An Excerpt from the Preface of BOONESBOROUGH UNEARTHED by Nancy O’Malley

Boonesborough was founded by Richard Henderson and his Transylvania Company partners in 1775 as the envisioned capital of a new colony more than two hundred miles west of the nearest settlements. The company’s venture was an audacious attempt to create a colony governed under a proprietary model that circumvented a royal proclamation prohibiting settlement beyond the Appalachians. In claiming land obtained by an illegal purchase from the Cherokees, the company violated the terms of the Virginia charter. Moreover, the timing of the enterprise coincided with the American colonies’ War of Independence (1775-1783). The convergence of the Transylvania Company’s ambitions and the inception of a revolution created a unique situation that demanded a creative response. Out of that need, Fort Boonesborough was born. Wartime hostilities necessitated the construction of a defensible fort composed of log cabins and stockade cobbled together to house and protect settlers from attack. From this humble origin, Fort Boonesborough became an important site in the intertwined stories of American beginnings: westward expansion and the War for Independence.[i]  boonesborough unearthed cover

Despite the fort’s early importance in the unification of the American colonies into one independent country, it was abandoned after the end of the Revolutionary War and the town planned at the site did not flourish. The town lots were eventually bought up by a handful of landowners who converted them to large farms. A small resort retained the name as an attraction for guests who came to fish, swim and be entertained.

Yet the memory of the fort and its significance in the history of Kentucky and the nation did not entirely fade.  Since its establishment in the 1960s, Fort Boonesborough State Park has memorialized the site as one of the most important early settlement sites in Kentucky and a key point of defense on the western front during the American colonies’ fight for independence from England. Park visitors can tour a replica of the fort to learn about the people who lived there and even visit the site of the fort itself, marked by a monument and a memorial wall erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). But by the mid-twentieth century a persistent belief spread among many local residents that the monument marked the wrong site. Which story was true?

In 1987 I was asked to find the answer. The quest for the truth led me on a  journey that extended over thirty years of archival and archaeological research. I began with the original question of the site’s actual location and expanded to explore more questions about the site itself: How much of it was preserved, what archaeological evidence did it contain, and what could that archaeology tell  us? When I began the Fort Boonesborough project, I already had researched the defensible residential “stations” established in Kentucky by late eighteenth-century Euro-American settlers and their slaves on land claimed under Virginia law. The large public fort at Boonesborough, another part of the early settlement story, had never been examined from an archaeological perspective. Archaeology offers a unique means to assess the cultural past, and historical archaeology focuses its attention on physical evidence such as artifacts and cultural features (e.g., structural foundations, storage pits, and other physical evidence in the ground) coupled with archival sources to reconstruct what a site looked like, who lived there, and how they lived. This book brings together all the archaeological data that have been gathered about the site of Fort Boonesborough, one of only a handful of large forts that were constructed in Kentucky during the Revolutionary War. The site is the only major colonial fort in Kentucky that still exists as an archaeological site.

The impetus for an archaeological project to confirm the exact location of Fort Boonesborough had unusual origins. In 1985, Jim Kurz, who worked in the economic development and regional planning field, was competing in the Bluegrass Triathlon. As Jim put it in an unpublished account, “The past is important to me. Sometimes when I least expect it, something from the past reaches out to me, captures my attention, and my mind turns back to days gone by.” In the midst of completing the swimming portion of a triathlon, part of his mind was occupied by thoughts of Daniel Boone and his fellow settlers and the stories of their establishment of Fort Boonesborough. A graduate in American history at Eastern Kentucky University, Jim knew of the DAR monument that marked the traditional site of the fort at the state park in Madison County. He was also aware of the local belief that the actual site was somewhere else. He felt sure that an archaeological search for the fort site would be a worthwhile endeavor. But where to begin?[ii]

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[i]Only the British crown could create and sanction a new colony. A proprietary model gave full governing rights to an individual or group of people, such as was done for Pennsylvania.

[ii]Jim Kurz, Looking for Daniel Boone’s Fort (Lexington, KY: unpublished manuscript, 1990), 1.

 

The Parallel Timelines of Joseph Holt and Sandy in Leonard’s SLAVES, SLAVEHOLDERS, AND A KENTUCKY COMMUNITY’S STRUGGLE TOWARD FREEDOM

In her book, Dr. Elizabeth D. Leonard documents the lives and community of Joseph and Sandy Holt, particularly their time during the Civil War and its surrounding context. The interwoven stories of these two provide very different perspectives on the Civil War. Joseph was a slaveholder turned abolitionist who had family ties to confederates and held high level offices. Sandy was a former slave of the Holt family, purchased by Joseph himself, who managed to survive the awful system of slavery, marry, and escape to serve the Union in the Civil War during his middle-age. By placing the timelines of the stories of these men next to each other, we can see the contrasts and the intersections in these two extremely different lives.

Joseph Holt Timeline Sandy Timeline
1807: Joseph Holt was born in Breckenridge County, Kentucky

Mid-1820’s: Holt attended Centre College where he encountered criticisms of slavery. He also gave at least one speech that was critical of slavery

1845: Holt wrote a letter to his maternal uncle, Robert Stephens, saying that slavery was a “social political or moral evil”, but that there was not a safe way to abolish it

1856: Holt gave a speech defending the rights of states to manage themselves when speaking on behalf of Democrat James Buchanan’s presidential candidacy. His speech also spoke on the necessity of preserving the Union

1857: Holt and his wife, Margaret, left Kentucky for Washington D.C. after he was appointed commissioner of patents. Before leaving, he transferred ownership of all but a few slaves to his younger brother Thomas

1860: Margaret, Holt’s wife, died

October 1860: Holt emancipated his wife’s slave, Jane, who remained in his employ

Fall of 1860: Holt remained critical of abolitionists in his speeches and letters, as he was still primarily concerned with preserving the Union

Winter of 1860: Holt’s brother Robert declared that the time for Kentucky’s secession was soon

Early 1861: Holt was declared Secretary of War by Buchanan

February 11th, 1861: Holt received a letter from his brother Robert that may have been what caused him to abandon his last defenses of slavery

March 4th, 1861: Lincoln became president

March 6th 1861: Holt stepped down from the position of Secretary of War to focus on efforts to persuade Kentucky to remain in the Union

April 15th 1861: Lincoln issued a call for a militia to put down the rebellion

Late May 1861: Holt wrote a letter to Joshua F. Speed arguing against Kentucky’s claim of neutrality and blamed Southern nationalist slaveholders for the conflict. He also traveled to Kentucky to give speeches against Kentucky’s neutrality and the possibility of secession

October 1861: The Liberator said that Holt could not be expected to overcome the prejudices that came from the way he was raised

Fall of 1861: Holt’s former father-in-law, Charles A. Wickliffe, as well as other Unionists remained very supportive of slavery

April 16th 1862: Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act

May 21st 1862: Congress declared that laws and ordinances applied to black Washingtonians in the same way they applied to white Washingtonians

May 24th 1862: Holt freed his only remaining slave, Alfred, who also remained in his employ and eventually married Jane

September 3rd 1862: Lincoln appointed Holt the Judge Advocate General of the Army under the War Department

September 30th 1862: Holt petitioned the District of Columbia to free his brother and sister-in-law’s slave Caroline Robinson due to their part-time residence there

September 22nd 1862: Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

October 13th 1862: Holt also petitioned the District of Columbia on the behalf of Ellen Cox, another of his brother and sister-in-law’s slaves, for her freedom

December 1862:  The Liberator called Holt an abolitionist

January 1st 1863: Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation

March 13st 1863: Holt recommended either a court-martial or dismissal for a union solider who was criticizing the Emancipation Proclamation

May 1st 1863: The Confederate Congress passed the Retaliatory Act

Summer of 1863: Holt’s employee, Alfred,  possibly enlisted

Summer of 1863: Holt spoke to Lincoln for the protection and freedom of black soldiers, especially in the light of things like the Retaliatory Act

July 1863: Lincoln issued his response to the Retaliatory Act where he promised that if a black union soldier was enslaved or executed in violation of the laws of war the same or a similar punishment would be enacted on captured confederate soldiers

July 13th 1863: Holt talked to Lincoln on behalf of a black soldier, Sergeant Robert Sutton, who was being court-martialed

January 1st 1864: Holt urged Lincoln to overturn the court ruling in the case of a white man who tortured and murdered a fugitive slave woman in order to sentence him to a harsher punishment

July 1864: Holt was sent to Kentucky by the Secretary of War to meet with civil and military leaders to discuss the military situation. He did not visit his home county due to fears for his safety

Fall 1864: Holt returned to the war department. He issued a report on his home state that condemned the justification for white oppression of black people and reported positively on the recruitment of black men for the war in Kentucky

Final Months of the War: Holt served as judge advocate general and head of the War Department’s Bureau of Military Justice and continued to advocate for the rights of black soldiers and civilians

1824: Sandy was born to unknown parents in Virginia

1837-1840: Sandy was bought and brought from Mississippi, where he was taken due to a previous sale, to Holt’s Bottom in Kentucky by Joseph Holt for his brother’s wife

1842-1843: Sandy and other family slaves were periodically sent to Louisville to perform domestic chores and to look after the land and garden of the house of Joseph Holt and his first wife Mary

1846: Sandy’s name appears for the first time in historical record

1853: Sandy married Matilda, an important member of the local slave community

1853: Joseph Holt took out an insurance policy on Sandy, which he had never done before, to cover his unaccompanied steamer journey to Louisville from Holt’s Bottom in case of his death, injury, or escape

1857: Sandy’s ownership, along with many others, is transferred from Joseph Holt to Thomas Holt

1863: Sandy’s wife Matilda dies

Summer of 1864: Sandy, now forty years old, ran away to Owensborough to join the 118th United States Colored Infantry Regiment. By law he was required to register under the name of his owner, Holt.

June 1864: Adjunct General Lorenzo Thomas recommended that recruiters enlist even fugitive slaves who could only do the minimum of work due to physical disability, since they had no other place to go but their masters, who would punish them severely

July 1864: A surgeon was appointed for the 118th, which was important due to the prevalence of disease in the military

September 1864: Marion Lucas describes the mistreatment of black soldiers by their white peers in a letter

October 5th 1864: Sandy and his company were with Union forces that found the body of eighteen-year-old Robert Eaves, a recruit, who was lynched by local guerilla confederates

October 1864: Recruiters gathered enlistees from the Owensborough area and the 118th reached the minimum operational strength and began the journey of roughly seven-hundred miles from Owensborough to Baltimore, Maryland

October 8th 1864: The 118th is ordered to proceed to City Point, Virginia via Baltimore

October 24th-25th 1864: The 118th received their equipment and uniforms in Baltimore, and they were formally assigned to the XVIII Corps Third Division

October 1864: The 118th performed guard and fatigue duty, which was difficult but essential maintenance work

November 1864: The 118th were reassigned to the First Brigade and told to retire to the line to be trained due to concern over the condition of the regiment

November 3rd 1864: The 118th’s Lieutenant Colonel, Moon, was recommended by fifteen of the regiment’s white commissioned officers for promotion to Colonel because of his bravery and success with recruitment

November 1864: Moon was appointed Colonel of the 118th

November 1864: Unfavorable weather obstructed opportunities for federal forces to advance

November 1864: Sandy was hospitalized for parotitis

December 1864: Sandy was hospitalized for diarrhea

December 3rd 1864: The X and XVIII Corps were reorganized along racial lines. The white men were put in the XXIV Corp and the black men, including the 118th, were put in XXV where General Godfry Weitzel assumed command

Late 1864-1865: Sandy and his company performed labor for General Butler’s Dutch Gap Canal Project. There, Sandy was assigned to throwing up breastworks to help protect the others workers. He permanently injured his left wrist in the process of doing this

January 1st 1865: The ends of the Dutch Gap Canal were blown up with 12,000 Ibs of gunpowder. It was ultimately deemed a failure as the earth simply settled back to where it was before the explosions

January 7th 1865: Lincoln replaced Butler with Major General E. O. C. Ord, which upset many black soldiers

January 23rd-25th 1865: Sandy and the 118th were peripherally involved in the Fort Brady battle

 

Giveaway Spotlight – DECISION IN THE ATLANTIC

Faulkner Cover

We’re giving a book away this week! One lucky reader will win a book of their choice, choosing from seven of our newest titles. From now until Sunday, July 21, we will spotlight one of the books up for grabs on our blog. Answer our questions on social media, and you’ll be entered into the drawing! For more details on the giveaway, CLICK HERE

Today’s feature title is Decision in the Atlantic: The Allies and the Longest Campaign of the Second World War. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign of the Second World War. This volume highlights the scale and complexity of this bitterly contested campaign that encompassed far more than just attacks by German U-boats on Allied shipping. The team of leading scholars assembled in this study situates the German assault on seaborne trade within the wider Allied war effort and provides a new understanding of its place within the Second World War.

When we have to choose which essay collections to read, we usually skim the introduction. So we cut the first few pages out and stuck them on our blog for your perusal. Enjoy!

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your chance to win Decision in the Atlantic: The Allies and the Longest Campaign of the Second World War or one of our other six books up for grabs this week. Click here for full giveaway details.

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Giveaway Spotlight – BIPLANES AT WAR

Johnson CoverWe’re giving a book away this week! One lucky reader will win a book of their choice, choosing from seven of our newest titles. From now until Sunday, July 21, we will spotlight one of the books up for grabs on our blog. Answer our questions in the comments or on social media, and you’ll be entered into the drawing! For more details on the giveaway, CLICK HERE

Today’s feature title is Biplanes at War: US Marine Corps Aviation in the Small Wars Era, 1915-1934. Unlike the relative uniformity of conventional warfare, small wars prevent a clear definition of rules and roles for military forces to follow. During the small wars era, the US military had only recently begun battling in the skies but recognized the unique value and flexibility of aviation. This book provides a riveting history of the Marines’ use of biplanes between the world wars in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, China, and Nicaragua and chronicles how the Marines used aircraft to provide supporting fire to ground troops, to evacuate the wounded, to transport cargo, and even to support democratic elections. Biplanes at War sheds light on how the Marines pioneered roles that have become commonplace for air forces today, an accomplishment that has largely gone unrecognized in mainstream histories of aviation.


Apart from their military and transportation usefulness, airplanes are also pretty cool to look at. We hope you enjoy this slideshow of early biplanes featured in the book!

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If you had to hop in one of these planes right now and fly across the Atlantic, would you trust them? Which of the planes above would you trust the most? Let us know in the comments and you’ll be entered to win Biplanes at War: US Marine Corps Aviation in the Small Wars Era, 1915-1934 or another book of your choice from seven of our newest titles.

CLICK HERE for giveaway details

CLICK HERE to learn more or to order Biplanes at War: US Marine Corps Aviation in the Small Wars Era, 1915-1934

Giveaway Spotlight – OLIVIDA DE HAVILLAND

Olivia de Havlland

We’re giving a book away this week! One lucky reader will win a book of their choice, choosing from seven of our newest titles. From now until Sunday, July 21, we will spotlight one of the books up for grabs on our blog. Answer our questions in the comments or on social media, and you’ll be entered into the drawing! For more details on the giveaway, CLICK HERE

Today’s feature title is Olivia de Havilland: Lady Triumphant. Legendary actress and two-time Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland, best known for her role as Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939), portrayed elegant and refined characters. At the same time, de Havilland herself was a survivor with a fierce desire to direct her own destiny on and off the screen. She fought and won a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over a contract dispute that changed the studio contract system forever. From her iconic romance with James Stewart to her unending feud with Joan Fontaine, this work offers unprecedented access to the world behind the Hollywood screen and is a tribute to  one of Hollywood’s greatest legends.

Author Victoria Amador corresponded with de Havilland for forty years! They even met multiple times in the actress’s Paris home. We hope you’ll enjoy the story of how these two met, shared by the author below from the book’s introduction.

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Giveaway Spotlight – LANDPOWER IN THE LONG WAR

Landpower Cover

We’re giving a book away this week! One lucky reader will win a book of their choice, choosing from seven of our newest titles. From now until Sunday, July 21, we will spotlight one of the books up for grabs on our blog. Answer our questions in the comments or on social media, and you’ll be entered into the drawing! For more details on the giveaway, CLICK HERE

Today’s feature title is Landpower in the Long War: Projecting Force After 9/11 edited by Jason W. Warren. After fourteen years of war in the Middle East with dubious results, a diminished national reputation, and a continuing drawdown of troops, the role of landpower in US grand strategy must evolve with changing geopolitical situations, moving beyond the limited operational definition offered by Army doctrine.

In the book’s forward, historian and retired Lieutenant General Daniel P. Bolger explores the significance of this study. Take a look.

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Giveaway Spotlight – FISHING THE JUMPS: A NOVEL

Herrin CoverWe’re giving a book away this week! One lucky reader will win a book of their choice, choosing from seven of our newest titles. From now until Sunday, July 21, we will spotlight one of the books up for grabs on our blog. Answer our questions in the comments or on social media, and you’ll be entered into the drawing! For more details on the giveaway, CLICK HERE

Today’s featured title is award-winning author Lamar Herrin’s latest novel, Fishing the Jumps. In this work, Lamar Herrin explores the kaleidoscopic effect of memory while examining the rise and fall of life in the South. Set during a weekend fishing trip, two middle-aged friends sip Jim Beam and share stories as the past and present meld to reveal that what happens in the past rarely stays there.

We love this book , and we think you will too. So today, we want to share the opening couple pages with you. Enjoy!

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