July: Pausing to Remember History

Composite photo of the statue of Liberty with a flag and fireworks in the background. Given a grunge overlay for a nice aged effect.  Nice patriotic image for Independence Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Presidents Day.

What images do you see when someone says July 4th?

Do you think of picnics, fireworks, wars, old documents, or something else? As a reader and writer of historical fiction, here is what comes to my mind.

July 3, 1775

George Washington takes command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the American Revolution. The first battles of the American Revolution occurred in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. (Aril 19, 1775). People living in the Thirteen Colonies rebelled against the British monarchy and aristocracy, overthrew the authority of Great Britain, and founded the United States of America.

July 4, 1776

The Declaration of Independence is approved by the Continental Congress.

American Civil War

July 1, 1862: The Battle of Gettysburg begins.

This was an American Civil War battle fought near the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The main players were the troops under Confederate general Robert E. Lee, and Union general George G. Meade. Geographic locations associated with this battle: Devil’s Den, Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Peach Orchard, Culp’s Hill, East Cemetery Hill, and Seminary Ridge. Other names associated with this battle: Pickett’s Charge. An estimated 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured, or listed as missing after the battle. Gettysburg was one of the deadliest battles of the Civil War. To learn more about Gettysburg, click here.

I also think of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Do you remember how it starts?Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Do you remember the rest of his speech?

In A Still MomentGettysburg is the setting for my short story, In A Still Moment. The main character is a photographer who is affected by the images he sees through the lens of his camera. Can you imagine what this photographer would see? How would you feel if you stepped into Mathew Brady’s gallery to view his Civil War exhibit and saw a friend or family member’s image as one of the dead? Check out the story when you get a chance.

July 4, 1863

The last Confederate stronghold at Vicksburg, on the Mississippi River, surrendered to General Grant and the Army of the West after a six week siege. With the Union in control of the Mississippi, the Confederacy was effectively split in two and cut off from its western allies. The main players: Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton. Casualties: Union: 4,800, Confederate: 3,300, with nearly 30,000 captured.

World War I

The battle that I am researching for the last novel in my TEXAS trilogy is the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, a.k.a. The Battle of the Argonne Forest. Though the battle began on September 26, 1918, and lasted until the Armistice on November 11, 1918, it was part of the Hundred Day Offensive, which began August 8, 1918, a few days after the last day in July. The Battle of the Argonne Forest was part of the last major Allied offensive of World War I. Over 1.2 million American soldiers participated in the fight. For the American Expeditionary Forces, it was the largest and bloodiest operation of the war.  26,277 of General Pershing’s soldiers were killed and 95,786 were wounded.

I’m trying to figure out how my main character will meet up with Sergeant Alvin York, hero of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Of course, this puts me in the mood to watch Gary Cooper play Sergeant York.

 

What’s your favorite Fourth of July tradition?

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