History Wishes for the New Year

Practical historical advice everyone can use- More Civil War discussion- less monument destruction PBS rebroadcasts Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” nationally Congress authorizes one quarter of the total for Trump’s wall to be used for historic preservation Ed Bearss is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Americans rediscover the greatness of George Washington The HouseContinue reading “History Wishes for the New Year”

Drink Like a Founder

If you seek a historically acceptable wine… for this holiday season, consider Madeira.  The fortified wine is produced in the island group of the same name.  Madeira is fortified with another spirit, typically rum.  The fortification process dates to the 16th century where it prevented spoilage over long ocean voyages.  Tinta Negra Mole grapes are used toContinue reading “Drink Like a Founder”

Christmas on the Mountain

Thomas Jefferson celebrated Christmas… but not with stockings and Christmas trees- modern incarnations of the season didn’t take hold in America until after the Civil War.  Jefferson’s Christmas was a time for family, friends, and as he described it, “merriment.”   Family was all important to the Sage of Monticello, and he described the day”  “theContinue reading “Christmas on the Mountain”

Tearing Down to Build Up

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu made national headlines for rationalizing his city’s iconoclastic fury in 2017. “Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of ourContinue reading “Tearing Down to Build Up”

None Braver

The charge of the Irish Brigade against the Confederate position at Marye’s Heights outside Fredericksburg is the stuff of legend.        The legendary  stature of these men and their deeds is largely due to the reminiscences of their opponents. James Longstreet, whose troops occupied the stonewall position at Marye’s Heights remembered: “The manner inContinue reading “None Braver”

Garry Owen!

The Irish Brigade crossed the Rappahannock river at Fredericksburg… a shadow of its former self.  Three months earlier, along the banks of the Antietam Creek, the Irish Brigade marched to glory with more than 2,000 men.  At Fredericksburg, the newly arrived 28th Massachusetts regiment bolstered the ranks to 1,200, but the veteran regiments had been decimatedContinue reading “Garry Owen!”

Uncommon Valor

Lt. Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain describes the horrific night of December 13th, 1862 at the base of Marye’s Heights. Fredericksburg, Virginia- December 14, 1862 “But out of that silence rose new sounds more appalling still; a strange ventriloquism, of which you could not locate the source, a smothered moan, as if a thousand discords wereContinue reading “Uncommon Valor”

Jefferson Bible Exists

Despite the best efforts of pseudo-historians to argue otherwise, Jefferson’s personal bible is on display at the Smithsonian’s American History museum. Religiously motivated writers do their best to portray Jefferson as a devout Christian despite the historical record.  Jefferson’ s religious beliefs were a deeply personal matter and he shared them with few. “Our particularContinue reading “Jefferson Bible Exists”

Jefferson on Love

A periodic look into the mind of Jefferson Jefferson loved two women in his life… both brought him periods of blissful happiness and profound sadness.  Through all the sadness, Jefferson’s optimism could always be felt-  He told his second love, Maria Cosway in 1786: “Heaven has submitted our being to some unkind laws.  When thoseContinue reading “Jefferson on Love”