Category Archives: Military History

Fort Ticonderoga Names Director of Exhibitions


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Matt KFort Ticonderoga has announced the appointment of Matthew Keagle to serve as Director of Exhibitions at Fort Ticonderoga. Keagle began work at Fort Ticonderoga on May 27, 2014 and is responsible for the development and implementation of Fort Ticonderoga’s newly established Exhibition Department.

Matthew Keagle is originally from Vermont and has been involved in curation, exhibitions, research, historical interpretation, and program development for historic sites and museums in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, Virginia, North and South Carolina. Continue reading

Cultural Heritage Fail: The American Revolution in NYS


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John Van Arsdale raising the american flag over Fort GeorgeNew York was an object of great importance during the American Revolution. At the kick off of the Path through History project in August 2012, plenary speaker Ken Jackson, Columbia University, criticized New York for its inadequate efforts to tell its story compared to what Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts are doing. He welcomed the opportunity that New York finally was going to get it right.

By coincidence, at the New York History community roundtable convened by Assemblyman Englebright several weeks ago in connection with his proposed New York History Commission, he began with a similar plea for New York to tell its story as well as those same states Jackson had mentioned 20 months earlier. He was particularly incensed over the new TV show Turn about America’s first spy ring set in the very community he represents. Continue reading

Revolutionary War Spies:
The Lower Hudson Valley’s “TURN”


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Turn American Revolution TV ShowThe Revolutionary War spy drama “Turn” on the AMC cable TV network is a much fictionalized version of the activities of a real life American patriot, Ben Tallmadge who headed the “Culper Spy Ring” based on Long Island.

However, Westchester and the surrounding counties of Dutchess, Orange and Putnam have their own connection to Revolutionary War espionage story in the persons of John Jay, Elijah Hunter, and Enoch Crosby. Continue reading

Fact And Fiction In Brian Kilmeade’s ‘Secret Six’


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george washingtons secret sixBrian Kilmeade has done historians on Long Island a great favor. With his latest book, George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution (Sentinel, 2013), co-authored by Don Yaeger and currently one of the top-selling non-fiction books in the country, he has focused national attention on the role played by the Culper Spy Ring that operated between New York City and Setauket, bringing information about British plans and troop movements across Long Island Sound to Connecticut and on to General Washington.

Using his bully pulpits on Fox & Friends, carried on Fox News Channel daily from 6 AM to 9 AM, and his nationally syndicated radio program, Kilmeade & Friends, from 9 AM to noon, he has elevated the nation’s awareness of the significance of Long Island to the outcome of the American Revolution.

Their story unfolds seamlessly, with well-written descriptions of General Washington’s loss of New York after the Battle of Long Island that set the stage for Washington’s desperate need for information, and ending with Morton Pennypacker’s handwriting analysis that identified Robert Townsend as the key information gatherer. But there’s the rub: Kilmeade and Yaeger have spun more than one story here. This non-fiction book hovers dangerously close to the side of fiction. Continue reading

Founding Fashion: 18th-Century Military Clothing Exhibit


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Title Image - FinalFort Ticonderoga Museum’s first clothing exhibition in over a quarter century opened in May and brings together a remarkable collection of historical military garments, accessories, and artworks.

The exhibit, entitled Founding Fashion: The Diversity of Regularity in 18th-Century Military Clothing, explores how European military fashion and global commerce influenced American martial appearance throughout the American Revolution.  Continue reading

Fort Ticonderoga Author Series: Battle of Valcour Island


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Fort Ticonderoga From Mount DefianceFort Ticonderoga’s 2014 Author Series continues on Sunday, June 8, with Stephen Darley, author of The Battle of Valcour Island: The Participants and Vessels of Benedict Arnold’s 1776 Defense of Lake Champlain.

In his new book about the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain, Steve Darley includes a roster of 448 officers and men who participated, the names and personal history of 16 captains of the American vessels on the lake in 1776, as well as first hand accounts in letters, journals, memoirs, and pension applications that tell this amazing story of a Lake Champlain battle. No such comprehensive information has been published before. It contains a description of all of the American vessels in the battle as well as the story of how the first vessels of the American fleet were obtained and how the last group of vessels were destroyed or captured in 1777. Continue reading

New Beer Celebrates ‘Hessians’ At Battle of Bennington


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browns1Brown’s Brewing Company in Hoosick Falls and Troy, NY, has brewed a special beer in tribute to the Germans that served at the Battle of Bennington which took place in the Town of Hoosick in 1777 during the American Revolutionary War.

The historic Braunschweigers Mumme Ale is a dark, spicy beer created in the late 1400s in the German province of Braunschweig in what is now Lower Saxony, home of Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum and his elite regiment of mounted infantrymen called Dragoons. Continue reading

AMC’s ‘Turn’:
Lively Fiction, But Tenuous Connections to Fact


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TURN-Official-Teaser-TrailerOh, dear. What a disappointment. Many who were thrilled by the news that the AMC Channel was creating “Turn”, a television series to tell the true story of George Washington’s Long Island spy ring were startled to see glaring inaccuracies depicted, from the opening scene on April 6th.

Had the writers not pinned the names of historic figures onto their characters, and instead developed a script of pure fiction about spying, adultery, gratuitous violence and traitorous generals during the American Revolution, one could sit back with feet up and relax with escapist fantasy. No problem. But – when a producer and a network advertise a program as “a true story,” and then proceed not only to bend the truth but, on occasion, to break it across their knees, and when “real” characters bear no resemblance to their flesh and blood namesakes, it is time to protest. Continue reading

Battle of Bennington Talk, Tour On Saturday


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Bennington1777MapDr. Michael P. Gabriel, author of The Battle of Bennington: Soldiers & Civilians, will be giving a short presentation as part of the Road to the Battle of Bennington Inaugural Event to be held at Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site on Saturday June 7 from 2- 4 p.m.

The Path Through History Weekend event celebrates the inauguration of an interpretive driving route that follows the ill-fated excursion of German Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum to Bennington Battlefield in 1777, during the American Revolutionary War. Continue reading

Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama 2014 Season


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Drums Along The Mohawk Outdoor TheatreFollowing a successful debut in 2013, the Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama is expanding its performance schedule to four shows for 2014 at Gelston Castle Estate, 980 Robinson Road, Mohawk, NY.

Kyle Jenks, the writer and producer of Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama used the plotline from the famous novel Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds and adapted it for the outdoor stage. Continue reading

Joseph Lonsway: Jefferson County Civil War Hero


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Joseph LonswayPershingNYH02Civil War veteran/hero Joseph Lonsway, long accustomed to hard work, continued serving as a river guide (and remained hooked on fishing) well into old age. On two occasions, he nearly lost his life in fire-related incidents. In 1911, when he was 67, Joseph, with fellow guide and friend Joseph Calhoun, rushed to help fight a blaze that ultimately destroyed the Hotel Frontenac. They were together on an upper floor when the electricity failed, forcing them to leave the building. Calhoun urged Lonsway to depart first because he was older, but something went terribly wrong. In the end, Lonsway escaped, but Calhoun perished. Continue reading

Joseph Lonsway, Jefferson County Civil War Hero


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Joseph LonswayNYH01In “The Road Not Taken,” poet Robert Frost wrote of encountering two roads diverging in a wood: “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

That’s life in a nutshell: it’s all about decisions. When confronted with options, we make a choice. Sometimes even the first few moments that follow can change our lives forever. Such was the case with a North Country soldier, Private Joseph Lonsway of Clayton, New York (in Jefferson County, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River). Continue reading

Rev. Charles Hagar, Chaplain of the 118th NY Volunteers


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charles luther hagar collageA talk entitled “Not Just a Sunday Man: The Civil War Story of Rev. Charles Luther Hagar, Chaplain of the 118th New York Volunteers” will be presented by Helen Nerska with music by Stephen Langdon

The Clinton County Historical Association (CCHA) will host the presentation “Not Just a Sunday Man: The Civil War Story of Rev. Charles Luther Hagar, Chaplain of the 118th New York Volunteers” by Helen Nerska, CCHA President, and a musical composition by Stephen Langdon, Saranac Lake musician (Rev. Hagar was their great-great-great uncle). Continue reading

Champlain Region VT State Historic Sites Opening


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DSCN1616The Memorial Day weekend brings the start of the 2014 season at the Chimney Point, Mount Independence, and Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Sites.  The sites open on Saturday, May 24, at 9:30 a.m. and starting at 8:00 a.m. is the annual Early Bird Nature Walk at Mount Independence.

These sites preserve and present Vermont’s significant history in their museums and on their historic grounds.  There are also State Historic Sites on the New York State side of Lake Champlain, but they almost never issue announcements to the press. Continue reading

Swords in Their Hands:
George Washington and the Newburgh Conspiracy


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Swords In Their HandsA new book by Dave Richards, Swords in Their Hands: George Washington and the Newburgh Conspiracy (Pisgah Press, 2014) is being hailed as the first book-length account of a plot that can be described as the closest thing to a coup that the United States has ever experienced.

In late 1782, many Revolutionary War officers in the Hudson Highlands had grown angry and frustrated that they had not been paid—for months or even years. With victory in sight, they feared they might never get their back pay and promised pensions, because the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia under the Articles of Confederation, had no authority to raise money. Nationalists wanted Congress to have direct taxation authority, while their opponents insisted that only individual states should have that power. Continue reading

War of 1812 Historians Meeting Planned


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APHNYS-Regions-Map1Registration is now open for the special one-day Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS) Region 6 conference to be held in Plattsburgh on Friday June 6, 2014 (with early arrival museum tour on Thursday evening June 5).

The conference focus is on the War of 1812,and specifically the Battle of Plattsburgh of September, 1814 with a focus on “how the community has embraced the annual commemoration of the Battle of Plattsburgh, and the excitement about the 200th anniversary commemoration upcoming this Fall, with international participation and events spanning three weeks.” Organizers are expected to  share their experiences of how this sentinel event brings together the community, historians, municipalities and visitors to gain a better appreciation of the unique position this area holds in history.” Continue reading

War of 1812 Lecture: ‘The War No One Wanted’


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Map of Lake Frontier to Illustrate Campaigns of 1812-1814Communities on both sides of the St. Lawrence River had built an interconnected life of social contracts, trade, marriages, friendships, and respectful neighborliness in the years since the American Revolution. Thus, the approach of war in 1812 found little enthusiasm among the civilian populations of New York and Upper Canada.

Find out more about this unwanted and unpopular war when Victor Suthren presents The St. Lawrence War of 1812: The War No One Wanted on Saturday, May 10th, 2 p.m. at the St. Lawrence County Historical Association at the Silas Wright House, 3 East Main St., Canton. Continue reading

Warren Harding’s Chair: A Battle of Valcour Island Relic


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Warren Harding LOCIt’s remarkable how two unrelated historical events sometimes converge to form a new piece of history. In one such North Country connection, the job choice of a future president became linked to a famous encounter on Lake Champlain. The future president was Warren Harding (1921–23), and the lake event was the Battle of Valcour Island (1776). The results weren’t earth shattering, but the connection did spawn coast-to-coast media stories covering part of our region’s (and our nation’s) history.

In 1882, Harding (1865–1923) graduated from Ohio Central College. Among the positions he held to pay for schooling was editor of the college newspaper. In 1884, after pursuing various job options, he partnered with two other men and purchased the failing Marion Daily Star. Harding eventually took full control of the newspaper, serving as both publisher and editor. Continue reading