The Midnight Ride of Jack Jouett
Jack Jouett was a lower ranked soldier who took a very important midnight ride during the American Revolution.
Jouett, known as the ‘Paul Revere of the South,’ rode across Virginia to warn the young State Government that the British were coming.
John Jouett, Jr was woken by the sound of horses.
Jack, as he was called, had been sleeping outside of the Cuckoo Tavern in Central Virginia. The soldier went to scout the horses he heard and quickly realized it was the British.
They were on a mission.
Between a review of their direction and his good intuition, Jack realized the redcoats were on their way to kidnap the Governor.
Virginia’s State Government had recently fled the Capital of Richmond when Benedict Arnold captured it. The Representatives had taken up residence in the more inland city of Charlottesville, which sat just two miles from Governor Thomas Jefferson’s House.
Jack Jouett realized he was the only Patriot who knew of the surprise British attack. He knew it was his responsibility to inform the Assembly of the impending arrival.
Jack took his horse on a 40-mile midnight ride. As the redcoats were on the main highway, Jouett was forced to traverse the poorly maintained back-trails.
To The Swan
Jouett first arrived at Monticello, Jefferson’s mountaintop home, at approximately 4:30 in the morning. Jefferson evacuated the Congressmen who were staying there and prepared to leave himself.
Jack continued to the Swan Tavern in Charlottesville. The Swan Tavern just happened to be owned by Jouett’s father.
It was also where the majority of Virginia’s Representatives were staying to attend sessions in the temporary Capital. Due to Jack’s hard work, all but seven of these politicians were able to escape before the British took over.
Aiding The General
As everyone left the Swan Tavern, Jouett realized that General Edward Stevens was still recovering from wounds he sustained fighting the Revolutionary War.
Jouett decided the General needed his help and assisted him in riding out of town.
Stevens was moving slowly, and the two men were spotted by several British soldiers. As Jack was wearing a uniform and Stevens was in street clothes, Jouett took a risk by riding off and leaving the General behind.
While this might sound mean, it turns out Jack correctly assumed the British would chase the man in uniform instead of investigating the man who was plainly dressed. Both were able to escape and he may very well have saved Stevens’ life.
For his heroics, the Virginia Assembly thanked Jack Jouett for his service by rewarding him with two pistols (and technically a sword, though it seems he never actually received it).
Like most soldiers, Jouett was paid in land. His property was in Kentucky, where he moved soon after the end of the Revolution.
Jack became a leader in the area and was selected to the same Virginia Assembly he had saved several times. Additionally, he was a member of the Danville Separation Convention which settle most of the issues surrounding Kentucky separating from Virginia and giving it Statehood.
When Kentucky finally became a State, Jouett served several times in its Assembly as well. He remained as one of Kentucky’s early leaders for the rest of his days.
Do you want to read about other Midnight Riders?
Also, did you know Paul Revere did a lot more than just one ride? Check out his article here.
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