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What the Protest at Washington & Lee University is Really About

Yes, the people who gathered in Lexington, Virginia are incensed about the removal of replica Confederate flags from Lee Chapel. They view it as a threat to their preferred narrative of the history of the Confederacy and the symbolism of the flag both during and after the war. The fact that the replicas will be […]

You Had Your Rally. Now What?

Looks like somewhere around 250 to 300 people showed up today in Lexington, Virginia with their replica Confederate flags to voice their frustration with the recent decision by administrators at W&L University to remove other replica Confederate flags from Lee Chapel.  No surprise that this crowd appears oblivious to the fact that the university will […]

“An object of nearly universal detestation”

After the royal authorities published the private letters they had captured on Benjamin Hichborn in August 1775, what was the fallout for the men who had written those letters? Unfortunately for unabashed gossips, there aren’t a lot of good sources on Benjamin Harrison’s reaction. Show More Summary

The 48th/150th: The Mine Completed, Charged, & Tamped. . . .

Entrance to the 48th's Mine at Petersburg In all, it had taken just about one month for the soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry to complete the tunneling of their mine at Petersburg. Having developed the idea and discussed itShow More Summary

Festival concert will recall Civil War

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra  will present a premier Civil War concert at the annual Shenandoah Valley Music Festival  held in Orkney Springs, Va., on Saturday at 8 p.m. The history and music salute was inspired by the Civil War’sShow More Summary

Dr. Hope and the Patriots’ “cruel oppressive sentiments”

Last month I wrote about a small collection of letters in the U.K. National Archives from army surgeon Richard Hope to relatives back home in England.Among those letters is one dated 20 Aug 1775, which Dr. Hope sent with a page from the Boston News-Letter that printed three intercepted messages from Continental Congress delegates. Show More Summary

Why Should We Remember the Battle of the Crater?

Over the past few weeks I’ve been putting together some thoughts for my talk next Friday in Petersburg to mark the 150th anniversary of the battle of the Crater. I’ve been re-reading sections of my book and thinking about how this particular battle fits into the major themes and direction of our ongoing sesquicentennial. The […]

The Southern Strategy

Jamelle Boule calls out the deceptiveness of conservatives noting that the Democrats have historically been the party of Jim Crow: The problem with Fund’s argument is that he takes these facts, divorces them from historical context,Show More Summary

“Genuine Copies of the Intercepted Letters” in the Press

For the royal authorities in Boston, the letters that Benjamin Hichborn had carried from Philadelphia were the equivalent of today’s intercepted radio communications. Those papers contained some sensitive information about the enemy’s army—for example, Virginia delegate Benjamin Harrison hinted that Gen. Show More Summary

On the Eve of the 150th Anniversary of the Crater

Hope everyone is doing well. My wife and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Portugal that included Lisbon and Porto. The food was amazing, the people are incredibly friendly, and best of all you can enjoy the country on a fairly limited budget. Next week marks the 150th anniversary of the battle of […]

“Treason! Rebellion! Massacre!”

To be fair to Benjamin Hichborn, there’s no evidence that he’d read the letters he was delivering to Massachusetts for John Adams and Benjamin Harrison (and delivered right into the hands of the Royal Navy on 31 July 1775).Hichborn no doubt hoped those documents were important, because that would make himself more important. Show More Summary

Second Kernstown battle commemorated this week

Two years after Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson lost the First Battle of Kernstown, near Winchester, Va., the Confederates were able to score a victory on the same grounds. On July 24, 1864, the Pritchard family once again hid in the...Show More Summary

“By such a mere accident as this”

Yesterday we left Benjamin Hichborn on the Royal Navy ship Swan, commanded by Capt. James Ayscough, on the way to Rhode Island. Hichborn had taken it upon himself to carry letters to Massachusetts for two Continental Congress delegates,...Show More Summary

Burying the Lede

The Senate is paralyzed, Paul Kane of the Washington Post points out. Why? Personalities: Senators say that they increasingly feel like pawns caught between Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose deep personal and political antagonisms have almost immobilized the Senate. Show More Summary

Benjamin Hichborn’s Delivery Service

In late July 1775, twenty-nine-year-old lawyer Benjamin Hichborn set off from Philadelphia for his home province of Massachusetts, proudly carrying three letters from Continental Congress delegates. Those letters would, he’d insisted, show that he had the confidence of Patriot leaders. Show More Summary

“It would give him the Appearance of having my Confidence”

When John Adams wrote those cranky letters from Philadelphia that I quoted yesterday, he had someone looking over his shoulder: a young lawyer named Benjamin Hichborn (1746-1817).Hichborn was a cousin of Paul Revere, but he came from a branch of the family that was already upwardly mobile. Show More Summary

Son of Putin Redux

I’d like to revise and extend my previous post, because handing over serious surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) to a bunch of incompetent amateurs is not the work of a smart man. Bringing down a civilian airliner (and adding nearly 300 more deaths to the ongoing tragedy in the Ukraine) is such a monumentally stupid thing to do that it boggles the mind. Show More Summary

John Adams and “the Oddity of a great Man”

Abigail Adams wasn’t the only person reporting to her husband John about public reaction in Massachusetts to the arrival of Gen. George Washington and Gen. Charles Lee in early July 1775.Legislative leader James Warren was another Adams confidant. Show More Summary

Dissecting a battlefield: on the Sesquicentenial of the Battle of Cool Spring

I attended the first half of the Sesqui commemorative tour at Cool Spring yesterday… and a well-attended event it was (see Craig’s post about it, here). While I enjoyed hearing about the battle that unfolded along the Shenandoah River, I have to say… the infatuation I have with the cultural (pre-war and wartime) settings of […]

A Request to John Adams

In the same long letter from Abigail Adams that I quoted yesterday, she included these personal messages from the children to their father:Our little ones send Duty to pappa. You would smile to see them all gather round mamma upon the reception of a letter to hear from pappa, and Charls with open mouth, What does par say—did not he write no more. Show More Summary

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