The Final Significant Clashes of the Revolutionary War in the North
By the spring of 1780, American fortunes were at a low point. Charleston, South Carolina, fell to British forces on May 12. At Morristown, New Jersey, George Washington’s army struggled to recover from the worst winter of the entire war. The national economy failing, his troops short of supplies and on the verge of mutiny, Washington prepared for an all-out assault on British-occupied New York City with the support of approaching French naval and land forces under General Rochambeau. The planned attack was a gamble born of desperation. Washington felt he had to risk it, or face certain defeat. In New York City, German General Wilhelm von Knyphausen sensed opportunity. Commanding there in the absence of British General Henry Clinton, who was on his way back from Charleston, Knyphausen hoped that a quick strike into New Jersey could deliver a staggering blow to Washington’s weakened army. The June 7–8 Battle of Connecticut Farms, however, found American militia and Continentals—mostly soldiers of General William Maxwell’s New Jersey Brigade—to be shockingly stalwart. In a series of sharp engagements, fought hard on both sides, the Americans convinced Knyphausen to turn back. Clinton, fresh from his victory in the South, tried again on June 23 to end the war. His advance into New Jersey, intended to draw Washington into the open and perhaps capture Morristown, culminated in the Battle of Springfield. Once again, though, Washington’s hardened soldiers, led by men like Colonel Israel Angell, Colonel Elias Dayton, and Major “Light Horse Harry” Lee, fought Clinton’s forces to a standstill. The Battles for Connecticut Farms and Springfield, 1780, by distinguished historian Edward G. Lengel, chronicles these two important battles that marked a turning of the tide in the Revolutionary War. Drawing on newly available primary sources, the author presents a fresh and engaging interpretation of these events, which exposed King George III’s declining military fortunes in North America even as they revealed the resilience of George Washington’s army.
The Small Battles Series: Military History as Local History Mark Edward Lender and James Kirby Martin, Series Editors
Small Battles offers a fresh and important new perspective on the story of America’s early conflicts. It was the small battles, not the clash of major armies, that truly defined the fighting during the colonial wars, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the hostilities on the frontiers. This is dramatic military history as seen through the prism of local history—history with a depth of detail, a feeling for place, people, and the impact of battle and its consequences that the story of major battles often cannot convey. The Small Battles Series focuses on America’s military conflicts at their most intimate and revealing level.
Accomplished businessman Richard J. Franke offers in Cut from Whole Cloth an intimate account of the American immigrant experience, recounting the moving story of his grandparents' struggle to build a new life in turn-of-the-century America.
Franke draws on extensive primary sources to create an engrossing narrative of his Catholic grandfather and Lutheran grandmother as they flee religious intolerance and economic adversity in Germany and immigrate to America in 1884. They settle in Springfield, Illinois, where they start a family and business and live out the American dream—with its attendant perils and promises—as their business evolves from a tailor's shop to a modern, thriving dry cleaner. Their story is one of strife, frustration, and success. Franke chronicles how they struggle to raise a family in a foreign culture with radically different values, as the old world morals that fuel their prosperity give rise to ancient family tensions that haunt each new generation.
By turns charming, wrenching, and poetic, Cut from Whole Cloth is an intensely personal yet timeless tale that will appeal to nearly every descendant of immigrants.
Recounting the many live vaudeville acts and films that graced the theatre’s stage and screen, The Gillioz “Theatre Beautiful” presents a social history of entertainment through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, the Second World War, the Cold War, the Sixties and the Seventies. Of note is the Springfield theatre’s hosting of three movie world premieres—with future U. S. president Ronald Reagan appearing in each.
This detailed case study of the 1908 race riot in Springfield, Illinois, which began only a few blocks from Abraham Lincoln’s family home, explores the social origins of rioting by whites against the city’s African American community after a white woman alleged that a black man had raped her. Over two days rioters wrecked black-owned businesses, burned neighborhoods to the ground, killed two black men, and injured many others.
Author Roberta Senechal de la Roche draws from a wide range of sources to describe the riot, identify the rioters and their victims, and challenge previous interpretations that attribute rioting to interracial competition for jobs, housing, or political influence. Written in a direct and clear style, In Lincoln’s Shadow documents a violent explosion of racial hatred that shocked the nation and reveals the complexity of white racial attitudes in the early twentieth century.
Gus Reed was a freed slave who traveled north as Sherman’s March was sweeping through Georgia in 1864. His journey ended in Springfield, Illinois, a city undergoing fundamental changes as its white citizens struggled to understand the political, legal, and cultural consequences of emancipation and black citizenship. Reed became known as a petty thief, appearing time and again in the records of the state’s courts and prisons. In late 1877, he burglarized the home of a well-known Springfield attorney—and brother of Abraham Lincoln’s former law partner—a crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to the Illinois State Penitentiary.
Reed died at the penitentiary in 1878, shackled to the door of his cell for days with a gag strapped in his mouth. An investigation established that two guards were responsible for the prisoner’s death, but neither they nor the prison warden suffered any penalty. The guards were dismissed, the investigation was closed, and Reed was forgotten.
Gus Reed’s story connects the political and legal cultures of white supremacy, black migration and black communities, the Midwest’s experience with the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the resurgence of nationwide opposition to African American civil rights in the late nineteenth century. These experiences shaped a nation with deep and unresolved misgivings about race, as well as distinctive and conflicting ideas about justice and how to achieve it.
Winner, ISHS Certificate of Excellence Award, 2016
Presenting fifty Abraham Lincoln stories—some familiar and beloved, some fresh and unexpected—Looking for Lincoln in Illinois: Lincoln’s Springfield is a carefully researched, richly illustrated guide to the Springfield, Illinois, locations on the Looking for Lincoln Story Trail. Created by the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, this trail consists of more than two hundred illustrated storyboards posted at sites of significance to Lincoln’s life and career across fifty-two communities in Illinois. The storyboards connect Lincoln-related tales to the geographical locations where they occurred, giving visitors, and now readers, a tour of the social and cultural landscape of Lincoln’s nineteenth-century world while revealing the very human Lincoln known by friends and associates.
This book celebrates the trail as a rich historical resource, featuring the original storyboards produced for Springfield and including twelve additional stories and more than 150 illustrations. Engaging stories in the book bring Lincoln’s Springfield to life: Lincoln created controversy with his Temperance Address, which he delivered in a church on Fourth Street in February 1842. He unexpectedly married Mary Todd in her sister’s home on the edge of Springfield later that year. The Lincolns’ sons used to harness dogs and cats to small wagons and drive them around the dirt streets of town. When Lincoln visited his dentist, he applied his own chloroform, because the practice of analgesia was not yet common. He reportedly played the ball game Fives in a downtown alley while waiting for news of his presidential nomination. And boxing heavyweight champion John C. Heenan visited the presidential candidate in October 1860. Through texts, historic photographs and images, and maps, including one keyed to the story locations in downtown Springfield, readers of this fascinating volume are invited to imagine social and cultural landscapes that have been lost in time.
Illinois State Historical Society Superior Achievement Award 2015
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois, houses a trove of invaluable historical resources concerning all aspects of the Prairie State’s past. Treasures of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library commemorates the institution’s 125-year history, as well as its contributions to scholarship and education by highlighting a selection of eighty-five treasures from among more than twelve million items in the library’s collections.
After opening with a historical overview and extensive chronology of the Library, the volume organizes the treasures by various topics, including items that illustrate various locations and materials relating to business, the mid-nineteenth century and the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the oldest items, unusual treasures, ethnicity, and art. From the Gettysburg Address, Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s letters, and Governor Dan Walker’s boots to a Deering Harvester Company catalog, WPA publications, and an Adlai Stevenson I campaign hat, each entry includes a thorough description of the item, one or more images, and a discussion of its history and how the library acquired it, if known. Other treasures include the Thomas Yates General Store daybook, Dubin Pullman car materials, Civil War newspapers, a Lincoln coffin photograph, the Mary Lincoln insanity verdict, the Directory of Sangamon County’s Colored Citizens, andLincoln’s stovepipe hat.
To highlight the academic importance of the Library, nineteen researchers share how study in the Library’s collections proved essential to their projects. Although these treasures only scrape the surface of the vast holdings of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, together they epitomize the rich, varied, and sometimes quirky resources available to both serious scholars and curious tourists alike at this valuable cultural institution.