Friday, February 1, 2013

Princeton Battlefield, Mount Vernon, and the H.L. Hunley

As regular readers know, I occasionally gather up tidbits of interesting news and share them here. Among the best things to come across my desk this week is a short documentary about the ongoing fight over part of the Princeton Battlefield, site of the 1777 Revolutionary War battle in New Jersey. The Institute for Advance Study has been planning a housing  development on a portion of the battlefield which they own and which adjoins the battlefield State Park. Local preservationists, especially The Princeton Battlefield Society, are attempting to block the construction, which would irreversibly damage the archaeological remains of the battle. Archaeological metal detector surveys have demonstrated that the site is rich with bullets, artillery projectiles, and other artifacts that can tell us much about what happened during the battle. Check out the ten-minute documentary, "Battle for the Field."

The Princeton Battle Monument, from here.

Speaking of the Revolution, some friends of mine at George Wasington's Mount Vernon are doing some great digital outreach relating to the renovation of the house's "New Room." Check it out on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr. You might also remember that I've written a bit about Washington myself, especially his camp furniture, in this post.

You might also remember that I write regularly about Civil War archaeology. One of our largest archaeological artifacts of the war is the H.L. Hunley, a Confederate submarine that sank in 1864 off Charleston and which was raised in 2000. Recent conservation work on the spar that once extended in front of the submarine and held an explosive charge indicates that the "torpedo" exploded while it was still attached to the spar. The blast sank the U.S.S. Housatonic, but may also have knocked the Hunley's crew unconscious. This critical fact might just be the answer to the nearly 150-year-old mystery of why the Hunley sank. Further work on the submarine itself will support or refute the new hypothesis, and I'm looking forward to hearing more about it. You can read more here.

The remains of the Hunley's torpedo and spar. AP Photo/Bruce Smith, from here.

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