A Student of History

March 31, 2006

Following John Smith

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 1:35 pm

There is a lengthy article in the Washington Post of 3/31/2006 on John Smith and Jamestown, and going to the places he did. Next year is the 400th anniv. of the founding of Jamestown.  The state has created a trail for those interested in learning more:

Known more concisely as Captain John Smith's Trail and named after the indefatigable explorer and perhaps the most famous of the first Jamestown settlers — who would map many of the waterways of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries — the tour follows existing roads and the James itself to many sites, including public and privately-owned museums, state and local parks, wildlife areas, plantations and, of course, Jamestown itself. Via the online guide http://www.virginia.org/johnsmithtrail or with printed maps to be available later this spring (which will include Global Positioning System coordinates for boaters), you can learn of the historical significance and natural attractions of each of the sites on the tour's three loops, which span from Richmond to the Hampton Roads region.

For the article, go here.

March 14, 2006

History paved over in Ireland

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 9:36 pm

High Court Justice Mr Thomas Smyth last week dismissed a challenge by campaigner Vincent Salafia against the route of the M3 motorway through the area between the Hill of Tara and Skryne, in County Meath, Ireland.  According to the local paper, “Sources have suggested that if there is no appeal to last week’s decision, that work is likely to begin in March 2007, allowing for archaeological excavations to be completed by the end of this year and site preparation work to get underway in the autumn…Archaeological work as well as the acquisition of land on the M3 route has been ongoing throughout the High Court action, and will continue, with the archaeological digs due to finish on schedule in December.”  For the rest of the news story in the Meath Chronicle, click here
According to a website called mythicalireland.com, “The Hill of Tara, known as Temair in gaeilge, was once the ancient seat of power in Ireland – 142 kings are said to have reigned there in prehistoric and historic times…Saint Patrick is said to have come to Tara to confront the ancient religion of the pagans at its most powerful site.”  The problem is, as noted above, that there is a proposed road works project that comes quite close to it. “The Hill of Tara is under threat from the construction of a new motorway, which will dissect the tranquil Tara-Skryne valley and pose a threat to many monuments which will doubtlessly be uncovered during its construction. A new group, formed of Irish academics and notables, is opposing the plans and calling on the Irish Government to come up with alternatives, such as the redevelopment of the old Dublin-Navan railway line, to the motorway plan. The group claims Tara deserves the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.,” according to the same site.

County Meath is also home to Newgrange, Slane Castle and the Hill of Slane, Kells and Trim Castle.

March 13, 2006

1,000 years of military history is over….

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 8:15 pm

The British Army marched out of Dover for good last Friday.  The last unit to serve there was the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment.  This was last to have served in Dover – known for 10 centuries as the ‘lock and key to England’.  See more details here.

March 12, 2006

Announcement: Nathanael Greene Symposium

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 2:55 pm

Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site in SC presents “The Southern Campaigns of Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene: A Symposium & Battlefield Tours”, on April 21-23, 2006.  At this symposium, eight academics and historians will present papers pertaining to the life and military campaigns of “The Fighting Quaker.” Saturday afternoon, in commemoration of the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill (engagement between Greene and Lord Francis Rawdon), there will be a battle demonstration and a brief ceremony at the battle site, followed by an in-depth guided tour of the battlefield. A post-symposium guided field trip to some of Greene’s other sites and battlefields in South Carolina is offered on Sunday.

Fees include:  all lectures, Saturday guided tour of Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill, Friday Candlelight reception, Saturday/Sunday lunches, and Saturday dinner theatre. Registration Deadline:  April 12, 2006. For more info, get in touch with Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, P.O. Box 710, Camden, SC 29020. Telephone:  (803) 432-9841; Fax (803) 432-3815, e-mail: hiscamden@camden.net.  See also the symposium site here
Of special note will be the tour of the Eutaw Springs Battlefield.  Wrongly thought to be submerged under Lake Marion, the major battle fought on this preservation challenge was undoubtedly General Greene’s greatest victory. Sunday’s tour will encompass Greene’s Eutaw Springs campaign that pushed the British from the midlands of South Carolina to their tidewater enclave around Charleston. The field trips include opportunities to walk the actual battle sites and hear riveting presentations by on-site guides.

March 6, 2006

Plain talk

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 7:43 pm

In an article on the site “Inside Higher Ed,”, Rob Weir calls for a breath of clarity in the language of the academy.  He begins:

I can’t remember when I snapped. Was it the faculty seminar in which the instructor used the phrase “the objectivity, for it is not yet a subjectivity” to refer to a baby? Maybe it was the conference in which the presenter spoke of the need to “historicize” racism, rambled through 40 minutes of impenetrable jargon to set up “new taxonomies” to “code” newspapers and reached the less-than-startling conclusion that five papers from the 1820s “situated African-Americans within pejorative tropes.” Could it have been the time I evaluated a Fulbright applicant who filled an entire page with familiar words, yet I couldn’t comprehend a single thing she was trying to tell me? Perhaps it was when I edited a piece from a Marxist scholar who wouldn’t know a proletarian if one bit him in the keister. Or maybe it just evolved from day-to-day dealings with undergraduates hungry for basic knowledge, hold the purple prose.

He goes on to describe  a few pointers or rules to be followed, in what is an amusing but “right on” piece.  Weir is a former senior Fulbright scholar who teaches at Smith College and the University of Massachusetts.

March 5, 2006

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse, 1781

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 6:36 pm

Starting today I am posting some links and other info including background on the Battle fo Guilford Courthouse. The battle was fought March 15, 1781 in North Carolina, and the 225th Anniversary of this contest is being observed in many great ways coming up soon.  The official site for the battle is at the NPS’s webpage, http://www.nps.gov/guco/. However, a list of all activities for the weekend, including the battle reenactments, is at http://www.march1781.org/.  Note that the reenactment is NOT at the National Military Park! However, at the NPS Viz Center there is a lecture each evening for 3 or 4 nights leading up to Saturday by historians, including John Buchanan, author of The Road to Guilford Courthouse

For a rivetting account of a Virginia militiaman’s account of the battle, see Odell McGuire’s webpage here.  Its the story of a Rockbridge County (Va.) militia soldier’s story of going to the battle and his experiences therein. Here is a sample:

Standing in readiness, we heard the pickets fire; shortly the English fired a cannon, which was answered; and so on alternately till the small armed troops came nigh; and then close firing began near the centre, but rather towards the right, and soon spread along the line. Our brigade major, Mr. Williams, fled. Presently came two men to us and informed us the British fled. Soon the enemy appeared to us; we fired on their flank, and that brought down many of them; at which time Capt.Tedford was killed. We pursued them about forty poles, to the top of a hill, where they stood, and we retreated from them back to where we formed. Here we repulsed them again; and they a second time made us retreat back to our first ground…


From Brigadier General Charles O’Hara, Commanding the Brigade of Guards: “I never did, and hope I never shall, experience two such days and Nights, as these immediately after the Battle, we remained on the very ground on which it had been fought cover’d with Dead, with Dying and with Hundreds of Wounded, Rebels, as well as our own–A Violent and constant Rain that lasted above Forty Hours made it equally impracticable to remove or administer the smallest comfort to many of the Wounded.  In this situation we expected every moment to be attacked, there could be no doubt, that the Enemy must be very well informed of our loss, and whatever their loss might be, their numbers were still so great, as to make them very formidable; and they had only retired eighteen Miles from us, fortunately for us they did not, or even follow’d us, when we march’d but at a very respectable distance, or have ever fired a Single Shot since the affair of the 15th.”
[“Letters of Charles O’Hara to the Duke of Grafton,” George C. Rogers, Jr., ed.  
South Carolina Historical Magazine, v. 65, 1965, p. 177-178]

George Washington’s Rules of Civility

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 5:50 pm


The Fate of Martin’s Hundred

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 3:24 am

I guess this is military history in a way since Jamestown had a fort and the settlers there were in constant danger of attack from Spanish ships and Native people as well.  Not that this site needs to be just about military history-especially since I am not sure if I am a military historian. Anyway, I AM a Virginian, so this is whay I am discussing this.

The on-line version of the magazine Archaeology has an article entitled The Fate of Martin’s Hundred, by Sandra Scham (here). She says that the MH is “the preeminent site that, in effect, tells us the “What Went Wrong?” of Indian and colonist relationships. The same massacre that decimated the colony in 1622 reached other settlements as well–but of these only Martin’s Hundred has been systematically excavated in such a way as to reveal the story of this pivotal event through archaeology.” MH “witnessed one of the most significant projects in the development of Historical Archaeology in this country.”  But will it be lost?  Scham writes “The site has now been closed to the public by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation because, according to Noel Hume, they believe that keeping it open would be “economically unsound. They said that not enough tickets were sold,” he further explains, but this assessment apparently did not take into account the “all-inclusive” admissions to the site sold in the town of Williamsburg.”  She goes on to report that

Ron Hurst, Vice President of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation says that the organization’s mandate is to “protect and preserve the eighteenth century architecture” of the area and that “the remains from earlier periods” are not really of interest to the organization. This may be the real reason why the Foundation has indicated that there are no plans to reopen Carter’s Grove.

On a happier note, things are moving along very well in Virginia up by Mt. Vernon. According to a report (also the same magazine, here) There’s been exciting progress at the site of George Washington’s Distillery. The archaeological excavation ended in early spring 2005 and after six years of digging, two years of intense planning, and six months to get an approved building permit from the State of Virginia.  Another article on this project is here.  Cheers!

Where have all the battalions gone?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 2:20 am


March 4, 2006

About me…..

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 3:25 pm

On the right , I have added a link to some biog. info about myself, which comes from an Ohio State Univ. website in our department (which is why it is written in the 3rd person). I also added the full text of my C.V., which goes back to the 1980s.


Upcoming history conferences

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 3:08 pm

The department of History of Kansas State University and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, through the KSU Institute for Military History & 20th Century Studies, will host the 73rd annual meeting of the Society for Military History. The conference will take place 18-21 May 2006 in Manhattan, Kansas. For more inforamtion, go to http://www.k-state.edu/history/institute/smh%20conference.html.  The conference theme will be the Construction, Reconstruction, and Consumption of Military History.  I won’t be able to go this year, though I have gone for the last four years beginning in 2002 (Madison, Wisc.)

Also of interest: October 6–8, 2006 is the
“Warfare and Society in Colonial North America and the Caribbean” conference at theUniversity of Tennessee, Knoxville.  These are the same folks who put on the SMH meeting in 2003.  It is co-sponsored by Omohundro Institute
of Early American History & Culture which is at William and Mary, diretced by Dr. Ron Hoffman.  Hopefully I can attend this one.

Finally: There is the Great Lakes History Conference on October 20th and 21st 2006.  This is not a military history organization per se, but this year thier theme is “New Perspectives on War and Society.”  This will be at Grand Valley State University, will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The conference site is located at: http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=149096.  I am going to try to get a panel proposal together for this one…. The announcement says that the conference will be organized around themes that have dominated recent scholarship. Papers are encouraged to touch on, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Psychological trauma
  • Race, violence, and war
  • Genocide
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Social and political consequences of war
  • War and revolution
  • Economic consequences of war
  • Memory and memorialization
  • History of the ‘home front’
  • Health and medicine
  • Theories on violence (origins and consequences)
  • Brutalization and its effects on social and political systems
  • Militarization and its role in society
  • Propaganda, media, and perceptions of war
  • Terrorism and warfare in the 21st century
  • Children in war
  • Refugees
  • War in film and popular culture
  • Literature and war (including narratives, memoirs, and fiction)
  • Oral history

I plan to propose a paper on NC and the draft, 1776-1782.


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