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The Birth of “Brown Bess”

Last month the Royal Armouries blog posted curator Johnathan Ferguson’s detailed article about the term “Brown Bess” as slang for a British infantryman’s musket. The article cited three appearances of the term before its first entry in a slang dictionary. Show More Summary

Hannah Snell and the Press Gang

Hannah Snell (1723-1792) was a native of Worcester in England. In 1747, her husband having deserted her and their child having died in infancy, she borrowed a brother-in-law’s clothes and name and enlisted in the British marines.Over the next three years Snell participated in an abortive expedition to Mauritius and then a long campaign in India. Show More Summary

Two Maps of Eighteenth-Century Native America

A couple of stories about maps created or co-created by Native Americans in contact with British settlers recently caught my eye.At Atlas Obscura, Sarah Laskow wrote about a map drawn on deerskin, now lost, in South Carolina in the early 1720s:It depicted geographic and social relationships among the Native American nations in the surrounding area. Show More Summary

The Literary Legacy of Joseph Strutt

Joseph Strutt (1749-1802) was an English engraver and antiquarian. Most of his career was taken up with researching, drawing, and publishing artifacts of the British past: pictures of kings from old manuscripts, clothing of different...Show More Summary

What Monument Avenue Does

There was nothing inevitable about the end of slavery in the United States. Enslaved people fueled this country’s economy, generated great amounts of wealth for their owners, and helped to […]

Jimmy Carter, the Lost Cause, and Sherman’s March

I am currently working on completing the index for my forthcoming collection of essays, Interpreting the Civil War at Museums and Historic Sites, which will be published in September. It’s […]

Raise the Spitfire?

Earlier this month the Associated Press reported on the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s proposal to raise, preserve, and display a gunboat that sank in 1776. The boat is the Spitfire, one of Gen. Benedict Arnold’s fleet during the Battle of Valcour Island. Show More Summary

Talking Confederate Monuments on Boston’s Rock Station

This week I recorded an episode of the podcast “Extra Sauce” [interview begins at 13:30] with Greg Hill and Mike Hsu from the Hil-Man Morning Show, which airs here every […]

Declaring Independence , 27 June–July 4

In connection with other historical organizations and venues, the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area and the American Antiquarian Society are presenting a series of public performances of “Declaring Independence—Then & Now.”These are...Show More Summary

Richmond Creates “Monument Avenue Commission”

This is an interesting development. Today the mayor of Richmond announced the creation of the Monument Avenue Commission, which will examine ways to add historical context to its Confederate monuments. […]

Upcoming Events at Paul Revere House

The Paul Revere House in Boston’s North End has a busy summer of special events coming up. All of these take place on Saturdays unless described otherwise.27 June, 1:00, 1:45 & 2:30 P.M.John Adams: The Colossus of Independence Hear from...Show More Summary

Hesse on the Founders’ Thinking in Exeter, N.H., 22 June

On Thursday, 22 June, the American Independence Museum in Exeter, New Hampshire, will host a talk by Richard Hesse on the topic “Founding Fathers: What Were They Thinking?”In 1787 delegates gathered in Philadelphia to address a wide variety of crises facing the young United States of America and produced the charter for a new government. Show More Summary

Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws on Confederate Monuments

One thing that was clear after walking through the historic district of Savannah and that is the city does not ooze Lost Cause symbolism. Perhaps this should come as no […]

Wright on “Pedagogues and Protesters” in Boston, 20 June

On Tuesday, 20 June, Conrad E. Wright will speak at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston about the confrontation at the heart of his new book, Pedagogues and Protesters: The Harvard College Student Diary of Stephen Peabody, 1767-1768. Show More Summary

“Henry Knox’s First Mission” in Framingham, 20 June

On Tuesday, 20 June, I’ll speak at the Framingham History Center’s annual meeting, debuting a new talk on “Myths and Realities of Col. Henry Knox’s First Mission.”As recounted in almost every history of the Revolutionary War, in theShow More Summary

Thank You, Georgia Historical Society

Earlier this week I traveled to Savannah to take part in the Georgia Historical Society’s NEH Summer Institute, Recognizing an Imperfect Past: History, Memory, and the American Public. This was […]

Mildred G. Burrage’s ”Attack on Bunker Hill“

This map of the Charlestown peninsula in 1775 and the Battle of Bunker Hill comes from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, courtesy of the Digital Commonwealth. It is made of “Painted gesso plaster, with land features shown in relief.”The creator was Mildred G. Show More Summary

Secrets of Gen. Clinton’s Map of Bunker Hill

Here’s an intriguing document from the maps collection at the Library of Congress.It’s Gen. Henry Clinton’s hand-drawn map of the Battle of Bunker Hill.One eye-catching detail is that Clinton sketched a small fortification on top of Bunker’s Hill, at the left of this image. Show More Summary

A New Face of the Forty-Eighth: Private James Dempsey, Co. F, 48th PA Infantry

It doesn't happen as often as one might think, considering all the many thousands of Civil War photographs that were taken, but I always, always enjoy seeing a "new" face of the Forty-Eighth, a photograph of a soldier I have never seen before. Show More Summary

EXTRA: Celebrating “Grand Union Flag” Day in Somerville

Somerville usually celebrates the flag-raising on Prospect Hill on the anniversary of that event. Unfortunately, that’s on 1 January—not always the most comfortable time to be outside on a New England hilltop. So this year the city is celebrating that event on the Saturday after Flag Day, or 17 June. Show More Summary

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