimes of war. My Loyalist ancestors would never have left their homes in New York and Pennsylvania, and I would probably not exist.

What would the United States be like today? Would it be a warring nation or a peacekeeping nation? There would probably be a prohibition of handguns, like in Canada. Would the crime rate go down? Probably. There would be a universal health care system. Would the taxes be higher? Probably, due to costs of universal healthcare. There would probably be no need for NAFTA, most of the continent would be one country, sharing in all of the resources. Would we all be better off, I dont know, I know I wouldn’t.

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Filed under: Carnival of Genealogy, Carnivals, Doane/Doan, Family Files, Genealogy, Loyalists,

4 Responses

  1. whw says:

    What you posit could have happened.see amazon.com top reviews of “The Two Georges”

  2. Earline Hines Bradt says:

    That sounds like an interesting book, thanks for the comments.

  3. Kiril says:

    Very interesting.If only, if only, if only. ;-DThe Mad Macedonianhttp://www.madmacedonian.com/digging_up_roots_in_the_family_garden/

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