Category Archives: Military History

Disease & The Seven Years’ War


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ben_franklins_worldWhen we think of the French and Indian, or Seven Years’ War, we often think of battles: The Monongahela, Ticonderoga, Québec. Yet, wars aren’t just about battles. They’re about people and governments too.

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, we explore a very different aspect of the French and Indian or Seven Years’ War. We explore the war through the lens of disease and medicine and how disease prompted the British government to take steps to keep its soldiers healthy.

Our guide for this investigation is Erica Charters, an Associate Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Oxford and author of Disease, War, and the Imperial State: The Welfare of British Armed Forces during the Seven Years’ War (University of Chicago Press, 2014). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/116

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Why New York Fought the Civil War


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recruitsWe will celebrate Presidents’ Day next month, on February 20. But we don’t celebrate Governors’ Day or anything similar. If we did, we might note the contributions of New York’s three Civil War governors — Edwin Morgan (R, 1859-1863) Horatio Seymour (D, 1863-1865) and Reuben Fenton (R, 1865-1869). All three were nationally known leaders at the time. Seymour was a critic of the wartime draft and other Lincoln administration domestic policies. Morgan and Fenton both went on to become United States Senators from our state, where they also played leadership roles. Seymour ran for president in 1868, losing to Ulysses S. Grant. Continue reading

Redcoats, Hessians, and Americans in the Battles of Saratoga


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redcoats-hessians-and-americansThe American Revolution Round Table (ARRT) of the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys will present Redcoats, Hessians, and Americans fought in the 1777 Battles of Saratoga on Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 6:30 pm, at the Schuylerville Town Hall, 12 Spring St. (corner of Route 29 & 4, the old High School), Schuylerville.

This is the second session held by the ARRT where time will be allocated to networking, socializing and to discuss prior topics. Continue reading

State Library Exhibit Marks 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor


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fran-mccawThe New York State Library commemorates the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor with an exhibit on the 7th floor, the centerpiece of which is a small but interesting collection of papers left by one Private First Class/later Sergeant Archibald Francis McCaw, who preferred to be known as Fran.

From the memo section of Private McCaw’s small five-year diary, it is learned that after basic training he left Brooklyn Army Base for Honolulu, Hawaii aboard the troop transport Republic, arriving on 9/13/1939. He was assigned to Company C of the 35th US Infantry, Schofield Barracks. “It was sure great to begin my time and get it over in a hurry.” Little did he know. Continue reading

William Bastin: Pre-Teen North Country Civil War Soldier


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p1youngsoldierlocRecently in this column appeared the story of Selden Clobridge, a teenage Civil War soldier from Turin, New York, whose battlefield career ended at the grand old age of 18 after multiple wounds that included limb loss. About 85 miles northeast of Turin, an even younger soldier took it to the extreme, receiving his discharge from the army before he became a teenager.

William R. Bastin was born in December in the town of Lawrence, near the St. Lawrence County line, east of Potsdam. A headstone gives his birth year as 1852, which corresponds with his age in three of six census records and his obituary. Other census records disagree by a year, suggesting he was born in 1851—but by any measure, he was far too young to become a soldier.

When William enlisted at Malone on September 14, 1864, he gave his age as 16. But by most indications, including interviews as an adult, he was actually three months shy of twelve years old when he joined the army, purportedly as a drummer boy. Things didn’t work out as expected, though, and he instead became a child soldier. Continue reading