Sunday, November 24, 2013

Press Release--Prince George's County and the Civil War

The History Press is pleased to introduce the new title:
Nathania A. Branch Miles & Monday M. Miles
Bordered by the Federal capital but separated from Virginia and the Confederacy only by the Potomac River, the citizens of Prince George’s County found themselves on the front lines of the Civil War. As Maryland’s largest slave-owning county, some—including members of the Bowie and Surratt families— joined the Confederacy. Many remained loyal to the Union, losing sons and property for the cause. Three forts in the county were dedicated to the capital’s defense: Fort Foote, Fort Washington and Fort Lincoln. This did not prevent Confederate general Jubal Early’s troops from invading in July 1864. The Rebel forces blew up rail lines in Beltsville and took the Rossborough Inn near the Maryland Agricultural College—now the University of Maryland, College Park—as their headquarters. Prince George’s County and the Civil War: Life on the Border charts the course of a community caught in the midst of the bloodiest conflict in American history.

Monday M. Miles is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, with a bachelor’s degree in history. She also has a master’s degree from Trinity Washington University in nonprofit management/human resources management. She lives in Bowie, Maryland.
Nathania A. Branch Miles is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, with a bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning. She is the coauthor of three books on the history of Prince George’s County and an active member of several genealogical, historical and community organizations. She lives in Hyattsville, Maryland.

ISBN: 978-1-60949-848-1 •  Paperback   •   128 pages   •   $19.99  •  November 2013

This new book is available at local stores and online at
It retails as an E-BOOK via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, Kobo & OverDrive.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lecture Dealing with St. Augustine National Cemetery

The Veterans' Council of St. Johns County and The St. Augustine 450th  Military Commemoration Committee

 is proud to announce a

Presentation by LTC. ret. Gregory A. Moore, Florida National Guard Command Historian:

The National Cemetery at St. Augustine - A Testament to Military History and Heroes

Tuesday, 19 November, at 7 PM

In the Ringhaver Student Center , Virginia Room , at Flagler College

Public Invited - Free Program

Colonel Moore will be drawing from his newly published book

Sacred Ground: The Military Cemetery at St. Augustine , the Nation’s oldest, and copies will be available after his talk for purchase and signature by the author. Call  823-0696 for questions.

Gregory A. Moore
Biographical Data: Lt. Col (Ret.) Gregory A. Moore

Gregory A,  Moore ( B.A. , U.S.  Military Academy , 1974: J.D., University  of Notre Dame Law School , 1982) is Command Historian of the Florida National Guard, where he has served since June 5, 2001. In addition to his responsibilities of preserving the history and traditions of the  Florida National Guard he is tasked with  educating members of the public, as well as the organization, about  that history through publications of monograms, maintenance and operation of the St. Francis Barracks Museum, and guided tours of the  Barracks and Post of St. Augustine, to include the national Cemetery. Over the years, Colonel Moore has served as a board member or trustee of a number of historically-oriented organizations, to include the Seminole Wars Foundation, St. Augustine  Historical Society and Fort Mose Historical Society. His paper, "The 1702 Siege of St. Augustine: English Miscalculation of Spanish  Good  Fortune," was read at the symposium, "Firestone and Ashes: the Siege of 1702," sponsored by the St. Augustine Historical Society, and appeared in El Escribano in 2002.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Museum of the Confederacy and The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar to Join Together

This was in my email this morning, despite prior claims to the contrary. So far it appears that reaction has been pretty well in the concerned to negative realm. I can certainly understand that. There are times where I think museums have gone too far into the "interpretive" and not in showing artifacts. Any time there is to be large amounts of "interpretive" efforts, you are going to offend a large amount of people. Some neo-Confederates who still can't accept that slavery was ultimately the largest cause of the Civil War, and in some ways still fight the war to this day, will no doubt be against this merger. I bristle at words like storage and wonder will the White House of the Confederacy continue to exist despite what the press release says. In addition  the new museum, which has yet to be named (a new name is supposed to be announced in January 2014), will have Co-CEOs. That seems unlikely to be a long term, workable solution. A management hierarchy will need to be established quickly in order for this to be a viable entity. A clear vision must quickly be adopted to gather support from members of both institutions.
The bottom line, so to speak, is I have little doubt this is a financial decision meant to try and save both institutions. Fund raising continues to be an issue for almost all non-profit institutions. There are a limited amount of Civil War enthusiasts and they have a limited amount of money. It will be interesting to see how this merger affects fund raising. I am a member of the MOC but not the ACWC. Perhaps the combined membership numbers will allow for attracting larger grants, which can be a good thing if put to good use.
At this point it is too early to condemn or praise this merger. There is little doubt however that it will be closely watched and that watchdogs on both sides, neo-Confederate and politically correct, will jump on any opportunity to put this new entity down. That is unfortunate but it is the world we live in. For now, I have to wish them the best and hope that this is a museum that anybody interested in the Civil War would be proud to visit, whenever it might open.
To the Members of the Museum of the Confederacy,
For 123 years, the Confederate Memorial Literary Society has assembled, protected, and interpreted the most important collection of artifacts pertaining to the Confederacy in the world.  In the 1890s, the CMLS reached out to aging veterans and their families, humbly asking them to share their artifacts from the War before they were lost to history. In the 1970s, the Museum building in Richmond was constructed to better house those artifacts, and during the 1980s, the White House of the Confederacy was restored to the splendor enjoyed by Jefferson Davis and his family. In the 1990s we began a series of groundbreaking exhibits, and we opened our second site at Appomattox last year. Now, the CMLS is taking the next step in our long history of education and preservation.
The largest priority of the Museum of the Confederacy has always been the protection of its incredible collection. Artifacts like those that belonged to Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee, and many others need to be properly preserved for generations to come.  However, the MOC building in Richmond is nearly 40 years old, and the Confederate Memorial Literary Society must take bold steps to ensure the safety of these artifacts. Space is needed to expand and add interactive components to their display and to give visitors better accessibility to living history demonstrations.

This morning, we announced that the Museum of the Confederacy is joining forces with the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar to make Richmond the “foremost Civil War destination in the United States.” The $30 million project, of which $20 million has been committed, will result in the construction of a brand new museum building at the historic Tredegar Iron Works site. This undertaking will put the whole institution on a much firmer financial foundation. The project will span 4-5 years, and the current museum in Richmond will remain open to the public until the new galleries are ready.
The new museum will provide better storage for the collection, improved displays, and a larger and better venue for hosting educational programs. At the same time, the White House of the Confederacy will be enhanced with new exhibits in time for its 200th birthday in 2018. The White House will continue to operate as normal, as will the Museum of the Confederacy-Appomattox.

We have retained Edelman Berland, an independent market research firm, to conduct a brief survey of our members and visitors to help us better understand how we can meet your needs. Our goal is to gather feedback that we can use to continually improve our exhibits, programs, and activities. Look for an email invitation in the next week. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete, and your responses will be kept confidential.               

This is an exciting time for the Museum of the Confederacy and the American Civil War Center. We rely on your support to help us see this project through. Caring for the collection is our biggest concern. This new venture will ensure that the artifacts of the Confederacy are available for future generations just as they have been since 1890.

For more information, a copy of the press release, or for answers to questions you may have, click here.
I am your most obedient servant,
S. Waite Rawls III
President and CEO

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lecture on Forgotten Cemeteries in St. Augustine

Tolomato Talk 2013

Forgotten  Graveyards: St. Augustine's Buried Cemeteries

The Tolomato CemeteryPreservation Association is sponsoring a talk by Dr. Kathleen Deagan on the hidden First Spanish Period cemeteries of St Augustine. The event will be held on Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm at the Bishop Baker Center, located on the grounds of the Cathedral Parish School at 259 St George St. (between Bridge and St Francis Streets) in St Augustine.

The cemeteries that are still visible in St. Augustine are only the most recent chapter in the history of the town's reverence for the deceased. Less well-know are the many hidden graveyards from St. Augustine's First Spanish Period (1565-1763) that have been largely forgotten and obscured by development over the centuries.   At least six of these cemeteries have been located and studied by archaeologists and bioarchaeologists, and Dr. Deagan's presentation will focus on what we have learned from their work over the past 75 years.

Bishop Augustin Verot is buried in the
center walkway of Tolomato Cemetery.
Courtesy Robert Redd
Dr. Kathleen Deagan is an historical archaeologist who is currently the Distinguished Research Curator of Archaeology Emerita and the Lockwood Professor of Florida and Caribbean Archaeology at the University of Florida's Florida Museum of Natural History.  She has taught at the University of Florida since 1982 and is the author of more than 70 publications, most of them relating to early Spanish settlement of the Caribbean. Dr. Deagan was awarded the J.C. Harrington Medal for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement by the Society for Historical Archaeology in 2003, and in 2006 she received the "Order of La Florida," awarded by the city of St. Augustine.

The event is free of charge and on-site parking is available.

For further information, pleases contact

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Press Release--New World War II Book Dealing with German Occupied Crete

From my good friends at Crown Publishing this is a book that looks like it would be of interested to anybody interested in World War II. If this looks of interest please be sure to check back. Crown Publishing is generously going to provide a copy for a giveaway on this blog. Please be sure to support them in return by visiting their site and seeing the other fine  books they have available.
The true story of an unlikely band of courageous men--British intelligence officers and Cretan resistance fighters--who waged an underground war against the German occupation of Crete and pulled off an improbable and remarkable mission: kidnapping the German commander of the island.

by Wes Davis

Advance Praise for The Ariadne Objective
“History both crucial and swashbuckling.” Library Journal
“An exciting, tense narrative that unfolds like an espionage novel.”Booklist
“An exciting, earnestly narrated World War II story.”Kirkus Reviews
“Meticulously researched and gracefully narrated. The Ariadne Objective shows close-up the final gaudy flowering of the imperial swashbucklers—indifferent to discomfort, fluent in many languages, reckless, eccentrically decadent, mischief-makers, never unintentionally ill-mannered—who made their home in the world, before George Smiley took over his grudging service to the Empire.”
—Geoffrey Wolff, author of A Day at the Beach
“Wes Davis’ brilliant chronicle of the battle for German-occupied Crete is doubly rich in its description of character and of the perilous varieties of combat. This story tells how classically literate and well-nigh fearless Britons allied with brigandish locals to confound, confuse, and finally defeat the Nazi occupiers. It reveals how completely British improvisation and perception of local realities served to overcome a ruthless enemy.”
Robert Stone, author of Dog Soldiers
“In the grand tradition of John le CarrĂ©, Wes Davis has created a thrilling tale of espionage in the face of great peril. This is gripping history, masterfully told.” —McKay Jenkins, author of The Last Ridge
The Ariadne Objective is a ripping yarn, and Wes Davis is the perfect person to spin it. Ariadne will appeal to fans of Ben Macintyre books like Double Cross and Operation Mincemeat and, in fact, to anyone who enjoys a good story well told. This book kept me up well past my bedtime: I couldn’t go to sleep until I finished it.”
—Ben Yagoda, author of About Town and How to Not Write Bad

In 1991, while working on an archaeological excavation in Crete, WES DAVIS learned of a daring, little-known military operation that disrupted Hitler’s control of the island during World War II. A group of unconventional British soldiers infiltrated occupied Crete, charged with the task of sabotaging Nazi objectives in the region by joining forces with Cretan partisans. Their acts of espionage culminated in a cunning plot to abduct the island’s German commander.

After decades of research that took Davis from Crete, to the depths of London’s National Archives, where he combed through thousands of declassified documents, and to the Imperial War Museum, where he found the unpublished diary of one of the amateur spies, this incredible true story comes to life in THE ARIADNE OBJECTIVE: The Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis (Crown Publishers; November 12, 2013). Davis’s brilliant debut re-creates this secret war from the perspective of the gentlemen soldiers who found themselves serving in Crete because, as one of them put it, they had made “the obsolete choice of Greek at school.” The group of unlikely heroes included Patrick Leigh Fermor, a Byronic figure and future travel-writing luminary; John Pendlebury, a swashbuckling archaeologist with a glass eye and a swordstick; Xan Fielding, the writer who would produce the English translations of books like The Bridge on the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes; and Sandy Rendel, a future Times of London reporter, who prided himself on a disguise that left him looking more ragged and fierce than the locals he fought alongside.

Anchored by a fascinating cast of characters and set in one of the war’s most exotic locales, THE ARIADNE OBJECTIVE sheds light on the pivotal mission to save Crete and block Hitler’s march to the East.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: WES DAVIS served for two years as an assistant to the director of excavations at Kavousi in Eastern Crete, not far from the plateau where Patrick Leigh Fermor parachuted onto the island during WWII. He holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Princeton University and is a former assistant professor of English at Yale University. Editor of the Harvard University Press Anthology of Modern Irish Poetry, he has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and The Nation, among other publications.

Crown Publishers • November 12, 2013 • Price: $26.00 hardcover • 352 pages
ISBN 978-0-307-46013-4

Also available as an ebook

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Press Release-Arkansas Civil War Heritage

The History Press is pleased to introduce the new title:
Arkansas Civil War Heritage
A Legacy of Honor
W. Stuart Towns
The American Civil War shaped the course of the country’s history and its national identity. This is no less true for the state of Arkansas. Throughout the Natural State, people have paid homage and remembrance to those who fought and what was fought for in memorial celebrations and rituals. The memory of the war has been kept alive by reunions and preservationists, continuing to shape the way the War Between the States affects Arkansas and its people. Historian W. Stuart Towns expertly tells the story of Arkansas’s Civil War heritage through its rituals of memorial, commemoration and celebration that continue today.
W. Stewart Towns, PhD, has spent more than forty years following his passion for Southern history. Towns attended the University of Arkansas on a track and cross-country scholarship, where he received his BA degree in 1961. He continued his education at the University of Florida, where he received his MA in 1962 and his PhD in 1972. He served as chair of the Communication Departments at the University of West Florida, Appalachian State University and Southeast Missouri State University. Dr. Towns had a parallel second career in the U.S. Army. While on active duty, he earned a spot on the U.S. Modern Pentathlon team and competed in the 1964 Olympic Trials in modern pentathlon, fencing and the marathon. After completing his active-duty tour, he served the rest of his military career in the active army reserves in the civil affairs branch, mostly with the 361st CA Brigade in Pensacola, Florida. He became a member of the Consulting Faculty Program at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1973 and served in that role until 1996. Dr. Towns retired as a colonel in the active reserves in 1996.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Review--Confederate General Leonidas Polk

White, Cheryl H. Confederate General Leonidas Polk: Louisiana's Fighting Bishop. The History Press, Charleston, SC. 2013. 124 pages, 109 pages text. Index, bibliography, notes, b/w photos. ISBN 9781609497378, $19.99.

Bishop General or General Bishop? That is the dichotomy of Leonidas Polk. Attempting to answer this question is Dr. Cheryl White, professor of history at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Polk was a complicated man with many facets and to fully cover him in less than 110 pages is a near impossible assignment. White puts forth the statement that her book "is not an attempt to rewrite that which has already been written about the life of Leonidas Polk but, rather, to add to that literature by simply looking at him through a more localized lens using the historical backdrop of his episcopacy in Louisiana."

Polk was born into a family with revolutionary history. Family members served proudly in the Revolutionary War. His father, William, was part of the North Carolina welcoming party for the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825. The name Leonidas seems to have foreshadowed the complexity in young Polk's life. Leonidas was the name of a Spartan warrior whose fame stems from the Battle of Thermopylae. A different Leonidas however was a third century bishop who was martyred at Corinth.

Polk attended West Point where he was to become friends with both Jefferson Davis and Albert Sydney Johnston, both of whom would figure into Polk's later life. While at West Point Polk fell under the spell of academy chaplain Charles Pettit McIlvaine, eventually being baptized in 1826. Polk graduated eighth in his class and then entered the Virginia Theological Seminary being ordained a priest in 1831.

Leonidas Polk. Courtesy: Library
of Congress
It wasn't until 1838 that Leonidas was appointed as missionary bishop to the southwest. In 1841 he purchased a sugar plantation in Louisiana and became a large slaveholder. The plantation was prosperous until 1854 when a yellow fever epidemic led to Polk going bankrupt. This was also the period of time known as "the great awakening", a period of religious revival in America. Going against the grain of slaveholders Polk believed in Christianizing slaves and appeared to see no conflict between slave holding and his religious calling.

With the secession crisis brewing Polk put his allegiances with his state and ultimately the Confederacy. His West Point training along with his friendship with new Confederate President Jefferson Davis led to his appointment as a Major General. He was assigned command of the Western Department No. 2 which included the important state of Kentucky. This position was above Polk's ability and looking back it is obvious he should not have been appointed such a large command given his lack of recent military experience.

During the war Polk continued his religious practice. When Louisiana seceded he believed that the Episcopal Church of the state no longer belonged to the national church. His goal was to set up a new national church once the Confederacy won it's freedom. He also believed that religion could play a role in stemming violence and calming the passions on both sides. He was known to baptize men before he sent them into battle, knowing many would not come back.

Polk served under Braxton Bragg, a situation which neither man was happy with. They did not get along and Polk was eventually suspended for not following orders after the escape of Union General William Rosecrans and his men after the battle at Chickamauga. It was again Polk's connections that served him well as Davis transferred him to command of the Department of Mississippi and east Louisiana. After Bragg was relieved of duty Polk served under Joseph Johnston during the Atlanta Campaign. As the armies maneuvered around each other Confederate leaders met Johnston, Polk, and William Hardee met on Pine Mountain. It was here that Polk was hit with artillery fire, dying instantly.

In this short work neither Polk the religious man nor Polk the soldier take priority. There just was not enough word count to delve too deeply into either realm and that is a shame. In addition a further edit might have done this book well, there are several typos including the mention of John Q. Hood instead of, I assume, John Bell Hood. Aside from this the book is readable and while I have not read any of the other couple of Polk biographies this seems like a good introduction to the Fighting Bishop.

For a man as complex as Polk seeming little has been written on him. Joseph Parks General Leonidas Polk, C.S.A. (Southern Biography Series) and Glenn Robins The Bishop of the Old South: The Ministry and Civil War Legacy of Leonidas Polk look to be the only full length modern biographies.

New App for National Mall World War II Memorial

Trust for the National Mall Launches First-of-its-Kind
Mobile App for World War II Memorial
Mobile App Brings the WWII Memorial to Life with Interactive Learning Experiences
WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 7, 2013) – The Trust for the National Mall,  the official non-profit partner of the National Park Service dedicated to restoring and improving the National Mall, announced today the release of the smartphone app for the World War II Memorial. The free app, WWII Memorial, will be available for iOS and Android, and is available for download on iTunes and Google Play beginning today – just in time for Veterans Day.
The WWII Memorial App is a part of the Trust’s 21st Century Learning Initiative to help today’s digitally sophisticated visitors connect with and get the most educational value out of the National Mall.
“Each year the National Mall draws millions of visitors from across the country and around the world to come learn about and experience the history and values of this country,” said Caroline Cunningham, president, Trust for the National Mall. “We strive to reach visitors in many ways, including digitally, as we work to preserve the living history of the National Mall.”
WWII Memorial App Features
The WWII Memorial App enables users to explore the history behind the Memorial and the millions of Americans it honors. The app is designed for visitors to the Memorial as well as those researching information about the Memorial and World War II remotely.
The app has straightforward navigation with easy-to-use features and breathtaking photography of the Memorial. Features include:
·         Memorial at a Glance: Learn about the Memorial through a scrolling timeline detailing its construction while teaching users key facts about its architecture (do you know how many pounds of bronze were used to build the Memorial?).
·         Operation: Collect:  Engage with an interactive scavenger hunt on the Memorial. Complete “missions” in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, as well as the home front, and learn about the moments that changed the course of history.
·         Operation: Explore: Explore the Memorial using an interactive map and learn the meaning and symbolism behind its design as you become immersed in World War II.
·         Stories of Service:  Experience the first-hand accounts from those who served. Personalize your World War II Memorial experience by selecting from a variety of stories from every state and territory, branch of service, or theater.
·         Path to Victory: Follow an interactive timeline detailing the significant milestones of the war – from the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the Battle of the Bulge to Victory in Europe (VE) Day.
·         Honoring the Fallen: Through the American Battle Monuments Commission database, users can look up the name of service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice during World War II.
The WWII Memorial App is the first monument-specific app developed by the Trust for the National Mall. Plans are underway to use mobile technology in other areas of the park to help tell America’s story in new and engaging ways that complements the majestic monuments that make up the National Mall. 
“Initiatives like this will help to educate a whole new generation about the National Mall and what it stands for,” said Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. “We know that young people are interacting with the world in new ways and that the National Park Service needs to keep up if we are to remain relevant. This app will help us do that.”
The WWII Memorial App was made possible in partnership with The Altria Group, the Dr. Scholl Foundation, the Friends of the National WWII Memorial, and the National Park Service. As supporters of the 21st Century Learning Initiative, The Altria Group and the Dr. Scholl Foundation have contributed more than $3 million to the Trust to develop engaging and interactive education experiences both on the National Mall and online.
Download the WWII Memorial App for iTunes --
Download the WWII Memorial App for Google Play --
Editor’s Note: 
HR24 Quick Time b-roll & sound bites (1920x1080 HD) of Washington, DC middle school students debuting the app for World War II veterans can be downloaded here:
HD Images of the students and vets can be downloaded here:
About the Trust for the National Mall
The Trust for the National Mall is the official non-profit partner of the National Park Service dedicated to restoring and improving the National Mall, while providing new educational and volunteer opportunities that connect the park’s 25 million annual visitors to the National Mall’s rich history. For more information on the Trust for the National Mall, please visit
The WWII Memorial App is part of the Trust for the National Mall’s 21st Century Learning Initiative, and was developed to enhance the visitor experience with details on the history and meaning of the World War II Memorial and its significance to the American experience.