Monday, May 28, 2012

Thank a Veteran Today

We have a lot to be thankful for, and today is a good day to seek out a veteran and tell them that.
Maybe your veteran is your neighbor or someone you work with. Maybe it is an ancestor who fought in the Revolution, Civil War, or so many many more to preserve our freedom. Send a thank you to the VA Hospital. Visit the cemetery. Write a letter to the Editor for your local paper. "Like" a vet on Facebook. Or just sit on your porch, enjoying your freedom to do just that,while you look at the flag and reflect upon the meaning behind the day.
Thank you every one!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Scipio and British Aliens in 1812

I have done some research on Scipio and the War of 1812 as you can probably tell from my last couple of postings. June 18, 2012, marks the 200th anniversary of the tart of the War of 1812.
I obtained some information from the NYS Archives on Scipio during the War of 1812. There were Scipio residents loyal to the USA who fought in the War of 1812; some had already served their country in the Revolutionary War. They are a story I will write another day. Today, I’d like to tell you about the list I found of British aliens (non-citizens) who were required to register with the government due to the outbreak of the War of 1812. This was done per a notice from the Department of State dated July 7, 1812 regarding British aliens residing in the USA during the War of 1812.
Some Scipio men on that list are:
Timothy Reddy, aged 34 with 15 years in the USA, a tailor with a wife and 6 children. He had made no application for Naturalization, and was noted as being “in opposition to the administration.”
Joseph Varty, aged 55 with 1 year as a resident and a married farmer but no children. He had made no application for Naturalization and was noted as being “an inoffensive subject.”
Robert Wallace, age 50 and a 23-year resident, a farmer with four children. He had not applied for Naturalization and in the remarks it was noted he appeared “to be unfriendly to the administration.”
Edmund Wright, age 52 with 23 years in the USA, a distiller of whiskey with a wife and 5 children. He had made no application for Naturalization, but the comments reflect that he was reputed to be “an honest man with a respectable family, and a good friend to the American government.”
William McMillin, age 52 and 24 years in the USA. A farmer with no family and no Naturalization, he was noted as being “a stranger, but an inoffensive man.”
Patrick Brannan, age 66 and 12 years in this country. He had a wife and 4 children and was a farmer who made application for Naturalization in January of 1812. He was noted as being “a respectable subject and a good friend to the government.”
John Kellett, who was a 32-year-old farmer here for 6 years with a wife and 3 children. He had made no Naturalization application, and was noted as being “opposed to the present administration of the government.”
Thomas Cowen, who at age 34 had been here for 20 years. He was a farmer with a wife and 4 children. No Naturalization application, but noted as being “friendly to the American Government.”
Patrick McLaughlin, who was 28 years old and had been here for 5 years. He was a Distiller with a wife and child. He was noted as being “peaceable and well disposed.”
Lawrence Gaffany (Gaffeny?) who was 25 and had been in the USA for 9 years. A labourer with no family, he was noted as being “a respectable young man and friendly to the Government.”
John Flynn, age 22 and in the USA for 9 years. Also a labourer without a family, he was noted as being “peaceable and inoffensive.”
Joseph Bird was 27 and here for 1 year. A farmer but no family, he was noted as being “a respectable young man and inoffensive.”
Samuel Brannon, age 22 and here 12 years, had no family. It appears from the notations on the list that he was related to John Brannon, also on the list as age 18 with 12 years in the USA. Both were farmers, and the notes say the two young men are “sons of Patrick and friendly to Government.”

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812

The USPS Civil War stamps I mentioned in my last blog got me thinking of an earlier Battle of New Orleans - in the War of 1812.
I had several older siblings and they all loved music. My earliest memories include the popular songs of the day playing on a radio in the background. Elvis, Fabian, the Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, and many more - I could probably sing along with them all today, and many of them take me back with startling clarity to a specific moment in time when I chance upon them today.
One of my favorite songs was “The Battle of New Orleans” sung by Johnny Horton, although when I was seven years old, I had no idea what he was really singing about. I just knew the song was loud and lots of fun to sing along to. Casey Kasem would tell us in his mellow radio announcer voice that this song made the charts for twenty-one weeks, hitting #1 on June 6, 1959, and staying there for six weeks. The song also reached #1 on the country single chart, and won a 1960 Grammy for both Song of the Year and Best Country & Western Recording. I guess I wasn’t the only one who liked it!
With Memorial Day later this month and the 200th anniversary of the onset of the War of 1812 right around the corner on June 18, 2012, I listened to the song again (I love the Internet) and this time, it takes on new meaning. Many Americans who fought for this country’s freedom in the American Revolution also bore arms in the War of 1812. Horton’s song is an extremely simplified and exaggerated account of the American victory at the Battle of New Orleans, which was fought on January 8, 1815 and was the last major battle of the War of 1812. The Americans did defeat the British in this battle (with about 70 casualties versus the British’s 2,000+), and the British did withdraw, but the battle was a bit more complicated than the song suggests!

The part of the song that was my favorite, next to the part about the alligators, goes like this:

“Yeah, they ran through the briars
And they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes
Where the rabbits couldn’t go
They ran so fast
That the hounds couldn’t catch ‘em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.”

You may also recall that the War of 1812 was when Francis Scott Key penned his poem, The Star Spangled Banner, as the smoke cleared at the Battle of Fort McHenry in September of 1814. Professional flag maker Mary Pickersgill had sewed the flag under government contract in 1813. Fort McHenry was built prior to the War of 1812, and was named after James McHenry who was the U.S. Secretary of War from 1796 to 1800. Key’s poem officially became our national anthem by an order of Congress in 1931. The original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key is among the most treasured artifacts in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Each of the 15 stars is about 2 feet in diameter, and the 15 stripes are about 24 inches wide. I had the opportunity to see it about ten years ago while it was being restored, a monumental undertaking. I didn’t really grasp the enormity and presence of this flag until that day; then my imagination let me see and hear it, flapping and snapping high atop the flagpole, watching over the fort as the battle raged.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

USPS Stamps that Commemorate Civil War Battles

On April 24, 2012, The U.S. Postal Service issued the second of an annual series of Forever stamps that pay tribute to one of the most far-reaching events in our nation’s history: the American Civil War.

The stamps in this second series remember the Battle of New Orleans, the first significant achievement of the U.S. Navy in the war, and the Battle of Antietam, which marked the bloodiest day of the war.

A major achievement of the United States Navy during the war, the Battle of New Orleans placed the Confederacy’s most vital port in Union hands and as a result, Southern trade, finance, and shipbuilding were greatly disrupted.
Five months later came the bloodiest single day not only of the Civil but in American history — the Battle of Antietam.

The Battle of New Orleans stamp is a reproduction of an 1862 colored lithograph by Currier & Ives titled “The Splendid Naval Triumph on the Mississippi, April 24th, 1862.” It depicts Admiral David G. Farragut’s fleet passing Fort Jackson and Fort St. Phillip on the way to New Orleans.

The Battle of Antietam stamp is a reproduction of an 1887 painting by Thure de Thulstrup. The painting was one of a series of popular prints commissioned in the 1880s by Boston publisher Louis Prang & Co. to commemorate the Civil War.
The stamp pane’s background image is from a photograph of Union soldiers in the vicinity of Fair Oaks, VA, circa June 1862, and includes comments on the war by David G. Farragut, James C. Steele, Walt Whitman, and the New York Times. It also includes some of Charles Carroll Sawyer’s lyrics from the popular 1862 song “Weeping, Sad and Lonely,” or “When This Cruel War Is Over” (music composed by Henry Tucker).

Soldiers were allowed to mail letters without stamps beginning in July 1861 by writing “Soldier’s Letter” on the envelope; postage was collected from the recipient. In July 1863, postage rates were simplified and in some cases lowered when distance-based letter rate categories were eliminated and all letters given the lowest rate. That same month, free home delivery of mail was introduced in the nation’s largest cities. And in November 1864 the money order system began, making it safer for soldiers and citizens to send money through the mail. A letter that cost 3 cents to mail in 1861 would cost seventy-seven cents in today’s dollars.

The Library of Congress has some great photos of Civil War mail wagons. You can check some of them out at:

While you’re there, take a look at some of the other Civil War drawings and photographs that have been digitized. There are several, and they are searchable. The Library of Congress has an excellent digital collection on many subjects and they are a great resource for historians.