Category Archives: Military History

Knickerbocker Commodore: Life and Times of John Drake Sloat


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knickerbocker commodoreBruce Castleman’s new book, Knickerbocker Commodore: The Life and Times of John Drake Sloat 1781-1867 (SUNY Press, 2016) chronicles the life of Rear Admiral John Drake Sloat, an important but understudied naval figure in US history.

Born and raised by a slave-owning gentry family in New York’s Hudson Valley, Sloat moved to New York City at age nineteen.

Castleman explores Sloat’s forty-five-year career in the Navy, from his initial appointment as midshipman in the conflicts with revolutionary France to his service as commodore during the country’s war with Mexico. Continue reading

Irish Fenians In The North Country


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fenian meetingToday we would label them a “paramilitary organization.” In the years immediately following the American Civil War, life in the Adirondacks was briefly interrupted by the Fenians, also known as the Fenian Brotherhood.

The Fenian Brotherhood was an Irish Republican organization founded in New York in 1858 by John O’Mahoney. Their name is derived from legends about ancient Irish warriors called the Fianna.

Their goal was an Irish Republic free of British rule. Continue reading

Saratoga Battlefield To Eliminate Entrance Fees


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Saratoga Battlefield and Hudson RiverBeginning November 1, 2016, Saratoga National Historical Park will no longer charge entrance fees for visiting the park.

After analyzing the costs and benefits of the recreational fee program, park leadership determined that it is in the best interest of both Saratoga NHP and the public to eliminate entrance charges according to a press release sent to the media. The current entrance fees for vehicles ($5), pedestrians and cyclists ($3), and the park annual pass ($10) will remain in place until November 1. Continue reading

Crown Point Encampment and Battle Reenactment


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British Landing photo courtesy of NYS ParksCrown Point State Historic Site will host its annual French and Indian War Encampment on August 13 and 14, 2016. This is the largest event of the year at the site and features authentically clad French, British, and Native American participants camped among the fort ruins. Guests to the camp are able to interact with the participants portraying various people of Crown Point’s past and also have the opportunity to purchase some of the 18th century wares produced and exhibited by artisans and merchants. Continue reading

1797 Fort Jay Letter Acquired By Jay Heritage Center


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john adler and his familyAbout seventeen years ago, inspired by the purchase of several volumes of a popular 19th century journal, John Adler had an idea – make the American narrative more accessible to the public. So upon his retirement, the former advertising executive launched a multi-year endeavor to create a database of articles, images and ads scanned from the iconic Harper’s Weekly Magazine.

Harper’s was the premiere chronicle of political events and literary commentary of its day, and Adler’s invention would help readers navigate thousands of stories from 1857 to 1916. One could find everything from headlines about Lincoln’s election to Thomas Nast’s cartoons denouncing slavery. This online trove christened “HarpWeek” was further complemented by academic essays and materials for educators. In 2003, Adler’s searchable scholarship “HarpWeek Presents Lincoln and the War” won recognition from the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Institute and an E-Lincoln Prize. Continue reading

The Age of American Revolutions


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ben_franklins_worldThe American Revolution inspired revolutions in France, the Caribbean, and in Latin and South America between the late 18th and mid-19th centuries.

Naturally, Spanish and Portuguese American revolutionaries turned to the United States for assistance with their fights. How did Americans in the United States respond to these calls for assistance? What did they make of these other “American Revolutions?”

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Caitlin Fitz, an Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern University and the author of Our Sister Republics: The United States in an Age of American Revolutions (Liveright, 2016), helps us investigate answers to these questions. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/090

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Revolutionary War Army Trades Weekend at Saratoga Battlefield


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ArtificersThe Saratoga National Historical Park (Saratoga Battlefield) will show Revolutionary War army trades at work, on Saturday and Sunday, July 16 and 17, from 10 am to 4 pm.

Armies had a lot more to do than fight in the Revolutionary War. They employed and contracted with a variety of professional tradesmen and women who worked to provide and repair supplies needed by the troops. Blacksmiths made and repaired ironwork; Tailors sewed and fixed clothing; Woodworkers built and fixed wheels and artillery carriages; Tinsmiths made artillery cartridge casings; and Cordwainers made shoes for the troops. Continue reading