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Silas Chandler in BuzzFeed News

This morning BuzzFeed published an extensive and thoughtful essay about Silas Chandler and his place in the black Confederate narrative by Adam Serwer. Serwer carefully explores the available sources related to Silas’s time in the war, but he also does an excellent job of untangling the many myths that have surfaced in connection with the […]

Amos Baker at the Bridge

On 22 Apr 1850, three days after the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, justice of the peace Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar took down the memories of a nonagenarian veteran named Amos Baker.Baker was thought to...Show More Summary

“I wished to ask him more about the Concord Fight”

On 5 July 1850 Josiah Adams called on Amos Baker of Lincoln, a veteran of the fight at Concord’s North Bridge over seventy-five years before. Adams hoped to interview Baker about his experiences.Adams, a native of Acton, was preparing...Show More Summary

Abel Benson and Memory Creep

As I described yesterday, in the early 1900s chroniclers of Needham and Framingham began to credit “Nero, or Abel, Benson” as helping to spread the alarm on 19 Apr 1775 with blasts from his trumpet.It would be unusual for contemporary witnesses to be confused between Nero and Abel. Show More Summary

Gary Gallagher on Confederate Monuments

Gary Gallagher was recently interviewed on the current debate in Charlottesville, Virginia over the future of Confederate monuments. Gallagher makes a strong case for contextualizing these sites rather than removing the monuments. I agree entirely with Gallagher that interpretation of these sites can help us to better understand the tough questions related to the history […]

The Legend of Abel Benson

In Framingham, there’s a tradition that the militia alarm on 19 Apr 1775 was spread by an African-American playing a trumpet. Lately, in fact, that tradition has said the trumpeter was a young boy of African and English descent named Abel Benson. Show More Summary

William Dawes After His Ride

Most histories of the start of the Revolutionary War don’t say much about William Dawes after he escaped the British army officers who caught Paul Revere. (I discussed Dawes’s amusing anecdote about that episode here.)According to David H. Show More Summary

Could This Man Be Silas Chandler?

Recently I went through some old email correspondence related to my research on black Confederates. All the way back in 2011 Andy Hall emailed a link to two sketches that appeared in the Illustrated London Times from 1865. The first sketch depicts Jefferson Davis “signing acts of government” while on the run following the abandonment […]

Gary Gallagher to Lecture ‘About Us’

Tomorrow afternoon Gary Gallagher will deliver a lecture on his home turf of the University of Virginia on the state of Civil War history. As you can see by the title of his talk, this promises to be an entertaining lecture and one that has the potential to ruffle a few feathers. For some of […]

“When This You See”

Mystic Seaport’s website shares views of this powderhorn, along with this description:This powder horn dates from the American Revolution and, due to its large size, was probably used on board a ship for priming the cannons with fine powder. Show More Summary

A New Biography of the Rev. Jonas Clarke

This season has brought a new biography of the Rev. Jonas Clarke, the Lexington minister who was hosting John Hancock and Samuel Adams on 19 Apr 1775 as British regulars marched toward that town.Clarke wielded a lot of influence in Lexington. Show More Summary

In the news 150 years ago, today – General Lee’s Testimony Before the Reconstruction Committee

The following appeared in the Staunton Spectator, 150 years ago, today. Good stuff about postwar Virginia, from Lee’s perspective. In the House of Representatives, on Tuesday week, Mr. Conkling, from the Joint Committee of Fifteen, reported a large amount of evidence on the condition of the Southern States. The following is the testimony of General […]

New to the Civil War Memory Library, 04/10

Over the weekend, Martha Hodes’s wonderful book, Mourning Lincoln, was once again honored, this time with the OAH’s Avery O. Craven Award. This is one of my favorite memory studies of the past few years. Daniel W. Crofts, Lincoln and the Politics of Slavery: The Other Thirteenth Amendment and the Struggle to Save the Union […]

Lawrence Sweeny, “of most facetious Memory”

In January I introduced the figure of Lawrence Sweeny, New York newspaper carrier of proud Irish descent. He was a loud opponent of the Stamp Act in 1765.During the Seven Years’ War he reportedly became known as “Bloody News” Sweeny as he shouted out that phrase to sell the latest news. Show More Summary

A year after Appomattox – the Hagerstown mayoral election, Unionism, and the continued “Negro question”

Looking among the archives of Hagerstown newspapers this week, I took time to pay particular attention to anything found from 150 years ago. In an editorial in the Herald and Torch Light (Hagerstown), of April 18, 1866, I ran across an interesting piece discussing the mayoral election, candidates, loyalty, and Union. At the center of […]

Another Moment in #ConfederateHeritageMonth

This year twitter has been embraced by folks who disapprove of state and local governments that have issued proclamations recognizing April as Confederate Heritage Month. The hashtag #ConfederateHeritageMonth has produced a healthy clip of tweets over the past few weeks. I have added a few of my own ‘Another Moment in Confederate Heritage Month” tweets, […]

“Great difficulty about the teams“

After the end of the siege of Boston, Gen. George Washington ordered Col. Henry Knox (shown here) to move most of the Continental Army’s artillery south to defend New York. The Massachusetts General Court promised to supply 300 teams of horses or oxen to start moving those guns across the province by 6 Apr 1776. Show More Summary

Banned From Black Confederates Facebook Group

This morning I decided to join a new Facebook group devoted to black Confederate soldiers. Once approved I responded to two posts. The first, not surprisingly, was a re-posting of the Atlanta Black Star piece that I commented on earlier this week. I simply noted that the accompanying image was that of Union soldiers and […]

Planning Your Patriots’ Day Season

The anniversary of the outbreak of the Revolutionary War is coming up on 19 April, and commemorations of that event start this weekend. At one point I tried as a public service to catalogue all the celebrations, reenactments, parades, and other historic events scheduled for that season. Show More Summary

Making Lincoln Great Again

This is from a recent interview that Donald Trump gave to The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward. I think it is safe to say that Woodward knew not to follow up on Trump’s response. Like just about everything else that comes out of his mouth, this is both horrifying and hilarious. […]

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