Thursday, 3 April 2008

Back home...



...and a fortunate wargamer indeed to have visited the sites of the first shots fired in both the AWI and the ACW. We spent the Easter weekend in Boston itself, with a trip out to Salem, and then stayed a couple of nights in Concord (in a tavern that dates back to the 1740s), which allowed for a day-trip down Battle Road to Lexington. We then headed off to Charleston in South Carolina (I will never forget the Kiwi's plaintive mumble at Boston airport that "it will be nice to get away from all this military stuff"...), where much fun was had in various museums, including the fascinating Confederate Army Museum which is curated by the rather rum-sounding "Daughters of the Confederacy". By this stage in the holiday I realised that telling the Kiwi all about the significance of Forts Moultrie, Sumpter and Wagner would probably result in the cancellation of certain wedding plans, and so we only admired the scenes of those actions from Charleston Harbour. As always with holidays, the excitement of visiting much-anticipated places was counterbalanced by the disappointment of finding some closed (such as most of the witch-trial places in Salem and the American gallery of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts). But all-in-all it was an excellent holiday and any guilt I felt at innocently planning a route that just happened to pass some of the milestones of military history was more than assuaged by the amount of shopping that the Kiwi managed to fit in (including a certain handbag which has dramatically reduced the amount of cash I will have available for shopping at Salute...).


In addition to seeing where the AWI began, my main concern on this trip was to photograph as many period buildings as possible so that I could build up a decent source of reference for scratch-built models. I'm not likely to want to create a miniature Boston or Charleston, although if I did I now know exactly what buildings I'd want and where I'd place them. More usefully though, Charleston, Concord, Lexington and Salem provided a rich seam of colonial architecture from which a host of models can be mined. Salem in particular has entire streets of houses that date from revolutionary and "Georgian" times, all helpfully marked with plaques that identify for whom the house was built and when. The basic architecture of residential New England doesn't seem to have changed much over the past 200 years, but after a while and some careful examination you begin to work out what's period and what's modern addition. Charleston architecture reflected the wider mix of people who lived there - "English" houses that are broadly similar to those in New England rub shoulders with more continental-looking, Huguenot buildings.


Whilst the Kiwi was busy buying clothes and bags I was filling my suitcase with various books - a history of the F&IW by Fred Anderson (of "Crucible of War" fame); a privately-published biography of General Stark; histories of the two attacks on Charleston and Benedict Arnold's 1775 assault on Canada; David Wilson's new "The Southern Strategy", which deals with the South Carolina and Georgia campaigns of 1775-1780; Buchanan's chatty but very well-researched "The Road to Guilford Courthouse" (which I found second-hand in Harvard); "Taming Democracy" by Terry Boulton, which considers how popular conceptions of "freedom" and "liberty" were handled by the American politicians during and after the AWI; an account of Salem's colonial architecture; and finally a history of the Charleston Light Dragoons in the ACW, a militia unit that was drawn from the planter and merchant elite and which elected its new recruits, even after being taken on to the Confederate establishment. Lots of interest stuff in these, I'm sure. One final thought - the people we met in New England and Charleston were, without exception, some of the most polite and helpful people I've ever come across, passionate about their history and eager to welcome those who share an interest in their country. America up close and personal (and this was only my second visit, the first being to New York several years ago) is a far different place than some sections of the world's media would have us believe.


I won't bore readers by posting all the photos I took (about 200), but over the next couple of weeks I will post items that might be of interest. These will be largely museum pieces; for for example, in Charleston Museum I saw 2 of apparently only 9 extant Continental Army 6-pounders, which answered the question I posed recently as to what the tops of the ammunition cases were made of (even the Kiwi felt my joy at this discovery; in fact half of Charleston probably heard it). But I will also post pics of some of the period buildings, because they were beautiful and other AWI gamers may find such references useful. The two photos above show the two statues of George Washington that I came across, the first on Boston's Common and the second in Charleston. I believe that the former is the first statue of Washington that was erected (or the first on a horse, or the first in public, or something like that...) You can see the difference in climate between the two cities!


As for painting, March was pretty much a write-off. The 62nd are based, but have no flags. The 84th are half-finished, but need another week at least. My Confederate infantry regiment (as yet unidentified) is coming along nicely, but I need to buy the figures to finish it off at Salute. However, today I received from Barry and his chums in Australia four giant redwood trees that I asked them to make - photos of those will be up in a couple of days. They are huge.

10 comments:

Bill said...

Giles, So what are the tops of the ammo chest made of????...Bill

Fire at Will said...

Welcome back, you seemed to have packed a lot into one trip, I'm looking forward to seeing some of the period buildings, it will probably get me started again on my scratchbuilding.

Grimsby Mariner said...

good to hear you had a great time. I agree about the Americans - up close in their own country they are generally a very nice people only too willing to help and talk.

I have similar issues with my wife with our planned vacation to Boston & New England in two years time having to be planned around sites of historical interest tempered with other concerns.

Anonymous said...

Giles,

I'm glad you enjoyed the trip and I look forward eagerly to the resumption of your blogging. I think your blog is largely responsible for my purchasing BG at Cold Wars and keeping my interest in the AWI in general piqued.

I wonder if you have ever come across Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution? It was written in the 1840s by an American as a sort of travelogue of a journey he made visiting various AWI sites. The text itself may not hold your interest, but he includes many sketches of period buildings and locales. You can view a version free online at http://freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wcarr1/Lossing1/Contents.html

Aaron

Anonymous said...

Oops, let's try that link again:
http://tinyurl.com/3hjdnl

Aaron

Steve said...

..welcome back Giles - looking forward to seeing the pictures...

Still Anonymous said...

It sounds as if it was an interesting trip! Did you manage to photograph any AWI-era brick churches?

Cheers,


Still_Anonymous

Still Anonymous said...

P.S.: Giant redwood trees? Do you plan to game some actions in California or Oregon?

Martin said...

Hi Giles,

Looks like you had a great trip. Boston and New Hampshire are familiar territory for me (we have friends who live there). It's a great part of the world and, as you say, people are genuinely welcoming. Next time, go in the Fall and see the amazing colours of the trees!

Hope to bump into you at Salute,
Martin

Gary Dombrowski said...

Glad to see you enjoyed your time in the states. The best place to see the largest grouping of AWI period buildings IMO is Colonial Williamsburg. Check out the link to several pictures of the various buildings there. If you are not able to save any pictures by right clicking on them scroll down to the right side where it says to send by Email. Just click on that then right click on the picture again and it should be saved to your picture folder. ~Gary

http://www.flickr.com/search/?z=t&w=all&q=colonial+williamsburg&m=tags