A Student of History

May 30, 2012

Seven Days Battles 150th in Richmond

Filed under: Historic Places,The strange place called the South,Wars — John Maass @ 10:39 am

The Richmond National Battlefield Park is commemorating the Seven Days Battles (June 26-July 1, 1862). Free ranger-led anniversary tours and talks commemorate the Battles of Beaver Dam Creek (June 26), Gaines’ Mill (June 27), Glendale (June 30) and Malvern Hill (July 1). Living history weekends with more talks and tours are set June 23-24 at the Gaines’ Mill battlefield and June 30-July 1 at the Glendale and Malvern Hill battlefields. Lectures and bus tours are scheduled during the anniversary commemorations. See nps.gov/rich for the complete list.

Gen. R. E. Lee

Gen. R. E. Lee

May 29, 2012

Richard the Lionheart

Filed under: The past that is still with us,Wars — John Maass @ 7:37 am

Here’s a Telegraph story about a French scientist trying to figure out what killed Richard the Lionheart in 1199. 

A renowned French forensic scientist has launched an investigation into the death of Richard the Lionheart, examining a tiny sample of the 12th century monarch’s heart to try to understand what germ killed him.

Richard died April 6, 1199, from a wound received in a skirmish at the castle of Chalus in the Limousin. While directing an assault, he was wounded in the shoulder by a crossbow bolt, and, the wound mortifying from unskilful treatment or his own want of care, he died. He was buried at his father’s feet in the church of Fontevrault.


May 21, 2012

Was Columbus a Jew?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 4:04 pm

According to a CNN column, “recently, a number of Spanish scholars, such as Jose Erugo, Celso Garcia de la Riega, Otero Sanchez and Nicholas Dias Perez, have concluded that Columbus was a Marrano, whose survival depended upon the suppression of all evidence of his Jewish background in face of the brutal, systematic ethnic cleansing.”

A Marrano was a Jew who “feigned conversion, practicing Catholicism outwardly while covertly practicing Judaism.” 

The London Telegraph newspaper also reported on this theory–in 2009. 

May 17, 2012

Historic Huntley Finally Restored

Filed under: Historic Places,Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 10:07 am

This site is well known to southeastern Fairfax Co. residents, just off Rt. 1 in the Hybla Valley area, south of the Beltway and not far from Mt. Vernon.  It is the plantation that Huntley Meadows Park is named for.  With NPS help of $100,000, it is set to open to the public on May 19. Looks like the stairs need a little work though, but they are close!

The villa was built in 1825 for Thomson Francis Mason, a grandson of George Mason IV, “father” of the Bill of Rights, whose home was Gunston Hall (also in Fairfax). According to a press report “restoration of the exterior included demolishing non-period additions to the structure and reconstruction of the exterior to appear as it did in the early 19th century. The site was acquired by the Fairfax County Park Authority in 1989 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Virginia Landmarks Register and the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites.”



May 16, 2012

Revolutionary War Highway Marker In Albemarle Co. Dedicated May 5

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places,Wars — John Maass @ 6:58 am

A new Virginia highway marker has been erected in the Charlottesville, Va. area. According to a news report, “A new highway marker is highlighting the role the Charlottesville and Albemarle County community played in the Revolutionary War. Virginia Department of Historic Resources dedicated the marker on Saturday at the entrance to the Barracks Equestrian Center in Charlottesville.”  The marker is about the British and Hessian prisoners brought to Albemarle County after their surrender at the battles of Saratoga, NY, in October 1777. The road along which the marker is located is still known as Barracks Road, although it is doubtful most locals know why.

The full text of the marker can be found here: http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/pdf_files/Sept2011markersFINAL.pdf.

Below is an image of the barracks as they appeared during the Revolutionary War:

May 15, 2012


Filed under: Early America,Historic Preservation,Wars — John Maass @ 2:11 pm

News release:


The Appomattox 1865 Foundation announced today its establishment as a non-profit corporation created to help support Appomattox Court House National Historical Park located in Appomattox County, Virginia. The goal of the organization is to raise funds and recruit “friends” to support the on-going needs of one of the country’s most recognized and beloved historical sites. “We are so pleased with the commitment the newly formed Appomattox 1865 Foundation has made to the park,” said Reed Johnson, Superintendent of the park. “The National Park Service has a long history of partnering with organizations such as this and we look forward to working with them,” he continued, “and the timing couldn’t be better as we prepare for the 150th anniversary commemorating the end of the Civil War coming up in 2015.” Charter members of the group and board members came together after seeing a need and noting a desire from among the many fans of Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. “We are excited by the response from new members, prospective members, and supporters who have approached us since we first began work on the formation of the foundation,” said Beckie Nix, President of the Foundation. “This park is a national treasure and is also well known outside of the United States; we expect many “friends” locally, nationally and internationally. It is an exciting undertaking and the board is committed to executing noteworthy programs and projects that will significantly enhance the visitors’ experiences at the park,” she continued.

The mission of the Appomattox 1865 Foundation is to enrich the understanding and appreciation of the heritage and significance of Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. The foundation focuses on education efforts to preserve the past, augment support, commemorate history and enhance the visitor’s experience at the park. The group is actively seeking members with many levels of membership available. If you would like to become a “friend” or to learn more about our organization, please stop by our display or contact us at eileen@maxpromarketing.com.

New Market-1864

Filed under: Historic Places,The strange place called the South,Wars — John Maass @ 8:13 am

By the way, today is the 148th anniversary of the Battle of New Market in 1864, fought in the Shenandoah Valley.

Charge of the VMI Cadets at New Market

Charge of the VMI Cadets at New Market

Civil War Preservation in Va.–News

Filed under: Historic Preservation,Wars — John Maass @ 8:11 am

Last week, reports the Civil War Trust, Gov. Bob McDonnell joined them at the National Sporting Library and Museum to launch a national campaign to protect historic Mount Defiance on the Middleburg Battlefield, in No. Virginia.  “The cornerstone of the campaign is a public-private partnership between the Civil War Trust, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Northern Regional Park Authority.” 

For more on the battle of Middleburg, click HERE. A photo of part of the battlefield is below.


May 4, 2012

New clue to what happened to the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke?

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places — John Maass @ 12:41 pm

Here’s an article on Yahoo News about a new clue to the Roanoke Islanders of the so-called “Lost Colony,” in the 1580s. An old map has been re-examined to show a possible location to which the colonists removed.  Under a patch on the original map there appears to be the spot of a fort not previously known of, as seen here:

Fort under patch

Fort under patch

 Here is a picture of the map with the patch, from the website of the First Colony Foundation, which has an excellent detailed piece on its website:

John White Map

Some of the news story:

A new look at a 425-year-old map has yielded a tantalizing clue about the fate of the Lost Colony, the settlers who disappeared from North Carolina’s Roanoke Island in the late 16th century. Experts from the First Colony Foundation and the British Museum in London discussed their findings Thursday at a scholarly meeting on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Their focus: the “Virginea Pars” map of Virginia and North Carolina created by explorer John White in the 1580s and owned by the British Museum since 1866.

“We believe that this evidence provides conclusive proof that they moved westward up the Albemarle Sound to the confluence of the Chowan and Roanoke rivers,” said James Horn, vice president of research and historical interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and author of a 2010 book about the Lost Colony.

There’s also a video clip on the Yahoo News site as well.  Here’s some of the official announcement (from the LCF site):

Portions of a unique late 16th-century map in the British Museum (which documents voyages to North America for Sir Walter Raleigh), have recently been examined to reveal hitherto unseen lines and symbols that have been hidden for centuries. Using a variety of non-contact scientific methods carefully chosen to be safe to use with early paper, researchers at the British Museum in London are peering at and through two small ‘patches’ of paper applied to an Elizabethan map of parts of modern eastern North Carolina and tidewater Virginia. The first patch (number 1 at the southern end of the map) appears to have been applied primarily to allow the artist to alter the coastline. The second patch (number 2 at the northern end of the map) offers even more exciting finds. It appears to cover a large ‘fort’ symbol in bright red and bright blue and, and has a very faint (just barely visible to the naked eye) but much smaller version of a similar shape on top. There is also a red circle under the patch that may represent an Indian town. The map is part of a large set of watercolours that gave England and Europe its first accurate views of the new world of North America. Drawn by John White, these watercolours from the British Museum collection were the centrepiece of the New World exhibition held at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh in 2007.


May 1, 2012

New 1812 Exhibit at James Madison’s “Montpelier”

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places,Wars — John Maass @ 9:57 am


A special exhibit at James Madison’s home, Montpelier, will tell the story of James Madison’s Presidency and wartime struggle. On June 18, 1812, President James Madison formally requested from Congress a Declaration of War against the United Kingdom of Great Britain. In declaring war, Congress and the President exercised powers granted to them in the United States Constitution. For our young country, only three decades removed from the first war for independence, the War of 1812 tested the ideas put forth in the Constitution, and called upon Madison to abide by the limitations on power he worked so hard to institute.

The exhibit opens June 18, 2012.  Montpelier estate was formed in 1723 when Ambrose Madison, President James Madison’s grandfather, and his brother-in-law, Thomas Chew, were deeded 4,675 acres in the newly opened Piedmont of Virginia. To receive final title, he had three years to clear the land and build a house.

For more than 120 years – from 1723 until 1844 when Dolley Madison sold the property – the Madisons owned Montpelier. Montpelier was the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution, architect of the Bill of Rights, and fourth president of the United States. It was here that he read, researched, and thought more deeply about our republican form of government than any other Founding Father.

Today’s Montpelier includes the Madison home; the 2,650-acre gardens and grounds; the Gilmore Cabin: A Freedman’s Farm; the Civil War Trail; the Visitor Center and William duPont Gallery; Museum Shop; Landmark and Demonstration Forests; Madison Family Cemetery; Slave Cemetery; active archaeological digs and lab (including kids’ hands-on archaeology); 1910 Train Depot and segregation exhibit; and the Annie duPont Formal Garden.





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