get on your horse Virginia
Back when I first posted this back in 2014, I was in the process of listening to Jon Meacham's Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, and I came across a story that just captivated me.
Why there isn't a cross country horse race each year to celebrate this ride, I have no idea (probably has to so with lawyers) - and why I wasn't taught this in school, well, just drives me nuts. 8-yr old Sal would have eaten this story up.
This has nothing to do with anything nautical - but it has everything to do with the kind of thinking all in the profession of arms should have; bravery, quick of mind, thinking three steps ahead, and more than anything else - a bias towards action.
If you do not know of him yet, let me have the pleasure of introducing to you Captain Jack Jouett, Virginia Militia and the ride to save the Republic that was yet to be.
LATE IN THE EVENING, Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton and 250 mounted British soldiers reined up near Cuckoo Tavern. The troopers were hard, dusty hours in the saddle. They had mounted before dawn at a Hanover County camp and pushed themselves more than twenty leagues across the Virginia Piedmont to this Louisa County way station. But the riding of that day—June 3, 1781—was not over. Before it was done, a tavern patron, putting down his drink, would gallop into the night and the history of the American Revolution, and dismount, to be remembered as Virginia's Paul Revere. That man was Captain Jack Jouett of the Virginia militia, a fierce and astute patriot who understood why Tarleton was there.
Operating north of Richmond, chasing Lafayette, Cornwallis received an intercepted American dispatch reporting the presence of Jefferson and members of the legislature in Charlottesville. To his mind, they were legitimate military targets, and he ordered Tarleton to capture them.
Tarleton faced a seventy-mile ride, but he believed that he could reach Charlottesville before American spies noticed his absence. The raiders rested about noon and hurried toward Cuckoo Tavern. Jouett saw them there about 9:30 p.m.
He and his father had signed the Albemarle Declaration, a renunciation of loyalty to King George III. His father and brother Matthew were also captains in the Virginia Militia, as was brother Robert in the Continental Army. Jack Jouett was twenty-six years old, 200 pounds, and six-feet-four. Contemporaries described him as handsome, a superb marksman, and an accomplished horseman.
He stole away as Tarleton, dismounting at a nearby plantation, gave his men three hours rest beginning at roughly 10 p.m. Jouett pounded through the night. He reached Monticello near daybreak, warned Jefferson, and headed to Charlottesville to raise the alarm.