Recent Articles

Exciting Discoveries Made During Alamo Cannon Conservation

Two cannons used in the 1836 Battle of the Alamo return with new discoveries about their origins. SAN ANTONIO – Tuesday the Alamo welcomed the return of two historic cannons used during the 1836 Siege and Battle of the Alamo back to the Alamo grounds. The battle cannons revealed some surprising secrets during their conservation at the Texas A&M Conservation Research Lab in College Station, Texas. The cannons were sent to the lab in October as part of a larger effort to preserve all seven of the Alamo’s 1836 Battle Cannons, and returned with several exciting new discoveries about their origins. In October, we shared our commitment to ensuring long-term, extensive preservation and conservation plans for the Alamo’s historic buildings and artifacts,” said Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush. Continue Reading →

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Valley Forge: Diary of Albigence Waldo (1777-1778)

Albigence Waldo was an army surgeon at Valley Forge.  Disease, especially smallpox, was one of the most dangerous enemies for Washington’s army.  John Adams noted, “Disease has destroyed Ten Men for Us, where the Sword of the Enemy has killed one.”  Of the 11,000 soldiers encamped at Valley Forge, over 2000 died from disease, cold and starvation.  Albigence Waldo described some of the extreme difficulties of army life.  Here are a few entries from his diary. December 14  “There comes a Soldier, his bare feet are seen thro’ his worn out Shoes, his legs nearly naked from the tattered remains of an only pair of stockings, his Breeches not sufficient to cover his nakedness, his Shirt hanging in Strings, his hair disheveled, his face meager; his whole appearance pictures a person forsaken & discouraged. He comes, and cries…  ‘I am Sick, my feet lame, my legs are sore, my body covered with this tormenting Itch… exhausted by fatigue, hunger & Cold, I fail fast [and] I shall soon be no more!’”

December 21  “A general cry thro’ the Camp this Evening among the Soldiers, ‘No Meat! No Meat!’”

December 24  “… I don’t know of anything that vexes a man’s Soul more than hot smoke continually blowing into his Eyes, & when he attempts to avoid it, is met by a cold and piercing Wind.”

December 28  “When the Officer has been fatiguing thro’ wet & cold and returns to his tent where he finds a letter directed to him from his Wife, filled with the most heart aching tender Complaints…  Acquainting him with the incredible difficulty with which she procures a little Bread for herself & Children…  What man is there — who has the least regard for his family — whose soul would not shrink within him? Who would not be disheartened from persevering in the best of Causes — the Cause of his Country, — when such discouragements as these lie in his way?”

James Still (Jan 2018), RetraceOurSteps.com

“I am ashamed to say it, but I am tempted to steal Fowls if I could find them, or even a whole Hog, for I feel as if I could eat one…  But why do I talk of hunger & hard usage, when so many in the World have not even fire Cake & Water to eat.” Albigence Waldo, Diary Entry, Dec 22, 1777

“Mankind are never truly thankful for the Benefits of life, until they have experienced the want of them.  The Man who has seen misery knows best how to enjoy good.  He who is always at ease & has enough of the Blessings of common life is an Impotent Judge of the feelings of the unfortunate.”  Albigence Waldo, Entry in Diary, December 15, 1777

“… Continue Reading →

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First National Thanksgiving (1777)

In the fall of 1777, American and British forces engaged in two battles near Saratoga, NY.  After suffering heavy losses, the British army fled to Saratoga and surrendered when surrounded by additional American forces.  In recognition of this victory, Congress proclaimed America’s First National Thanksgiving.  News of the British surrender at Saratoga convinced the king of France to begin negotiations with the Americans, leading to an alliance between France and America in 1778. “Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of… it is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States to set apart Thursday the l8th day of December next for solemn thanksgiving and praise…

[That] it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea and all under them with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments under the providence of almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all blessings, independence and peace…  [and] to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consists in righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  Journals of Congress, First National Thanksgiving, November 1, 1777

James Still (Nov 2017), RetraceOurSteps.com

“Tomorrow being the day set apart by the Honorable Congress for public Thanksgiving and Praise; and duty calling us devoutly to express our grateful acknowledgements to God for the manifold blessings he has granted us— The General directs that the army remain in its present quarters, and that the Chaplains perform divine service with their several Corps and brigades…”  George Washington, General Orders, December 17, 1777

“… it is therefore recommended… that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor…”  Journals of Congress, First National Thanksgiving, November 1, 1777

“… Continue Reading →

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Marquis de Lafayette:  America loved Lafayette (1834)

Marquis de Lafayette served passionately during America’s Revolution.   Along with Benjamin Franklin, Lafayette helped to obtain France’s involvement in our Revolution.  Lafayette also helped secure a victory at Yorktown.  During his final visit to America in 1824, Lafayette became the first foreign dignitary to address the U.S. House of Representatives.  George Washington and Lafayette maintained a close relationship throughout their lives.  Lafayette looked to Washington as a father and named his son George Washington Lafayette.  Lafayette died in 1834 and was buried in Paris, France.  Soil taken from Bunker Hill was sprinkled over his grave.  Upon learning of Lafayette’s death, Congress ordered funeral honors similar to those given to Washington. “RESOLUTION… on the occasion of the decease of General Lafayette…  That the sacrifices and efforts of this illustrious person in the cause of our country during her struggle for independence, and the affectionate interest which he has at all times manifested for the success of her political institutions, claim from the Government and people of the United States an expression of condolence for his loss, veneration for his virtues, and gratitude for his services. And be it further resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to address, together with a copy of the above resolutions, a letter to George Washington Lafayette and the other members of his family, assuring them of the condolence of this whole nation…

And be it further resolved, That the members of the two Houses of Congress will wear a badge of mourning for thirty days, and that it be recommended to the people of the United States to wear a similar badge for the same period…  [And] That the halls of the Houses be dressed in mourning for the residue of the session.”   Statutes at Large, Death of General Marquis de Lafayette, June 26, 1834

James Still (Oct 2017), RetraceOurSteps.com

“… to have received at every stage of the Revolution, and during forty years after that period, from the people of the United States… at home and abroad, continual marks of their confidence and kindness, has been the pride, the encouragement, the support of a long and eventful life.”  Marquis de Lafayette, Response to John Adams, September 6, 1825

“The resolution which so powerfully honors my father’s memory shall be deposited as a most sacred family property in that room of mourning where once his son and grandsons used to receive with avidity [passion] from him lessons of patriotism and active love of liberty…  the affection and esteem of a free nation is the most desirable reward that can be obtained on earth.”  George Washington Lafayette, Letter to Andrew Jackson, October 21, 1834

“… should we wander from [the Founding Principles]… let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

RetraceOurSteps.com Continue Reading →

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Little Rock 9’s ‘Quiet Determination’ To Resist Unfair System Changed Nation, Set Example, Gov. Hutchinson Says

LITTLE ROCK – The “quiet determination” and “stubborn refusal” of the Little Rock 9 to abandon their dreams in the face of an unfair system changed the path of the nation, Governor Asa Hutchinson told the crowd gathered today on the 60th anniversary of the day they entered Central High School.  
Governor Hutchinson was one of several speakers who joined the eight surviving members of the Little Rock 9 on the stage of Central High’s Roosevelt Thompson Auditorium. 
Minnijean Brown Trickey, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Dr. Melba Patillo Beals, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed Wair, Dr. Terrence Roberts, and Carlotta Walls LaNier sat to the right of the lectern, with one empty chair in honor of Jefferson Thomas, who died in 2010.  
“Your quiet determination and your stubborn refusal to abandon your dreams not only forced action, but set an example that will last into the ages,” Governor Hutchinson said. “The events of that fall day changed the path of a nation.”
The Little Rock 9 were among the pioneers who took a courageous stand against the segregation of the United States, he said, and “that fact gives us all an even greater appreciation for the lonely steps of the Little Rock 9 as they confronted hostility, the unknown and a defiant governor.”
They certainly encouraged Martin Luther King Jr., who was in the audience in the spring of 1958 when Ernest Green became the first African-American graduate of Central High, the governor noted. 
“Perhaps Reverend King was propelled by that moment to fully see the potential of his own dreams; and perhaps he got a glimpse of the mountain top where all of God’s children are created equal,” Governor Hutchinson said.  
But this is not a time to rest on victories, he said. Continue Reading →

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Gov. Hutchinson Issues Statement on 16th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today issued the following statement in remembrance of the 16th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001.  

“For me, as with many Americans, September 11th is a day that brings up vivid memories and strong emotions. At the time, I was serving as the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency.  
“In the days that followed the attacks, in the midst of terror and destruction, we saw the face of America. We saw the strength and resilience that built our nation and that would rebuild it. 
“Today, hundreds of thousands of Americans are assessing their losses in Texas and Florida, where the winds of Hurricane Irma continue to pound. Continue Reading →

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Statement by DPS Director McCraw on 9/11 Anniversary

AUSTIN – Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw today issued the following statement regarding the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks:

“On this day 16 years ago, terrorists launched cowardly attacks against our nation on Sept. 11, 2001. Today we honor and remember those who lost their lives as a result of the attack, including valiant first responders. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. The families and friends of those who lost loved ones remain in our thoughts and prayers. Continue Reading →

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Texarkana Arts and Historic District to host free Downtown Bike Tours

TEXARKANA, TX- The Texarkana Arts and Historic District will be hosting free bike tours of downtown Texarkana four Fridays this fall to showcase the District and encourage residents to engage in active modes of transportation. The guided bike tours will be offered the last two Fridays of September (September 22 and September 29) and the first two Fridays of October (October 6 and October 13). Tours will begin and end at the Museum of Regional History and take place from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. Those interested in attending can rent a bike from Texarkana’s UPcycle Bike Rental Program for $5 per day or bring their own. The District is encouraging residents to use bicycles or other similar forms of transportation as their primary means of exploring downtown to show support for local cyclists and active modes of transportation. While reservations are not required, bike rentals are limited and will be handled on a first come, first serve basis. Continue Reading →

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Marquis de Lafayette:  Lafayette loved America (1777)

Marquis de Lafayette was born into French nobility and inherited a large family fortune at the age of 14.  At the age of 19, and against the will of the King of France, Lafayette used his own money to secure a ship to America.  Lafayette described his feelings, “The moment I heard of America, I loved her; the moment I knew she was fighting for freedom, I burnt with a desire of bleeding for her; and the moment I shall be able to serve her at any time, or in any part of the world, will be the happiest one of my life.”  With the approval of Congress, Lafayette joined General Washington on the battlefield.  Unsure at first how to accept Lafayette, Washington quickly gained respect for Lafayette after observing him in his first battle, the Battle of Brandywine.  Washington wrote Congress and recommended Lafayette be given a command. “I would take the liberty to mention, that I feel myself in a delicate situation with respect to the Marquis de Lafayette. He is extremely solicitous of having a Command equal to his rank, &… it appears to me, from a consideration of his illustrious and important connections—the attachment which he has manifested to our cause, and the consequences, which his return [to France] in disgust might produce, that it will be advisable to gratify him in his wishes—and the more so, as several Gentlemen from France, who came over under some assurances [of appointments], have gone back disappointed in their expectations. His conduct with respect to them stands in a favorable point of view… and in all his letters has placed our affairs in the best situation he could. Besides, he is sensible—discreet in his manners—has made great proficiency in our Language, and from the disposition he discovered at the Battle of Brandywine, possesses a large share of bravery and Military ardor [passion].”  George Washington, Letter to Henry Laurens (Congress), November 1, 1777

James Still (Sep 2017), RetraceOurSteps.com

“Resolved, That General Washington be informed, it is highly agreeable to Congress that the Marquis de Lafayette be appointed to the command of a division in the continental army.”  Journals of Congress, December 1, 1777

“We are not, I confess, so strong as I expected, but we are strong enough to fight… Continue Reading →

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From Confederate, to Klan, to African American Advocate

After the Civil War ended, one officer did what most Confederate officers did and returned home to resume a routine daily life.  He also returned to the status of a U.S. citizen, founded a town worked various jobs and then rose above many of his fellow southerners as an advocate for equality and rights of African Americans. However, before the man would make the transition to advocate, he joined the Ku Klux Klan in the early days of the organization.  Originally he felt that the Klan was founded to protect people in the south from people attempting to take advantage of the defeated area.  Although history clearly records that the Klan always targeted African Americans and whites attempting to help them, this early member apparently saw it differently. The former Confederate officer left the organization and began to take a firm stand against them.  He told them they should disband and should never cause harm to African Americans or anyone.  The Klan dismissed him and continued their core mission of hatred toward anyone not considered white or helping African Americans. When Klan members attacked several African Americans at a BBQ celebration and killed two of them, the former Confederate officer wrote to the governor and volunteered to help ‘Exterminate’ those men responsible for continued violence against African Americans.   With knowledge of the inner workings of the Klan, he felt he was best to track down and punish the men who kept causing harm and promoted hatred. The same former Confederate officer would recognize tensions between the United States and Spain later.  At a time when it appeared there would be war between the two countries, he wrote to the General of the Army and offered to fight and serve in the United States Army.  The affair ended without war, but the United States General wrote back and stated that had war been declared, this officer’s services would have been an honor for the United States. Continue Reading →

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