Category Archives: Military History

Columbia Students Discover the Power of Protest


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Canon John Collins of St. Paul's Cathedral, speaking for nuclear disarmament at protest in London's Trafalgar Square on April 3, 1961The reckless threats of nuclear war flung back and forth between the North Korean and U.S. governments remind me of an event in which I participated back in the fall of 1961, when I was a senior at Columbia College.

At the end of August 1961, the Soviet government had announced that it was withdrawing from the U.S.-Soviet-British moratorium on nuclear weapons testing that had halted such tests for the previous three years while the three governments tried to agree on a test ban treaty. The resumption of Soviet government’s nuclear weapons testing that followed was topped off that October by its explosion in the atmosphere of a 50-megaton hydrogen bomb, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. Meanwhile, the Kennedy administration, determined not to be outdone in a display of national “strength,” quickly resumed U.S. nuclear testing underground and began to discuss the U.S. resumption of nuclear testing in the atmosphere. Continue reading

The Revolutionaries’ Army


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ben_franklins_worldBetween 1775 and 1783, an estimated 230,000 men served in the Continental Army with another approximately 145,000 men serving in state militia units.

Who were the men who served in these military ranks? What motivated them to take up arms and join the army? And what was their military experience like?

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, we explore the development of the Continental Army, partisan militia groups, and Native American scouting parties. Our guides for this exploration are Fred Anderson, Randy Flood, and Brooke Bauer. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/158

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African American Soldiers of the American Revolution


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ben_franklins_worldBetween 1775 and 1783, an estimated 230,000 men served in the Continental Army with another approximately 145,000 men serving in state militia units.

But who were the men who served in these military ranks? What motivated them to take up arms and join the army? And what was their military experience like?

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, we begin a 2-episode exploration of some of the military aspects of the American Revolution by exploring the experiences of the approximately 6,000-7,000 African American men who served in the Continental Army. Our guide for this exploration is Judith Van Buskirk, a professor of history at the State University of New York, Cortland and the author of Standing in Their Own Light: African American Patriots in the American Revolution (University of Oklahoma Press, 2017). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/157

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Oxi Day at USS Slater October 28th


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USS SLATEROn October 28th, millions around the world will commemorate OXI (pronounced ō-hē) Day, a day honoring Greece’s resistance during World War II.

The day will be remembered at USS SLATER with a brief program beginning at 9 am. Fr. Dennis Nagi of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church will provide an historical account of Oxi Day. USS SLATER volunteers and friends will be joined by special guest Dr. Nicholas Athanassiou.

Dr. Athanassiou is Emeritus Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy at Northeastern University in Boston. His father, VADM Athanassois Athanassiou, was the first Greek commanding officer of USS SLATER when it was transferred to the Hellenic Navy in 1951. Dr. Athanassiou earned a B.S. from the Naval Academy of Greece and trained on AETOS (SLATER) while there. Continue reading

Rebels on the Niagara: The Fenian Invasion of Canada


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rebels on the niagara book coverLawrence E. Cline’s new book Rebels on the Niagara: The Fenian Invasion of Canada, 1866 (SUNY Press, 2017) takes a look at what is now largely considered a footnote in history, the American invasion of Canada along the Niagara Frontier.

The group behind the invasion – the Fenian Brotherhood – was formed in 1858 by Irish nationalists in New York City in order to fight for Irish independence from Britain. Continue reading

Twin Forts Day: The Assault on Forts Montgomery and Clinton


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The Assault on Forts Montgomery and ClintonFort Montgomery State Historic Site is hosting Twin Forts Day: The Assault on Forts Montgomery and Clinton, on Saturday, October 7 from 10 am to 4 pm.

On October 6, 1777 an invading British Army assaulted Fort Montgomery and nearby Fort Clinton. Outnumbered 3 to 1, the defending Continental soldiers and militia held out as long as they could until at last the forts were overrun, the Continental ships burned by their own crews to prevent capture, and the Great Chain removed. Over half of the garrison was captured or killed. Continue reading

Test Your Battle of Plattsburgh Knowledge (Part 2)


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September 11, 2017, marks the 203rd anniversary of the Battle of Plattsburgh. The official 2017 commemoration of the battle ended Sunday. To mark the event, a quiz appeared here last week, mostly addressing Commodore Thomas Macdonough’s role in the victory on Lake Champlain.

There were two battles at Plattsburgh however, one on the bay and one on land. This week’s quiz covers the land battle and related subjects. See if you can answer a few, and learn a few fun facts in the bargain. Continue reading

Fort Montgomery: A Chain That Saved the Colonies


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Links from West Point ’s Great Chain on display at Trophy PointFort Montgomery State Historic Site will host The Chain that Saved the Colonies, as part of their Thursday Night Speaker, on Thursday, September 28, at 7 pm.

To stop the British from gaining control of the Hudson River during the American Revolution, Peter Townsend manufactured a Great Chain for the Continental Army at his Sterling Furnace and Forge. This chain was placed across the Hudson River at West Point.   Continue reading

A Unique Memorial To A Fallen World War One Soldier


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Morgan S. Baldwin 1915 Cornell YearbookHe was undoubtedly the first victim of the first World War whose name I learned. As a freshman at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, I would lower my stress levels by walking. I traipsed around the expansive campus, but I’d also venture onto city streets. I discovered that near the stately Llenroc mansion (built to be the home of Cornell founder, Ezra Cornell – though he never lived there), there was an impressive stone staircase, with a large terrace that was a perfect spot for looking down on “the bustling town” (as the Cornell anthem calls the city). A plaque identified the structure as a memorial for Morgan Smiley Baldwin, a 1915 graduate of Cornell, whose body lay “where he fell at Boni-France, September 29th, 1918.”

For years, this was what I knew about Baldwin. I assumed – as probably others have – that “Smiley” was a nickname, but it turns out it was his given middle name (his mother’s maiden name was Smiley). I did learn that the stairway had been erected by his aggrieved father. We are in the midst of the centennial of the “Great War,” and I decided to take a fresh look at Baldwin’s story. Continue reading