A Student of History

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.


October 19, 2012

SC’s Benedict Arnold

Filed under: Early America,The strange place called the South,Wars — John Maass @ 10:45 am

There is an article in the new JBS on The “Benedict Arnold of South Carolina” and America’s First Major Double Agent.

Here’s the link: http://libjournal.uncg.edu/ojs/index.php/jbc/

The Journal of Backcountry Studies is a refereed scholarly journal on the Internet focused on the colonial history of the Backcountry – the rural corridor that stretches from southern Pennsylvania to Augusta, Ga.

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 15, 2012

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

March 13, 2012


Filed under: Historic Places,The strange place called the South,Wars — John Maass @ 8:52 am


The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area are sponsoring a nice event at Shiloh, on April 5-6, 2012.


Seating is limited. Please register to vionne.williams@tn.gov or call 615-741-2159

Wednesday, April 4, 2012
10 am, Pickwick Landing State Park, Pickwick Dam, Tennessee http://www.tn.gov/environment/parks/PickwickLanding/

10 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee
This new initiative, “Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee,” provides Tennesseans the opportunity to have their Civil War manuscripts, artifacts and photographs digitally copied. The  Civil War photos and memorabilia is available online at http://www.tn.gov/tsla/cwtn/ Presented by Tennessee State Library & Archives

Red Carpet Film Premiere:
7 pm, The Story of Shiloh: “Fiery Trial”

Thursday, April 5, 2012
9 am, Pickwick Landing State Park

Opening Ceremony
Governor Bill Haslam (invited)

Special guests to be announced and musical performances will include The 52nd Regimental String Band

Commissioner Susan Whitaker and Dr. Carroll Van West, Co-Chairs, Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission

Battle of Shiloh Forum featuring the foremost Shiloh historians: 

The Fall of Tennessee: Fort Donelson to Davis Bridge
10 am, Pickwick Landing State Park

Moderator and Panelists:

Larry Daniel, Historian and Author
James McDonough, Auburn University
John Marszalek, Mississippi  State University
Wiley Sword, Historian and Author

Additional presentations and activities:

The Battle of Shiloh
Stacy Allen, Chief Ranger, Shiloh National Military Park

Shiloh: The Preservation Story
Timothy Smith, University of Tennessee, Martin

Preview of NPT Civil War Documentary
Dr. Carroll Van West, Director, TCWNHA

Closing Remarks by Dr. Carroll Van West, Director, TCWNHA
12:30 p.m.

Sesquicentennial Civil War Exhibit
Presented by the Tennessee State Museum
9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Pickwick Landing State Park

Living History – “Shiloh Heroes & Legends”

9 a.m.  – 12:30 p.m., Pickwick Landing State Park
Living history will include re-enactors from the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Company A, 13th United States Colored Troops

APRIL 6-7, 2012
Special commemoration activities presented by Shiloh National Military Park http://www.nps.gov/shil/

Special Extended Tours

Grand Illumination of Shiloh National Battlefield
23,746 luminaries, one for each American soldier killed, wounded or missing at Shiloh

The Tennessee Sesquicentennial Commission is sponsoring a series of conferences from 2010 to 2015. Conferences are held annually at locations across the state and will focus on the events which took place 150 years ago. Presenters will discuss the battles, events, and stories of the Civil War, as well as offer brief dramas and musical performances as part of the day’s events. The conferences are jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

Shiloh cannons

Shiloh cannons

January 26, 2012

Fort Frederica National Monument

At the blog “National Parks Traveler,” there’s a cool article on Fort Frederica National Monument, near Brunswick, GA. It is a great site, especially for colonial military history.

Fort Frederica was established in 1736 by James Oglethorpeto protect the southern boundary of his new colony of Georgia from the Spanish in Florida. Colonists from England, Scotland, and the Germanic states came to Georgia to support this endeavor.

Named for Frederick Louis, the Prince of Wales (1702-1754), Frederica was a military outpost consisting of a fort and town. The entire area was fortified with a palisade wall and earthen rampart. The fort’s location on the Frederica River allowed it to control ship travel.

Oglethorpe’s foresight in establishing Frederica was rewarded in 1742 during the War of Jenkins’ Ear.  Spanish forces from Florida and Cuba landed on St. Simons Island. Oglethorpe’s attack on a Spanish reconnaisance party at Gully Hole Creek led to the battle at “Bloody Marsh“. Despite the name, casualties were light and the Spanish continued their campaign on St. Simons. Clever deception on Oglethorpe’s part convinced the Spanish to retreat from Georgia seven days later.

This British victory not only confirmed that Georgia was British territory, but also signaled the end for Frederica. When peace was declared, Frederica’s Garrison (the original 42nd Regiment of Foot) was disbanded, and eventually the town fell into decline. Today the archeological remains of colonial Frederica are protected by the National Park Service.

January 12, 2012

Tennessee and the War of 1812 Conference

Filed under: Early America,The strange place called the South,Wars — John Maass @ 9:14 am

Battle of Horseshoe Bend

Looks like a good conference in March on Tennessee and the War of 1812, to be held in Nashville. Dr. Donald Hickey will be one of the speakers.

Pre-symposium event
Friday, March 16, 2012
Exhibit Opening, “Becoming the Volunteer State: Tennessee in the War of 1812.” Tennessee State Museum

Saturday, March 17, 2012
Nashville Public Library Auditorium

9-9:45 Registration

9:45-10:00 Welcome
Dr. Carroll Van West, MTSU Center for Historic Preservation
Ann Toplovich, Tennessee Historical Society

10:00-10:45 “Indian Country in 1812: The Life and Times of the Southern Indians on the Eve of the War of 1812.”
Dr. Robbie Ethridge, University of Mississippi

10:45-11:30 “Andrew Jackson’s Bolivar: Tennesseans Embrace Latin American Independence”
Dr. Caitlin Fitz, Northwestern University

11:30-1:00 Lunch on your own

1:00-1:45 Keynote Address:
“Why Is the War of 1812 Important”
Dr. Donald Hickey, Wayne State College

1:45-2:30 “Tennessee and the War of 1812”
Dr. Kristofer Ray, Austin Peay State University

2:30-3:30 Panel Discussion

3:30 Conclusion

Dr. Don Hickey holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and is a professor of history at Wayne State College in Nebraska. A specialist in early American history and American military history, Hickey has taught at Wayne State since 1978, although he has held concurrent visiting appointments at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (1991-92) and the Naval War College (1995-96). He is the author of five books and more than fifty articles, including The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict (1989), The War of 1812: A Short History (1995), and Don’t Give Up the Ship! Myths of the War of 1812 (2006).

Dr. Robbie Ethridge is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Mississippi. In addition to writing several articles and book chapters on the ethnohistory of the Indians of the American South, she is the author of Creek Country: The Creek Country and Their World, 1796-1816, with the University of North Carolina Press (2003), and she is the co-editor, along with Charles Hudson, of the volume The Transformation of the Southeastern Indians, 1540-1760, published by the University Press of Mississippi (2002). She also co-edited with Thomas J. Pluckhahn Light on the Path: The Anthropology and History of the Southeastern Indians (2006) published by the University of Alabama Press. Her latest co-edited volume is Mapping the Mississippian Shatter Zone: The Colonial Indian Slave Trade and Regional Instability in the American South (2009) co-edited with Sherri Shuck-Hall, published by the University of Nebraska Press. Her latest monograph is entitled From Chicaza to Chickasaw: The European Invasion and the Transformation of the Mississippian World, 1540-1715 (2010) published by the University of North Carolina Press. She is currently working on a long-term project on the rise and fall of the Mississippian world.

Dr. Caitlin Fitz (Ph.D., 2010, Yale University) is an assistant professor at Northwestern University. She is a historian of early America, in a broad and hemispheric sense. Her work explores early U.S. engagement with foreign communities and cultures, as well as the relationship between ordinary people and formal politics. Her current manuscript, Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions, reveals how the early nineteenth century Latin American independence movements shaped popular understandings of race, revolution, and republicanism within the United States. Fitz has also written about U.S. citizens in insurgent Brazil (The Americas, 2008), Iroquois communities during the U.S. revolution (Journal of the Early Republic, 2008), and antislavery activists in Tennessee (Civil War History, 2006). She has conducted archival research in Portuguese, Spanish, French, and English, and she has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  She received her Ph.D. in 2010 from Yale, where her dissertation received the George Washington Egleston Prize in American History.

Dr. Kristofer Ray (Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2003) is an assistant professor of history at Austin Peay State University and serves as the Senior Editor of the Tennessee Historical Quarterly.  Dr. Ray’s research interests lie in early North American identity formation, political culture and economic development. His most recent book, Middle Tennessee, 1775-1825: Progress and Popular Democracy on the Southwestern Frontier, was published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2007.

November 30, 2010

R E Lee on PBS

Filed under: The strange place called the South,Uncategorized,Wars — John Maass @ 9:38 am

Robert E. Lee is celebrated by handsome equestrian statues in countless cities and towns across the American South, and by no less than five postage stamps issued by the government he fought against during the four bloodiest years in American history. Nearly a century and a half after his death, Robert E. Lee, the leading Confederate general of the American Civil War, remains a source of fascination and, for some, veneration. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “Robert E. Lee” examines the life and reputation of the general whose military successes made him the scourge of the Union and the hero of the Confederacy, and who was elevated to almost god-like status by admirers after his death.

This film will be premiering on PBS at 9:00 p.m. on Monday, January 3, 2011

June 24, 2008

Birthday cake for a failed “leader”

Filed under: Early America,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 12:50 pm

 This Jeff Davis birthday stuff is really nutty.  I think it is OK to recall the man and his place in history, as long as it is done objectively, authentically, and in historical context.  But the stuff we see in the South not only glorifies a traitor, it is just twisted.  One article will illustrate this point.

For instance, in Alabama folks just marked the JD birthday with festivities including a period ball.  No problem there, it may be a fun way to observe an historical event.  But JD’s great-grandson had this to say about his ancestor: 

“His contributions to this country and the leadership that he personifies place Jef­ferson Davis as one of the most influential statesmen and leaders of his time,” in a message printed in the event’s offi­cial program.

Contributions to this country?  I wonder which country he meant–the USA or the CSA?  And I like his statement that Davis was a leader.  If that means leading several states out of the union to defend slavery and thus provoke a war that killed 600,000 men, then yes, he is a leader.  But if leadership means successfully working out political solutions to avoid civil war, then JD is a flat failure.

We also learn in the article that during a program at the Capitol auditorium, emcee Tyrone Crowley of Prattville called Davis “one of the great Americans of all time.”  Again, what the hell is he called great for?  He was an absolute failure at the helm of the CSA, and in his relations with most of his generals he was petty, self-righteous, vindictive, stubborn…  What makes him a great American?  One of the participants in all of this commemoratin’ stated that several people “were unhappy about the size of the crowd and wondered why more weren’t on hand to honor Davis.”

Gee, I wonder why…..

June 18, 2008

NC Rev War Site “Endangered”

Filed under: Early America,NC History,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 5:24 am

The Trading Ford area along the Yadkin River has been identified by the National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program as a site at risk from rapid urban and suburban development.

The park service released its “Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the United States” last week.

The Trading Ford was included in the survey along with other historic sites that comprise the “Race to the Dan River.” A linear resource, the inclusive “Race to the Dan River,” is listed in the “Roads, Trails, and Waterways Needing Further Study” section of the report. These are resources that due to their size and complexity had no equivalent survey methodology that allowed them to be represented in an equitable manner.

February 25, 2008

Do we celebrate Jeff Davis’ 200th?

Filed under: Early America,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 7:00 am

From an AP story:

It hasn’t been easy getting people excited about celebrating the 200th birthday of that tall, gaunt, bearded, Kentucky-bred president who was born in a log cabin and went on to lead his people through a bloody civil war. No, not Abraham Lincoln. Last week, President Bush himself helped kick off a two-year celebration of the Great Emancipator’s Feb. 12, 2009, bicentennial that will include dozens of events in Kentucky, Illinois, Washington and beyond.It’s the Jefferson Davis 200th that has turned out to be something of a lost cause.

“The response to date has been timid,” acknowledges Bertram Hayes- Davis, head of the Davis Family Association and great-great grandson of the only president of the short-lived Confederate States of America. “Nobody has said no. Many haven’t said yes.”

I guess they would have the same problem with Benedict Arnold’s birthday as well.

Jefferson Davis, by Louis Mathieu Didier Guillaume, c. 1862-65.

February 7, 2008

Who are the greatest Virginians?

Filed under: Early America,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 7:19 am
John Marshall, Virginian
This past summer The Richmond Times Dispatch sent a questionnaire across the nation to the scholars who study Virginia and its people, and augmented the list with prominent citizens of the commonwealth — some established, some up and coming — who have an understanding of those who have worn the designation “Virginian” into the history books. 

They asked this jury to nominate (1) a greatest Virginian and (2) a most influential Virginian (who had to be a different person) for each of the commonwealth’s four centuries. The difference between the two? For someone to be termed “greatest,” the paper told the panel a person’s legacy must be almost exclusively of positive benefit. Calling him or her merely “influential” would not capture just how important this person was to society. These folks are a step above. It’s hard to quantify “greatestness,” but as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said, we all know it when we see it.

The results:

Oliver White Hill Sr.
Hill lived one-fourth of the entire English-language portion of Virginia’s history, and for more than half of that time in the oppressive Jim Crow regime that denied the basic human rights of American citizenship to a huge portion of the South’s citizens.  

John Marshall
John Marshall received more nominations in the survey than any other person for greatest or most influential 19th-century Virginian. He deserved the attention.  

George Washington
George Washington had little serious competition for greatest Virginian of the 18th century.  

John Smith and William Berkeley
Our jury argued to a virtual tie when trying to identify the single greatest citizen of 17th-century Virginia. The two nominees most often identified as the greatest were Captain John Smith and Sir William Berkeley, a governor of the colony.  

Paramount Chief Powhatan
Wahunsonacock – who took the name Powhatan sometime in the 1580s when he formed a loose confederation of Algonkian-speaking tribes in the tidewater region of Virginia – received a number of votes as the greatest or most influential person in 17th-century Virginia.  

Harry Flood Byrd Sr.
Byrd served for 10 years in the Virginia Senate, for four years as governor, and for 32 years he represented the commonwealth in the U.S. Senate.  

Edgar Allan Poe
“Edgar Allan Poe,” began historian Kevin J. Hayes, without even pausing to admit that anybody else could be considered for the honor, “is the most influential Virginian of the 19th century.”  

James Madison
Participants in the survey produced a virtual tie for most influential Virginian of the 18th century, nominating James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in the greatest or most influential categories in almost equal numbers.  

John Rolfe
John Rolfe topped the list of people whom participants identified as the most influential person in 17th century Virginia.  

Interestingly, on the website, readers can vote for the greatest Virginian too, and the result was an overwhelming victory for George Washington.  One of the more interesting things to note about the survey of scholars is that 2 prominent men are missing from the list:  Thomas Jefferson and R. E. Lee, although in 2 separate articles on-line, the paper fails to state why not.

There’s even an essay on “the worst” Virginians, although sadly, Katie Couric is not mentioned!

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