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Archive for May, 2012

On more than one occasion, Frederick Douglass was on hand to remind citizens about sacrifices made on behalf of others in this country.

For example, on May 30, 1871, he spoke on Decoration Day, which is now known as Memorial Day, at Arlington  National Cemetery, saying:

“Friends and Fellow Citizens:

Tarry here for a moment. My words shall be few and simple. The solemn rites of this hour and place call for no lengthened speech. There is, in the very air of this resting-ground of the unknown dead a silent, subtle and all-pervading eloquence, far more touching, impressive, and thrilling than living lips have ever uttered. Into the measureless depths of every loyal soul it is now whispering lessons of all that is precious, priceless, holiest, and most enduring in human existence.”

On May 30, 1881, again on Decoration Day, Frederick Douglass spoke on the 14th Anniversary of Storer College located in Harpers Ferry (full text version is available online. See Selected Research attached). One of the lesser quoted passages is this:

‘During his last visit to us in Rochester there appeared in the newspapers a touching story connected with the horrors of the Sepoy War in British India. A Scotch missionary and his family were in the hands of the enemy, and were to be massacred the next morning. During the night, when they had given up every hope of rescue, suddenly the wife insisted that relief would come. Placing her ear close to the ground she declared she heard the Slogan – the Scotch war song. For long hours in the night no member of the family could hear the advancing music but herself. “Dinna ye hear it? Dinna ye hear it?” she would say, but they could not hear it. As the morning slowly dawned a Scotch regiment was found encamped indeed about them, and they were saved from the threatened slaughter. This circumstance, coming at such a time, gave Capt. Brown a new word of cheer. He would come to the table in the morning his countenance fairly illuminated, saying that he had heard the Slogan, and he would add, “Dinna ye hear it? Dinna ye hear it?” Alas! like the Scotch missionary I was obliged to say ‘No.’ Two weeks prior to the meditated attack, Capt. Brown summoned me to meet him in an old stone quarry on the Conecochequi river, near the town of Chambersburgh, Penn. His arms and ammunition were stored in that town and were to be moved on to Harper’s Ferry. In company with Shields Green I obeyed the summons, and prompt to the hour we met the dear old man, with Kagi, his secretary, at the appointed place. Our meeting was in some sense a council of war. We spent the Saturday and succeeding Sunday in conference on the question, whether the desperate step should then be taken, or the old plan as already described should be carried out. He was for boldly striking Harper’s Ferry at once and running the risk of getting into the mountains afterwards. I was for avoiding Harper’s Ferry altogether. Shields Green and Mr. Kagi remained silent listeners throughout. It is needless to repeat here what was said, after what has happened. Suffice it, that after all I could say, I saw that my old friend had resolved on his course and that it was idle to parley. I told him finally that it was impossible for me to join him. I could see Harper’s Ferry only as a trap of steel, and ourselves in the wrong side of it. He regretted my decision and we parted.”

The Bucks County Gazette had an article about this event in its June 2, 1881 edition which said:

“On Decoration Day the Citizens of Harper’s Ferry had reason to wet their eyes. Fred Douglass, as part of the decoration ceremonies, delivered an historical oration on John Brown.  Quite a number of Confederates and Old Virginians gathered to hear him. Among the latter was Mr. Hunter, who was the State’s Attorney who prosecuted Brown. When Douglass had finished his oration, Mr. Hunter was one of the first to congratulate him.”

This weekend on Saturday, June 2, almost 131 years to the day of this historic speech, The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park are sponsoring an African-American Hike on National Trails Day.

Coincidence? I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them!

The Hike is being held from 10:30 am until 2 pm

Linked below is a list of Selected Research to complement the hike. Steam at Harper’s Ferry features Victorian and Steampunk art and gifts. It also has original Civil War period newspapers, historic postcards and other Harper’s Ferry related items for purchase and on display.

Selected Research – African-American Hike

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I was late to the gallery this morning because of this special event by the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park and co-sponsored by the Harpers Ferry Historical Association. Oh, well. It was worth it!

Not only were there books, but a Family & Youth Tent, an Archeology Discovery Tent, A Contraband Camp, music, guided tours and discussions. I don’t have a lot of material about the 1862 campaign in Harper’s Ferry, but I do have something related to contraband camps.

This image is an illustration from “The Soldier in Our Civil War” and depicts a New Year’s Contraband Ball at Vicksburg, Mississippi during the siege at Vicksburg.

Shortly after I found this illustration, I came across an article in The Spirit of Jefferson about contrabands in Harper’s Ferry.

On July 6, 2011, James Taylor, co-founder of he Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society was a guest speaker at a meeting of the Sons of the Confederacy. He talked about his family ties with Major General Nathaniel Banks, a Union commander who fought against Lieutenant General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson at Winchester in 1862.  Mr. Taylor’s great grandfather,who was contracted to work for the Confederate Army at Winchester and had escaped to Berkeley County, was with the Union Army when they retreated back to the contraband camp at Harpers Ferry.

You can read more about this story in this Spirit of Jefferson article dated July 6, 2011.

The illustration and the Spirit of Jefferson article make more sense in context. Such context may be found in the book “News for All the People,” by Juan Gonzalez and Joseph Torres, which is a fascinating account of not only the newspaper industry in the United States, but provides a particularly American history lesson.

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Steam at Harper’s Ferry has two illustrations depicting events at Vicksburg available for purchase.

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In addition to the activities in Harper’s Ferry, you might want to take advantage of the West Virginia Wine and Arts Festival in Martinsburg.

2012 West Virginia Wine and Arts Festival at Boydville 
601 South Queen Street, Martinsburg, WV

Saturday, May 26, 11 am – 7 pm
Sunday, May 27, 1 – 6 pm

 

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Just received this casting call for Pastry Chefs and Bakers for Season 3 of Food Network’s SWEET GENIUS. If that doesn’t say steampunk, I don’t know what does.

Here is information from the emailed casting call:

NOW CASTING SWEET GENIUS!

 We are currently in search of PASTRY CHEFS, BAKERS & THOSE WHO HAVE MASTERED THE ART OF SWEETS!

Season 3 of America’s sweetest show is seeking culinary masterminds to compete for a $10,000 prize!

If you or someone you know has the skills, personality and passion for pastry, we want to hear from you.

HOW TO APPLY

Email the following information to SweetGeniusCasting@gmail.com:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Contact information
  • Photo of yourself
  • Culinary resume
  • Paragraph describing yourself
  • 6 Photos of your pastry creations

For additional information about the show, visit www.SweetGeniusCasting.com.

For questions, please contact the casting team at SweetGeniusCasting@gmail.com.

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This is the last weekend to see Pith Helmet Provisions  Steampunk Travel installment here at Steam at Harper’s Ferry.

This morning was the Harpers Ferry Half Marathon. Great day for it! Congratulations to everyone who participated.

Today is the 27th Annual Herb Fair and Bake Sale to support the GFWC Woman’s Club of Harpers Ferry. If you are inspired after purchasing a few choice herbs or flowering plants, you may want to participate in the “Living Antiques!  Heirloom Vegetable Seedlings and Seed Fair” Workshop sponsored by the Harpers Ferry Historical Association.

It is also World Fair Trade Day!

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Rain or Shine!

 

 

These prints are available for purhcase at Steam at Harper’s Ferry.

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News From Steam At Harper’s Ferry

For Immediate Release: 4/30/2012
Contact: Cynthia – 304-885-0094 or info@steamatharpersferry.com
John Lamb – jwilliamlamb@gmail.com

Legendary Steam Gun Is Focus of Event at Steam At Harper’s Ferry
Author of Book on Winans Steam Gun to Presents Its History and Sign Copies of Book

Steam powered weapons are a staple of steampunk literature, art, and fashion, but in 1861 Harper’s Ferry played a part in the story of the “Winans” Steam Gun. “Its tough to imagine Harper’s Ferry as enemy territory, but in May 1861, Federal troops captured a steam gun, allegedly built by Maryland industrialist Ross Winans as it was being transported to Harper’s Ferry” says John Lamb, author of A Strange Engine of War: The “Winans” Steam Gun and Maryland in the Civil War. “ The men captured with it hoped to sell it to the Confederate troops there.”

While the gun never made it to Harper’s Ferry, Lamb will share its story with patrons of Steam at Harper’s Ferry on May 6. “Steam is a steampunk art and gift shop. What better place to share the story of such an outlandish, but entirely real Civil War device?” Lamb says. “Steampunk is a literary, artistic, fashion, and musical movement that starts with Victorian aesthetics, keeps things steam powered while taking technology and society in different directions. While contemporary to us, its roots go back to the 19th Century.”

 “One of the frequent themes of steampunk literature, is inventors toiling in obscurity on their creations – that is a pretty fair synopsis of the steam gun’s creation by Charles Dickinson and William Joslin,” Lamb says. What started as an effort to build a hand powered “centrifugal” gun by the men, grew into a steam powered weapon that rocketed to national prominence in the wake of the April 19, 1861 Baltimore Riot.

The gun’s menacing appearance and its arrival on the public stage at the height of anxiety after the riots helped bury its true origin, and forever linked it to noted Maryland industrialist Ross Winans through newspapers at time and through many books and historical articles over the years. While the basic facts of the story were talked about at the time, they soon faded from memory, according to Lamb. “Newspaper articles around the 50thanniversary (1911), helped bring out the story of its last days,” Lamb says. “During the 100th anniversary (1961), a replica was built for a reenactment of the gun’s capture. In 2007, Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel put the idea of the gun to the test. My book, published in 2011, continues the gun’s 50 year cycle of returning at key anniversaries for another round of publicity.”

Lamb’s interest in the gun was sparked when he found an engraving of it while working on another project in the early 1990s. “My curiosity about it began simply – what was it, was it dangerous? What happened to it? The more source materials I read, the less sense it all made – with good reason – the accepted account of events had little to do with what really happened.” Lamb says. “I worked on it here and there as I could and slowly a more complete account of the gun emerged. Being on Mythbusters spurred me to complete my work and put out a book, which came out in 2011. I have really enjoyed uncovering the true story of the Steam Gun, and am looking forward to sharing it with gallery guests at Steam at Harpers Ferry.”

If You Go: Historical Presentation/ Book Signing with John Lamb, Author of A Strange Engine of War: The “Winans” Steam Gun and Maryland in the Civil War, 2-4 p.m., Sunday, May 6, Steam at Harper’s Ferry, 180 High Street, 1B (on the stairs), Harper’s Ferry, WV, 25425. For more information visit, http://www.steamatharpersferry.com, call 304-885-0094 or send an email to info@steamatharpersferry.com

About John Lamb

John W. Lamb, author of A Strange Engine of War: The “Winans” Steam Gun and Maryland in the Civil War works in communications and development in the non-profit sector, is interested in Maryland’s Civil War history, 19th Century technology and shapenote singing, and appeared on the Discovery Channel’s *Mythbusters* series episode regarding the Winans Steam Gun. He lives in Harrison, Tennessee, with his wife and 3 children.

About Steam

Steam at Harper’s Ferry is a Victorian/Steampunk themed art gallery and gift shop located in the historic lower town of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Steam at Harper’s Ferry has quarterly openings and features local and regional artists.

John W. Lamb
Author, Historian, and Development Professional
Harrison, TN, USA
jwilliamlamb@gmail.com

The book is available for purchase at Steam at Harper’s Ferry.

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