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George Washington Encounters the Illuminati

Yesterday I quoted from Mike Jay’s article on the birth of the Illuminati conspiracy in an overheated jeremiad by the Scottish professor John Robison. His 1797 book Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe also found readers in the young U.S. Show More Summary

The 48th/150th: "He was engaged in a just and holy Cause. . .:" The Death of Alexander Govan

Corporal Alexander GovanCompany G, 48th PA ?150 years ago...The roads south from Spotsylvania were stained red with the blood of soldiers, both Union and Confederate. Among the tens of thousands who shed their life's blood on these crimson fields were many sons of Schuylkill County from the 48th Pennsylvania regiment. Show More Summary

Report from Opening Night of Online Lincoln Course

[View the story "Understanding Lincoln, The Sequel" on Storify]

The truce at Cold Harbor that never happened

This week marked the 150 th anniversary of the Battle of Cold Harbor, the battle where Gen. U. S. Grant earned his title as The Butcher. My Washington Post colleague, columnist Joel Achenbach has written an intriguing piece More Summary

Ron Maxwell’s Kickstarter Campaign Canceled

You could tell from the beginning that this campaign was doomed to fail. It wasn’t at all clear how the money raised would be used, not to mention what the final product would look like. Crowdfunding demands a good deal of research, especially when the goal is a quarter of a million dollars, but most […]

The Emotional Pull of Cold Harbor

Those of us who have spent significant time walking Civil War battlefields know that they evoke different emotions. Much of that is the result of the broader narrative that we bring to these sites. I was reminded of this yesterday as I was writing the post on Cold Harbor and as a result of following […]

Illuminating the Illuminati Myth

I quite enjoyed Mike Jay’s recent article at Public Domain Review on the birth of our understanding of the Illuminati. The crucial text was the subtly titled Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe, published in 1797 by the Prof. Show More Summary

Old Myths Die Hard at Cold Harbor

With all the coverage of the 150th anniversary of Cold Harbor I was surprised by the persistence of two myths that refuse to give way. The first is the story of Union soldiers pinning their names to their coats so their bodies could be identified and the second relates to the casualty figures that are […]

Washington “discovered to be of the Female Sex”

On 25 Jan 1783 both the London Daily Advertiser and the Whitehall Evening Post printed an item they said had come from the 11 November Pennsylvania Gazette by way of the Dublin Register. It told readers: A Discovery has lately been made on this Continent that will astonish the whole World. Show More Summary

The 48th/150th: "A Regular Inferno:" More Accounts of the 48th Pennsylvania at Cold Harbor, June 3-4, 1864

?? Currier & Ives Depiction of the Battle of Cold Harbor... "A heavy rain storm during the night made every one most uncomfortable," wrote regimental historian Oliver Bosbyshell of the night of June 2-3, 1864. By the morning, the rain...Show More Summary

Civil War skull taken off auction block

Public concern and criticism of the planned auction Tuesday in Hagerstown, Md., of a Civil War skull led to the auctioneer pulling it from the sale late Monday. The skull, found on a Gettysburg farm in 1949 and recently consigned toShow More Summary

Benjamin Russell Saved from Lightning

Benjamin Russell (1761-1845) was the publisher of the Columbian Centinel, Boston’s most powerful Federalist newspaper, and an employer or mentor of many printers in the early republic. He had great influence in state politics and even...Show More Summary

The 48th/150th: Cold Harbor

May turned to June...and the slaughter continued. 150 years ago, the soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania once more found themselves in the midst of heavy battle-action, on a blood-stained field, this time at an obscure Virginia crossroads northeast of Richmond named Cold Harbor. Show More Summary

Can Ron Maxwell Kickstart His Movie Career?

I had a feeling we were talking about a Kickstarter campaign. Five days into his campaign and Ron Maxwell has raised roughly $9,000 of the $250,000 that needs by July 7. It’s no secret that I am not a fan of Maxwell’s movies. There are a couple of problems with this campaign. First and foremost, […]

Auction of Civil War soldier’s skull criticized

Plans to sell the skull of a Civil War soldier by a Pennsylvania auction house on Tuesday have drawn sharp criticism from some of the country’s leading Civil War historians. According to a news account in the York Daily Record in York,...Show More Summary

“Porte Crayon” in Harrisonburg, June 2, 1864

It’s been an extraordinarily busy past few months, and postings here have suffered mightily for it. That said, last night I happened to “catch-up” with David Hunter Strother, as the Federal army advanced up the Shenandoah Valley toward Staunton. As of June 2, Strother awoke (near New Market) to find his “fine bay horse” gone… […]

Bosse on Massachusetts Maps in Lexington, 7 June

On Saturday, 7 June, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington will host a lecture by David Bosse, Librarian and Curator of Maps at Historic Deerfield, on “Map and Chart Publishing in Boston in the Eighteenth Century.” For most of the century, Boston’s market for maps wasn’t big enough to support full-time professionals. Show More Summary

Civil War Soldier’s Skull For Sale

Yes, you heard that right. Tom Taylor with Estate Auction Company had this to say: It’s really one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen. This person may have given their life for their country. It’s something of honor and historical significance. Yes, it is, but do you really believe that auctioning it off is […]

“Building a Handsome Church” in Essex County, 7 June

On 7 June, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem will host a symposium titled “Building A Handsome Church”: St. Michael’s, Marblehead, 1714. It will bring together “historians, architects, architectural historians, ecclesiastical scholars, and the general public” to discuss the 300-year-old Anglican church and its place in Marblehead history. Show More Summary

Destination Petersburg 150th

I thought we would never get here, but in roughly two weeks the 150th anniversary of the Petersburg Campaign kicks off. The staff at the Petersburg National Battlefield has put together a helpful handbook [PDF] that includes all the information you need related to events between mid-June and the end of September. There is quite […]

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