Dec 31, 2012

Walt Whitman in Washington


(NYTimes) Among the countless Northerners shocked by the Union defeat at Fredericksburg, Va., in December 1862 was the Brooklyn poet and journalist Walt Whitman. In Whitman’s case the shock was personal: his brother George was among the wounded. He quickly packed his bags and rushed south to the Union position. When Whitman arrived at the field hospital set up in a mansion, he found a scene from hell, watched over by an imposing angel: Clara Barton moved amid screams of surgery, ministering to youths, bandaging the bleeding and soothing the dying with low-spoken words and water.
Whitman never wrote a poem about her, but Barton’s caring solace to the wounded made a clear first impression on him. Rather than returning to New York after finding his brother, the poet felt compelled to move to Washington and serve as a hospital volunteer. There he could aid the wounded and observe the war firsthand. Continued

Dec 29, 2012

Friends of Camp Security need $400,000 by May


(YDR) Friends of Camp Security need to raise about $400,000 by May to help pay for a 47-acre property where historians believe a Revolutionary War prison camp once stood. The Conservation Fund bought the parcel off of Locust Grove Road in Springettsbury Township earlier this year from local developer Timothy Pasch, who had put the land up for sale. It ended a more than decade-long fight over whether the land would be preserved or become a housing development.
The total cost of the project came in around $1.05 million. Continued

Dec 27, 2012

The Whole Nine Yards About a Phrase’s Origin

(NYTimes) When people talk about “the whole nine yards,” just what are they talking about?
For decades the answer to that question has been the Bigfoot of word origins, chased around wild speculative corners by amateur word freaks, with exasperated lexicographers and debunkers of folk etymologies in hot pursuit.
Does the phrase derive from the length of ammunition belts in World War II aircraft? The contents of a standard concrete mixer? The amount of beer a British naval recruit was obligated to drink? Yardage in football? The length of fabric in a Scottish kilt (or sari, or kimono, or burial shroud)?
Type the phrase into Google and you’re likely to get any of these answers, usually backed by nothing more than vaguely remembered conversations with someone’s Great-Uncle Ed. But now two researchers using high-powered database search tools have delivered a confident “none of the above,” supported by a surprise twist: Continued

Dec 26, 2012

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 25, 2012

Cab Calloway

(Wikipedia) Cabell "Cab" Calloway III (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) was an American jazz singer and bandleader.
Calloway was a master of energetic scat singing and led one of the United States' most popular African American big bands from the start of the 1930s through the late 1940s. Calloway's band featured performers including trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Leon "Chu" Berry, New Orleans guitar ace Danny Barker, and bassist Milt Hinton. Calloway continued to perform until his death in 1994 at the age of 86. Continued

Dec 24, 2012

Twas the Night Before Christmas (1912 edition)

[Pg 001]

Twas the Night Before Christmas

A Visit from St. Nicholas

By Clement C. Moore

With Pictures by Jessie Willcox Smith

Houghton Mifflin Company
[Pg 002]Copyright © 1912 by Houghton Mifflin Company

Title motif


Amid the many celebrations last Christmas Eve, in various places by different persons, there was one, in New York City, not like any other anywhere. A company of men, women, and children went together just after the evening service in their church, and, standing around the tomb of the author of "A Visit from St. Nicholas," recited together the words of the poem which we all know so well and love so dearly.
Dr. Clement C. Moore, who wrote the poem, never expected that he would be remembered by it. If he expected to be famous at all as a writer, he thought it would be because of the Hebrew Dictionary that he wrote.
He was born in a house near Chelsea Square, New York City, in 1781; and he lived there all his life. It was a great big house, with fireplaces in it;—just the house to be living in on Christmas Eve.
Dr. Moore had children. He liked writing poetry for them even more than he liked writing a Hebrew Dictionary. He wrote a whole book of poems for them.
One year he wrote this poem, which we usually call "'Twas the Night before Christmas," to give to his children for a Christmas present. They read it just after they had [Pg 004]hung up their stockings before one of the big fireplaces in their house. Afterward, they learned it, and sometimes recited it, just as other children learn it and recite it now.
It was printed in a newspaper. Then a magazine printed it, and after a time it was printed in the school readers. Later it was printed by itself, with pictures. Then it was translated into German, French, and many other languages. It was even made into "Braille"; which is the raised printing that blind children read with their fingers. But never has it been given to us in so attractive a form as in this book. It has happened that almost all the children in the world know this poem. How few of them know any Hebrew!
Every Christmas Eve the young men studying to be ministers at the General Theological Seminary, New York City, put a holly wreath around Dr. Moore's picture, which is on the wall of their dining-room. Why? Because he gave the ground on which the General Theological Seminary stands? Because he wrote a Hebrew Dictionary? No. They do it because he was the author of "A Visit from St. Nicholas."
Most of the children probably know the words of the poem. They are old. But the pictures that Miss Jessie Willcox Smith has painted for this edition of it are new. All the children, probably, have seen other pictures painted by Miss Smith, showing children at other seasons of the year. How much they will enjoy looking at these pictures, showing children on that night that all children like best,—Christmas Eve!
E. McC.
[Pg 005]
Saying her Prayers
[Pg 006]

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

Sleeping Mouse
[Pg 007]
Stockings in the Fireplace
[Pg 008]
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,

[Pg 009]
The children were nestled
[Pg 010]
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

[Pg 011]
He sprang from the bed

[Pg 012]
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

[Pg 013]
what to my wondering eyes should appear
[Pg 014]

Flying Birds
Flying Birds
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

Flying Birds

[Pg 015]

Fig. 103
Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
[Pg 016]
Reindeer sleigh on the roof
[Pg 017]

Reindeer sleigh on the roof
[Pg 018]

Blustering leaves
Blustering leaves
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

[Pg 019]
Blustering leaves
Blustering leaves
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

[Pg 020]
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

[Pg 021]
He looked like a peddler
[Pg 022]

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

[Pg 023]
The beard of his chin was as white as the snow
[Pg 024]

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

[Pg 025]
He had a broad face and a little round belly
[Pg 026]

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

[Pg 027]
He filled all the stockings
[Pg 028]

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

[Pg 029]
up the chimney he rose
[Pg 030]

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."
[Pg 031]
he drove out of sight
[Pg 032]

Little bear
end cover

Dec 19, 2012

James J. Archer: A Confederate General from Bel Air, Maryland

(Wikipedia) James Jay Archer (December 19, 1817 – October 24, 1864) was a lawyer and an officer in the United States Army during the Mexican-American War, and he later served as a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.
Taken as a prisoner of war at the Battle of Gettysburg, Archer was the first general officer captured from Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Continued

Photos: 1. "Annotation from negative, scratched into emulsion: Briggen J.J. Archer," (Brady-Handy/Library of Congress) 2. "Old R.R. cutting where Archers Brigade of A.P. Hills Division was captured by the 14th Brooklyn 6th Wisconsin and 95th N.Y. ... 1863 July 1 (Alfred Waud/Library of Congress)

Dec 17, 2012

The Paper Trail Through History


(NYTBR) ... it’s representative of an emerging body of work that might be called “paperwork studies.” True, there are not yet any dedicated journals or conferences. But in history, anthropology, literature and media studies departments and beyond, a group of loosely connected scholars are taking a fresh look at office memos, government documents and corporate records, not just for what they say but also for how they circulate and the sometimes unpredictable things they do. Continued

Dec 15, 2012

The short, glorious history of the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving

(Slate) This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving, a lost player in the history of political progressivism. Now largely buried in century-old newspapers, theirs is a heartwarming story that puts War back into the War on Christmas.
SPUG started with a bang at the Nov. 14, 1912 meeting of the Working Girls' Vacation Fund. Founded a year earlier to help Manhattan shop clerks set aside a little money each week, the fund had quickly grown to 6,000 members, with savings of $30,000. But those savings faced a jolly nemesis: Christmas. Continued

In Small Things Forgotten


(NYTimes) The past survives all around us. The trick is recognizing it. Empty fields are usually empty fields, but sometimes they turn out to be former battlefields, slave villages or farms with dead buried along the palisade. As an archaeologist in Virginia, recognizing the past among the present is my job. And often, the past I uncover is related to the Civil War.
Many people are surprised to learn that archaeologists are interested in such relatively recent events; they think my job description focuses on Indian mounds and, perhaps, hidden treasure. The Civil War, in the popular mind, is the ultimate in thoroughly documented history, relegated to memorials and manicured battlefields, with little left to reveal, especially after relic hunters and development companies have worked over the land. It may seem that way, but it is not the case. Continued

Dec 14, 2012

Amundsen's South Pole expedition


(Wikipedia) The first expedition to reach the geographic South Pole was led by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. He and four others arrived at the pole on 14 December 1911, five weeks ahead of a British party led by Robert Falcon Scott as part of the Terra Nova Expedition. Amundsen and his team returned safely to their base, and later learned that Scott and his four companions died on their return journey. Continued 

Dec 13, 2012

Appointment at Fredericksburg

Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg, Va., Confederate fortifications (LoC)
(NYTimes) When Gen. Ambrose Burnside took over the Army of the Potomac in November 1862, the Republicans had suffered major losses in the mid-term elections, and the pressure was on to strike the Confederacy hard and end the rebellion. But Burnside took over a command as divided as the Union itself: many soldiers, particularly in the lower ranks, were angry over the recent dismissal of their beloved but controversial leader, Gen. George B. McClellan, and had serious doubts about both Burnside’s competence and the North’s shifting war aims.
And yet the country rallied behind the bewhiskered new commander as someone who could win on the battlefield. The New York Times hailed him as “just the man, of all men now in the field, likely to illustrate by some daring act of war in which he has thrown all the energies of his chivalric soul.” Unexamined were his penchant for gambling, his failures to make his own reconnaissance of the terrain his soldiers were to fight on, and his publicly expressed doubts about his own abilities. Continued

Dec 11, 2012

Annie Jump Cannon

(Wikipedia) - Annie Jump Cannon (December 11, 1863 – April 13, 1941) was an American astronomer whose cataloging work was instrumental in the development of contemporary stellar classification. With Edward C. Pickering, she is credited with the creation of the Harvard Classification Scheme, which was the first serious attempt to organize and classify stars based on their temperatures.
The daughter of shipbuilder and state senator Wilson Lee Cannon and his second wife, Mary Elizabeth Jump, Annie grew up in Dover, Delaware. Mary gave birth to two more daughters after Annie, in addition to the four stepchildren she inherited in the marriage. Annie's mother had a childhood interest in star-gazing, and she passed that interest along to her daughter. Continued 

Dec 10, 2012

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, 2012

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 

Dec 7, 2012

Air Raid on Pearl Harbor

(LoC) On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, killing more than 2,300 Americans. The U.S.S. Arizona was completely destroyed and the U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized. A total of twelve ships sank or were beached in the attack and nine additional vessels were damaged. More than 160 aircraft were destroyed and more than 150 others damaged. Continued

Photo: The U.S. Navy battleship USS Maryland (BB-46) alongside the capsized USS Oklahoma (BB-37) at Pearl Harbor. The USS West Virginia (BB-48) is burning in the background. (National Archives).

Dec 6, 2012

The Gray Ghost


(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 5, 2012

Glenn L Martin

Martin TA-4J Skyhawk
(Martin Museum) Glenn Luther Martin (January 17, 1886 - December 5, 1955). At the time he taught himself to fly in 1909 and 1910, Glenn Luther Martin was a youthful businessman, the owner (at age 22) of Ford and Maxwell dealerships in Santa Ana, California. Although he had taken courses at Kansas Wesleyan Business College before his family moved west in 1905, Martin lacked a technical background. His first planes were built in collaboration with mechanics from his auto shop, working in a disused church building that Martin rented. In 1909 Martin made his first successful flight; by 1911 he numbered among the most famous of the "pioneer birdmen." Continued

Dec 4, 2012

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, 2012

Train show is running at Harford Historical Society

(Aegis/Sun) The Historical Society of Harford County has two Christmas events happening this month at the society's headquarters in downtown Bel Air.
The society's popular Model Train Show is running Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. through Dec. 16.
Admission to the train show is $4 for adults, $2 for children and free for children under 4. It's one of at least three train gardens on display locally during the holiday season. Continued

Dec 2, 2012

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,