Categories
Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Hugh Judson Kilpatrick

Monument to Maj. Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick (1836-1881) in West Point Cemetery, 329 Washington Road, United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. H. Judson Kilpatrick was a controversial cavalry commander in the Union Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War, earning the nickname “Kill-Cavalry” for his aggressive style. Kilpatrick was born and raised in New Jersey and graduated from West Point in 1861. He came to prominence during the Gettysburg Campaign and was later transferred to the Western Theater owing to his controversial behavior. Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman said of him:

“I know that Kilpatrick is a hell of a damned fool, but I want just that sort of man to command my cavalry on this expedition.”

Categories
Historic America

St. Lawrence in Flames

In 1813, war raged between Great Britain and America. The Saint Lawrence River, dividing the two powers in North America, became a thoroughfare for bloody conflict.

The War of 1812, fought between the United States and Great Britain between 1812 and 1815, arose from a dispute over maritime trade and U.S. territorial ambitions on British Canada. The war went badly for the U.S., with British troops burning Washington, DC in August 1814. The St. Lawrence River, as the border between the United States and Canada, was a vital waterway that saw dozens of small naval battles as each side sought to control it. Both sides attacked vulnerable supply shipments being ferried up and down the river.

Battle of Ogdensburg

At the mouth of the Oswegatchie River on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, Ogdensburg was originally a French trading settlement and home to more than 3,000 Iroquois Indians. By 1812, American settlers had built a small village and established trade with British Canadians across the seaway.

With the outbreak of hostilities, Brig. General Jacob Brown used Ogdensburg as a jumping-off point for raids on British shipping. The Americans began building Fort Oswegatchie between what is now Franklin and Elizabeth Streets on Riverside Drive to defend the village.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: William Mahone

Maj. Gen. William Mahone (1826-1895), born in Southampton County, Virginia, fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War and was later a U.S. Senator from 1881 to 1887. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and was a railroad engineer before the war. During the war, he rose from colonel of a regiment to division commander and was present with General Robert E. Lee at the surrender at Appomattox Court House. After the war, he was elected Mayor of Petersburg and became a leader in the Readjuster Party, a bi-racial coalition against the wealthy planter class in Virginia. He is buried in Blandford Cemetery, 319 South Crater Road in Petersburg, Virginia.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Bockscar

Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Bockscar” at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. This was the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb, nicknamed “Fat Man”, on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Bockscar was commanded by Maj. Charles W. Sweeney. Its single atom bomb destroyed approximately 44% of Nagasaki, killing 35,000 people and injuring 60,000.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Andrew Alexander

Monument to Brig. Gen. Andrew Jonathan Alexander (1833-1887) in Fort Hill Cemetery, 19 Fort Street in Auburn, Cayuga County, New York. Alexander was a staff officer and Union cavalry commander during the American Civil War, rising from the rank of captain to brevet brigadier general. He was born in Kentucky, but his mother emancipated their slaves. He fought in several battles, including Fredericksburg, Aldie, Upperville, and Atlanta on his horse named “Black Sluggard”. After the war, he continued his military service and reached the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Categories
Historic America

Coles County Ghost Towns: Bachelorsville, Dog Town, and String Town

The following is an excerpt from my book Tales of Coles County, a collection of history, folklore, and true crime from one of the most interesting counties in Illinois. Order it in paperback or Kindle today.

Dog Town/Diona

Dog Town, on Clear Creek in Hutton Township, straddled Coles and Cumberland counties (Cumberland County separated from Coles in 1843) and was among Coles County’s earliest settlements, getting its nickname from the large number of dogs kept there. Among the first white children born in the county was a son of James Nees, a resident of Dog Town, in March 1827.

When Abraham Lincoln’s family first entered Coles County in 1830, they came through this quiet hamlet before ultimately settling west of Decatur. Nicholas McMorris was appointed its first postmaster on October 12, 1869.

According to The History of Coles County (1879), Dog Town was “an accidental collection of houses” with a store, post office, shops, and a Presbyterian church. It was also known as Diona. The L.D. Rothrock General Store, a two-story brick building with a meeting hall on the second floor, was erected in 1880. The post office closed in 1904.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Stories in Stone: Erasmus D. Keyes

Monument to Maj. Gen. Erasmus Darwin Keyes (1810–1895) in West Point Cemetery, 329 Washington Road, United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. New Englander Erasmus D. Keyes led a brigade at the First Battle of Bull Run, then the Union Army of the Potomac’s IV Corps during the Peninsula Campaign. Despite having a regular Army background, his lackluster performance led to reassignment and eventual removal from command. He resigned his commission in May 1864. Later in life, he became a successful businessman in San Francisco.