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Elkanah Watson and the Lexington Alarm in Providence

I previously quoted the part of Elkanah Watson’s Men and Times of the Revolution in which he described his military training as a schoolboy in Rhode Island. Watson, born in 1758, was still a teenager when the Battle of Lexington and Concord occurred. Show More Summary

Isaac Royall and “the very Day the battle happen’d”

Like the Rev. David McClure, Isaac Royall of Medford was caught by surprise in Boston when the war began. Earlier this week on Facebook the Royall House and Slave Quarters quoted Royall’s 29 May 1779 letter to his former tutor, the Rev. Show More Summary

Abbeville Institute on Black Confederate Soldiers

Many of you are familiar with the Abbeville Institute. Among other things they offer an annual conference that brings together a short list of people, who push a decidedly Lost Cause interpretation of the Civil War and slavery under the guise of serious scholarship. Last year’s annual conference included a talk by Donald Livingston on […]

Former Student Petitions to Save Lee Monument

Last night’s meeting of the Charlottesville City Council on the future of its Confederate monuments was well worth watching in its entirety. A number of people spoke, expressing a wide range of perspectives on the history of these sites and what should, if anything, be done. One current and two former history professors from the […]

The Rev. David McClure’s 19th of April

The Rev. David McClure (1748-1820) was a native of Newport who grew up in Boston, a childhood friend of Henry Knox.McClure became a student and protégé of the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock, received a degree from Yale in 1769, and as a missionary...Show More Summary

‘Making America Confederate Again’

Right now the Virginia Flaggers are holding a rally at Charlottesville’s Lee Park in anticipation of a city council meeting tonight that will discuss the future of Confederate monuments in the city. The Flaggers will likely take the opportunity to share with city residents that the Confederate flag has nothing to do with the history […]

“Now the war has begun and no one knows when it will end.”

When we left the nonagenarian Amos Baker of Lincoln yesterday, he had just described how the commanders of the Middlesex County militiamen massed above the North Bridge in Concord agreed to march toward the British regulars holding that position. Show More Summary

Georgetown University search turns up descendants of slaves once owned by the institution

More than 170 years after 272 slaves owned by what is now Georgetown University in Washington were sold and forcefully shipped to the dreaded cotton plantations of the Deep South, the school is in the midst of an elaborate and expensive project to find descendants of those enslaved people. Born of a need to face […]

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 […]

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