Defending West Point: The Revolutionary War in the Hudson River Valley – 1777 to 1783

Wednesday, May 2 (7:00pm) – Saturday, May 5, 2018 (5:00pm)

Tour Leaders: James Kirby Martin, Lt. Col. Sean Scully and Bruce Venter

HQ: Fishkill, NY

Conference Registration: $495 

West Point was a major fortified installation during the American Revolution. Its purpose was to prevent the British from controlling the Hudson River and dividing New England from the rest of the country. Benedict Arnold’s plot to sell West Point in 1780 is undoubtedly the most famous story associated with New York’s lower Hudson River Valley region. But many other events occurred during the period 1777 thru 1783 in this area.
Our first day will be spent on the grounds of the United States Military Academy at West Point where we will visit Fort Putnam (pictured above), a fortification built in 1778 to support Fort Clinton (formerly called Fort Arnold) on the point. We will also visit Redoubt No. 4, a key defensive position built 300 feet above Fort Putnam. “The possession of the Hill appears to me essential to the preservation of the whole post and our main effort ought to be directed to keeping the enemy off of it…” George Washington wrote in July 1779, vindicating Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s decision to place a redoubt on Rocky Hill. We will also see the remains of Fort Clinton near the river. In the afternoon we’ll board a boat to travel to Constitution Island, another link in the Patriot defenses of the Hudson River. Constitution Island was the earliest Revolutionary War fortification in the Hudson Valley. Taken briefly by the British in 1777, the island was re-occupied by American forces in 1778, serving as an integral part of the Patriot strategic position.

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Victory at Yorktown – May 28, 2015 – PAST TOUR

Thursday, May 28, 8am to 5pm

Leaving from the Omni Hotel – Richmond, Virginia

Our Tour Leaders: Edward G. Lengel, William Welsch and Bruce Venter

Registration Fee: $145

American Revolution Conference 2America’s History’s fifth tour for the Company of Military Historians will focus on Virginia’s major Revolutionary War campaign: General George Washington’s victory over Lt. Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis’s British army at Yorktown in October 1781. We have enlisted an award-winning author and historian as part of our tour team. Edward G. Lengel is editor-in-chief of the Papers of George Washington Project at the University of Virginia and author of three books on Washington, including the highly acclaimed General George Washington: A Military Biography. He will be joined by Bill Welsch, an author and popular Revolutionary War tour leader; some members will remember Bill as the leader our Trenton tour in 2011. Bruce Venter, president of America’s History, LLC, a Company member and author of The Battle of Hubbardton: The Rear Guard Action that Saved America (2015) will provide the British side of the story.

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We Begin Again From The VP

Bruce Venter

Bruce Venter

As you can see, the General has been very busy (finishing two books for publication in 2015) and not able to attend properly to his blog.  REALLY!!!!!! Three years Bruce?

This was brought to Bruce’s attention on several occasions by good friend and fellow historian Bob O’Neill, who happens to enjoy reading blogs.   Why advertise a blog on our website and not update it?  Excellent point Bob!!!!

Timing is everything!  It came up for discussion at Bob and Teresa’s house a few weeks ago right after the final tour of the year, Mosby’s  Confederacy led by Horace Mewborn and Bob. Thank you Bob and Teresa for giving us that wonderful respite. It was rough getting out of Northern Virginia by car and how welcome was the sight of your fortress near the Rappahannock.

And so it is the right time, the perfect time, to reflect on the past year and thank all our participants and historians for a most amazing year. The right time to do our best to keep communication on the General’s Blog current and reach out those who share with us a love of America’s history.

When we walk in the footsteps of the men and women who made history, we honor them.

Please come back to the General’s blog for more highlights of our 2014 tour season.

Forts, Fights and Frigates: The War of 1812 in Maryland

Thursday, April 19 (8:00am-5:00pm)
Leaving from the Baltimore Tremont Hotel
Led by Dr. John V. Quarstein
Tour Registration Fee: $155 

The War of 1812 in MarylandAmerica’s History’s third annual tour for the Company of Military Historians will focus on the theme of this year’s conference: the War of 1812. We have enlisted the award-winning and very popular speaker and historian, Dr. John V. Quarstein as our tour leader. A life-long resident of the Eastern shore, John is steeped in the history of the Chesapeake area. He currently serves on the Advisory Council of the Virginia Bicentennial of the War of 1812 Commission.

We have designed this tour so it will not duplicate other 1812 sites you may be visiting during the conference with the Company.

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Congratulations, Dr. and Mrs. Richard J. Sommers

Bruce Venter

Recently, Lynne and I were honored with an invitation to the long awaited nuptials of Dick Sommers and his lovely bride, Tracy. As many of you know, Dick has lived the bachelor life for many years. But one day last year, Tracy came into his life at a Civil War conference and “the rest is history” as they say. Being from California, it was a bi-coastal relationship for Dick and Tracy for a year, but now that’s over. Dick and Tracy will be living together in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Dick and Tracy were married on June 25, in Carlisle where Dick has lived for over 40 years, witnessed by over a hundred relatives and friends. (We don’t see any coincidence between that date and an equally famous historical event in Montana 135 years previous, but the 2011 event will remain every bit as memorable.) The wedding ceremony took place in Dick’s church, the First Presbyterian, a congregation that is 275 years old. Of course, you’d expect a historic occasion to take place in a historic setting. All the arrangements were planned out in meticulous detail by Dick and Tracy. Dick’s best men (his brother, Walter, his friend from 1st grade, Flint Whitlock and his college roommate) all sported Boston Terrier ties, reflecting Dick’s lifelong love of the breed. The vows were finalized by a kiss that would have made Rudolph Valentino blush. Incidentally, the bride and groom’s smooching continued throughout the reception, as guests clicked their glasses to urge the newlyweds into myriad lip locks as though they were teenagers. And Dr. Sommers did not shirk from his duty as the bearded professor grabbed his lovely lady time after time in swooping embraces.

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The first tour with America’s History LLC has come and gone!

Bruce Venter

We conducted our first tour of the season, our first tour as America’s History, LLC in fact, on April 28. “Washington’s Winter Surprise” was an in-depth look at the battle of Trenton. We had 29 on the bus which made it an auspicious start.

All our evaluations were great and Bill Welsch, our tour leader and historian wowed participants with his knowledge of the battle and the environs of Trenton. Marita Gill of Melbourne, Australia wrote,

“America’s History tours are excellent and well run, with informed and interesting historians sharing their knowledge enroute and in the museums visited.”

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An Introduction to the The General’s Blog by Bruce Venter

Bruce Venter

Welcome to the first edition of America’s History, LLC’s blog. We’re calling it The General’s Blog because many of my close friends affectionately, and sometimes sarcastically, call me General (you know who you are and what description fits you.)

The purpose of the blog is to provide current information, either about our tours or about something of a historical nature that I found interesting and wanted to pass on to our subscribers. I promise you the blog will not be used to tell you when I had a headache or when I walked the dog. Some bloggers use the medium as a personal history but I think you’re better served if there is some good, useful information on the blog about American history. Of course, since many of you know our cute little beagle, Sally, if she does something really unusual, it may be highlighted on the blog. I hope this will be an interactive experience and that you’ll feel free to comment on the content and views expressed on the blog. You should also feel free to contribute. If you know of a worthwhile event, a preservation project that needs publicity or if you’ve come across something in your research or reading that you think would be of interest to other history enthusiasts, please send it to us.

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Washington’s Winter Surprise: The Battle of Trenton in Depth – April 28, 2011

Thursday, April 28 (8:00am-5:00pm)
Leaving from the Dolce Hotel, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
Led by Bill Welsch and Bruce Venter
Registration Fee: $145.00 

Less than an hour from Valley Forge was the scene of George Washington’s stunning victory over the British army’s garrison of feared Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey. It was here that a ragged, sleet-soaked Continental army crossed the ice-packed Delaware River on Christmas night 1776 to attack unprepared German hirelings under Colonel Johann Rall. Washington’s complete victory at Trenton is considered by some historians to be a more significant turning point in the Revolutionary War than even Saratoga. Washington’s steadfast determination to lead his troops to victory stabilized sagging Patriot morale at a time when the American cause was at its nadir.

This full-day tour will cover the battle of Trenton in-depth. Our first stop will be the Washington Crossing State Park in New Jersey. The Visitors Center houses the famous Swan Historical Foundation Collection of nearly 900 Revolutionary War era items, including muskets, side arms, swords, clothing, maps, etc. We have invited Mr. Harry Kels Swan, who frequently visits his collection, to be at the Visitors Center for our tour. Our next stop will be the Johnson Ferry House and the site where Washington’s troops actually crossed the river and marched up a road bed that is still visible today. We will also cross the river (by bridge, not boat) to see Pennsylvania’s display of Durham boats. Our tour will include a sit-down lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch we will visit the Trenton Battle Monument and tour the Old Barracks in downtown Trenton. The Old Barracks, built by the British during the French and Indian War, where Rall housed some of his Hessians, has been fully restored and includes a gallery of Colonial and Revolutionary War artifacts and militaria. Then we’re off to Five Mile Run where British Major General Charles Lord Cornwallis launched his counterattack against Washington on January 2, 1777. Next we will visit the Assunpink Creek site that was important to both battles of Trenton. We’ll see the Douglas House where Washington met with his generals during the Trenton actions. We’ll finish the day at the site marking the start of the Continentals’ march to Princeton and complete the story of these two famous battles.

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Leatherstocking Tales – July 6-9, 2011

Wednesday, July 6 (7:30 PM) thru Saturday, July 9 (5 PM)
Headquartered in Albany, NY
Led by Wayne Franklin and Bruce Venter

We all remember the novels of James Fenimore Cooper from our youth either through movie versions, the “Classic” comic books series or by actually reading them in English class.

Cooper was a popular and successful writer in his own time in part because he described many actual historical places in his books. These sites were readily identified by early 19th century readers because they had learned about these same places in school. Cooper was able to vividly describe these historical sites because he had actually visited them himself. Whether it was sitting on a porch in Westchester County, sailing upon the crystal blue waters of Lake George or tramping through the woods near his boyhood home in Cooperstown, he was able to translate what he observed into stirring tales of early America.

Our tour will explore the real historic and geographic sites portrayed in several Cooper novels. It will give us a better understanding of the author’s insight into America’s frontier legacy. Explaining how the actual places and events were reflected in the New Yorker’s fiction is one of our goals. While we will concentrate on three popular novels, The Spy, The Last of the Mohicans and The Deerslayer, there will be plenty of references to places associated with lesser known works like Satanstoe and The Pioneers.

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Pontiac’s Rebellion – August 24-27, 2011

Wednesday, August 24 (7:30 PM) thru Saturday, August 27 (9 PM)
Headquartered in Cranberry Township, PA
Led by Douglas Cubbison, Walter Powell, and Bruce Venter
Registration Fee: $775.00 (double occupancy) – $795.00 (single occupancy) 

An often overlooked event of the colonial period is Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763. Faced with English settlers streaming across the Appalachian Mountains following the French and Indian War, various tribes, loosely led by the Ottawa Chief Pontiac, rose up to save their native lands. Bloodshed was rampant on the Ohio and Pennsylvania frontiers as British outposts fell like dominos. Likewise, Great Britain’s coffers were drained as the cost of troops, sent to quell the rebellion, added to an already staggering national debt from the last war with France. One of Britain’s solutions, the Proclamation of 1763 was a vain attempt to keep colonists east of the mountains; it failed and quickly became one of several causes of the American Revolution. Our historians will discuss the entire scope of Pontiac’s Rebellion, including incidents and battles we will not see on this tour.

On our first day we will visit the reconstructed Fort Ligonier. The original fort was built in 1758 by Maj. Gen James Forbes during his campaign to capture Fort Duquesne (later renamed Fort Pitt.) Fort Ligonier was the jump off site for Col. Henry Bouquet’s expedition to relieve Fort Pitt during Pontiac’s Rebellion. The reconstructed site is an extraordinary example of 18th century fortifications. Its museum displays a set of pistols owned by Lafayette and given to George Washington. Our lead historian, Doug Cubbison, a former artillery officer will provide an in-depth explanation of the fort’s magnificent reproduction of a British artillery train. After lunch at a historic restaurant in Ligonier, we will visit the Bushy Run Battlefield for an extensive walking tour of Bouquet’s Highlanders’ great victory over some 400 Delaware, Mingo, Shawnee and Huron tribesmen. The 200+ acre battlefield sits pristinely against a rural landscape. [Read more…]

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