History buffs in the mid-Atlantic, get ready for a busy next year. 2012 will see commemorations of three major Civil War battles - Antietam, Second Manassas and Fredericksburg, as well as the Grand Opening of the new Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox (expansion facility) this spring.
Started in on George C. Daughan’s new book titled “1812: The Navy’s War.” Getting great reviews and I can see why. After a gripping introduction involving the USS President, a 44-gun frigate, chasing HMS Belvidera off the coast of Massachusetts, the author begins to explain why Madison decided to go to war with Great Britain. An eye-opener is the brutal treatment British officers unmercifully gave their sailors. Politically, the story is stirring with debates in Washington over supporting either France or Great Britain.
I’m also reading Michael Lee Pope’s, “The Hidden History of Alexandria, DC.” In Chapter Three he reminds us of the humble pie we must sometimes have to swallow, and the bruising of our patriotic pride. After their sail up the Potomac in August 1814, a British armada terrified Alexandria for three days with six ships possessing 74 guns, two mortars and a rocket vessel. The seaport city’s defense consisted of harsh language.
After the Mayor and the Common Council surrendered to Commodore James Gordon, Alexandria was criticized and lampooned in the press. But Pope’s research found such coverage was unfair. He writes:
“Much of the early news was inaccurate and flavored with partisan bias and regional jealousy.”
Anyway, it’s time to hit the books. One that I may not get to, but looks interesting and useful is Ralph E. Eshelman’s, “The War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Reference Guide to Historic Sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.” He will speak tomorrow afternoon at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomon’s Island, Maryland.