A Student of History

December 31, 2012

Preservation Opportunity at Fleetwood Hill on Brandy Station Battlefield

Filed under: Historic Preservation,Wars — John Maass @ 10:22 pm


The Civil War Trust, America’s largest nonprofit battlefield preservation group, today announced the that it has secured a contract with a Culpeper County landowner to acquire 61 acres of core battlefield land at Fleetwood Hill on the Brandy Station Battlefield.  This is the first step in what is anticipated to be a national fundraising campaign to ultimately preserve this site and open it to the public.  This opportunity comes just a few months before 150th anniversary commemoration of the battle, fought on June 9, 1863.

“The Civil War Trust is pleased to confirm that we have reached an agreement with a local landowner to place under contract his 61-acre property on Fleetwood Hill,” noted Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer in a statement released earlier today.  “Protection of this property at the epicenter of the Brandy Station battlefield has been a goal of the preservation community for more than three decades.”Although pleased with the agreement, Lighthizer cautioned that “several steps remain before the transaction is completed and the property can be considered preserved — chief among them raising the $3.6 million necessary to formally purchase the land.”  He noted the Civil War Trust’s intention “to launch a national fundraising campaign next year with the aim of raising the money in time for the 150th anniversary of the battle in June 2013.  Further details of this exciting opportunity — including mechanisms for public involvement and donations — will be announced in the new year, once additional groundwork for the project is laid.

Brandy Station, with nearly 20,000 troopers in blue and gray engaged in the struggle, was the largest cavalry battle ever fought on American soil.  More than 1,000 men became casualties as a result of the battle.  Although a Confederate victory, Brandy Station is often referred to as the battle where the Union cavalry came into its own after years of being dominated by Southern horse soldiers.  The epicenter of fighting at Brandy Station took place on the slopes of Fleetwood Hill, described by historian Clark B. “Bud” Hall, as “without question the most fought over, camped upon and marched over real estate in the entire United States.”

“I truly believe that this acquisition, if successful, will be the most important battlefield preservation achievement not just at Brandy Station, but in all of Virginia’s Piedmont, a region that was of immense military and strategic significance during the Civil War,” remarked Hall.  “Although it most closely associated with the climactic fighting of June 9, 1863, there were, in fact, 21 separate military actions on Fleetwood Hill during the Civil War—far more than any other battle venue in this country.”

The Civil War Trust has long been committed to ensuring the protection and appreciation of the battlefields in Culpeper County, Virginia.  To date, we have helped protect nearly 1,800 acres at Brandy Station — more land than at any other individual battlefield in the nation.

In the 1990s, Brandy Station was also the scene of a high-profile preservation battle. At one point, 1,500 acres of the battlefield were rezoned to allow for light industrial development. Later, a 515-acre Formula One auto racetrack was proposed for the site. However, due to the persistence of preservationists throughout the country, plans to develop the battlefield were thwarted.  Today, the Civil War Trust owns 878 acres of the Brandy Station Battlefield that are open to the public; interpretation of the site includes educational signage, walking trails and a driving tour.

The Civil War Trust has been also been actively involved in preserving land at other battlefields in Culpeper County.  This summer, on its 150th anniversary, the Trust announced an effort to preserve an additional 10 acres on the Cedar Mountain Battlefield.  More recently, the Trust completed a national fundraising campaign to place a perpetual conservation easement on 964 acres at Kelly’s Ford, site of the war’s first large-scale cavalry engagement.  These transactions were made possible through the generosity of Trust members and the financial support of matching grants from the American Battlefield Protection Program, administered by the National Park Service, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Learn more about the Battle of Brandy Station at www.civilwar.org/brandystation.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 34,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states, and nearly 3,000 on important Culpeper County battlefields like Brandy Station, Cedar Mountain, and Kelly’s Ford. Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the sesquicentennial.


December 19, 2012

Conflict-Resolution-Conflict (A conference in 2013)

Filed under: The Academy,Wars — John Maass @ 9:02 am
Battle of Bushy Run

Battle of Bushy Run

The British Group in Early American History will hold its 2013 meeting at the University of East Anglia, UK, between the 5th and the 7th of September. The year 2013 marks the anniversary of several efforts to resolve conflict in North America, including the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, which purported to draw a line between the territories of the French and British Empires and proposed a framework for resolving the status of the continent’s native peoples, and the 1763 Peace of Paris, which superficially represented an even simpler resolution, ceding to Britain virtually all the territory east of the Mississippi. Of course that resolution only led to more trouble. With these anniversaries in mind, the theme of our conference will be “Conflict—Resolution—Conflict.”

There were many other moments of conflict, resolution, and recurrent trouble in households, plantations, courts, and borderlands. Such dramatic confrontations between all kinds of early Americans provide rich material for possible papers and panels. Our keynote speakers include Professor Stephen Conway, University College London. The programme committee welcomes complete panel and individual proposals on any aspect of early American history before 1820. Please email proposals to Geoffrey Plank at G.Plank@uea.ac.uk. Proposals should be sent as an attachment and individual submissions should include a one page description of the paper and a brief CV. Submissions for complete panels should include a brief CV for each of the participants and a one paragraph overview of the panel in addition to the individual paper outlines. The deadline for proposals is February 15, 2013.

Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850

Filed under: Early America,The Academy — John Maass @ 8:14 am
British Grenadiers, 1750s

British Grenadiers, 1750s

43rd Annual Meeting of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850
Ft Worth, TX
21-23 February 2013

The Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850 (CRE) provides a venue for the presentation of original research on not only the history of Europe during the Age of Revolution, but also the Atlantic world and beyond. This meeting will offer a platform for research into the Revolutionary Era 1750-1850 broadly defined, and especially encourage scholars in non-European fields to participate. Several years ago, the Board of Directors changed the name from the Consortium on Revolutionary Europe to the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era to mark the organization’s broader scope. Annual conferences are not theme-based, but the 2013 meeting will recognize the bicentennial of the German “Befreiungskriege 1813-1815” against Napoleon. The CRE also publishes Selected Papers for each annual meeting. For more information on the CRE, see website at: www.revolutionaryera.org.

December 13, 2012

The “Paxton Boys” and the Conestoga Massacre 1763

Filed under: Early America,Wars — John Maass @ 3:27 pm

The “Paxton Boys” and the Conestoga Massacre–250 Years Later

December 13-14, 2013, Lancaster, PA

Paper proposals are invited for a mini-conference commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Conestoga Massacre, to be held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, December 13-14, 2013. Cosponsored by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and LancasterHistory.org, the conference will provide a scholarly component for a broader program of public events at the newly renovated and expanded Lancaster Campus of History at the Lancaster County Historical Society and at related sites in the city of Lancaster.

The conference organizers seek proposals for papers of approximately 15 pages in length from scholars whose work explores the causes, immediate consequences, and long-term legacy of the events of December 1763. We are particularly interested in papers that focus on the Conestoga Indians, local Lancaster history, Native American relations with Pennsylvania, and the broader political implications of the massacre. Interdisciplinary work from historical, archaeological, and literary perspectives is particularly welcome.

Please submit proposals of approximately 500 words, along with curriculum vitae, to mceas@ccat.sas.upenn.edu no later than Friday, February 1, 2013. Accepted panelists will be notified by March 15. Papers will be due for pre-circulation no later than November 1, 2013.

Paxton Massacre

Paxton Massacre

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.

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.

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

September 1, 2012

Pre-Revolutionary War Black School Researched in Williamsburg

Filed under: Early America — John Maass @ 2:04 pm

The details of life at the oldest known site of organized education for African American students are being unearthed by researchers scouring a 17th century foundation near the grounds of the College of William & Mary in historic Williamsburg this summer. Bray School was launched and operated from about 1760 to 1765 in what was known as the Dudley Digges House.  More is here.

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.

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