TEMECULA – America’s 250th birthday will be in 2026, and the Daughters of the American Revolution are preparing to celebrate through its America 250 Committee and local chapters around the nation, including the Luiseño Chapter in Temecula.
During the nation’s 247th birthday in 2023, the television and other media showed freedom festivals, military jet fly-overs, Independence Day parades and fireworks spectaculars happening around the country. One commentator said that hundreds of towns began their July Fourth events on July 1, and that there was plenty to enjoy and applaud. Millions of American citizens and residents of the United States participated in these events, celebrated in person or watched TV coverage from the comfort of their homes.
Comfort is one of those feelings that people can enjoy in America. It is a sensation, an emotion and one of many beliefs which patriots and veterans have fought for throughout the country’s history.
Comfort, well-being and safety, however, are usually not the feelings that the military experience in times of conflict, and it was no different 250 years ago for those fighting for independence from English rule.
During the Revolutionary War, Secretary to George Washington Joseph Reed kept his wife Esther informed of the realities of war.
“In a 1778 letter to a friend, Esther wrote, ‘My dear Mr. Reed was in the action (at Monmouth,) and had his horse again shot.’ She knew from him that the soldiers often didn’t have enough to eat or blankets to protect them from the cold in winter, that their clothes were worn, that they had to sleep in places that were often damp and unsanitary,” and that smallpox and typhus killed thousands of them, according to “Women Heroes of the American Revolution” by Susan Casey in 2017.
Esther Reed decided to do something about the camp environments, and she wrote and had published a broadside titled “The Sentiments of an American Woman” in June of 1780.
“If I live happy in the midst of my family …it is to you (the soldier) that we owe it. And shall we hesitate to evidence to you our gratitude?”
Tough times called for engaging “in such public displays of political activities,” with the Ladies Association of Philadelphia being formed within three days of the broadside’s publication. Esther and 35 other women began a fundraising campaign to “render the condition of the soldier more pleasant.” They divided Philadelphia into 10 areas in which pairs of women then canvassed assigned areas by knocking on doors; men and women from all walks of life – “from Phillis, the colored woman … to the Countess de Luzerne” – met the challenge and raised more than $300,000 in Continental Dollars or $7,500 in coin and gold. The ladies must have been assertive because even a pro-British lady contributed just “to get rid of them,” according to Casey.
Gen. George Washington decided to spend the contributions on shirts.
“I would propose the purchasing of course linnen, (sic) to be made into shirts. …A shirt extraordinary to the soldier will be of more service, and do more to preserve his health than any other thing that could be procured him … provided it is approved of by the ladies.”
The project had delays including Esther’s death at age 34, but 2,000 soldiers received the shirts.
“Each woman – married or unmarried – had embroidered her name on each shirt she had made, making each a personal gift from one of the ladies of Philadelphia,” according to Casey.
One of those 2,000 soldiers was likely Pvt. Peter Kincheloe. This month, the Luiseño Chapter of National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, in collaboration with America 250, honored Kincheloe for his service.
Born in 1722 in Virginia, he took the Oath of Allegiance and became one of the men under Gen. William Alexander, aka Lord Stirling, in the 13th Regiment of Virginia in the Continental Line. He also served in the 9th Regiment of Virginia in the Continental Line.
As part of the 13th Virginia Regiment, he entered Valley Forge as one of 175 men of which 69 were fit for duty. They left Valley Forge for Fort Pitt during May 1778. The 13th Regiment was reorganized and became the 9th Regiment.
Kincheloe saw action in the Battle of Brandywine, the Battle of Germantown and the Battle of Monmouth. At Germantown, under the command of Col. George Mathews, the unit became separated from Gen. Nathaniel Greene’s division, causing 400 men to be taken prisoners by the British.
Kincheloe was married to Margaret Walls. He and Margaret were the parents of at least one child, a son named Conrad. Of German descent, the family used the German surname Kuenzle as well as Kincheloe and Kinslow. He died in 1810 in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.
Was Peter one of the 2,000 soldiers who received a shirt with an embroidered name? There is a strong possibility that he received that gift of comfort. As one who fought in America’s wars for independence, he knew the discomforts and stresses of which he willingly subjected himself.
Next month, another patriot will be honored by the Luiseño America250 Committee.
To learn more about the Luiseño chapter, visit https://www.facebook.com/luisenochapterdar.
Submitted by Luiseño Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.