Category Archives: Military History

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

Fox Conner: ‘The Man Who Made Eisenhower’


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Fox Connor on HorseA little-known forest retreat called Brandreth Park has several unimpressive dwellings and sparse communication with the outside world. Yet back in the dark days of World War II generals Eisenhower, Marshal, Patton and others in the American military headquarters of England and Europe felt it necessary to keep their lines of communication open and flowing with one of its residents, Major General Fox Conner, U.S Army, Retired.

It’s safe to say that most Americans have never heard of Brandreth Park or of this soldier who never served in WWII but who nonetheless contributed to the victory over Germany. Those who do remember Conner, consider him “the man who made Eisenhower”. Continue reading

Fort Ticonderoga Kicks Off Season With 1775 Capture


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No Quarter Release 2014Fort Ticonderoga kicks off the 2014 season May 10-11 with its “No Quarter” event recreating the capture of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775.

In this weekend-long recreation visitors will experience “America’s First Victory” by exploring this dramatic story from the perspectives of both the British garrison and the Green Mountain Boys, including face-to-face interactions with the historical characters including Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold. Continue reading

A Special New York History Journal War of 1812 Issue


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NY-History-Journal-logo-nysha-webAs part of the ongoing commemorations of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, this special issue of the journal New York History focuses on New York State’s key role in that conflict. In the early nineteenth century, New York occupied an important strategic position in North America.

As the newly independent United States defined and expanded its borders, it clashed with Native peoples and Great Britain, which continued to have a strong presence on the continent despite the losses of the American Revolution. With the onset of the War of 1812, New York became a central battleground in the ongoing contest for dominance in North America. Continue reading

War of 1812 Talk At North Tonawanda History Museum


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North Tonawanda History MuseumThe North Tonawanda History Museum will host Town of Tonawanda Historian John W. Percy as he presents a program on the War of 1812 in Western New York at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 26. Percy is an Ex-officio Trustee and Advisory Committee member of the History Museum. The program will be part of an all day open house in celebration of the History Museum’s tenth anniversary. The public is invited to tour the 10,000 square feet of exhibits from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

John W. Percy has been Town Historian of the Town of Tonawanda for 40 years, former Village of Kenmore Historian for 12 years, Trustee/member/officer of the Tonawanda-Kenmore Historical Society for 40 years, is a retired history teacher in the City of Tonawanda School District where he worked for 35 years.

The North Tonawanda History Museum, established in 2003, is located at 54 Webster Street in North Tonawanda (Niagara County), NY. For more information call (716) 213-0554 or e-mail nthistorymuseum@aol.com.

Fort Ticonderoga Awarded for Interpretive Programs


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Stuart on horse 2Fort Ticonderoga recently received an Innovation in Interpretation Award from the Museum Association of New York (MANY) which recognized Fort Ticonderoga as a leader in historic interpretation. The award was presented at MANY’s annual meeting in Albany, NY at the end of March.

“Fort Ticonderoga Interpretative Department, developed in 2011, has in remarkably short time become a national leader in historical interpretation, setting and implementing unparalleled interpretive standards,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO. “The program outcomes under the leadership of Director of Interpretation Stuart Lilie have seen nothing less than amazing results in attendance, school field trip participation, and increased Scout attendance. Through the creation and implementation of a unique interpretive approach, Fort Ticonderoga has defied the professional trends and has embarked on a major transformation.” Continue reading

New Windsor Revolutionary War Encampment Set


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new winsor encampmentNew Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site will host a weekend of Revolutionary War military firing demonstrations and period activities on Saturday April 26 and Sunday April 27, presented by the Brigade of the American Revolution, an international organization dedicated to recreating the life and times of the common soldier of the War for Independence, 1775-1783.

A battle demonstration takes place at 2:00 PM each day with colorfully uniformed soldiers firing muskets, a cannon and maneuvering to the music of fifes and drums.  The soldiers will also set up tents, prepare cooking fires and demonstrate other aspects of 18th century life.   Continue reading

Civil War: The Four Tupper Brothers


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Tupper1918NYHAmong the interesting stories to review during this sesquicentennial of the Civil War are those of North Country families who paid an unusually high price. In covering such tragic tales, the principal difficulty lies in getting it right―no small task when the main event occurred 150 years ago. In many cases, we may never be sure exactly what happened, but the availability of digitized records has changed the game. The truth sometimes emerges to replace embellishments that appeared in the long-accepted, oft-repeated version of a story.

The Tupper family of Pierrepont in St. Lawrence County offers a fine example. There’s no question they suffered tragic losses during the Civil War, but parts of their story may well have been juiced up by reporters hoping to inspire deep empathy or poignancy. Continue reading

Thomas Chambers to Speak About Battlefield History


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Memories of War Visiting Battlegrounds and Bonefields in the Early American RepublicOn Sunday, April 6, at 2pm, Saratoga National Historical Park hosts Dr. Thomas Chambers as he discusses his new book, Memories of War: Visiting Battlegrounds and Bonefields in the Early American Republic.

In this free program, Dr. Chambers addresses the progression of early American battlefields from places of conflict to places of tourism and remembrance. Fields and forests, once green and serene, became witness to great privation, suffering, tragedy, and triumph. After, they gave way to relative obscurity, falling back to quiet agricultural use, and sometimes passing into aging ruins. Yet in time, as better mobility and leisure time encouraged tourism, a growing romanticizing of the past breathed new life in these sites and called forth many people to experience their own connections with these bygone battlefields. Continue reading

Event: St. Lawrence County’s Civil War Veterans


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60th NY Volunteers Band Civil WarSt. Lawrence County’s Civil War Veterans is the topic for discussion at the next St. Lawrence County Historical Association (SLCHA) Civil War Roundtable this Sunday, March 30th, 2 p.m. at the Silas Wright House, 3 East Main St., Canton.

John Austin will tell about his project to document all of St. Lawrence County’s Civil War veterans. The North Country Civil War Roundtable is part of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s Commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which was fought from 1861-1865. Continue reading

Black Americans in the Revolutionary War


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Portrait of a black American Revolutaionary War salior by unknown artist, c 1780 (Original in the Newport Historical Society)Black Americans have a long and distinguished history of military service. They participated in every colonial war from 1690 through the French and Indian War (1754-1763) as soldiers, sailors, laborers, scouts, and spies. Blacks generally served in integrated units and earned the same pay as whites. Even slaves served in the army and were paid although their enlistment compelled them to surrender some portion of this money to their owners.

In the early Revolutionary War battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill, free and enslaved Blacks fought shoulder to shoulder with white patriots. However, by the summer of 1775, under pressure from Southern plantation owners, General George Washington and the Continental Congress opposed the further enlistment of free blacks and slaves. Historians James and Lois Horton state that southern planters were “well aware of African-Americans desire for freedom, and most feared insurrection should slaves gain access to guns.” Continue reading

Teddy Roosevelt and Leonard Wood:
Partners in Command


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Teddy-Roosevelt-and-Leonard-Wood-Partners-in-CommandTheodore Roosevelt was a man of wide interests, strong opinions, and intense ambition for both himself and his country. In 1897, when he met Leonard Wood (a physician who served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, Military Governor of Cuba, and Governor General of the Philippines) Roosevelt recognized a kindred spirit. Moreover, the two men shared a zeal for making the United States an imperial power that would challenge Great Britain as world leader.

For the remainder of their lives, the careers of T.R. and Wood would intertwine in ways that shaped the American nation. The late John S.D. Eisenhower’s Teddy Roosevelt and Leonard Wood: Partners in Command (University of Missouri Press, 2014) is a revealing look at the dynamic partnership of this fascinating pair and will be welcomed by scholars and military history enthusiasts alike. Continue reading

War of 1812 Heritage Talks Planned in Ogdensburg


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Glengarry 4For the sixth year, the Fort La Présentation Association offers a varied set of lectures April 25-26, 2014 for those with broad interests in the War of 1812. As in past years, this event will utilize the banquet hall and rooms of the Freight House Restaurant, 20 Market Street, in Ogdensburg, adjacent to part of the February 22, 1813 battlefield.

The event begins Friday evening with a family friendly concert of period music by Don Woodcock, the Grand Champion Fiddler of New York State, who is recognized for having one of the greatest repertoires of traditional fiddle tunes. Saturday there are seven seminars by speakers from Maryland, Connecticut, Ontario, Quebec and New York. A dozen tabletop exhibits with a regional theme will look at archaeology, battlefields, local authors, museums, the sailing navy, re-enactment photography and an active demonstration of Regency quilting. Continue reading

Battle of Trenton: George Washington’s Surprise Attack


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George Washington Battle of Trenton BookLike many historical events, the American Revolution is often shrouded in romantic myth and stubborn stereotypes. Perhaps no event offers a better example than General George Washington’s famous crossing of icy Delaware River on Christmas night to lead the Continental Army’s defeat of the Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey, an event which revived the flickering morale American revolutionaries.

In George Washington’s Surprise Attack: A New Look at the Battle That Decided the Fate of America (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014), Phillip Thomas Tucker attempts to parse fiction from fact. He provides an in-depth look (more than 600 pages, with notes) at the events of the Battle of Trenton, presenting new insights and analysis about a battle that holds a mythical place in American national history. Continue reading

The NYS Barge Canal During World War I


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120692pvAs the United States entered World War I, it was thought that the Nation’s transportation facilities were not up to the task of mobilizing and supplying large quantities of materials and men to the east coast for shipment to the war front.

What took place over the next three years was an experiment in the nationalization of the railroads, and to a much smaller extent, the waterways.

In 1917 New York State found itself with a rather big problem. After fourteen years of planning, engineering and construction, the new Barge Canal was almost ready for use. Although terminal space was still being built, plans were to have the entire canal channel and locks ready for use in the spring of 1918. However, there were few boats available for use on the canal, for a number of reasons: Continue reading