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Yankee Doodle, the victory march of Americans chosen by God

By AL EARLEY

Religion columnist

The song “Yankee Doodle” became popular among the British during the Revolutionary War.

The word Yankee is thought to be a dismissive reference by the British towards American colonists and the Dutch origins of many northeast settlers. It is believed to be a corruption of Janke, or little Jan, a common Dutch name.

A doodle was a simpleton and the phrase “stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni” implied the backwoods bumpkins could put a feather in their coonskin hats and think they were as elegant as the much superior Europeans in the latest Italian style: the “macaroni.”

The American army embraced the derisive song, and used it to their advantage as the Revolutionary war closed.

The harsh winter at Valley Forge also was the time when General Washington, with the help of Wilhelm Von Steuben, honed his troops into a formidable fighting force. As they came into the Spring campaigns of 1781, the American troops continued to face a well equipped and trained fighting force under the command of General Charles Cornwallis.

Under normal circumstances Cornwallis would have won the battles and the war, but the diaries of the soldiers on both sides tell another story. It is the story of God intervening over and over to help General Washington win a few battles and escape all the rest that could have brought devastating defeat.

General Washington had the upper hand on Oct. 14, 1781, as the British fleet had left General Cornwallis at Yorktown, exposed, and nowhere to run. The French assisted the Americans in capturing Redoubt #9 and #10, and these outposts became their anchor for their new siege line. American artillery could fire upon the British at point blank range.

Cornwallis hoped to accomplish what Washington had accomplished five years earlier when he escaped Brooklyn across the East River to Manhattan (see last week’s article). But God did not send a favoring storm, and instead, once one-third of the British troops were across the York River a terrible storm stopped the row boats. Things went so bad Cornwallis had all the men rowed back to their camp in Yorktown.

The bombardment of the British troops continued until Oct. 17 when they waved the white flag. The morning of Oct. 19, the articles of surrender were drawn up, and at 2 p.m. that afternoon, the British Army surrendered.

The French lined up on one side, the Americans on the other. As the Brits marched between the two lines, it is said that they kept their eyes riveted on the French troops, so as not to look at their former subjects. Their band played the British song “The World Turn’d Upside Down,” and so it must have seemed to them. Marquis de Lafayette snapped an order, and the American band exploded with “Yankee Doodle.” The song meant to ridicule was now the victory march for the American troops.

In 1776 the British army and navy were the greatest fighting forces ever in human history. The American army rarely had enough bullets to finish a battle, and it was not uncommon for American troops to be marching barefoot, even in winter. So how did the Americans win? Look at Gideon vs. the Midianites (Judges 7), David vs. Goliath (I Samuel 17), Hezekiah vs. Sennacherib (II Kings 18), and the early Christian Church vs. the Romans and the Jewish religious elite (the New Testament) just to name a few.

They all share one thing in common, the hand of God was with the underdog. If you have read my articles through the years, you know I believe that the only explanation for the unprecedented wealth and power we Americans have enjoyed in just over 200 short years is the hand of God. As long as we serve God as a nation, he will continue to bless us. I wonder often if God thinks we are living up to the high calling to spread freedom, liberty and the Gospel with the world.

Do you think God’s hand has been upon America in a special way throughout our history? Does God expect anything back from His faithful people when he showers his blessings upon us? What are you doing to make our country stronger in the eyes of God? May God continue to bless America.

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.com.