Dec 31, 2010

New Year's Eve 1910

New Year's Eve 1910 (Library of Congress)

Dec 30, 2010

Red Lion drops cigar on New Year's Eve

(York Dispatch) The eastern side of York County Friday night will be full of cigar raising, shoe drops, fireworks and, if all goes well, streets packed with revelers in Hallam and Red Lion boroughs. For the 14th year, Red Lion will hold a giant, free celebration in its downtown area from 7 p.m. to midnight that committee chairman Joe Valenti thinks should attract people from around the region. They even added "area" to the "Red Lion Area New Year's Committee" to better represent the goal of bringing in people from outside Red Lion. "We're willing to take as many people as we can hold," he said. Continued

Narrative and the Grace of God: The New ‘True Grit’

(Stanley Fish/NYTimes) ... In the movie we have just been gifted with, there is no relationship between the two; heroism, of a physical kind, is displayed by almost everyone, “good” and “bad” alike, and the universe seems at best indifferent, and at worst hostile, to its exercise. The springs of that universe are revealed to us by the narrator-heroine Mattie in words that appear both in Charles Portis’s novel and the two films, but with a difference. The words the book and films share are these: “You must pay for everything in this world one way and another. There is nothing free with the exception of God’s grace.” These two sentences suggest a world in which everything comes around, if not sooner then later. The accounting is strict; nothing is free, except the grace of God. But free can bear two readings — distributed freely, just come and pick it up; or distributed in a way that exhibits no discernible pattern. In one reading grace is given to anyone and everyone; in the other it is given only to those whom God chooses for reasons that remain mysterious. Continued

Photo: My great, great grandmother, Clarksville Arkansas c1860. Her family adhered to a theology nearly identical to that of Mattie in True Grit. They were hard people. One of her son's-in-law, whom, I suppose, came from touchy-feely stock, lamented that he could "break his leg in the living room and nobody would bat an eye."

Paul Stookey

(Wikipedia) Noel Paul Stookey (born December 30, 1937) is a singer-songwriter best known as "Paul" in the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. He took the stage name "Paul" as part of the trio Peter, Paul, and Mary, but he has been known as Noel (his first name) otherwise, throughout his life. He did not retire after Mary's death and, as of 2010, he continues to work as a solo singer and activist. Continued

Dec 29, 2010

Railroad Accident Takes Seven Lives in Delmar in 1909

(Reflections on Delmarva's Past) One gloomy Monday night in February 1909, the Norfolk Express, eleven cars loaded with passengers, baggage and mail for Norfolk, rolled out of Wilmington at midnight. As the train rushed down the Peninsula, past Middletown, Dover, Harrington and Seaford, a thick fog cloaked Delaware, greatly reducing visibility. Moments before 3 o’clock in the morning, No. 49 slowed for Delmar Station. Continued

Pictured: "Princess Trixie, queen of all educated horses."

Frederick Douglass Visited Port Deposit and Rising Sun in 1885

(WoCCP) Just days before Cecil County residents celebrated the arrival of a New Year, welcoming in 1886, an aging social reformer, orator, and writer, traveled to Cecil County to lecture on “The Self-Made Man.” On his way to Rising Sun where the town’s literary society was sponsoring the program, the abolitionist leader, Frederick Douglass, who’d escaped from slavery, stopped for a few hours in Port Deposit. There he attracted considerable attention. Continued

Image: "Frederick Douglass appealing to President Lincoln and his cabinet to enlist Negroes," mural by William Edouard Scott, at the Recorder of Deeds building, built in 1943. 515 D St., NW, Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress).

Billy the Kid to be Pardoned 130 Years Later?

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CBS/AP) Descendants of Old West lawman Pat Garrett and New Mexico Territorial Gov. Lew Wallace are outraged that Gov. Bill Richardson is considering a pardon for Billy the Kid, saying Wallace never offered a pardon, and a petition seeking one is tainted because it comes from a lawyer with ties to Richardson. Continued

Photo: Falmanac, some rights reserved.

Dec 28, 2010

"The Greatest Game Ever Played"

(Wikipedia) The 1958 National Football League Championship Game was played on December 28, 1958 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. It was the first ever National Football League (NFL) playoff game to go into sudden death overtime. The final score was Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17. The game has since become widely known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played." Continued

Dec 26, 2010

E.D.E.N. Southworth

( Christened Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte at her dying father's request, the most popular woman novelist of her era used the acronym E.D.E.N. throughout her career. After graduating from her stepfather's academy in Washington, D.C., in 1835, she taught school for five years before marrying inventor Frederick Southworth and moving with him to Wisconsin. In 1844, when E.D.E.N. was pregnant with their second child, Frederick abandoned his family to seek fortune in South America. Faced with the task of raising and supporting her children alone, E.D.E.N. returned to Washington, D.C., to resume her teaching career. Continued

Dec 24, 2010

Funds secured to preserve possible Revolutionary War tract

(YDR) A farm where historians believe a Revolutionary War prison camp once stood is close to being preserved because the Conservation Fund has secured the money needed to buy the property.
The York County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to give $150,000 toward the preservation of the 116-acre Rowe farm off Locust Grove Road in Springettsbury Township.
It was the last commitment the Conservation Fund needed to purchase the property for $2.1 million - a lower price than the original offer, said county officials and Todd McNew, state director for the Conservation Fund. Continued

A Visit from Saint Nicholas in the Ernest Hemingway Manner by James Thurber

It was the night before Christmas. The house was very quiet. No creatures were stirring in the house. There weren't even any mice stirring. The stockings had been hung carefully by the chimney. The children hoped that Saint Nicholas would come and fill them.
The children were in their beds. Their beds were in the room next to ours. Mamma and I were in our beds. Mamma wore a kerchief. I had my cap on. I could hear the children moving. We didn't move. We wanted the children to think we were asleep.
"Father," the children said.
There was no answer. He's there, all right, they thought.
"Father," they said, and banged on their beds.
"What do you want?" I asked.
"We have visions of sugarplums," the children said.
"Go to sleep," said mamma.
"We can't sleep," said the children. They stopped talking, but I could hear them moving. They made sounds.
"Can you sleep?" asked the children.
"No," I said.
"You ought to sleep."
"I know. I ought to sleep."
"Can we have some sugarplums?"
"You can't have any sugarplums," said mamma.
"We just asked you."
There was a long silence. I could hear the children moving again.
"Is Saint Nicholas asleep?" asked the children.
"No," mamma said. "Be quiet."
"What the hell would he be asleep tonight for?" I asked.
"He might be," the children said.
"He isn't," I said.
"Let's try to sleep," said mamma.
The house became quiet once more. I could hear the rustling noises the children made when they moved in their beds.
Out on the lawn a clatter arose. I got out of bed and went to the window. I opened the shutters; then I threw up the sash. The moon shone on the snow. The moon gave the lustre of mid-day to objects in the snow. There was a miniature sleigh in the snow, and eight tiny reindeer. A little man was driving them. He was lively and quick. He whistled and shouted at the reindeer and called them by their names. Their names were Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen.
He told them to dash away to the top of the porch, and then he told them to dash away to the top of the wall. They did. The sleigh was full of toys.
"Who is it?" mamma asked.
"Some guy," I said. "A little guy."
I pulled my head in out of the window and listened. I heard the reindeer on the roof. I could hear their hoofs pawing and prancing on the roof.
"Shut the window," said mamma.
I stood still and listened.
"What do you hear?"
"Reindeer," I said. I shut the window and walked about. It was cold. Mamma sat up in the bed and looked at me.
"How would they get on the roof?" mamma asked.
"They fly."
"Get into bed. You'll catch cold."
Mamma lay down in bed. I didn't get into bed. I kept walking around.
"What do you mean, they fly?" asked mamma.
"Just fly is all."
Mamma turned away toward the wall. She didn't say anything.
I went out into the room where the chimney was. The little man came down the chimney and stepped into the room. He was dressed all in fur. His clothes were covered with ashes and soot from the chimney. On his back was a pack like a peddler's pack. There were toys in it. His cheeks and nose were red and he had dimples. His eyes twinkled. His mouth was little, like a bow, and his beard was very white. Between his teeth was a stumpy pipe. The smoke from the pipe encircled his head in a wreath. He laughed and his belly shook. It shook like a bowl of red jelly. I laughed. He winked his eye, then he gave a twist to his head. He didn't say anything.
He turned to the chimney and filled the stockings and turned away from the chimney. Laying his finger aside his nose, he gave a nod. Then he went up the chimney. I went to the chimney and looked up. I saw him get into his sleigh. He whistled at his team and the team flew away. The team flew as lightly as thistledown. The driver called out, "Merry Christmas and good night." I went back to bed.
"What was it?" asked mamma. "Saint Nicholas?" She smiled.
"Yeah," I said.
She sighed and turned in the bed.
"I saw him," I said.
"I did see him."
"Sure you saw him." She turned farther toward the wall.
"Father," said the children.
"There you go," mamma said. "You and your flying reindeer."
"Go to sleep," I said.
"Can we see Saint Nicholas when he comes?" the children asked.
"You got to be asleep," I said. "You got to be asleep when he comes. You can't see him unless you're unconscious."
"Father knows," mamma said.
I pulled the covers over my mouth. It was warm under the covers. As I went to sleep I wondered if mamma was right.

Found at

Dec 23, 2010

Booth descendants agree to brother's body ID tests

(Philadelphia Inquirer) In life, Edwin and John Wilkes Booth were brothers, ambitious actors, and bitter rivals. They ruthlessly competed for the limelight on stages in Philadelphia and across the nation.
Edwin became one of America's greatest Shakespearean actors, while John Wilkes achieved infamy in another role - as the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, at Ford's Theater in Washington.
Now, for the first time, Booth descendants have agreed to exhume Edwin's body, adding drama to the family's story and delighting historians who have speculated that John Wilkes escaped capture 145 years ago. Continued

Photo: The Booth Brothers

The Great Snowball Battle of Rappahannock Academy

( Two back-to-back snowstorms in February of 1863 provided the ammunition for a friendly snowball battle amongst rival divisions of Confederate troops near Fredericksburg, Virginia. On February 19, eight inches of snow fell on the region. Two days later, nine inches of snow fell. On February 25, sunny skies and mild temperatures softened the deep snow cover, providing ideal conditions for making snowballs.
During this time, the Confederate Army was camped near Fredericksburg. Some of the Divisions of the army had been reorganized, which had created friendly rivalries between the Confederate brigades and regiments. This helped spark a huge snowball battle near Rappahannock Academy in which approximately 10,000 Confederate soldiers participated. Continued

Dec 22, 2010

With Little Less Than Savage Fury

( On April 22, 1775, three days after a British column marched out of Boston and clashed with militiamen at Lexington and Concord, the news—and the cry of Revolution!—reached Danbury, Connecticut, where 18-year-old Stephen Maples Jarvis was working on the family farm. Over the next several days, the young man would confront the hard, consequential choice between joining the rebel patriots or staying loyal to King George. He was not alone; all across the eastern seaboard, others were wrestling with the same dilemma. Continued

Connie Mack: The Tall Tactician

(LoC) Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy, known as Connie Mack, the "Tall Tactician" of major league baseball, was born on December 22, 1862, in East Brookfield, Massachusetts. Ramrod-straight and a string bean of a man at 6'1" and 150 pounds, Mack was a professional baseball player prior to serving as manager and team executive for fifty-three years.
Fifty of those years, from 1901 through the 1950 season, were spent as owner-manager of the Philadelphia Athletics. The A's won nine American League championships and five World Series under the management of this beloved and respected baseball legend. Continued

Dec 21, 2010

NORAD Santa Tracker

Once again, NORAD will be tracking Santa Claus as he makes his rounds tonight. "Detecting Santa all starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system has 47 installations strung across the northern border of North America. NORAD makes a point of checking the radar closely for indications of Santa Claus leaving the North Pole on Christmas Eve." Link to tracker.

Dec 20, 2010

Disunion: The Government Disintegrates as the Union Dissolves

(NYTimes) The Buchanan presidency is collapsing, like a once stately mansion falling joist by joist and beam by beam into utter ruin. The only question at the start of this week was which would dissolve first, the government or the union. We saw that the union went first. Continued

Dec 19, 2010

How to make Eastern Shore White Potato Pie

(Cecil Observer) ... These pies were a popular treat back then, when more exotic ingredients and baking supplies (brownie mix, canned pumpkin, etc.) probably weren’t available or too expensive. There were, however, plenty of potatoes. Continued

Pictured: Christmas dinner in home of Earl Pauley. Near Smithfield, Iowa. Dinner consisted of potatoes, cabbage and pie, 1936 by Russell Lee (FSA/Library of Congress).

Highlandtown train garden carries on a Baltimore tradition

(Jacques Kelly) Have I ever encountered a Baltimore Christmas garden I didn't like? As a child, I spent my late Decembers going from one city fire company to another, from one neighbor's basement to the next, from hobby shop to sporting goods store, oohing and aahing at all those villages surrounded by all those trains. There were no favorites. They were all hits, even the bad ones. Continued

The £2bn slavery ‘bail-out’ that helped make Glasgow great

(heraldscotland) Scottish businessmen collectively received the equivalent of £2 billion for loss of “property”on the outlawing of slavery, according to new research by a network of historians. Continued

Dec 18, 2010

75th Anniversary of the Plane That Changed Everything

(Wired) The aviation era started 107 years ago when the Wright brothers first took flight. But the era of the airlines for the flying public didn't really take off until 1935 when the venerable Douglas DC-3 first took to the skies. Continued

Photo: Douglas c-47, a military version of the DC-3.

Looking into French origins of 'Havre de Grace'

(TheRecord) Plans for a Havre de Grace historical society started off with a bang on Monday, when several area history buffs met with a French historian to dig deeper into the city’s French connection.
City Councilman Mitch Shank, businessman and Record columnist Ron Browning and local historian Ellsworth Shank, the councilman’s father and a local history buff and researcher, held a lively interview with Christian Goulfier, a history writer from southern France, at The Ritz restaurant.
The conversation was taped, in what Mitch Shank hopes will be the first in a series of recorded interviews with prominent residents and visitors about Havre de Grace history. Continued

Dec 17, 2010

In 500 Billion Words, New Window on Culture

(NYTimes) With little fanfare, Google has made a mammoth database culled from nearly 5.2 million digitized books available to the public for free downloads and online searches, opening a new landscape of possibilities for research and education in the humanities.
The digital storehouse, which comprises words and short phrases as well as a year-by-year count of how often they appear, represents the first time a data set of this magnitude and searching tools are at the disposal of Ph.D.’s, middle school students and anyone else who likes to spend time in front of a small screen. Continued

Dec 16, 2010

Family hangs handmade Christmas ornament for 100th year

(YDR) By any objective standards, it wasn't the prettiest ornament on the Christmas tree.
Tucked amid the shiny bulbs and green branches was a small, round circle of corrugated cardboard with a face drawn on it and decorative nails radiating from the edges -- a child's representation of the moon.
But that particular ornament meant a lot to the members of Dan Meckley III's extended family, who were gathered in the Spring Garden home of his son, David Meckley. Continued

Yes, Groucho, there really was a Freedonia

(Wikipedia) Freedonian was probably first used by Americans immediately after the American Revolution in place of the demonym "American." Continued

There was also a Fredonia, for a short while, in Texas: The Fredonian Rebellion (December 21, 1826 – January 31, 1827) was the first attempt by Anglo settlers in Texas to secede from Mexico. The settlers, led by empresario Haden Edwards, declared independence from Mexican Texas and created the Republic of Fredonia near Nacogdoches, Texas. The short-lived republic encompassed the land the Mexican government had granted to Edwards in 1825 and included areas that had been previously settled. Edwards's actions soon alienated these established residents, and the increasing hostilities between them and settlers recruited by Edwards led the Mexican government to revoke Edwards's contract. Continued

Dec 15, 2010

Even more about scrapple before the holidays

(OiYK) It's been a while since I've had a good post about scrapple, puddin', ponhaus and its origins. For our part, we have a freezer full of Habbersett's for Hubby, courtesy of my mother-in-law, so I thought it might be a good time to revisit some past discussions on the subject!
Commenter Robert brings up scrapple as a good meat for this time of year. He says, "My family has eaten panhas for years every Thanksgiving. My ancestors were as German as as you could get with a name like Zahnhizer. This meat product was traditionally very similar to head cheese, but now has been modified a bit. My mom uses a bit of black pepper as the seasoning and it is fried crispy outside, soft on the inside and eaten WITHOUT any other additions. This is a meat product not fried corn mush!"
(Wonder what Mark thinks about the lack of King Syrup??) Continued

Abner Powell

(Wikipedia) Abner Charles Powell (December 15, 1860 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania - August 7, 1953 in New Orleans, Louisiana) was a Major league baseball player who was a member of the Washington Nationals of the Union Association in 1884. He later played for the Baltimore Orioles and the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1886. He also managed and owned several teams.
Powell was more famous, however, for innovations that changed baseball. Continued

Dec 14, 2010

The Death of George Washington

(LoC) At 10:00 p.m. on December 14, 1799, George Washington died at his Mt. Vernon home after five decades of service to his country. His last words reportedly were: "I feel myself going. I thank you for your attentions; but I pray you to take no more trouble about me. Let me go off quietly. I cannot last long." Washington was sixty-seven years old.
... Henry Lee's eulogy for Washington —"first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen"—accurately and touchingly memorialized the man so often called the "father of our country." By the time of his death, Washington was admired throughout the world. As the news spread, Napoleon's armies and the British channel fleet paid homage to his memory. In this country, Gouverneur Morris delivered "An Oration upon the Death of General Washington" urging Americans to uphold the standards of wisdom and honesty set by Washington. Continued

Image: Life of George Washington The Christian death, painted by Stearns ; lith. by R├ęgnier, imp. Lemercier, Paris, c1853 (Library of Congress).

Dec 13, 2010

Marye's Heights

(Wikipedia) ... Seven Union divisions had been sent in, generally one brigade at a time, for a total of fourteen individual charges, all of which failed, costing them from 6,000 to 8,000 casualties. Confederate losses at Marye's Heights totaled around 1,200. The falling of darkness and the pleas of Burnside's subordinates were enough to put an end to the attacks. Longstreet later wrote, "The charges had been desperate and bloody, but utterly hopeless." Thousands of Union soldiers spent the cold December night on the fields leading to the heights, unable to move or assist the wounded because of Confederate fire. That night, Burnside attempted to blame his subordinates for the disastrous attacks, but they argued that it was entirely his fault and no one else's. Continued

Illustration: Union General Humphrey charging during the battle of Fredericksburg of the American Civil War by Alfred Waud.

Dec 12, 2010

Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War

(NYTBR) Thomas B. Allen, the author of several books about American warfare, has a strangely neglected topic in the Americans who opposed the Revolutionary War. There hasn’t been a big book about the loyalists since before the Bicentennial.
Both sides meant business: property and power were at stake. Loyalists as well as patriots recruited with promises of land to the victors. It is widely known that in the South the war descended into guerrilla combat, and the liberation, or theft, of slaves. Allen describes similar tendencies on the northern and western fronts. Continued

Photo: Library of Congress

Dec 10, 2010

Custer's 'Last Flag' sells for $2.2 million

(AP) The only U.S. flag not captured or lost during George Armstrong Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn in southeastern Montana sold at auction Friday for $2.2 million.
The buyer was identified by the auction house Sotheby's in New York as an American private collector. Frayed, torn, and with possible bloodstains, the flag had been valued before its sale at up to $5 million.
The 7th U.S. Cavalry flag — known as a "guidon" for its swallow-tailed shape — had been the property of the Detroit Institute of Arts, which paid just $54 for it in 1895. Continued

Pictured: "Custer's Last Charge (Library of Congress).

Disunion: Visualizing Slavery

(NYTimes) The 1860 Census was the last time the federal government took a count of the South’s vast slave population. Several months later, in the summer of 1861, the United States Coast Survey—arguably the most important scientific agency in the nation at the time—issued two maps of slavery that drew on the Census data, the first of Virginia and the second of Southern states as a whole. Though many Americans knew that dependence on slave labor varied throughout the South, these maps uniquely captured the complexity of the institution and struck a chord with a public hungry for information about the rebellion. Continued

Walter Johnson Dies

(LoC) On December 10, 1946, baseball great Walter Johnson died at the age of fifty-nine. Nicknamed "The Big Train," Johnson pitched his way to fame during twenty-one seasons with the Washington Senators. His fastball is considered to be among the best in baseball history.
Johnson joined the Senators in 1907. After a tentative first season, the former high school star found his ground eventually scoring more shutout victories (110) than any other major league pitcher. Johnson's 1913 record for pitching fifty-six consecutive scoreless innings stood for over fifty years until Don Drysdale bested it in 1968. His strikeout record (3,508) held until 1983. In all-time wins, Johnson is second only to Cy Young.
Honored in 1913 and in 1924 as the American League's Most Valuable Player, Johnson retired from play after the 1927 season after breaking his leg--being struck by a line drive during spring training. Two years later, he took over as manager of the Senators, a position that he held until 1932. Continued

Dec 9, 2010

Edwin Sandys

(Wikipedia) Sir Edwin Sandys (pronounced "Sands") (9 December 1561 – October 1629) was an English statesman and one of the founders of the proprietary Virginia Company of London, which in 1607 established the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States in the colony of Virginia, based at Jamestown. Edwin Sandys was one of the men instrumental in establishing the first representative assembly in the new world at Jamestown by issuing a new charter calling for its establishment. In addition, he assisted the Pilgrims in establishing their colony at Plymouth Massachusetts by lending them 300 pounds without interest. Continued

$5,000 Reward Offered In Civil War Chapel Fire

GETTYSBURG, Pa. (WGAL) A $5,000 reward is being offered by Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) for information on the arson case which destroyed a replica Civil War chapel.
The fire broke out Friday on Chambersburg Street, damaging four buildings. Continued

Dec 8, 2010

Fire-damaged Park Plaza has had storied Mount Vernon career

(Baltimore Sun) The fire-damaged property at Charles and Madison streets, known as the Park Plaza, marks a gateway to Baltimore's Mount Vernon cultural district and serves as a symbol of the neighborhood's vibrancy. Associated with a century and a half of well-known Marylanders, from Baltimore Sun founder Arunah S. Abell to former ambassador to Luxembourg Kingdon Gould Jr. to arts patron Constance Caplan, the five-level building and its carriage house at Charles and Madison streets have been a laboratory of architectural adaptation. The main building, originally a 25-room mansion, has been damaged by fire before in its 168-year history and rebuilt. Continued

Felton, the town that Ma & Pa Railroad built

(YDR) The Ma & Pa Railroad put Felton on the map.
Felton Station was a major stop between Muddy Creek Forks and Red Lion on the winding railroad that connected York and Baltimore. In addition to the railroad, the borough benefited from its location near two streams: Muddy Creek Forks and Pine Run. Continued

Photo: MDRails

Dec 7, 2010

A Christmas gallery from the Library of Congress (part 1)

A Christmas gallery from the Library of Congress (part 1)

Alexander Wetmore

(Wikipedia) Frank Alexander Wetmore (June 18, 1886 North Freedom, Wisconsin – December 7, 1978 Glen Echo, Maryland) was an American ornithologist and avian paleontologist. ... Wetmore began federal service in 1910, working for the Biological Survey of the Department of Agriculture.
In 1915, he researched the use of lead shot in causing death in waterfowl. His paleontological research led to his work on the fossil birds Palaeochenoides mioceanus and Nesotrochis debooyi.
In 1924, Wetmore joined the Smithsonian Institution as the superintendent of the National Zoological Park in Washington. In 1925, Wetmore was appointed assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, becoming secretary between 1945 and 1952. Continued

Dec 6, 2010

Disunion: Too Little, Too Late

(NYTimes) In 1860, President Buchanan, in his final State of the Union address, admonishes both sides in the secession crisis for heightening tensions. Continued

John Singleton Mosby

(Wikipedia) John Singleton Mosby (December 6, 1833 – May 30, 1916), also known as "the Gray Ghost", was a Confederate cavalry battalion commander in the American Civil War. His command, the 43rd Battalion, 1st Virginia Cavalry, known as Mosby's Raiders, was noted for its lightning quick raids, partisan or ranger-like tactics and its ability to successfully elude Union Army pursuers and disappear, blending in with local farmers and townspeople. Continued

Dec 4, 2010

Samuel Argall

(Encyclopedia Virginia) Samuel Argall was a longtime resident of Jamestown and the deputy governor of Virginia (1617–1619). He pioneered a faster means of traveling to Virginia by following the 30th parallel, north of the traditional Caribbean route, and he first arrived in June 1610, just after the "Starving Time" when the surviving colonists were ready to quit for Newfoundland. Although he joined in the war against the Virginia Indians, Argall also engaged in diplomacy, negotiating provisions from Iopassus (Japazaws) of the Patawomeck tribe. Argall explored the Potomac River region in the winter of 1612 and spring of 1613, and there, with Iopassus's complicity, kidnapped Pocahontas, a move that helped establish an alliance between the Patawomecks and the Virginians. In 1613 and 1614, Argall explored as far north as present-day Maine and Nova Scotia, and made hostile contact with the Dutch colony at Manhattan. He also helped negotiate peace with the Pamunkey and Chickahominy tribes. As deputy governor, Argall improved military preparedness but did not enforce martial law in the same way as Sir Thomas Dale had, making his administration a bridge between the old politics and a new more democratic era. Knighted by James I in 1622, Argall led an English fleet against the Spanish in 1625 and died at sea in 1626. Continued

Pictured: The Abduction of Pocahontas, copper engraving by Johann Theodore de Bry, 1618

Dec 3, 2010

'Star Spangled Banner' sheet music sells for more than $500,000

(YDR) A piece of sheet music for "The Star Spangled Banner," once owned by a York County family, sold at auction today for $506,500, according to the auction house.
A spokeswoman for Christie's in Manhattan said the winner bid by telephone. She would not release the winner's name. Continued

The Fredericksburg Campaign

(Wikipedia) ... The Union Army began marching on November 15, [1862] and the first elements arrived in Falmouth on November 17. Burnside's plan quickly went awry—he had ordered pontoon bridges to be sent to the front and assembled for his quick crossing of the Rappahannock, but because of administrative bungling, the bridges had not preceded the army. As Maj. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner arrived, he strongly urged an immediate crossing of the river to scatter the token Confederate force of 500 men in the town and occupying the commanding heights to the west. Burnside became anxious, concerned that the increasing autumn rains would make the fording points unusable and that Sumner might be cut off and destroyed. He squandered his initiative and ordered Sumner to wait in Falmouth.
Lee at first anticipated that Burnside would beat him across the Rappahannock and that to protect Richmond, he would assume the next defensible position to the south, the North Anna River. But when he saw how slowly Burnside was moving (and Confederate President Jefferson Davis expressed reservations about planning for a battle so close to Richmond), he directed all of his army toward Fredericksburg. By November 23, all of Longstreet's corps had arrived and Lee placed them on the ridge known as Marye's Heights to the west of town, with Anderson's division on the far left, McLaws's directly behind the town, and Pickett's and Hood's to the right. He sent for Jackson on November 26, but his Second Corps commander had anticipated the need and began forced-marching his troops from Winchester on November 22, covering as many as 20 miles a day. Jackson arrived at Lee's headquarters on November 29 and his divisions were deployed to prevent Burnside crossing downstream from Fredericksburg: D.H. Hill's division moved to Port Royal, 18 miles down river; Early's 12 miles down river at Skinker's Neck; A.P. Hill's at Thomas Yerby's house, "Belvoir", about 6 miles southeast of town; and Taliaferro's along the RF&P Railroad, 4 miles south at Guinea Station.
The boats and equipment for a single pontoon bridge arrived at Falmouth on November 25, much too late to enable the Army of the Potomac to cross the river without opposition. Burnside still had an opportunity, however, because by then he was facing only half of Lee's army, not yet dug in, and if he acted quickly, he might have been able to attack Longstreet and defeat him before Jackson arrived. Continued

Map by Hal Jespersen,

Dec 2, 2010

The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer

(NYTBR) “You know the story of the invention of the computer?” one character asks another midway through Jane Smiley’s best-selling 1995 novel “Moo.” The speaker, an animal scientist, dreams of striking it rich by pioneering a new dairy-farming technology. To that end, he hopes to pry major grant money out of the agricultural industry, and he wields the history of the computer as both cautionary tale and crowbar. “The short version,” he explains, “is that the guy at Iowa State who invented the computer in the late ’30s never patented a thing. . . . And the university . . . forgot about the old machine, and threw it out.” Continued

Photo: United States Department of Energy/Wikipedia

Dec 1, 2010

Disunion: The Assassin’s Debut

(NYTimes) The young actor had been captivating local audiences for the past month. Just 22 years old, trim and athletic, with tousled hair and lustrous eyes, he had an especially mesmerizing effect on the young ladies of Montgomery. Most probably knew already that he was a scion of the most famous thespian dynasty in America. Thus far, however, he had only appeared onstage under a discreetly truncated version of his name: John Wilkes. As a stock actor working his way through an endless series of supporting roles, he had not wanted to risk comparison to his famous father and brother. Continued

Image of John Wilkes Booth from the Library of Congress

New Book Captures History of Rising Sun

(WoCCP) As a year filled with exciting events celebrating the 150th anniversary of Rising Sun draws to a close, a new book about the event and the community’s past just came off the press. This commemorative volume, Rising Sun, MD 150th Anniversary, is loaded with informative articles that chronicle the town’s past and features stories about its people, businesses and organizations. Continued

Dave McNally

(Wikipedia) David Arthur "Dave" McNally (October 31, 1942–December 1, 2002) was a Major League Baseball left-handed starting pitcher from 1962 until 1975. He was signed by the Baltimore Orioles and played with them every year but his last one with the Montreal Expos.
McNally has the unique distinction as the only pitcher in Major League history to have hit a grand slam and thereby win his own game in the World Series (1970). Continued