Jerome Hilgemann of the Northern Star Council Boy Scouts of America is the Minnesota winner of the SAR’s Eagle Scout Scholarship and Awards Program. Jerome from Hutchinson, Minnesota, was honored at the annual George Washington Day Observance and Luncheon where he received the Spreading Wings Eagle Trophy as the Minnesota winner. His mother and father were also in attendance.
Jerome’s application, four generation ancestor chart and his patriotic essay were sent to National SAR headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky to compete with other state winners for a $10,000 scholarship. $6,000 and $4,000 runner-up scholarships will also be chosen. His winning essay discussed technology’s role in the American Revolution.
Technology Had a Key Role in the American Revolution
By Jerome Hilgemann – 2020 MNSAR Eagle Scout Contest Winner
Everyone seems to think technology is a product of the twenty-first century. Not true. Technology has been a cutting-edge factor throughout America’s history. It was especially true during the American Revolution.
One of the most important technological advances from the era was the long rifle. Manufactured by Pennsylvania immigrants who learned the trade in Germany, the weapons were eventually given the name Pennsylvania Rifles. On a negative note, the rifles took longer to reload, were tougher to maintain, and more expensive. But the advantages were undeniable. Increased accuracy and distance were a huge plus and many historians have labeled it as the first sniper rifle. The tightly-packed bullet was the key. Its design proved to be a valuable battlefield asset. A grooved barrel also helped the cause. Its design helped move the bullet through the air to deliver a powerful blow. They were a major weapon in many conflicts ranging from the Battle of Saratoga to the Battle of New Orleans. Pennsylvania Rifles were an important weapon because snipers could hit the British officers from a farther distance while keeping our soldiers at a safer distance from the British riflemen. Without the first sniper rifle, the war would have been much more difficult to win and would have cost considerably more American lives.
Another technological advance of the American Revolution came in the form of food preservation. Safe food handling helped change the tides of war drastically. During previous wars, food preservation was non-existent and soldiers had to rely on constant shipments of food and supplies. Tracking supply lines was also a simple and reliable way of tracking enemy troop movements. Due to food preservation advances, the British had a difficult time finding the supply lines. The British wrongly surmised the villagers were giving food to the Colonial troops. Instead, the Americans had found a way to preserve the food and were able to keep more food with them so the supplies could last over a year. Preserved food also meant the American soldiers were not required to start as many fires, which often signaled their location to the British. Most of the food could be eaten cold and provided all the required nutrients while also keeping the soldiers hidden. The techniques eventually led to further developments in preservation, the most notable coming in 1812 when the first canning factory opened. Food preservation also aided in many of the conflicts after the American Revolution. Without a doubt, food preservation advancements have helped America become the strong country it is today.
A fact many people overlook is the first submarine ever used was in the American Revolution. Although not a new idea, the American colonies were the first to make submarines a reality. Using the name American Turtle, the American submarine was commissioned to sink the British ships and devastate the strongest Navy in the world. Unfortunately, when American forces tried to sink the ships, they often failed because the bombs sunk before exploding and gave away key positioning. The submarine idea proved unsuccessful during the Revolutionary War but the Colonials were not deterred. They continued to work on the idea, made improvements and employed the strategy in later years. The improvements and advancements in technology have helped make America’s Navy the best in the world.
New technology was extremely useful in the American Revolution. While it is often overlooked, downplayed, or forgotten, technological advances of the Revolutionary War saved lives, played a role in key battles, and helped turn the tide in America’s favor.