The McDonald Interviews
During the mid-nineteenth century, writes Stuart D. Goulding, Judge James McDonald, a Westchester attorney with a keen interest in the past, collected from a large number of elderly survivors their personal recollections of the American Revolutionary War as it had affected ordinary men and women.
Captain Fowler was wounded at Horseneck and complained to his friends who raised him from the ground that his cravat choked him. They took it off and the ball fell out of his neck and he immediately fell dead.’
Terse, explicit, even harsh, but charged with feeling are these few sentences summing up the fate of a brave British officer killed in a skirmish. They are culled from The McDonald Interviews, a manuscript comprising some 1,100 pages of reminiscences about the American Revolution. They record what 241 elderly men and women remembered about that war. Long believed lost, these interviews recently came to light after more than 130 years of obscurity.
The McDonald Interviews are extraordinary in that they reveal an aspect of history not generally even considered; the viewpoint of commonalty. These in any time and country see war not as battles lost or won but in terms of human hardship, suffering and deprivation.