Brandywine Battlefield

History achievement (finally) unlocked!


I’ve lived here how long now(?) and finally made it to the Brandywine Battlefield, which is nestled in the Brandywine Valley between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware.

On September 11, 1777, George Washington suffered a pretty embarrassing defeat at the Battle of Brandywine, which led to the Paoli Massacre (I’ve been there!) and the loss of Philadelphia as the capital of the burgeoning nation. Washington had camped his forces between the British camp in Elkton, Maryland, and Philadelphia but had failed to protect all access points to his encampment. Plus the British had more knowledge of the area so they were able to surprise Washington. I haven’t read up on the details of the battle to know the ins and outs of troop movements, but I’m pretty solid on the impact.

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More Miscellany

Dear Reader(s) – It’s been pretty quiet over here. There’s been a lot of Life happening, which has kept me from historical-themed exploits (unless you count another rewatching of Turn…). In the meantime, I’ve curated a small abundance of miscellaneous links for you to check out. Enjoy!

Culpeper State Park – Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation are looking into creating a national park around the Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain Battlefields. The article is slightly dated now (Feb 2019) but goes into a lot of the different groups advocating for this, including the American Battlefields Trust (formerly the Civil War Preservation Trust). The site of the largest cavalry battle in the Western Hemisphere? Yeah, I think that should be a park. Also, there’s a nice little ice cream shop up the street from here….


Reenacting the Past – A lot of pictures of a lot of different types of reenactments, from World War II to the Crusades to Vietnam. The pictures are really good.

Revolutionary Women – In honor of Women’s Month, here’s a brief description of eleven different women featured at the Museum of the American Revolution. I’ve wanted to go through the MoAR focusing only on women, but it just hasn’t happened yet and I keep getting distracted by other things. This might be the best you get.

Women’s History Month Book Club – Again through the MoAR, this link has a bunch of different books by and about women. I haven’t read any of them so I can’t actually vouch for anything, but the people over at MoAR tend to know what they’re talking about.

Inside the Weird World of Historical Reenactors – A journalist type person sort of analyzes historical reenactors, some of the tension cause between them and academics (ie, who does “real” history?), why reenactors do what they do, etc. It’s kind of a lighter take on the Civil Wargasm chapter of Confederates in the Attic, by Tony Horowitz.

History Lost? The Art of Civil War Reenactment is Slowly Fading Away – There are several factors at play here – younger recruits are fewer and far between, and there’s lately been a national discussion about all things Civil War that doesn’t help make Civil War reenacting look all that appealing.

His Excellency, George Washington

Historians Fight Back as TV raids their Research Treasures for its shows – If you hadn’t noticed, there’s an abundance of historical fiction shows on TV, from Turn to Outlander to Peaky Blinders, and the list goes on. A lot of academic research historians have been consulted by the production teams of these shows (either for costuming or culture or other time period ephemera, etc) but they don’t necessarily get credit by the show for all the work they had done and shared. This is actually something I’d wondered about. Shame on those production companies.

A Pioneering WWII Veteran Died Alone –  An article about the life of Bertha Dupre, who joined the Women’s Army Corps and was part of the only battalion of all African-American women to be deployed in Europe. She had no known family when she died so her community came together to give her a hero’s sendoff.

Finally, a clip from a film about WASPs – Women Air Service Pilots, an elite group of women trained to free men for the front lines. I forgot if this was a crowd-funded type of film or if this had more cinematic power behind it, but it looks good and WASPs should not be forgotten.


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The Brushstrokes Have Their Own Stories

It was a rainy Saturday in January that brought me to the Brandywine River Museum of Art. I had seen advertisements for an exhibit there on Winslow Homer and this was a good opportunity to catch the exhibit’s limited run.


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However, little did I know what other surprises were in store for me. There was so much art and history (and some art history)  in that place, it set my little nerd heart aflutter.

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They Shall Not Grow Old

I was able to catch a showing of Peter Jackson’s “newest” film during its extremely limited run in the United States. Shown on only two days in select theaters at select times, I was actually kind of impressed at the number of showtimes available. Thus, on Thursday, December 27, I snuck out of work early to catch the 4pm showing with a history-minded friend, and I’m so glad I did.

This film had been the talk of (niche) social circles for a while now, especially as many of the reenactors I know were preparing for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day this past November. The timing of the film was intentional, and it was good to see an abundance of things related to World War I, especially as that conflict has less of a place in our national consciousness over here in the States.

What was revolutionary about this film is classic Peter Jackson. He took original film footage from World War I, performed his moviemaking wizardry on it to turn it into something we recognize in the modern day, and added just enough audio to turn it into an emotional experience.

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Fall at Winterthur

Winterthur, located just south of the Pennsylvania-Delaware border, is the name of the estate that once belonged to Henry Francis du Pont. (Yes, that du Pont family.) My folks were recently in town and we spent a lovely day roving the house and the grounds since my mother has wanted to visit the place since only as long as I’ve been alive.

This jaunt through the rolling lands in the Brandywine Valley contains more personal reflection than actual history, but I hope to go back and get clarity on a lot of the things that were confusing on our tour. (Which was actually a lot.)

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The pool. The three iron circles in the wall ahead are speakers that Mr. duPont had added so he could blast music (preferably opera) for his guests.

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Armistice Day – 100 Years On

Today marks the 100th anniversary of World War I, the war to end all wars.

I have spent the least amount of time in this time period, and so I share with you a collection of links of other more knowledgeable persons and entities marking the occasion.


The Day The Guns Fell Silent

Armistice Day: People Gather Around the World to Mark Centenary

Armistice Day: Victory and Beyond – On 11 November 1918, jubilant crowds across Britain celebrated the end of the war. But many new struggles were just beginning. What was the legacy of the first world war?

A Forgotten Soldier on a Forgotten Front – A long read about the only British woman to serve in a combat role during World War I.

Video: Colorised Footage of World War I – Noted director Peter Jackson’s newest project is colorizing original footage. It looks amazing.

Interactive: What Might You Have Done Between 1914 and 1918?


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Today’s Google Doodle featuring animated stories from each branch of the military.


Poppy Image Source

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Designing the Museum of the Future

It seems the Museum of the American Revolution has turned into a favorite and “frequent” haunt of mine for I was there again this past week for a lecture called “Designing the Museum of the Future.” The speaker, Josh Goldblum, is the CEO of Blue Cadet, the A/V company who did all the digital interactive work for M*AR. If you recall that my very first visit to the place was full of sensory overload and that the beautiful layer masks of the intro video got a special call out – this was the guy leading that production team.


(One of my favorite effects, used throughout, was taking an old ink drawing or etching of a scene and then layering a gradient plus film footage to give that drawing or etching depth and motion. Water scenes were overlaid over actual moving water textures, smoke was overlaid over smoke video footage, and subtle colors brought the scenes to life.)

(This is the link to the M*AR page on Blue Cadet’s website. It’s got some great shots of the museum.)

The lecture was organized by AIGA, the American Institute for Graphic Arts, which is sort of the club to belong to if you want to network yourself most effectively as a designer. There was sort of an interesting dichotomy of attendees – designers in bright, mismatched patters with hair colors not found in nature, next to the more subdued, old school button-down shirts and neutral colored blazers. But what I loved was that a topic like this could bring such disparate groups together.

Mr. Goldblum raised many points that I have at some point or another considered. I am so glad he’s a self-confessed “museum person” – he gets it. Better – he’s in a position to look at different ways of addressing the challenges faced by museums and similar institutions. And because his background is design and technology, these fields are still relatively novel in the museum world so there’s a lot of room to experiment.

One thing this talk did not do was address specific things that museums should do or ought to do, or things that they do that aren’t working. For example, Mr. Goldblum does not offer solutions for successful capital campaigns. This talk was very much more on the effect that technology has had so far on life and how museums are coping.

And so, without further ado, my notes from the talk (with my comments in parentheses):



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