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The Background section says the liberty pole anecdote was a much later invention. James L. Nelson's book has 11 pages about this battle, and does not mention a liberty pole. Unless someone comes up with a verifiable reference. I will delete the mention of the liberty pole in the narrative section. --DThomsen8 (talk) 19:43, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
While User:vincent pearse has helpfully debunked the story, he deleted my citation (of at least one modern occurrence of it, see this version) in the process, and left the background in a bit of a shambles. I think the story deserves to be mentioned, but it should be moved out of the Background and probably into a section of its own at the end. Magic♪piano 20:14, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
After reading my source several times, I decided to add it to the References section and cite it in the same way as the other references. There are several differences between Nelson's account, which is very well sourced, and this article as it stands. Most importantly, the guns of the Halifax were believed by Admiral Graves to have been salvaged by the Machias residents, so the Margaretta arrived with the two merchant vessels, Polly and Unity. Also, Ichabod Jones engaged in very heavy-handed tactics with the residents, and that was what led to the attempt to capture the British midshipmen and Ichabod Jones, and the subsequent events.
As for the Liberty pole story, I think you are right about making it a separate section at the end. There is some editing effort required to get the sources correct, but I will handle that in steps, not all at one go. My difficulty is that I have only the one source, so I am unsure how to handle other problems with the article, such as those I have mentioned. --DThomsen8 (talk) 00:36, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
Feel free to make changes; while I wrote most of what is currently here, I don't claim to own it. At a minimum you should try to get access to Leamon and Miller in addition to Nelson, and Duncan wouldn't hurt. Drisko I would discount -- there is much in his work that it is faulty, but I think he provides a useful local perspective at times. There is enough discrepancy in some of the accounts that I recall having trouble reconciling them. Have fun! Magic♪piano 01:38, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
I think I will leave this article alone for a while, just watch it, and see what others do. --DThomsen8 (talk) 10:58, 30 July 2009 (UTC)--DThomsen8 (talk) 10:58, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
Under "Background" - "Graves wanted to recover the guns from the wreck of HMS Halifax, which had apparently been intentionally run aground in Machias Bay by a local pilot in February 1775, and were reported to be of interest to the Patriots of Machias." - This sentence is difficult to read because the "which" refers to the HMS Halifax, but the "were" refers to the guns, which comes before the ship... would it be possible to reorganize this sentence to clarify/make it easier to read?
The article should mention in the "Background" section where Machias is located - it is in the lead, but the lead should not introduce information that is not present in the body of the article.
Under "Arrival at Machias", second paragraph, the last three sentences use the word "church" three times, which is a bit distracting - could one of them be replaced with something similar, like perhaps replacing the second "church" with "building"?
The section title for "Margaretta escapes" is a bit confusing to me - for one thing, when you get to that section, what that ship has been up to hasn't been discussed yet, but the title makes it seem like the reader should know what it is escaping from. Secondly, I feel that it's a bit misleading to the content of the section - it might be more appropriate to call it something along the lines of "Precursor to battle" or something that highlights the important points of the section: the militiamen organize, one ship is captured, another is almost captured, and the third repositions itself. The Margaretta escaping is only one part of all that.
Under "Conflict", first paragraph - "Duncan and some other historians indicate that both the Unity and the Falmouth Packet engaged the Margaretta, but other sources, notably Drisko, indicate that the Falmouth Packet either ran aground or never caught up to the Margaretta, and that the men aboard the Unity alone battled the Margaretta directly." - Without introducing who Duncan and Drisko are, this information's importance is left wanting - Who are these people and why should I care what they think about the incident? From this, I can't tell if they were amateur historians writing books, tenured university faculty, or something else, which makes a difference towards the validity/salience of their opinion. I would suggest splitting this sentence into to, so that you can give a little introduction such as: Roger F. Duncan, an award-winning historian/professor at Harvard University/whatever he is, and some other historians... - but just "Duncan" doesn't give enough information.
Same section, second paragraph - "and the combined crews overwhelmed the Margaretta's crew." - Again, at least one of these "crew" could be replaced or modified so as to avoid repitition.
The second paragraph under "Surrender" is too short to be its own paragraph and it disrupts the flow - it should either be expanded or combined with the previous one.
Under "Aftermath", first paragraph - "(sources disagree on which vessel; all three are named in different sources, although Unity is named most frequently)" requires a citation or citations to demonstrate this claim. Otherwise the reader cannot separate "most frequently" quantitatively and it looks like someone's opinion.
Same section, second and third paragraphs - "the troop ships were fought off and no troops were landed" and "different crews of Machias men refitted and armed different ships" - A problem here again with the same word being used twice in such close succession, it becomes repetitive and distracting to the reader.
I'm not certain that the "Militia forces involved" section is really necessary; I don't see its encyclopedic value as it's just a list of (mostly) non-notable names.
And to add to that, I don't see the relevance of the "Liberty pole story" section to the topic of the article either (and by association, the picture of the tavern). Could you expand its relevance to the focus of the article? If not, it should probably be removed. Also, if it does stay, it needs to be mentioned in the lead, as the lead should cover all major sections of an article.
Speaking of the lead, this is just my opinion and there might not be anything that you can do about this anyways, but I find the flow of the lead to be a bit weak - it goes from tiny paragraph to big paragraph back to tiny paragraph again - but that may just be me, so there's nothing that needs to be done here... just something to think about.
To allow for these changes to be made I am placing the article on hold for a period of up to a week. I'm always open to discussion on any of the items, so if you think I'm wrong on something leave your thoughts here and we'll discuss. I'll be checking this page at least daily, unless something comes up, so you can be sure I'll notice any comments left here. CanadianPaul 01:43, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your detailed feedback. I've made some changes with respect to the above; others will require a trip to (alas, more than one) library to check some sources, so I probably won't finish up until later this week. I'll note that the liberty pole story (which sometimes includes mention of the tavern, apparently a significant local landmark) appears quite frequently in reference to this event, hence the need to mention its debunking. (I will provide some citations for this; you can search Google Books for Machias+1775+"liberty pole" to get a flavor for its frequency, although some of these are about erecting a pole after the event.) Magic♪piano 13:44, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm not really sure which changes require a trip to the library for the sources; they're mostly just prose fixes I would think. As for the liberty pole section, if it appears in reference to the event you should note that; my problem with the section is that I don't see any connection between the story and the focus of the article. CanadianPaul 15:52, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
The trip to the library is in reference to the question of which sources said what about the ship that was armed after the action. Given that I've turned up additional sources since I wrote that sentence, it's worth revisiting the claim. Magic♪piano 00:59, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
I think I've addressed your issues; let me know if there's anything else. Magic♪piano 13:38, 15 April 2010 (UTC)
Ah, lovely. The lead still makes no mention of the Liberty pole section, but otherwise I think believe that it now meets the GA criteria. I'll assume that you'll make this small fix and will therefore be promoting this article to Good Article status. Congratulations and thank you for your hard work. CanadianPaul 02:40, 16 April 2010 (UTC)