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A Weekend in Richmond with the Civil War Trust

Thanks to the Civil War Trust for hosting another incredible teacher institute in Richmond, Virginia. While this is my 5th year with the Trust it’s been a couple of years since my last visit. I especially enjoyed the chance to catch up with old friends and spend time with some of the most passionate teachers […]

Behind Blood on the Snow

The Summer 2016 issue of Humanities, the magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities, includes a short article by me about Blood on the Snow, the play that the Bostonian Society commissioned and hosted this spring. As I noted...Show More Summary

Civil War governor’s mansion in Louisiana destroyed in fire

The white frame, pillared house in Opelousas, La., that served as the home and office of Louisiana Gov. Thomas O. Moore for nine months between 1862 and 1863 burned to the ground on July 14. Local officials think it was arson. A nearby museum was also set afire, but there was little damage. Moore and the […]

When Minutemen Marched into Marshfield

So in 1775 there were a hundred British soldiers stationed in Marshfield, mostly on the estate of Nathaniel Ray Thomas. Their commander was Capt. Nisbet Balfour of the 4th Regiment.And on the morning of 20 April, according to Isaac Thomas...Show More Summary

A Child’s View of the Revolution in Marshfield

In his History of Shipbuilding on North River, Plymouth County, Massachusetts (1889), L. Vernon Briggs recorded some recollections he remembered hearing from Isaac Thomas (1765-1859) of Marshfield. Isaac was nine years old when the Revolutionary War began. Show More Summary

Rev. Ebenezer Thompson, Minister to the Marshfield Loyalists

Ebenezer Thompson was born in West Haven, Connecticut, in 1712. He graduated from Yale College in 1733, married the following March, and then did what Yale graduates weren’t supposed to do: start worshipping in the Church of England....Show More Summary

Is Pokemon Go a Blessing or Curse for Museums and Historic Sites?

They have already been sighted at the Gettysburg National Cemetery, the Flight 93 National Memorial and even the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. No, this is not a new wave of young history buffs, but phone wielding kids (and adults) playing Pokemon Go. Read this before proceeding any further if you have no idea what […]

The Mystery of Marshfield’s “many ill disposed people”

I’ve been tracing the political back-and-forth in Marshfield, Massachusetts, often labeled a “Tory town” but more clearly a split town.When the story left off, the Patriot faction was in the ascendancy. Loyalist leader Nathaniel Ray Thomas had been chased out of Marshfield by crowds from the neighboring communities. Show More Summary

The Free State of Jones and the ‘Poor Man’s Fight’

The new movie, The Free State of Jones, does a number of things to challenge the Lost Cause narrative of the American Civil War. It not only places slavery at the center of the story, but it also destroys the popular idea that white Southerners were united in their cause for independence. I suspect that […]

The Political Seesaw in 1774 Marshfield

As the year 1774 began, the Loyalist party in Marshfield was on top, pushing through a town-meeting resolution disapproving of the destruction of tea in Boston harbor the previous month. (And implicitly of the burning of tea in Marshfield...Show More Summary

A Confederate Flag Unfurled and Furled Again in S.C.

Like many of you I have gone through the full range of emotions over the past few days in response to the shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, St. Paul, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas. The violence and multiple narratives that we have now grown use to hearing in response to these incidents fits easily into a […]

Was Marshfield a Tory Town?

Because Marshfield officially voted to thank Gov. Thomas Gage for sending troops in the winter of 1775, it got a lasting reputation as a “Tory town.”And indeed Marshfield had many more Loyalists than neighboring towns. Or at least the creation of its Association meant it had more visible, undeniable Loyalists. Show More Summary

London’s Response to the Marshfield Loyalists

In February 1775 Gen. Thomas Gage received the thanks of the town of Marshfield, or at least of the Loyalist majority at that February town meeting, for stationing British soldiers in that town. The royal governor responded as protocol...Show More Summary

Steal a rock from Gettysburg and risk the curse

National Civil War parks usually don’t discuss theft from battlefields for fear it will encourage more of the same. However, the most recent post on the blog of the Gettysburg National Military Park has changed that by publicizing the theft of rocks because those illegal souvenirs may be cursed. The boxes of rocks have shown […]

Marshfield Voters “greatly aggrieved at the conduct of the said Town”

As I described yesterday, in February 1775 Marshfield’s Loyalist selectmen led a town meeting in voting to publicly thank Gen. Thomas Gage and Adm. Samuel Graves for providing them with military assistance. At the time there slightly...Show More Summary

Marshfield Town Meeting “penetrated with the highest sense of gratitude”

In February 1775 Marshfield’s Loyalist community was feeling emboldened by the presence of a hundred British regulars, and perhaps upset by the complaints from neighboring towns about those troops.At that time, local historian Lysander Salmon Richards later wrote, Marshfield had only three selectmen: Dr. Show More Summary

A Plymouth County Protest “as if written with a sunbeam”

The letters I quoted yesterday described the arrival of about a hundred British soldiers in Marshfield on 23 Jan 1775, sent by Gen. Thomas Gage to support the local Loyalists. Those letters also reported that Patriots in the region had started to muster against those troops but hung back. Show More Summary

No More Questions For Confederate Flag Wavers

This coming Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the removal of the Confederate battle flag on the state house grounds of Columbia, South Carolina. At the time I was in Frankfurt, Germany, but as you can see their newspapers gave it front page coverage. To mark the anniversary a group calling itself The South Carolina […]

Appomattox Court House park looking for a few good volunteers

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park in Appomattox, Va., needs a few hardy volunteers to take on the dirty work of sanding three trail bridges, clearing away dirt and debris and then repainting the spans. The bridges are a quarter- to half-mile apart. This is pretty strenuous stuff for volunteers who usually do nothing more physical […]

Marshfield’s Special Spot on the Road to Concord, 7 July

On Thursday, 7 July, I’ll speak on “The Road to Concord: How Massachusetts Moved Toward War in 1774-75” at the Winslow House in Marshfield. There will be a book signing and light refreshments afterwards. Admission is $5 for members of the Historic Winslow House Association, $7 for others. Show More Summary

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