Near Harpers Ferry is a large piece of masonry that I didn’t get to. It is fascinating, though, because it represents something very rare: a memorial specifically dedicated to the war correspondents and artists who covered the Civil War.
The Battle of Harpers Ferry started on this day in 1862. The decisive engagement took place at Bolivar Heights, WV, on the heights to the west of Harpers Ferry, the town best known as the target of John Brown’s famous botched abolitionist raid of 1859. When we stayed in the town in 2010, we visited the small but important battleground site almost as an afterthought.
Long before the World Trade Center attacks, September 11 was a black day in U.S. history for another reason. This was the day in 1777 that saw the defeat of Washington’s Continental Army at the Battle of Brandywine, and a victory for British commander-in-chief General William Howe. This clash, followed by the inconclusive battle of Germantown, led to the capture of Philadelphia a few days later
Today marks the 200th anniversary of Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory over the British at the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813—part of the ultimately futile War of 1812 (which lasted through 1813, 1814, and, unofficially, early1815). This battle is probably best remembered for the words on Perry’s battle flag: “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP.”
Our local PBS station (WXXI) was replaying the Ken Burns series the “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” last weekend. The one I saw was the last episode, focusing on the story of the parks after World War II. The narrator made a big deal about the popularity of the parks among all kinds of Americans. It’s not something where, say, party affiliation makes much of a difference. That’s interesting.
September 9 is a pretty big day in Scottish history, thanks to two big events that occurred in the 16th century, both of which involved Scottish monarchs: James IV and Mary, Queen of Scots. But it’s Stirling Castle I really wanted to talk about. There’s been some sort of stronghold there for maybe 1400 years, though the earliest existing structures date back to about 1490.
One thing I want to do with this blog, beyond raising general issues about the role of our public sphere in helping us understand the past, is to focus on specific examples of monuments, memorials, and museums that help us do just that.