A Student of History

February 26, 2013

The Barbarous Years: The Shocking Savagery of America’s Early History

Filed under: Early America,New books — John Maass @ 6:50 am

The March 2013 edition of The Smithsonian Magazine has an article on “The Shocking Savagery of America’s Early History.”  The piece (on-line here) tells us that Bernard Bailyn is the “greatest historian of early America alive today.” How one measures that we are not told.  It goes on to report that he’s “now over 90 and ensconced at Harvard for more than six decades,” and “has recently published another one of his epoch-making grand narrative syntheses, The Barbarous Years, casting a light on the darkness, filling in the blank canvas with what he’s gleaned from what seems like every last scrap of crumbling diary page, every surviving chattel slave receipt and ship’s passenger manifest of the living and dead, every fearful sermon about the Antichrist that survived in the blackened embers of the burned-out churches.”  Yes that was a run-on sentence. 


In his new book Bailyn “has not painted a pretty picture. Little wonder he calls it The Barbarous Years and spares us no details of the terror, desperation, degradation and widespread torture—do you really know what being “flayed alive” means? (The skin is torn from the face and head and the prisoner is disemboweled while still alive.)”  Do we really need this breathless prose here?  No.

What has happened to reporting? Is it all about how smarmy/cute/egocentric the writer has to be these days, rather than tell readers what is going on?  But even more—-are any informed Americans really “shocked” at how savage early America was?  They should not be.



February 25, 2013

Road to Revolution State Heritage Trail Announces Major Expansion

Filed under: Early America,Historic Preservation,Wars — John Maass @ 6:45 am
February 15, 2013
Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry

The road to American independence was a long one, built on determination and sacrifice. The ideals of the American Revolution — embodied in the Declaration of Independence — continued to evolve even after the nation’s birth.

The foundations of religious liberty were laid early, beginning with the First Great Awakening in the 1720s and stretching to the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786, followed by adoption of the First Amendment five years later. Personal liberties and political equality, both cornerstones of the Revolution, did not spread to all citizens for years. Women and individuals of African descent, for example, did not begin fully benefiting from the promise of the Declaration of Independence until as late as the 20th century. The fight to uphold these ideals resurfaces still today.

The path to political independence — the struggle to separate the colonies from the British Empire — began long before the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. As John Adams later wrote: “The revolution was affected before the War for Independence commenced. The revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.” Adams believed the seeds of revolution were planted at least a decade before, as issues of security, taxation, representation, and political authority stirred American opposition. Independence — proclaimed on July 4, 1776, and completed in 1783 — came only after significant sacrifice in blood and suffering.

Thus, the road to the American Revolution — and the accompanying revolution inside the people — was protracted and arduous, extending into the modern era. Please travel this road, and encounter its many signs and footmarks, around Virginia.

For more information about the Road to Revolution State Heritage Trail, visit http://www.roadtorevolution.com/. Its social media addresses are www.facebook.com/roadtorevolutionva and www.twitter.com/rdtorevolution.

February 22, 2013

237th Anniversary of Battle of Moores Creek Bridge (1776)

Filed under: Early America,NC History,Wars — John Maass @ 7:43 am

North Carolina’s first major Revolutionary War battle, fought in 1776, will be celebrating its 237 anniversary this weekend.

Moores Cr

According to the Southport Times:

Living historians will be on the battlefield during the celebration demonstrating the day-to-day life of a colonist along with musket and cannon firing demonstrations throughout the celebration. Family events, including children’s games, candlestick making, and a chance to dress up as a colonist will be available. Learn the significance of The Battle of Moores Creek and the important role North Carolinians played in the fight for freedom. This event is free to the public and promises to be fun for the whole family. BBQ and hot dogs will be provided by the Atkinson Fire Department.

Moores Creek National Battlefield will also be hosting lectures in Patriots Hall starting at 1:00 p.m. with Larry S. Earley, author of, “Looking for Longleaf: The Fall and Rise of an American Forest,” speaking about longleaf pines and the naval stores industry in colonial North Carolina. Special Superior Court Judge and Pender County native Gary E. Trawick, author of, “Born in Reconstruction: The Story of Pender County, 1524-2012,” will entertain the crowd with stories about the area’s impact on colonial North Carolina. These lectures are sure to showcase the rich history this area has to offer.

Moores Creek National Battlefield is located at 40 Patriots Hall Drive Currie, NC 28435. For a schedule of events please visit our website at http://www.nps.gov/mocr/event-schedule-2009-2010.htm.

February 21, 2013

Save Part of the Glendale Battlefield (1862)

Filed under: Historic Preservation,Wars — John Maass @ 12:11 pm

The Civil War Trust now has the opportunity to preserve 69 acres at three key Richmond battlefields, Glendale, Malvern Hill, and First Deep Bottom. These tracts—each of which saw significant action during the fighting for the Confederate capital—will be added to the more than 2,300 acres of hallowed ground CWT has saved in the Richmond area, building on previous successes.

Click HERE for more information about the land, and how to help.




2013: Year of the Historic Home Website

Filed under: Historic Places,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 8:20 am
The Stonewall Jackson House, Lexington, Va.

The Stonewall Jackson House, Lexington, Va.

RICHMOND-Governor McDonnell and Mrs. McDonnell are pleased to announce the launch of the Year of the Historic Home website. In September, Governor and Mrs. McDonnell signed a proclamation recognizing 2013 as the Year of the Historic Home and the new website, http://www.historicalhomes.virginia.gov/, features information on the participating houses around Virginia and tools for citizens to interact with Virginia’s rich cultural history.

The Governor and First Lady are pleased to initiate this new effort to recognize the importance of the many historic homes around the Commonwealth as they commemorate the bicentennial of the Executive Mansion. Virginia has more than 100 historic homes that span from pre-Colonial times through the Modern era, all of which provide an abundance of cultural, historical, and architectural information and promote an understanding of, as well as an interest in, Virginia’s story. Most of these homes are open to the public as museums and historic sites, and have drawn visitors from around the country and even from around the world. Included on the new website is a video PSA graciously donated by PixelDust studios in Washington DC, featuring First Lady Maureen McDonnell and the voice of Salvatore Vecchio, a voice actor of many National Geographic series.

In addition to the interactive features on the new website, the Virginia Time Travelers Program has also been revived for this initiative and students and families are encouraged to participate. In order to achieve the status of Master Traveler, students must download a passport from the website, visit eight participating homes in Virginia, and mail the completed passport to the Executive Mansion. All Master Travelers will be recognized on the website, receive a certificate signed by the Governor, and be entered to win additional prizes.

Both the website and the Time Travelers Program are part of the initiative supported by the Secretary of Natural Resources, the Department of Historic Resources, the Virginia Association of Museums, and the historic homes in Virginia. By highlighting the educational value of these homes and promoting tourism to the sites, the Governor and the First Lady intend to ensure their vitality and enhance their value as Virginia cultural assets.


February 20, 2013

Dept. of the Army Historical Summary–FY 2007

Filed under: Wars — John Maass @ 6:15 am

My newest publication is on the Army shelves now and also on line. It is the DAHSUM, for FY 2007.


While not a rivetting narrative due to its structure and format there is still some good info in it, as FY 2007 had some important events in it–much to my surprise when writing it!

There was a new Sec. of the Army, Pete Geren, and a new Army Chief of Staff, Gen. William Casey, Jr. The former secretary got fired over the Walter Reid Hospital scandal. “Army Strong” replaced “Army of One” as the recruiting logo. The list goes on.

The on-line version is at the website of my employer, the US Army Center of Military History.

February 19, 2013

Preserving Fort Ann’s 1777 Battlefield in NY

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places,Historic Preservation,Wars — John Maass @ 4:06 pm

A Connecticut man who wants to use his property on Battle Hill as a mine said he will wait for a potential survey of the area for evidence of exactly where the Revolutionary War battle took place. But Gino Vona remained upset at being denied the opportunity to allow a Troy company to mine his land and suggested there was prejudice against him, because he is from out of town. 

The three-hour battle took place July 7, 1777.

Read more here


Personalities and Pivotal moments in the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812

Filed under: Wars — John Maass @ 7:06 am

Call for papers: ‘Game changers – Personalities and Pivotal moments in the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812’

International Conference, Rostrevor, County Down, Northern Ireland.
Weekend conference around the end of September 2013 (date to be finalised)
Call for Papers
Seeking to bridge these two interlinked wars by examining some of the key characters and moments in each.
Whether on the plains of Maida in 1806, when his famous 20th Regiment played a key role in defeating Napoleon’s ‘Invincibles’, or in his amphibious assault on Washington which promised for a time to be of game changing importance (only for his death at Baltimore to be a pivotal moment in the War of 1812) Robert Ross proved to be a key military figure.
Rostrevor, or Rosstrevor, as it was called in the days of Major General Robert Ross, was once owned by his family and is the location of two monuments erected to his memory, a 100ft imposing obelisk on the shores of Carlingford Lough, almost on the exact spot where he intended to build his retirement home had he made it back from the USA. The other was erected in Kilbroney Parish Church in the village, by the officers and men of the 20th Regiment which he had commanded with such distinction in the Napoleonic Wars. Mrs Ross later called her home in Rosstrevor ‘Bladensburg’ in memory of her husband, while her near neighbour, across the road was a sister of none other than Ned Pakenham who was killed at the Battle of New Orleans.
The conference not only represents an opportunity for scholars to come together to discuss the key personalities and pivotal moments of these two wars, (many on the British side fought in both), but to do so in a location rich with historical heritage and natural beauty. The stunning beauty of Rostrevor inspired William Makepeace Thackeray to claim that it would be a ‘world wonder if it lay upon England’s shore’ while C.S.Lewis acknowledged it as the inspiration for Narnia.
Organisers of the conference have lined up Peter Snow (a highly distinguished BBC journalist and author of To War with Wellington) and Steve Vogel (Washington Post) as key speakers at the conference. Their books on the British raid on Washington and Baltimore in 1814 are due to be published this year.

For more details, contact John McCavitt

Visit Soldiers and Soldiering in Britain 1750-1815 at: http://redcoats.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

February 13, 2013


Filed under: Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 4:34 pm


Fundraising Complete on Five Parcels of Battle of Franklin’s Ground Zero

(Franklin, Tenn.) – The Civil War Trust and Franklin’s Charge have made history once again—seven acres of battlefield have been purchased from underneath of development, and fundraising is complete.

The Trust closed at the end of December on the Dominos strip center, the centerpiece of a three-year campaign that included multiple parcels and fundraising totaling more than $3.2 million. Today, $67,000 in pledges to Franklin’s Charge is all that remains for the property to be owned by the battlefield preservation organization, free and clear.

“Ten years ago, we named this one of the most endangered battlefields in America, and demanded that Franklin stop paving over its history,” said Jim Lighthizer, President of the Civil War Trust. “Now we offer Franklin up as a national example of what can be done when a community is willing to make protection and appreciation of its history a priority. Franklin’s Charge came together around the need, and what’s been accomplished is truly unprecedented.”

Three houses will be relocated from the property, and tenants will remain in the strip center until they can be moved to new locations. By early 2014, the lot should be cleared, and a team of historians along with Franklin’s Charge, President, Paul Gaddis—Dr. Carroll Van West, Thomas Flagel, and Eric Jacobson—will begin archaeological surveying and research.

By the Sesquicentennial of the Battle of Franklin in November of 2014, the Carter Cotton Gin Park will be open to the public.

The Domino’s strip center property is being purchased through a federally funded Enhancement Grant administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, along with funds from the Trust’s fundraising and local efforts by Franklin’s Charge.

“The City of Franklin is nationally recognized for its work to preserve and restore sections of the Battle of Franklin battlefield, and this property will help provide new details of the battle,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “I’m pleased TDOT is able to assist with securing this historic site.”

Franklin’s Charge’s Julian Bibb received the Shelby Foote Preservation Legacy Award from the Civil War Trust in 2011, Franklin’s Charge received the same award in 2006, and is considered to be one of the most successful battlefield preservation collaboratives in the nation. Its membership consists of representatives of the African-American Heritage Society, the Battle of Franklin Trust, the Carter House Association, the Civil War Trust, the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, the Harpeth River Watershed Association, the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, Historic Carnton, Inc., the Land Trust for Tennessee, Inc., Save the Franklin Battlefield Association, the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association, the Tennessee National Civil War Heritage Area, the Tennessee Preservation Trust, and the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For more information, visit http://www.franklinscharge.com or http://www.civilwar.org.

February 8, 2013

The War that Made Canada

Filed under: The past that is still with us,Wars — John Maass @ 10:51 am

This is an interesting column in Canada’s “National Post,” on “The war that made Canada.”

“Will the Canadian government celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war that really made Canada?

Except for a brief, small exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, it’s not likely.”


The Death of General Wolfe

The Death of General Wolfe



Women and the British General Hospital in North America 1754-1763

Filed under: Early America,Wars — John Maass @ 10:34 am


The current issue of Early American Studies, Fall 2012 Vol. 10.3, has an article titled:


“Tending the Army: Women and the British General Hospital in North America 1754-1763,” by Sarah Fatherly


This essay argues that the British Army’s North American general hospital and an increasingly large and diverse group of army women became not only connected but dependent on one another during the Seven Years’ War. This relationship derived from the Army’s reorganization of its medical services in a way that intentionally predicated the hospital’s operation and success on army women working for it, particularly as nurses. Both the medical staff and women attached to regular and provincial regiments realized benefits from this linkage; the hospital was able to cope with an increasingly large numbers of patients and women found that serving as nurses provided them with reliable access to regimental provisioning and security. Yet hospital personnel also increasingly had to regulate army women on behalf of the regiments, while women working for the hospital faced heightened dangers of illness, military attack, enemy capture, and death.


To obtain a copy of the issue, go to: http://eas.pennpress.org/strands/eas/abstracts.htm;jsessionid=A6C86CB4F4F519218F87FFBA3C063569

February 6, 2013

2nd Annual Conference on the American Revolution – March 22-24, 2013

Filed under: Early America,Wars — John Maass @ 12:37 pm


Friday, March 22, 7pm-Sunday, March 24, Noon
Williamsburg Hospitality House
Williamsburg, Virginia

Edward G. Lengel, Head of Faculty: “Revolutionary Rivals: Horatio Gates and George Washington”

Douglas Cubbison: “Man on a Mission: John Burgoyne and the Campaign of 1777”

Joshua Howard: “The Swamp Fox: Francis Marion, Revolutionary War Hero of South Carolina”

James Kirby Martin: “Benedict Arnold: Revolutionary America’s Heroic General”

Andrew O’Shaughnessy: “Fighting with Friends and Enemies Simultaneously: Sir Henry Clinton”

Jim Piecuch: “Frustrated Ambitions: “Light Horse Harry Lee’s Conflicts On and Off the Battlefield”

John V. Quarstein: “Closing the Door on Cornwallis: The Battle of the Capes September 1781”

Glenn F. Williams: “Lord Dunmore’s War: Training Ground for Continental Officers”

Two Panel Discussions:

  1. “The Best and Worst Military Commanders of the Revolutionary War”
  2. “A Revolutionary War Bookshelf: What You Should Own and What Books will be Published Soon”

Optional Friday Bus Tour to Petersburg, Green Spring and Spencer’s Ordinary (includes lunch) led by William Welsch.

For more info click here.

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