Category Archives: Military History

New Civil War Battle Flags Exhibit Opens at NYS Capitol


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CapitolA new exhibit of Civil War battle flags, “1863: Loyal Till Death,” is on display at the State Capitol, featuring ten flags carried upon the distant battlefields in the third year of the war, including those from the war’s most decisive stage, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

This exhibition includes special flags procured and presented to regiments by local patrons and politicians, unique personalized flags, and battle-damaged colors that, like the regiments they represented, were mere fragments of their once pristine and whole existence. Continue reading

Bullets, Belles, and Bodies: The Civil War in Popular Culture


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SesquicentennialLogoWhy don’t Americans decorate with battle streamers from the War of 1812 or re-enact battles from the Spanish-American war? Why is the Civil War still so compelling to Americans that many of us care passionately about its symbols, moments and legacies? From veterans’ organizations to battlefield re-enactments, Americans engage with the Civil War in varied ways, assigning multiple meanings to this divisive moment in America’s past.

On Saturday, July 27, a free talk at the New York State Museum explores these diverse meanings, questions why this particular moment in American history continues to fascinate and enrage Americans and uses the Civil War’s Sesquicentennial to examine the complicated relationship between history, memory and culture in America. Continue reading

Crown Point Donation Attempt To Correct Historical Record


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IMG_4901While touring the museum at Crown Point State Historic Site in May, a group of members of the Daughters of the American Revolution from New York’s mid-Hudson Valley visited historic Crown Point on Lake Champlain.

They came to see the point from which Hudson Valley troops, commanded by Generals Richard Montgomery and Philip Schuyler, departed to invade British Canada, and found an opportunity to serve history by funding a bronze marker at the starting point of the so-called Knox Artillery Trail, but not at Ticonderoga – at Crown Point. Continue reading

Guided History Tour Across Lake Champlain Bridge Planned


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Crown Point Bridge 2If you’ve wanted to learn more about what you see as you walk or drive over the new Lake Champlain Bridge, join the managers of the Chimney Point, VT, and Crown Point, NY, State Historic Sites for a guided walk on Sunday, July 28, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. Tom Hughes and Elsa Gilbertson will leaders a walk across and back on the bridge, and will discuss the 9,000 years of human history at this important location on Lake Champlain.

At this narrow passage on Lake Champlain humans have crossed here, as well as traveled north and south on the lake since glacial waters receded over 9,000 years ago. The channel with its peninsulas, or points, on each side made this one of the most strategic spots on Lake Champlain for the Native Americans, and French, British, and early Americans in the 17th and 18th centuries. Continue reading

First-Person Living History at Knox’s Headquarters


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image004General Washington knew exactly what he was about, in the summer of 1781, by trying to convince the British and his own soldiers that he would attack New York City. Unbeknownst to all, but trusted officials, he had agreed to move with the French Army south to Virginia. In Virginia, a French naval force from the Caribbean would join them to complete the encirclement of the British Army at Yorktown. Continue reading

State Museum Civil War Exhibit Honored, Extended


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posterThe New York State Museum, a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education, has received an Award of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) for its exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War.

The 7,000 square-foot exhibit, which opened on September 22, 2012 in Exhibition Hall, is now extended through March 23, 2014. Continue reading

Preservation Failures: Newburgh’s Weigand Tavern


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Weigand's_Tavern-AuthorOne of the saddest stories I have ever tracked in the newspapers is the Martin Weigand Tavern in the City of Newburgh. It is the story of a property allowed to deteriorate to a point where today it is almost beyond repair.

Located on Liberty Street, it is a relic of the American Revolution where many Revolutionary notables spent time. The tavern was also the center of political life in early Newburgh. It stands today at the Northwest corner of the Old Town Cemetery as it has for over two centuries. Continue reading

Student Historians Exhibit:
WWII Photography and Propaganda


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WWII & NYC at Governors IslandFrom unearthing black-and-white photos of New York Harbor to planting an authentic Victory Garden, New-York Historical Society high school Student Historians paint a vivid picture of World War II-era New York in WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda, a new exhibition on Governors Island.

Installed within a 19th-century home previously used by military officers during World War II and other conflicts, the exhibition prompts visitors to consider a time when virtually every aspect of New York life was transformed to support Allied victory. WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda will be on view with hands-on activities for families on Saturdays and Sundays from July 13 through September 2. Continue reading

The Troy Draft Riot and Father Peter Havermans


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havermanWhen what has been described as “the second most destructive draft riot in the nation” broke out in Troy on July 15, 1863, worried city residents, especially African-Americans, wondered if the Dean of the Roman Catholic churches in Troy, Father Peter Havermans, would, or could, do anything to calm the rioters and curb anticipated violence.

The bulk of the two to three thousand angry protestors in the streets were Catholics who worked in the city’s mills, factories and iron works. Continue reading

Fort Ticonderoga Offering New Guided Waterway Tour


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1775 lake champlain battoeNow you can see Fort Ticonderoga the way two generations of soldiers saw the great lakeside citadel in the 18th century during Fort Ticonderoga’s new sunset tour, The Place Between Great Waters. The ninety minute tour takes place on scenic Lake Champlain located just below the Fort’s imposing walls. Costumed historic interpreters will lead the tour in an 18th-century battoe while guests paddle along side in their canoes and kayaks (Fort Ticonderoga canoes will be available for rent the evening of the program). Continue reading

Avoiding The Draft, Civil War Style


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Draft Poster Civil War 02While reviewing some Civil War materials, I encountered mention of the New York City Draft Riots, which reminded me of my own experience with the draft back in the late 1960s. Whether there was a war or not, I had no interest in joining the military, but it was out of my hands. Vietnam was getting worse instead of better, and more troops were being sent. When I became eligible to go, America switched to the draft lottery.

While I was still in high school, my number (based on birthdays) came up in the 200s, so I didn’t have to go unless I enlisted. That wasn’t the case for men aged 18–45 during the Civil War. They had options, and not being drafted was one of them.

Few people realize that a draft of sorts was used even in the 1700s, a century before the Civil War, and that it was very similar in nature. The call for troops emanated from a central authority, whether it was the Continental Congress, or later, the President (or the Secretary of War). Continue reading

18th Century Artificers’ Encampment at Saratoga Battlefield


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Artificer at WorkFrom 10 AM to 4 PM on Saturday and Sunday, July 13 – 14, 2013, learn “how it’s made” 18th century style at a special Artificers’ Weekend at Saratoga National Historical Park, located between Routes 4 and 32 in Stillwater, NY.

What’s an artificer? Eighteenth century artificers were professional tradesmen working with armies to provide or repair supplies needed by the troops. Blacksmiths made and repaired iron and steel implements. Tailors sewed uniforms for soldiers. Woodworkers built or fixed wooden items like boxes, benches, or tool handles. Tinsmiths made or fixed canteens, cups. bowls, or lanterns. Continue reading

A Unique North Country Civil War Connection


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Plaque 77th Reg NYS Vol NYH1It’s guaranteed that you’re going to enjoy this, another unique North Country link to the Civil War. It sounds like something culled from the pages of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and begs the question: what the heck are the odds of that happening?

Though I can’t answer the question, I do recall that in my former employment, it was notable when three men all having the same first name worked in the same department. So what can you say about “The One-Legged Jims,” a group of three Civil War veterans? Continue reading

200 Years Ago: ‘Don’t Give Up The Ship’


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USS ChesapeakeIt’s a phrase most of us use, without knowing much more than it connotes an air of struggle.

A desperate struggle is exactly what was taking place when Captain James Lawrence of the USS Chesapeake made those words his final order – 200 years ago today.

The United States had been at war with Britain for nearly a year when Lawrence sailed his frigate out of Boston. Waiting for him outside the harbor was HMS Shannon, whose Captain was disobeying orders by preparing to engage an American ship one on one. Continue reading

New Exhibit on 18th Century Medicine at Fort Ticonderoga


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medicine exhibitFort Ticonderoga’s newest exhibit, “It would make a heart of stone melt”: Sickness, Injury, and Medicine at Fort Ticonderoga, is now open. The exhibit explores early medical theory, practice, and experience as each relates to the armies that served at Fort Ticonderoga in the 18th century.

Organized into several sections, the exhibit presents an overview of medical practices, diseases of the army, and the treatment of wounds for the armies that fought in America during the French and Indian War and American Revolution. Continue reading

Western VT’s Historic Sites Opening For Season


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Crown Point Bridge (John Warren Photo)The Memorial Day weekend brings the start of the 2013 season at the Chimney Point, Mount Independence, and Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Sites. The sites open this Saturday, May 25, at 9:30 a.m.

The Chimney Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Addison commands one of the most strategic locations on the Lake, of importance to human beings for over 9,000 years. The site presents the Native American, early French, and early American settlement of the area. The special exhibit is What Lies Beneath: 9,000 Years of History at Chimney Point, highlighting the archaeological findings from the 2009-2011 bridge and temporary ferry project—including the likely location of the “chimney” that gave Chimney Point its name in 1759. Continue reading