A skeleton in the priest hole – House Historian

Priest hole in Havrington Hall, Worcestershire (Wikimedia/Quodvultdeus)

Yes, it’s true, I have researched a house where a skeleton was uncovered in an old priest hole! Certainly, one of the most unusual stories I’ve heard in researching the history of house…

Source: A skeleton in the priest hole – House Historian

The Revolutionary War Veterans Who Lived Long Enough To Have Their Pictures Taken

SAMUEL DOWNING – Enlisted at age 16, and served as a private from New Hampshire.

Photography was invented in the 1820s and 1830s, and the Revolutionary War ended decades before, in 1783. This meant that most Revolutionary War veterans didn’t live long enough to have their photographs taken. That being said, there were a few war veterans who…

Source: The Revolutionary War Veterans Who Lived Long Enough To Have Their Pictures Taken

How First Ladies on Opposing Sides of the Civil War Forged an Unlikely Bond | Atlas Obscura

They were both former first ladies. But the similarities between Julia Grant and Varina Davis didn’t end there. The two elderly widows were both born in 1826 to slave-owning Southern families. Both had keen intellects and literary aspirations, and spoke in soft, low voices. They had spent their lives following and supporting their high-ranking husbands, subsuming their identities in the expected fashion throughout their marriages.

Now that their respective husbands had died, each widow was experiencing a personal renaissance. But their unexpected meeting in 1893 sent shock waves through Gilded Age America. For Varina and Julia had publicly–and iconically–represented opposite sides of the recent and raw American Civil War.

As the wife of former Mississippi senator Jefferson Davis, Varina Davis had the dubious distinction of being the one and only first lady of the doomed Confederate States of America, during the four years of the American Civil War. Julia Grant spent that same…

Source: How First Ladies on Opposing Sides of the Civil War Forged an Unlikely Bond | Atlas Obscura

How the Civil War Changed the World – NYTimes.com

Giuseppe Garibaldi Credit Library of Congress

Even while the Civil War raged, slaves in Cuba could be heard singing, “Avanza, Lincoln, avanza! Tu eres nuestra esperanza!” (Onward, Lincoln, Onward! You are our hope!) – as if they knew, even before the soldiers fighting the war far to the North and long before most politicians understood, that the war in America would change their lives, and the world.

The secession crisis of 1860-1861 threatened to be a major setback to the world antislavery movement, and it imperiled the whole experiment in democracy. If slavery was allowed to exist, and if the world’s leading democracy could fall apart over the issue, what hope did freedom have? European powers wasted no time in taking advantage of the debacle. France and Britain immediately each sent fleets of warships with the official purpose of observing the imminent war in America. In Paris, A New York Times correspondent who went by the byline “Malakoff” thought that the French and British observers “may be intended as a sort of escort of honor for the funeral of the Great Republic.”

Spain, its fleets already in position in Havana, struck first that March, landing in the Dominican Republic and proclaiming that its former colony had returned to Spanish rule. Seeing no sign of resistance from the Lincoln administration, France, Spain and Britain met in…

via How the Civil War Changed the World – NYTimes.com.

Singing Soldiers

I doubt any of us would survive anything were it not for music and laughter.


The BBC recently had a 2 part special narrated by Kris Kristofferson on music and the Civil War, but it seems every war has music playing a role. This is from The Rambling Soldier edited by Roy Porter:

This  was written by a Scots soldier at Badajoz in 1811:

“One evening, as I lay in the woods thinking about home… I heard, at a small distance, music… I soon knew the air. I crept nearer and could distinguish the words. I became riveted to the spot. That moment compensated me of all I had suffered in Spain. I felt that pleasure which softens the heard, and overflows the eyes. The words that first struck my ear, were, ‘Why did I leave you My Jeannie, my daddy’s cot and a’/ to wander from my sweet Caledonia’. Soon as the vice ceased, I looked through the underwood and saw four or more…

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From the ECW Archives—A Grand Charge: Emory Upton’s Assault on the Mule Shoe Salient, Part 1

Emerging Civil War

A post war photo of Emory Upton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. A post war photo of Emory Upton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

A small group of officers stood at the tree line. To their immediate front, resting across an open field lay fresh mounds of earth—earthworks constructed by the Confederate infantry. Each man studied the ground intently, some conversing in hushed tones.  Others stood silently, chewing on cigars, taking in the scene before them.  Cautiously, as the conversations dissipated they began to make their way back to their own picket line. One man lingered while the others left his side. Emory Upton stood by himself for a few moments, taking a some last mental notes of the enemy lines. Turning his back, he walked steadily to rejoin his comrades.

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The Russia-American Special Relationship that Saved the Union

Life in Russia

thoughts of an expatThis is a part of American history that I wasn’t aware of, it made me wonder how many others don’t know as well. It seems that when America was in it’s deepest turmoil unlikely as it seems Russia sent warships to protect the ports not only on the east coast but west coast as well. In Great Britain the powers of the time considered both America and Russia the oppressors. Times have changed but people and governments haven’t, even the locations look similar. Today in the eyes of some all they done is changed hats.  Isn’t it the fear-mongers who create these situations. True cooperation doesn’t come from fear, but should come from mutual respect for one another. Governments come and go and the people endure, it will be the truth that sets people free. During the Civil War in America, Russia helped it remain free.

extremes-meet-67b5a-0c611 At the point…

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Soldier Jennie – the Irish woman who fought as a man in the American Civil War


The life and times of Private Albert D.J. Cashier are one of those historic anomalies that make you scratch your head and wonder: ‘How the hell could that happen?’

Private Cashier served in the ranks of the 95th Illinois for three years – from their muster in on September 4, 1862 until they were discharged in August 1865.

Cashier was a member of the regiment’s Company G, and was present at hard-fought battles like Vicksburg and Nashville. A comrade later remembered Cashier as being the type of person who preferred their own company and who never took part in any of the sports or games that were organised by the unit.

So far so unremarkable, but the other distinguishing thing about Private Cashier was that the soldier was, in fact, a woman by the name of Jennie Hodgers

In his book, The Irish in the American Civil War, Damian…

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