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Cannon All Around Boston

In 1770 Capt. John Montresor, the highest-ranking British army Engineer in North America, came to Boston to assess its defenses. Those fortifications had been designed over time to prevent an attack by sea, most likely by the French but perhaps by the Spanish.The main protection was a harbor island called Castle William. Show More Summary

Reviews of American Revolutions

Probably the biggest Revolutionary War book out this year, in terms of its scope and the professional status of its author, is Alan Taylor’s American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804. Here are extracts from four reviewsShow More Summary

Annual celebration planned Sept. 17 at Fort Stevens in Washington

On Sept. 17, beginning at noon, two people important to the history of the Civil War in Washington will be honored at an annual celebration to be held at Fort Stevens  in Washington. A day to honor President Abraham Lincoln and Elizabeth Thomas, owner of the land where Fort Stevens was built in 1861, was […]

The Wrong Email Address and a New Calendar

Yesterday I received the following email: Dear Compatriot, I am — —, treasurer of the SCV Edmund W. Pettus Camp in Alexander City, Alabama. One of our members has donated to the I-65 Flag Preservation Fund. I am not sure where to send the donation. Can you provide a contact and address? Thank You I […]

“I’ve got through crying long ago” – a refugee from the Shenandoah

A few months ago, I came across an old sketch on Ebay showing a woman and her children above the title “Flight from the Shenandoah Valley”. Wanting to know the source, I found it in the Pictorial Book of Anecdotes and Incidents of the War of the Rebellion, by Richard Miller Devens (1824-1900). While there […]

“Children of the Revolution” Tour, 17 Sept.

Saturday, 17 September, is this year’s Cambridge Discovery Day. The city’s historical commission is promoting free walking tours in several neighborhoods, as laid out in the schedule here. I’m going to lead a tour called “Children of...Show More Summary

Triangular Field Controlled Burn

On September 7th the National Park Service performed a controlled burn at the Triangular Field area near Devil’s Den. Some parts of the burn appeared to be very effective. We walked around the area before and after the burn to take some panorama shots. Show More Summary

“The most stupendous sight we poor mortals are allow’d to see”

In the summer or autumn of 1806, Susan Bulfinch of Boston wrote a letter to her brother Thomas Aphthorp in Britain with news of a recent family event:Now, my dear Brother, I will attempt to give you some account, but by no means a description,...Show More Summary

Charlottesville’s Civil War Monument Debate

My former home of Charlottesville, Virginia is in the middle of a community discussion about the future of its Confederate monuments. The city recently established a special “Blue Ribbon” commission to research the subject, hold community hearings, and offer final recommendations. From what I can tell it has been a healthy discussion and likely will […]

“Perfidious Wretch!” – The developing story of Mr. Dorsey horsewhipping Dr. Gordon, OTD, 1840

I came across a number of articles in the Virginia Free Press pertaining to an altercation between one A.G. Gordon and Dr. H. Dorsey, both… I think… were from Charles Town, (West) Va. There’s a lot going on in the exchanges I’ve found in the various clippings (spanning about four issues, so far), so, I’ll […]

Statue of Washington returns to VMI (150 years ago, today)

Dedicated on the grounds of the Virginia Military Institute, on July 3, 1856, William James Hubbard’s copy of Jean Antoine Houdon’s Washington had, for eight years, been a point of inspiration to cadets of the Institute, and, to the residents of Lexington, a proud reminder of the “Father of the Country”. Therefore, when returned to the grounds […]

Tracking Down Thomas Apthorp

To prepare yesterday’s post I poked around in the evidence about Thomas Apthorp, who as a little boy appears to have lost his whizzer toy near Faneuil Hall. Thomas was born in Boston in 1741 and baptized in King’s Chapel, the town’s upper-class Anglican church. Show More Summary

Thomas Apthorp’s Whizzer

Speaking of Boston archeology and Joseph M. Bagley (who’ll be speaking at Old South on 13 September), I recently enjoyed looking through his A History of Boston in 50 Objects.That book highlights fifty artifacts found during digs inShow More Summary

Federal Judge Denounces Confederate Battle Flag

Earlier today a Federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought to have the Confederate battle emblem on the Mississippi flag declared an unconstitutional relic of slavery. According to U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves the plaintiff was unable to show that the flag had caused a “cognizable legal injury.” The Confederate Heritage folks will certainly applaud […]

In defense of Maryland Christianity… and other things. OTD, 1823

I really wanted to go back further than 1823 today, but the browse feature of one of my newspaper subscriptions is a mess today. So, I turned to the other newspaper subscription in search of… something. Though I hoped to find something light-hearted, that’s not what jumped up and slapped me in the face with a surprise. […]

A Shippensburg, Pa. newspaper on emigration of liberated slaves to Liberia (1856)

As some may recall, last summer, I started transcribing a pamphlet from the American Colonization Society (ACS). It wasn’t because I just then discovered the story of the ACS, but rather, I became intrigued with the activity of the ACS in the Shenandoah Valley. Additionally, my decision to transcribe the pamphlet was based on 1) the fact […]

Following the drinkin’ gourd? OTD, 1831

The clip below is taken from the Torch Light and Advertiser (Hagerstown, Maryland), from September 8, 1831, but the subject of the clipping is a slave named Paul Taylor, who escaped from Frederick County, in the Shenandoah Valley. As he made his escape on August 13, by the time this appeared in the newspaper, he […]

Lowell Lecture Series on Archeology in Boston

The Lowell Lecture Series organized by the Paul Revere House and hosted by Old South Meeting House is under way. This year”s theme is archeology, and these talks are still coming up.Tuesday, 13 September, 6:30-7:30 P.M.Dig Boston: How,...Show More Summary

Poke Root poultice for snake bite, OTD, 1826

News had an interesting way in making it up and down the Valley… and even into the next Valley over. Take, for example this clipping which notes how an article about a Poke Root poultice, originally published in the Staunton Spectator and later republished in the Torch Light and Public Advertiser (Hagerstown, Md.), saved a […]

All was not innocence and harmony (OTD, Augusta County, 1852)

I’m thinking that… in between blog posts which take time to construct, I’m going to start posting brief “On This Day” (OTD) material, shedding some light on news within the Shenandoah Valley (and, perhaps, the Cumberland Valley, to offer a chance for comparative analysis), during the antebellum. The hope is to provide a look at what life was really like […]

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