Benjamin Nathan Tuggle thinks he’s like any other twelve-year-old growing up in eastern Kentucky in 1976—until he learns he can travel back in time. Now his love of American history is more than just book knowledge; he actively participates in it.In his newest adventure, Ben travels back to the year 1778 and the American Revolution. He visits with Martha Washington at Mount Vernon, where he sees the day-to-day operations of the famous Washington plantation. When Martha is called to be with her husband, Ben travels with her to winter with General Washington and the Continental Army at Valley Forge.Ben is never shy about anything he does. In this, the second book in the Benjamin Nathan Tuggle: Adventurer series, join him as he journeys back in time, meets the father of our country, and experiences the Revolutionary War firsthand.
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Benjamin Nathan Tuggle ~ ADVENTURER ~
General George Washington and the American Revolution
By Russell Lunsford
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2014 Russell Lunsford
All rights reserved.
It's nice to see you again. How's the family?
I'm doing fine, nice of you to ask. I had a great summer vacation, as if a bad summer vacation is even possible. The first few months of school had flown by when Mom decided we should take a trip to visit her sister in Virginia during Christmas break. We left the day after Christmas.
Aunt Becky's husband is a captain in the army at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. She had just given birth to her second child, and Mom was anxious to get her hands on it. It's a mom thing.
Well, look at me. I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me finish something for my teacher and I'll tell you about my latest adventure.
Mrs. Dabney stood and looked out over our sixth grade classroom. Pointing toward the back of the room, she said, "Boys and girls, please welcome Daniel Boone."
I came out of the coatroom in the back of the class dressed in the woodsman outfit my grandmother had helped me put together. It was similar to the one I wore during my adventure at Fort Boonesborough in 1776. I wore buckskin moccasins and leggings, a large homespun shirt, and a loose fitting vest that hung down below my waist. I had tied a large, red scarf around my neck and wore a large floppy felt hat. A shot bag made of buckskin hung over my shoulder. I had tucked a sheathed hunting knife and my prize tomahawk in my waistband. I had whittled a hickory handle for the tomahawk and made it look like the one Falling Hawk had thrown at my noggin when I first met Daniel Boone.
Everyone turned to look at me. Snickers and quiet murmurs flowed across the room like critter noise at nightfall—one chirp turned into a chorus of noise.
I walked to the front of the class and paused, giving Beth Collins the stink eye. Her murmur had turned into a conversation with Barbara Mitchell—something about doing something to somebody after school.
Once I regained control of the room, I began my presentation by describing Boone and his family as I knew them.
When the class broke for recess, Mrs. Dabney asked me to come up to her desk. An icy chill shot up my spine. I didn't recall doing anything bad, but one never knows. Our teachers at Estill County Middle School had the eyes and ears of coyotes, and the teachers' lounge was a hotbed of gossip. I guess that's what a pack does in order to survive.
"Ben," she said. I knew right away from the tone of her voice that I wasn't in trouble. "I appreciate the expressive manner in which you did your report on Daniel Boone, and I apologize for the interruptions. The children seem to get tickled when you talk about history as though you were actually back in 1776."
"Well, as a matter of fact Mrs. Dabney, I ..."
Oops, here I was in my time, 1976, on the verge of telling my favorite teacher that I had traveled back to 1776 and met the great frontiersman, Daniel Boone. It was a terrific adventure. Boone and I took to each other like butter and grape jelly on a hot biscuit.
You seem confused. Well, I guess I would be too. You see, I can go back in time and visit with people and events right when history is being made ...
No, wait, don't walk away. Sit back down and let me explain.
I didn't ask to travel around in history. It just happened one day, and I kind of went with it. The way I see it, it's a gift. From where or who, I haven't quite figured that out yet. I take hold of something old and the next thing I know, I'm back in history standing next to a Cherokee Indian warrior five hundred years before the first European settler set foot on North America.
The whole time travel thing is a little confusing at times. But you know what—when your grandma sets a big bowl of peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream down in front of you, you don't ask her how she made it. You just enjoy it. I could tell you how that peach cobbler melts in my mouth, but first let me tell you about my adventure.
Who am I? Why, I'm Benjamin Nathan Tuggle, adventurer and time traveler. You probably saw my self-portrait at the beginning of the book. I guess no one really knows exactly what they look like, but that sketch is sorta, pretty much, close to the actual me ... I think. In my drawing, I'm sitting on my grandpa's John Deere tractor. I love that old tractor and the putt, putt sound it makes.
I have to say my visit with Daniel Boone at Fort Boonesborough was just as exciting as my adventure with General George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
Oh, I haven't told you about that? Well, let me wrap up my meeting with Mrs. Dabney, and I'll tell you about my short tour of service in the Continental Army in the year 1778.
"Ma'am, you must know yourself how hard it is to keep the attention of a bunch of twelve-year olds—boys thinking about sports and girls daydreaming about the boys over in Clay County. I try to add a little drama to my talk. It helps everyone stay focused on the subject matter. They tend to remember better when I make it more personal and entertaining." The fact that they applauded at the end of the presentation was proof enough for me.
Wide eyed and smiling, Mrs. Dabney tried to come up with words to thank me for helping her teach her class. I could sense her dilemma and quickly switched on the twelve-year old portion of my brain.
"Can I go on outside now, Mrs. Dabney? David, Charles, and I have a plan to get revenge on the girls in kickball. They always insist on kicking first and then quit when it's our turn to kick. We think we can get the best of them today." Of course, I know'd we weren't about to get the best of those girls, but we had to try.
Mrs. Dabney nodded and gave me a confused little smile. Grabbing my coat and cap, I rushed out the door.
That's the way it is when you have a gift; you just can't tell anyone about it. If I went and told everyone that I could travel back in time and spend an afternoon with Thomas Edison helping him invent the light bulb, they'd be whispering to their friends, That Ben Tuggle has a broken filament.
But, as I started to tell Mrs. Dabney, I did in fact, visit Daniel Boone in 1776. You know that because I told you about it a while back. It was my twelfth birthday. My family and I were visiting my grandparents in Redhouse, Kentucky, when I found the old tomahawk head and back to 1776 I went.
My birthday? It's kind of you to ask. I got a lot of nice clothes, which I appreciated. But, and I'm sure you will agree with me, it takes a long time to say thank you when you get clothes for your birthday!
Sit back now, and I'll tell you about my visit with one of the most remarkable men I have ever met. George Washington was one of the founding fathers of our country. Just look around you. How many streets, cities, and counties can you think of that are named Washington? Why, even a state is named after him. You got anything named after you? Neither do I, but I'm working on it.
Oh, by the way. David, Charles, and I implemented our secret plan, and the girls signed a contract agreeing to let us kick after we got three outs. Well, you guessed it. When we got the third out, they quit on us. Sometimes, I feel like I live in the Sunday morning comic strip.
Anyway, a nice family Christmas trip through the snow-covered mountains suited me just fine. The Appalachian Mountains are beautiful when the leaves have fallen and snow highlights the hills and valleys.
We spent our first day playing with the baby. Mom seemed to get some kind of weird pleasure from changing the baby's diaper. When a faint odor drifted across the room, like the one that blows in from Mr. Logan's dairy farm, Mom would jump up and change the diaper. The whole time, she talked baby talk to little Thomas about his big poopy.
On our second day, we all piled into the car and headed to Washington DC. The District of Columbia where our federal government operates is named after George Washington.
We visited some of the cool museums around the National Mall, saw the monuments, and walked around in the Capitol building. A large room in the heart of the building is called the Rotunda. Made of marble, it has a giant dome that is 180 feet high. The room was full of paintings and statues of great Americans. But the really cool thing is that the marble in the Rotunda acts like an echo chamber. While we were looking around, my brother Blake squealed like a pig as loud as he could. All the older folks in the room looked pained and stuck their fingers in their ears. Blake only got out one long squeal before Dad grabbed him by the seat of his pants and moved him over behind the statue of Andy Jackson for a talk. It was the first original thing Blake had done in months. You can question his timing if you want, but I'm not one to cast the first stone.
When we took a tour of the White House, I tried to sneak off and find President Gerald Ford, but those Secret Service guys cornered me and escorted me back to the tour. They look like Kentucky State Troopers in suits. They've got hearing devices stuck in their ears and they talk into their hands. You see them on every corner; their arms folded, staring straight ahead. I've always been pretty good at staring down a batter when I'm pitching, but these guys will make your eyes water in a stare down. If the little guy talking in their head ordered them to, they could probably stare a hole clean through your eyeballs and out the back of your head. Nerves of steel and cold as ice!
A few days later, my Dad, Uncle Marvin, Blake, and I visited Fort Belvoir. We saw lots of soldiers marching around, cool army jeeps, and old, wooden buildings. Uncle Marvin was a company commander and treated us to lunch at his mess hall. Everyone kept snapping to attention as we walked by, and some young soldiers waited on us at our table. We ate out of metal trays. The food was good, and I could have all the chocolate milk I wanted to drink. Army life, where do I sign up?
We spent another day playing with baby Thomas and packing up to leave. Mom was teary eyed the next morning as we left. She and Aunt Becky were close when they were growing up. I could tell that being that far apart was awfully hard on them.
On our drive back home, we stopped by George and Martha Washington's home, Mount Vernon, in Fairfax County, Virginia. It sits on a hill overlooking the Potomac River. Irvine, my home town, overlooks the Kentucky River, but nothing can beat Mount Vernon's spectacular view. Whoever built a house on that spot had an eye for a view. It was a prime piece of real estate as my Uncle Thrishus Arvin likes to say.
The Mount Vernon plantation, in Washington's day, covered 8,200 acres of some of the prettiest farm land I have ever seen this side of Estill County. Since an acre is slightly smaller than a football field, 8,200 acres is a good size farm. In Eastern Kentucky, 8,200 acres would hold a lot of mountains. I doubt that any of the horse farms over in Lexington are that big.
I'm getting off track, ain't I? If I carry on like that, just interrupt and say, "Now Ben, calm down, take a deep breath, and think about where you're going with all this." Mom says I can be a bit confusing at times. I like to think I mystify—Blake is the confusing one. He reminds me of a poorly written book report. He talks like he's an expert on something, but he never read the book. If you've got an older brother, you know what I'm talking about.
Where was I? Ahh, George Washington.
Well, here's the deal, President Washington was General Washington before he became the first president, which is where my story is headed.
How do you get your nation's capital named after you? Sit back and listen. Take notes if you wish. It's an adventure worth remembering.CHAPTER 2
After touring the grounds at Mount Vernon, Mom gave Blake and me a buck apiece, took each of us by the arm, and gave us the look. "Don't break anything," she said, sending an electrical charge through her hands as she squeezed our arms hard enough for Blake to let out a loud, Oooouch!
I can't imagine what she meant by that.
Mom and Dad chose to sit in the chairs on the big, back porch and looked down at the Potomac River. Since we were going to be sitting for a couple of days to get back to Kentucky, Blake and I decided to stretch our legs and check out the cool buildings that surrounded the house. Taking it all in, we saw a long line of people waiting to tour the house.
"Let's walk down to the river and skip some stones," Blake proposed. "If young Georgie Washington can skip one all the way across the river, I bet I can too."
"Why don't you chop down a cherry tree while you're down there?"
"Don't be a bonehead!" Blake snapped back. "Washington owned the place. He could chop down all the trees he wanted to. You tryin' to get me in trouble?"
Blake once tattled on me to Mom about something I supposedly said about him. I hadn't said a thing, but since what I actually thought about him was a lot worse, I didn't deny it. Now, I was tempted to lecture him on his incorrect notion of history, but I took the high road. "I'm going to tour the house."
"Do what you want, I'm gonna skip some rocks," Blake said as he headed down the path to the river.
"Good luck!" I shouted after him. I looked down toward the wide river. The only way he could skip a rock all the way across was if the river was frozen, and it wasn't. I saw no point in trying to stop him. Mindless, repetitive behavior was good for him and would keep him out of trouble.
I turned and walked across the gravel drive to the end of the line. The main house was a large two-and-a-half story home with a red roof. The house was bigger than the Riverview Hotel back in Irvine! Dormers on the roof allowed light in to the half story at the top. A large cupola with a tall weathervane was situated in the center of the roof, and two chimneys protruded from each end of the house. Covered colonnades, or walkways, arched out from the side doors of the home and connected it to other small buildings. The front had a main door with two doors on each wing. The back had a covered patio with tall columns that reached to the second story roof. I'd call it a porch with large columns; they called it a piazza. The grounds had several small buildings for doing this and that. They were all connected by gravel walkways and lined with shrubs. A circular gravel driveway ran around the front of the house.
I was taking it all in, and it wasn't long before I was inside. I have been taught to remove my cap when I enter a place, so I took off my New York Yankees' baseball cap and stuck it in my back pocket. This was a cool home. The furniture was old, and the ceilings were very tall—taller than a basketball goal! I thought about jumping up and slapping the top of the doorjamb to get a fix on exactly how tall the ceilings were, but Mom's final words to Blake and me echoed as if she was standing next to me—Don't break anything!
I was enjoying the tour and listening intently to the lady who was guiding us. I learned that the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association owned and ran Mount Vernon. As I said earlier, the original plantation was around 8,200 acres. The association now maintains 500 of those acres. They saved it from ruin in 1858 when they bought it from George Washington's great-nephew, John A. Washington, Jr. The mansion and grounds were restored by the association through public donations, without financial help from state or federal funds. It was designated as a National Historical Landmark in 1960. Shows you what a bunch of ladies can do when they put their minds to it.
We had completed the tour, and I was the last one to walk out the door. The door closed behind me as I reached for my cap ... it was gone!
Now, you might be thinking, what's the big deal about a dirty, old baseball cap? What you don't know is that I wore that cap when I played for the Yankees. I'm talking about the Yankees that were the Estill County Little League Champions—the same Yankees that beat the best-of-the-best in the Richmond Little League. It's the cap that went unwashed all summer although Mom tried to toss it in the wash tub unsuccessfully after fifteen consecutive wins. It's the cap that has a sweat-stained Mickey Mantle baseball card tucked away inside the front to support the neatly formed ridge in its top. The Mick is there to bring me luck, which he did. Need I say more?
Excerpted from Benjamin Nathan Tuggle ~ ADVENTURER ~ by Russell Lunsford. Copyright © 2014 Russell Lunsford. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
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