J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Word on The Revolution’s Last Men from Don Hagist, 27 May

On Wednesday, 27 May, the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston will host a book talk by Don N. Hagist, author of The Revolution’s Last Men: The Soldiers Behind the Photographs.

The story of this book starts with another book:
During a Civil War that threatened to tear the United States apart came the realization that only a handful of veterans of the American Revolution still survived—men who had fought the war that created the nation. Six of these men were photographed and interviewed for a book that appeared late in 1864.

Their images have captivated generations since then; but, through a combination of faded memories and the interviewer’s patriotic agenda, the biographies accompanying these amazing photographs were garbled and distorted, containing information that ranged from inaccurate to implausible.
Westholme Publishing invited Don to investigate those soldiers again, using primary documents to correct and fill out their life stories. The result is a detailed exploration of the experiences of six young men serving in the American forces, alongside their actual faces in old age.

Don Hagist is an editor of the Journal of the American Revolution and author of the British Soldiers, American War blog. I’ve reported how he unearthed personal information in the British National Archives about three of the redcoats involved in the Boston Massacre.

Don’s previous history books include British Soldiers, American War (recommended here), A British Soldier’s Story: Roger Lamb’s Narrative of the American Revolution, and Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls. Don works as an engineering consultant in Rhode Island, and also writes for several well-known syndicated and freelance cartoonists.

The N.E.H.G.S. is at 99-101 Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay. This event is scheduled from 6:00 to 7:30 P.M., and is free to all.

(For folks who can’t get enough Revolutionary photographs, I’ll also note Joseph M. Bauman’s ebook edition of The Last Men of the Revolution with the old biographies but new images, and his follow-up with new photos and new bios of other veterans, Don’t Tread on Me, both discussed here. In addition, historic photo expert Maureen Taylor, who wrote the foreword for Don’s book, has published two Last Muster collections of portraits of folks who lived through the Revolution.)


Joe Bauman said...

Thank you very much for the nice comment, Mr. Bell. I hope you don't mind that I mention here that I'm am working on a similar project -- that is, updating the Last Men book with accurate biographical information. I intend to combine it with my other book of Revolutionary War veteran photographs into one larger work. I will be adding two images of veterans never before published, which I bought since my books came out on Kindle. I'm looking for a book publisher, and if I can't find one, will issue the expanded work on Kindle. Thank you, Joe Bauman

not Bridget said...

Hearing that Stephen Foster song, I'd wondered--were there really such veterans in his day? Yes.

"Nothing but a plain old soldier, an old Revolutionary solder. But I've handled a gun when noble deeds were done, for the name of my commander was George Washington."

Don N. Hagist said...

I'd be interested in knowing what you find about these men, Mr. Bauman. There's a lot of "new" information in my book, but I'm sure there's still more to be found.
The Revolution's Last Men contains photographs by photographers other than the Moore brothers of Lemuel Cook, Daniel Waldo, Samuel Downing, and two of William Hutchings. I'm not aware of any of those images having been published before, although that of Waldo is fairly well known (an image taken when he turned 100 years of age, standing next to a pedestal). Engravings based on each of the images of Hutchings were also published in the late 1800s.
The book also discusses the several exposures of each man taken by the Moore brothers (four of each man that I've found, although others have told me there were six). And it includes original drawings showing how each man may have looked when he was a soldier, based on current research on military clothing and material culture of the era. The artist didn't attempt to de-age the photographs, but rendered figures suggestive of the men using physical information about them where available.

Joe Bauman said...

Hi Don, Many congratulations. I haven't dug up much at all about the Last Men, as the expansion is just in the planning stage. When I wrote DON'T TREAD ON ME about the men in my eight ID'd daguerreotypes of Revolutionaries, it was all original research. While doing that I came across an instance or two where I discovered inaccuracies in The Last Men, and I think I mentioned them. When I republished The Last Men on Kindle, I simply used my original CDVS (five of the six), downloaded that of the sixth (Adam Link), downloaded the color plates and transcribed the text by hand. The only new aspect of that book is my intro. I had planned to expand DON'T TREAD ON ME and in it give the Last Men the same treatment with detailed research. But now I don't think I should replow that field. I'll probably just expand DON'T TREAD ON ME with two additional views of ID'd Revolutionaries -- one a cabinet card of a daguerreotype, the other an original CDV, neither published before -- and put in the Last Men as an appendix. Very honored to talk with you, Don