A Student of History

May 10, 2013

1755 Braddock Campaign Tour in September

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places,Wars — John Maass @ 12:47 pm

See information here about an interesting tour of Braddock’s Campaign during the French and Indian War. The description is:

The astute observer of 18th century events and British Whig politician, Horace Walpole observed, “The volley fired by a young Virginian in the backwoods of America set the world on fire.” Walpole’s words ring true. The Virginian he was referring to was, of course, a 22-year old militia major named George Washington. Washington’s actions in western Pennsylvania are credited with starting the French and Indian War in America. Besides George Washington, Braddock’s Campaign of 1755 will introduce many personalities who became famous during the American Revolution: Daniel Morgan, Daniel Boone, Thomas Gage, Charles Lee, Adam Stephen and Horatio Gates.

 Cost is $495. The guide is Doug Cubbison, “a native of western Pennsylvania, is the author of four books on 18th century military history, including The British Defeat of the French in Pennsylvania in 1758, A Military History of the Forbes Campaign against Fort Duquesne. This will be his third tour for America’s History. Doug is a former U.S. Army field artillery officer, was a historian with the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York and the U.S. Army Combat Studies Institute, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is a popular speaker at Fort Ticonderoga’s War College and an experienced leader of staff rides.”


The Virginia Regiment, 1754-62

The Virginia Regiment, 1754-62


April 30, 2013

Save Land at Chancellorsville

Filed under: Historic Places,Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 6:18 am

The Civil War Trust is asking for help saving even more land at Chancellorsville Battlefield in Va.  Click here for more information on how you can help.

The Civil War Trust is America’s largest non-profit organization (501-C3) devoted to the preservation of our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields.

For more on the history of the battle, go here to see the U.S. Army’s new publication.


April 13, 2013

Washington’s Books Return to Mount Vernon

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places — John Maass @ 7:13 am

George Washington’s Books Return to Mount Vernon from Scotland


Scotland’s First Minister Loans Book to New Library

MOUNT VERNON, VA – Today the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, hand-delivered books originally from George Washington’s library to Mount Vernon. The National Library of Scotland is helping to complete a recreation of George Washington’s original book collection in the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, set to open September 2013. The books will be on loan to Mount Vernon from the National Library of Scotland.
“As a man who was driven to improve on his poor education as a child, Washington’s love of reading was voracious and topics covered everything from animal husbandry to Greek history,” said Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland. “Prominent however was his interest in all things Scottish and he held many volumes which reflected this, including works by Burns.”
“It is therefore only fitting that we should help realise the dream to house all of his papers on his magnificent estate at Mount Vernon. I am honoured to be able to present these two volumes from the National Library of Scotland on loan to the library to help realise this wish.”

As part of Salmond’s visit to Mount Vernon, the First Minister toured Washington’s estate with Stewart D. McLaurin, Vice President for The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. During a moving tribute performed by a bagpiper, the First Minister laid a wreath at the tomb of Washington. Following the wreathlaying, Salmond presented the books from the National Library of Scotland to Mount Vernon’s president, Curt Viebranz during a private ceremony. 
 “George Washington had a multitude of long-lasting Scottish influences throughout his life,” said Curt Viebranz.  “It is an honor and privilege for his Estate to again work with the Scottish people, through the generosity of the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Government, to help recreate Washington’s library.”
 The books presented to Mount Vernon are two volumes entitled the “Official Letters to the Honorable American Congress, Written, During the War between the United Colonies and Great Britain, by His Excellency, George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Forces (London: 1795).”  In 1795, John Carey, editor of ‘Official letters’, sent these volumes to President Washington with manuscript remarks.

This unique copy of ‘Official letters’ was donated to Scotland’s national collection in 1938 by the family of Hugh Sharp, a bibliophile and wealthy jute manufacturer.

February 21, 2013

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 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


December 5, 2012

What ever happened to the Summerians?

Filed under: Historic Places — John Maass @ 7:06 am

This Yahoo News story tells us:

“A 200-year-long drought 4,200 years ago may have killed off the ancient Sumerian language, one geologist says.

Because no written accounts explicitly mention drought as the reason for the Sumerian demise, the conclusions rely on indirect clues. But several pieces of archaeological and geological evidence tie the gradual decline of the Sumerian civilization to a drought.”

There’s more here.


November 16, 2012

War College of the Seven Years’ War

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places,Wars — John Maass @ 1:26 pm
Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Ticonderoga

May 17, 2013 to May 19, 2013

Fort Ticonderoga hosts the Eighteenth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War May 17-19, 2013, in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. Since 1996, the War College has become a top venue for historians on subjects relating to the French & Indian War, drawing speakers and participants from across North America. An enthusiastic audience of nearly 200 people represents all levels of interest, from general lovers of history to scholars. The War College offers a unique, informal setting that promotes interaction between speakers and attendees. Our speakers include both established and new scholars studying the French & Indian War in North America. Pre-registration is required.

Learn more about the Eighteenth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War.

Upcoming Lectures on War of 1812 at Univ. of MD

Filed under: Canada,Early America,Historic Places,Wars — John Maass @ 10:25 am

Prof. Don E. Gravesis an authority on the War of 1812 from the Canadian perspective. He has taught military history and served as a staff historian for the Canadian Directorate of History and Heritage. He has also published extensively on the major battles of the War of 1812, including Crylser’s Farm, Lundy’s Lane and Chippawa. His book on the Battle of Plattsburgh is forthcoming. Graves will offer a spirited explanation of why and how the Canadians won the War of 1812.

“Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights: The Odyssey of the Essex–Captain David Porter’s Invasion of the Pacific in the War of 1812″
Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 7:30 p.m., tentatively scheduled for the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore

Prof. Paul Gilje, a George Lynn Cross Research Professor at the University of Oklahoma, has written extensively on early American history and has also served as the president of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. He is currently researching the question of sailors’ rights and memory in the War of 1812, and his lecture will be based on his forthcoming book of the same title.

“The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies”
Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 7:30 p.m., Langsdale Library Auditorium

Alan Taylor
, professor of history at the University of California, Davis, where he specializes in early American history and Canadian history, will expound on the effect of the War of 1812 on common people and on families whose members lived on both sides of the Canadian-U.S. border. His latest book, which has the same title as his lecture, was published in 2010 and received rave reviews.

Further information about the series is available from the Division of Legal, Ethical & Historical Studies, at 410.837.5323.

October 22, 2012

Dept. of the Interior Designates 27 New National Landmarks

Filed under: Historic Places — John Maass @ 7:19 am


Humpback Bridge, Allegheny Co., VA

Interior Designates 27 New National Landmarks – Landmarks Honor Nation’s Cultural and Natural Heritage


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the designation of 26 national historic landmarks and one national natural landmark as places that possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Currently there are only 2,527 designated national historic landmarks and 592 national natural landmark sites across the country that bear this national distinction.

“Each of these landmarks represents a thread in the great tapestry that tells the story of our beautiful land, our diverse culture and our nation’s rich heritage,” said Salazar. “By designating these sites as national landmarks, we help meet the goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to establish a conservation ethic for the 21st century and reconnect people, especially young people, to our nation’s historic, cultural, and natural heritage.”

The national historic landmarks announced today include:

  • Admiral David Glasgow Farragut Gravesite, New York City, N.Y. The Admiral David Glasgow Farragut Gravesite is the only known, NHL-eligible property directly associated with Farragut, the son of Jorge Antonio Farragut-Mesquida, a Spaniard from the island of Minorca. Admiral Farragut is universally recognized as one of the most accomplished officers in American naval history, as well as one of the finest naval commanders who fought for either side during the Civil War.
  • Black Jack Battlefield, Douglas County, Kan. The three-hour Battle of Black Jack, fought on June 2, 1856, marked a culmination of escalating violence in “Bleeding Kansas” and the beginning of John Brown’s war on slavery, which would culminate in his raid on Harpers Ferry three years later.
  • Camp Evans, Wall Township, N.J. This World War II-era U.S. Army Signal Corps electronics development, testing, and production facility was one of the principal U.S. sites associated with the development of radar.
  • Central Branch, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers/Dayton Veterans Administration Home, Dayton, Ohio. The home represents an evolution and shift in federal care for veterans starting in World War I (1917) and continuing through the consolidation of veteran’s benefits and the establishment of the Veterans Administration in 1930.
  • Central Congregational Church, Boston, Mass. Central Congregational Church is nationally significant because it has the largest intact Tiffany-designed ecclesiastical interior in its original location in America.
  • César E. Chávez National Monument at Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz in Keene, Calif. La Paz became headquarters to the United Farm Workers of America in the early 1970s when Chávez and other leaders of the UFW orchestrated unprecedented successes for hundreds of thousands of farm workers, including passage of the first U.S. law that recognized farm workers’ collective bargaining rights. On October 8, 2012, President Obama declared the site a national monument. In addition to that action, today the Secretary announced the site has also been designated a national historic landmark.
  • Davis Oriole Earthlodge Site, Mills County, Iowa. The Davis Oriole Earthlodge Site outstandingly illustrates the physical features of lodge habitations that commonly recur across the Plains and is exceptionally valuable for the study of this predominant Plains Village pattern habitation type.
  • Denver & Rio Grande Railroad San Juan Extension (Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad), Conejos and Archuleta Counties, CO and Rio Arriba County, N.M. In terms of length, scale of operations, completeness, extensiveness of its steam operations, and state of preservation, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad San Juan Extension is one of the country’s best surviving examples of a narrow gauge system from the peak of American railroading, roughly 1870 to 1930.
  • Denver Civic Center, Denver, Colo. Heralded as “one of the most complete and intact City Beautiful civic centers in the country,” the Denver Civic Center represents that movement’s widespread impact on American cities through the creation of planned civic centers in the early 20th century.
  • Dr. Bob’s Home (Dr. Robert and Anne Smith House), Akron, Ohio. Dr. Bob’s Home is associated with Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith (Dr. Bob) who, along with William Griffith Wilson (Bill W.), co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous, a global organization whose mission is to assist alcoholics in achieving and maintaining sobriety.
  • The Drakes Bay Historic and Archeological District, Point Reyes Station, Calif. The site is directly associated with the earliest documented cross-cultural encounter between California Indians and Europeans, leaving the most complete material record on the West Coast. In addition, the site contains the earliest recorded shipwreck on the West Coast of the United States, the Spanish San Agustín.
  • Greendale Historic District, Village of Greendale, Wis. Greendale, Wisconsin, one of three government-sponsored “greenbelt” communities built during the Great Depression, represents the federal response to the desperate unemployment of the era and the urgent need for housing reform for the urban working class.
  • The Hispanic Society of America Complex, New York City, N.Y. With the founding of the Hispanic Society of America in 1904, Archer Milton Huntington created an institution which directly encouraged the promotion of all cultures associated with the Iberian Peninsula (including those in South America). This represented a nationally significant shift in both attitudes toward Hispanic culture and understanding of Hispanic-American history in the United States. The Hispanic Society of America was at the forefront of challenging simplistic and negative perceptions of Hispanic history and societies in the New World.
  • Historic Moravian Bethlehem Historic District, Bethlehem, Pa. As an outstanding example of Moravian architecture and town planning, the Historic Moravian Bethlehem Historic District is the physical expression of a structured, 18th-century communal religious society.
  • Humpback Bridge, Alleghany County, Va. Built in 1857, the Humpback Bridge is an outstanding example of 19th-century covered bridge construction and is the best surviving example of a timber multiple-kingpost truss, used for some of the earliest covered bridges in America.
  • Knight’s Ferry Bridge, Stanislaus County, Calif. Constructed in 1862-1863, Knight’s Ferry Bridge is an exceptionally fine example of 19th-century covered bridge construction using the William Howe patented truss, one of the most successful and widely-used American timber bridge truss types.
  • McKeen Motor Car #70 (Virginia & Truckee Railway Motor Car #22), Carson City, Nev. This is the best surviving example of the first commercially viable application of internal combustion power in a self-propelled railroad car.
  • Murray Springs Clovis Site, Cochise County, Ariz. The Murray Springs Clovis Site is among the richest early Paleoindian sites in North America with a mammoth-kill site, a bison-kill site, and a Clovis camp site. Sites associated with the Clovis culture are extremely rare.
  • Poston Elementary School Unit 1, Colorado River Relocation Center, La Paz County, Ariz. The second of 10 relocation centers established for the confinement of Japanese Americans during World War II, Poston is the only relocation center that retains an above-ground complex of elementary school buildings.
  • The Republic, Columbus, Ind. The Republic is an exceptional work of modern architecture and one of the best examples of the work of Myron Goldsmith, a general partner in the firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and a highly respected architect, architectural theorist, writer, and educator.
  • San José de los Jémez Mission and Gíusewa Pueblo Site, N.M. San José de los Jémez Mission and Gíusewa Pueblo Site is associated with the spread of Spanish control northward in New Spain into the present-day American Southwest from 1598 to about 1639 and is an early representation of the intersection of European and native cultures.
  • Stepping Stones (Bill and Lois Wilson House), Katonah, N.Y. Stepping Stones is the home of Bill and Lois Wilson, respective co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Al-Anon Family Groups. During the 47 years the Wilsons lived here, A.A. grew exponentially, spreading within and outside of the United States, with Bill Wilson serving as the leader of the movement.
  • United Congregational Church, Newport, R.I. The murals and opalescent and stained glass windows of United Congregational Church, executed by artist John LaFarge between 1880 and 1881, are the only comprehensive interior designed by the artist.
  • The United States Post Office and Court House (the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California), Los Angeles, Calif. Between 1945 and 1946, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California became an exceptionally important site in the annals of postwar American school desegregation efforts and the civil rights history of Mexican and Mexican-American people in the Southwest. This was the site of the 1946 Mendez v. Westminster School District lawsuit filed by five Latino families whose children were denied admission to public schools in Southern California. The decision by this federal court forbade segregation on the grounds that separate was not equal; it was the first court to declare that the doctrine of “separate but equal” ran counter to the United States Constitution.
  • The United States Post Office and Courthouse (James R. Browning U.S. Court of Appeals), San Francisco, Calif. Constructed between 1897 and 1905, the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in San Francisco is a superlative Beaux-Arts public building exhibiting a complex merger of a number of artistic disciplines: architecture, sculpture, painting, stained-glass and decorative arts.
  • University Heights Campus (Bronx Community College of The City University of New York), Bronx, N.Y. New York University’s “University Heights Campus” is a nationally significant example of Beaux-Arts architecture in the United States, and among the most important works by Stanford White, partner in McKim, Mead & White, the preeminent American architectural firm at the turn of the 20th century.

Salazar also designated Big Spring Creek in Saguache County, Colo, as a national natural landmark. This feature is unique in the region as a spring-fed, gaining stream formed by groundwater discharging from an unconfined aquifer. Emergent wetlands along the creek support a diversity of rare species and plant communities in an otherwise arid landscape.

The National Historic Landmarks Program, established in 1935, is administered by the National Park Service on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior. The agency works with preservation officials and other partners interested in nominating a landmark. Completed applications are reviewed by the National Park System Advisory Board, which makes recommendations for designation to the Secretary of the Interior. If selected, property ownership remains intact but each site receives a designation letter, a plaque, and technical preservation advice.

September 5, 2012

NPS Battlefield Grants for 2012

Filed under: Early America,Historic Places,Historic Preservation,Wars — John Maass @ 7:17 am

The American Battlefield Protection Program announces the awarding of 27 grants totaling $1.3 million to assist in the preservation and protection of America’s significant battlefield lands. The funds will support a variety of projects at battle sites in 17 states or territories.

St. Clair’s Defeat, 1791

Included:Ball State University

On November 4, 1791, at the Battle of Wabash, American forces suffered their worst defeat ever at the hands of American Indians. In 1773 General Anthony Wayne build Fort Recovery on the site of the battle. On June 30, 1794, 2,000 American Indians attacked the fort but were repulsed after a two day battle. Ball State University and its partners intend to hold a series of public consensus meetings in support of Fort Recovery. This project will also amend the National Register nomination to include more of the landscape.


County of Chester

The Battle of the Clouds on September 16, 1777 was fought between General George Washington and Sir William Howe as the British were marching on Philadelphia. The battle was called off prematurely due to a large storm which destroyed most of Washington’s ammunition and forced him to withdraw. This project builds upon the County of Chester’s work with both Brandywine and Paoli and is intended to identify the threatened landscape on this sparsely documented battlefield. These findings, along with those from Brandywine and Paoli, will eventually be used in a comprehensive Preservation Plan for the entire Philadelphia Campaign in the County of Chester.


The Research Foundation of State University of New York
New York
One of only two major engagements of the Revolutionary War’s Sullivan-Clinton Campaign, the Battle of Chemung was fought two weeks before the better known Battle of Newtown. This ambush on Continental forces by American Indians produced more casualties than Newtown, and the burning of New Chemung became a case study of Continental strategy and tactics for the frontier Campaign. An archeological survey will be used to help better determine the battlefields’ defining features as well as to assess their condition. This information will be entered into an existing GIS in support of a future preservation plan and National Register nomination.


Saratoga P.L.A.N.
New York
The Battles of Saratoga culminated in 1777 with the surrender of British forces under General Burgoyne. This American victory reinvigorated the war effort and is seen as a turning point in the Revolutionary War. This project will interpret the fighting at the battle of Fish Creek, one of the battles of Saratoga, with several interpretive kiosks and an interpretive trail. Working with the nearby Saratoga National Historical Park, the interpretive trail will also be integrated into other interpretive trails in the area.


University of Southern Indiana

Following the American Revolution, the former colonies were determined to demonstrate their authority over the territory known as the Old Northwest and to deter Indian attacks against American settlers. In 1791 the Charles-Scott Campaign was launched to deter the American Indians along the Wabash River. This project will use a magnetometer survey to determine subsurface deposits and the potential location of one of the Indian villages along the Wabash. This baseline data will aid future preservation efforts.

Full list: http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/abpp/grants/battlefieldgrants/2012grantawards.htm

August 30, 2012

Battle of Bladensburg (1814) site opens new visitor center

Filed under: Historic Places — John Maass @ 11:36 am

Battle of Bladensburg Visitor Center in Prince George’s County held its grand opening, Aug. 24 – exactly 198 years after British forces overran American forces in the town during the War of 1812, en route to sacking Washington, D.C.  The new center was also the focal point for a Battle of Bladensburg commemoration, Aug. 25, which featured re-enactments, live music and family activities.

Located in Bladensburg Waterfront Park on the Anacostia River, the center highlights events that occurred in the area during the war. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., daily. For more information, call 301-779-0371.

Old Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg to be Demolished?

Filed under: Historic Places,Wars — John Maass @ 6:01 am

Three years after they first formally proposed tearing down the Cyclorama building that once housed a Civil War diorama, Gettysburg National Military Park officials have again announced their preference to do just that.

While the park’s General Management Plan approved in 1999 called for the building to be razed, opposition put off a final decision. In March 2010 a federal judge ordered the Park Service to reassess its decision, this time by also considering other options for the building.

More here: http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2012/08/national-park-service-proposes-demolish-cyclorama-building-gettysburg-national-military-park10455

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