Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book Picks - Paul C. Nagel Edition

As most readers of this blog know, I have an active interest in studying famous American families - particularly those with members who played a key role in the American Revolution and/or the Civil War. In particular, I find it fascinating to learn how the descendants of famous individuals made their own ways in life - in some cases achieving success in their own right or buckling under the pressure brought on by high expectations.

As I have discussed in previous posts, I also think it is interesting that the descendants of say, prominent Revolutionary War or Civil War commanders, continued (in many cases) the traditions of public service and duty established by their ancestors.

To date, much of my research has centered on the family of Confederate Cavalry General J.E.B. Stuart, which has deep roots in Virginia history. My upcoming book, Life After J.E.B. Stuart: The Memoirs of His Granddaughter (Hamilton Books/Roman & Littlefield Publishing, 2011) explores that family's history through the perspective of General Stuart's granddaughter, Marrow Stuart Smith. In the future, I expect that I will also publish more work on the Stuart family, who have contributed a great deal to Virginia as well as the nation as a whole.

In my research, I have been influenced heavily by the work of Paul C. Nagel, who has published extensively in this "family history" genre. He is well known for his work on the family of President John Adams, and his work Descent From Glory tells the story of the Adams family quite well. Another one of my favorite books (written by Nagel) is about Virginia's illustrious Lee family, appropriately titled The Lees of Virginia: Seven Generations of an American Family. Both of these books have an honored place on my bookshelf and I consult them regularly. For those of you who are interested in this genre of American history, I recommend them highly.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Update on my General Hand Article

While I have not yet seen the final, published piece, I am happy to report that my Patriots of the American Revolution magazine article on General Edward Hand (1744-1802) has been well received thus far. You can find it in the March/April 2011 issue (shown here), which should be appearing on newsstands about now. The magazine staff noted on the "Patriots" Facebook fan page that the article has "already received great praise" from readers.

While it always feels great to get a compliment, I am particularly delighted that General Hand is getting some well deserved attention from American Revolution history enthusiasts. I, along with several good friends who are direct Edward Hand descendants, have been working hard to get his name back in public circulation. In addition, Samuel Slaymaker and the staff at Rock Ford Plantation (General Hand's restored home in Lancaster, PA) also do an OUTSTANDING job of commemorating the general and his many accomplishments.

In my opinion, General Hand is definitely one of the conflict's unsung heroes. You can read about his outstanding leadership and heroics in my article. I sometimes wonder why he has not been better remembered by history - especially considering that he served as George Washington's adjutant general for much of the conflict.

My sense is that since he spent his service as a general pursuing administrative work, it caused him to be overshadowed by other generals (Daniel Morgan, Nathanael Greene) who won acclaim for their heroics on the battlefield. While Hand was also a gifted combat commander, his battlefield service occurred when he was colonel of the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment. As such, his name probably did not get out into public circulation as much as the higher-ranking generals.

At any rate, I hope this magazine article serves as a catalyst for renewed public interest in this fascinating Revolutionary War figure!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Upcoming Magazine Article on General Hand

I got confirmation recently that my article on the Revolutionary War career of Maj. Gen. Edward Hand (1744-1802) will appear in the March/April 2011 issue of Patriots of the American Revolution magazine. I am very excited about this piece because it will bring some attention to one of the unsung heroes of the American Revolution. A native of Ireland who later settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, General Hand enjoyed a distinguished Revolutionary War career that culminated with his service as George Washington's adjutant general during the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. While he certainly ran into some obstacles along the way, General Hand was one of those rare Continental Army commanders who was highly effective as both an administrator and a combat commander. In fact, he helped save the Continental Army from complete disaster on at least two occasions during the war. You can read more about that in my upcoming article!

I am also privileged to count among my friends several of General Hand's direct descendants and had the honor of speaking at their family reunion last Fall in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. A highlight of that experience was getting to spend time in General Hand's restored home, Rock Ford Plantation, which is now a museum and special events venue. I would highly recommend visiting Rock Ford to anyone who is interested in 18th century American history. They possess an incredible collection of General Hand's personal effects - including my favorite piece - his Society of the Cincinnati membership certificate that was hand-signed by George Washington himself! It is definitely a must-see!

Anyway, I hope that this upcoming magazine article is the first of many publications that I get the honor to draft concerning General Hand's life and career. He is a fascinating figure who deserves to be better remembered by history.